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Sony Unveils New In-Camera Technology in ’08 Cyber-shots

San Diego, Calif. — Sony will roll out a slate of new in-camera technologies in its 2008 Cyber-shot line, including improvements to its smile shutter and face detection.

The company is enhancing its face detection technology with the addition of a child/adult priority mode. When set to child priority, the camera will give focus priority to the faces of children in the frame and when set to adult priority, it will locate and prioritize adults.

Sony also augmented its smile shutter feature, adding the ability to detect multiple smiles in a frame and delaying the moment of image capture until everyone is smiling. The mode can be activated in child/adult priority as well, allowing models with the feature to only snap a picture when a child in the frame is smiling.

Smiles can also be added to people in playback mode using the camera’s retouch menu and face detection.

Sony will incorporate new image-finding technologies into its cameras and software as well.

By examining the image file’s EXIF data, select cameras will be able to identify images captured with smile shutter turned on and group those images under “smile” for easier identification. The software will also be able to search for children when child priority was activated.

A new D-Range Optimizer (DRO) plus mode will join DRO standard mode, and give the camera the ability to analyze each part of a scene separately to make adjustments. It is more effective than the standard mode, but will slow the shooting interval, Sony said.

An intelligent scene recognition feature will analyze a shooting environment and apply the best scene mode for the shot. In backlit or low light settings, the intelligent scene mode will capture a second image after the consumer has pressed the shutter. A new semi-manual focus mode lets consumers choose the approximate distance of a subject to help the camera focus.

The use of color will also be expanded in models above $200, the company said.

Sony enhanced the slide show function of select cameras by doubling the number of music tracks available (from four to eight) and increasing the length of music playback from three to five minutes.

There will be three models in the firm’s entry-level S-series. Shipping in February for $129 is the 7-megapixel S730. It will feature a 3x optical zoom, a 2.5-inch LCD screen, seven scene modes, the new slideshow mode and 22MB of internal memory.

The S750 builds off the S730 by adding a higher resolution 2.5-inch LCD, face detection and a LI battery. It will ship in March for $149.

In April Sony will ship the 8-megapixel S780 with a similar feature set to the S750 for $179.

In the mainstream W-series, Sony will introduce four new models. The 7-megapixel W120, due in March for $199, features a 4x optical zoom lens, a 2.5-inch LCD screen, face detection with child/adult priority, the new smile shutter, an HD output, Super SteadyShot image stabilization, ISO 3200 and semi manual focus. It will be available in four colors.

The 8-megapixel W130 (Feb., $229) adds an unsharp mask option in the in-camera retouching menu and will be available in three colors.

The 8-megapixel W150 builds off the W130 with a 5x optical zoom lens (30mm – 150mm, 35mm equivalent), a 2.7-inch LCD screen, intelligent scene mode, DRO plus, face search, and the new slide show mode for $249. It will ship in April in silver, black, red and tan.

The W170 will share most of the features and color options of the W150 but will add a 10-megapixel sensor, and a 28mm, 5x optical zoom. It ships in April for $299.

There will be one addition to the firm’s T-series of compact cameras. The 10-megapixel T300, for $399, features a 5x optical zoom, a 3.5-inch touch-screen LCD, Super SteadyShot image stabilization, intelligent scene mode, DRO plus, face detection with child/adult priority, the new smile shutter function and slide show mode, and face search. It will ship in March in black, silver, red and green.

Finally, Sony will add a model to its H-series of ultra-zoom cameras.

The H10 will offer 8-megapixel resolution, a 10x optical zoom lens, a 3-inch LCD screen, image stabilization, ISO 3200, a 9-point AF, face detection, 28MB of internal memory and an HD output. It will ship in April for $299.