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Camera buyers increasingly focus on digital

A study shows that digital cameras account for a growing percentage of all camera sales, driven by the surging popularity of entry-level devices in the United States.

Digital cameras account for a growing percentage of all camera sales, driven by the surging popularity of entry-level digital cameras in the United States, according to a new survey.

Sales of digital cameras now account for 13 percent of all camera sales worldwide, as measured by unit shipments, according to the report from Info Trends Research Group, which tracks digital-imaging products and technology. That is up from 6 percent last year, according to Michelle Lampmann, an analyst at Info Trends.

Digital cameras are surging in popularity as the quality of digital images improves--some cameras now can take pictures with 3 million pixels per image--and as the prices of cameras and other equipment, like printers, continue to drop.

The popularity of digital cameras is being driven by sales of entry-level models in the U.S., which are growing at a rate of 50 percent annually. The average price of a digital imaging product sold in the United States is about $280, compared to $433 worldwide, Lampmann said.

"A lot of growth in the U.S. market is attributed to low-priced, entry-level

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models," Lampmann said. In other regions, such as Japan, digital cameras with resolutions of 2 million or 3 million pixels are regularly being used as people's primary cameras, she said.

North America accounted for 52 percent of worldwide sales, driven by sub-$1,000 models, the report found, followed by Japan, with 23 percent. Overall, sales of all cameras are growing at a steady pace.

"Many consumers are now using digital cameras as a supplement to regular photography," she said. "Digital imaging is renewing an interest in photography overall."

Olympus is the No. 1 digital camera maker, followed closely by Sony, Kodak and Fuji. Accounting for 60 percent of all camera sales, these manufacturers should exploit demand for low-end cameras by marketing a wide variety of products and applications, the report said.

A recent report from a separate market research firm, NPD Intelect, predicted that retail sales of digital cameras will experience triple digit growth over the next few years.

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