A Virtual CP+ Camera & Photo Imaging Show

March 11, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to shape conferences and trade shows around the world. Many have evolved into virtual events, which has been a major challenge for all trade show organizers. Some trade shows are set to restart with limited in-person events, but the timing did not work out for the 2021 CP+ Camera & Photo Imaging Show.

The show took place in Yokohama, Japan from February 25th to 28th and was 100% virtual this year. We attended the show virtually and believe that the Camera & Imaging Products Association (CIPA), who organizes the show, did an admirable job.

Twenty exhibitors including Canon, Epson, Fujifilm, Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic, Ricoh, Sony, and Tamron were in attendance. Each hosted its own “Special Site.” Each website offered a full agenda of information, including product specs, webinars, and product demonstrations.

I found many of the videos to be very interesting and informative. For non-Japanese speakers, I would recommend turning on the closed captions in YouTube and setting the auto-translate to your native language. While not perfect, you will get the gist of the session. The video archives are available until March 31st.

In the past, vendors have taken the opportunity to announce new products around the time of the show, and the excitement of seeing and handling a new camera, lens, or accessory is a big draw for visitors. Unfortunately, the pressure to announce new products at a virtual event was not as high, and we think this was a big reason why there was only a handful of new product announcements leading up to the show.

Some of the new products announced included the Pentax K-1 II J Limited 01 DSLR (Japanese market only), the Fujifilm GFX 100S, a 102 MP medium format and the Fujifilm X-E4, a 26 MP APS-C, mirrorless cameras, and the Sony a1, a 50 MP full-frame mirrorless camera.

An endless sea of people at CP+ 2019

From a metrics perspective, attendance for this year’s show is listed as 50,150 visitors across the four-day event. With the 2020 event canceled because of COVID-19, the most recent comparison would be 2019 when the event was in-person and hosted 69,615 onsite visitors. Given the circumstances a drop in attendance of only 28% should be considered good news. However, logging into a website is a lot easier than the travel and time commitments required to be physically on the show floor.

Next year’s show will be held February 24 – 27, 2022. Hopefully COVID-19 will be in the rear view mirror and the show will be in-person again.

State of the Market

The CP+ conference includes a marketing seminar track, something that I have presented at in-person many times in the past.

Manabu Ohta, Chair of Research & Statistics Working Group, CIPA

During this year’s Digital Camera Market seminar, CIPA acknowledged that 2020 was an awful year for the camera industry.

According to CIPA, digital camera global shipments were only 8.9 million in 2020, down 58% compared to 2019. The lockdowns and canceled events and vacations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic were major factors behind the steep decline in camera purchases. Most of 2020 showed steep declines in shipments, but towards the Fall the market started seeing signs of recovery as restrictions were lifted in different countries around the world.

For 2021, the association is forecasting a 7% growth in global shipments, to 9.5 million units, which is now below 2000 levels and a far cry from its peak in 2010, which was over 12 times higher.

While the digital camera market is in decline, the association is optimistic about the future of the imaging business, which is more than just cameras. It encompasses a wide spectrum of still imaging, mobile imaging, and video, as well as supporting software and services.

One indisputable fact is that people everywhere love taking photos and videos and they are using them more than ever to express themselves and tell their stories. According to CIPA, these behaviors will drive the future of the digital imaging market.