InfoTrends’ Interchangeable Lens Camera Study Reveals Consumers’ Naming Preferences

Ed Lee
Jul 24, 2015

For several years, InfoTrends has used the term “Compact interchangeable lens camera (CILC)” to describe the relatively new class of smaller cameras with a removable lens that compete with Digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) cameras. Now, according to InfoTrends’ latest U.S. Interchangeable Lens Camera Market Study, it seems that consumers generally prefer the term “Digital interchangeable lens camera (DILC)” to describe these cameras.

Furthermore, the type of camera that they own appears to affect their choice of name. Owners of what we call CILCs actually prefer the term “Mirrorless interchangeable lens camera (MILC)” over DILC or CILC, while DSLR and compact point & shoot camera owners selected DILC as their first choice.

Product Naming Preference

The naming discussion began in 2008 when Olympus and Panasonic first announced the Micro Four Thirds format to compete with DSLRs. Since then, there have been at least eight other names used to describe these cameras, including “Advanced camera with interchangeable lens”, “Mirrorless camera”, “Compact system camera”, “Digital single lens mirrorless”, and “Non-reflex camera”. InfoTrends has written several blogs about this topic over the last years. Check these out these blogs if you are interested in early opinions.

Time for the Industry to Start Calling Everything DILCs, Dec 2013

The Difficulties of Choosing a Name – and the Consequence of Having More than One, May 2012

Good News

InfoTrends’ research shows that awareness of CILCs among general consumers has not increased significantly since 2012. We believe that this naming confusion has, at least in part, held back this category.

Recently, there was positive news in the U.S. market regarding standardization of naming conventions. On July 23, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and its Digital Imaging Board announced the approval of standard terms that it and its members would begin using to describe the market. The term DSLR will cover Digital Single Lens Reflex cameras, which include a mirror mechanism. Mirrorless will be used as an abbreviation for Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens cameras (which, as noted above, was popular with many consumers) for cameras that do not include a mirror mechanism. ILC, short for Interchangeable Lens Camera, covers the overall market and includes DSLR and Mirrorless cameras. Major camera vendors and retailers are standing behind these adopted names and have already begun using them in their marketing and sales communications. As a result, the current and future marketing dollars spent to increase awareness of the ILC market, particularly the Mirrorless segment, should have a positive and additive effect.

In addition to this topic, the U.S. Interchangeable Lens Camera Market Study covers many others including:

  • Segmentation and profiles of current and future DILC buyers by key demographic characteristics such as age, gender, income, parental status, and photographer type
  • Owners’ and future owners’ attitudes, behaviors, and preferences
  • Insights into photo and video activities, feature usage, and future requirements
  • Product awareness, consideration, and purchasing factors for current and future owners
  • Opportunities and strategies for DILC vendors

For more information on the study, please contact Matt O’Keefe at 781-616-2115 or

Anyone interesting in hearing more about the study can also listen to a podcast posted on the Photo Marketing Association (PMA) website, where I discuss the research results with PMA’s Paul Worthington, click here.

* Edited 7/28 to include the CEA announcement

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