As User Base Get Smarter, Cameras Do Too

By Greg Scoblete On Jan 6 2005 - 8:00am

Camera owners have upped their digital IQs, if not their real ones, forcing camera vendors to match the increase with smarts of their own.

A number of new cameras debuted at CES will feature a host of built-in intelligence, either for added creative effect or to aid in improved picture taking, and all are designed to appeal to the swelling segment of upgraders that are estimated to account for close to half of all camera sales.

BenQ will introduce two new models. The 4-megapixel, fixed focal length DC-E41, for a suggested $249, offers MP3 playback and a 2-inch touch-screen LCD that lets users write handwritten notes to an image. It has 108 embedded “cute stamps” for adding to digital images and features 8MB of internal memory with an SD slot. The camera ships this month in three different colors.

The 5-megapixel DC-E53, for a suggested $399, sports a 3x optical zoom and a 2.5-inch LCD screen with LTPS technology, which the company claims consumes half the power of a TFT LCD. It offers a macro focusing up to 6cm, an aluminum housing, and video recording to the length of an SD card (32MB included).

Casio introduced the 6-megapixel QV-R62, the flagship in the company's QV-R line.

The R62 sports a 2-inch LCD screen, 3x optical zoom, a 0.01 second shutter release, a start-up time of one second, and continuous shooting of up to three photos in one second.

The unit's battery can take 280 full-resolution photos on one charge. Additional features include PictBridge compatibility, 9.7MB of internal memory, and a Best Shot Mode which offers users a list of sample photo settings that best match the photographic environment. After the user selects the appropriate scene, the camera automatically configures 23 different settings to capture the optimum shot.

An Auto Macro mode automatically switches between Macro and automatic focus depending on the distance of the subject. An Icon Help guides users through the camera settings with pop-up icons on the LCD screen.

Olympus is introducing three new models, all PictBridge-enabled. The 5-megapixel C-5500 features a 5x optical zoom, 2-inch LCD, 13 shooting modes and sequential shooting at 2.7 fps to five photos. The unit features anti-shake technology in movie mode and will ship in February for an estimated street price of $349.

The 7-megapixel C-7070 offers a wide angle 4x optical zoom lens, a 1.8-inch swivel LCD screen, predictive and lock-on autofocus and a dual media slot that accepts xD-Picture Card and CompactFlash memory. It ships in January for an estimated street of $699.

Finally, Olympus will introduce an entry-level 4-megapixel, fixed focal-length model in the D-425. Shipping in February for an estimated $149.95 street price, the D-425 features 10 shooting modes, 14MB of internal memory and a help menu function which guides novices via the LCD screen.

Pentax will go nautical with the OptioWP, a waterproof 5-megapixel digital camera.

The camera can shoot in up to three feet of water without an additional underwater housing. It features a non-protruding 3x optical zoom, a 2-inch LCD screen, 10MB of internal memory, nine point auto focus, a start-up time of under one second, and a 0.05 second shutter release lag.

The OptioWP also offers 20 shooting modes, in-camera editing, macro focusing to 0.36 inches, and voice-memo recording. The camera ships in March for under $400.

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