Gone are the days when one needed a digital camera for high quality shots. These days, smartphone cameras can take care of most of the photography needs. While advanced smartphone cameras have led to the near demise of point and shoot cameras, DSLR (digital single lens reflex) and mirrorless cameras still have a lot to offer to serious photographers.

Aiming at this segment, the Japanese company recently launched the new EOS 1DX Mark III, a full-frame DSLR that can record 5K videos, and costs almost 5,75,995.

In an interview with Mint, Kazutada Kobayashi, CEO and president of Canon India, talks about Canon’s growth story in India and why DSLRs will survive the smartphone onslaught.

Are smartphones set to replace digital cameras? How is Canon dealing with this challenge?

With increased smartphone penetration, the number of clicks has increased considerably. As more and more people are clicking, the market for the imaging industry is definitely expanding, where there is an increased demand for visual expression that is different from smartphone camera quality. We are seeing a transition where people are considering photography from a serious hobby to a potential career opportunity. Hence, our growing focus would be on catering to the demand of photography enthusiasts who want to graduate from smartphone photography. Digital cameras have unique aesthetics and a value-add for a user, which can be never found on a smartphone.

How has been the response to Canon’s DSLR and mirrorless cameras in India?

Year 2019 was significant for us as we expanded our presence in the mirrorless segment, along with strengthening our leadership in the DSLR category. In terms of market presence, we enjoy 50% market share in DSLR and 45% in the overall DILC (digital interchangeable lens camera) category. While we have 25% market share in mirrorless, we aim to further strengthen our foothold in the segment through our product line-up.

How important is India for Canon?

India is one of the key markets for us after the top three markets, and maybe on par with Germany and England. Our expectations are very high from India. In terms of research and development, we are constantly sending engineers to train at our Tokyo office. We have also collaborated with a couple of companies in India for software development.

How viable are products like EOS 1DX Mark III in a cost conscious market like India?

Cost is naturally important because we are sitting in certain affordable zones. But I believe Indian consumers are more mindful of cost in terms of value for price. So if you offer a certain price then they are really looking for return that is equivalent of the cost. So a camera like this that costs 6 lakhs and buyers will expect an output that is worthy of the price. Similarly, our entry level DSLR will deliver the features that one expects from a camera worth 21k ( 21,000). To help consumers make this decision we are setting up dedicated camera and printer shops across the country where they can touch and try the actual product. Over 150 stores are already active across India.

Which price segment is getting most traction in India? What will be the big focus area for Canon in 2020?

In terms of numbers, the entry level digital cameras got more traction.

In the last festive season, we promoted mid-range cameras in the range of 50k for those who already have a good quality smartphone but still want the versatility of a DSLR and it was a great success. In 2020, will be focusing on users who are active in the field of travel, wildlife, wedding and are also actively making videos for YouTube and other similar platforms.

Some experts feel that consumers are not interested in investing on DSLR due to lack of technological innovation in them. How much do you agree with it?

If you look at point-and-shoot cameras there was no reason for users to hold on to it because of the advancements in smartphone photography. However, in the upper range of cameras like DSLRs, there are still situations like backlight, dim light, under water or macro which a smartphone camera cannot match.

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