By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
The final camera lineups for the holiday season are starting to take shape and the October offerings from Casio, Olympus and Sony point toward a feature-rich and competitive selling season. Casio has updated its ultra-compact Exilim line of digital cameras. The new cameras, the EX-S2 and EX-M2, now feature 2-megapixel resolution.
In addition to the EX-S2's point-and-shoot photo capabilities, it is equipped with a self-timer, movie recording function and player allowing for up to 30 seconds of video capture.
Also new for the Exilim series is the incorporation of Casio's "Best Shot Mode" feature, which lets users select any of the six preset scene modes that best suit the image being taken. The camera will then re-adjust its internal settings to deliver the best results for the shot. The six "Best Shots" included with the new EX-S2 and EX-M2 are portrait, night scene, retro style, twilight, monochrome and scenery.
The EX-M2 comes with an integrated MP3-player and is only a fraction thicker and heavier than the EX-S2. The EX-M2 allows users to take individual photos, self-timed photos and up to 30-second AVI video clips with sound.
Both cameras come with 12MB of internal memory and support SD/MMC cards. They also ship with a USB cradle for transferring image data to a PC and charging the camera's lithium ion battery. The battery lasts for approximately 110 minutes on continuous play mode and 65 minutes on continuous record mode. The EX-M2 also comes with stereo headphones and remote control.
The suggested retail price on the EX-S2 and the EX-M2 are $299.99 and $399.99, respectively.Olympus announced it is bringing the 3-megapixel C-730 to market for a suggested retail price of $699.95, calling it "the world's smallest 10x zoom, 3-megapixel digital camera." It is the company's first camera featuring the new xD-Picture Card flash memory format, co-developed by Fujifilm and Olympus.
The C-730 features a 30x total seamless zoom (10x optical/3x digital), USB Auto-Connect, six program scene modes and a QuickTime movie mode with sound. The camera also sports automatic pixel mapping and automatic noise reduction. The camera comes with a 16MB xD card.
The camera has a number of manual and automatic controls and is being positioned as a step-up model for those in the market for a second digital camera with more features or first-time users with more photo savvy. Exposure controls include program auto, aperture priority, shutter speed priority and manual exposure compensation. Scene program modes include portrait, sport, landscape+portrait, landscape, night scene, self-portrait and four customizable "my-modes."
Sony's new high-end follow-up to the DSC-F707, the 5-megapixel F717, will be available in October for a suggested retail price of $999.
The new addition to the Cyber-shot line is targeted at the advanced amateur market and as such combines point-and-shoot features with manual photographic controls. It features ISO sensitivities of 100/200/400/800 and shutter speeds of up to 1/2,000 second in auto mode.
Sony's DSC-F717 offers a start time of just over 1 second to power up the camera.
Its new five-area multipoint focusing system enables photographers to focus left, center, right, up or down of their framed shot, providing more accuracy when focusing on the subject. The camera has a live histogram display, accessible both in capture and playback modes, helping to ensure more accurate exposure.
Additionally, the camera's multiburst mode can snap up to 16 frames at 320x240 resolution that adds up to a single 1,280x960 image for capturing detail of subjects in motion.
For better organization and easier access to image files, the DSC-F717 features a file folder option that allows photographers to create and select specific folders for customized photo-indexing on the camera's Memory Stick. The camera has a new rotating zoom-control ring, for more intuitive precision handling, offering the photographer an alternative to the camera's standard toggle switch.
The F717 has a pivoting Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar 5x optical zoom lens with F2.0 aperture. Photographers can compose shots with either the 1.8-inch LCD screen or a through-the-lens electronic viewfinder. Sony's DSC-F717 is the first Sony digital still camera to offer USB 2.0 connectivity in addition to USB 1.0.
The camera has a number of low-light image features that improve the quality of photography in dark settings. The Hologram AF feature is a Sony-exclusive laser-focusing system designed to achieve accurate focus on subjects with little contrast in dark conditions. It projects a safe, visible laser hologram pattern directly onto the subject so the camera can detect the contrast between the edge of the laser pattern and the subject itself. In order to compose pictures in dimly lit settings, NightFraming, another exclusive feature, integrates a NightShot mode, Hologram AF and TTL pre-flash metering. This system enables the photographer to properly frame the subject, attain accurate focus and achieve correct flash exposure for improved flash shots.
The camera ships with a 32MB Memory Stick media, and an InfoLithium M battery.
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