PhotoHistory 2006

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Chronological history of photography in Japan in 2006 (Heisei 18)

Researched and compiled by Philbert Ono

  • Jan. 11 - Amid an expanding digital SLR market and a shrinking film camera market, Nikon announces that it will trim its film SLR camera lineup to just two models: the flagship Nikon F6 and the entry-level manual Nikon FM10.
Bye-bye Konica-Minolta. Their last appearance at the Photo Imaging Expo in 2005.
  • Jan. 19 - Konica-Minolta Holdings announces their complete withdrawal from the photography business, including camera and film production. The main reason cited for their withdrawal is their lack of competitiveness in the electronics field, especially in the development of imaging sensors which is a core technology in digital cameras. They were unable to survive on their optical technologies alone. Sales of Konica-Minolta film and photo paper will be reduced gradually until their termination at the end of fiscal 2006.
  • Jan. 31 - FujiFilm announces a restructuring of their shrinking photo business. Worldwide film production will be reduced by 30% and their group-wide workforce of 76,000 employees will be reduced by 5,000 (1,000 of them in Japan) by September 2006.
  • Mar. 18 - The Canon EOS 30D is marketed. Featuring a large, 2.5-in. LCD monitor and 8.2-megapixel CMOS sensor. Body only price 158,000 yen.
  • March 23-26 - The annual Photo Imaging Expo, Japan's largest camera show, is held at Tokyo Big Sight. Over 150 companies show there products to 103,825 visitors. Photos here.
  • March 31 - Konica-Minolta's camera business is formally terminated. The alpha/Maxxum/Dynax lens-mount digital SLR camera line will be taken over by Sony which will market the camera under the Sony brand.
  • March 31 - Mitsubishi Paper terminates production of its Gekko brand B/W photographic paper as well as Gekkol processing chemicals. Sales of their paper and chemicals have been decreasing since reaching peak sales in 1965. Sales sank to 1/40 of the peak period, making the company decide to discontinue these products. Gekko paper first appeared in 1950.
  • April 1 - Sony takes over the support and servicing of Konica, Minolta, and Konica-Minolta cameras, lenses, and accessories.
  • April 21 - A photo exhibition showing 100 pictures of Yokota Megumi (横田めぐみ), a Japanese girl abducted by North Korea in 1977 when she was a junior high school student, is cancelled by the Marui Imai department store in Sapporo, Hokkaido after it received a threatening letter. The photos, taken by her father Shigeru, was to be exhibited at the store from April 26 to May 1, 2006. They will look for another exhibition venue.
  • April 21 - During a board meeting, Mamiya OP executives decide to pull out of the optical equipment business by September 1, 2006. The business unit and Mamiya subsidiary will be sold to Cosmo Digital Imaging Company. Main reasons underlying the decision include the decreasing sales of its medium-format cameras due to the spread of compact digital cameras and high-end digital SLRs and lackluster sales of the medium-format digital camera introduced in late 2005. The new owner will retain the Mamiya brand name and take over the manufacturing, marketing, and servicing of Mamiya equipment.
  • April 22 - Leica Camera Japan opens its first camera store in Ginza, Tokyo. It is the first store in the world to be operated by Leica. The store will sell Leica products, offer repair services, and exhibition space.
  • June 14 - Fuji Photo Salon in Hiroshima closes.
  • July 21 - The Alpha 100, Sony's first D-SLR based on Konica-Minolta's D-SLR system, is marketed. It is Sony's first D-SLR with interchangeable lenses (based on the old Minolta's Alpha lens mount). Features 10.2-megapixel CCD sensor which can also correct camera shake. The sensor also shakes off dust. Body only price is 99,800 yen.
  • Sept. 1 - Nikon markets the D70's successor with the D80 boasting a 10.2-megapixel CCD sensor, 2.5-in. LCD monitor, and a faster image-processing engine. It followed a teaser ad campaign from late July and official announcement in Aug. Body only price is 119,800 yen.
  • Sept. 1 - The old Mamiya OP company is reborn as Mamiya Digital Imaging Co., Ltd. The new name reflects its committment to the imaging and digital business.
Rear of the Canon EOS Kiss Digital X (400D/XTi) featuring a larger 2.5-in. LCD monitor.
  • Sept. 8 - Announced on Aug. 24, Canon's 3rd-generation, entry-level D-SLR EOS Kiss Digital X (Rebel XTi or EOS 400D overseas) goes on sale. Highlight features include a CMOS sensor bumped up to 10 megapixels, a large and bright 2.5-in. LCD monitor (eliminating the smaller LCD panel for camera settings), and a dust reduction system. Body only price is 89,800 yen. Lens kit is 20,000 yen more.
  • Oct. 13 - Asagao-no-kai, a group supporting the family of Megumi Yokota, opened a Web site http://asagaonokai.jp/ showing photos of young Megumi and her family before she was abducted by North Korea in 1977 at age 13. It received widespread news coverage resulting in a flood of hits. The site had to be shutdown temporarily.
  • Nov. 2 - Insect photographer Kuribayashi Satoshi is awarded the 9th Lennart Nilsson Award at the awards ceremony in Stockholm, Sweden. This Sweden-based award is for scientific photography, and Kuribayashi was selected from among 25 or so candidates nominated by 50 nominators (including one from Japan) around the world. The prize is worth SEK 100,000 (around USD 13,500).
  • Dec. 10 - By the second week of Dec., the best-selling digital SLR in Japan is the Canon Kiss Digital X (XTi/400D) and the best-selling compact digital camera is again a Canon, the IXY Digital 900 IS (PowerShot SD800 IS Digital ELPH). Both cameras maintained their No. 1 position since their respective debut in Sept. and Oct. 2006. Based on POS sales statistics from over 2,000 computer and camera stores in Japan compiled by BCN Ranking magazine.
  • Dec. 13 - The importer of Kodachrome film announces that Kodachrome 64 and Kodachrome 64 Professional films will no longer be imported to Japan. After the current inventory is depleted by March 2007, Kodachrome film will not be available in Japan. The processing of Kodachrome film will also be done in the US after Dec. 20, 2006.
  • Dec. 21 - HOYA CORPORATION and PENTAX Corporation announces that they have reached a basic understanding aimed at a management integration of the two companies, expected to be completed on October 1, 2007. The new company’s name will be HOYA PENTAX HD Corporation.

Note: Sorry folks, 2006 will be the last year covered by PhotoHistory. Due to other online projects, PhotoGuide Japan's PhotoHistory section will no longer be continued. The existing PhotoHistory Web pages will remain online.

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