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Sony cameras seize the focus at Asia's largest trade show

Popularity of high-end entries fuels shift in industry dynamics

TOKYO -- Sony is drawing huge attention this year at Asia's largest camera show, which opened Thursday in Yokohama.

A relative latecomer in the high-end single-lens reflex camera market, Sony has emerged as a leading player with the largest booth at CP+, a premier global trade show for cameras and photo imaging. The booth measures 918 sq. meters, a 55% increase from last year and the company's largest ever.

"My Sony SLR camera is so compact and light-weight that I now take a lot more pictures of landscapes and people," said a 23-year-old graduate student, who held in hand a Sony Alpha DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) camera.

For more than half a century, CP+ has been a venue dominated by the two Japanese camera giants -- Canon and Nikon. But Sony's emergence is a breath of fresh air in the slumping industry.

Camera shipments by Japanese manufacturers have been on the decline with the popularity of increasingly sophisticated camera-equipped smartphones. Industry leader Canon, with a broad range of products, is suffering as the market shrinks. No. 2 Nikon is in the midst of corporate restructuring.

Sony broke out of its mold as a compact camera maker in 2006 with the purchase of Konica Minolta's SLR business. It has since made advances, launching into the mirrorless SLR market four years later and launching a high-resolution G Master lens series in 2016.

Technology is Sony's backbone. Its ability to produce image sensors in house has been key to its pursuit of professional photographers in the magazine and advertising fields. Sony's sales of interchangeable-lens cameras tripled in fiscal 2015 from two years earlier.

But tough competition abounds, with Fujifilm and Panasonic each offering new models in the high-end market, where Sony is competitive.

Sony plans to spin off its camera and broadcasting equipment business in April. The new company will be headed by Executive Vice President Shigeki Ishigaki, who was responsible for launching the compact Cyber Shot cameras.

(Nikkei)

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