Demand for mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras is poised to overtake DSLR sales within two years, according to Samsung.

?The mirrorless camera will be the new locomotive of digital camera market growth going forward and it will take over the SLR market in 2012 or 2013,? said SanJing Park, head of Samsung?s Digital Imaging Business.

?The new segment is already attracting consumers from compact users and will grab further market share by adding more consumers from the SLR category,? Park told reporters at a press conference in Seoul, South Korea yesterday.

Samsung predicted that the mirrorless market will grow ten-fold inside five years – reaching 15.3m units by 2015 from an estimated 1.5m this year, reports news agency Reuters.

Park was speaking at the launch of the mirrorless NX100 (pictured), which features new technology called i-Function.

However, earlier this year analysts warned that the price of mirrorless models will limit growth of this sector in Europe in the short to medium term.

Futuresource predicted that the ‘higher average retail price’ of an interchangeable lens compact, compared to an ‘entry-level DSLR’, will limit growth of this sector.

‘Another big influence on growth will be whether Canon and Nikon ? who currently dominate the wider interchangeable lens camera market ? decide to launch an interchangeable lens compact product,’ said Futuresource consultant James Wells.

‘In the short term, while we are expecting significant growth? it will still only reach shipments of 377,000 units across Western Europe in 2010, compared to 3.3m units for DSLRs.’

Speaking in July, Wells added: ‘Panasonic, Olympus, Sony and Samsung (with a 20% combined share of interchangeable lens camera shipments in 2009) are expected to promote this segment heavily in 2010, particularly at the Photokina show in September, in the run-up to the important fourth quarter period.

‘The long-term aim [for them] is to try to break Canon and Nikon’s stranglehold on the interchangeable lens camera market. Suffice to say, this will be an interesting space to watch over the next two or three years.’

On Tuesday Olympus hinted that its new DSLR, the E-5, may be the last in the series as it signalled that its future system cameras would not contain an optical viewfinder.