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Samsung Makes ‘Firsts’ Key With New Digicams

New York — Samsung unveiled a slate of new digital cameras last week, stressing its intention to hit a series of “industry firsts” to add more value to its models at key price points and improve its market-share standing against its rivals.

The new introductions include the 8-megapixel Digimax Pro815, the first digital camera to sport a 15x optical zoom and 3.5-inch LCD screen, and the L55W, a digital camera with a 2.8-inch “widescreen” LCD for framing images in the 16:9 aspect ratio.

Samsung executives hope to use these announcements, followed by an expected 15 new digital cameras in 2006, to launch the company into a top tier digital imaging vendor.

“If all the elements are executed properly that will enable Samsung to become one of the top three digital camera companies in the world,” said KenGerb, the company’s senior VP sales and marketing.

Gerb did not say how long this would take. He said he expects the company to have a 3.6 percent U.S. unit shipments share by the end of 2006.

Samsung’s intention is to bring the same value proposition to its digital camera effort that it used in other consumer electronics categories, he said. The company has targeted three customer segments; families for general use cameras, the techno savvy for more complicated models and for the first time the prosumer with the Pro815.

The Pro815, which ships in August for a suggested $849, features both manual and automatic exposure controls, manual focus ring, selectable ISO settings, five flash options and custom white balance. It also features a 1.44-inch status LCD that can double as a viewfinder.

The Pro815 features a one-second startup and 1.3-second shot-to-shot speed alongside a shutter lag of .05 seconds. It uses a new proprietary lithium battery for up to 500 shots per charge.

In high-speed continuous shooting mode, the camera can burst at 2.5 frames per second (fps), while an ultra-high-speed continuous mode can snap up to 10 1-megapixel images per second.

The camera is Samsung’s first to use CompactFlash memory cards. It also offers USB 2.0 connectivity, PictBridge support and VGA movie capture at 25 fps with audio in the AVI format.

The 5-megapixel L55W features a 4.8x optical zoom with a 2.8-inch wide LCD screen for viewing images in either 16:9 or 4:3. The L55W powers up in one second and features a one-second shot-to-shot time. It offers continuous shooting at 2.5 fps.

The company also added an ultra-slim model to its line-up using a non-protruding 3x optical zoom lens. The 5-megapixel Digimax i5 features measures in at 0.68-inch thick with a stainless-steel body and a 2.5-inch LCD screen. It will ship in August for a suggested $349 in silver, black, red and gray.

The i5 features automatic macro focusing to 5cm and a super macro mode for focusing to 1cm. A safety flash mode which the company claims can deliver an image that looks like it has been taken with the flash without causing red eye. The i5 can record MPEG-4 video at 30 fps while using the 3x optical zoom. To augment the movie mode, the camera features a movie stabilizer to reduce blur and can edit movies in-camera.

The camera’s battery can be charged in four different ways including with a bundled docking cradle.