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Digital Pix Suppliers Push Prints At PMA

An enormous push by manufacturers to pitch retailers both in and out of the photo channel on the merits of digital camera output solutions was one of the biggest trends at the Photo Marketing Association (PMA) show, held here last week.

This pitch has already born fruit, as many manufacturers were touting not just new kiosks and print technologies, but new deals with retailers. Sony, for instance, announced that it had sold 800 of its PictureStation print kiosks to Kinkos. The units, which create prints from flash media cards or photo prints, will be deployed throughout the year. Sony edged out Kodak, whose Picture Maker kiosks were previously in place at Kinkos.

Canada’s largest consumer electronics retail chain and Best Buy subsidiary Future Shop announced that it has started testing Phogenix’s Digital DFX inkjet minilab in four of its stores. The retailer will link the systems to its Web site and distribute a Print Wizard software on CD with all the digital cameras it sells so that customers can order prints remotely from the retailer’s Web site for mail-back or in store pickup.

Phogenix, which is a joint venture between Hewlett-Packard and Kodak, is aggressively courting CE retailers, according to Fred Heigold, CEO of Phogenix.

In the terms of the venture, Kodak reps are responsible for sales into the mass merchant, food and drug and photo specialty channels, while HP reps sell the unit to CE and office superstore retailers. As such, HP is working with Future Shop for its test of the Phogenix system and will install HP/Future Shop co-branded kiosk terminals in the test stores that will serve as a counter-top front end to the DFX system.

Traditional photo vendors also unveiled their digital camera lineups for 2003. Canon made six introductions: the PowerShot A60, A70 and A300; the S400 Digital Elph, the S50 and the EOS 10D – a digital SLR. All new models ship this month. (For more digital camera introductions at PMA, see stories on p. 6.)

The PowerShots incorporate several new features including Canon’s DIGIC Image Processor, direct printing to select Canon Bubble Jet printers, an enhanced movie mode with sound for three minutes of video recording and Canon iSAPS — a scene analysis technology.

The A60 will replace the A30 and features 2-megapixel resolution and a 3x optical/2.5x digital zoom. It ships for a suggested retail of $349. The A70, which replaces the A40, has the same feature set as the A60 but with 3-megapixel resolution and a 3.2x digital zoom. It has a $449 suggested retail price.

The PowerShot A300 will offer 3-megapixel resolution, a 5.1x digital zoom and a 5-point AiAF. It ships for a suggested retail of $299. The S400 is the first 4-megapixel model in the Digital Elph line, available now for a suggested $599, and features a 3x optical/3.6x digital zoom.

Canon also announced its first 5-megapixel model in the S50. Featuring a 3x optical/4.1x digital zoom and a matte black finish, the S50 will have a $699 suggested retail price. The 6.3-megapixel, high-end EOS 10D offers a high speed, wide area 7-point autofocus with superimposed focusing points. It will have a suggested retail price of $1,999.

Kodak demonstrated its first camera with an OLED display, the 3-megapixel LS633. It has a 2.2-inch display and will initially be made available in overseas markets.

Olympus introduced two cameras in its Ultra Zoom line. Both feature a 10x optical zoom. The C-750 is a 4-megapixel camera available in May for a suggested retail price of $699. The C-740 is a 3-megapixel model with manual and automatic controls, an electronic viewfinder and a 1.5-inch LCD screen. It ships in April for a suggested retail price of $599.

The company also introduced two point-and-shoot digital cameras with a new design: the D-390 and D-560 Zoom. Both cameras ship with a 16MB xD-Picture Card.

The new D-Series cameras have built-in flashes that do not pop up and offer 6 settings. The D-560 features a 3x optical/3.3 digital zoom, and will ship this month for a suggested retail price of $349. The D-390 will be available in April for a suggested $179.

SanDisk introduced a 256MB Memory Stick with Memory Select Function. This card is based on the existing Memory Stick media platform and is designed for current Memory Stick-compatible devices that support up to 128MB capacity. The new card integrates dual 128MB memory units that can be selected with a mechanical switch. The card is expected to be available in May for about $135.