New Digital Cameras by Canon; Fuji; & Sony

(02/23/2001) – A broad selection of digital cameras for consumers with a range of interests and expertise are poised to appear over the next few months from major digital camera players Canon Inc., Fujifilm AG, and Sony Corp.

All unveiled their new lines at the recent Photo Marketing Association show here, where digital and film photography buffs get together to show off their wares.

Not surprisingly, most of the upcoming cameras are even more versatile than their older counterparts, thanks to such features as video-capture capability and dual memory slots. Cameras are also becoming more affordable than ever. Forthcoming Sony Cyber-shot and FD Mavica cameras, for example, will cost CDN$150 [estimate] less than their predecessors did when they first hit the market.

So whether you’re a first-time user or a seasoned shutterbug, one of these cameras will suit your needs at a price you can afford.

Digital Elph gains functions

Canon’s $749 PowerShot S100 Digital Elph has been such a huge hit that the company is coming out with an improved version, the $899 S300. Suitable for both first-time and intermediate users, it is scheduled to be in retail stores by May.

A demo of the product offers a peek at the camera’s versatile functions, notably the capability to record short video clips with audio. This new feature lets you capture movies in three resolution modes. The low 320 by 240 and 160 by 120 settings promise to deliver smooth movie playback, but the higher 640 by 480 setting may record choppy video and easily fill up the included 8MB CompactFlash card. Movie clips are saved in QuickTime or AVI format and can be viewed on a PC using the bundled Apple QuickTime 4.1 software. You can edit videos using ArcSoft’s VideoImpression program, also included.

If, however, you prefer making prints to shooting mini-movies, you can use the S300’s direct-to-printer feature, which lets you print directly to Canon’s new $449 CP-10 dye-sublimation printer–a small, portable printer that produces 300-by-300-dpi, business card-sized prints.

Another perk: The S300 camera features a 3X optical zoom lens, in comparison to the S100’s 2X optical zoom. The S300 also sports the same stainless-steel case design as the S100 but will be about half an inch in diameter larger.

Canon shows budget line

If the $899 PowerShot S300 Digital Elph is above your price range, Canon also is unveiling a selection of lower-priced cameras. Both the $599 PowerShot A10 and the $749 PowerShot A20 are geared for first-time digital camera buyers, and they are expected to ship in May.

Both cameras are the first in Canon’s PowerShot series powered by four AA alkaline batteries, which are more ubiquitous but bigger and heavier than one lithium-ion battery (used by other PowerShot models). As a result, both the A10 and the A20 are a little bigger than other PowerShots.

For the most part, both cameras offer the same features, including a 3X optical zoom lens and the capability to print directly to Canon’s CP-10 dye-sub printer. (Canon plans to sell a bundle of a camera and printer, the CPK-A10 Photo Print Kit, priced at $1049.) The two differences between the new PowerShots are their price and their CCD sensor (the maximum image quality resolution). The A10 features a 1.3-megapixel CCD, and the A20 features a 2.1-megapixel CCD.

Fujifilm unveils three cameras

Fujifilm will begin shipping in April some of its additions to its FinePix digital camera series. New are the 2300, the 4800 Zoom, and the 6800 Zoom. The Zoom models can double as a desktop PC camera for videoconferencing.

At the low end of the series is the FinePix 2300, a basic point-and-shoot camera priced at $419 and scheduled to be in stores in April. It features a 2.1-megapixel CCD, an 8MB SmartMedia memory card, four AA alkaline batteries, and Adobe PhotoDeluxe Home Edition 4 software. With such standard features, the 2300 is ideal for people who are new to digital photography.

For more advanced users, Fujifilm offers the $1049 FinePix 4800 Zoom and the $1349 FinePix 6800 Zoom. The only difference between these two cameras is their CCD sensor capability. The 4800 Zoom features a 2.4-megapixel CCD, and the 6800 has a 3.3-megapixel CCD. Otherwise, they have identical specs. Both, for example, work as digital (still image) cameras and double as desktop PC cameras for videoconferencing. The FinePix 4800 Zoom should be available by June and the 6800 Zoom by April.

To enable videoconferencing, you attach the FinePix 4800 Zoom or the 6800 Zoom to an included cradle that’s connected to a PC through a USB cable and run the included PictureHello software. However, to communicate with the person at the other end, you both must have either the 4800 or the 6800 camera installed on your PC and run PictureHello.

If you can’t take advantage of the camera’s videoconferencing feature, you can use the cradle for two other purposes–recharging the included NP-80 lithium-ion battery and transferring photos to a PC.

Both cameras can also record voice annotation and short video clips with sound. Each camera comes with a 16MB SmartMedia memory card, NP-80 lithium-ion battery, AC adapter, ArcSoft VideoImpression, and Adobe PhotoDeluxe Home Edition 4.

Sony grows Mavica, Cyber-shot lines

Sony has been busy; the company introduced seven digital cameras at the PMA show. Most of them, however, offer no new features but simply replace older models. Four of the new cameras fall under its FD Mavica series, famed for its use of the ubiquitous floppy disk. The other three fall under its Cyber-shot series, which uses the Sony’s Memory Stick media. Most significantly, all of these cameras are less expensive than ever before.

Mavicas boost storage

Starting at the low end of the FD Mavica line is the $600 MVC-FD75, which replaces the MVC-FD73. Everything about this camera is exactly the same as its older sibling, including VGA (640 by 480) image resolution, 10X optical zoom, and floppy-disk memory. It’s available now from Sony’s site.

Next in the Mavica series is the upcoming $750 MVC-FD87, which replaces the MVC-FD85. This camera comes with similar features (such as a 1.3-megapixel CCD, 3X optical zoom lens, and the capability to store images on Sony’s Memory Stick floppy adapter) as the older edition.

The $900 MVC-FD92, scheduled to ship in March, replaces the MVC-FD90. It sports one major new feature: dual-memory slots. The MVC-FD92 stores pictures on a floppy disk or a Memory Stick, but you have to buy the media separately. Otherwise, the FD92 comes with the same features as the FD90, including a 1.3-megapixel CCD, 8X optical zoom, and MPEG video capture mode.

The fourth FD Mavica camera is the $1350 MVC-FD97, which replaces the MVC-FD95. Similar to the upcoming MVC-FD92, this camera stores images on a floppy disk or a Memory Stick (media is optional). It also has a 2.1-megapixel CCD, 10X optical zoom, and MPEG movie capture mode–features similar to those of its FD95 predecessor. Sony expects to ship the MVC-FD97 by March.

Cyber-shot supports movies

Sony expects to release in May three new cameras in its Cyber-shot series. The first in the line is the $600 DSC-P30, which replaces the DSC-S30. These two cameras offer identical features (such as a 1.3-megapixel CCD, 3X optical zoom, and 4MB of Memory Stick storage), except for battery power. In addition to using Sony’s InfoLithium battery (which is optional), the forthcoming DSC-P30 can also use two AA alkaline batteries.

Next in the Cyber-shot family line is the $750 DSC-P50, which replaces the DSC-S50. These cameras also come with nearly identical features, except for battery power. Like the DSC-P30, the P50 can use two AA alkaline batteries as well as Sony’s optional InfoLithium battery. The P50 also features a 2.1-megapixel CCD, 3X optical zoom, and 4MB Memory Stick media–all of which are similar to its S50 sibling.

Finally, there’s the $1050 DSC-S75, which replaces the DSC-S70. The one major feature that this camera offers that its predecessor doesn’t is the capability to shoot MPEG video clips of any length up to the capacity of the installed Memory Stick media. Basically, you can capture home movies as you would with a standard video camera. The DSC-S75 also features a 3.3-megapixel CCD, an optical viewfinder, 8MB Memory Stick storage, and an AC adapter.

Prices listed are in Cdn currency.