Sales of standalone cameras are plummeting - even as top-end cameras are getting much cheaper.
According to research firm GfK South Africa, sales in the entry-level camera market dropped by 17% and the Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) market by 33%, in the fourth quarter of 2018 - the peak shopping season in South Africa.
The reason: South Africans are choosing to buy smartphones as the performance gap between smartphones and dedicated cameras continues to narrow.
“This is a trend that will only accelerate as smartphone screen sizes grow and as smartphone camera DxOMark [a leading source of independent image quality measurements and ratings for smartphone, camera and lenses] scores improve, moving performance closer to single lens reflex (SLR) cameras,” said Norman Chauke of GfK South Africa.
Entry level compact camera sales declined by 17% in the fourth quarter of 2018. Meanwhile, the average prices of an entry level compact camera climbed 21% to R4,588 - as the weaker rand hit import prices.
“These units do not offer much over smartphones in terms of technical specifications or features, making it hard for a first-time customer to justify a purchase,” said Chauke.
DSLR sales plummeted by 33% in the fourth quarter of 2018 compared to 2017, after sales also dropped by a third in the third quarter.
But, unlike the rise in costs of entry-level compact cameras, the average selling price fell 19% to R9,667. This is due to the emergence of mirror-less cameras, which are much cheaper options than the mirrored versions. The latter can cost more than R25,000 just for a camera body.
Even Black Friday deals were not enough to give cameras a boost. The sales of compact cameras were 11% lower than in the Black Friday week in 2017, while SLR sales decreased by 30% in the same week.
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