Canon's plan to thrive in era of smartphone cameras and Instagram

For the first time in nearly a decade, sales of digital cameras have improved; up from around 24.2 million units in 2016, to 25 million units last year. The uptick is modest and pales in comparison to the 125 million sold in 2010, before the market fell of a cliff in the wake of improved smartphone cameras and the rise of Instagram.

But most interesting is where the growth is happening. While point-and-shoot camera sales remain steady, growth is coming from high end fixed lens cameras, mirrorless cameras, and DSLRs.

Canon's Experience Store in Melbourne opens this week.

Canon’s Experience Store in Melbourne opens this week.

This comes as no surprise to Andrew Giles, Senior Manager of Communications and Public Relations at Canon Australia. Canon, like the rest of the industry, has seen its point-and-shoot market almost vanish, but doesn't seem too concerned.

"We used to see far more people buying a point and shoot as their first camera," Giles explained. "And if they got bitten by the photography bug, they might look to an SLR."

"Now, their first camera is more likely to be a smartphone, but there are so many more smartphone photographers out there, taking photos every day, than we ever saw with point and shoot cameras. So there are far more people discovering photography.

"And now we're seeing them make the jump straight to a mirrorless camera or SLR, skipping the point and shoot all together."

Canon has been addressing this market of budding enthusiasts better than most. Late last year the company introduced an entry level DSLR, the EOS 200D. The 200D included Guided Display, a simple, graphical interface that explains some of the technical jargon around camera settings, like aperture and shutter speed.

Giles understands that photography can seem intimidating. Hoping to address this is the Canon Collective, a series of meet-ups and photography workshops run around the country. "We hear from a lot of customers who buy a new camera, but then find they don't use it as much as they'd want to; only bringing it out for birthdays or on holidays. We saw a real need for community events to get people shooting."

Canon's Collective has stepped into the gap left from Flickr's collapse, and the series of community events the site would generate in its heyday. The Collective can run as many as fifty workshops and events per week.

Canon also last week opened an "Experience Store" in Melbourne. A world's first for the company, products are out on display, not in locked glass cabinets, so it's easy to get hands on with the entire range. The massive space is set up with small portrait booths, an art gallery upstairs, and a professional studio space out back. Canon plans to run workshops from the store.

"It's all about helping people fall in love with photography" said Giles.

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