Nikon to release new range of digital SLR cameras

Nikon Corp. is planning to release a new range of digital SLR (single lens reflex) cameras, including a model called the D50, the company said Thursday.

Word of the D50's impending launch first emerged when it was discovered that a copy of the user's manual for the camera had recently been uploaded in error onto one of the company's Web sites. The manual was soon taken down.

"The user manual was uploaded in error and we can't tell you when the official announcement about the D50 will be made," said Susumu Enomoto, a spokesman for Nikon. However, he noted that the existence of a user manual for the D50 suggests the camera will go on sale in the not-too-distant future.

Nikon would not reveal any of the D50's specifications and features. But the D50 is one of several new digital SLR models that the company is planning to release following the success of the popular D70 model that went on sale in March 2004, Enomoto said.

"We are now developing a full range of new models from the top-end to popularly-priced models, but we can't say anything more now," he said.

Aimed at hobbyists and amateur photographers, digital SLRs are digital versions of 35-millimeter SLR film cameras and come with interchangeable lenses and camera bodies. They have advanced features found on professional-level film cameras and usually sell at a premium to point-and-click digital still cameras, although price differentials are narrowing, according to market research company IDC.

Nikon claims to have sold about 1 million D70s globally between March 2003 and this February, and this figure accounts for about 40 percent of the worldwide digital SLR market during that period, the company said.

Last year, global shipments of digital SLRs surpassed 2 million units, according to IDC. Global unit shipments of digital SLRs will grow to about 3.6 million units in 2005 and shipment numbers will double to about 6.6 million units in 2008, according to IDC predictions.

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