Tilt-Shift Report: How Fast Is The Used Mirrorless Market Growing?
Welcome to the Tilt-Shift Report, where we share exclusive data and unique insights into the latest trends in camera gear buying, trading and selling.
For our first topic, let's tackle a popular question—just how fast is the market for used mirrorless camera gear growing?
Photographers are rightfully curious about this topic. Especially if they're weighing the decision to sell off their DSLR kit to make the leap into mirrorless.
So, let me spoil the answer right off the bat—the used mirrorless market is growing fast. Very fast. And it's overtaking the used DSLR market in meaningful areas of our business.
Got time to dig in a little deeper? Right on—let's go.
As you know, we specialize in selling, buying, and trading used gear, and to this day, DSLRs are a huge part of our business. They are proven, field-tested, and reliable workhorses for a huge section of photographers out there, pros and enthusiasts alike, and we don't see that going away any time soon.
Looking slightly back, DSLRs ruled our top 10 best-selling cameras of the decade from 2010 to 2019. But, as I mentioned in that article, it was just a matter of time before mirrorless cameras would start sneaking into the top 10, and eventually take over.
Well, it didn't take too long, because in 2020, three mirrorless bodies appeared on our year-end top 10 list, with the Sony a6000 blowing past the rest of the competition to take the top spot.
It takes a huge volume of sales to get to the top of our list, so it's clear that there's a tremendous amount of Sony a6000's circulating out there to feed both supply and demand.
Additionally, we've seen that the Sony E-mount in general, is a camera system that many are actively seeking and selecting as their first foray into interchangeable-lens photography, or as an upgrade from a previous generation DSLR.
As I'm sure you're all well-aware, because of this, Canon and Nikon, who ruled the DSLR market for decades, finally decided to refocus their attention on mirrorless over the last few years, and have been playing catch-up to Sony ever since, especially in the full-frame category.
Looking at our own data, it's easy to see just how fast the market is tilting the scales away from DSLR. Over the last three years, our revenue from DSLR bodies has shrunk by 6%, whereas revenue for mirrorless bodies has grown by 91%.
For lenses too, mirrorless has been outpacing the previous generations—DSLR lenses have seen a 12% increase in revenue over the period of 2018 to 2020, while mirrorless lenses have nearly doubled at 87% over the same period.
You may notice that overall, DSLR lenses still make up a larger bulk of our revenue when compared to mirrorless, and that's certainly notable. The ability to adapt DSLR lenses to newer mirrorless bodies has kept that category of gear still relevant, and it looks to continue to be that way for the foreseeable future.
It's also worth noting that the increase in volume of mirrorless gear we sell is not the only factor feeding revenue growth. Mirrorless cameras also have a higher average price, by a whopping 78%. These higher sticker prices help close that gap much faster.
There's a number of factors responsible for these higher average prices for mirrorless gear. It's not just because, generally speaking, it's newer gear.
Over the last few years, manufacturers have doubled down on the higher-end, pro and prosumer market since smartphones have eaten up their share of the entry-level consumer market.
At the same time, competition has heated up between manufacturers to cram more of the latest tech into their camera bodies and lenses and speeding up their production cycles, further contributing to the increase in average price.
Now that manufacturers are focusing on mirrorless, and photographers have started making it their first choice, the tipping point is all but imminent where mirrorless overtakes DSLR as the biggest piece of the pie.
In fact, at KEH, we finally saw this happen in December of 2020—it was the first time in our history where mirrorless beat DSLR in revenue generated. All signs point to this shift to continue over 2021.
What's always fascinating about our data is that we come to it from the aftermarket perspective, which draws an accurate picture of what people are actually still shooting, selling and rebuying—what has staying power and what is dropping off.
So what say you? Does any of this data surprise you, or does it simply support your suspicions? Do you have full confidence in mirrorless for your needs? Are any of you DSLR shooters that have been holding out finally looking to make the switch?