Forecast: SLR growth rate to taper off

Sales of high-end digital cameras grew 42 percent in 2007, but that figure is expected to dip to 9 percent by 2010.

LAS VEGAS--Digital SLRs showed strong growth last year, but the sales surge will begin to moderate, according to a new report by the Camera and Imaging Products Association.

SLR cameras are bulky and expensive, yet they're also responsive, work better in dim conditions, and are flexible because photographers can change lenses. Year-over-year sales of digital SLRs grew 42 percent to 7.5 million units worldwide in 2007, CIPA said this week.

By contrast, the SLR growth rate will dip to 22 percent in 2008, 13 percent in 2009, and 9 percent in 2010, the CIPA predicted. That corresponds to digital SLR shipments of 9.1 million, 10.3 million, and 11.2 million units, respectively.

It's been tough forecasting camera shipments because purchasing patterns have changed, so analysts have had to push back the year camera shipments are expected to peak. The old days of one camera per family are fading, replaced by the one-camera-per-family-member era. And some people buy multiple cameras for different jobs--tossing into a purse, traveling, or shooting their children's sports events.

The market for compact digital cameras also will grow, CIPA said, but it's a significant notch below SLR rates. It grew 26 percent to 92.9 million units in 2007 and is expected to grow 11 percent to 102.8 million this year, 7 percent to 110.1 million in 2009, and 5 percent to 115.3 million in 2010.

The total digital camera market topped 100 million for the first time in 2007--barely--with sales of 100.4 million. Expect 111.9 million for 2008, 120.4 million in 2009, and 126.5 million in 2010.

The CIPA findings made the rounds here at the Photo Marketing Association trade show, where camera makers salivate over the prospect of millions of high-end SLRs being sold. Even if growth rates are tapering off, they're still positive. And the fact that SLRs today typically cost at least $700 means serious money is on the table.

CIPA also shared statistics for SLR lenses, and there, too, growth rates are slowing. A total of 12.5 million were sold in 2007. That number is forecast to jump to 14.7 million this year, to 16.3 million in 2009, and 17.4 million in 2010.

About the author

Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and covers browsers, Web development, digital photography and new technology. In the past he has been CNET's beat reporter for Google, Yahoo, Linux, open-source software, servers and supercomputers. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces.

 

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