Digital camera sales will overtake those of film-based cameras in 2002, according to a study released yesterday by InfoTrends Research Group.

Digital camera sales will grow from 6.7 million units this year, to 20 million units in 2002 and 42 million units in 2005, the study claims. Film-based camera sales will total 18.7 million this year, 19 million units in 2002 and 18 million units in 2005, said the study, drawing on industry statistics.

The study did not include disposable camera sales, which average about 100 million units a year.

Still, the growing popularity of digital cameras is undeniable, said Michelle Lampmann, a co-author of the report. He added: "We are moving to an era of personal visual communication, people like the gratification of sharing photos over the Internet with friends and family."

Revenue from digital camera sales will reach $1.9 billion this year, compared with $1.7 billion in revenue from film-based camera sales, the study said. The cost of film-based cameras average less than $100, while digital cameras average about $280, Lampmann said.

However, sub-$200 digital cameras are growing in popularity and are expected to exceed sales of 2.2 million units this year, according to the study, which drew on research from the Photo Marketers Association and Eastman Kodak.

The study, titled "2000 Low End Digital Camera Forecast North America", can be obtained from InfoTrends Research Group.