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Last Updated: Monday, 6 February 2006, 14:29 GMT
Face-hunting cameras boost Nikon
Nikon Coolpix L1 camera
Face recognition cameras like the Coolpix L1 are popular
Japanese camera maker Nikon has tripled its profits on the back of strong sales of digital cameras that automatically focus on human faces.

Operating profit for the three months to 31 December was 19.8bn yen ($167m; 95m), up from 5.9bn yen in 2004.

Nikon said that sales of compact digital cameras had been boosted by the success of new face recognition models.

It had also seen strong sales of its digital "SLR" cameras with interchangeable lenses and bodies.

Rising demand for liquid crystal displays and computer chips meant a surge in sales of Nikon's "steppers" - machines that etch circuitry onto silicon wafers.

The upturn in sales enabled Nikon to raise its full-year operating profit forecast by 18% to 53bn yen.

Earlier this year Nikon said it was stopping production of most of its traditional film cameras to focus on digital products instead.

It has been concentrating on high-end digital models with better profit margins after facing stiff price competition in the compact digital camera market.

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