Ricoh Imaging sales are roughly half those of Leica

Some interesting research done by a reader (thanks Mistral75):

  • In the 1960s and 1970s Asahi Optical was bigger than Canon and Nikon together
  • Today, Ricoh Imaging sales (= Pentax + Ricoh Theta, GR and WG sales) are roughly half those of Leica.

This information is not exactly confidential nor something I have made up but the result of information digging and calculations:


This is the easiest part since, as a German company of a certain size, they must publish their accounts (consolidated accounts and company’s accounts). The problem is, they do it as late as the German law allows them to. Go to – just type “Leica Camera” in “Suchbegriff” then click on “Suchen”.

Consolidated turnover:

  • 2011/12: €318.7m
  • 2012/13: €343.6m
  • 2013/14: €360.4m
  • 2014/15: €364.8m
  • 2015/16: consolidated accounts haven’t been published yet.

Parent company’s turnover:

  • 2014/15: €276.4m
  • 2015/16: €299.5m (company’s accounts were published on 23 January 2017)

Considering the steady growth and the increase in the parent company’s turnover last year, I consider that the group turnover for the 2016 calendar year should be around €400m.

Ricoh Imaging

This is trickier since the Ricoh ‘Other’ division includes, but is not limited to, Ricoh Imaging. There are leasing activities in Japan and there might be other activities too. For instance, one only discovered that the ‘Other’ division included San-ai, an apparel retailer (actually, swimwear and lingerie), when they announced they had sold it.

Ricoh published a few days ago their accounts for the first three quarters of their 2016-2017 fiscal year, i.e. for the April – December 2016 period.

In addition, their accounts for the last quarter of their 2015-2016 fiscal year, i.e. for the January – March 2016 period, are available.

The reports made by CIPA, the Japanese ‘Camera & Imaging Products Association’, are another very useful source of information:

Outside Japan, I made the assumption that the ‘Other’ division includes Ricoh Imaging and nothing more; in doing so, I can only overestimate the turnover of Ricoh Imaging. I obtain the following figures and market shares for the 2016 calendar year when comparing the ‘Other’ figures with the CIPA data:

  • Europe, Middle East and Africa: ¥6.0bn (2% of the market)
  • Americas: ¥3.8bn (1.5% of the market)
  • Rest of the world (mainly Asia excluding Japan, and Australia): ¥6.0bn (1.6% of the market).

The market shares above are quite low, hence my assumption “‘Other’ = Ricoh Imaging” is probably valid; at least, there shouldn’t be any material businesses in addition to Ricoh Imaging.

The situation is very different in Japan. The 2016 turnover of the ‘Other’ division is equal to ¥95.7bn, which is 63% of the total CIPA shipments (cameras with built-in lens + interchangeable lens cameras + lenses). I therefore chose to estimate the turnover of Ricoh Imaging in Japan by applying a (generous) 5% to 10% market share to the CIPA figures, which led me to a Japanese turnover comprised between ¥7.6bn and ¥15.1bn.

Adding these various figures, I obtained for Ricoh Imaging a global turnover comprised between ¥23.4bn and ¥31.0bn.

The 2016 average €/¥ exchange rate being €1 = ¥120.20, the 2016 turnover of Ricoh Imaging would be, according to my calculations, comprised between €195m and €258m, i.e. close to €200m.

Hence my statement: “Ricoh Imaging sales are roughly half those of Leica“.

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  • ZMWT

    Ricoh Imaging is smallest of all traditional camera manufacturers. However, it is impossible to understand how many products are sold, because the cost/profit itself is not same in both brands and cannot be compared. Considering that, Ricoh Imaging may sell as little as 50% of Leica’s output, or as much as same number of cameras: larger output but smaller margins. Or even more than Leica. Similar problem arises when comparing Apple with Samsung, and other smartphone manufacturers.

    • Zos Xavius

      Leica’s margins are way, way higher.

  • Sakaphoto Graphics

    Back in the 1970s when I was selling cameras, Pentax transitioned from their screw mount to K-mount. They had good and competitive equipment at that time.

    When I was looking for a dSLR in 2004, I didn’t even bother looking closely at the *ist after reading about its quirks. When those bodies were replaced, I felt better about recommending Pentax dSLRs but many said “who?” because it had become a two company race by that time.

    The company makes good products now but few people see more than Canikon.

    • ZMWT

      Real competition is destroyed very much everywhere, because of the changed economic paradigm, that has shifted a lot since 1970s. In times after .. 1976, I’d say, very much through social pressure playing a lot on uncertainty and diminishing income, artificial competition was created through duopolies. Economic situation only reflects same political landscape (usually only two parties exchange in power and influence).

      • Sakaphoto Graphics

        Nikon was pretty much the one in 1976, though Olympus had a decent showing in 135 Format. Fujica and Pentax were ahead of Minolta and Canon. It was difficult to move Canon equipment at all.

        Medium Format seemed to be dominated by Bronica and Mamiya.

        • harvey

          I think in medium format, the king was Hasselblad. If you didn’t have one, you wanted one.

          • Sakaphoto Graphics

            People wanted Hasselblad and generally, bought everything else, unless they were in high end fashion, don’t you think?

          • harvey

            no, pretty well very studio that I knew of in the 70s that could afford it, used a Blad. The same with wedding/portrait shooters. Those 5×5 proofs were major selling points compared to the chintzy 3x5s or even 4x6s. Then, telling folks that you used a hand-made Swedish camera compared to some Japanese thing – which at that time, did not have the over-all reputation for quality that it later got, got you brownie points. It was when the 645s came out and prices for them were much lower and their glass quality was very good that people who wanted MF quality went that way. As well, when film prices went up as a result of the silver price wars(and never really came back down), and the 645s gave more images per roll, that helped. In the studio, the RBs and the Bronicas were able to come close to Blad quality for 1/2 the price or less. The 80s(especially the early years) were a bad economic decade and a lot of people bled. And then there was the big hair look …

    • AYWY

      Could you give me a rough history of how Asahi/Pentax ended up the way they are today? I know about the Hoya sale and what happened afterwards, but what happened to lead up to that (Hoya) stage?

      Not a lot of information i can uncover via search engines. The few responses i can find boiled down to “it’s Canikon’s fault! Marketing!”. And other mumbo-jumbo i can’t discern. Incoherent and not useful. You can’t lose all that market share overnight. Something needs to have gone wrong continuously for several years. (Nikon today seems to be falling into that mould :p )

      Exactly what happened preceeding the Hoya sale to impact Asahi/Pentax’s market share?

      Thanks for any explanations!

      • Sakaphoto Graphics

        It’s difficult to explain adequately. They overestimated their importance in Medium Format and 135 Format and underestimated the competition.

        Mamiya 645 took hold in Medium Format in the 1970s and Canon took hold in 135 Format in the 1980s, catching everyone off guard. I had difficult selling Canon equipment in the 1970s but things seemed to reverse themselves quickly with Andre Agassi pitching Canon–moreso than Cheryl Tiegs pitching Olympus, perhaps.

        Pentax didn’t really advance, sadly. When dSLRs arrived, they didn’t seem to try. No one had a good handle on sensors, except maybe for Kodak. It was probably when the K10D arrived that people started to notice Pentax again. By that time, they seemed to be a lost cause.

        I asked a lot of people why they bought Nikon or Canon and the response was usually something like this: My mother’s ex-roommate’s friend’s uncle’s ex-wife’s niece’s boyfriend’s father uses Canikon.

        • AYWY

          Thanks for the info. It does sound like Nikon with their heavy-reliance on DSLR and careless approach to mirrorless could also be walking down the same path Pentax did.

          • Sakaphoto Graphics

            One year ago, I would have said that Canon would be ahead of Nikon but Canon has shown much stronger mirrorless models, although they still barely have any lenses for the system.

        • harvey

          Mamiya, in the 70s, was a relatively cheap intro to medium format, but the Pentax 645 sold better in Japan because it was designed for hand-holding with better mirror dampening. The Bronica ETR was better because of the leaf-shutter lenses and interchangeable backs but more expensive. Canon came on strong with the introduction of the AE-1, again at an inexpensive price point.

          • Sakaphoto Graphics

            The AE-1 wasn’t good. It was only later that Canon started to make good camera bodies. Except for shutter priority AE, the AE-1 could have been a mediocre Minolta product.

          • harvey

            it was irrelevant that it wasn’t a good camera – it is the camera that put Canon on the map in the late 70s-early 80s. They sold buckets of those things. They cut their marketing teeth on that camera.

      • El Aura

        Pentax had been trailing behind the big three, Canon, Nikon, Minolta/Sony, at least since the mid 1980s. I remember in the 1990s, camera retailers discouraging me from buying Pentax [SLRs] because they might leave the market for lack of sales. So, I think the history of how Pentax ended up where they are today starts already way, way back.

        Pentax managed to jump on the autofocus bandwagon together with the big three (Minolta 1985, Nikon 1986, Canon & Pentax 1987) while other SLR makers never managed or were too late and/or offered too little (Leica never, Contax 1996/2000, Olympus 1986 but with only one camera model ever released). But while Pentax managed to go along for the ride, it also joined the affordable digital era around the same time as Canon/Nikon/Minolta, it probably never managed to break out from forth place (it might have during the first digital years before Sony took over Minolta).

        • AYWY

          Thanks for the info.

        • Mistral75

          Pentax proposed the world first TTL autofocus SLR in 1981: the ME-F. It was a one-off and the first ‘regular’ Pentax SLR with autofocus with in-camera focus motor was the SFX/SF1 in 1987, two years after the Minolta 7000.

          • El Aura

            I know, there were AF SLRs before 1985/86/87 (not just from Pentax, Nikon had the F3AF in 1983), but they were not successful. The Minolta 7000, Canon EOS 650, Nikon F-501 and Pentax SFX were the first models to get real traction. And while time-wise, Pentax was right there with the rest in terms of AF SLRs, sales-wise they slotted in below Canon, Nikon and Minolta already back then.

      • EnPassant

        The problems for Asahi/Pentax actually started early.
        The choice of the M42 mount (created by Zeiss in East Germany and first used 1949) may have seemed a good idea in the 50’s as it was free to use, so no need to develop an own mount, and already then was the universal thread lens mount with a lot of lenses made for it. So there would be no lack of lenses made for a M42 camera.

        As Asahi/Pentax made quite good cameras and excellent lenses, many still very usable, they quickly became the SLR market leaders. I remember seeing a groupphoto of a meeting with the photoclub from the 60’s here in my small town. All carried a Pentax Spotmatic camera.

        But by the end of the decade Pentax started loosing ground. The reason was the M42 thread mount. A bayonet mount is much faster and easier for lens changing. Nikon with their F-mount, pro cameras and wide lens line-up therefore took a very big share of the pro market while other using a bayonet mount, especially Minolta took many sales from the enthusiast market.

        Pentax didn’t introduce the K-mount until 1975. That was at least five years too late as competition using a bayonet mount in the 70’s grew stronger. By then they already had lost their leading position, which meant less revenue, meaning less money to invest in new products and so on. Pentax was caugth in a downward spiral that started already in the 60’s and couldn’t get out of it. A lot of bad managment decisions on the road did of course not help.

        Pentax K-mount is still alive. But all of the other 35mm camera lines (Yashica, Mamiya Fujica, Practica etcetera) who used M42 and too late tried to replace it with a bayonet mount are now gone.

        • AYWY

          Thanks for the history lesson.

      • Mistral75

        In addition to what others have written, something else explains the rise of Asahi and the decline of Pentax even before the Hoya era, leading them to loose their independence.

        Asahi Optical had several glass coating patents, some of them jointly developed with Carl Zeiss AG, and almost any and all lens makers paid licence fees to them to use these patents. The corresponding money was a large chunk of Asahi’s profitability. When these patents became public domain, the loss of earnings was considerable.

        Pentax never really recovered from this loss, even though they looked for additional revenues in licensing their optical formulas to Tokina for instance.

        • AYWY

          Thanks for info. Really does sound like setbacks on multiple fronts – leading to a big failure.

  • Jordon Cooper

    This shouldn’t be a surprise to most. Pentax is a long ways back of the market leaders and Leica is a premium brand that sells cameras and lenses at a high premium as well as having a nice deal with Panasonic for their premium lenses.

    It’s like luxury car makers, they sell a lot of less gear but at a much higher price and profit. I think you see something similar with Nikon recalibrating around premium cameras and glass.

    Pentax does a really poor job in marketing. While Nikon has a DX and FX lineup of lenses and Canon has AF and AF-S, Pentax has DA, DA-L, Limited, DA *, FA, and other lines that even on their website are clearly laid out or explained (it’s like listing lenses from wide angle and going up in focal length is too difficult). Also at least in Canada, they do a much poorer job than Nikon or Canon is promoting sales and events.

    While Fujifilm flooded their YouTube channel with content that can be used by retailers with the Fujifilm GFX, XT-2, and X-T100F came out, Pentax has never released anything to their US YouTube for the release of their Pentax K-1, K-70, or even the Pentax KP. No Pentax “experts, Ambassadors, or Visionaries” either. All which do great jobs for Olympus, Nikon, and Canon.

  • They need to follow up on the GRII !

    • Mistral75

      The successor to Ricoh GR II will be announced in the coming months.

      • Sure hope so! Never owned a single focal length APS-C sensor streetshooter like that, but always figured it would be really fun to walk around with (always have it with you, shooting with that instead of your phone). Hope it’s a bigger step up than the last itteration, which you don’t really hear that much good things about. Especially concerning dirtied up sensors. Of course Fuji has a bunch to offer, but I don’t know, there’s something charming about the GR… wish they’d give it a well-deserved proper follow-up.

  • Ron Hendriks

    The other mayor difference is that Leica is growing and it looks like Ricoh-Imaging with Pentax is on a slope down…….

  • Shaun Whitson

    Leica cameras cost much more than Pentax branded ones. Because of this, you cannot say that Leica sales twice as many cameras. Ricoh could sale 4 times as many or more and they wouldn’t make the same amount in sales figures.

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