Final japanese camera market sales report (2012 vs 2011). Olympus gains, Panasonic loses.


Plenty of good news for Olympus! First we have that nice OM announcement. Second Olympus is (slowly) getting out of the financial troubles. And today we have a third good news!

BCNawards (Click here) reports that Olympus had a mirrorless camera share of 36,6% in 2012. That’s a 7,5% gain over the last year (see screenshot on top). Panasonic lost around 9%. I don’t have the data of the overall digital camera market share but as you know in Japan mirrorless cameras are now selling almost as good as DSLR cameras. You can see the full ranking list for each category here at BCN. A reason for the Olympus success could be the triple PEN introduction back in June while Panasonic did wait until November to announce the nice Panasonic GX1. I am surprised to see that Sony felt back despite the NEX-5n and NEX-7 camera release! Of course they got hit by the Thai flood but my guess is that their unappealing and lacking lens offering could be a reason for the share drop.

There is no such nice ranking in other countries. As you know I rely on the very imprecise Amazon ranking listing to check if a camera is popular or not. But we know that in Europe and USA the mirrorless market isn’t growing as fast as in Asia. But I guess it’s only a matter of time until Mirrorless will surpass the DSLR market.

Amazon ranking in USA (Click here)
Amazon ranking in UK (Click here)
Amazon ranking in Germany (Click here)
Amazon ranking in France (Click here)

  • 2012 numbers will be more relevant.

  • Dan

    They have impressive statistics in Japan. Less than a month gone of 2012 and they already have the sales results for the whole year…

    • Fiatopichan

      It’s the award for last year sales, not for this year. It’s announced in 2012, so they call BCN 2012.

      • Vlad

        I think you didn’t get his point.

  • Raist3d

    Yes, Sony had the Nex – 7 unavailable for a while. Even now afaik in short supply. I don’t think that means that Sony really lost market on their merits.

    I really think all three would have about their marketshare split more or less evenly, everything else equal (their models released about same).

    • Raist3d

      Actually on Panasonic, I think they shot themselves in the foot two ways- distribution (everyone wanted the Gh2 but they didn’t have it or they didn’t have the spare batteries ruling out may pro purchases). And the GX1 should have come out when the GF2 came out, not now. Or at least when the GF3 came out.

      • @Raist3d
        nope Olympus had camera models and strategy more suited with the current Japanese market.
        ie more women are buying cameras, guys are holding on to their DSLR’s (except the enlightened ones). Cameras need apps to grow the market.

        • “Yes, Sony had the Nex – 7 unavailable for a while. Even now afaik in short supply. I don’t think that means that Sony really lost market on their merits.

          I really think all three would have about their marketshare split more or less evenly, everything else equal (their models released about same).”

          “Actually on Panasonic, I think they shot themselves in the foot two ways- distribution (everyone wanted the Gh2 but they didn’t have it or they didn’t have the spare batteries ruling out may pro purchases). And the GX1 should have come out when the GF2 came out, not now. Or at least when the GF3 came out.”


          Couldn’t it be that the Oly products are just more attractive for the users?

          • Raist

            There could certainly be that too. What I am saying is that both Sony and Panasonic got their supplied butchered on very wanted cameras. Given that, it’s pretty straight forward logic that whatever they can’t sell they open to a competitor, so it’s hard to say categorically just what you mentioned.

        • Raist

          Don’t say nope when the conditions I stated are also true. That’s the point. If those conditions didn’t exist then yes, I would agree though in Japan certainly a Pen would have more appeal.

  • marilyn

    no comment they should have more share cuz they have 3 cameras and the epl2 and epl1 are very cheap…

    • Riley

      but then they can be cheap because they are a very cheap and uncomplicated design to build. Just for instance, on sensor cost alone, if Olympus’s sensor cost $40, a 1.5x APSC version would be $110..

      To capture more market share it is necessary to cover as many pricepoints as you can, but this is an area where APSC builders are missing out. Likewise Nikon 1 should do well here, but rather interestingly appears to be priced quite high.

  • mark

    The reason Olympus gained market share was due to the rock bottom price tip top (for that price) performing EPl 1. The budget end of the market will be where mirrorless is won or lost despite all the whiffle spouted on these comments pages :-)

    • Digifan

      Yeah, so?
      What do you want to accuse Olympus from?
      They still produce and still sell the older E-PL’s, that’s no crime is it? Pana, Sony etc have a choice to do that as well, in fact the NEX5 is dirt cheap here in the Netherlands as well. Oly is financial also getting back in the game. I guess the made a right choice.

      • Digifan

        Comment above was to marilyn

    • Vlad

      “The budget end of the market will be where mirrorless is won or lost despite all the whiffle spouted on these comments pages.”

      Haha, nice. Argument in a circle. The pro end of the market will be where mirrorless is won or lost despite all the whiffle spouted on these comments pages. Same like it has always been. :)

  • bli

    Perhaps a combination of supporting “their own” (Olympus) vs the foreigners, and the fact that Panasonic shows “concept” products and announces cameras “half a year” before they deliver? If Olympus announces the OM-D officially the second week of February and starts shipping in early March, that will further strengthen them.

    • DC

      Among the camera makers, Canon, Nikon, Sony, Panasonic, Olympus, Fujifilm, Pentax, Ricoh, Sigma, and Casio are considered as Japanese domestic companies; except Leica and Samsung…

      • BLI

        Of course I know this. My point is that they may feel that one of their own has been under “attack” by foreigners.

  • Mirrorless is growing quite well in Europe, I’m seeing more and more on the street and at events, apparently sales are picking up in North America too :D

  • reverse stream swimmer

    I’m surprised that the economical scandal didn’t affect the sales more during the very important last quarter of 2011! (Without it, the sales figure certainly would have been even higher.)

    Really it seems, Olympus had the right product portfolio, the three models covering the most selling segments.

    That’s a really good foundation for building a customer base with cameras and lenses, preparing for the good timing intro of the enthusiast model, the OM-D!

    Good job, Olympus!

    • You mean, bade economical man made bade camera. :-D

      • reverse stream swimmer

        Well, the financial trouble could have affected the customer loyalty? There might have been some customer fears of acquisitions by some weak at heart.

    • Dan

      I think the scandal would have made a bigger impact if Olympus where alone in the mount. Then there would have been fear that it would dissapear. With m43 there is a safety in knowing that even if Olympus goes belly up you can still use the lenses on panasonic cameras.

  • Robbie

    The Panasonic distribution sucks only with US and European markt otherwise things come really quickly in Asia.

  • I have visited Barcelona a couple of weeks ago, and the thing that struck me was the huge amount of mirror less shooters amongst the tourists. Although a lot of DSLR’s and point-and-shoot’s were spotted I had my eye on the small camera’s. I saw all kinds of PEN’s and GF2/3 and GH2. I even got eye contact with other PEN-users, very nice! By the way: most mirror less shooters were young Japanese ladies.

    • BLI

      > I even got eye contact…

      Why, oh why do they drop the “girlish” cameras? :-)

    • bilgy_no1

      When I was in Barcelona about a month ago, I was surprised to see so many Nikon 1 users: more than m4/3 or NEX. So, there you go: random observations are just that…

  • Pixnat

    Great news for 4/3 users!
    An cool to see that Olympus is getting out of financial troubles. They have always made great cameras and lenses, and it looks that they will continue to do it for many years.
    I shoot with Panasonic, Canon and Olympus cameras and lenses, but I’ve a small preference (bias :-)) for Olympus products (and this preference will grow if the coming OM-D will sports a Sony sensor :-) :-) :-))!!!

  • Esa Tuunanen

    > But we know that in Europe and USA the mirrorless market isn’t growing as fast as in Asia.

    All the more reason why you should urge Olympus and Panasonic to build complete system up to serious bodies with full grip and high end DSLR controls instead of just fashion and retro.
    In asia anything fancy and new sells always and they’ve got lot smaller hands than most people in Europe and North America.
    That’s why Canon and Nikon haven’t been panic rushing to make their systems mirrorless: With Europe and NA market already well saturated with their DSLRs in these areas they haven’t really lost anything because mirrorless cameras haven’t taken ergonomy and controls seriously.

    And as example for what sells in Japan…
    So how much that would sell in Europe and NA?

    • I have seen the washlet at an asian fair in holland but as long as the majority of people see toiletpaper as sufficient, it won’t be sold here. Me, from indonesian heritage, just use water with help of a bottle or can ,just as effective and much cheaper :-)

      • TheEye

        Olympus could make an important preventive diagnostic accessory for the washlet.

  • Duarte Bruno

    NEX-7 release? When? Where? ;)

  • 123

    good/ambitious photographer will buy a DSLR .. soccer moms and school girls will buy a mirrorless.

    there are some exceptions, sure.. but overall that will be the truth.

    • @123
      feeling insecure?

      • 123


        no retard… im using NIKON DSLR and a LEICA M9.

        but as you come up with insecurness…. are you feeling insecure because you have not enough money to buy what you really want?

        • Duarte Bruno

          321, leave!

        • Low Budget Dave

          That’s funny. There are plenty of reasons to carry around a Leica. The dumbest reason would be to show off how much you can afford.

          There are plenty of reasons to carry around a Nikon D3. The dumbest reason would be to compensate for a more personal shortcoming.

          If you get girls because you carry around a huge (or expensive) camera, then more power to you. It’s a free country, and all that. Get yourself a Rolex to go with that camera, in case the girls don’t know how much the Leica cost.

          I sometimes travel with an epl-2 because I like the pictures that it takes, it is easy to carry around, and it cost me less than a single day at Disney with my kid.

          • Duarte Bruno

            Give this guy a break, I’m sure he’ll be coming back showing us his work for NG.

        • “but as you come up with insecurness…. are you feeling insecure because you have not enough money to buy what you really want?”

          *Snicker* Yeah, money equals self-confindence. *Snicker*
          Is your last name ‘Dotcom’ by any chance?

      • “…soccer moms and school girls will buy a mirrorless.”


        The game is called football!!!

    • Frye

      Actually DSLRs are for sissies. And Leicas are for particularly wealthy sissies. Serious photographers only use digital medium format.

  • vromopodarix

    There is some truth in what you say.
    I have a friend who is an amateur photographer but very passionate about his art. He only uses a film SLR with a 50mm and a APS with a 35.

    He always says that a true photographer needs only a 50mm (though I suspect that he is very cheap to buy any more lenses :) ).

    Me on the other hand excluding the gear I have for my pro work I have a serious GAS syndrome. I have film cameras m43, medium format and handmade pinhole cameras and I am always on the lookout for my new toy.
    If I was more serious about my photography I would do as he does but I do not have the discipline.

  • JesperMP

    One thing that is not at all clear:
    Are the listed market share by number of sold cameras, or by value of the sold cameras ?
    If it is the first, then I can understand because Olympus cameras have been discounted heavily the last year.

  • bilgy_no1

    What’s missing is by how much the Mirrorless market in total has grown. So, despite losing market share, Panasonic may still have grown in total numbers.

    Secondly, these are just Japanese figures. Not insignificant, but we do know that the Japanese adoption of mirrorless has been higher than EU and US. We also know that brands perform differently in different countries. E.g. Olympus seems strong in Germany, whereas Panasonic is stronger in France and Sony in the Netherlands.

    So, too soon to cheer for Olympus, but it is a nice boost to come first in the biggest Mirrorless market so far. BTW total m4/3 market share is down by a few %, and market share of the others (Pentax Q, Nikon 1, Ricoh GXR) seems irrelevant so far. We also don’t know where Fuji X100 sits in the numbers (compact, ILC or somewhere else).

    • MichaelKJ

      What also is missing is revenue and profit data. Oly’s top selling model in Japan last year was the two generation old E-PL1 that was sold at a huge discount. Pansonic’s and Sony’s new models did better than Oly’s new models in Japan, so they may have beaten Oly in terms of profits.

      • @MichaelKJ
        rule number 1 above revenue and profit is CASHFLOW.

        # E-PL1 is still in production,”sold at a huge discount” you don’t know it’s current production cost over it’s original production cost when first launched etc.

        ….anyway who let you out?

        • Curly

          Yeah. Especially when more cash is flowing out the door than in. LOL.

        • MichaelKJ

          The current weekly rankings of mirrorless sales in Japan show the following cameras as the leading mirrorless sellers:

          Rankings are for all ILCs (both DSLRs and mirrorless)

          #4: Panasonic GF3 (double lens kit)
          #5: Nikon J1 (double lens kit)
          #7: Panasonic GF2 (double lens kit)
          #8: Panasonic GX1 kit
          #10: Nikon J1 kit
          #13 NEX C3 (double lens kit)
          #15: E-PL3 (double lens kit)

          Panasonic and Nikon are clearly doing better than Sony and Olympus.

          The E-PL1 has dropped to 20th which suggests Oly may finally be exhausting its inventory of this model.

          • rrr_hhh

            It is already difficult enough to compare the statistics of one full year, because the issueing of new models will have a strong influence and the tsunami plus the Thailad floods have not had the same consequences for all the players, but a statistic of one week only is absolutely meaningless.

            • MichaelKJ

              Given the number of cameras that are sold in one week in Japan, I don’t know why you consider weekly data “absolutely meaningless.”

              Here are the mirrorless models that were among the 20 best selling ILCs for December (I suspect January data will be even more interesting).

              #3 GF-3 (double lens kit, white)
              #10 GF-2 (double lens kit, white)
              #11 J1 (double lens kit, white)
              #12 J1 (kit lens, white)
              #14 E-PL1 (kit lens, black)
              #15 NEX 5N (double lens kit, black)
              #16 V1 (kit lens, black)
              #17 GF-3 (kit lens, white)
              #18 NEX C3 (double lens kit, white)
              #20 GF-3 (double lens kit, brown)

              Not as many mirrorless models in the top 10 as there were last week, but December data also show Pany and Nikon doing better than Sony and Oly.

          • safaridon

            I think that 3 Pany models in the top 10 sales rankings of all ILS including DSLRs is not bad at all.

  • BS Artiste

    Oly passing Panasonic is not suprising.

    I think the GH2 is over 1 year old, and the G3 did not have video.

    • rrr_hhh

      Of course the g3 has video ! I think that the G1 was the only model without, plus perhaps the GF1..

  • Frye

    I dunno, Panasonic could try selling some cameras in the U.S.

    • safaridon

      Things have changed for the better. If you look at the latest Amazon rankings in the US you will find a similar pattern is developing as that in Japan with the Nikon J1 in first spot in mirrorless with GF3 very close on its heals with the G3 in third place followed closely by the rapidly rising GX1 about equal to the NEX5N and NEXC3. Admitedly the mirrorless models are a lower percentage of the overall ILS market which includes DSLRs but Pany is doing quite well in competition with Nikon and Sony with their vast sales outlets.

  • safaridon

    I think it is more relevant to focus on current sales rather than last year as a lot has changed. As others have noted this good news for Oly is due to combination of 3 new models being introduced with significantly faster AF and fire sales or price reductions on other multiple models. On the other hand Pany was plagued initially by criticism from this and other forums that GF2 was a step backward from GF1, that GF3 was for beginners only with its touch screen, and less than enthusiastic reception for the G3 because of its DSLR shape. Perceptions changed rapidly as people started to see and use these cameras with GF2 sales soaring to the top of mirrorless ILS with price cuts and the cute small but very capable GF3 started to really catch on. Surprising that after a very fast start the NEXs have dropped back primarily because of lens size comparisons with the competition and lens availability and production setbacks from flooding. Now inspite of the small sensor Nikon 1J has risen to the top.

    If you look at the lastest weekly BCN ranking of DSLRs sales in Japan you will find that for MILS the Nikon 1J was risen to the top followed very closely by the GF3. Following behind are the GF2, EPL2, EPL3, G3, GX1, NEXC3, NEX5N, EPL1, and EP3. Note The GX1 and G3 have been rising in these rankings. These are only approximate as no sales numbers are given only ranking of a particular model, color, and lens combo. Surprisingly the NEX7 is ranked near the bottom but that may well be because of availability and higher price and Fuji X100 not mentioned?

    I am happy for the success that Oly had in 2011 in Japan and really hope that the new OM-D does prove to be a very good success for them and all of m43rds and 4/3.

    So what does that say about all our complaints about Pany and Oly not producing a NEX7 look alike? Ditto about the Nikon I sensor being way too small yet it is producing surprisingly good IQ all things considered? Also surprising that the lower specified I-J is much more popular than the I-V with its higher resolution screen and EVF but then the I-V is larger, more expensive, and lacks inbody flash. Nobody disputes that the NEX sensors are excellent but are the kit lenses able to match those potential resolutions or IQ? All these cameras are very good and give us the consumers a lot of very good choices to meet our particular wants and needs.

    • rrr_hhh

      It is useless to base any analysis on a single week ! You wasted you time. A whole year figure is way better, since you can compare it to preceding years and put the data in context (number of cameras released, new issues, etc..)

      • Vlad

        I does show interest. Depending on what you use it for, it might be useful.

      • safaridon

        Maybe a weekly snapshot is useless in your opinion but I tend to compare these from week to week and to my eyes there is a definite trend occuring and is being reflected without eratic movements. Movements in the camera industry are accelerating and changing rapidly so a yearly comparison may be misleading to current conditions hence I tried to point to the significant new releases that have been made and are being reflected in current sales.

      • MichaelKJ

        In a rapidly changing industry, yearly data could be less informative than current weekly data. In fact, it can be argued that the fact that the Nikon entered the mirrorless market late in 2011 and currently has 2 models in the ILC top 10 makes 2011 data of little use for predicting 2012 sales.

  • yukonchris

    Will wonders never cease? I use Olympus gear and am happy to see Olympus succeed but frankly don’t understand this.

    All these mirrorless cameras are also system cameras, so purchasing a camera, also means embracing a system and whatever future development that system may or may not see. Shouldn’t last year’s revelations about the governance problems at Olympus have given people pause to consider the camera division’s future?

    These market figures suggest that either the public is completely uninformed, doesn’t care, or were much smarter than the pundits and recognized then that Olympus wasn’t really in any trouble.

    In any event, these figures represent good news for Olympus users. I am looking forward to the big OM-D reveal.

  • S

    I totally agree that Panasonic’s distribution system needs a great deal of work. People should be able to get the camera/lens/accessory that they want, when they want it. When people can’t, they get fed up and look for alternatives. It is very easy to switch within micro four thirds, there are no real compatibility issues.

  • Olympus has overcome the most serious crisis in its history!
    Nothing will stop the Olympus Imaging Division now!
    With the announcement of the new OM-D-Series Olympus celebrates the come back to market leadership and success.
    After the PENs market penetration this is the second strike to regain top positions on the basis of their famous camera tradition and product excellence.
    The key to success is once again their power to innovation and the speed of developing and launching high quality products with extreme reliability.
    Olympus has the best long term strategies!
    On the way to their current break through the development of the Four Thirds System with its superior HG and SHG-lenses and the top cameras E-1, E-3, E-5 was a necessary and not jumpable step to move the potential of the whole system (Four Thirds and Micro Four Thirds) to a new dimension – the integration of HD-video and stills in a future-proof alliance.
    Special thanks go to CEO Akira Watanabe and the Olympus Imaging Division!

  • I think in mid 2012, Sony will be a leader :)

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