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Konica Minolta, Panasonic Go After Repeat Digicam Buyers

The power of the repeat buyer was evident as new introductions from Konica Minolta and Panasonic stressed advanced features and image stabilization technologies.

The companies also placed bets on what type of model would appeal to consumers looking to spend north of $600, with Konica Minolta banking on an interchangeable lens camera and Panasonic sticking to the ultra-zoom fixed-lens camera.

Konica Minolta expanded its digital SLR lineup with a new, lower-cost model and introduced its first consumer point-and-shoot model to ship with a docking station.

The new Maxxum 5D will join the company’s existing Maxxum 7D on the market as the company broadens its d-SLR portfolio, and the 6-megapixel 5D will retail for an estimated $899.99 with an 18mm-70mm DT lens.

The 5D will be 22 percent smaller in volume than its predecessor, employing a glass fiber plastic body.

Additional features include a 2.5-inch LCD and CompactFlash memory card slot. As for speed, the camera can snap up to 30 frames at a speed of roughly 3 frames per second (fps) in JPEG Fine mode.

For point-and-shooters, Konica Minolta introduced its first X-series model with anti-shake technology and a docking cradle for battery charging and file transferring. The cradle, which is included, allows the new DiMAGE X1’s 0.40-inch LCD screen to double as a digital photo frame when the camera is docked and powered on. The camera’s LCD also offers a backlight function and a protective acrylic covering.

The 8-megapixel X1 features a newly designed optical system that allows its 3x optical zoom “non-protruding” lens to work with the company’s CCD shifting anti-shake technology. The camera offers an auto macro mode and a super macro mode for focusing on subjects as close as 2 inches, PictBridge compatibility, and the ability to capture VGA resolution movies at 20fps to the length of an SD card. The camera can optically zoom during video recording and features a night movie mode for shooting in dimly lit settings.

The X1 will retail for an estimated $399.99.

Panasonic introduced the first digital camera to incorporate a wide aspect CCD image sensor to deliver 16:9 images and video. The announcement was one of four new cameras from the company, all of which will ship in September. They will offer Panasonic’s Mega Optical Image Stabilization technology and SD memory.

The 8.4 megapixel Lumix DMC-LX1 incorporates a 16:9 CCD, which lets the camera capture wide aspect still and video images, in addition to the traditional aspect ratios of 4:3 and 3:2. The camera features a 4x optical zoom with a new, extended optical zoom feature. Using extended zoom, users can achieve greater magnification — up to 5x — by recording 5.5-megapixels.

The LX1 can also capture high-resolution movies at 848 by 480 at 30fps in 16:9. The camera sports a 2.5-inch LCD, a shutter lag of 0.01 seconds, and manual focus and exposure controls. It will retail for a suggested $699.95.

The company also bolstered its ultra-zoom commitment with the 8-megapixel, 12x optical zoom DMC-FZ30. The camera features 14 scene modes, automatic and manual controls.

The FZ30’s extended optical zoom feature lets users capture 5 megapixels while zooming up to 15.3x and up to 19.1x when shooting at 3 megapixels. The FZ30 also features a new lithium-ion battery for capturing up to 280 images on a single charge. It will have a suggested retail price of $699.95.

Finally, Panasonic introduced two FX-series cameras: the 5-megapixel FX8 and the 6-megapixel FX9.

The FX8, for a suggested $ 349.95, can capture up to 300 images on a single charge of its lithium-ion battery. The FX9, for a suggested $399.95, can capture up to 270 images with each charge.