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Digicam Manufacturers Unveil Lineups At PMA

ORLANDO, FLA. -Plummeting prices on 2- and 3-megapixel digital cameras and models featuring MP3 players are the big hits at the Photo Marketing Association show that started yesterday.

Despite the number of digital cameras and accessories unveiled at CES in Las Vegas last month, most companies waited for the PMA show to display their new cameras.

Agfa Consumer Imaging is presenting two print-ready, dual-mode ePhoto digital cameras: the CL20 ($149) and the CL34 ($229), both of which are now shipping.

In addition to taking digital still or video images, the new ePhotos come equipped with a “PhotoPrint” button that immediately uploads images to AGFAnet Print Service client software. Via an Internet connection, the AGFAnet Print Service client sends the images and the ordering information to a central server, which automatically transmits the order to the selected lab for processing.

The ePhoto cameras offer USB connectivity and come bundled with Agfa’s exclusive PhotoGenie image-enhancement software. Agfa also includes Corel Print Office 2000 and Corel Photo House 5 and ArcSoft VideoImpression 1.6 for editing video clips.

The ePhoto CL34 features an optical viewfinder, a 1.8-inch color LCD screen, 1.3-megapixel resolution, a “video-clip” capability for recording live action on location and 2MB of internal memory. It also has a CompactFlash slot for expanded storage.

The CL20 offers the same features as its sister camera but without an LCD display and at a lower (VGA) resolution. The CL20 offers live video only with the USB interface at a maximum resolution of 640 x 480 at 20 fps or 320 x 240 at a higher 30 fps.

FujiFilm is displaying three new digital cameras. The FinePix 2300 is the latest in FujiFilm’s line of entry-level FinePix digital photography products. Due out in April with a suggested retail price of $279, the FinePix 2300 offers point-and-shoot features with a 2.1-megapixel CCD. A 2.5x digital telephoto mode is available at the camera’s 680 x 480 resolution.

The camera is powered by four premium AA alkaline batteries, comes bundled with an 8MB SmartMedia card and will ship with Adobe PhotoDeluxe Home Edition 4.0 software.

The FinePix 6800 and 4800 Zoom come equipped with the new FujiFilm Super CCD sensor and image processor (a 3.3-megapixel CCD for the 6800 and a 2.4 for the 4800). The cameras feature videoconferencing, image voice annotation, the ability to capture either up to 160/80 seconds (FinePix 6800/4800 Zoom) of AVI video with sound or record up to 60/30 minutes of audio. The styling on both cameras was designed by F.A. Porsche, the creator of the Porsche 911 sports car.

The FinePix 6800 Zoom will be available in April at a suggested retail price of $899. The FinePix 4800 Zoom will be available in May at a suggested retail price of $699.

Kodak is announcing its mc3 , a hybrid VGA-resolution digital still camera, MP3 player and video player. Compatible with both Macintosh and Microsoft Windows computer platforms, it comes bundled with Arcsoft Video Impressions software for video editing and creating albums. Users can combine their pictures, music and video to create multimedia movies or music videos in Quick Time.

The mc3 can record more than 20 minutes of non-stop video on a 64MB CompactFlash card (or 20 seconds of video for each MB of removable memory recording at 10 fps. At a higher resolution of 20 fps, it can record four seconds of video for each MB of memory.)

The Kodak mc3 is also a fully functional MP3 player featuring Real Jukebox software and allowing users to record and play up to two hours of music with a 64MB memory card. A USB cable is included for image/music file downloading.

The Kodak mc3 will be available in March in a number of configurations, based on the size of its replaceable memory. With 16MB memory, the unit’s suggested retail price is $229; with 64MB memory, $299.

Optional accessories are available, including memory cards, a carrying holster, video/audio cable and rechargeable batteries with charger. A dock with USB connection is also available for a suggested retail price of $9.99. The dock serves as an external drive on a computer, automatically detecting the mc3, launching the software and downloading all of the files.

Minolta would not comment specifically on what it is showing other than to say it will have three new digital cameras under glass at PMA. However, industry sources have hinted that the company has a 5-megapixel camera for less than $1,000 in the wings. Pentax’s digital EI-3000 combines the control of an SLR with the features of a digital camera. The EI-3000’s 3x optical zoom lens, which is placed at the center of the camera, has a range of 8.2mm-25.8mm (equivalent to 34mm-107mm in 35mm format).

Pentax said the camera features a 3.43-megapixel, 2/3-inch frame-transfer CCD, providing a large light reception area; a Pentax zoom lens that delivers sharp, high-contrast images; a 12-bit A/D converter; and HP Imaging Technology. Price and shipping date were not available at press time.

Polaroid is debuting at the show its PhotoMAX PDC 640 Modem Camera, a VGA resolution digital camera with a built-in 56.6K modem. With the press of a button, the camera provides computer-free, mobile uploading and sharing of digital images via the Web from any U.S. phone line, the company said.

Expected to be available in April for $249.99, the PDC 640 Modem Camera will upload images to the website. From there, images can be manipulated, e-mailed, sent to the Polaroid Digital Picture Frame (a PC-free way to display digital images), or even downloaded to an online auction site. Samsung is highlighting three new digital cameras available in the second quarter. The SDC-130Z, SDC-220Z and SDC-330Z all enjoy the same feature set, with the exception of resolution.

All three models employ an optical 3x zoom lens and a digital 2x zoom lens for 6x-power zoom capability. They also use a 1.8-inch TFT color LCD screen, have a solid metallic design, an expandable 8MB SmartMedia card and a PAL or NTSC video out for easy upload onto a computer via USB port.

The SDC-130Z is a 1.3-megapixel camera for $299. The SDC-220Z features a 2.2-megapixel resolution for $349, and the SDC-330Z has a resolution of 3.3 megapixels and a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $399.

Rookie digital imaging manufacturer SiPix is debuting its product line at the show. A camera tentatively labeled DualCam is a full-featured USB video, videoconferencing and VGA-resolution digital still unit. It features a built-in flash and USB cable and carries a suggested retail of $119.

The DualCam comes bundled with MGI PhotoSuite III SE software for image editing; TeVeo Vidio Suite for live video calls; Odyssey Multimedia software suite for creating and editing videos and making video e-mail; and Watch Dog Motion Detector, which detects motion, records a video and notifies the user by e-mail.

The SiPix SC-2100 ($279, March) digital camera offers 2.1-megapixel resolution. Included with the SC-2100 are an 8MB CompactFlash card, USB interface, 2X digital zoom and a macro mode. Bundled software includes MGI PhotoSuite III SE.

Sony, the current market-share champ, is adding a number of cameras to its Mavica and CyberShot lines at the show.

The four new Mavicas will continue to feature a floppy disk drive. According to Jim Malcolm, senior marketing director for Digital Still Cameras at Sony, floppy disks are still a viable digital camera media when one considers the vast number of consumers and business customers with older computer operating systems.

The entry-level model is the VGA-resolution MVC FD75 (an upgrade of the FD73). Currently shipping with a suggested retail of $399, the camera comes with an InfoLithium battery and charger. The MVC FD87 ($499, shipping in late February) also accepts floppy disks and features 1.3-megapixel resolution and a 3x zoom lens.

With the MVC FD92 and FD97, Sony has unveiled what Malcolm dubs “the world’s first dual-media cameras” because they accept both floppy disks and Sony’s Memory Stick removable flash memory cards.

Available in March for a suggested retail of $500, the FD92 features 1.3-megapixel resolution, an 8x zoom lens and Clip Motion-an option that allows users to stitch together 10 still frames to create short animations. The FD97 ($899, March) features a 2.1-megapixel resolution and a 10x optical zoom.

The cameras do not come bundled with a Memory Stick card. “Not bundling the Memory Stick allows us to keep the package price down and encourages the retailer to sell accessories,” said Malcolm.

In Sony’s CyberShot line (which consists of the P and S series) Sony will unveil two P-series cameras and one S-series digital still unit. All of the new CyberShots are built around a new high-speed autofocus system called the AF Illuminator which, in a nutshell, allows for improved low-light focusing.

The P30 ($399, April) features 1.3-megapixel resolution, 3x optical zoom and dual battery modes (accepting either AA or an optional InfoLithium accessory). The P50 ($499) comes with the same feature set as the P30 but offers 2.1-megapixel resolution.

The DSC S75 is a 3.3-megapixel camera with a 14-bit A-to-D converter for improved image quality-one of the first cameras to come with such a feature. It incorporates the AF Illuminator technology and an improved MPEG movie mode called MPEG EX. It will be available in April for a suggested retail of $699.