Will Sony Ever Take the Number One Spot From Canon?

Canon has held its number one position within the photography industry for more than 30 years. During this time, the industry has experienced what could be described as a duopoly. With Nikon holding its number two position for much of this time, innovation may have suffered. This has changed since Sony developed its first full frame mirrorless camera. 

A recent video from Tony and Chelsea Northrup discusses why Canon will remain the number one manufacturer in the photo industry. Although Sony has made some huge gains within the market, most notably taking the number two spot from Nikon, Canon may continue at the top. Over the last few years, we've seen massive changes in how companies operate. New cameras contain more innovative features than ever before. Even the speed at which these innovations arrive has been incredible. 

For instance, many creatives were only just getting used to filming in 4K resolution. We now already have 8K raw capable full frame cameras such as the Canon EOS R5. This shift in mentality could be attributed to how Sony shook up the industry and forced the other manufacturers to start competing with greater vigor. The unfortunate side effect of this was that Nikon slipped to third place. However, the upside to this is that with three major manufacturers competing, it's less likely that companies will cooperate to create a triopoly. 

Greater competition, in general, is better for consumers and over the last few years, we have definitely seen major improvements in cameras. There's a good chance that Canon may remain the number one manufacturer, however with Sony hot on its heels, it's probably a good thing. 

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26 Comments

Miha Me's picture

Sony is already number one for Me 😊

Luca Santirocco's picture

Yes on the amateur forums.
Probably never in real working life. (of course)

Michael Krueger's picture

Sony makes great cameras but they aren't the most budget friendly, I don't see them passing Canon. Canon has competitive products at cheaper prices.

Jean-francois LE GUEN's picture

I think the exact opposite. I was looking to switch system and Sony was much more affordable. I took an A7r iii which can be found at a decent price now. R6 is more expensive and with inferior sensor (it might have some better spec on other points I don't know). Canon RF doesn't have a 100-400 lens and 100-500 is much more expensive than the GM. 15-35mm is also more expensive than the 16-35 GM. The canon build quality might be better though. I have the feeling that Sony is the most affordable full frame system,

David B's picture

It's hard to compare things. The A7R III is closer to the EOS R than the R6 for raw specs. The A7R has struggled in low light comparatively and can't touch the R6. Canon's 100-500 is cheaper when factoring a teleconverter.

My point is some cameras have unique features that's nice to show off. Most won't make your photos better in practice. Old camera's I would never use today took iconic photos because the photographer made them.

George Malczynski's picture

The A7iii competes with the Eos R, the A7riii (&iv) compete with the R5. In both those match ups the Sony’s are cheaper.

Robert Lynch's picture

Your headline is missing a word.

Usman Dawood's picture

Thank you.

Robert Edwardes's picture

Sony is going to struggle because the 4-12k glass is hard to justify upgrading and Canon is always good enough once you take that into account, and for non pros they have the largest collection of unique glass thanks to the EF that can auto focus on new system. Also sony skin color isn't there which video and sports shoots is a killer.

Alexander Petrenko's picture

5 years ago, on the same site: "Sony is going to struggle because they don't have enough 4-12K lenses to compete, it is hard to justify switch.... "

Farhaan Tariq's picture

no never, sony can never beat canon..........canon does only one thing best that is make cameras....sony does so many things and thats why its not number one in any of those....sony is like jack of all trades but master of none....sony has been making mirrorless full frame since 2013, with ibis and stabilization and all other stuff........but it didnt bothered canon.........canon only started making it when they thought they should because Canon only competes with Canon.........and yes they did it 7 years later than sony but did it better than sony.....their ibis is better than sony, face+eye+animal tracking is better than sony, autofocus is world's best, best L class lenses (yes they are better than G master or whatever sony calls it)...............so yeah in the end, canon does one thing best and that is to make cameras with their own sensors..........and sony will never be able to beat canon.

Lee Sei-Macfhearchair's picture

57% of Canon's business is printing. Imaging is only 17%.

Alexander Petrenko's picture

That was ruthless...

Edison Wrzosek's picture

What are you smoking?!?!?!

Rayann Elzein's picture

Seriously, who the hell cares except Sony's and Canon's respective CEO's and shareholders? Anyway, don't count on me for wasting bandwidth by clicking on what I assume is yet another totally useless video by the Northrups.

Sam Sims's picture

The Northrup's ran out of anything truly useful to say about photography years ago. Now it’s just clickbait and opinion videos.

dale clark's picture

Actually, beating Nikon is quite impressive. Nobody would have guessed 15 years ago that Nikon would dwindle as much as it has. Canon, like Nikon, is an old legacy camera company that just needed a wake-up call. Pretty typical of legacy companies in general (like GM, GE, etc). Some never learn to adapt (Sears, JC Penny for example) and fall away.

Sam Sims's picture

Yes, Canon and Nikon were dslr top dog but it took a newer technology to show them just how vulnerable they could be. Canon are largely surviving due to existing customers, trying to create a dslr-like experience with mirrorless and the reputation and quality of their lenses. So far it’s paying off but I do think Sony’s approach to open up their mount and let plenty of third parties build E mount lenses is a good move. Canon always seem to want to rely on people buying own brand glass.

laune isaac's picture

New Title: When Will Sony Take the Number One Spot From Canon?

Back in 2011 i predicted accurately the rise of sony at the time i was laughed at and ridiculed..

I and now predicting that sony will become the #1 camera manufacturer I cant say exactly when but i can say what 2 things will accompany the shift

1 Shift in sony cameras designs to be more ergonomic
2 a change in the file type and file expression (better raw and standard file type not sure if it will be jpeg or something else

Lucas Edwards's picture

Does anyone from FS Stoppers actually read these comments?

If so my next question is.. do these people own the company, are they sleeping with somebody that owns the company, are they sleeping with somebody that knows the owner of the company, do they have blackmail on somebody, or are they that sad and pathetic that people are just letting them get away with this and posting their videos?

Epistoper should be ashamed of sharing these videos.

What a biased viewpoint.. "look at the trend from 2004". That's an actual quote from the video. Why would she be comparing anything to something from 2004. I thought it was 2021? That's a 17 year span she's trying to compare to! Duh 🤦

Usman Dawood's picture

I tend to read comments I'm not sure if everyone does. However, if some of the other writers don't read the comments, could you even blame them. I mean just take a look at your comment and ask yourself, would you enjoy having to read that and respond to it?

To answer your question, I would say it seems you haven't watched the video and you have a bias against them. Or if you have watched the video, it's clear you didn't understand it, most likely due to the bias you have against them.

I would urge you to not let these things get to you, appreciate the fact that not everyone has to like and dislike the same things as you, and go on about your day. Hopefully the weather where you are is great and I sincerely hope you enjoy the rest of your week.

Leopold Bloom's picture

Don't forget that you were watching a Northrup video. Their track record for making good, insightful videos isn't the best.

Sam Sims's picture

Quite honestly, who is number one shouldn’t matter to any consumer as long as both companies are still making cameras. I used to use Canon DSLR’s until I switched to Sony to get a better manual lens experience (coupled with a Voigtlander lens). Right now Sony simply have way more lenses at all price points and I prefer the smaller FF cameras. I couldn’t care less who is number one just which brand suits me more and right now that is Sony. Also, the fact Voigtlander are now making X mount lenses could tempt me at some point to look at Fujifilm and they certainly aren’t vying for the top spot.

Gary Pardy's picture

Canon will maintain its lead indefinitely. This isn't quite the same as BlackBerry, Sears, and other giants that failed to pivot. The consumer base for interchangeable lens cameras is probably made more of installed/entrenched users than it is of newcomers, and will continue to be for some time. There is not an appreciable difference between the two manufacturers offerings, no meaningful incentive to jump from one camp to the other. The only real vulnerability for Canon is a decay in DSLR shooters, most of which will transition to Canon mirrorless at some point anyway.

Edison Wrzosek's picture

And yet another video from the biggest clickbait liars of the photography industry on YouTube, congrats Fstoppers, gotta get those page clicks in I see...

Robert Oslin's picture

I'm probably the last Nikon user on the planet, and only because there is simply NO alternative to Nikon's PF 500mm f5.6 lens for bird photography. Super compact, light weight, sharp as a tack.