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Digital Deluge From Camera Manufacturers

The digital camera floodgates burst last week as a bevy of new models poured forth from Canon, Kodak, Fujifilm, Nikon, Sony and Pentax. The new cameras cover the entire spectrum of price and resolution from entry-level megapixel models to four and five megapixel “pro-sumer” cameras.

Canon updated its PowerShot line of digital cameras with the new PowerShot G2, the company’s first 4-megapixel model and a replacement for the PowerShot G1.

The Canon PowerShot G2, shipping this month at a suggested list price of $999, has many features in common with its predecessor. They include a 7-21mm f/2.0-2.5 zoom lens (equivalent to 34-102mm in 35mm format), a Vari-Angle LCD viewfinder, USB interface, compatibility with Canon EX-series Speedlite flash units, and CompactFlash memory.

The G2 improves upon its predecessor with higher resolution, faster signal processing, lower power consumption, more focusing points, improved manual focusing, faster continuous shooting, more shooting modes and metering patterns, additional playback options and accessory compatibility, and direct print capabilities with the Canon CP-10 printer.

The G2 has a selection of 13 image-quality settings including 3 JPEG compression modes (superfine, fine and normal) at any resolution. The camera’s movie mode features two resolutions with sound: QVGA (320×240) and Q2VGA (160×120). The maximum recording duration is 30 seconds in QVGA and two minutes with Q2VGA.

Kodak has expanded its lineup of EasyShare digital cameras with three new models, accessories and upgraded software. The new models are the DX3900 Zoom, the DX3700 and the DX3215 Zoom. Two of these models, the DX3700 and DX3215, are the first Kodak cameras to feature an SD memory port.

Kodak’s EasyShare DX3900 Zoom Digital Camera features 3.1-megapixel resolution and 6X zoom capability (2X optical, 3X digital). Currently shipping, the DX3900 is bundled with an 8 MB CompactFlash card and has a suggested list price of $449.

The Kodak EasyShare DX3700 Digital Camera also features a resolution of 3.1 megapixels. It has 8 MB of internal memory, a MultiMedia Card (MMC)/ Secure Digital (SD) card expansion slot and 3X digital zoom capability. The DX3700 has a suggested list price of $399 and is available this month.

The DX3215 Zoom has 4X zoom capability (2X optical, 2X digital), 8 MB of internal memory and an SD/MMC expansion port. It features a 1.3-megapixel CCD and will be available this month for a suggested list price of $199.

The new cameras are all compatible with Kodak’s EasyShare dock, which plugs into a computer’s USB port to allow for one button image transfer and battery recharging. The dock is available separately at a suggested retail price of $79.95.

Kodak also announced a set of EasyShare accessories. The Kodak EasyShare Travel Kit comes with a Kodak EasyShare Ni-MH rechargeable battery pack, Kodak EasyShare rapid charger, premium camera bag and interchangeable power clips for international travel (110-240 volt). The travel kit has a suggested retail price of $39.95.

Rounding out the accessories is the Kodak EasyShare Rapid Charger, which recharges the EasyShare battery pack in approximately 2.5 hours and has a suggested price of $34.95

FujiFilm launched a new series of FinePix digital cameras aimed at the entry-level market. The A-Series’ first models, the FinePix A101 and A201, will ship this month. The company also announced the FinePix 2600 Zoom as a mid-level offering.

The FinePix A101 has a 1.3 megapixel CCD and 2x digital zoom; the FinePix A201 has a 2 megapixel sensor and 2.5x digital zoom; and the FinePix 2600 Zoom offers a 2 megapixel CCD with 3x optical and 2.5x digital zoom capabilities.

The FinePix A101 will be available later this month for a suggested retail of $179. The FinePix A201 and FinePix 2600 Zoom, priced at $249 and $299, respectively, will also be available this month.

Pentax bowed the diminutive Optio 330 a 3.34 megapixel, 3X optical zoom camera due to ship this month. The camera features an alarm clock and world time function, which is capable of displaying the time in 62 cities around the world. Price was not available at press time.

Nikon expanded its CoolPix line with the 885, which features a 3x optical Nikkor zoom lens and 3-megapixel resolution. The camera also features a one-button image transfer for directly uploading photos to the desktop or the Internet from the camera.

The CoolPix 885 can be used with Nikon telephoto, wide-angle and fisheye converter lenses and features a movie mode for capturing 40 seconds of 15-fps video. The 885 begins shipping this month with a suggested retail price of $599.95.

Sony’s new entries include the DSC-F707 a 5.24 (5.02 effective) megapixel model that will ship this month and is expected to retail for approximately $1,000.

The camera features a Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar 5X optical zoom lens with F2.0 aperture and Hologram AF — a Sony-exclusive laser focusing system designed to achieve accurate focus on subjects in dark conditions. It projects a visible Class 1 laser hologram pattern directly onto the subject so the camera can detect the contrast between the edge of the laser pattern and the subject itself.

It also has MPEG-HQ and MPEG-EX video modes, Clip Motion animated GIF modes and in-camera editing functions. The camera ships with a 16MB Memory Stick, and InfoLithium M battery.

Climbing down both the resolution and form ladder, Sony also introduced two new P series cameras with an AF Illuminator for focusing in the dark and a two-shot burst mode for capturing fast action. The DSC-P5 model replaces the DSC-P1, with a slimmer profile due to a two-step barrel lens that retracts into the body of the camera; along with the development of a smaller new C-series InfoLithium battery, with more than an hour of continuous shooting capacity, depending on use.

The DSC-P5 is expected to retail for $600 and will feature a 3X optical, 6X digital zoom lens and a 3.34 megapixel CCD (3.2 MP effective). It will also feature a more precise 14-bit A/D converter and MPEG EX movie mode. It ships in October.

The Cyber-shot DSC-P3 is faster and lighter than the P5 due to its fixed lens with 3X digital zoom. It has a 3.34 megapixel CCD (2.8 MP effective) and a suggested retail price of $500. It also ships in October.

To protect either of the cameras from water and other elements, users may purchase on optional a Marine Pack (MPK-P5) accessory. This underwater housing makes the cameras waterproof up to nearly 133 feet (40 meters). Shipping in October for approximately $250, it will be supplied with a neck strap and an anti-fogging lens solution.