THE ASAHI SHIMBUN - 07/19/2007

Nikon Corp., buoyed by the popularity of its D40 model, sold more digital single-lens reflex cameras than rival Canon Inc. in the first half of 2007.

Nikon clinched a 47.5-percent share of the domestic market from January to June, surpassing Canon's 36.5 percent, according to Tokyo-based market research firm BCN Inc.

It was the first time that Nikon has held the top spot over a half-year term, although it had done so on a monthly basis before.

Nikon and Canon have long been the dominant players in the domestic SLR camera market, but Nikon appeared stuck in second place for digital SLR camera body sales.

In the first half of 2006, Canon led at 46.4 percent to Nikon's 31.9 percent, and at 42.9 percent to Nikon's 35.5 percent in the second half.

Nikon's low-priced D40 series was released in December 2006. The introductory D40 model initially sold for slightly less than 60,000 yen at retail stores, about 30,000 yen lower than comparable models by other makers.

SLR cameras are sold with open pricing and with lenses sold separately.

The D40X model, boasting superior picture quality at 10.2 megapixels, hit the market in March at less than 80,000 yen.

Nikon cut costs by adjusting details such as leaving off a liquid crystal display panel on top to show operational status and other data.

Both models weigh less than 500 grams.

Having seen its market share drop since late last year, Canon in June recovered some lost ground with a "cash back" campaign. Purchasers of an EOS Kiss Digital X, for example, received a 10,000 yen rebate.

Canon's popular EOS Kiss model, first introduced in 2003 and now in its third generation, has been selling well.

Competition for third place has also been fierce.

In the first half of this year, Pentax Corp. came in third at 6.7 percent, followed by Sony Corp. at 4.5 percent and Olympus Corp. at 4.3 percent.

In May and June, however, Olympus moved up to third, led by its E-410 model, which it claims is the world's "smallest, slimmest and lightest" digital SLR camera.

The model, released in April, weighs 375 grams.(IHT/Asahi: July 19,2007)

August 2007