In a very interesting story published on Nikkei BP Olympus are said to be aiming for sales of 90,000 units of their recently announced E-1 digital SLR this fiscal year (from now to end of March 2004). Global shipments of digital SLRs reached approximately 250,000 units in 2002 and Canon are apparently shipping 30,000 units of their six megapixel EOS-10D digital SLR per month, according to Canon production is still unable to keep up.

News Article (original):

Olympus Debut to Heat Up Digital SLR Camera Competition

June 25, 2003 (TOKYO) -- With Olympus Optical Co Ltd announcing on June 24 its full-scale entry into digital SLR (single-lens reflex) cameras around early October, the race among camera manufacturers in the field has begun in earnest.

Pentax Corp is also expected to enter the market around late August. Companies already having a head start in digital SLR cameras, such as Canon Inc and Nikon Corp, are enjoying brisk sales. Global shipments are expected to increase 140-300% this year to between 600,000 and 1 million units, raising the possibility that digital SLR cameras will surpass SLR cameras using film as early as next year.

Olympus' E-1 digital camera employs a CCD (charge-coupled device) of about 5 million pixels for its image sensor, giving it a resolution that is two to three times better then that of compact digital cameras.

Including standard zoom lenses, the E-1 will be priced below 300,000 yen, which is on the lower end of prices for digital SLR cameras. Olympus plans to unveil the E-1 around early October and aim for sales totaling 90,000 units this fiscal year alone.

Japanese manufacturers command a large share of the global market for SLR cameras with interchangeable lenses. While most of these cameras still use film, demand for digital SLR cameras is growing at an explosive pace given the widespread use of compact digital cameras.

Global shipments of digital SLR are estimated to have reached 250,000 units in 2002, according to estimates from different Japanese camera manufacturers.

While some in the industry believe that shipments this year could surpass 600,000 units, "there is a good possibility that the figure will top 1 million units," according to a senior executive at Olympus.

Canon, which controls about 80% of the global market, is enjoying brisk sales of a model priced around 200,000 yen that debuted in March. Shipments are said to total over 30,000 units a month, with production unable to keep up, a Canon official says. Its high-end model priced at 950,000 yen continues to ship at a pace of nearly 2,000 units a month.

Interchangeable-lens-type digital SLR cameras are now sold by Canon, Nikon, Kyocera Corp, Fuji Photo Film Co Ltd, Sigma Corp and Eastman Kodak Co of the United States.

(The Nihon Keizai Shimbun)