News: Recent top-five camera sales in Japan

The February issue of Nippon Camera lists the top five cameras in various sales categories as calculated by Bic Camera, one of the largest camera retail chains in Japan, for the period 2004.12.20-2004.12.31:

Digital SLRs
  1. Konica Minolta alpha-7 (aka Maxxum 7D)
  2. Pentax *ist DS
  3. Canon EOS 20D
  4. Nikon D70
  5. Pentax *ist DS lens set

Discussion: This was surprising to me. Among the circles I travel, the Canon EOS digital cameras have been the most popular, but the 20D only ranks third in sales. The Japanese camera press has been giving the new KM alpha-7 very high reviews, especially for its built in body anti-shake feature. The same issue of Nippon Camera shows the KM body's anti-shake is right up there with Nikon's VR and Canon's IS, even besting them in some areas. My guess is that all of the people who had Minolta alpha lenses have gone out and bought the digital alpha-7. Canon's own share of the SLR market is diluted by its D60, 10D, 20D, and Kiss Digital (Digital Rebel) -- which interestingly did not make the top five. Canon may have greater market share as a whole, but the alpha-7 is the best selling camera.

Film SLRs
  1. Nikon F6
  2. Canon EOS Kiss 7 (aka Rebel)
  3. Canon EOS 7 double-zoom kit
  4. Pentax *ist
  5. Konica Minolta alpha-70

Discussion: I was also surprised that the F6 made the top despite my report on it last year. It's an expensive camera ($3000~) and many analysts couldn't figure out why Nikon was putting out another pro-level film camera when Canon has intimated that we won't see any more professional EOS film cameras being developed. But obviously they made the right decision.

Digital Compact Cameras
  1. Canon IXY Digital 50
  2. Pentax Optio S50
  3. Konica Minolta DiMage X50
  4. Sony Cybershot DSC-T3
  5. Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX7

Discussion: Nothing particularly surprising here. Market analysts are saying in Japan that in two or three years, the number of digital point and shoot manufacturers will be cut in half. There is just no profit in the market, despite good sales (see my earlier CPIA analysis for details).

Medium Format Film Cameras
  1. Mamiya 645 Pro TL
  2. Mamiya RZ67 Pro IID
  3. Mamiya 7 II
  4. Contax 645
  5. Bronica RF645

Discussion: Interestingly, the Pentax 67 did not make the top five. Nor did Hasselblad (which is terribly overpriced in Japan). The new Mamiya RZ is selling well and I think people are excited by their announcement of the Mamiya ZD digital camera as well as the ZD back for the RZ.

As always, comments and feedback always welcome. Images of cameras used here are copyright the respective manufacturers.


mehyar said...

Konica Minolta Alpha 7 is an impressive camera. i like its colors..



10:06 AM  
nasukaren said...

I always thought that Minolta's engineers were right up there with Canon in terms of their geekiness and ingenuity. After all, the Alpha-7000 was the first interchangeable SLR camera with built in autofocus. I was very jealous when my dad got his. But he gave me his Pentax Spotmatic SP, so I was happy.

My only issue with Minoltas is that they have way too many buttons! There's a button for every single feature. I guess some people like this, I like cleaner interfaces.

In the Nippon Camera test, the Minolta clearly beats Canon and Nikon in several of the image stabilization tests. And doing this with the glass you already have has got to be nice. I dunno, except for my dad's a-7000 now long retired, I don't have access to any Minolta AF glass.

10:33 AM  
mehyar said...

i would be interested to find out who manufactures the sensor for the Konica Minolta. overall, it looks like Minolta has developed a fantastic image processing algorithm, well balanced colors and with depth. reminds of Agfa film prints. i have no familiarity with their lenses though.

on the popularity of this camera in Japan...i once saw on the grounds of Jingoji, something like 100 retired folks with fancy cameras.

too many buttons reduce reliability. however, they are coming back..it seems. HP/Agilent for instance is replacing some of the software menus on their instruments with buttons because of complaints by engineers who were not comfortable having to remember several layers of menus/commands on tens of instruments each with its own unique operating system.

and that brings up a favorite subject...information overload.

3:32 PM  
Barron said...

I love all the knobs and dials. That's one reason I bough my Alpha 507si. I can tell what settings I have for the camera by just glancing at it, no power-on needed. Minolta repeated this philosophy on their 9 and 7 film slr's, and now the 7D. It really makes the cameras easy to use, and fast setup as well.

12:19 PM  

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