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CP+ 2024: Highlights of the Largest-Ever Photography and Imaging Show

Explore the highlights of CP+ 2024, the largest domestic show in Japan featuring cameras, photography, and imaging equipment and the latest industry trends.



Visitors captivated by a super-telephoto lens (February 22, 2024, at Pacifico Yokohama) (©JAPAN Forward by Hidemitsu Kaito)

On February 22-25, CP+ 2024 unfolded at the Pacifico Yokohama convention plaza. The largest domestic event in the field adopted a hybrid format that combined in-person and online experiences. It drew in about 50,000 people, including photography and imaging enthusiasts, over four exciting days, signaling a vibrant return to pre-pandemic attendance levels. 

From Toy Cameras to Top-of-the-Line Models: A Full Spectrum on Display

Featuring the participation of 88 companies and organizations, the exhibition offered a rich tapestry of offerings. Leading camera manufacturers and photography equipment creators were among the popular venues.

While digital cameras took center stage, exhibits also featured products and services related to film photography. They ranged from compact palm-sized cameras to top-tier models engineered for videography. Together, they put on display a diverse spectrum of offerings from both domestic and international manufacturers.

Canon's Mixed Reality (MR) Experience Exhibit on February 22.(©JAPAN Forward by Hidemitsu Kaito)
Action Camera Attachable to Pets (©JAPAN Forward by Hidemitsu Kaito)
Fujifilm's Compact Palm-Sized Camera (©JAPAN Forward by Hidemitsu Kaito)

Mirrorless Cameras Lead the Premium Market

In 2023, total shipments of digital cameras, comprising both interchangeable lens and fixed-lens types, reached 7.72 million units. This marked a 3.6% decline compared to 2022, as reported by the Camera & Imaging Products Association (CIPA). 

Against that news, mirrorless cameras, which constitute 80% of interchangeable lens cameras, experienced a significant 18.6% year-on-year growth. This helped drive the industry forward. 

Unlike SLR cameras, mirrorless cameras utilize electronic viewfinders or LCDs for image composition. They offer a lightweight and compact design alongside markedly reduced shutter noise due to electronic shutters. Moreover, integrating AI (artificial intelligence) technology has substantially enhanced their autofocus capabilities, particularly for subjects such as people and vehicles.

Recent models also boast advanced video recording capabilities. This expands their utility from amateur to professional levels for shooting and editing videos.

Cameras at the Nikon exhibition, capable of capturing both still images and videos, are becoming mainstream. (©JAPAN Forward by Hidemitsu Kaito)

Since around 2000, the shipment of digital cameras has seen rapid growth, gradually replacing film cameras. According to CIPA, in 2010 there was a proliferation of digital cameras. In that year, total camera shipments reached 121.46 million units. However, with the widespread adoption of smartphones and their improved camera functions, the industry has trended toward decline.  This has prompted camera manufacturers to innovate and offer distinctive features to set themselves apart from smartphones.

The bustling venue filled with visitors on February 22. (©JAPAN Forward by Hidemitsu Kaito)

Japanese Manufacturers Making a Global Impact

In the realm of precision equipment and the camera industry, Japanese manufacturers dominate the global market share. It is estimated that the top six companies (Canon, Sony, Nikon, Fujifilm, Panasonic, OM Digital Solutions) collectively account for over 90% of worldwide shipments.

Panasonic's Booth on February 22. (©JAPAN Forward by Hidemitsu Kaito)

Nikon and Canon have long competed in the fields of news and sports photography with their top-of-the-line cameras and lenses. Then, about a decade ago, Sony entered the market with mirrorless cameras, creating a three-way competition. In the past, during Olympic years, Nikon and Canon would unveil their top-of-the-line cameras and telephoto lenses at CP+ to vie for attention from fans. 

However, this year, neither company made any significant product announcements. This could be attributed to the postponement of the 2020 Olympics due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It may also be because it has been only three years since both companies released mirrorless cameras to compete with Sony. Those took place following the Tokyo Olympics in 2021. Pursuing Sony's lead in the mirrorless market, Canon and Nikon are being pushed to rethink their strategies and are striving to keep up.

Japan's digital cameras are making their mark in space as well. Canon and Sony have both contributed camera technology to satellites. In January 2024, Nikon sent over a dozen of their Z9 mirrorless cameras to the International Space Station (ISS). These cameras are intended to replace the DSLRs currently in use on the ISS. Nikon has a longstanding history of collaborating with NASA on space projects. It has assisted in photography efforts in the realm of space exploration spanning over half a century.

Sony is providing camera technology to artificial satellites on February 22.(©JAPAN Forward by Hidemitsu Kaito)

Chinese Manufacturers Also Experiencing Rapid Growth

Chinese manufacturers also had a notable presence at the exhibition, presenting products such as interchangeable lenses and lighting fixtures. Attention was particularly drawn to products distinguished by features like video-compatible lenses and specialized shooting equipment.

Interchangeable lenses by Venus Optics, a Chinese Manufacturer. (©JAPAN Forward by Hidemitsu Kaito)
Cinema 3D VR panoramic camera by Kandao Technology, a Chinese Company. (©JAPAN Forward by Hidemitsu Kaito)

In the 20th century, the camera industry was dominated by manufacturers from Germany, Sweden, and the United States. However, the advent of digital technology brought about profound changes in the landscape. 

Japanese camera manufacturers have found themselves compelled to undergo significant restructuring and reform to adapt to this new era. Sony, for instance, emerged as a leading manufacturer of image sensors. It supplies them not only for its own cameras but also for other companies as well. 

Canon has successfully applied its camera technology to the field of medical equipment. Meanwhile, Nikon has made substantial contributions to industrial optical technology. Japan's finest precision technology shines through, particularly in the fields of optics and imaging.


[A Photographer's Notes] The Nikon Z f: A Retro-Style Powerhouse

Marketing Race for Mirrorless Cameras Goes to CP+ Trade Show

(Read the report in Japanese.)

Author: Hidemitsu Kaito


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