DigiCam Vendors Court Competitive Pricing

By Greg Scoblete On Apr 5 2004 - 6:00am

Digital camera manufacturers did a price-point limbo last week, bending over backward to bring previously pricey features to new benchmarks lows.

Konica Minolta and Olympus both announced 6-megapixel digital cameras below the $500 mark, while Argus brought out the first digital camera with a color LCD display for under $50.

Argus said its DC 1730 camera is the industry's first with a color LCD display for under $50 (suggested $44.99). The DC 1730 features VGA resolution, 8MB of internal memory capable of storing up to 117 photos and an automatic flash. It can also act as a Web cam for videoconferencing.

The camera is shipping now and comes bundled with ArcSoft PhotoImpression photo editing and management software.

Konica Minolta introduced the third model in its G-series of DiMAGE digital cameras, the 6-megapixel DiMAGE G600.

The G600 features a 3x optical GT Hexanon lens and incorporates a newly developed proprietary Adoptive Image Processing System (A*IPS), which instantly calculates optimum exposure, focus and white balance. The G600's newly developed Signal Processing Engine enables a 1.3-second start-up time.

The camera sports redesigned ergonomics and a new exterior design. It features PictBridge compatibility, Memory Stick and SD card slots, special effects modes and a macro mode that can focus as close as 2.4 inches away from the subject on the widest angle setting.

Pictures can be magnified up to twelve times on the camera's LCD panel by using a high-speed scroll feature. In movie mode, the G600 can record 30-second clips with sound at 320-by-240 resolution.

The G600 will ship in May for a suggested retail price of $499.

Olympus announced two new models, the C-60 and D-395. The C-60 is a 6.1-megapixel camera with a 3x optical/4x digital zoom incorporating Olympus' new TruePic TURBO image processor, which the company says gives the C-60 improved start-up speeds, shutter release and image playback times.

The C-60 sports a new, 134,000 pixel, 1.8-inch "semi-transmissive" LCD that uses external light to enhance the image on the LCD screen. According to Olympus, standard displays reflect sunlight off their surface, impairing visibility.

In contrast, the C-60's LCD features semi-transparent layers that allow sunlight to penetrate a few layers into the LCD panel, reflect off the underside of the liquid crystal layer and present a much brighter image on the LCD, thanks to the additional back light.

Other features include manual control, macro mode, spot metering, exposure compensation, USB 2.0 connectivity and PictBridge compatibility. It offers 13 shooting modes, including a customizable "MyMode" and a panorama mode that stitches together 10 images into a single panoramic photograph. A new 2-in-1 picture mode gives users a split-screen view that captures different scenes together on the right and left side of the image. The benefit, Olympus said, is that a 2-in-1 photo takes up less space on the memory card than two separate images.

The C-60 will ship in April with a 32MB xD-Picture Card for an estimated street price of $449.

The company also introduced the entry level 3.2-megapixel D-395, which is also slated to hit store shelves in April for an estimated street price of $149. The camera features a fixed focus lens with a 2.5x digital zoom, a 120,000 pixel, 1.5-inch LCD, an optical viewfinder and PictBridge compatibility.

The D-395 also features six shooting modes, the 2-in-1 picture mode, black-and-white photo and sepia-image effects. It ships with a 16MB xD-Picture Card.

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