SEOUL, Sept 14 (Reuters) - Samsung Electronics Co (005930.KS), the world’s No.3 maker of compact digital camera, unveiled a hybrid camera on Tuesday and predicted the new segment will grow 10-fold in five years to take over the high-end SLR market.
Traditional camera makers such as Canon Inc (7751.T) and Nikon (7731.T) are facing a fresh threat to their dominance of the high-end single-lens reflex (SLR) market from Sony’s (6758.T) NEX and other so-called mirrorless cameras by Olympus Corp (7733.T) and Panasonic Corp (6752.T).
They have ditched the mirror from the traditional SLR format, allowing them to make the cameras smaller, and bet the middle segment will appeal to both compact users trading up and photography enthusiasts tired of lugging around heavy equipment.
Samsung joined the foray on Tuesday with a hybrid camera model NX100 that combines a light-weight body with the high-quality images of an SLR camera.
“The mirrorless camera will be the new locomotive of digital camera market growth going forward and it will take over the SLR market in 2012 or 2013,” Park Sang-jin, head of Samsung’s Digital Imaging Business, told reporters.
“This new segment is already attracting consumers from compact users and will grab further market share by adding more consumers from the SLR category.”
Samsung forecast the market would grow to 15.3 million units by 2015 from 1.5 million units estimated this year.
The South Korean firm is the world’s third-largest maker of compact digital cameras with a 11.8 percent market share, but has little market share in the more profitable and high-end SLR segement, which is dominated by Japanese firms Canon and Nikon.
Sony is ahead of Samsung and scored an instant hit in Japan when it introduced its NEX mirrorless camera in June, grabbing market share held by Nikon and Canon.
Sony is the world’s top compact digital camera producer with a 17.4 percent market share but languishes a distant third in the SLR market.
Reporting by Miyoung Kim; Editing by Ken Wills