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Nearly half of the female digital camera users surveyed by Konica Corp. have started using the no-film cameras within the past one year.

Of 250 female digital camera users polled over the Internet between July 27 and Aug. 1, 49.2 percent said they started using them in the past year.

This was marginally up from the 46.8 percent who said they have used digital cameras for more than one year, of whom 4 percent said they have used them for more than five years.

In contrast, 56.8 percent of 250 male digital camera users polled by the camera maker said they have used the cameras for more than one year, compared with 34.8 percent who have used them for less than one year.

Digital cameras, first sold in Japan for household use by Casio Computer Co. in 1995, are becoming more popular among females because of price reductions and improved usability, Konica suggested.

Of the 500 users combined, 93.8 percent said they have used digital cameras for fewer than five years.

According to a government survey, 22.7 percent of Japanese households owned digital cameras in 2001. No figures are available for comparison.

But an industry survey indicated sales of digital cameras have been increasing in recent years.

Shipments of digital cameras amounted to 4.83 million units in Japan in 2001 and the figure is expected to surge 30 percent to 6.3 million units this year, the Camera & Imaging Products Association said.

The Konica survey showed replacement demand for digital cameras is still low, with 72.6 percent of respondents having bought the cameras only once — 66.4 percent for men and 78.8 percent for women.

The proportion of men who have replaced their digital cameras more than twice came to 9.2 percent, while the figure for women was 1.6 percent, it said.

Of those surveyed, 59.2 percent said they have begun taking more photographs since buying a digital camera, while 2.4 percent said now take fewer.

When asked in multiple-answer format what they found most entertaining about using a digital camera, 72.8 percent cited the impression that they could take photographs without worrying about how many frames were left.

Only 23.6 percent used their digital cameras to make New Year’s greeting postcards, although 35 percent said that was one of the reasons they bought the device.

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