Wait, There's More: New Digital Cameras Vol. 2

By Eric Grevstad | Posted September 23, 2004
It's our job to bring you news of nifty new products and we're glad to do it, but we wish digital-camera makers would coordinate things a bit better. That way, we wouldn't be relaxing at home only to be caught off guard by a TV commercial for a brand-new, unknown-to-us Olympus compact camera, or be surprised by a belated fall lineup from Konica Minolta. Or hurry to post this addendum.

The Olympus compact is called the Stylus Verve — a 4-megapixel mini (at 3.75 by 2.2 by 1.1 inches, it's the company's smallest digicam to date) with rounded corners and a contoured, sculpted shape available in blue, red, black, white, and copper colors as well as the usual silver. Even with the sliding, circular lens barrier open, the Verve is designed for all-weather operation in rain or snow (though not underwater).

In an appalling gimmick, the power-on button is accompanied by the sound of a chime, sports-car engine, or what Olympus calls "a lively electronic 'Whew!'" along with "three different catchy shutter sounds to choose from." More seriously, the $350 Verve offers a 2X optical zoom lens (35mm to 70mm equivalent); 16 selectable scene modes such as portrait, landscape, night scene, panorama, and cuisine (cuisine? — Ed. note); and 1.8-inch LCD designed for clear viewing even from angles or in bright sunlight. It'll ship later this month with a 16MB xD-Picture Card and lithium-ion battery with charger.

Another beginner-friendly Olympus model, the D-535 Zoom ($150), combines 3-megapixel resolution with 3X optical zoom and ultra-easy design with separate buttons for shooting, playing back, and erasing images, as well as a reset button to rescue users who've gotten confused wandering away from factory default settings. A rotating dial offers six preset modes including portrait, landscape, and movie, while a super-macro mode captures close-ups as near as 0.8 inch. The AA-battery-powered camera has a 1.5-inch LCD and 12MB of onboard memory in case of a lost or forgotten xD Card.

One new Olympus model, however, focuses on sophisticated photography: The company calls October's C-7000 Zoom ($600) the smallest and lightest 7-megapixel, 5X-optical-zoom (38mm to 190mm equivalent) digital camera, weighing just 7.7 ounces and measuring 2.3 by 4 by 1.7 inches. It's also the first Olympus compact that lets users directly confirm exposure, indicating overexposed and underexposed areas, respectively, with red and blue highlighting in both shooting and playback modes.

Ten scene program modes include aperture and shutter priority; not only does Autofocus Target Selection let users choose from a 143-zone grid, with help from an AF illuminator for low-light situations, but a manual-focus mode permits a 144th choice, with the target focus area shown enlarged in the center of the 2.0-inch LCD monitor. Red-eye fix is built into the camera, as is support for RAW data recording for PC post-processing.

The Asterisk Is Silent
Speaking of small size, Pentax says its 6-megapixel *ist DS is its smallest digital SLR yet (3.6 by 4.9 by 2.5 inches, under 18 ounces). Compatible with most Pentax interchangeable lenses, the SLR offers a 2.0-inch LCD, top shutter speed of 1/4,000 second, and the ability to shoot up to eight images consecutively at about 2.8 fps.

Not small enough, you say? Pentax's 5-megapixel Optio SV squeezes 5X optical zoom into just 1.8 by 3.0 by 0.9 inches, with a Sliding Lens system that lets the lens fully recede into the camera housing. The company has also upgraded its combination still camera and digital camcorder; the Optio MX4 combines 4-megapixel resolution with 10X zoom (37mm to 370mm equivalent) as well as 30-fps, VGA-resolution movie recording. All the new Pentax cameras will ship in October at prices yet to be announced.

Finally, Konica Minolta has introduced two new cameras with Anti-Shake technology that instantly and precisely shifts the CCD to compensate for camera motion — letting photographers shoot dimly lit scenes or handheld telephoto or macro shots, the company claims, at shutter speeds up to three steps slower than they could without it.

The Dimage A200 is an 8-megapixel SLR-type camera with a 1.8-inch LCD that rotates up to 270 degrees vertically and 180 degrees horizontally for high, low, and artistic shooting angles, as well as a wireless remote control for taking self-portraits — or movies, the latter with a choice of 30 fps in VGA or 15 fps in SVGA (800 by 600) resolution.

The Maxxum 7D is a true digital SLR with 6-megapixel resolution and high-definition, 2.5-inch LCD monitor, as well as a new Advanced LSI engine for high-speed image processing. While compatible with nearly 40 existing Maxxum autofocusing lenses, it's optimally paired with newly announced 17-35mm F/2.8-4 and 28-75mm F/2.8 lenses that provide the camera with additional information on focusing distance to enhance electronic flash performance and exposure accuracy. The lenses' round apertures enhance images' defocused areas with smoother, more natural-looking gradations of tone. Prices for the new Konica Minolta cameras and lenses have not yet been announced.

Adapted from hardwarecentral.com.

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