Digital Camera Vendors Aim High

By Greg Scoblete On Sep 27 2004 - 6:00am

Digital camera vendors put their best foot forward last week, unveiling a slate of mostly high-end products with a host of company — and industry — firsts.

Konica Minolta added a high-end fixed-lens model to its lineup with the DiMAGE A200. The 8-megapixel A200 incorporates Anti-Shake in addition to a rotating 1.8-inch LCD screen and a 7x optical/4x digital zoom lens.

The A200 offers automatic and manual exposure controls. An UHS (Ultra High Speed) mode can capture up five frames at 2.3 fps in high-resolution RAW mode.

It features an electronic viewfinder, five automatic scene modes, night movie mode and RAW shooting with a simultaneous RAW/JPEG recording feature. It will ship in December. Pricing was not announced.

Nikon introduced two new, high-end fixed-lens models: the Coolpix 8800 and 8400, and a mainstream compact camera, the 4-megapixel Coolpix 4800.

Both the 8800 and 8400 offer Nikon's D-lighting option, a first in its consumer line. Accessible in playback mode, D-lighting automatically compensates for insufficient flash or excessive back lighting. Nikon also incorporated In-Camera Red-Eye Fix in both models to automatically correct most cases of red-eye when in the red-eye reduction flash mode.

The 8800 features a 10x optical zoom Nikkor ED glass lens which, according to Nikon, is currently the longest zoom range in the 8-megapixel category. It is the company's first camera to offer a version of Nikon's Vibration Reduction (VR) system formerly available in its Nikkor professional SLR lenses.

Other features include a 1.8-inch vari-angle LCD screen, four exposure modes, 15 preset scene modes, RAW image capture, and macro shooting up to 1.2-inches supported by Nikon's Best Shot Selector — which takes 10 shots and automatically selects the best exposed to save to memory.

The 8800 ships this fall for a suggested $999.95.

According to Nikon, the new 8-megapixel Coolpix 8400 offers the widest-angle coverage of any digital camera currently available with a 24-85mm (35mm equivalent) ED glass 3.5x optical zoom lens. The camera features automatic and manual exposure controls, 1.8-inch vari-angled LCD and 15 scene modes. The 8400 ships this month for a suggested $899.95.

Finally, Nikon will ship the 4-megapixel Coolpix 4800 this month for a suggested $399.95. The compact model uses SD memory and offers a 8.3x optical zoom lens with macro shooting up to 0.5-inches.

Olympus added three new models to its lineup, all of which are PictBridge-compatible and ship in October.

According to Olympus, the new C-7000 Zoom, for a suggested $599.99, is “the world's smallest 7.1-megapixel camera with a 5x optical zoom lens.”

It features a 2-inch LCD, 10 scene modes and RAW image capture.

The C-7000 is the company's first compact model to offer exposure confirmation. It is also Olympus' first camera with one-touch in-camera red-eye removal.

The company also added the entry D-535, a 3.2-megapixel, 3x optical zoom model for a suggested $149.99. The D-535 features six preset scene modes, 0.8-inch macro focusing, a 1.5-inch LCD screen, 12MB of internal memory and a mode dial.

Finally, the 4-megapixel D-590 offers a 3x optical/4x digital zoom, 10 shooting modes and a 1.8-inch LCD at $299.99.

Pentax added two new Optio models to its consumer lineup. All feature PictBridge compatibility and ship in October.

The Optio MX4, at $499.95 combines a 4-megapixel still camera with an MPEG-4 video recorder. It features a 10x optical zoom that can be used in both still and video recording and a 1.8-inch LCD monitor that can rotate through 180 degrees horizontally and 210 degrees vertically.

The camera can record MPEG-4 video in VGA resolution at 30 fps to the length of an SD memory card.

The 5-megapixel Optio SV, also at $499.95, features a 5x optical zoom with a sliding lens system to give the camera its 0.9-inch thickness. Additional features include a 1.8-inch LCD, mode dial, 12 scene modes and manual exposure control.

Sony introduced the DSC-M1, its first combination digital still/video camera. The unit combines a 5.1-megapixel digital still camera with an MPEG-4 video recorder.

The vertical camera features a Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar 3x optical zoom lens for video and still shooting and a 2.5 articulated LCD that rotates 270 degrees. A new hybrid record mode automatically records five seconds of QVGA video before and three seconds after a still image is snapped

The MI will ship in December for a suggested $600 and will be bundled with a custom-sized Cyber-shot Station USB cradle.

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