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Wednesday, June 7, 2006

Sony has high hopes for its first digital SLR

Staff writer

Sony Corp. on Tuesday unveiled its first digital single lens reflex camera, the Alpha DSLR-A100, in its first product rollout since acquiring the Konica Minolta Group's digital SLR division earlier this year.

By melding Konica Minolta's popular Alpha series with the Sony brand name, the electronics giant hopes to grab more than 10 percent of the global market for single lens reflex cameras by the end of its business year next March.

"By entering the single lens reflex camera market, which we have wanted to do, we hope to secure a position as the leading camera maker," said Yutaka Nakagawa, Sony's executive vice president, at a news conference at the Omotesando Hills shopping complex in Shibuya Ward, Tokyo.

In January, Konica Minolta Holdings Inc. announced it would withdraw from the camera business and sell its digital SLR division to Sony, which was selling only compact cameras. The new camera was developed by both companies.

Sony hopes to lure new customers and longtime fans of the Alpha series to catch up to leading camera makers Nikon Corp. and Canon Inc.

The 10.2-megapixel camera will debut in Japan on July 21 and is expected to be priced at around 100,000 yen. The zoom model will cost between 120,000 yen and 140,000 yen, depending on the lens. Sony will produce 80,000 units a month.

The camera also comes equipped with an image-stabilizing technology to help those with unsteady hands take clear pictures.

The lens is interchangeable with most of the lenses produced by Konica Minolta, and Sony intends to market 21 kinds of lenses by the end of the year, three of which will be produced jointly with Carl Zeiss Ag of Germany.

Sony plans to boost sales of other digital products by encouraging the use of Bravia flat-panel TVs and DVD recorders when displaying pictures taken with the camera.

"In addition to the usual way of printing the pictures, we want to propose a new enjoyment after the pictures are taken," Nakagawa said.

The Konica Minolta Group was created in 2003 by the merger of 130-year-old Konica Corp., Japan's first color film maker, and Minolta Co., which produced the world's first practical auto-focus SLR camera in 1985.

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The Japan Times

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