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Summer Camera Introductions Move Upscale

NEW YORK — Wirelessly connected interchangeable- lens cameras and super telephoto technology highlighted the feature offerings in new cameras as part of the summer lineups for five leading manufacturers.

With trends showing interest in cheap pointand- shoots waning, the emphasis on new designs stressed high picture quality performance, flexible focal-length zoom ranges, and compact interchangeable-lens camera systems that make picture taking fun and practical.

The following were part of the new offerings for the second half of 2013:

Panasonic has introduced the Lumix DSC-FZ70 super telephoto bridge camera with a built-in 60x (20mm-1,200mm) F2.8-5.9 wide-angle, super zoom lens. To keep images steady, the camera includes Power Optical Image Stabilization.

The camera also incorporates Intelligent Resolution technology that can digitally boost the zoom ratio up to a 120x equivalent while maintaining the high picture quality. Panasonic said an optional optical lens adapter can further extend the FZ70s range.

Panasonic was able to achieve the high optical magnification using a new extra-low-dispersion, high-transparent lens technology. Panasonic is making the lens at its factory in Yamagata, Japan, which is noted for its expertise in manufacturing aspherical optics.

At 20mm, the lens captures a nearly 140 percent wider angle of view compared with a 24mm lens, the company said. The lens is comprised of 14 elements in 12 groups, including six aspherical lenses with nine aspherical surfaces and three ED (Extra-low Dispersion) lenses. The technology is said to suppress distortion at the wide end and color bleeding at the tele end.

Also included is a built-in top-mounted stereo mic with integrated Wind Shield Zoom technology that minimizes wind noise by approximately 70 percent compared with earlier models. Sound is further enhanced using Dolby Digital Stereo Creator technology.

Video is captured in up to FullHD 1080p in both AVCHD and MP4 compression formats, and the full magnification of the lens will work in both still and video modes. The camera’s new 16.1-megapixel high-sensitivity MOS sensor cuts lowlight noise by 10 percent to 15 percent, enabling high-sensitivity shooting. The Venus Engine video processor is said to further elevate the response, sensitivity and image quality.

The FZ70 will ship in August at a price to be announced.

Fujifilm North America introduced its next iteration in the X-series mirrorless compact system camera (CSC) family – the X-M1. The lightweight camera includes the same highly rated 16.3-megapixel APS-C XTrans CMOS sensor as the X-Pro1and X-E1 cameras in a compact premium-styled body design.

The X-M1 will ship with a newly designed Fujinon XC16-50mm (24-76mm) F3.5-5.6 OIS zoom lens that is well suited to a wide range of shooting scenarios, including lowlight scenes.

The X-M1 body will go on sale in July at a $700 suggested retail; the camera and XC16-50mm OIS lens kit will be available in the same time frame at an $800 suggested retail.

Other features in the X-M1 camera include a 3-inch tilting 920,000-dot LCD screen, wireless image transfer, sensor sensitivity from ISO 200 to 6,400 in 1/3 step increments, with an extended range from ISO 100 to 25,600.

Pentax introduced three interchangeable-lens cameras along with a new system for purchasers to customize the body color on two of the new models.

Joining the Pentax line up are the K-50, K-500 and Q7. The K-50 is a midpriced DSLR, at a $779 suggested retail starting this month, while the K-500 is a $599 entry- level camera also shipping in July. The Q7 is a CSC that can be pre-ordered and will be available at retail in August for $499.

The K-50 and Q7 are part of Pentax’s custom color personalization system, said company executive VP Jim Malcolm. Customers can configure the cameras online using Pentax’s Color To Order system using any two of 120 different colors. The cameras can be a solid color or two-tone. The final product will be delivered in about four weeks.

Malcolm said his company is addressing the absence of an entry-level DSLR in its lineup with the K-500. It will only be available in black, but will have many of the same features as the more expensive K-50.

The K-50 is a 16-megapixel DSLR that adds weather- sealing, comes standard with an 18-55mm WR lens, and is compatible with an Eye-Fi SD card for connecting the camera directly to a network.

The Q7 is intended for people looking to take the next step up from simply using their smartphone. Weighing in at 7 ounces, the 12.4-megapixel camera comes with 19 onboard photo effects, a 3-inch LCD, and a built-in pop-up flash designed to place enough space between itself and the camera lens to help avoid red eye, Malcolm said.

Samsung unveiled a mirrorless CSC with built-in 3G/4G LTE, like the Galaxy point-and-shoot camera it introduced last year. But the new Galaxy NX camera (pricing and availability to be announced later) is an interchangeable-lens cousin to last year’s Galaxy pointand- shoot model.

The CSC version is powered by a 1.6GHz quad-core processor and is based on the Android 4.2 platform. It features a 20.3-megapixel sensor, Hybrid Autofocus (AF) system, a 4.8-inch HD LCD touchscreen and SVGA electronic viewfinder.

In addition to 3G/4G LTE, the camera includes built-in Wi-Fi connectivity for wireless image and video sharing.

Other features include Share Shot, ChatOn and AllShare Play, similar to Galaxy mobile devices; Facebook, Instagram, YouTube image and video uploading; up to a 1/6,000th sec shutter speed; and 8.6 fps continuous shooting.

The Galaxy NX offers 3D photo/video recording when paired with the optional 45mm 2D/3D lens accessory.

Sony introduced a pair of advanced RX-series Cybershot point-and-shoot cameras targeting professional/advanced amateur audiences.

Models DSC-RX1R/B ($2,799 suggested retail) and DSC-RX100M2/B ($749) both feature advanced CMOS sensors, with the former featuring a 24.3-megapixel 35mm fullframe Exmor sensor and the latter offering a 1-inch 20.2-megapixel Exmor R sensor. Both models also include Sony’s latest Bionz image processors.

Sony said both cameras are additions to the RX line and will not be replacing the current RX1 or RX100 models. The RX1R will be slotted in higher than the previous RX1, and removes the optical low-pass filter of the RX1 for improved resolution and image quality. The filter will continue to be included in the RX1 to reduce artifacts such as moiré.

The RX1R is also said to produce superior contrast levels to the RX1.

It includes a fixed focal length 37mm lens (at F2-22) Carl Zeiss lens.

The RX100 features a 28-100mm focal range (35mm equivalent) F1.8 lens.

Both models will also support FullHD 1080/60p and 1080/24p video resolution in AVCHD compression format, and up to 1,440 by 1,080/30 fps in MP4.

The RX1R supports an ISO range for still images from 100 to 25,600 (100 to 102,400 in EV step) while the RX100RM2 supports an ISO range from 160 to 25,600.

The RX100M2 uses a new sensor-production technique to produce a Exmor R CMOS sensor as large as 1 inch. This is said to significantly improve the camera’s low-light picture image capability.

The RX100M2 also offers burst shooting speeds up to 10 fps at 20.2-megapixel resolution.

The RX1R offers burst shooting speeds up to 5 fps in speed priority mode and 2.5 fps (AF-S).

Both models include pop-up flashes and 3-inch (1.2 million dot) LCD monitors. The RX100RM2 adds an 84-degree-up, 43-degrees- down tilting screen.

The RX100M2, which has a compact body design, will also support Wi-Fi wireless connectivity and image transfer and will be the first nearfield communications (NFC)-enabled digital imaging device from Sony, allowing image transfers by tapping the camera against another NFC-enabled device, like a smartphone or a tablet.