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Camera Makers Look To CSC, D-SLR Profits

1/10/2012 06:20:00 PM Eastern

LAS VEGAS – For digital camera news, the 2012 International
CES will be more about unveiling new entry-level
point-and-shoots than the higher-margined and better
growth-oriented interchangeable-lens camera categories.

But the show is not without a few d-SLR and compact
system camera attention-grabbers.

In the past few days, both Nikon and Fujifilm made important
introductions that are likely to impact the market
for the next 12 months and longer. (See related stories
in this issue.)

Like many camera manufacturers,
both companies will be looking for
the new offerings to help overcome
the hardships imposed by the Fukushima
earthquake and tsunami and, in
Nikon’s case, the Thailand floods that
hampered production for some models
last year, limiting expected growth.

Chris Chute, IDC digital imaging manager,
said he is calling for “a slowdown in
the first quarter for Nikon and Sony, but
we expect supplies to get back to normal
in Q2.”

Liz Cutting, The NPD Group imaging
analyst, agreed: “While detachable-lens
cameras continue to grow, this year the
issues first from the Japan then the Thailand crisis certainly
impacted the business. I don’t know if Q1 will be the
end of supply issues, but we can be confident that consumer
demand for higher-end cameras is alive and well.”

With or without new model introductions at the show,
camera makers will be pushing the compact system camera
portfolios this week, Chute said.

The biggest profit opportunities in 2012 “are still in
interchangeable-lens cameras,” he added. Sales of such
cameras bring them numerous add-ons that are also in
growth mode, including premium bags, memory cards,
flashes and lenses.

Nikon answered Canon’s new flagship
d-SLR introduction last fall by unveiling
its own new flagship model D4, offering
significantly advanced step-up
features, including a next-generation
91,000-point 3D matrix metering sensor,
and an improved autofocus system
designed to work with f/8 lenses
and faster. It will include a full-format
16.2-megapixel CMOS sensor.

Nikon will also be promoting its new
J1 and V1 mirrorless compact system
cameras, which it introduced in the
fall. The compact interchangeable-lens
models are positioned for advanced amateurs
looking to step up from point-andshoots
without going into a full-fledged
d-SLR outfit.

Fujifilm is making big news by stepping out of its pointand-
shoot comfort zone and returning to the interchange able-lens camera segment with its first mirrorless compact
system camera.

Fujifilm was less impacted by the disasters, but Nikon
said the D4 should not suffer from any production
setbacks, enabling good supplies for
anxious professional photographer and
advanced amateurs looking to upgrade.

But the story is not the same for some
other d-SLR models from Nikon or
those of several other manufactures.

Meanwhile, Sony will be promoting
its advanced flagship Alpha A77 d-SLR,
which received a number of favorable reviews
for its advanced high-speed autofocusing
system and shutter speed (12 fps).
It also features a 24-megapixel CMOS
sensor, OLED electronic viewfinder and
other advanced features.

Sony is also pushing its recent NEX-7
compact system camera introduction, which will begin
shipping in January. The camera features an “industry
leading” 24-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor, and will
shoot in both JPEG and RAW file formats.

Phil Molyneux, Sony Electronics U.S. president,
said the introduction of the NEX-7 was
impacted by the flooding in Thailand, “so we
had some supply-line issues,” which pushed
deliveries back to January.

He added that while supplies will be “very,
very limited” on the NEX-7 to start, “we believe
that will improve come January and that
we will begin to ramp up the volume.”

Meanwhile, Canon will show its new flagship
1-series d-SLR, designed to “reinvent
the 1D and 1Ds series” cameras, the company
said.

The Canon EOS-1D X features an 18.1-megapixel
full-frame CMOS sensor that can capture
up to 14 fps using dual DIGIC 5+ processors,
along with a third DIGIC 4 processor.

The camera has an ISO range from 1,00 to
51,200 — expandable to ISO 50 to 10,2400
(H1), 20,4800 (H2), 14-bit RAW capture in
M-RAW at 10 megapixels and S-RAW at
4.5 megapixels. It captures video in FullHD
1080p/30p/25p/24p and 720p/60p/50p.

Olympus will show its E-P3, E-PL3 and
E-PM1 Micro Four Thirds digital cameras.
The “mini Pen” E-PM1 ($500 with 14-42mm
II lens) features a 12.3-megapixel high speed
Live MOS sensor, TruePic VI image processor
and 3-inch LCD.

Panasonic will showcase its Micro Four
Thirds DMC-GF3 ($600 with 14-42mm lens)
with a 12.1-megapixel Live MOS sensor.

Samsung introduced in the fall its MX200
($800 street retail with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
lens) 20.3-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor
with high-speed continuous shooting (7 fps)
with 100ms Advanced autofocus, wide-range
ISO (100-12,800), FullHD movie recording,
Samsung’s i-Function lens system, and a 3-inch
VGA AMOLED smart-panel display.

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