The Fujifilm Finepix F series leads the point and shoot segment and the Nikon D series ranks highest among digital single lens reflex (DSLR) models, according to study.

The study, which has been completely redesigned for 2007 to better assess satisfaction drivers and market trends, examines camera model lines in four body-style segments: point and shoot, premium point and shoot, ultra slim and digital single lens reflex (DSLR).

In each segment, four factors are measured to determine customer satisfaction: picture quality, performance, operation, and appearance and styling.

Point and Shoot

The Fujifilm Finepix F series ranks highest in the point and shoot segment with an index score of 749 on a 1,000-point scale, performing particularly well in all drivers of customer satisfaction. The Kodak Z series and Canon PowerShot A series follow in the segment rankings with index scores of 744 and 739, respectively.

Among premium point and shoot cameras, the Canon PowerShot SD series ranks highest with 829 points. The series performs particularly well in all factors that drive overall satisfaction. The Panasonic DMC-FZ series (785) and Kodak Z series (783) follow in the segment.

Ultra Slim

In the ultra slim segment, the Casio Exilim Zoom series leads with 802 points, performing particularly well in operation as well as appearance and styling. The Canon PowerShot SD series (796) and the Kodak V series (787) follow in the segment.

With a an index score of 822, the Nikon D Series leads the DSLR segment, receiving notably high ratings from customers in all four factors.

Brand Loyalty Important

The study finds that across all segments, brand loyalty positively affects customer satisfaction. Loyalty rates among owners range from 48 percent in the point and shoot segment to 67 percent in the DSLR segment. Coincidently, overall satisfaction improves across this same range, from 727 points in the point and shoot segment to 801 in the DSLR segment.

The relationship between owner satisfaction and brand loyalty is critical to manufacturers in this highly competitive market, said Steve Kirkeby, executive director of telecommunications and technology at J.D. Power and Associates.

A 10-point improvement in overall satisfaction can lead to a 1-percentage-point improvement in brand loyalty, particularly within the point and shoot, premium point and shoot and ultra slim segments.

The percentage of camera owners who say that they would recommend their current model ranges from an average of 88 percent among point and shoot camera owners to 95 percent, on average, among DSLR owners.

The range of actual recommendations made in the past 12 months averages from 5.3 among point and shoot camera owners to nearly 8.6 from DSLR owners.

Additionally, 36 percent of all camera owners report that they give strong consideration to recommendations from friends and family, which illustrates that positive word of mouth can prove beneficial as far as generating new sales.

DSLR Owners Prolific

The study also finds that DSLR camera owners take more than twice the amount of pictures per month than do owners in any other segment.

Overall, camera owners take an average of nearly 140 pictures per month, while DSLR camera owners take nearly 400 images per month.

The DSLR segment is particularly intriguing, as single lens reflex camera owners have typically tended to be professional photographers and sophisticated amateurs, said Kirkeby.

Now that technology has simplified use of DSLRs, they are becoming more popular among mainstream photo enthusiasts who can now share and display photos much more efficiently than in the past. This evolving demographic will continue to complicate marketing and customer loyalty initiatives in this extremely competitive segment.

The study is based on responses from more than 7,500 consumers who purchased a digital camera between June 2006 and May 2007.