Canon has been named the number one leading provider of imaging technology solutions for the fourth year in a row by a leading technology market intelligence provider IDC.

According to the IDC sector report, Canon has 16.5% of the Western European digital camera market, which saw a total shipment of 27 million units in 2005.

Canon's lead over rival Sony has risen in one year from 2.8% to 5.6%.

The Research Manager, European Peripherals at IDC, Paul Withinngton, said, "The 2005 Western European digital camera market saw continued year-on-year growth of 2.8% but at a slower rate than expected. As this slowdown continues into 2006 and market saturation reaches its peak, competition will be fierce".

"We predict a huge drive by the major camera players to be first in the race and capitalise on the key growth opportunity at entry-level that conversion of analogue camera users to digital presents."

Canon shipped more than 4 million DSLR and compact digital cameras in the Western European market last year.