Digital camera heavyweights Canon and Nikon have been hit by the global economic slowdown, according to unconfirmed press reports.

Nikon has laid off 1,500 subcontracting staff at its factory in Thailand, according to a report published by The Bangkok Post.

The firm blamed the losses on falling orders from the United States, Japan and Canada.

Meanwhile, in an interview with Reuters news agency, Canon?s president reportedly said that the consumer slowdown has ?started to hit? digital SLR sales.

Canon president Tsuneji Uchida told Reuters that, in unit terms, the global digital camera market may contract in 2009.

Despite this Canon predicts that 2008 figures will show a 38% jump in the number of DSLRs sold compared to last year.

Canon is set to cut costs by $1billion with the completion of a new computer system by 2010, added the Reuters article.

At the time of writing Canon and Nikon had yet to officially confirm, or comment on, these press reports, given the time difference with Japan.