Nikon Corp., the world’s third- biggest camera maker, introduced its first mirrorless single- lens reflex camera to challenge rivals including Sony Corp. and Panasonic Corp. in the market for smaller cameras.
The Nikon 1 brand J1 model will be available in Japan from Oct. 20, the Tokyo-based company said in a statement today. The price of the J1 model starts from 59,000 yen ($773), it said.
Nikon’s addition of the model leaves Canon Inc. as the only camera maker among the four largest to still use mirrors in all SLRs, or cameras with interchangeable lenses. Digital camera makers are promoting more expensive models including mirrorless designs as smartphones with built-in cameras capture an increasing share of sales to consumers looking for simple, inexpensive photography.
It’s the right moment for Nikon to enter the market for mirrorless SLRS, Yasuyuki Okamoto, head of Nikon’s imaging business told reporters in Tokyo today.
Panasonic introduced mirrorless SLRs in 2008 with electronic sensors that send image data directly to the camera’s LCD screen, eliminating the need for mirrors, prisms and an optical viewfinder. Canon is the world’s largest camera maker, followed by Sony, according to 2010 sales compiled by researcher IDC Japan.
Mirrorless SLR sales surged fivefold to 2.1 million units in 2010 globally, Macquarie Group Ltd. estimated last month. Sony, Japan’s largest exporter of consumer electronics, said last month industry shipments will probably reach 13 million units worldwide in three years.
That compares with the 503 million units for conventional SLRs and 1.14 billion units of compact cameras shipped last year, according to the Camera & Imaging Products Association in Tokyo.
Nikon rose 1.3 percent to 1,854 yen as of 2:00 p.m. in Tokyo trading, extending its gain this year to 13 percent, compared with the 14 percent decline for the benchmark Nikkei 225 Stock Average.
Worldwide shipment value of cameras with interchangeable lenses gained 16 percent to 304.5 billion yen in the first seven months of 2011, while that of compact cameras fell 20 percent to 506 billion yen, according to Camera & Imaging Products Association in Tokyo.
In the market for cameras with interchangeable lens, or single lens reflex cameras, Canon controlled 44.5 percent of the market last year, followed by Nikon with 29.8 percent and Sony with 11.9 percent, according to researcher IDC.