Nikon has led Canon in its share of the DSLR market in Japan for the past six months, according to latest sales figures.

?Nikon nudged Canon from its pedestal in December with the introduction of the D80 in October,? reports Japanese trade publication PEN News Weekly.

?Since then it also launched the D40 and D40x and has been maintaining the lead for six months, with a 48% market share in May, while Canon ended up second with a 35% market share,? adds the report which was based on figures released by market research firm BCN.

The statistics reveal a turnaround on a year ago when Canon held a 53% market share in Japan, leaving Nikon behind with 33% in June 2006.

The figures show that Sony?s market share dropped to 2.6% in May this year, from the near 20% share it held in July 2006.

Pentax?s share also fell compared to last summer, from 13% in July 2006 to 7% in May this year ? putting Pentax in third place behind Nikon and Canon.

Olympus share has picked up since March – rising to 6.1% in May, a growth attributed to the launch of the Olympus E-410 digital SLR.

The figures were compiled from sales data received from 2,200 stores across Japan, including ?large electronic home appliance merchandisers?, says PEN.

See below for the latest news from Canon as the DSLR production race intensifies:

Canon steps up DSLR output