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Five Suppliers Bow New Digital Cameras

Digital camera manufacturers Fujifilm, Minolta, Nikon and Olympus expanded their lines with the addition of one new model each last week, while Leica Camera, the U.S. distributor of Minox products, introduced a new Minox digital camera.

FujiFilm expanded its mid-range, point-and-shoot digital camera lineup with the introduction of the FinePix 2800 Zoom. The camera ships in October with a suggested retail price of $449.

Equipped with Fujifilm’s Advanced Color Technology and a 2-megapixel CCD, the FinePix 2800 Zoom features a 6x optical zoom lens. The camera is fully automatic, has USB connectivity, and lets users attach voice notes to pictures and record video with sound. In addition, the FinePix 2800 Zoom can operate as a PC-cam for computer-to-computer video conferencing.

The FinePix 2800 Zoom measures 3.7 inches x 3.0 inches x 2.8 inches and weighs 9.5 ounces without batteries. Bundled accessories include a 16MB SmartMedia memory card, four AA alkaline batteries, shoulder strap and USB and video cables. In addition to Fujifilm’s FinePixViewer, other bundled software includes Fujifilm’s DP Editor and Adobe PhotoDeluxe 4.0.

Fujifilm’s FinePix 2800 Zoom along with all current and future FinePix consumer digital cameras will be fully compatible with Windows XP. Plus, Fujifilm will be involved in the fulfillment of Microsoft Windows XP online printing service orders, providing users with photographic prints and enlargements of their digital images.

Leica announced that it is now offering the Minox DC 1311, a 1.3-megapixel, 2X digital zoom camera at a suggested retail price of $219.

The Minox DC 1311 features automatic white balance, USB connectivity, optional Compact Flash Type I slot for external flash memory. The DC 1311 also features automatic exposure settings and a built-in flash with a 10-second self-timer. The camera comes bundled with 4 AA batteries, a software driver and a USB cable.

Minolta expanded its digital camera lineup into the popular-price segment with the introduction of the Minolta DiMAGE E201 which began shipping this month for a suggested retail price of $299.

The camera features a 2.3-million pixel CCD, and optics with aspheric elements. The camera also offers users automatic or manual control over focus, exposure, white balance, and flash. It features a movie recording mode and a 2X digital zoom.

The DiMAGE E201 comes bundled with a USB cable and Adobe PhotoDeluxe.

Nikon announced a new high-end model, the Coolpix 5000. The camera features a 5.24- megapixel CCD (5.0 effective), 3X Optical Zoom-Nikkor lens and a top shutter speed of 1/4,000 second and shooting speeds of up to three frames per second at full resolution.

The Coolpix 5000 has a 1.8-inch LCD monitor that swivels in virtually any direction for subject framing, offers a macro shooting mode to capture images as close as 3/4 inch, and a movie mode that shoots up to 40 seconds of video with audio.

The Coolpix 5000 also comes equipped with Nikon’s exclusive Five-Area Multi Autofocus system for quick focus and accurate image detail, as well as a macro mode to produce photos from as close as ¾ inch.

The camera comes bundled with a rechargeable Lithium-ion battery and charger, and also supports a new optional power pack that uses six 1.5-volt AA batteries and enables easier vertical shooting. Also included is a high-speed USB cable for plug-and-play connectivity and NikonView 4 software to store and enhance photos. A 32MB CompactFlash Card is included with the camera, and the Coolpix 5000 is compatible with CompactFlash Card types I and II.

Olympus is touting its new D-40 Zoom as “the world’s smallest 4- megapixel digital camera” at 3.4 inches x 2.7 inches x 1.7 inches. It begins shipping in October with a suggested retail price of $799.

The D-40 Zoom incorporates a new 2.8x optical zoom lens and features Olympus’ new Enhanced Color Management system, a technology that customizes color settings for each of its shooting modes. Enhanced Color Management delivers improved skin tones in portraits, truer blue skies and greener trees in landscapes, without any further operator programming. Users select the mode, point and shoot.

The D-40 Zoom produces 2,272 pixels x 1,704 pixel resolution files that create prints up to 11 inches x 14 inches. An Optimum Image Enlargement mode for applications requiring larger output allows users to print images up to 16 x 20 inches.

The camera also features a new LCD menu interface, three of the four default menu categories in the top menu can be programmed by the user as shortcuts, eliminating the need to navigate multiple screens to change camera settings. The camera has a 10-position mode dial, with creative modes pre-set to fine tune exposure, white balance and color saturation settings for a number of shooting situations. A new “My Image” mode gives users one-touch access to customized settings.

To download, save and share photos, the D-40 ZOOM also features Olympus’ USB Auto-Connect technology which transfers images from camera to computer without the need for additional software or drivers for Windows 2000, Windows Me, Windows XP and Mac OS 8.6 computers.

The D-40’s iESP multi-patterned white balance system automatically adjusts camera settings to ensure proper color reproduction. Metering modes are automatic and feature a choice of ESP multi-patterned or spot metering for advanced exposure control.

In addition to full manual operation, users can select from aperture or shutter priority, multiple program scene modes, a two-frame-per-second burst mode, black-and-white and sepia shooting modes, auto exposure bracketing and exposure compensation settings. The D-40 has a built-in speaker and microphone that allows users to record and play back video with sound. It also features automatic pixel mapping that allows users to correct the rare occurrence of dead (black) pixels or stuck (white) pixels without returning the camera for service. A command instructs the D-40 Zoom to re-map the CCD if these problems ever occur.

The D-40 will ship with an 16MB Olympus SmartMedia memory card.

In other digital camera news, Toshiba announced that it has lowered the price of three of its digital cameras. The 4-megapixel Toshiba PDR-M81 digital camera, featuring 2,400 x1,800 resolution and 6X zoom, dropped from $799 to $699. Toshiba also cut the price of its PDR-M65 3.3-megapixel model from $499 to $399 and reduced the cost of the PDR-M61 2.3-megapixel camera from $399 to $299.