New Digital Cameras Offer Much More Than Just Megapixels

By Greg Scoblete On Feb 21 2005 - 8:00am

Digital camera manufacturers are shifting the competition from away from how good a picture their models can take toward how much their cameras can do. A host of in-camera effects, from editing to augmenting, will debut in PMA models and give attendees more to talk about than mere megapixels.

Canonadded two new Digital Elphs to its PowerShot line up with the 5-megapixel SD400 and 7-megapixel SD500, redesigning the models and offering a new color effects mode. The SD500, which ships in April for an estimated $499.99, features a 3x optical/4x digital zoom, a 9-point AiAF autofocus system, and a new six-mode flash. Shipping in March, the SD400 ($399.99) also offers a 3x optical/4x digital zoom with a different focal length.

Both models feature several preset shooting modes, PictBridge support, a new night display function to automatically brighten subjects, a 2-inch LCD with “quick bright” to temporarily boost the screen's brightness and a new My Color mode. Using My Color, users can identify a specific color to accent; the camera will then saturate that color to produce a more vibrant look. It can also single out a color to display and leave the remaining image in black and white.

Concord broke new pricing ground with an 8-megapixel camera, the ES820z, with a 3x optical zoom and an estimated street price of $249.99. The model also features a 2.4-inch LCD and 16MB of internal memory.

Hartford Computer Group will introduce two new models under the Argus brand. The 4-megapixel QuickClix 4370 features a 3x optical zoom, 16MB of internal memory, and can double as a Web cam. It sports a 1.5-inch LCD for a suggested $149.99. The company will also introduce a 5-megapixel model with similar specs, the DC5370, for a suggested $199.99.

Hewlett-Packard introduced its top-of-the-line 6.2-megapixel Photosmart R717. The unit features a 3x optical zoom, a 1.8-inch LCD, 12 shooting modes including a custom mode, and 32MB of internal memory. The camera offers HP's Real Life technologies such as adaptive lighting and in-camera red-eye removal and the company's Instant Share technology. It offers support for PictBridge and will sell for an estimated $299.

The company also launched two M-series cameras. The 5-megapixel M417, sporting a 3x optical zoom, Real Life technology, a 1.8-inch LCD and 16MB of internal memory, will ship in the spring for an estimated $199. It is also PictBridge-enabled and works on HP's Instant Share system.

The 4-megapixel M23 features HP's Real Life technologies, a 7x digital zoom and Instant Share. It is housed in a weather-resistant, all-metal bronze case. It offers PictBridge support, multizone AF, 16MB of internal memory and a 1.5-inch LCD. It will ship in the spring for an estimated $169.

Kodak brought two new EasyShare C-series cameras and a Z-series model to PMA, all shipping in May. The 5-megapixel C340 features a 3x optical zoom, 16 scene modes, in-camera cropping, selectable exposure metering, ISO equivalents and focus zones. It ships in May for a suggested $249.95.

The 3-megapixel C300 is a fixed focal length model that will ship in May for a suggested $99.95. In its Z-series, Kodak adds the 4-megapixel Z730 for a suggested $349.95. The model sports a 4x optical zoom lens, a 2.2-inch LCD and a continuous auto-focus to offer a “click-to-capture” time of 0.2 seconds.

Fujifilm unveiled branding for its imaging technology, which it dubs “Real Photo Technology.” According to the company, the technology improves low light photography, conserves battery life and contributes to a speedier operation.

The new FinePix F10 uses the company's Super CCD HR 6.3 megapixel image sensor and features a 3x optical zoom, and a 2.5-inch LCD with a gain-up feature for improving the brightness and picture clarity on LCD screen. It does not offer an optical viewfinder to maintain a smaller form factor, a Fujifilm spokesman said.

The F10 will ship in April for a suggested $499.95. It can take 500 pictures per charge of its lithium-ion battery, based on CIPA standards. It also offers a start-up time of 1.3 seconds and a shot-to-shot speed of 1/100th second.

The company also added two models to its entry-level A-series, the A345 and A350. The models shed the sliding lens cover of previous A-models and, as such, are smaller than their predecessors. The cameras both feature a 3x optical zoom lens, preset scene modes and movie recording with sound. Additionally, the units share a 1.7-inch LCD and PictBridge compatibility.

The 4-megapixel A345 will retail for a suggested $249.95; the 5-megapixel A350 will carry a $299 suggested retail price. Both ship in March.

Nikon will introduce five new Coolpix models, all shipping this month. All feature PictBridge support, in-camera automatic red-eye removal, d-lighting, in-camera image editing and 3x optical zoom lenses.

The 4-megapixel Coolpix 4600 ($199 suggested), the 5-megapixel 5600 ($279 suggested) and 7-megapixel 7600 ($379 suggested) all feature 14MB of internal memory, a new help button and a selectable user interface; consumers can switch between a regular menu mode or an icon-driven display. They can capture 230 shoots when using AA batteries or 300 when using rechargeable NiMH, according to CIPA standards. All save the 7600 feature 16 scene modes, including a new underwater mode to complement an accessory housing good to a depth of 70 feet. The 7600 will feature a new face priority AF mode that works in portrait mode to automatically set the camera's focus point on the closet face in the frame.

The 5-megapixel Coolpix 5900, for a suggested $349, and the 7-megapixel 7900 , for a suggested $449, will offer 2-inch LCDs, 3x optical zooms, 16 shooting modes, in-camera editing and improved battery life.

Olympus brought new D-series models to the show. The 5-megapixel D-630 Zoom is a compact model measuring an inch thick. It offers a 3x optical/4x digital zoom, a 2-inch LCD, built-in help guide, 10 scene modes, PictBridge compatibility and macro focusing to 4-inches. It will ship in April for an estimated $299.99.

The company also announced the 5-megapixel D-595 Zoom with a 3x optical zoom, 19 shooting modes, macro focus to 0.8 inches and several “one-touch” buttons for shooting, reviewing and deleting images. It will ship in March for an estimated $279.99. The 4-megapixel D-545 incorporates the features of the 595 with a new frame integration function for framing photos in-camera. It ships in March for an estimated $199.99

Samsung added to its V-series of high-end models. The 6 megapixel V600 for an estimated $359.99 will ship in 3 colors (noble wine, indigo blue or milk silver). It features a 3x optical zoom Schneider lens, automatic macro focus to 4cm, a 2-inch LCD, VGA movie capture at 30 frames per second (fps) with a movie clip stabilizer to detect and correct camera movement, manual controls and several preset scene modes.

The 7-megapixel V70, for a suggested $399.99, sports a 3x optical/5x digital zoom, MPEG-4 video at VGA resolution at 30 fps, a 4cm macro feature, a 2-inch swivel LCD and full auto and manual controls. It works with nine different power sources and supports wide angle and telephoto conversion lenses and a dedicated waterproof housing good to depths of up to 230 feet.

Sony announced two W-series Cyber-shots featuring a 2.5-inch LCD screen, 3x optical Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar zoom lenses, support for PictBridge and USB 2.0 high-speed and 32MB of internal memory. The cameras will ship in March and also share seven scene modes, automatic and manual exposure modes, an optical viewfinder and compatibility with accessory conversion lens.

The 5-megapixel W5 retail for an estimated $349.95; the 7-megapixel W7 will carry an estimated $449.95 price tag.

For more PMA product introductions,

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