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Digital Camera Makers Preview PMA Wares

Seeking to draw an early spotlight before the klieg lights of PMA blind observers, Adesso, Casio, Canon and Konica-Minolta, introduced several new 2005 models, principally courting the entry and mid-level consumer.

Adesso announced its first slate of Umax-branded digital still and video cameras, aimed at the sub-$400 end of the market. The accessories manufacturer agreed to distribute, service and support Umax branded cameras last July. The first fruits of that agreement ship this month in two lines. The AstraCam family will target more novice users while the PowerCam product line will offer more advanced features.

The 3-megapixel AstraCam DV350 offers still and MPEG-4 video capture and MP3 playback. It features a fixed focal length with a 4x digital zoom, a 1.6-inch LCD screen, built-in speakers and microphone. It can record VGA video at 15 frames per second (fps) or 320 by 240 resolution video at 30 fps. The unit accepts SD/MMC cards up to 512MB, is PictBridge-enabled and will retail for a suggested $179.99.

The 3.1-megapixel AstraPix 680, for a suggested $159.99, is also PictBridge-enabled and features a 2-inch LCD, voice and VGA video recording, 16MB of internal memory and an SD/MMC card slot for memory up to 512MB.

The 2-megapixel AstraPix 620, for a suggested $149.99, offers a fixed focal-length lens with a 4x digital zoom. It features a built-in microphone, a burst mode, a 1.5-inch LCD screen with adjustable brightness control, and a color effects mode.

The 5-megapixel PowerCam Z530 features a 3x optical/2x digital zoom and a 1.6-inch LCD screen. It features aperture priority mode, ISO control, macro focusing to 1 cm and a burst mode. The Z530, for a suggested $399.99, ships with a 64MB CompactFlash card.

Finally, the 4-megapixel PowerCam Z432, for a suggested $249.99, sports a 3x optical/4x digital zoom, a 1.5-inch preview LCD screen, built-in microphone,

aperture/shutter priority, adjustable white balance and 16MB of internal memory with an SD card slot for cards up to 512MB.

Canon’s latest PowerShot claims to live up to its namesake, consuming less power than its predecessor for an equal number than its predecessor for an equal number of shots. The 3.2-megapixel PowerShot A510 serves to replace the A75. The camera can take 300 photos with the LCD on, on a pair of AA batteries.

The A510 ships this month for an estimated street price of $199.99. The model sports a 4x optical zoom, 1.8-inch LCD, uses SD memory (16MB included) and weighs in 10 percent lighter and 13 percent smaller than its predecessor, Canon said.

Casio announced a new member in its Exilim Pro line, emphasizing a series of enhanced movie recording features that complement its still photo features.

The 5-megapixel EX-P505 features a 5x optical zoom, a 2-inch swivel LCD screen and the ability to take MPEG-4 videos at VGA resolution at 30 frames per second (fps) with a bit rate of 4.2Mbps. The camera can record video to the length of an SD memory card.

To complement the video recording, Casio incorporated several movie shooting modes and in-camera movie editing in the P505. A Movie Best Shot mode lets the user choose a video recording style from a selection of sample scenes. A Short Movie mode lets the user record an eight-second movie with a single press of the shutter button while a Movie Print mode lets users print out a sequence of video frames on one print. Other movie features include a Past Movie mode that starts recording five seconds before the shutter is pressed.

The camera is PictBridge-enabled and offers 7.5MB of internal memory. It offers a macro focus to 1 cm, aperture and shutter priority, full manual shooting, 220 pictures per battery charge, five preset scene modes, automatic pop-up flash and the company’s Best Shot mode. The P505 ships in February for a suggested retail price of $499.99.

Konica Minolta contributed to the pre-PMA blitzkrieg with two new 5-megapixel, ultra-zoom models. The DiMAGE Z5 sports a 12x optical/4x digital zoom, a 2-inch LCD and the company’s Anti-Shake system.

The camera’s Rapid Autofocus (AF) system can focus in roughly 0.2 seconds in the wide angle and 0.3 seconds in telephoto. The Z5 also features several preset scene modes, exposure modes including full manual, a VGA movie mode at 30 fps and a continuous advance shooting mode at 2 fps to three frames at the camera’s maximum resolution.

Konica Minolta’s other entry is the Z20 with an 8x optical/4x digital zoom, alongside Rapid AF, and a 0.5 second start-up time. According to the company, the Z20’s Rapid AF combines a passive AF sensor with the video AF system, enabling a focus time of 0.3 second in both the wide-angle and telephoto positions. The camera’s Rapid AF also has Predictive Focus Control, which can predict where a moving subject is heading and focus accordingly.