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Olympus Introduces New Digicams, d-SLR

2/13/2006 02:00:00 AM Eastern

Olympus rolled out several new digital cameras for its spring lineup, including the first consumer level d-SLR offering a live preview on the LCD. The company also concentrated on bolstering the low-light capabilities of its compact cameras, rolling out a new branded technology called “Bright Capture.”

While live-view LCDs are universal on fixed-lens digital cameras, the mirror and shutter mechanism on digital SLRs blocked the ability to view images on an LCD. The Olympus EVOLT E-330 can achieve a live view preview on its LCD in two ways. The first, Mode A, directs light through the lens and mirrors to a sensor residing in the viewfinder. The second, Mode B, locks the mirror up and sends light directly to a “Live MOS” image sensor which also enables the user to pinpoint an area of focus, zoom in 10x, and manually focus for more precise macro photography.

The articulated LCD screen can extend from the camera's body and swivel to various angle for framing difficult shots.

The d-SLR incorporates Olympus' supersonic wave filter dust-reduction system that kicks on when swapping out lenses. It features a slot for CompactFlash and xD flash memory cards. It will ship in March. A kit with a Zuiko Digital 14-45mm/3.2x optical zoom lens (28-90mm, 35mm equivalent) will sell for an estimated $1099.99. A body-only kit will sell for approximately $999.99.

Olympus also announced the 7-megapixel SP-320, featuring a 2.5-inch LCD, 3x optical/5x digital zoom, 30 shooting modes and automatic and manual controls. The camera also offers a “reducing blur” scene mode and an ISO 800 mode for shooting in low-light environments. It will ship in the spring for an estimated $299.99.

Three new Styluses will join the ranks, continuing the all-weather line and incorporating a new “Bright Capture” technology for low light photography. The technology refers to a brighter LCD screen, an improved auto focus and several scene modes for shooting at higher ISOs and extending the flash range.

The 7-megapixel Stylus 710 ($349.99, February) features a 3x optical/5x digital zoom, 2.5-inch LCD, 28 shooting modes, dedicated “easy print” button, in-camera red-eye fix and a digital image stabilization mode which uses built-in gyro-sensors to correct for the effects of image blur after a photo has been snapped. The Stylus 810 builds off the 710, adding an 8-megapixel CCD. It will ship in March for an estimated $429.99

A version of the Stylus 710, the 710SW, offers the same features plus the ability to endure a five foot fall and submersion in up to 10 feet of water. It will be available in the spring for an estimated $399.99.

Finally, the entry-level FE line will see two additions in March, the 5-megapixel FE-130 ($199.99) and 6-megapixel 140 ($249.99). The cameras share most of the same feature set, including a 3x optical/4x digital zoom, in-camera frames, 22 shooting modes and an image stabilization mode. The FE-130 features a 2-inch LCD whereas the 140 offers a 2.5-inch screen.

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