Digital Interchangeable Lens Cameras: A Niche Opportunity in a Maturing Market

Eve Padula
Jul 19, 2010

InfoTrends has been conducting end-user surveys to track the adoption and usage of digital cameras for over a decade. Our research indicates that digital cameras are now fully entrenched in the mainstream market. Thanks to falling prices and ever-improving technologies, just about anyone who is interested in owning a digital camera can now find something in their price range.

Many point & shoot camera models with features and functions that will far exceed the needs of casual photographers are currently offered for prices well below $100. At the other end of the spectrum are digital interchangeable lens cameras, which offer much more advanced features, manual controls, and considerably higher price points.

In June 2010, InfoTrends completed a comprehensive study entitled Digital SLRs and Other Interchangeable Lens Cameras: A Multi-Client Study. This study included a survey of 6,406 consumers. Of these, 1,648 individuals qualified as digital interchangeable lens camera owners (some of which were mirrorless hybrid camera owners). The results of this survey provided some interesting insights about the typical digital interchangeable lens camera owner of today.

Consider the following findings:

  • Although the gender split among our total respondent base was rather evenly split (54% male versus 46% female), digital interchangeable lens camera owners were predominantly male (76%).
  • The mean annual household income was below $55,000 for our total survey respondents, but it exceeded $78,000 among digital interchangeable lens camera owners.
  • Among total respondents, about 18% classified themselves as Early Adopters of technology while nearly 21% considered themselves to be Late Adopters of technology. Meanwhile, nearly 30% of digital interchangeable lens camera owners considered themselves to be Early Adopters while less than 9% considered themselves to be Late Adopters.

Thus, today’s typical DILC owner is an affluent male Early Adopter. In the coming 18 to 24 months, however, InfoTrends expects the demographic makeup of digital interchangeable lens camera owners to change. Women who are hoping to upgrade their point & shoot cameras will be tempted by digital interchangeable lens cameras with affordable prices and compact bodies.

Although DILCs are expected to show some growth over the current forecast period (as opposed to the point & shoot market, which is flat to declining), they will always remain a niche market of the digital camera industry. There are two primary reasons for this:

  • Some entry-level digital interchangeable lens cameras are currently available for under $500, but all digital interchangeable lens cameras carry a price premium over traditional point & shoot cameras. Some consumers will not be able to justify the higher price of a digital interchangeable lens camera, even if they can afford to purchase one–particularly if their current point & shoot model meets their expectations in terms of functionality and picture quality.
  • Digital interchangeable lens cameras offer manual controls and advanced features that lower-end digital cameras will typically lack. Although a tech-savvy photo hobbyist will happily purchase a digital interchangeable lens camera with all the latest developments, these same features will likely be intimidating to a mainstream consumer. Point & shoot cameras don’t require nearly as much of a learning curve as digital interchangeable lens cameras, and some time-pressed consumers will appreciate this level of simplicity.

InfoTrends’ end-user survey offers a detailed picture of current owners of digital interchangeable lens camera as well as an in-depth look into the types of consumers that will be most likely to purchase a digital interchangeable lens camera in the future. Our end-user survey findings are accompanied by a market forecast, a discussion of drivers and barriers, and recommendations for vendors.

For more information on how to purchase our Digital SLRs and Other Interchangeable Lens Cameras multi-client study, please contact Matt O’Keefe at or (781) 616-2100, ext. 115. To view the prospectus for this study, visit

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