Slim Models Define Early Summer Intros

By Greg Scoblete On Jun 6 2005 - 6:00am

Cognizant of the coming beach season, several digital camera vendors unveiled lean and mean models that won't need to suck in their guts when they hit the beach. Despite the diminutive dimensions, the models offer larger LCD screens, high resolutions and improved video recording.

Kodak dove into the ultra-slim camera market with the introduction of its new V-series of EasyShare digital cameras. The two 5-megapixel models, the V550 and V530, are under an inch thick and will come in several colors. They also offer MPEG-4 video recording at VGA resolution at 30 frames per second (fps) to the capacity of an SD/MMC card, with video zooming and digital video stabilization.

Video clips can be turned into stop-action still pictures.

Kodak will also ship a new dock with both cameras. Called the EasyShare Photo Frame 2, the dock will perform the usual transferring and battery-charging functions in addition to displaying still and video slideshows on the camera's LCD screen. The cameras also work with the Series 3 printer dock, sold separately.

Both cameras offer 16MB of internal memory, PictBridge compatibility, and a 0.3-second click-to-capture speed.

The V550 will ship next month for a suggested $399. It features a metal body, a 3x optical zoom lens, 2.5-inch LCD screen with an optical viewfinder, 19 scene modes and will be available in black or silver. In burst mode, the V550 can capture up to five images in any quality setting at 3 fps.

The V530 will be available in July in four colors: pink, red, black and silver. It sports a 2-inch LCD screen but no optical viewfinder, and a 3x optical zoom. In burst, it can snap up to five pictures in any quality mode at 2.5 fps. It will retail for a suggested $349.

Kodak also announced the fifth version of its free EasyShare software. The new version offers improved video editing features.

The company also pushed back the launch of its EasyShare One Wi-Fi-enabled digital camera until October. The camera, initially announced at International CES, was set to ship this month. According to a Kodak spokesman, the company was “taking the necessary time to ensure the best-possible customer experience, making certain that all of the new system components — many of which are breaking new significant ground for the digital photography category — interoperate as expected.”

Konica Minolta added another member to its X-series of ultra-slim digital cameras with the introduction of the new 5-megapixel DiMAGE X60.

The X60 features a 3x optical/4x digital non-protruding zoom lens with a 2.5-inch LCD screen, 15MB of internal memory and automatic macro (4 inches) and super macro focusing (2 inches). It sports a start-up time of 0.5-seconds and a shutter lag of 0.08 seconds.

Using an image-pasting feature, consumers can overlay parts of an image into one of nine frames on a chosen picture. The X60 also offers seven program scene modes, a five-point autofocus (AF), multi-segment and spot metering. The camera takes SD memory cards and is PictBridge enabled.

It ships this month for an estimated $349 and includes Kodak's EasyShare software.

Olympus introduced a new model in its entry-level D-series, targeting a sub-$200 price point for a compact 5-megapixel camera with a fixed focal length lens.

The new D-435 will ship in August for an estimated $169.99. It offers a 4x digital zoom, 10 shooting modes accessible through a mode dial, PictBridge compatibility, QuickTime movie recording and an onboard help guide to shepherd novice users through the camera's features.

The camera uses AA-size alkaline batteries with a sleep mode to extend battery life and features individual buttons for shooting, reviewing and deleting images.

Pentax added three new digital cameras to its S-series lineup of compact digital cameras as well as a new lens for its digital SLRs. All of Pentax's new Optios will sport a 3x optical zoom lens, Pictbridge compatibility and a 2.5-inch LCD screen. They also use SD memory.

The 5-megapixel Optio S5z, for an estimated $350, features 19 scene modes, including a user-programmable mode, VGA video capture at 30 fps to the length of a memory card and an aluminum alloy exterior

The 5-megapixel Optio S55 offers 12 scene modes and a help mode that explains the camera's various functions to novice users. The Optio S55 will be available for under $300.

Finally, the 4-megapixel Optio S45 offers the same features as the S55 but with limited distribution and a lower price at under $230.

The company also announced shipments of its 4x telephoto DA zoom lens for use with its digital SLRs — the *ist D and *ist DS. It offers a focal length of 50mm-200mm (F4-F5.6) and will sell for an estimated $300.

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