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Canon Unveils Optura Camcorder Pair

Canon U.S.A. introduced into its 2003 lineup two new miniDV camcorders with simultaneous video recording and still-image capture capability.

The new Optura 20 (available in March at a $999 suggested retail) and Optura 10 (available in May at $899) emphasize the ability to shoot both DV-quality video and digital still images at up to 1.33 megapixels (1,280 by 960 pixels resolution) — the latter on Multi Media Card/Secure Digital flash memory clips.

Both models also feature 16x optical/320x digital zoom lenses, selectable focusing points to capture sharp images of off-center subjects; StitchAssist software to create expansive panoramic collages; and simultaneous video and digital photo shooting.

Other features in the models include: Direct Print capabilities using Canon’s card photo printers and select Canon Bubble Jet printers; and auto-exposure bracketing to produce the best exposure of any scene or subject.

The Optura 20 adds a larger 3.5-inch rotating LCD viewscreen (the Optura 10 uses a 2.5-inch rotating viewscreen), and Super Night Mode and Low Light Plus Mode, enabling color video recording in virtual darkness. A front-mounted assist-lamp illuminates the subject to enhance image quality while retaining the desired mood or effect.

The Optura 20 also bundles a higher capacity battery, the BP-512, for longer continuous shooting.

Other common features in both units include image stabilization, DIGIC DV image processing; Motion JPEG movie mode for emailable video clips; programmed auto exposure modes; various digital effects; 16- or 12 bit stereo sound; IEEE 1394 / FireWire DV terminal; manual controls; A/V insert and audio dubbing.

Both units include Canon’s DV Messenger software program, which allows Windows XP PC users to use the camcorder for video conferencing applications over the Internet. They also feature an exclusive one-chip input/output connection circuit, called VIC, to make connections to computers, TVs or VCRs.