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Is the Canon-Nikon dominance over? Sony now #2 in the UK

23 Jan Posted by Matt in News |
Is the Canon-Nikon dominance over? Sony now #2 in the UK

For a long time, the interchangeable lens camera market has been dominated by two huge players, Canon and Nikon, with a small field of other manufacturers picking up the scraps.  Now new figures analysed by Amateur Photographer show Sony at the number two spot in the UK, forcing Nikon into third place.

CaNikon Logo

Of course until a couple of years ago the interchangeable lens camera market was essentially just the Digital SLR (and, for what it’s worth, film SLR) market. Now the picture is much different with compact system cameras becoming increasingly popular in recent times, eroding the market share of their larger SLR counterparts significantly.

Nikon D3100 DSLR Camera

Nikon D3100: Losing ground to less bulky rivals

Compact system cameras offer many of the benefits of Digital SLRs, including interchangeable lenses, full manual controls, and excellent image quality, yet are physically much smaller.

Neither Nikon or Canon have a compact system range at this time, so whilst both manufacturers still perform well for traditional full-size Digital SLR cameras, customers after something a bit more portable have been forced to look elsewhere. For now at least, it looks like a good portion of that elsewhere has been Sony.

Sony Success

Sony offer both traditional Digital SLR and compact system models, which for the purposes of gaining the number two ‘interchangeable lens’ crown puts them in a strong position.  Their Alpha line of Digital SLRs is well-rounded, having spawned from Sony’s takeover of Konica-Minolta.

The fact that they have some viable professional models in the range and utilise the same lens system as old Minolta cameras and lenses will have helped keep sales stronger than they may have been on this front.

Sony NEX-5

Sony NEX-5: The smallest around

The big game-changer though is Sony’s NEX series of compact system cameras.  We really liked the Sony NEX-5 in our recent Best Compact System Camera for Beginners group test, though it was narrowly pipped to number one spot by the excellent Olympus E-PL1.

What the NEX-5 and it’s smaller brother, the NEX-3, both do very well is cram a lot of features into an elegant and extremely small body.

Both cameras have an APS-C sized image sensor – the same as what you’d get in all but the most expensive Digital SLRs.  They also boast the smallest body of any compact system camera currently on the market, which will no doubt win it fans amongst those who have disregarded a Digital SLR on size grounds.

Already have a Sony Alpha Digital SLR? Bad luck I’m afraid; the NEX series uses its own lens system, known as the E-Mount, and so isn’t compatible with Sony or Minolta SLR lenses.

Other Rivals

Sony may have been the one to break the seemingly unbreakable duo at the top, but this owes itself largely to the fact they operate competitively in both the compact system and Digital SLR markets.  Panasonic have seen great sales from their LUMIX line of interchangeable lens cameras, and the Olympus PEN line of compact system cameras have done very well given the mediocre sales the company has seen from its Digital SLR range in recent years.

What Next?

We don’t think this is the end of the Canon/Nikon dominance, merely a small blip that both companies will be desperate to patch up.  Certainly at the prosumer and professional level Canon and Nikon are still very much the dominant forces that they have been for years.

Nikon Mirrorless EVIL

Nikon Compact System mock-up (unknown source)

Fortunately for Nikon fans, we have strong word that the eagerly anticipated and heavily rumoured Nikon compact system (or EVIL) line of cameras is going to be announced very shortly.

Certainly from the time it’s taken to develop and from some of the rumours we’ve seen flying around, when the Nikon compact system is released we’re expecting it to offer features that nobody else is currently offering.

At the moment we are still expecting an announcement before March this year, and put the Nikon compact system as one of our hottest Digital Camera Predictions for 2011.

We covered the latest Nikon EVIL rumours a couple of weeks ago, but just to re-cap we’re expecting the following to be among the list of potential new features:

  • A new lens mount, but compatibility with Nikon F Mount lenses using an adapter
  • A large Electronic Viewfinder
  • An innovative flash system to overcome difficulties with the flash being very close to the lens on a smaller body.

So, Sony may be basking in celebration after some promising pre-Christmas sales, but this war may only just be starting…


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