Are DSLRs The New Point-And-Shoots?

It’s no secret that digital cameras have been big business this, er… last decade.

However the Financial Times reports a new wrinkle. DSLR sales have slowed significantly less than point-and-shoot sales, meaning the DSLRs are making up a larger share of the digital camera market. Over 8 million DSLRs will be sold in 2009.

What does this mean? How does it affect photographers?

Well, for sure, part of it is just a wrinkle in the numbers. You would expect pros to have a little less discretion about whether to buy a new camera or not than your mom and dad. So the fact that the sale of DSLRs is slowing less rapidly may not be that surprising.

However, part of it is that more and more folks are discovering the joys of photography, the instant gratification that digital brings, and the limitations of point-and-shoots. So I think you’re seeing some of these people opt to buy a DSLR instead of another point-and-shoot when they feel it’s time to replace the camera they bought a year or three ago.

This is something that was discussed at the InfoTrends conference I attended awhile back. It’s definitely a trend that’s occurring and the ability to shoot HD video with the 5D Mark II and especially the 7D, are just accelerating this trend. Also, some limitations of P&Ss, like long lag times when taking a picture, are frustrating some people enough to move up.

Ultimately, I don’t think it affects pro photographers all that much. Some folks doing microstock will be affected by images uploaded to free stock sites like the Stock Exchange ( And on the very low end, some overly budget conscious folks may have Uncle Joe shoot their wedding rather than a pro.

It does open up some new opportunities for those of us that make software or training for photographers. Web sites that cater to new photographers, like SmugMug, will also benefit. If you’re a photographer that does seminars and workshops, this is a big new group of folks that are going to be looking for info on how to take advantage of these big, new-fangled cameras. It’s definitely a trend that’s worth paying attention to. The digital camera market is huge, and if camera makers are shipping 8-9 million DSLRs, there are probably some opportunities there.

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