Last week on November 10, 2015, Canon produced its 80 millionth EOS camera, which comes roughly 21 months after it reached the 70 million camera milestone. The 80 millionth EOS camera to roll off the production line was the Canon 5DS R.
The EOS line was introduced in March 1987 (starting with the EOS 650) and heavily picked up pace after Canon started producing consumer-oriented DSLRs. And it took 10 years for Canon to reach the 10 million EOS camera production mark back in those film days.
In December 2007, Canon reached the 30 million milestone with DSLRs making up 10 million models. Later in 2010, Canon reached the 40 million EOS camera milestone and the next few years churned out another 30 million by February 2014 to make it 70 million total cameras.
When we look back in a decade or two, I think we are going to see those years between 2007 and 2013 or so as a special period for the digital camera market alongside a boom in enthusiast photographers. We all like to point now to what the smartphone is doing to the photography market, but I think it’s equally important to consider just how accessible that the DSLR made photography for the complete novice. Careers have been built and destinies forever altered because so many people were able to order a DSLR on the internet or from a department store and have an accessibility to photography that never existed before.
The market is still strong compared to 15 years ago, but the massive numbers from those DSLR-crazed years are starting to slow down and camera manufacturers are finding ways to create niche products so they can continue to entice the enthusiasts and novice photographers.
Pros are always going to buy the gear, but the money for Canon and other manufacturers comes from moving numbers of cheap cameras like the Canon Rebel series. That’s a much tougher sell in today’s world of the 20MP and 4K video smartphone.
While Canon doesn’t release its sales numbers of specific camera models, as I pointed out last year, it is simple to draw the inference from the 80 million cameras produced and 110 million EF lenses produced since 1987 as evidence that the vast majority of EOS cameras sold are DSLR kits – and soon to be mirrorless kits. The Rebel series has to dwarf everything else and those prosumer models are likely a high percentage of kits sold as well.
As a Canon EOS M10 owner, I think Canon is onto something (finally) in the mirrorless department. The M10 resides at the bottom of the pipeline but has the right feature set for a consumer camera. As long as Canon gets on with it and expands its mirrorless line in the next year or so, I think the EOS M line will turn out well (even if a little late to the party).
I suspect we’ll see that production number hit the 90 million mark in a couple more years.