Dubai: With most consumers moving toward their smartphones and tablets to take photos or videos, camera makers are finding it hard to convince consumers to buy a new digital camera.
The sales of digital cameras are falling year over year, but camera makers have concentrated on the smaller market for high-end products by chasing after the professionals who look for top image quality and lens flexibility.
The competitive vigour for some manufacturers now comes from the mirrorless interchangeable or compact system camera (CSC) market, which is witnessing a steady growth globally and regionally.
“Cameras with fixed lenses have taken a hit because of the booming growth in mobile devices but the interchangeable lenses sector is seeing a growth,” said Yuta Kawamura, marketing manager of electronic imaging division at Fujifilm Middle East.
To get back into serious photography, he said that the company launched its X series and the recent X-T1 and fleshed out the system with 16 lenses so far to complement it.
Fujifilm is a major player in the mirrorless segment after Samsung and Sony in the region.
He said that mirrorless cameras are taking the share of entry-segment compact cameras and mid-DSLR segment and they sit between a compact camera and a DSLR. The DSLR is huge and bulky but a mirrorless camera is light as a compact camera and as powerful as a DSLR.
DSLR cameras use mirrors to reflect the image passing through the lens, which can be seen through the viewfinder. By eliminating the mirrors, the cameras become light and compact.
The camera industry is dominated by Canon and Nikon and the mirrorless movement gave other manufacturers a new way to challenge the leaders.
“Nikon and Canon are really strong and are dominating the market. It’s really tough to open up the market beside them. But for mirrorless, there is a lot of opportunity,” he said.
He said that 90 per cent of the camera sales in the region are eaten up by Canon and Nikon and the other players are fighting for the remaining 10 per cent market share.
In Japan, the market share for CSCs is 50 per cent and the remaining share is for DSLRs while in Europe, it is 30 per cent for CSCs.
“We can be aggressive in the market as we don’t have to support the huge customer base like Nikon and Canon have,” he said.
“We design our own range sensors that are unlike any other imaging sensors on the market and unique to Fujifilm,” he said.
Fujifilm expects 100 per cent growth in the regional CSC segment this year.
“Customers in the region prefer DSLRs as they feel that bigger is always better. CSC cameras in the market right now are able to withstand the same “image quality as DSLRs” because of the bigger sensor and faster processor,” he said.
Fujifilm is not only banking on the camera sales but it has also different lenses and accessories to complete it.
Even though mirrorless cameras as slowly picking up, he said that the profit margin is very high compared to the DSLR sales.
After exiting the entry-level camera business in the region this year, Fujifilm sees 30 per cent fall in revenues compared to 100 per cent growth last year.
“Our aim is to sell 25,000 units (both camera and lens) in the Gulf markets this year compared to 13,000 units last year. The market is growing for mirrorless in the UAE but for digital camera it is Saudi Arabia,” he said.
“Accessories business contribute just one per cent to the sales in the region compared to three per cent globally. Our intention is to attain three per cent accessories ales growth this year,” he said.
The company is planning to launch camera rental services in the UAE before end of the year.
“It is not a big business and we don’t intent to make profit. We just want customers to touch and feel the products,” he said.