Camera and Printing Trends

Camera and Printing Trends

By Ron Leach, Publisher

When industry mavens put on their thinking caps in an attempt to gauge the future direction of the photographic industry, they typically start by analyzing trends in camera sales. Then they quantify the resulting data into various demographic segments and product categories. In that regard, the news is mixed: digital camera sales grew 18% in August 2006, while sales of film cameras that month dropped by almost 54% as compared to August 2005.

Another metric worth looking at, however, is the volume of prints made from digital still cameras. And here, the trends are uniformly positive. According to a recent report by the Photo Marketing Association (PMA), the total number of prints in all sizes made from digital still cameras grew by 63% in the 12 months ending in August 2006. It's also interesting to look at where these prints are being made: Online print ordering grew by 154%, while printing at retail minilabs and instant kiosks increased by 82% and 39% respectively.

At the same time, the volume of images printed at home grew by a solid 42%, thanks, in part, to the continued innovation by manufacturers of affordable photo-realistic inkjet printers.

The PMA survey from which we obtained this data included some specifics regarding the camera sales figures mentioned above. It turns out that six out of every 10 cameras sold this past August featured 6-megapixel resolution or greater. In fact, cameras with 6 to 6.9-megapixel sensors represented the greatest share of sales at 42%. The number of 35mm SLRs sold in August, on the other hand, dropped by 79% as compared to the same month in 2005. As you might suspect, the average prices paid for film cameras is continuing to drop along with declines in units sold.