January 23, 2006
Source: The Japan Times
Written by Reiji Toshida
Business is booming at the camera shop managed by Hiroaki Kitahara, but he has a sense of emptiness regarding the past and is worried about the future.
His major secondhand shop in Nakano Ward, Tokyo, is an outlet of Fujiya Camera Co., and it has seen a rush of customers buying Nikon cameras and lenses immediately after the world’s top camera maker announced Jan. 13 it is terminating most of its prestigious lineup of film-based cameras to concentrate on the digital variety.
“We’ve received more than 10 times the orders for Nikon products than in an average month,” Kitahara said in a telephone interview Friday. “Window cases of (Nikon products) are now almost empty.”
For everyone who loves photography, Kitahara said, Nikon is a special name. Nikon Corp. has long led the global camera industry with its robust and precise professional cameras and interchangeable lenses.
The shock for the camera industry, however, did not end with Nikon’s announcement. The Konica Minolta group, another prestigious maker, announced Thursday it will withdraw from the photo business, ceasing production of analog and digital cameras, and film.
Konica Minolta Holdings Inc. was born in 2003 through a merger of 130-year-old Konica Corp., Japan’s first color film maker, and Minolta Co., the firm that in 1985 put out the world’s first practical auto-focus single-lens reflex camera.
Nikon, Minolta and Konica have all been big names in Japan’s camera industry, a symbol of the country’s renowned precision instruments industry.
For camera makers, however, nostalgia must give away to the cold reality of digital technology.