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Nikon increases camera, lens manufacturing

Nikon has significantly increased the population of workers at a Thailand factory building digital SLR cameras and accompanying lenses, Merrill Lynch analyst Hiroshi Yoshihara said Monday. The factory's population of 15,000 at the end of February is an increase of 6,000 in the last year, he said.

The factory builds Nikon's lower-end digital SLR cameras--the D80, D40 and new D40x--as well as lenses that can be fitted to those and higher-end models. Specifically, each month, it builds about 100,000 D80 cameras, 80,000 D40 cameras, 90,000 D40x cameras and 230,000 lenses, he said.

Canon is tops in the SLR market, but No. 2 Nikon hopes for a stronger showing. At the Photo Marketing Association trade show earlier this Month, Nikon Chief Executive said the company plans to achieve 40 percent SLR market share in calendar year 2008.

Canon's SLR profitability is linked to the fact that it builds its own image sensors rather than purchasing them from a supplier, Yoshihara said.