Matsushita and Olympus are expected to exhibit new digital SLRs at the Photo Marketing Association (PMA) show in February 2006. The interchangeable lens D-SLRs will comply with the FourThirds standard in 2006. The Japanese companies are working jointly in developing products and key components, but will market products under their own brands, which for Matsushita includes Panasonic. A joint statement says that Olympus and Matsushita are responding to what they see as a soaring global demand for digital SLRs, with shipments expected to reach 5.5m units in the year to 2007, from 2.7m in the current year to March 2005.

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Olympus believes that the development of new technologies and devices is vital to our ability to maximize user value, improve image quality, and expand the range of situations in which photography can be enjoyed.

Put simply The Four Thirds standard gives consumers the freedom to assemble a system that can be customized to meet their own needs, instead of being limited to a system composed of products made by a single manufacturer, and the more companies that produce cameras and accessories the better.

The first camera developed under the Four Thirds standard was the E-1 which received many plaudits, awards and commendations from the public, press and photographers alike. This camera achieved the targets we set for it by bringing new levels of image quality and usability to the marketplace. Olympus believe that by continually adding new products to the Four Thirds standard and by partnering with other manufacturers the system will be of major importance in the future of SLR photography.

Both Olympus and Matsushita plan to produce cameras and systems that will be announced at the PMA show in February 2006. They’ll be some exciting developments but pricing and product specifications have yet to be determined.