A broad selection of digital cameras for users with a range of interests and expertise are poised to appear over the next few months from major digital camera players Fujifilm and Sony Corp
Both unveiled their new lines at the recent Photo Marketing Association show in Miami, 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 $100 less than their predecessors did when they first hit the market.
For more advanced users, Fujifilm offers the $699 FinePix 4800 Zoom and the $899 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 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.
Sony expects to release in May three new cameras in its Cyber-shot series. The first in the line is the $400 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 $500 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 $700 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.