Vendors had the mass market in mind as they converged on the Orange County Convention Center for the Photo Marketing Association's annual trade show and convention, which began here yesterday.
A number of leading manufacturers targeted product introductions to what is considered the market's "sweet-spot" of $300-$400, hoping to propel unit sales in the perennial battle for market share.
Canon: The company expanded its consumer level PowerShot line with three introductions. The PowerShot A100 is a 1.2 megapixel camera with 3.2x digital zoom, a macro mode, and a direct print mode for the CP-10 and new CP-100 photo printers. The camera has new shooting modes, including Photo Effect and a manual mode. The new PowerShot A30 and A40 carry mostly identical features including 1.2 megapixel resolution, 3x optical zoom, a movie mode with sound (playback audio only on the A40), and a direct print mode. Price and availability were not available at press time.
Fujifilm: On the camera side, Fujifilm announced that it is bringing the FinePix 30i combination digital camera and MP3 player to the North American market. The camera was announced first in Japan. The camera has 2 megapixel resolution, the ability to append 30-second voice clips to still images, and an MP3 player that plays files from the camera's 16MB SmartMedia card (included). The camera will ship in April for a suggested $399.
Fujifilm has also bolstered its self-service kiosk line with the new PrintPix DigiCam Picture Center 1000. The kiosk, which will be available in June for under $6,000, is comprised of two units: a countertop touch-screen unit that accepts CompactFlash, SD, Memory Stick and SmartMedia flash memory cards and the NC-1000 thermo-autochrome printer, which creates 4 x 6-inch or 6 x 8-inch borderless prints. The first print is available in 80 seconds with additional prints following every 10 seconds.
Kodak: Kodak is adding to its successful EasyShare lineup with the new DX4900, a 4 megapixel camera. The 4900 features a 2x optical/3x digital zoom lens, CompactFlash card slot, six image modes and four ISO settings. Price and availability where not available at press time.
Konica: Taking an aim at the higher end of the market, Konica has introduced two new digital cameras. The Digital Revio KD-400Z and KD-310Z are the first (as of this writing) to feature a dual memory slot for Memory Stick and SD cards. Both cameras will ship in June.
The KD-400Z features 4.13 megapixel resolution, a 3x optical Hexanon zoom lens, operation recording modes including: single, macro, self-timer, landscape, 2x digital zoom, sepia, movie, voice memo and resize. It has a $499 suggested retail.
The KD-310Z has the same features as the 400Z with the exception of the resolution, which is 3.3 megapixels. It will carry a suggested retail price of $399.
Lexar: Lexar announced that it has upped its speed rating on its professional series CompactFlash cards from 16x to 24x (for a write-speed of 3.6MB per second). The new ratings will apply to all CF card capacities up to, but not including, 1GB and will not impact the current retail cost. Lexar also bowed a new Memory Stick card that features a translucent case and an LED light on the end of the card to indicate when the card is in use. This feature is meant to prevent users from prematurely removing the card while data-writing is in progress. The new Memory Stick cards will carry the same suggested retail price and capacities as Lexar's current line of Memory Stick.
Nikon: Nikon indicated that it will remain committed to establishing a mass market presence with the announcement of the Coolpix 2500, the successor and replacement for its first mass-market camera, the Nikon Coolpix 775. It will ship in March for a suggested retail price of $379. The 2500 will carry over several features from the 775, including a "One Touch to the Web" button for instant picture uploading via USB, and 2 megapixel resolution, but the new camera will depart stylistically from its predecessor. The 2500 features an interior swivel lens, similar to the higher end Coolpix cameras but encased within the camera body.
Nikon has also embarked on a new flash memory card marketing strategy with the Coolpix 2500, dubbing the enclosed 16MB Lexar CompactFlash card a "starter card" and educating consumers via in-box promos on the merits of upgrading memory. It was done, said Joe Carfora, marketing VP, to give the consumer accurate information regarding the number of pictures they can be expected to take with the supplied card, versus how many more they could hold with an upgrade, and thus encourage more add-on sales at retail.
Olympus: Olympus threw its hat into the retail kiosk market with its Camedia TruePrint kiosk. Four models will be available in April: two floor standing models, the TP-200 and TP-200S (with flatbed scanner); and two countertop models, the TP-100 and TP-100S (with flatbed scanner). All units come with both an 8 x 10 and a 4 x 6-inch dye-sublimation printer, an enclosed computer, touch screen interface, CD-RW drive, and slots for CompactFlash, SmartMedia and PCMCIA cards.
Panasonic: Adopting a broad market strategy and sporting two times the booth space, Panasonic has placed its new Lumix line camera across a spectrum of price points starting with $349. The company has teamed with Leica and is pitching it as a merger of Leica's optical proficiency and Panasonic's technology.
The consumer end of the market consists of the DMC LC2, a 2.1 megapixel unit with a 3x optical/2x digital zoom lens and a rechargeable Nickel Metal Hydride battery. It ships in March with an 8MB SD card for a suggested retail price of $349. The DMC F7 features 2 megapixel resolution and comes with a new rechargeable Lithium Ion battery and 8MB SD card. It will ship in April for a suggested retail of $499.
Climbing up the price scale, the DMC LC40 is a 4 megapixel camera that ships with a 16MB SD card, proprietary lithium ion battery, and features a "Megaburst" mode. The camera has a 1.8-inch LCD screen and 2 metering modes. It will ship in March for a suggested $699. At the top of the line, the DMC LC5 features a 4 megapixel resolution, 2.5-inch LCD screen, with more manual controls than the aforementioned models. It will ship in March for a suggested retail price of $899.
Samsung: Samsung came to PMA with eight new cameras in the Digimark line. With a suggested retail price of $199.99, the Digimax 130 is a 1.3 megapixel camera with a 2x digital zoom. The Digimax 200 is a 2.1 megapixel unit with a suggested retail price of $269.99. The Digimax 220SE ($399.99) features 2.1 megapixel resolution and a 3x optical/2x digital zoom lens. With a suggested retail price of $349.99, the Digimax 230 is a 2.1 megapixel digital camera with an auto focus, 3x optical/2x digital zoom lens and a 1.6-inch Casio TFT-LCD (LED type).
The Digimax 330 ($499.99) has a resolution of 3.3 megapixels with an auto focus, 3x optical/2x digital zoom lens. This camera will be a "limited distribution model" sold predominantly by Samsung specialty dealers.
The Digimax 340 ($479.99,) features 3.3 megapixel resolution with an auto focus 3x optical/2x digital zoom lens. The camera comes bundled with removable 16MB CompactFlash Card. With a suggested retail price of $549.99, the Digimax 350SE is a 3.3 megapixel camera with a 3x optical/2x digital auto focus zoom lens. The camera comes bundled with 16MB CompactFlash Card.
Finally, the top of the line unit is the $679.99 Digimax 410, a 4.1 megapixel camera with an auto focus, 3x optical/2x digital zoom lens.
SiPix: SiPix added three cameras to its lineup, all available in March. The Style Cam Blink is being touted by SiPix as a 4-in-1 camera combining digital still, streaming video, USB video and video conferencing in one. It features VGA resolution, USB connectivity, 8MB of internal memory, and ships with a suite of Arcsoft photo editing software. It has a $39.99 suggested retail.
The GX1300 is a 1.3 megapixel camera with 8MB of internal memory and a CompactFlash card slot. It has a 2x digital zoom and can capture up to 60 seconds of video. It will carry a suggested retail of $99.
The SC2300 is a 2.1 megapixel camera with a 1.8-inch LCD screen. It accepts SmartMedia removable memory (16MB card included) and also offers USB connectivity. It sports a 2x digital zoom and continuous shooting mode (up to four images). It will retail for a suggested $179.
Sony: The current market leader introduced the new P series of Cyber-shot cameras. The Cyber-shot DSC-P31 and DSC P71 cameras will be available at the end of March for a suggested retail price of $249 and $399, respectively. The DSC-P51 will be available at the end of April for a suggested $299.
The DSC-P31 features 2 megapixel resolution and a 3x digital zoom. In between, the DSC-P51 is a 2 megapixel camera with a 2x optical/6x digital zoom. At the top, the DSC-P71 is a 3 megapixel unit with a 3x optical/6x digital zoom.
Veo: For laptop owners, Veo has introduced the Mobile Connect Digital PC. The unit features VGA resolution, video conferencing, digital still capability and will carry a suggested retail price of $79.99. It ships in March.