Underlining the growing popularity of digital photography, the global market for digital still cameras is expected to be more than 11 million units this year, up 113 per cent from 1999, according to Japanese market research company Nikkei Market Access (NMA). With first-quarter shipment estimates already in, the company said it expects total global shipments to reach 11.01 million units this year. Driving the market during the year will be increasing sales in the North American market thanks to a general move towards higher quality cameras in the two-megapixel class - cameras that can produce pictures with two million or more pixels. Evidence of stronger sales in North America are already evident, said NMA. In the first quarter of this year it estimates global shipments were 1.8 million, up 149 per cent on the same period last year. The North American market recorded an even stronger 185 per cent rise on the first quarter of 1999, said the market research firm, without providing a regional breakdown of shipments. In the Japanese market the debut of three-megapixel-class devices is driving the market, said NMA. Appearance of the products late last year helped what had been flagging sales, and the research group predicts more than one million three-megapixel-class cameras will ship in Japan this year. Globally, the first quarter saw sales of one-megapixel-class cameras beat that of two-megapixel-class by 41 per cent to 40 per cent, although NMA said it expects shipments of the latter type of device will total 42 per cent overall this year, making them the most popular class of digital still camera. Nikkei Market Access, in Tokyo, can be found online at http://ma.nikkeibp.co.jp/MA/index.htm.