Ko Tsuchiya has been in the fashion photography business for four years. Ever since he got his hands on his first camera - a Minolta X-700 - his favorites have always

been Japanese.

(SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) PHOTOGRAPHER, KO TSUCHIYA, SAYING:

"The best thing about Japanese cameras is that they don't break. They are small, but they have many features in that small body. Take auto focus. You will always get a picture in focus."

And when shooting fashion, it's all about trusting your equipment.

(SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) PHOTOGRAPHER, KO TSUCHIYA, SAYING:

"If I'm shooting an artistic piece, I might use a European made camera like this old Hasselblad. But in my work, including fashion and sports, it's a situation where you don't have time to work slowly, and I know that with this camera, I can almost always take the right picture without fail. That's why I trust Japanese cameras."

Cameras were among the shrinking number of industries Japan still dominates.

81 percent of the digital cameras sold in 2012 were Japanese.

Unfortunately, it's not the best industry to be in.

One stop at an electronics store in Tokyo and you'll know why.

Canon, Nikon, Olympus...they're all Japanese brands but while high-end SLRs and mirror-less cameras are attracting customers, the compact digital camera section looks empty.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) REUTERS REPORTER, YONGGI KANG, SAYING:

"Consumers are not buying compact camera these days. And the reason is simple. Why do that when you can take perfectly nice pictures with your smartphone?"

This change in consumer trends is hitting camera makers like Canon hard.

Japan's top camera maker just lowered its profit forecast for the current business year due to sluggish demand for its digital cameras and a slowdown in emerging economies.

Things are equally tough for Nikon. Goldman Sachs is predicting a 20 percent drop in operating profit for the second quarter.

Camera makers are responding by moving away from compacts and trying to sell more high-end devices.

These can be especially lucrative as high-end camera buyers often purchase more lenses from the same company.

Some firms are getting even more aggressive. Olympus has already withdrawn from the low-end camera business, and recently said it would stop developing SLRs too.

Those moves helped it earn a 'buy' rating from Goldman Sachs.

So while Japan's camera makers can count on a few loyal customers like Ko, more and more, they look like leaders of a sunset industry - and only those with other strong business lines are likely to thrive.

ENDS

 

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