Power to the people: DSLR manufacturers ranked by online purchasers


posted Monday, July 2, 2012 at 12:00 PM EST

Pentax's K-5 digital SLR with O-GPS1 GPS accessory. J.D. Power ranked Pentax as the best manufacturer for online purchases.Late last week, marketing info services company J.D. Power and Associates released its annual Digital Single-Lens Reflex Camera Online Buyer Report, created in cooperation with Bazaarvoice's PowerReviews service. Some 8,100 verified DSLR buyers were polled by PowerReviews, and asked to rate their purchase in five key areas. From most to least important, these included overall picture quality; durability and reliability (including damage resistance, battery life and sturdiness); variety of features; ease of operation; and operation speed (including shutter lag). Purchase price information was also collected. J.D. Power has ranked the main manufacturers on a 1,000 point scale, and provided an industry average figure.

Unfortunately, the company doesn't state if the survey is worldwide or limited to the US market, although we're guessing it's likely the latter. It also doesn't state how long each consumer had owned the camera, which we'd imagine would have a significant impact on the durability and reliability ranking in particular.

The results of the survey are nevertheless quite interesting. The industry average satisfaction is almost identical to that from last year, at some 888 points out of 1,000, versus 887 points in 2012, something that suggests to us that the data is likely meaningful. The average purchase price climbed significantly, though, to some US$1,291 in 2012, compared to US$937 in 2011.

Pentax's flagship K-5 digital SLR in limited-edition silver body color. J.D. Power has singled out Pentax's DSLRs as the most likely to satisfy online purchasers. Photo provided by Pentax. Click for a bigger picture!

Pentax's flagship K-5 digital SLR in limited-edition silver body color. J.D. Power has singled out Pentax's DSLRs as the most likely to satisfy online purchasers.
Photo provided by Pentax.

Canon, which dominates the DSLR market with its EOS series, hit exactly the industry average satisfaction level. It was singled out as having performed particularly well on image quality, as rated by end-users, suggesting that the company has done a good job of tweaking the look of its images to the public's tastes. Overall, however, the company was beaten out just slightly by rival Nikon, with a score of 891 points.

The overall leader was neither of the big two, though. Ricoh's Pentax brand was ranked the best of all, with a score of 899 points. J.D. Power called out Pentax's DSLRs as having particularly good ratings for durability / reliability / battery life; variety of features; ease of operation; and operation speed.

Three companies trailed the industry average, according to J.D. Power. Sony and Olympus scored 878 and 872 points respectively, slightly behind the average. J.D. Power's data showed Panasonic trailing the field by a larger margin, with a score of 801, about 90% of the industry average based on end-user ratings.

J.D. Power has given each manufacturer its Power Circle rating, which aims to distil the data and provide an overall assessment for consumers. Both Pentax and Nikon's performance merited a rating of "Among the Best", according to J.D. Power, while Canon, Sony, and Olympus all received a rating of "About Average".


Press Release

J.D. Power and Associates Reports: DSLR Camera Average Online Purchase Price Increases By More Than $350 from 2011

Pentax Ranks Highest in Online Buyer Satisfaction with DSLR Cameras

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif.: 28 June 2012 -- Online buyers of digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) cameras pay $1,291, on average, for their camera, up from $937 in 2011, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2012 Digital Single-Lens Reflex Camera Online Buyer ReportSM released today.

The report examines satisfaction with digital single-lens reflex camera brands among verified online buyers. Responses were collected via PowerReviews--a social commerce network recently acquired by Bazaarvoice--and reflect the attitudes of actual DSLR camera owners who used an e-commerce site to make their purchase. The study measures satisfaction with DSLR cameras across five factors (listed in order of importance): picture quality (including picture clarity, sharpness and color); durability and reliability (including damage resistance, battery life and sturdiness); variety of features (including zoom, image stabilization and low light settings); ease of operation; and shutter speed/lag time (overall speed of the camera, including shutter lag time).

Pentax ranks highest in online buyer satisfaction with a score of 899 (on a 1,000-point scale), followed closely by Nikon (891) and Canon (888). Pentax performs particularly well in durability and reliability; variety of features; ease of operation; and shutter speed/lag time, while Canon performs well in the picture quality factor.

"Pentax's customer base has shifted since 2011 from casual photographers to those who consider themselves semiprofessional or professional photographers," said Sara Wong Hilton, director at J.D. Power and Associates. "In fact, across the industry, the results indicate a slight increase in self-identified semiprofessional photographers, possibly leading to the purchase of more high-end camera systems."

Despite a shift in DSLR camera buyer demographics, overall satisfaction remains stable (888 in 2012 compared with 887 in 2011).

The 2012 Digital Single-Lens Reflex Camera Online Buyer Report is based on responses provided to J.D. Power and Associates through PowerReviews from more than 8,100 verified buyers who purchased a DSLR camera online. The study was fielded from May 2011 through April 2012.

About J.D. Power and Associates
Headquartered in Westlake Village, Calif., J.D. Power and Associates is a global marketing information services company operating in key business sectors including market research, forecasting, performance improvement, Web intelligence and customer satisfaction.  The company's quality and satisfaction measurements are based on responses from millions of consumers annually.  For more information on car reviews and ratings, car insurance, health insurance, cell phone ratings, and more, please visit JDPower.com. J.D. Power and Associates is a business unit of The McGraw-Hill Companies.

About The McGraw-Hill Companies
McGraw-Hill announced on September 12, 2011, its intention to separate into two public companies: McGraw-Hill Financial, a leading provider of content and analytics to global financial markets, and McGraw-Hill Education, a leading education company focused on digital learning and education services worldwide. McGraw-Hill Financial's leading brands include Standard & Poor's Ratings Services, S&P Capital IQ, S&P Indices, Platts energy information services and J.D. Power and Associates. With sales of $6.2 billion in 2011, the Corporation has approximately 23,000 employees across more than 280 offices in 40 countries. Additional information is available at http://www.mcgraw-hill.com/.

About Bazaarvoice
Bazaarvoice, a leading social software company, brings the voice of customers to the center of business strategy for nearly 1,800 clients globally like Best Buy, Costco, Dell, Macy's, P&G, Panasonic, QVC, and USAA. Bazaarvoice helps clients create social communities on their brand websites and Facebook pages where customers can engage in conversations. These conversations can be syndicated across Bazaarvoice's global network of client websites and mobile devices, which allows manufacturers to connect directly with customers. The social data derived from online word of mouth translates into actionable insights that improve marketing, sales, customer service, and product development. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, Bazaarvoice has offices in Amsterdam, London, Munich, New York, San Francisco, Paris, Stockholm, and Sydney. For more information, visit www.bazaarvoice.com, read the blog at www.bazaarvoice.com/blog, and follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bazaarvoice.

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No advertising or other promotional use can be made of the information in this release without the express prior written consent of J.D. Power and Associates.

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