One of the oldest names in the photographic business and the camera company that developed the world's first autofocus camera is pulling out of the business due to its inability to keep up with the demands and changing speed of digital photography.

Konica Minolta, which was created last year from the merger of Konica and Minolta announced that it was withdrawing from the digital camera by the 31 March 2006 and the and photo business by 31 March 2007 to concentrate on other areas of its business.

In a statement the company said, “In today's era of digital cameras, where image sensor technologies such as CCD is indispensable, it became difficult to timely provide competitive products even with our top optical, mechanical and electronics technologies.”

Likewise the company has also felt the strains on its traditional photo business: “Traditional silver-halide photographic market is shrinking astonishingly by the surge of the worldwide digitization.”

As a result, the company has sold its SLR camera business to Sony, who is planning to develop digital cameras compatible with Konica Minolta's Maxxum/Dynax lens mount system, so that the current Maxxum/Dynax users will be able to continue to use them with Sony's digital SLR cameras.

Finally because of the reduction in offerings the company announced that it is shedding 3,700 jobs, over 10% of its work force globally.