Sony Corp said it would launch a new digital single lens reflex camera for advanced users in November, broadening its product lineup in a move to take on industry leaders Canon Inc and Nikon Corp.
Single lens reflex (SLR) cameras, the fastest-growing segment of the digital camera market, are high-end models with interchangeable lenses, as opposed to point-and-shoot compact cameras.
The new model, called DSLR-A700, which comes with 12.24 megapixel resolution and is expected to sell for about 180,000 yen ($1,560), is Sony's second digital SLR camera after an entry model launched in July 2006.
The Tokyo-based electronics and entertainment conglomerate is the world's second-largest digital camera maker behind Canon but lags also behind Nikon in the digital SLR camera market.
Digital cameras, along with camcorders, are Sony's cash cow products as its vertically integrated business model, where key products such as image sensor chips are manufactured in-house, allows high profit margins.
Sony aims to raise its market share in the digital SLR camera market to 10 percent with the help of the new model from about 7 percent now, said Keiichi Ishizuka, deputy senior general manager at Sony's digital imaging business group.
Well-established SLR camera makers are formidable rivals, Ishizuka told a news conference.
What we need to do first is keep expanding our product offerings. Only by doing that steadily can we compete with them in a true sense. Today, we took that one step forward, he said.
Sony plans to make 30,000 units of the new SLR camera in September, the first month of production, and 20,000 in each of the following months, Ishizuka said.
Besides the entry model and the mid-range model just unveiled, Sony plans to offer a top-end, flagship model as early as the business year starting next April, covering the full digital SLR camera market.
Sony held a 6.2 percent share in the global digital SLR camera market in 2006, following Canon with 46.7 percent and Nikon on 33 percent, according to research firm IDC.
Both Canon and Nikon last month unveiled their latest digital SLR camera models for the year-end shopping season, in a pre-emptive move against new entrants such as Sony.
Shares in Sony closed down 0.4 percent at 5,720 yen, slightly underperforming the Tokyo stock market's electrical machinery index, which fell 0.2 percent.