But total digital camera shipments – including compacts – dropped 15%, according to Japan's Camera & Imaging Products Association (CIPA).
Though CIPA predicts total shipments to fall a further 11% in 2013, it expects system camera shipments, to countries outside Japan, to go up by more than 13% over the next 12 months.
The figures, published today, reveal that production of interchangeable-lens cameras jumped from 15.7 million to 21m units in 2012, compared to the previous year.
In value terms, this marks a 43.5% increase.
The number of cameras shipped to European countries rose 35.5%, while around 25% more cameras reached the Americas and Asia, compared to 2011.
However, total shipment of digital cameras, including compacts, dropped to 98.1m units.
‘CIPA began compiling records in 1999, when digital cameras were still in their infancy,' the organisation said in a statement posted on its website.
‘Through 2007, digital camera shipments recorded steady growth, reaching 100 million units for the first time in 2007.
'But, in 2009 sales slackened year-on-year for the first time due to the impact of the global recession.
‘Total shipments reached an historic high in 2010 but contracted again in 2011 because of the Great East Japan Earthquake, which hit on March 11 and the floods in Thailand, damage from which grew more extensive starting in the latter part of October.
‘It was expected that shipments would recover in 2012, as production systems were restored, but shipments declined 15% year-on-year with shipments of digital cameras with built-in lens (i.e. compact digital cameras) contracting 21.9% year-on-year to 78 million units.'