Olympus has announced two new digital cameras: the Camedia C-720 Ultra Zoom and the Camedia D-550 Zoom. The company says the former is the world's smallest three-megapixel 8x optical-zoom digital camera. It's due next month. Targeted to families and those interested in sports, action and nature photography, the Camedia C-720 Ultra Zoom, priced around £450, weighs just one ounce and measures 3.1-x-4.2 inches. The new camera offers an 8x zoom, which is an equivalent telephoto of over 300 mm -- longer than many lenses used on consumer SLR cameras, according to Michele Derenches, product manager for Olympus. It offers a fast shutter speed of 1/1000th of a second and long exposures of up to eight seconds. The Camedia C-720 Ultra Zoom sports an Olympus all-glass lens (with aspherical lens elements) that provides the equivalent of 40 to 320 mm f2.8-f3.4 in 35 mm photography. The 3-megapixel CCD with Olympus' True Pic technology allows users to retain the realistic high-quality look of their photographs, even with large print sizes over 8-x-10 inches, Derenches said. In Programmed Auto mode, the camera offers basic point-and-shoot simplicity. The Scene Program on the mode dial provides fully automatic exposure adjustments for the photographer who wants optimum results in a wide variety of settings: Portrait, Landscape-Portrait and Sports shooting. The special "My Mode" feature is designed to save time by letting you assign a frequently used function to the mode dial for quick access. The C-720 has manual settings with controls for aperture priority, shutter priority and full manual operation. For advanced photographers, there's an Electronic Viewfinder (EVF), which displays aperture, shutter speed and image quality settings. Other controls include digital and spot metering; adjustable white balance; multiple flash settings including slow sync flash; and auto bracketing and exposure compensation. You can transfer images to your Mac and Windows PC with the supplied Auto-Connect USB cable. The C-720 Ultra Zoom will come with the aforementioned USB cable, a Video Out cable, carrying strap, lens cap with retainer cord, 2 LB-01 CR-V3 Lithium batteries, a 16MB SmartMedia card, Olympus Camedia Master Software 4.0, instruction manual and Quick Start guide. The £300 Camedia D-550 zoom is a 3-megapixel, point & shoot camera that has: a 2.8X optical zoom with a "totally seamless" 10X zoom (2.8X optical and 3.6X digital); five scene program modes with Virtual Mode Dial; a 1.8-inch LCD. It's targeted to a range of photographers, from the first time buyer to previous digital camera owners who want to move up to a higher-resolution device. The D-550 Zoom uses a newly designed 3-megapixel CCD and a two aspherical glass element 2.8x, 5.8-16.2mm zoom lens (36-100mm equivalent in 35mm photography) that's matched to the CCD and designed for digital photography. Color management settings in the 5-Scene Program modes -- Portrait, Landscape, Landscape-Portrait, Night Scene and Self Portrait mode -- are designed for optimum colour and picture result, Derenches said. What's more, the D-550 ZOOM features Automatic Noise Reduction technology for crisp, clean colours and sharp detail even when shooting long exposures in low light of one second and longer in the Night Scene mode, he added. And Olympus's TruePic technology optimizes the image quality for picture sharpness, contrast, true colours and gradation in all picture resolutions, along with Automatic Pixel Mapping, which analyzes the CCD, re-mapping it for maximum CCD performance, Derenches said. The new 3:2 Recording Mode in the D-550 Zoom lets you create 4-x-6 prints along with a variety of other popular print sizes. The 3:2 aspect ratio is the standard image ratio for conventional 35mm film cameras, and the most requested print aspect ratio for photographic framing. The Virtual Mode Dial with the 5-Scene Program Modes lets you adjust the mode with a visually supported control circle menu displayed on the LCD. Like the C-720, the D-550 Zoom offers the USB Auto-Connect. And Olympus promises "extremely long" battery life in normal operation with four AA alkaline batteries (while using the LCD display and flash 50 per cent of the time). With the LCD and flash turned off, the camera can capture thousands of images using the same AA alkaline batteries, Derenches said. Use Olympus' long-life LB01 (CR3V) batteries and battery-life is purportedly extended by about three times. Also available in June, the D-550 Zoom comes with a 16MB SmartMedia card, USB cable, video cable, carrying strap, four AA alkaline batteries, Camedia Master 4.0 software, manual, Quick Start Guide, and warranty card.