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Camera Makers Embracing HD At PMA Show

Orlando, Fla. — As the doors opened on the 82nd annual Photo Marketing Association’s trade show and convention, here, yesterday, “HD friendly” digital cameras were the talk of the event.

In a testament to their exuberance, few manufacturers actually waited for the show to begin before unveiling their wares, preferring to use the preceding week to announce new products.

Aside from the usual boosts to resolution and LCD screen size, camera manufacturers keyed in on making their models “HD friendly.” Samsung announced a digital camera with built-in HDMI output for connecting and outputting higher-resolution JPEGs to high-definition televisions, while Canon and Panasonic will offer digital cameras capable of capturing still images (Canon) and video (Panasonic) in a wide angle ratio for display on 16:9 screens.

Sony will merge digital photography and HD viewing with a new hard-drive-based photo viewer (HDPS-L1) designed to connect to HDTVs with a 720P component output. The 80GB unit is designed to sit in an entertainment center with slots for the popular memory card formats.

The ubiquitous iPod’s influence will also be felt, as Canon and Nikon will offer “iPod-inspired” scroll wheels on select digital cameras with large LCD screens for rapidly reviewing stored images. Nikon will also build-out its Wi-Fi enabled models, introducing two new cameras here for a total of four Wi-Fi cameras announced to date.

The show did open amidst reports that digital camera sales are at or near the summit of their growth curve. According to research firm IDC, the digital camera market notched another year of double-digit growth, shipping 28 million digital cameras to dealers in 2005 for a 20 percent gain over 2004.