By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
The digital camera market saw a flurry of firsts last week with Sony unveiling the first 8-megapixel camera for advanced amateurs, Canon introducing its first EOS Rebel digital SLR, Concord bowing its first CCD-based cameras, and Kodak announcing its first EasyShare model with a 10x optical zoom.
Both Canon's and Sony's new cameras were firsts in yet another way: they are the companies' first to offer support for the PictBridge direct printing standard. PictBridge allows a digital camera to directly print to any PictBridge compatible printer (regardless of manufacturer) through the USB cable, without using a PC.
Currently, only Canon has a PictBridge photo printer on the market, the i560, announced earlier this month. Other PictBridge printers and cameras are set to hit the market in force at the beginning of next year.Canon's EOS Digital Rebel, based on the company's line of film SLR cameras, features 6.3-megapixel resolution and will ship in mid-September in two kit configurations — with or without the specially designed EF 18-55mm f/3.5 - 5.6 zoom lens. The estimated street price for the zoom lens kit, which includes a battery pack and charger, will be $999. The estimated street price for the body-only kit with the same accessories will be $899.
The new EOS Digital Rebel is compatible with Canon's line of more than 50 EF lenses, EOS specific accessories and Canon's EX-series Speedlites. It employs the same 7-point AF sensor found on the company's EOS 10D model and features 12 shooting modes, automatic or manual exposure controls and automatic and/or manual focusing point selection.
The Digital Rebel accepts CompactFlash type I and II and Microdrive.
Canon also announced its flagship PowerShot A-series camera, the new 4-megapixel A80. The camera sports a 3x optical zoom, a 270-degree vari-angle LCD monitor, 14-mode command dial, 9-point AiAF and an Intelligent Orientation Sensor that automatically rotates vertical shots. Other features include a customizable My Camera mode, movie mode to a maximum of three minutes and a CompactFlash type I expansion slot.
The PowerShot A80 will ship in October at a suggested retail price of $499.
Concord Camera announced that it will ship a 4-megapixel camera for a suggested retail price of $249.99, this month.
The Concord Eye-Q 4060AF is the company's first CCD-based camera, and will feature a 6x digital zoom, an aspheric glass lens, 16MB of internal memory, manual white balance, an SD card expansion slot and five preset modes including fireworks, night, indoor, sunset and beach/snow scenes.
The company also announced another CCD-based camera, the 3-megapixel Eye-Q 3340z, which shares most of the features of the Q4060AF. It offers a 3x optical/4x digital all glass non-extending zoom lens. The zoom lens uses internal folded optics that remain inside the body of the camera, rather than protruding from the camera, which Concord says keeps the camera compact.
The Concord Eye-Q 3340z is expected to be available later this month, also for $249.99.
Both models also feature a 1.5-inch TFT LCD and a continuous shooting mode, which takes seven uninterrupted pictures within two seconds.
Kodak's latest addition to its EasyShare lineup is the DX6490, a 4-megapixel camera with a 10x optical zoom lens and Schneider-Kreuznach Variogon optics.
It will be available in September for a $499 suggested retail price.
The DX6490 offers manual controls for aperture, shutter speed, exposure compensation, ISO equivalent and other settings. The camera features aperture and shutter priority modes, as well as sport, portrait, night, landscape, macro and automatic program modes.
In addition, the camera is equipped with an external flash synch — capable of synching at any shutter speed — for illumination of subjects beyond the 16-foot pop-up flash range.
The camera sports a 2.2-inch indoor/outdoor LCD screen, 16MB of internal memory and an SD/MMC slot. It ships with the EasyShare camera dock 6000 and is also compatible with the printer dock 6000 (sold separately for a suggested $199.95).
The megapixel race, recently considered dormant if not passe among vendors, looked to be reignited with Sony's announcement of an 8-megapixel digital camera aimed at the advanced amateur.
The DSC-F828 is a member of Sony's F-series of enthusiast cameras and, in keeping with the theme, is the first digital camera to incorporate Sony's recently announced four-color filter CCD technology and Real Imaging Processor.
Sony's new sensor adds an emerald-colored pixel to the traditional red, green, blue filter pattern, which the company says produces color fidelity that is closer to human color perception. The camera's new Real Imaging Processor then converts the four-color signal back into an ideal RGB color space with a linear matrix system.
Other than a new sensor, the F828 sports Carl Zeiss T* optics with a 7x optical zoom and manual zoom control. The camera accepts CompactFlash Type I and II, Microdrive and/or Memory Stick PRO flash media.
A five-area multipoint auto focus evaluates five separate areas of the frame and focuses on the subject, displaying the selected focus point, or allowing the user to manually choose any of the five points.
For shooting at night or in low light environments the camera features a NightShot infrared system that allows the camera to capture infrared images in total darkness at a distance of up to 15 feet. A NightFraming system illuminates the subject for proper framing, focuses with Sony's Hologram AF illuminator and then lights the scene with the appropriate amount of flash. The F828 can also record video at 640 by 480 resolution at 30 frames per second to the capacity of the memory card.
The Cyber-shot DSC-F828 will be available in mid-November for a suggested price of about $1,200. Sony's other F-series camera, the DSC-F717 model will continue to be available at about $800.
For those in the market for portability, Sony introduced another diminutive Cyber-shot in its U-series, the DSC-U50.
The cameras features a 180-degree rotating lens, 2-megapixel resolution, and is the first Sony camera to support both Memory Stick PRO Duo and Memory Stuck Duo flash memory formats. It will be available in three colors: black, silver and metallic orange. An MPEG movie mode can captures up to 15 seconds of MPEG video at 160 by 112 resolution.
The U50 will ship in October for a suggested retail price under $250.
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