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Digital Imaging: Refocusing on Emerging Tech

Consumers are taking more photos and videos than ever, but the market for dedicated digital imaging products appears to be on the decline. In 2011, the digital imaging market was four times the size it is today. For the most part, the decline is due to the decrease in sales of digital point-and-shoot cameras, which have been greatly affected by the prevalence of smartphones.

Meanwhile, other dedicated digital imaging devices have held steady and new devices, such as action cameras and 360 cameras, have proved that consumers are looking to this segment for innovation and specialization.

Beyond that, digital imaging serves as a critical embedded functionality in many other emerging technologies, and so the market has potential for future growth.

Zooming In on the Dedicated Digital Imaging Market

Digital imaging is diversifying to stay relevant, with the introduction of new functionalities and the expansion of digital images beyond a standard photo print.         

  • Unit sales of DSLR cameras have remained consistent over the years, with sales remaining at or above 2 million units a year.
  • Unit sales of mirrorless cameras have fluctuated from negative to positive growth over the years and have surpassed half a million units in the past couple of years.
  • Action cameras and 360 cameras have close to 60 percent or more year-over-year growth in their first two years on the market, after which the growth paces down, maintaining a positive year-over-year growth.  

Including Digital Imaging in the Bigger Emerging Technology Picture

We see a positive growth trend across many emerging technology products that make use of digital imaging, such as drones and virtual and augmented reality eyewear.

Drones are gaining traction among consumers for their embedded digital imaging capabilities, such as the ability to take aerial pictures, search and rescue operations, crop surveillance, and inspection of property or other physical infrastructure.

Augmented reality and virtual reality eyewear extensively rely on high-quality digital images for use in short films, gaming, education or other industrial applications.

Cameras that shoot in 360 degrees will likely have a growing market — with social media embracing panoramic pictures and 360 videos — assuming the devices have user-friendly image or video sharing capabilities. 


By viewing the digital imaging market through the lens of its inclusion in emerging technology, there is renewed potential for growth.

For more information about the digital imaging market, see the CTA report Experiences and Opportunities in Digital Imaging. >