Mirrorless Cameras Slow to Catch On, Especially With Pros

David Haueter
Sep 2, 2016

Mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras (MILCs) have a lot going for them. They’re generally more compact and lighter than their DSLR counterparts, and have resolution and photo quality specs to match the best DSLRs. MILCs are expected to grow in popularity; they’re the only type of camera for which InfoTrends is predicting sales growth from 2015 to 2016. Even so, the DSLR will still be the interchangeable lens camera of choice, especially with professional photographers.

The continued reliance on DSLR cameras from the professional photographer segment was no more evident than during the Rio Olympics this summer. During an NBC broadcast, the video camera showed close-ups of several photographers working the games, and there was not a MILC in sight. DSLRs dominated the landscape, and it appeared that Canon and Nikon accounted for 100% of the cameras being used.

Olympics a

olympics b

This is consistent with InfoTrends’ research. In the 2015 U.S. Professional Photographer Study, 89% of respondents said that a DSLR was the primary type of camera they used for work, while only 4% mentioned MILCs. The survey results were not much different with consumers. In the 2016 U.S. Photo Merchandise Survey, only 8% said they owned an MILC, which was up from just 5% in the 2014 survey. The MILC’s lack of popularity among pros is easy to understand. With substantial investments in DSLR lenses and camera bodies, it would take a very compelling reason for a pro to switch from their DSLR to buy a whole new system.

As good as the current mirrorless cameras are, they don’t move the game significantly forward to compel most pros to switch, though we have talked to some that are starting to use them more as a carry-around backup camera. Their popularity is certainly greater among certain types of photographers. For instance, wedding photographers like their low-light capabilities as well as their silent shutter for shooting in dark churches, but they have also told us that clients often don’t take them seriously if they don’t carry the larger and more serious-looking DSLR. On the consumer side of the market, MILCs are attractive to hobbyist photographers, but they have a lot of competition from high-end point & shoot cameras as well as entry-level DSLRs, both of which are priced around the same. For instance, Sony’s least expensive MILC, the ?5000 with a 16-50mm lens, has an MSRP of $449.99 on the Sony website, while the Canon EOS Rebel T6 DSLR with a 18-55mm lens has an MSRP of $499.99. With no significant difference in price, it’s a more difficult proposition for MILC manufacturers to compete against a camera company with the brand equity of Canon or Nikon.

Over the next few years, InfoTrends is expecting MILCs to account for a larger percentage of worldwide sales of interchangeable lens cameras, but DLSRs will still dominate. We’re estimating that MILCs will grow from 28% of the overall market in 2015 to 31% by 2020, while DSLR units drop from 72% of overall sales in 2015 to 69% in 2020.  Still, mirrorless cameras represent an important segment in the market, as they give pros another option for the cameras they use for their work and consumers another option for moving up from their smartphone or point & shoot camera to a more advanced interchangeable lens device.

Receive a weekly summary of recent blogs and other exclusive content.

InfoTrends Resources

New InfoTrends Studies

More blogs from

2016 InfoTrends, Inc.

WordPress Appliance - Powered by TurnKey Linux