January 12, 2006
Nikon Plans to Stop Making Most Cameras That Use Film

TOKYO, Thursday, Jan. 12 - The Nikon Corporation, the Japanese camera maker,
said Thursday that it would stop making most of its film cameras and lenses
in order to focus on digital cameras.

The company, based in Tokyo, is the latest to join an industrywide shift
toward digital photography, which has exploded in popularity. Rivals like
Kodak and Canon have already shifted most of their camera production into
digital products.

Nikon said it would halt production of all but two of its seven film cameras
and would also stop making most lenses for those cameras. The company will
halt production of the film camera models "one by one," though it refused to
specify when.

A company spokesman said Nikon made the decision because sales of film
cameras have plunged. In the most recent fiscal year ended March 2005, Nikon
said that film camera bodies accounted for 3 percent of the 180 billion yen
($1.5 billion) in sales at the company's camera and imaging division. That
is down from 16 percent the previous year.

By contrast, sales of digital cameras have soared, the company said, jumping
to 75 percent of total sales in the year ended March 2005, from 47 percent
three years earlier. Scanners and other products account for the remainder
of the division's sales.

"The market for film cameras has been shrinking dramatically," the company
spokesman, Akira Abe, said. "Digital cameras have become the norm."

Mr. Abe said the announcement might trigger a brief revival in sales of film
cameras, as film photography buffs rush to buy the cameras before production
stops. The decision may also help make film cameras a popular nostalgia item
in second-hand markets like eBay.

Nikon made its first film camera in 1948, as Japan rose from the ashes of
defeat in World War II.

The quality and durability of Nikon's film cameras made them popular for
decades among amateurs and professionals alike, turning Nikon into one of
the industry's best-known brands. The first Nikon cameras arrived in the
United States in the 1950's when American servicemen started bringing them
home from tours of duty at American bases in Japan.

But in recent years, all brands of film cameras have virtually disappeared
from store shelves.

Digital photography has won out because its images are visible immediately
and are easily stored on tiny computer chips, eliminating the need to carry
and develop clunky rolls of film.

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