Nikon is expected to be Japan's DSLR market leader for 2007 says a leading Japanese market research company. But Canon's compact sales ensure it retains the top-spot for overall digital camera sales in the country. DSLR sales are expected to continue to grow as more manufacturers join the fray.

Nikon and Canon share the spoils of Japanese camera market

Tokyo-based BCN said that, having captured 43.3% of Japan's DSLR market between January and November, it expects Nikon to hold on to the top spot once December's sales have been calculated. Despite the successful launch of the 40D, BCN's research suggests that Canon will not be able to overcome its second place, having secured a 39.9% market share up to November. Pentax were positioned third, having taken 6.3% of the market to November.

However, taking compacts into account as well, Canon led the market for the fourth consecutive year. It took 21.2% of Japan's overall digital camera market, ahead of Matsushita (Panasonic), which jumped from fourth to second place with 14.9% of the market, mainly because of the success of the Lumix FX33.

With Electronics giants Panasonic and Sony both launching DSLRs in the second half of 2007 and expected to continue to engage with this relatively high-margin market, 2008 is likely to see the big two's market dominance challenged. The Japanese market for DSLRs grew almost 50% in the first 11 months of 2007, in terms of volumes and around 35% by value.

Nikon was bullish about the additional competition: "Next fiscal year [from April 2008] our competitors will develop their marketing to full extent in the digital SLR market, and we expect this will stimulate market growth and contribute to sales." In November 2007, Nikon revised its sales projections, stating that it expected its DSLR sales to increase 43% over the previous year and account for 40% of the Global DSLR market in the financial year ending March 31st 2008.

The Japanese market buys 14% of all DSLRs and 10.3% of all compacts made by Japanese manufacturers*.

* Figures from CIPA represent only cameras made by Japanese manufacturers. This makes them fairly representative for all DSLR sales, as Samsung is the only major non-Japanese DSLR manufacturer.