Information Bulletin No.47

Sales of Digital Cameras Take Off

October 24, 1995

Digital cameras, which record images on a flash-memory card instead of film, have become one of this year's hit items. A picture taken with a digital camera can be read into a computer, offering the convenience of immediate viewing as well as the possibility of manipulating it in any variety of ways. Digital cameras were originally made exclusively for professional use and priced out of the reach of most consumers. What triggered the recent explosion of interest in digital photography was the introduction of general-use cameras selling for around 100,000 yen or even less. Demand is so strong for certain models that they have already sold out.

Digital Technology Means End of Developing

What is unique about a digital camera is that it eliminates the need to develop film of pictures one has taken in order to see them. Since images are recorded on a flash-memory card as digital data, they can be viewed immediately on a screen by connecting the camera to a computer and reading in the data. Various kinds of software make it possible to process and edit on-screen pictures freely, and naturally a hard copy can be obtained with a printer.
Digital cameras have a wide range of applications. The most typical is to insert photographs in documents or publications. Since it is unnecessary to drop off film at a developer, the content and quality of photographs can be quickly verified, speeding the lay-out process. Creative minds are steadily coming up with new, personal uses. In order to keep straight the names and faces of all the people he has interviewed, one journalist printed up a set of name cards incorporating digitized pictures. Another enthusiast put together an album of pictures taken on vacation with a digital camera, adding captions with editing software.

Low-Priced Models Stimulate Sales

The recent explosion of interest in digital photography was set off by the introduction this March of the first-ever digital camera with a standard retail price below 100,000 yen. Selling for only 65,000 yen, this model quickly disappeared from one store after another, compelling the maker to raise monthly production from 3,000 units to 20,000. Cyberspace is abuzz with queries about where this price-busting camera can be had, and there are reportedly plans to further raise production to 30,000 by year's end.
Other electronics manufacturers have been rushing to come out with their own general-type digital cameras, making available a range of models retailing for 100,000-250,000 yen. It appears likely therefore that demand among ordinary computer users will continue to climb.

(The above article, edited by Japan Echo Inc., is based on domestic Japanese news sources. It is offered for reference purposes and does not necessarily represent the policy or views of the Japanese Government.)