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Top five best selling DSLR cameras & is Nikon marketing falling behind?

I am going to continue the series of Ritz reports. This time I got the top five best selling DSLR cameras for the month of September (this data is for a whole region that includes multiple states):
  1. Sony A200
  2. Sony A350
  3. Nikon D80 (yes, not the D90!)
  4. Canon Rebel XSi
  5. Nikon D40
Here is the email I got, I could not have said it better:
"No joke about Sony though. We don't even take an A350 out of the box to demo anymore, because they go so fast. Basically Sony had trumped all the other brands feature-wise at the entry and mid-level price points. $499 buys you a 10.2MP, image stabilization, and an 18-70mm lens, while Nikon and Canon stand with less pixels, no stabilization, and 18-55's. $799 buys you all that plus 14.2MP, Quick AF Live View, and a large fold out screen. The D80 is at that price now but is inferior at every spec, and Canon's XSi has fewer pixels, no screen articulation, and the slower mirror-lockup type Live View.
What really scares me is that Nikon's dealer relations are suffering as well, as they move closer in line with Canon's business model. For years, Nikon has offered extensive sales rep support, product training, loaner gear, and sales incentives to the people selling their gear. Canon has never done any of this, instead relying on huge marketing campaigns  to make consumers insist on their products. For the past year and a half, Nikon has offered these services very sparingly, even more so once the whole Ashton Kutcher campaign started. On the other hand, Sony is now making a huge push into the entry and mid level consumer market, while not only making a very formidable product, offering dealers like us more than Nikon has recently. Even strictly from a sales incentive prospective, one A200 puts as much money in my pocket as two D40's.
Personally, I am still 100% a Nikon fan and only use their equipment, but I am extremely worried with the way their marketing department has been steering them."

Just fyi this is the current top 5 DSLR best sellers @ Amazon:
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  • Jukka

    To me it looks like sony is playing and winning the numbers game. Salesmen generally go for the MOAR MEGAPIXELS thing and push it to the customers, its easy and it works. Salesmen are unreliable but megapixels are “hard data”, so yes customers are going for them. I mean heck they even mention the 18-55/18-70 thing, its all numbers and specs which are easy to push to the customers.

    On the other hand i do think the A350′s good liveview is a great selling point, no so much the articulating lcd, but a useful live view.

  • Ole

    I’d be interested to see Ritz’s share of DSLR sales among other retailers. Would you say they’re in the top 3? 5? 10?

    My pure guess, if they’re in the top 10, probably closer to the 10th spot than the top spots. Check their prices on anything, always a good 10-20% more than BH, Adorama and the like.

  • raio

    The list of the top selling dslrs is intersting; it should be the same here in EUrope. I wonder about Nikon´s marketing dept (do they have one?). The D700 is blown away by Canon´s D5 Mk II, no real DHV mode available, no sensor anti-shake-system and expensive lenses. And so on. I bought my first Nikon as a student, in the meanwhile I have 4 bodies and 10 or 12 lenses. The progress in Nikon equipment is very, very slow. Too slow. I really can imagine to change to Sony.

  • Douglas

    i dont know how many Shelves you have looked at reciently, but as i manage a Small Camera Dealer in California i keep a VERY close eye on what prices on shelves are and what prices online are… and B&H/Adorama are consistently selling around 10-20% less than ANY shelf. those type of stores have a DISTINCT advantage, often selling camera’s and lenses AT COST, plus no tax. i often have people ask me if i can match those prices, and the only responce is “im sorry, i cant. i can offer other methods to stay competitive, like discounts on other accessories, and hands on training with the equiptment you are purchasing, but that equiptment is at cost to what i paid for it”.

  • Jovan

    We would obviously expect the D90 to tick up once the economoy stabilizes and the product becomes more available. I would expect DSLRs at that level are replacements and upgrades more than first time buyers.

    Still, I think it explains some of Nikon’s moves lately. They are positioning themselves to compete with Sony as well as Canon. Can they pull it off? Sony is a multifaceted electronics conglomerate. Canon too has a much wider range of products than Nikon. Nikon, I think, is positioned to dominate as the electronics of DSLRs are more and more limited only by the glass through which they view the world.

  • Douglas

    i find this data Very intriguing. as i have stated many times i manage a small camera shop myself, one that appeals to primarily the base consumer market (mostly P&S and Entry Level SLR buyers) and i was very excited when the Sony Alpha’s where released. i had many customers who where still using older Minolta Maxim Film camera’s and i thought they would be eager for a Digital SLR that could accompany their current lenses, as well as with many features geared at that market. however, my experience since has told me VERY differently. i have had a A200, 300, and 350 just sitting on the shelf since their release. a few people have had passing interest, but ultimately stick with the Nikon or Canon. Hell, quite frankly i sell more (no offense intended to anybody) Olympus E-420′s than i have sold ANY Sony SLR’s…

  • Justin C

    If you look at the Ritz top cameras vs Amazon’s top cameras, there is a big difference. I think this is because in general internet shoppers are more informed and savvy. Whereas the average Ritz customer is looking for person behind the counter to help them make a decision. And while some of them really know their stuff, all to often they are just someone who needs a job.

  • http://jaredpolin.com Jared

    I am a former sales person at Ritz, the reason the Sony sells so well is because the Spiff on it is much higher than on the Nikon’s and canon had no spiff’s when i was there. The employees are under paid so they will push what makes them money hands down.

  • Drew

    You have to admit though, if you were not going to make photography a serious hobby and you wanted a pretty good camera, Sony might be the way to go. For the money, the fact that you get Live View and the IS in camera would be nice features. Most of us who look at these types of forums though are really into photography and want the best we can afford and do lots of research. Most of here have settled on Nikon and many others have settled on Canon. However, if I would a very casual hobbyist that was not going to buy any extra lens, flash, or put a lot more money into it besides the initial investment Sony looks good on paper.

  • Brett

    I think that Nikon should follow the Apple model and open specialty stores instead of focusing on big-box resellers. Since they are not going to be the market share leader, they need to be the ‘lifestyle’ leader, and work to develop and end-to-end experience superior to other offerings in the market. They should look to sell direct via a web site, their own branded company stores, and be a fashionable lifestyle choice for their customers. And it goes without saying that they should also improve their customer support in line with that.

  • http://jaredpolin.com Jared

    Brett this is a great idea, i would be in line for a job there right away. http://www.jaredpolin.com

  • http://www.lepingzha.com LEPING ZHA

    Here is the current sale ranks at Calumet Photo, the big UK and US pro retailer:

    Top Selling: DSLR
    Canon 40D »
    Nikon D80 »
    Nikon D3 »
    Canon Rebel XSi »
    Canon 1D Mk III »

    Top Selling: Lenses
    Canon 70-200mm »
    Nikon 18-200mm »
    Canon 70-300mm IS »
    Nikon 50mm f/1.4 »
    Canon 100-400mm »

    (source: Calumet Photo email newsletter, 10/6/2008)

  • Alex

    That’s a pretty darn good idea. Obviously it should start out slow with a store in NYC and maybe San Fran or Boston or Chicago etc. to establish themselves, but the lifestyle idea sounds strong. Apple has more and more entry level computer/laptop buyers looking at them now instead of only the Mac junkies as before and plenty of professionals (like the majority of those reading these forums) using them as well. I feel totally comfortable going into the Apple store and consulting with one of their employees about anything to do with my Mac or even Windows based stuff. The Apple stores employ people gifted in nearly every program from PS to Garageband and on. I think Nikon would gain a lot of attention and customers if they did this, both consumer and professional, just like Apple did. With stores, Nikon has the direct ability to talk with the customer instead of letting a store rep do it, who obviously has an easier time selling the higher featured models (on paper, like the Sony’s). Nikon is in the perfect position to start this and I think it would not deter either consumer or professional, once again, just as it hasn’t at Apple stores.

  • http://www.chadwebbphotography.com Chadwebbphotography

    I work for ritz, and the thing you have to know about ritz, is they are the used car salesmen of the camera world. I am only working there for the discounts. I have noticed that every store and every district in the company is unique in what they sale. My store sells 80% Nikon and RARELY a Sony. The reason Sony is selling, is because they are offering such an incentive to sell. Nikon has always been good to Ritz employees (until Sony changed) and still has. I don’t see Nikon changing. I think they look at the districts that sell nikon and reward them as such. As is, Nikon came to our city, reserved a hotel room, and had 1,000 cameras and lenses to use all day long where ever we wanted.

  • http://www.flickr.com/ryanthomas Ryan

    I am a current employee of Ritz and what Jared said is pretty much right on. Not that Sony is a bad camera but I would put Nikon and Canon on top of Sony right now. Sony does offer higher “spiffs” to employees. Not just Ritz, basically any camera store that use camera company supplied commissions. I would expect this at basically at any retail camera store (not just Ritz).

    I disagree with what Chadwebbphotography says about Nikon rewarding districts that sell a lot of Nikon products. I live in a VERY Nikon heavy city, not just the Ritz stores, but the other camera specific store both corporate and mom/pop (the only two mom/pop stores sell only Nikon DSLRs new, can’t buy any Canon or other new unless its from big box, us or the other national camera chain) AND we sell a TON of Nikon stuff and we do not get any special treatment from Nikon. We do see our Nikon rep more than any other rep from any other camera company, but I think thats due to Nikon having their act together in that respect and actually having their rep getting out to show us product and give us sales literature (I wish we would see the other manufactures 1/4 as much as our Nikon rep). It really does make a difference knowing that a camera company cares about its customers. Now it may be different in other cities… other brands may have given up on this market. But the point being, we don’t get special treatment even though we sell a high amount of Nikon products. In your area I assume it is an individual Nikon rep that is organizing the hotel and equipment in hopes of maintaining the market share or increasing it.

    I do agree that every store is different though (Ritz or the other guys). Some camera store employees will just try to sell you what will make them the most money regardless of brand/features. I do not subscribe to this theory. I try to fit the right camera with the right person, regardless of brand. A clear consensus and happy customers are worth more to me then a slightly thicker wallet. If you are in the market for a camera I suggest finding a sales person in your town you trust and you can build a future relationship with (for any other camera/accessory needs).

    By the way… If anybody has a Minolta film body that they bought in the late 80s-to-late-90s that did not know much or anything about photography/cameras or were not specifically shopping for a Minolta… know why you came home with a Minolta? Same reason… they use to offer ridiculously high commissions/spiffs on their film SLRs compared to all of the other manufactures.

    Last month in the store I work at I would make an educated guess that our top selling DSLRs were in following order:

    Nikon D60
    Nikon D90
    Nikon D80
    Canon XS
    Nikon D40
    Canon XSI
    Sony A200

  • Blog Admin

    Many online stores are already shipping the D90 body only -see here

  • http://dotfuturemanifesto.blogspot.com/2008/06/nikon-d700-d3x-and-end-of-moores-law.html PHB

    Perhaps we should expect the D90 to sell more when the dealers actually get significant stock on hand.

    At this point the body only camera is not available. The high number of D80s sold probably reflects end of model discounts to get rid of old stock.

  • Jeff

    Sky is not falling. Monthly data varies due to different product introduction cycles.

    The most authentic data available today is from BCN Ranking, http://bcnranking.jp/category/subcategory_0008.html which is on weekly basis for the Japan market. They just release a 9 month DSLR data in which Canon and Nikon are neck and neck, having 40.1% for both of them. Sony is 10% as a distant third place with less than 10% for the rest (Pentax, Olympus, Panasonic, etc.).

  • Jovan

    It’s true a few D90 body only orders have shipped. But Amazon has yet to meet all its preorders — believe me, I know :( — and B&H still isn’t even accepting orders for the body only.

  • Blog Admin

    If you are insider to Amazon’s inventory system – please let me know. We always want to know when a model will be available.

  • Laurence

    I think he meant that he’s preordered but not yet received the D90

  • Jovan

    Yes, sorry if that was unclear. I have no special relation with Amazon beyond retailer — customer.

  • Renato

    I was at B&H in NYC a couple of times 10 days ago to buy a lens (12-24) and help a relative buy a camera (went to get a D80, got the D90). I stayed for a while observing the booths. The action at Nikon was the strongest, the Canon. But at Nikon, 90% of people were looking at dslrs, especially D90 and D700, while at Canon’s about half of people checked p&s models. Very little action at Oly or Sony re dslrs, most Sony lookers were checkong p&s. I asked the vendor that helped us about sales and he said the D90 was the fastest camera they had at that moment. Along the counter, I cobserved and saw 5 peopel checkin Nikon dslrs and lenses, 3 checking Canon’s dslrs and lenses, all others were checking p&s cameras, no Sony or Oly dslrs been checked.

    Of course, this is anecdotal, take it with agrain of salt, but, at least at B&H (and that’s a high-tech supermarket of cameras, for those who know it), looks like Nikon and Canon reign supreme.

  • russ

    having sold cameras at wolf (aka ritz) and best buy, we had more sonys sit on the shelves than any thing other than olympus. canon and nikon never had issues moving units.

    as far as nikon showing ritz/wolf love… i never saw any of it. i talked to a nikon rep ONCE there, and that was after i tracked HIM down and called him on a question.

  • rthomas

    To Jared;
    Agreed; I worked for Ritz while in college in the late 90′s, and I, a Nikon and medium-format user, sold mostly Olympus and Pentax P&S cameras. The base pay was little more than minimum wage, but the spiffs could seriously improve the pay. I sold Nikon when I could, but there were reasons to push the other cameras; most people coming into Ritz in those days didn’t want an SLR anyway, and those that did we’d steer towards a higher-spiff P&S camera whenever possible.

  • E

    I don’t think Nikons falling behind. Look at those lists. There is 10 slots, Nikon holds 5 of them. Not too shabby…

  • MarkDphotoguy

    I too work in a camera store (north of the border) and the situation is exactly the same and I follow the same selling philosophy as you do sell what’s right for the customer. Some of my co-workers are not so diligent and check daily to see what incentives will line their pockets the best regardless if its the right camera for the customer. Way to go, keep it up money isn’t everything if you can’t look at your reflection in the mirror at the end of the day.

  • Eric

    I remember two weeks I worked for a camera dealer. And in those two weeks I learned that the company that gave the biggest spiffs was Ricoh. (This was in 1983). Guess what? Canon and Nikon outsold them.

    Let’s get serious, Ritz is not a real camera store. It’s a boutique for the camera-illiterate out there. And with double the size of spiffs, it’s going to skew the numbers for Ritz sales in favor of Sony because the sales staff are going to push what makes them the most money.

  • pete

    interestingly 3 users were invited to test the d60, k200d, 450d, e520 and a350 by what digital camera magazine

    guess what one that NONE of them liked? the sony.

    never used it myself but interesting.

    dealers need to add value to the selling process not just go “COR LOOK AT THE MEGAPIXELS ON THAT”

    amusingly the magazine put the d60 last of the group whilst all the users put it in their top 3. the most popular was the pentax.

  • alex

    how much is Ritz paying nikonrumors for this borig advertising?

  • Blog Admin


  • RockyIII

    The list of top selling DSLRs I see on Amazon differs from yours.
    1. Canon XSi kit
    2. Nikon D40 kit
    3. Nikon D90 kit
    4. Nikon D60 kit
    5. Nikon D90 body

  • Blog Admin

    I guess it changed – I got mine few days ago…

  • Alex

    Hmmmm…this reminds me of a similar debate that took place on dpreview. A topic was started in the Nikon forum about how the Nikon D700 was a failure and wasn’t selling at all anywhere, etc. etc. etc. And it got rather ugly, and turned into a totally opinionated war of words with almost no fact, at least that’s how I felt when I read it. I guess the data is important when coupled with the note from the sales rep, but just look at Calumet’s totals along with Amazon’s. I agree with Neil, Ritz doesn’t seem to look like the best source to determine whether or not Nikon’s marketing is taking a turn for the worse. I’ve talked with small local camera shops who are major Nikon dealers (but don’t look like they have a big customer base) and watched them get in some products more readily than the big guys (I bought my 70-200 VR from one when I couldn’t find the lens at B&H, Adorama, or Calumet). I’ve had an employee at one of these stores call up her Nikon Rep off hours to get me prices on D3′s, 24-70′s, 70-200′s, and a few other products, and no I’m not friends with the employee, I’d never met her. It just goes to show that Ritz doesn’t give an accurate representation of Nikon’s reps and sales totals and neither do small camera dealers like the one’s I’ve mentioned, just like you wouldn’t look at Best Buy or Circuit City to determine this either. Just my two cents.

  • Captain-Camrah

    Fun to read all these comments, in 2006 Sony was never going to make it in the industry, 2007 they gained good marketshare, and now they are 3rd best, … in two years. Oops.

    Hope Canon and Nikon grabbed their socks. 2009′ is coming

  • Krister

    My comment might not be regarding what you are discussing really, but here goes anyway.
    Some days before christmas I purchased a Sonay A350. I am totally new to system cameras and have only had a Sony V1 before (which took very nice pictures but just too slow indoors with a fast moving 2 year old as object…).

    I then borrowed a friends Nikon D90, stepped outside with them and took pictures of the same object with auto settings (mind you, I don’t know my stuff yet). The difference in quality was staggering really and since auto is the way I’ll be taking my photos for quite some time, I immediately went to the store and turned in my Sony for a Nikon. I lost 100 euros but rather that than being constantly bitter with my purchase! :)

  • Tong

    Wow no wonder sony will do the same to nikon and canon as what they did on nintendo // now its a battle of DSLR hope Nikon and canon will still survived.. you have to admit that sony are now epanding thier lenses the same with tamron and sigma.. with less price than the lense of nikon and canon.

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