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DigiCams At PMA Take A Shot In The Dark

Orlando, Fla. — Taking pictures of the great, dimly-lit, indoors has long been the Achille’s heel of even the highest-end digital cameras. A new breed of camera, launched at the PMA show, here, will no longer be afraid of the dark thanks to new flash, image stabilization and light sensitivity technologies.

Canon will offer three new 6-megapixel Elphs in the spring. The SD700 IS (shipping in April, $499.99 suggested retail) is Canon’s first Elph to feature a 4x optical zoom with optical image stabilization, a 173K pixel 2.5-inch LCD and ISO 800 sensitivity. The SD630 (April, $399.99) features a retractable 3x optical zoom and a 3-inch wide viewing angle type LCD with 15 levels of brightness control. A new touch control dial lets users quickly scroll through stored images. Finally, the SD600 (March, $349.99) offers the same feature set as the SD630 except it features a smaller LCD at 2.5-inches and adds an optical viewfinder (which the SD630 does not have).

Casio added a new Exilim to its line, the 6-megapixel EX-Z600, with a 2.7-inch LCD that is three times brighter than its predecessor’s, the Z500. The camera features a battery life of 550 pictures per charge, and a new “eBay Best Shot” mode that automatically configures images for posting at the auction site. The Z600 features 33 scene modes, an anti-shake DSP and a new rapid flash function for shooting three consecutive high speed flash photos in one second. It will ship in March in silver and black for a suggested $299.99.

Fujifilm will up the sensitivity sweepstakes with the 6.3-megapixel FinePix F30, capable of shooting full-resolution images at ISO 3,200. According to a company spokesman, Fujifilm is tackling image blur the old fashioned way, combining fast shutter speeds with improved sensitivity in a dedicated “Picture Stabilization” mode dial setting. The F30 achieves its sensitivity thanks to the second generation of the company’s “Real Photo Technology,” which refers to the company’s Super CCD sensor, Fujinon optics and processor.

Also new in the F30 is a flash system dubbed “i-Flash.” According to Fujifilm,
i-Flash can better detect “the subtle lighting differences within a scene and then light the subject accordingly with a wider range of intensities.” The camera features a 2.5-inch LCD, manual controls and a “natural light and with flash” mode that takes two photos at once, with and without the flash, giving the user the option to choose the better one. The F30 ships in May for $399.

Kodak will offer up a new V-series model, the 6-megapixel V603, in April for a suggested $299. The compact camera features a 3x optical zoom, 2.5-inch LCD, VGA/30 fps movie recording, in-camera photo enhancement (including the company’s “Perfect Touch” technology) and in-camera panorama stitching. The camera provides electronic image stabilization for both stills and videos.

Nikon will expand its Wi-Fi-enabled offering, introducing two new cameras with 802.11b/g connectivity. The company will also migrate a blur-reducing technology from its d-SLRs into its compact cameras and announce a new in-camera slide show creator, called Pictmotion, available in its two new S-series models. Cameras with Pictmotion come with five preloaded music files and will automatically add transition effects to images played back in the camera. Users can load their own music into the camera via included software (for Windows PCs only).

Nikon will also introduce two 6-megapixel/3x optical zoom models in its S-series, shipping in February. They will share automatic image rotation, 15 scene modes, included cradle, LCDs with a 170 degree field of view, and a rotary multi-selector for scrolling through stored images at 10 fps. A new dedicated “portrait” button gives users access to Nikon’s in-camera technology including red eye fix, D-Lighting and Face-priority AF. The S5, for $349, will sport a 2.5-inch LCD. The S6 will feature integrated Wi-Fi and a 3-inch LCD for $449.

In the P-series, Nikon will add two 8-megapixel models, the P3 ($499.95 with Wi-Fi) and P4 ($399.95). The new models will feature built-in vibration reduction, available in two shooting modes: normal and active. Additional shared features include a 3.5x optical zoom, 2.5-inch LCD, 16 scene modes, continuous shooting at 1.8 fps to five frames, VGA/30 fps movie recording and 23MB of internal memory.

Panasonic will build out its compact line with the introduction of the 6-megapixel, 3.6x optical/28mm wide-angle zoom DMC-FX01. It features Mega Optical Image Stabilization, a new high-sensitivity mode for shooting at ISO 1,600 and wide aspect video recording at 848 by 480/30 fps. The 207K pixel 2.5-inch LCD features two new modes for viewing images — a high angle mode for difficult angles and a new calendar display. The camera features a shutter interval of 0.7 seconds, a 1.6 second start-up, 3 fps burst mode and 16 scene modes. It ships in March for a suggested $349.95.

Pentax will introduce several new product lines on the heels of its previously announced nomenclature shake-up. A new T-series model, the T10, will launch offering a 3-inch touch-panel LCD. An included stylus lets users draw on photos and add stamps and pictures frames to photos from preloaded options. The 6-megapixel T10 sports a 3x optical zoom lens and will ship next month for a suggested $349.95.

The 6-megapixel W10 (March, $299.95) continues the company’s waterproof family with JIS Class 8 waterproofing, which enables the camera to be submerged in up to three feet of water for 30 minutes, and JIS Class 5 dust-proof protection. It features a reflection-free LCD and will ship in March for less than $299.95. Finally, in the new M-series model family geared for mainstream consumers, Pentax will ship the M10 in March. The 6-megapixel M10 features a 2.5-inch LCD and a 3x optical zoom for $229.95.

Samsung will announce the 6-megapixel Digimax L6 featuring a 3x optical/5x digital zoom SHD lens, 2.4-inch color LCD display, and VGA/30 fps MPEG-4 movie recording with built-in stabilization. The camera offers 11 scene modes and several special effects options, built-in image editing, auto macro, 32MB of built-in memory and voice recording. It ships in April for a suggested $299.99.

Sony will discontinue its P-series in favor of the new W-series, which will see two new introductions at PMA. The 8-megapixel W100 ($350) offers a 3x optical zoom, 2.5-inch LCD screen, 64MB of internal memory, VGA/30 fps MPEG video capture and an “HD image” recording option for a 1,920 by 1,080 resolution photo. The 7-megapixel W70 ($300) offers the same feature set as the W100 but with 58MB of internal memory.

Vivitar will introduce several ViviCam models. The 8-megapixel 8400 ($350) features a 3x optical zoom, 2-inch LCD, VGA/30 fps movie recording and 16MB of internal memory. The 6-megapixel ViviCam 6380u ($408) features a 2.5-inch LCD, 3x optical zoom and VGA movie capture.