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Study: Camera market slump to hit SLRs, too

Since most people in the market already have a compact camera, sales growth of SLRs has looked relatively good. Now the recession is having an effect, IDC says.

Canon's new Rebel T1i SLR
Canon's new Rebel T1i SLR Canon USA

Thus far, SLR camera sales have been a bright spot in the camera market, but analyst firm IDC expects the recession will hit the higher-end models, too.

Worldwide camera shipments are expected to drop 6 percent to 129 million units in 2009. Single-lens reflex (SLR) shipments won't be hit as hard, but still will drop 5 percent to 9.2 million units, according to an IDC forecast released Monday.

"Countries will emerge from the global recession in mid-2010, starting with the U.S. However, unemployment will lag behind the recovery, dampening consumer spending for the next two years, particularly on big-ticket items like digital SLRs," analyst Christopher Chute said in a statement.

SLR cameras are bulkier and more expensive, but offer better responsiveness, interchangeable lenses, and higher image quality. With the compact camera market largely saturated, SLRs have shown relatively strong growth.

The overall market should continue its decline by another 1 percent to about 128 million from 2009 to 2010, but growth should return and the market should reach 148 million units in 2013, IDC said.

In the U.S. declines are sharper he said: digital SLR sales will drop 7 percent to 2.4 million cameras from 2008 to 2009, while the overall market should decrease 10 percent to 36 million units.