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Expanding Diversity In The Digital Camera Market

From $34 Barbie-cams to $7,000 d-SLRs, camera vendors introduced a little something for every taste and skill level last week, including a first look at wireless technology for beaming images from a camera to a Wi-Fi network.

Canon expanded its lineup of consumer and pro digital cameras along with a new photo printer designed to connect to a television for PC-free digital photo viewing and printing.

Among the new introductions is the successor to the compact PowerShot SD10 Digital Elph, the new 5-megapixel SD20. It will ship in four new colors — silver, midnight blue, garnet and Zen gray — and it features an all-glass, fixed focal length lens, a 6.5x digital zoom and stainless steel and aluminum alloys exteriors.

Additional features include a 1.5-inch color LCD Screen, PictBridge compatibility and five scene modes. It ships this month with a 32MB SD memory card for a suggested $349.99.

More full-featured Elphs will hit shelves this fall, including the 3.2-megapixel PowerShot SD200 and the 4-megapixel PowerShot SD300.

Both feature 3x optical zooms, PictBridge compatibility, 2-inch LCD screens, 13 shooting modes, UA lenses and a new movie mode that can capture up to one minute of 320 by 240 resolution video at 60 frames per second (fps). The cameras also have the option of capturing VGA-resolution video at 30 fps to the capacity of an SD memory card (16MB included).

Both models are capable of continuous shooting at of 2.4 fps to the capacity of the memory card. The SD200 with an aluminum frame will ship this month for a suggested $299.99. The SD300, with a stainless steel frame, ships in November for a suggested $399.99.

Canon also expanded its photo printer lineup with a compact 4-inch by 6-inch printer designed to sit on a component rack next to a television. The Selphy DS700 inkjet photo printer ships with a remote control for viewing and printing images off a television. It features card slots for CompactFlash, Microdrive, SmartMedia, Memory Stick, Memory Stick PRO, SD Card and Multimedia Card. Additional memory cards including xD-Picture Card, Memory Stick Duo/PRO and miniSD will work with an optional adapter.

The DS700 is also PictBridge-enabled and can print camera phone images via infrared. It connects to a PC via USB. When using the television as an interface, users can pause and print images from a slideshow or choose the photo print mode to select the images they want to print and the desired quantity.

The printer features two picoliter droplets for prints up to 4,800 by 1,200 dpi resolution. It can produce a 4-inch by 6-inch borderless photo in approximately 85 seconds from flash memory cards or PictBridge-enabled cameras. The printer will ship this fall for a suggested retail of $199.99.

Finally, the company announced the successor to the EOS-1Ds, the new 16.7-megapixel EOS 1Ds Mark II. The unit, which is scheduled to ship in November for a suggested $7,999, features a full-size 24 by 36mm CMOS sensor that Canon says eliminates focal length conversion factors when using differing lenses.

Concorddemonstrated a new wireless image transfer technology for digital cameras called WIT (Wireless Image Transfer) at the Photokina photo trade show in Cologne, Germany, on Sept. 28 through Oct. 3.

The demo involves a prototype 2-inch by 2-inch WIT-enabled Wi-Fi USB device that connects to a digital camera’s USB port to wirelessly transmit images. According to Concord, the technology is being evaluated for use as a stand-alone accessory to a camera, as well as an integrated technology to produce a Wi-Fi enabled camera. They will also license the technology to third parties.

RadioShackintroduced the second generation of its FlatFoto digital camera, designed by Cambridge, Mass.-based SMaL Camera Technologies. The 1.3-megapixel ultra-thin model is selling now for a suggested retail price of $69.99.

The FlatFoto is 11.2 mm thin and can snap more than 1,000 pictures on a single charge of the battery, which is recharged automatically when the camera is connected to a PC via USB cable. It features a built-in flash, 16MB of internal memory, an SD card slot and SMaL’s proprietary Autobrite exposure technology.

Olympusthrew its hat into the consumer digital SLR ring with the announcement of the Evolt E-300, a model based off the Four Thirds System and employing the company’s Zuiko Digital Specific family of interchangeable lenses. The E-300 will ship in December; pricing was not announced.

Like the company’s existing E-1 d-SLR, the E-300 is based on the Four Thirds System developed by Kodak, Olympus and Fujifilm, among others, for a new generation of SLRs designed specifically for digital photography. Most d-SLRs on the market today rely on lenses developed for 35mm film SLRs and, as such, can deliver insufficient light at the edges of a digital camera’s image sensor resulting in reduced sharpness and color definition, according to Olympus.

The 8-megapixel E-300 includes a compact, Zuiko Digital 14–45mm lens (equivalent to 28–90mm in 35mm) for a 3.2x optical zoom. It features five scene program modes and 15 select scene program modes with descriptions on the LCD to guide a user through using the various modes.

Oregon Scientific landed the rights to the Barbie brand from Mattel Inc. and will introduce a new Barbie digital camera in November. The VGA camera will sell for a suggested $34.99 and be initially available in Target. It offers 8MB of internal memory capable of storing 20 VGA images or 104 lower-resolution images. It uses two AAA batteries.