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Pentax Steadies Point-And-Shoots

9/04/2006 02:00:00 AM Eastern

Pentax announced two replacement models in its A and M series of digital cameras, bumping up the resolution, adding more blur-reduction capabilities and facial recognition technology. It also introduced a new waterproof model.

The new Optio A20 and M20 will both support the recently introduced SDHC memory card format.

The 10-megapixel Optio A20 will feature a 2.5-inch LCD and a 3x optical zoom. It will offer three varieties of blur reduction technology. A Shake Reduction (SR) feature physically moves the camera's CCD sensor to compensate for user movement. A new blur reduction mode bumps the camera's ISO sensitivity to as high as 1,600 depending on the brightness of the subject and increases the camera's shutter speeds. In this mode, image resolution is set to 5 megapixels. Finally, the A20 will offer electronic stabilization in movie mode.

The A20 records VGA movies at 30 frames per second (fps) in the DivX format.

Pentax also incorporated facial recognition into the A20's autofocus and auto exposure modes. The camera ships in October for an estimated $350.

The new 7-megapixel M20 will replace the M10. It will feature a 3x optical zoom lens, a 2.5-inch LCD screen, 700-image battery life with two AA lithium batteries, and blur-reduction mode.

The M20 also packs facial recognition AF/AE modes, a VGA/30fps movie mode, and is ImageLink compliant for connecting to Kodak's printer docks. It ships this month for a suggested $200.

Pentax also announced a new waterproof camera in its Optio series, bringing a new blur-reduction mode to its underwater line. The 7-megapixel W20 will ship in September for less than $300.