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Pentax, Toshiba, HP Contribute To DigiCam Market

Hewlett Packard, Pentax Olympus and Toshiba announced new digital cameras on the heels of some positive market research from a firm tracking the digital imaging market.

A study from InfoTrends projected worldwide shipments of low-end digital cameras will reach 17.7 million units in 2001, capturing 21 percent of total worldwide camera sales (the North American market will account for 47 percent of all digital cameras sold in 2001). In 2006, InfoTrends predicts that digital camera sales will account for 68 percent of worldwide camera sales with revenues of $9.9 billion.

Hoping to attract both the mass consumer and advanced amateur, Olympus added two new digital cameras to its fold. The Camedia E-20N will serve as a replacement for its high-end flagship E-10 digital camera, and the new Brio D230 expands the mid-range Brio family. Both models ship this month.

The E-20N, which carries a suggested retail of $1999, is an SLR digital camera with a dual-mode image capture capability. The Interlaced Scan mode allows users to set the 2/3-inch RGB CCD for 5 megapixel (effective) resolution to capture images up to 11 x 14 inches. Selecting the Progressive Scan mode of a 2.5 megapixel (effective) resolution lets users take photographs of fast action scenes or in very bright light with shutter speeds of up to 1/18,000 second.

The E-20N also features a manual focusing ring on the lens barrel; manual zoom ring; traditional-style focusing screen; and dual media card slots for compatibility with SmartMedia and CompactFlash Type I and II memory cards, including the IBM Microdrive.

Like all new Olympus digital cameras, the E-20N offers Auto-Connect USB technology which allows users to instantly transfer images from camera to PC without software drivers. It ships with a 32MB Olympus SmartMedia memory card, lens hood, video cable, USB Auto-connect cable, two Lithium batteries, RM-1 remote control, Olympus Camedia Master 4.0 (Windows/Macintosh), Adobe Photoshop Elements v. 1.0 (Windows/Macintosh).

The new Brio, $349 suggested retail price, features 2-megapixel resolution, an Olympus Auto-Focus 5.5mm f 2.8 lens, with a digital telephoto up to 5x.

The camera is designed for first-time digital camera users with an auto-focus lens, automatic flash with Olympus’ red-eye reduction, white balance, and color management. The Brio D-230 includes special capture effects such as Composite Image mode for the ability to instantly merge two images into one in the camera without the need of a PC. Features include a file resize mode, which saves a separate smaller copy of the image for e-mail or web use and QuickTime movie mode is available for up to 60 seconds of movies at 15 frames per second. The camera comes with 16MB SmartMedia card that can store 90 images in standard quality mode.

Toshiba’s new PDR-M71, a 3.2-megapixel model, ships this month with a suggested retail price of $499. The camera features a built-in five-mode flash system with red-eye reduction; AVI movie/audio recording; a Canon all-glass aspherical 2.8 optical/ 2.2x digital zoom lens, SmartMedia card; and USB connectivity.

For the photo buff that camera has a full range of manual controls.

The camera has an AVI movie mode that lets users to film up to three minutes of video, with sound, at 160 x 120 resolution (15 fps), or 60 seconds at 320 x 240 (15 fps). A multi-frame playback lets users view up to 9 images at once, or an automatic slideshow.

Bundled accessories for the PDR-M71 include an 8MB SmartMedia card, a USB cable, serial cable and a soft carrying case.

HP’s new lineup of Photosmart digital cameras, shipping this month runs the gamut of consumer prices. The HP Photosmart 715 is a 3.3-megapixel model with an estimated street price of $499. It features a 46-mm lens with optional lens filter accessories and comes with a 16 MB CompactFlash memory card. The camera’s 1.8-inch color LCD has 2x and 4x magnification in playback mode for close-up review of photos. It has automatic exposure and flash, an auto-focus lens with 3x optical zoom and macro focus.

The HP Photosmart 612 is a 2x optical/2x digital zoom camera with 2.31-megapixel resolution and an estimated street price of $299. The 612 features automatic exposure, red-eye reduction, focus and flash with 8MB of internal memory and a CompactFlash memory card slot.

HP Photosmart 318, estimated street price of $199, is a 2.31-megapixel digital camera with a 2x digital zoom. Its 1.75-inch color LCD has 3x and 6x magnification in playback mode for close-up review of photos. The camera also features automatic exposure, red-eye reduction, focus and flash and has 8MB of internal memory and a CompactFlash memory card slot.

Pentax launched the Optio 430 digital camera, a 4-megapixel, 3X optical zoom camera that will ship in late October. The Optio 430 measures 3.6 inches wide by 2.3 inches high by 1.2 inches deep and weighs 7.2 ounces. It features a 4.13-megapixel CCD and a Pentax 3X zoom lens. Pricing was not made available.

The DPOF-enabled camera features a movie mode capable of recording video up to 30 seconds in length at 15 frames per second with a resolution of 320-by-240 pixels. The Optio 430 is bundled with a 16MB CompactFlash card. The camera also utilizes PRINT Image Matching technology to ensure that the camera and a PRINT Image Matching-enabled printers work together.

In related digital imaging news, Samsung announced that it is offering a $50 consumer rebate on its Digimax 210SE 2.1 megapixel digital camera. The offer applies to cameras purchased between Sept. 1 and Dec. 31, 2001.

Fujifilm announced a $200 price reduction for its FinePix 4800 Zoom, FinePix 6800 Zoom and FinePix 6900 Zoom digital cameras, dropping prices for these high-end consumer and advanced amateur models to $499, $699 and $799, respectively.