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Canon, Nikon clash on Olympic sidelines

Publication Date : 09-08-2012


Canon Inc. and Nikon Corp. are waging a fierce battle behind the scenes of the London Summer Olympics, with the top-ranking position in the world of single-lens reflex (SLR) digital cameras at stake.

The sports pageant that draws news photographers from around the world provides the camera manufacturers with golden opportunities to build their reputations for technological prowess and reliable products.

Both Canon and Nikon have timed the releases of new state-of-the-art digital SLRs to the quadrennial event, sending technical and information-gathering staff to Olympic venues.

Nikon put its new "D4" model on the market in March and Canon released its "EOS-1D X" in June.

Both models feature high-performance colour representation and high-speed continuous shooting capabilities well suited to photographing such fast-moving subjects as world-class athletes.

The two new top-end models account for the majority of cameras used by news photographers at the London Games.

The ratio of news photographers using a specific type of camera at the Olympics is said to correspond to the maker's share of the global market for top-of-the-line cameras.

According to an industry source, the colours of the large telephoto lens barrels seen in photographers' galleries on the sidelines serves as a visible index of this ratio, as they differ from maker to maker.

As Canon's barrel colour is white and Nikon's is black, attention is drawn to which colour outnumbers the other every time the Olympics are held, the source said.

"While some say Canon has slight numerical superiority at the London Olympics, it seems the two giant camera makers are neck and neck this time," according to the source.

The two companies have each sent about 80 marketing promotion personnel to Games venues, where they are engaged in such services as repairing and leasing cameras at the official press centre. In the process, they aim to gather opinions about their cameras from professional photographers, the source noted.

A Nikon official said, "Our D4 model's function of transmitting photo data without using a personal computer was developed in response to requests from news photographers, for whom every minute counts when facing deadlines."

According to GfK Marketing Services Japan Ltd., a market research company, sales of digital cameras in the domestic market in 2011 plunged 9 percent from the previous year to 9.57 million units, due partly to the impact of the Great East Japan Earthquake.

Domestic sales of digital cameras this year, however, have been on an uptrend as major camera manufacturers have released new models one after another, the company said.

A Canon official said, "By appealing more to consumers about the high performance of our products on the occasion of the Olympic Games, we would like to give impetus to our overall domestic camera sales."


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