Sony’s #1 in full-frame ILC cameras (for 6 months now)


posted Wednesday, August 15, 2018 at 8:59 AM EST


Sony today announced that it has led the entire U.S. camera market in sales of full frame ILCs for the last 6 months, putting them ahead of full frame rivals Canon and Nikon for this coveted distinction. The NPD Group is cited as the source for this data; they're a reputable retail tracking service of long standing.

Given the rise in popularity of mirrorless cameras in general over the past five years, this may not come as a big surprise to some, but the U.S. has historically been a very DSLR-centric region for camera buyers, even as photographers in other parts of the world have more quickly adopted the new mirrorless technology. This makes the #1 spot now held by Sony even more impressive, and is indeed something to take note of here in the digital camera world.

The Sony A7R Mark III
(Runner-up for our Best Overall Camera of the Year in 2017)

Sony first came to market with a full frame mirrorless camera in December of 2013 when they announced the A7 and A7R cameras, so as of this writing they've only been playing in the full-frame ILC market for less than five years. This makes their ascendance over rivals with literally decades of experience all the more impressive.

Sony is a relative "late bloomer" to the camera market compared to the long time Big Guns of Canon and Nikon, but they were first by several years to give the world an affordable full frame mirrorless model (Leica M series models were out earlier, but "affordable" and "Leica" don't even fit in the same sentence with each other ;-), and they've done so in a very respectable fashion indeed. Carrying forward the metaphor, they're a late bloomer but an early riser, now seated atop the most prestigious segment of the entire camera market as the new reigning champ of the full frame (heavyweight?) world.

Historically speaking, Sony has long been known for innovation in the field of "good things coming in small packages." They pioneered the Walkman, which entertained a generation of music lovers in the cassette days, and then went on to create the Handycam, the DATman for the high-end audio world, and many other ground-breaking products coming in packages smaller than ever realized before.

The Sony RX100 series represents a continued dedication from Sony
for delivering "good things in small packages"

Nikon and Canon have historically dominated the camera world, and until recent days Sony had been adept at developing their own niche areas that they could exploit, exemplified by products like the NEX and the RX100 lines. Now these three heavyweights are spiraling directly towards one another in the full frame mirrorless world (Canon has been keeping entirely mum, but it's impossible to believe that they aren't doing so, particularly as we head into what's arguably the most significant Photokina show of the modern era). It promises to be a galactic-level event in terms of watching it all unfold from ringside.

In their press release revealing their ascendance to the #1 spot in full frame ILCs, Sony also announced their new "Be Alpha" campaign, which is designed to inspire the latest generation of creators. For more on this campaign, including promotional videos, you can head over to Sony's special page at their Alpha Universe site.

The questions now are these: Will Nikon's newly teased, rumored and later reported full frame mirrorless camera bring on the heat and challenge the new full frame champ? Will Canon also be stepping into the ring with a full-frame mirrorless model? These are intriguing questions for both photographers as well as your loyal and faithful IR review team, and we certainly wait with eager anticipation.

These are exciting times to be an enthusiast photographer! Stay tuned, as we will bring you in-depth coverage, images and analysis as soon it's available. (IR Founder and Publisher Dave Etchells is even now winging his way to Tokyo; you can connect the dots yourself to guess why ;-) And please weigh in on the comments section below if you have anything to add to the discussion of Sony's current full frame dominance, and of the forthcoming heavyweight bout about to commence. After all, even Sony is about "due" for another new full frame product, themselves! (We don't have any special knowledge, and if we did, we couldn't speculate, but it doesn't take a crystal ball to look at the regular pattern of Sony's product announcements, consider that this is a Photokina year, and then conclude that they must have something up their sleeves as well :-)