By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Digital camera vendors put the period to most of the year’s introductions, unveiling the fall models that will shape the contested landscape of the holiday selling season.
In addition to concrete specs, higher resolutions, larger LCD screens, and faster performances, vendors are duking it out on a more subjective battleground — style — offering thin, colorful and artistically shaped designs that defy the usual specsmenship.
Casio introduced three new models in its Exilim line of ultra-compact digital cameras, all shipping in October.
The company hailed its new flagship, the Exilim Card EX-S100, as the thinnest camera on the market with an optical zoom lens. The 3.2-megapixel EX-S100 features a 2.8x optical zoom using Casio’s new ceramic lens design, which employs the transparent ceramic Lumerica developed by Murata Manufacturing.
The EX-S100 measures 0.66 inches thick and features a 2-inch LCD screen, 9.3 MB of internal memory, an SD/MMC expansion slot and a start-up time of 1.4-seconds with the flash off. It will retail for a suggested $399.99.
Casio also added two 5-megapixel models to the line, the EX-Z55 and EX-Z50, featuring 3x optical zoom lenses; an “icon help” function to guide users through the camera’s settings; and a new “business shot” mode that lets users take a trapezoidal distorted picture of a projector, white board, document or business card from a side angle and automatically correct it to a rectangle.
Both models are PictBridge-enabled, pack 9.3 MB of internal memory with an SD/MMC expansion slot, and ship with a USB cradle for battery charging and picture transfers to a PC.
The Z55, for a suggested $449.99, features a 2.5-inch LCD screen with an optical viewfinder. It can take approximately 400 pictures on a single lithium ion battery charge.
The EX-Z50 has a 2-inch LCD and slightly fewer images-per-battery charge (390) for a suggested $399.99.
Canon made replacements across its line, swapping out models in its G-series and A-series and adding a model to its S-series.
The 7.1-megapixel PowerShot G6, replaces the G5, adding a 30 percent faster zoom and a 55 percent faster autofocus, while losing 10 percent of its predecessor’s size.
The G6 features a 270 degree vari-angled 2.0-inch LCD and a 4x optical/4.1x digital zoom lens with macro focusing down to 2 inches, simultaneous RAW/JPEG image capture, 12 shooting modes and an Intelligent Orientation Sensor that automatically rotates vertical shots during playback.
The G6 ships this month with a 32MB CompactFlash card for an estimated $699.99.
The company also added to its PowerShot A-series with three new models, all of which will feature Canon’s 9-point AiAF, a first in the entry-level A-series.
The 3.2-megapixel A400 will replace the A310, coming in 11 percent smaller than its predecessor while adding a 2.2x optical zoom lens. The A400 will be available in four colors: silver, sky blue, lime green and sunset gold. It is the first in the series to use SD media.
It will ship this month with a 16MB SD card for an estimated street price of $179.99.
Canon will swap out the A70 with the 4-megapixel A85. Featuring a 3.2x optical zoom lens, 1.8-inch LCD and 13 scene modes, the A85 is shipping now for an estimated street price of $299.99.
The 5-megapixel A95 will replace the A80 for an estimated $399.99. It features a 1.8-inch vari-angled LCD, FlexiZone AF/AE for off-center subjects and 14 shooting modes.
The PowerShot A85 and A95 are compatible with supplementary wide-angle, telephoto and close-up lenses, as well as dedicated waterproof housings with a depth rating of 130 feet (WP-DC50 for A95 model and WP-DC30 for A85 model).
Both cameras accept Compact Flash Type I media (32MB included) and offer PictBridge-compatibility.
Canon’s latest addition to its S-Series, the 7.1-megapixel PowerShot S70, incorporates the same proprietary UA 3.6x optical zoom lens as the previously announced S60. It features a sliding lens cover that acts as an on-off switch and continuous shooting at 2 frames per second (fps).
The S70 is bundled with a 32MB Compact Flash card and features 13 shooting modes including an enhanced VGA movie mode and simultaneous RAW/JPEG recording. It is compatible with a new optional underwater housing, the WP-DC40, for an estimated street price of $240. The S70 ships this month for an estimated $599.99.
Olympusupdated its all-weather Stylus digital models with the newly designed 4-megapixel Stylus Verve. The camera features a 2x optical/4x digital zoom, 10 shooting modes, a 1.8-inch LCD screen, PictBridge compatibility and a new lithium ion battery and charger.
For a suggested $349.99, the unit will be available in silver, white, red, blue and black in October. Olympus will add an orange Verve in 2005.
According to Sally Smith Clemens, product manager, Olympus, the Stylus Verve will be Olympus’ first camera sold through Bloomingdales in addition to more traditional camera outlets.
Pentax announced an array of new models, all of which ship this month with a $150-value ACDSee imaging software bundle.
The 5-megapixel Optio X can swivel to position the lens on one side and the LCD on the other for shooting difficult angles. It features a 3x optical zoom; 2.0 inch LCD, 16 scene modes, and a new “My Menu” function, which allows users to group together frequently used functions for easier access.
The camera can take full-resolution stills while simultaneously capturing video or audio clips and can alert users to washed-out or blacked-out areas of a photo in real time. The Optio X can serve as a PC camera and ships with a cradle for recharging batteries.
The Optio X body is 0.7 inches thick, the thinnest in the company’s diminutive series and features a sliding lens system that allows the lens to be completely retracted inside the body once the power is off. The Optio X will have a $449.95 suggested retail price.
The top-of-the-line Optio for 2004 will be the 7-megapixel Optio750Z for a suggested $649.95. The camera features a 5x optical zoom, an aluminum alloy exterior with a leather-grained rubber façade, 12 shooting modes and a mode dial atop the camera. It is PictBridge-compatible and sports a 1.8-inch LCD
The 750Z can capture VGA video with sound at 30 fps to the capacity of an SD memory card. In addition to the standard image ratio of 4:3, the camera offers a 35mm equivalent 3:2 image ratio.
The 5-megapixel Optio S50 will replace the Optio S40 and retail for a suggested $299.95. The camera features a 3x optical/2x digital zoom lens, a “help function menu” to guide digital novices through the camera’s features, 13 shooting modes, 11 MB of internal memory, and an SD card expansion slot. It too is PictBridge compatible with a 1.8-inch LCD screen.
The S50 also offers an Auto Select mode that enables the camera to automatically determine the photography environment and then choose from portrait, landscape or night scene preset modes.
The 5-megapixel Optio S5i, for a suggested $399.95, features a 3x optical/4x digital zoom lens, a 1.8-inch LCD screen, 10MB of internal memory and is compatible with SD memory cards.
It features a new “sport” mode to enable quick shooting for fast-moving subjects. The units included battery charger recharges two Lithium-ion batteries simultaneously.
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.