Picturing a new market

Apr 08 2014, 09:21 IST
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SummaryCamera firms are trying to find new buyers for DSLRs

I own a six-year-old digital single-lens reflex camera (DSLR) that cost me a year of EMIs to buy. That is still my primary camera, but I am quite comfortable leaving it at home for most occasions, preferring my iPhone 4 to click family pictures instead. A lot of people think this way nowadays, and have almost stopped buying compact cameras that don’t do much more than what their phone cameras do.

No wonder then that the entry-level camera market has been shrinking the world over, prompting camera giants like Canon and Nikon to look at other strategies to grow in an increasingly tough market. They need to sell their high-end DSLRs more to stay relevant in these changing times. But, for years, the DSLR was pitched as a camera for the professional photographer, while the companies pushed smaller, easier to use compact cameras for amateur users.

Canon is already bidding adieu to this decades old strategy and has started putting families in the viewfinder. “The DSLR is a consumer product and not a professional one. For years we have gone out of the way to pitch these cameras to professionals,” says Dr. Alok Bharadwaj, Executive vice-president of Canon India. The company is clearly gunning for the family segment, pitching the DSLR as a complete imaging solution. Bharadwaj agrees the DSLR is a complex product and hence difficult to sell. “It has multiple lenses and features… It is a bit like a high-end car for many people. It is also expensive. The cheapest DSLR in the market is now priced at Rs 28,995,” he says, adding that this is why they are still not big in the consumer segment despite their huge potential.

Canon and Nikon are also banking big on the videography capabilities of their new breed of cameras. All of them can shoot in broadcast quality Full HD resolution, and this extra value for home videos could make it a more interesting proposition for many Indian families, says Bharadwaj.

Just about 3 lakh DSLRs were sold in India in the last fiscal, a growth of around 30%. Canon’s rival Nikon claims about 51% of the market in DSLRs, a position it has consolidated over the past couple of years. Both companies are confident that the DSLR segment will grow 30% in the coming year.

Nikon does not believe the smartphone has won just as yet. “The sensor size of mobile phone cameras is

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