samsung nx10 imageThe rise of the mirrorless interchangeable lens compact camera has boosted the UK?s digital camera market but their relatively high price will limit growth of this sector in the short to medium term, analysts warn.

The UK photo industry has surpassed £615m in sales so far this year, figures compiled by market analysts at GfK Retail and Technology show.

?With over half the year complete, the Photo/Imaging market remains in a relatively positive growth position?? said a GfK spokesman.

?Looking at the changeable lens category, this has been helped by the growth of the compact system camera market, fuelled recently by several new brands entering this market, in addition to new models from existing brands.

?Consequently, the total changeable lens market posted growth of 14.9% in value.?

Digital camera sales (£385m) account for nearly two thirds of overall sales.

However, the news comes as analysts at Futuresource warn that the ‘higher average retail price’ of an interchangeable lens compact, compared to an ‘entry-level DSLR’, will limit growth of this sector in Europe.

?Another big influence on growth will be whether Canon and Nikon ? who currently dominate the wider interchangeable lens camera market ? decide to launch an interchangeable lens compact product,? said Futuresource consultant James Wells.

?In the short term, while we are expecting significant growth? it will still only reach shipments of 377,000 units across Western Europe in 2010, compared to 3.3m units for DSLRs.?

Canon/Nikon ‘stranglehold’

Wells added: ?Panasonic, Olympus, Sony and Samsung (with a 20% combined share of interchangeable lens camera shipments in 2009) are expected to promote this segment heavily in 2010, particularly at the Photokina show in September, in the run-up to the important fourth quarter period.

‘The long-term aim [for them] is to try to break Canon and Nikon?s stranglehold on the interchangeable lens camera market. Suffice to say, this will be an interesting space to watch over the next two or three years.?

GfK adds that the growth of the changeable lens market has had a positive ?knock-on effect? on the sales of accessories, as consumers shun cheaper products in favour of higher value items to go with their cameras.

Though sales volume fell, the value of accessories sold rose.

?Bags/tripods grew 0.6% in value for the year to date compared to this time last year, whilst lenses and memory cards increased their market value by 5.8% and 0.3% respectively.

Accessories were worth £179m alone in July.