As digital photographers become more demanding, we checked out a new batch of 8mp cameras set to vie for your cash.

Four digital camera makers introduced higher-resolution digital cameras at February’s Photo Marketing Association show in Las Vegas. Canon, Konica Minolta, Nikon, and Olympus all announced 8-megapixel cameras aimed at advanced photographers.

The new cameras are expected to ship this spring. At a time when image quality increasingly depends on factors beyond the number of pixels, the cameras' boast an 8-million-pixel, 2/3-inch CCD that will yield a resolution of 3,264-x-2,448 and a file size of up to 23MB.

The camera manufacturers say they cannot disclose the chip maker, although Sony is currently the only vendor that makes an 8-megapixel CCD. It was used in Sony's own Cyber-shot DSC-F828 camera, which was introduced last summer.

Here’s a preview of each of the new players.

Canon PowerShot Pro1

Canon unveiled its PowerShot Pro1, which has a black metal body, a rubberized right-hand grip, and a myriad of pro-level controls. It has a large 2-inch LCD and the company's L-series f/2.4 to f/3.5 lens with a 7x optical zoom (28mm to 200mm in 35mm film equivalent). Users will be able to zoom in on subjects by twisting the lens ring.

For macro mode, photographers will be able to close in at 3.9 inches, and when the camera is set to 5-megapixel resolution, they will be able to go even closer at 1.2 inches, Canon says. Users will have the option to capture photos in either RAW or JPEG formats, as well 640-x-480-resolution videos with sound at 15fps for up to 30 seconds per clip. In addition, the Pro1 offers 12 shooting modes including landscape, portrait, and night scene.

The camera will come with a 64MB CompactFlash card, a rechargeable lithium ion battery and charger, a remote control, a lens hood and 58mm filter adaptor, and USB and AV cables. The Pro1 will be available in March for £850 plus VAT.

Konica Minolta DiMage A2

Konica Minolta's new Anti-Shake technology is the key differentiating feature of its 8-megapixel DiMage A2. This feature enables the CCD to stabilize an image if the photographer inadvertently moves the camera during a shot.

Anti-Shake keeps images steady at telephoto ranges where blurring can be more apparent, according to the company. The feature will benefit shots in low-lighting conditions without relying on a high ISO setting or a tripod.

Konica Minolta has developed a CCD-shift mechanism where the CCD rests on a movable mount. When the camera's motion detectors detect movement, the mount shifts accordingly.

The DiMage A2 offers 64MB of internal memory, video capture at up to 544-x-408 resolution, a 7x optical zoom lens (28mm to 200mm in 35mm film equivalent), and a 1.8-inch, tilting LCD. It can capture both RAW, TIFF, and JPEG file formats.

The camera will include a lithium ion battery and charger, Ulead VideoStudio software, a lens shade and cap, and AV and USB cables. The A2 is available now for around £650.

Nikon Coolpix 8700

Nikon's 8-megapixel Coolpix 8700 will offer a set of useful photographic features, including an autofocus-assist illuminator that will help the camera focus and produce sharp pictures in difficult compositions and low-light environments.

The 8700 will allow users to capture up to five continuous shots in the highest resolution setting (3,264-x-2,448 pixels) at 2.5fps, as well as record 640-x-480-resolution videos at 30fps.

The camera will feature a new time-lapse movie mode that will enable users to take a series of still images at specified intervals (30 seconds to 60 minutes) and then stitch the photos together to create a QuickTime movie at roughly 30fps. The camera will save pictures in RAW, TIFF, and JPEG formats, and macro photography can be shot as close as 1.2 inches.

The 8700 has an 8x optical zoom lens (35mm to 280mm in 35mm film equivalent), 12 scene modes, and a swivelling 1.6-inch LCD. It will come with a rechargeable lithium ion battery and charger, a lens cap, and AV and USB cables. The camera is available now for around £900.

Olympus C-8080

On top of the 8-megapixel CCD, the Olympus C-8080 features Olympus Optical's TruePic Turbo image processing technology that promises to boost the camera's start-up and playback speeds as well as decrease shutter lag.

The camera will offer a handful of manual features as well, including an aperture range of f2.4 to f8 that will be adjustable in 1/3 or 1/2 increments. Shutter speed will range from 1/4,000 of a second to 16 seconds. The C-8080 features 10 shooting modes including sports, landscape, and night scene.

Olympus says sequential shots at 1.6fps are possible with the C-8080. The camera will capture photos in both TIFF and JPEG formats and will be able to record videos in Motion JPEG format.

The camera will offer 5x wide-angle zoom lens (28mm to 140mm in 35mm film equivalent), a 1.8-inch LCD, an external hot shoe for attaching optional flashes, and two types of memory card slots – one that is compatible with an xD Picture Card and another for CompactFlash.

The C-8080 will come with a 32MB xD Picture Card, rechargeable lithium ion battery and charger, remote control, lens hood and cap, and AV and USB cables. Olympus plans to ship the camera in April for £640 plus VAT.