Decline of the compact camera: no more point-and-shoot

Point-and-shoot cameras are dead, according to Nikkei. Not only has the market collapsed to a fraction of its former size, but nearly every major manufacturer has either discontinued their compact range or simply haven’t made a new model in years. While smartphones are being blamed for a lot of unrelated things right now, it’s probably fair to say that their rise is directly responsible for the decline of compact cameras.

The Decline of Compact Cameras: A Decade of Decline

Global point-and-shoot shipments peaked at 110.7 million cameras in 2008, a year after the introduction of the iPhone (with its paltry two-megapixel rear camera). Since then, the market has fallen – just 3.01 million compact cameras were sold worldwide in 2021 – as smartphone cameras have improved.

Personally, I would say that the five-megapixel camera of the iPhone 4S, released in 2011, was the turning point for many people. It was the first smartphone camera I’ve ever used that seemed to be able to take great photos.

Quiet stops

Although no major camera maker has declared the compact camera market dead, they all act like it. The proof of the compact camera’s decline is in the pudding: according to NikkeiCanon, Nikon, Panasonic, Fujifilm and Sony have all significantly reduced or halted production.

Canon hasn’t released a new compact camera since 2019, despite saying Nikkei it was “shifting to high-end models” while continuing to support low-end models. At least, as long as there is still demand.

Nikon, according to Nikkei, ceased developing its “Coolpix” line of compact cameras. Nikon said it was selling two “high magnification models”, although their future is at the mercy of the market.

The Ricoh GR IIIx was one of the few compact cameras released in 2021. Jeff Keller

panasonic said Nikkei that he planned to continue making compact cameras, however, he had scaled back production and was focusing his development efforts on high-end mirrorless cameras, including one he is working on with Leica.

According NikkeiFujifilm has stopped producing its “FinePix” line of compact cameras, although it still produces high-end models like the X100V.

Finally, Sony said Nikkei that it hadn’t stopped developing compact cameras, although it hadn’t released a new one since 2019. Currently, there are a handful of high-end ‘current’ Sony compacts on the market.

Ricoh your way

Related: Ricoh GR IIIx review – a delicious and capable pocket camera

With Canon, Nikon, Panasonic, Fujifilm and Sony all out, the only companies left are Ricoh/Pentax and OM Digital (formerly Olympus) – neither of which are mentioned in the Nikkei article.

While OM Digital is still transitioning to its new ownership structure, Ricoh is just doing Ricoh things. It has released two different point-and-shoots over the past year: the Rioch GR IIIx and the Rioch WG-80.

Admittedly, neither is a typical point-and-shoot. The GR IIIx has an APS-C sensor and f/2.8 lens, while the WG-80 is rugged and waterproof, and both target different high-end segments.

Change of hours

It looks like after a turbulent decade, we might finally see things calm down in the camera industry. Canon thinks the camera market has largely ‘bottomed out’, so it makes sense that major manufacturers would stop trying to push point-and-shoot on a largely uninterested audience. The good news is that they then have the resources to invest in the kinds of cameras that people still buy.

However, if you still want a point-and-shoot, Ricoh is the obvious brand to turn to.