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Canon Intros HD Camcorder, Previews New Technologies

Canon used the backdrop of its Canon Expo 2005 last week to debut its first high definition camcorder and to preview upcoming technologies for display and digital imaging devices.

The XL H1 high-definition camcorder records images at 1,080i resolution to DV tape using three 1/3 inch interlaced CCDs. It offers selectable frame rates of 60i, 30 frames per second (fps) and 24 fps. The camcorder, which will ship in November for an estimated $8,999, also offers HD-SDI output for image transferring.

The H1 features a 20x optical zoom lens with built-in optical image stabilization technology and uses Canon’s DIGIC DV II processor.

In addition to video, the H1 can capture 2-megapixel still images to an SD card.

In a keynote speech kicking off the expo, Fujio Mitarai, president/CEO Canon, hailed the company’s success in the digital imaging business and noted that Canon would add display technology as a new plank in its consumer business with its introduction of SED technology next year.

“Through our joint venture with Toshiba, we plan to have factory outputs of 70,000 units a month in 2007 with 3 million units a year produced by 2010,” Mitarai said.

Mitarai stressed Canon’s commitment to R&D, noting that research budgets would increase as the company pursued new advances in nano technology, biotechnology, semiconductor manufacturing and medical imaging.

The company also announced plans to replace all the LCD screens it currently uses in its consumer imaging devices with OLED display technology and upgrade the printer heads used by its inkjet printers to improve quality and speed, at an unspecified time.

Canon pulled back the curtain on several technologies that are currently under development for digital still photography, including an automatic face detection technology. Cameras using this technology can automatically locate a person’s face and apply two other developing technologies, “smile detection” and “blink detection,” that will tell the camera to wait until the subject is smiling and has his/her eyes open before snapping the picture.