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The Evolution of the Consumer Digital Interchangeable Lens Camera Segment Strategic Opportunities with Photo Enthusiasts


This study is the latest in a series of studies that InfoTrends has conducted over the last three years on the U.S. digital SLR and compact interchangeable lens camera market. These studies have historically examined the unique attitudes, purchasing decision drivers, and imaging behaviors of digital single lens reflex camera (DSLR) owners and potential buyers in the U.S. market. Not only are these individuals investing in cameras, but also in accessories, software, output, and related connected devices (i.e. tablets, smartphones). They are a highly engaged segment of the digital imaging population that is growing each year, and their interests and needs are changing as fast as their numbers. The interchangeable lens camera market is currently evolving into two segments: the digital SLR and the compact interchangeable lens camera. The DSLR segment will continue to account for the majority of sales in this market; but compact interchangeable lens cameras are gaining significant shares in some regions around the world. As a whole, the category is still projected to achieve high sales growth, even as the supply tightens up this year in wake of the Japan earthquake disaster.

The U.S. market has seen sales increases of compact interchangeable lens cameras but they still have not gained a strong foothold in the market. Current compact interchangeable lens camera vendors are looking to challenge the dominance of digital SLR cameras and convince consumers to switch over to these more compact models. But they have not come up with the magical combination of features, functions, and price. Consumer awareness of the category remains low as well. Currently, compact interchangeable lens cameras primarily appeal to early adopting hobbyists who need an additional camera that can be used as a backup to their digital SLR camera. For the market to grow, the cameras must gain appeal to a wider and a less-advanced audience of photographers.

For today’s digital imaging vendors, the need to continually identify and profile consumer owners and potential buyers of all types of interchangeable lens cameras remains high. They must understand their attitudes, needs, desires, purchasing decision drivers, and use of complementary devices/software/services. Monitoring year-over-year changes and trends among the targeted consumers is also critical from both a product planning and a marketing perspective. InfoTrends believes it is important for vendors not only to examine DSLR and compact interchangeable lens camera owners but also their likely buyers. If the compact interchangeable lens camera segment in particular is to grow in the U.S., vendors need to understand what products and marketing messages will entice potential buyers. Understanding attitudes and desires among different potential user groups such as hobbyists, advanced hobbyists, females, and young adults will be important for setting priorities, especially in a time when marketing funds are tight.

This study explores what is driving photo activity among owners of DSLRs and compact interchangeable lens cameras, and which services and products they are using and anticipate using in the future. In addition, the study investigates their typical imaging workflows, creative activities, use of apps, and the use of viewing and sharing devices like tablets and iPads. All players in this marketplace, including digital camera vendors, accessory vendors, software, service, and output vendors can benefit directly from the findings of this study. It provides a complete understanding of the consumer digital interchangeable lens camera owner today and what may be in store for the future. It segments, sizes, and forecasts the camera hardware market by specific price bands, and also provides recommendations for both hardware vendors and software/service providers.

Project Objectives

This study picks up where our 2010 study left off, and provides additional insights on topics of growing importance. It considers why consumer-level hobbyists and photo enthusiasts are choosing one particular class of camera over another, examines brand level influences on the category, studies additional use cases related to images and HD video, and identifies significant year-over-year changes where applicable.

Additional information objectives included:

  • Demographic profiling of owners and future owners
  • Examination of owner and future owner attitudes, behaviors, and preferences
  • Analysis of the current purchasing process (awareness, consideration, purchase)
  • Digital photo activities
  • Current feature usage
  • Future feature requirements
  • Relative importance of product attributes
  • Accessory purchase and usage patterns by type of consumer
    * Breakouts by class of accessory where appropriate
  • Use of software (creative, editing, management, workflow)
  • Use of tablets, iPads, and smartphones for imaging
  • Printing and storage behaviors
  • Size, segment, and forecast the market by camera price band
    * Units
    * Revenue
  • Identify opportunities and strategies for technology vendors and service providers

Project Deliverables

Clients will receive a combination of reports, presentation material, and research data for senior management, product managers and planners, and sales and marketing executives. The material will include:

  • Summary report that addresses key issues, findings, market drivers and barriers, the forecastand trends, and overall recommendations
  • Presentation-style PowerPoint slides with data on research findings
  • Data book of the survey tabulations for additional analysis of key questions and market segments

Getting Started

For more information or to sign up as a participant, contact Matt O’Keefe at +1 781 616 2100 ext. 115 or e-mail


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