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Matsushita plans digital SLR camera debut this year

By Staff
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Tokyo, Feb 27: Panasonic brand maker Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. said on Monday (Feb 27, 2006) it plans to introduce its first digital single-lens reflex (SLR) camera later this year, aiming to grab a slice of the fast-growing market.

The world's biggest consumer electronics maker has been developing technologies and devices for digital SLR cameras jointly with Japanese precision equipment maker Olympus Corp.

A Matsushita spokeswoman said the company had not decided on a price range for the LUMIX DMC-L1, a prototype of which is being exhibited at the PMA 2006 International Convention and Trade Show in Orlando, Florida.

Olympus has already introduced its E-330 digital SLR camera using the jointly developed mirror box unit and sensor.

Digital SLR cameras, which use interchangeable lenses, are generally more expensive and yield higher profit margins than simple point-and-shoot compact cameras that can be produced by low-cost electronics makers.

The digital SLR camera market has been growing rapidly, and global shipments in this market are expected to increase 48 per cent to 5.62 million units by 2008, according to Japan's Camera and Imaging Products Association.

Konica Minolta Holdings Inc. and Sony Corp., as well as Pentax Corp. and a unit of South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co. have sought similar digital SLR camera alliances to pool resources and cut costs.

But Konica said last month it would sell a portion of its SLR camera business to Sony, part of its move to withdraw completely from the business of selling cameras and photographic film.

Shares in Matsushita were down 0.6 per cent at 2,465 yen by midday, while Olympus was up 0.6 per cent. The Nikkei average was up 0.13 per cent.

REUTERS

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