Kyocera has today released their Contax SL300R T* 3.2Mp digital camera, featuring a swivel body design and Carl Zeiss optics. The unusually-designed camera measures about 100-x-64-x-15mm and weighs about 128g with battery and media removed.

The camera will be officially launched in the UK at Focus On Imaging later this month, though the camera is immediately available, priced at around £340 plus VAT. The UK version includes a 128Mb storage card.

The SL300R T* gets its name from the Carl Zeiss-Vario Tessar T* 5.8-17.4mm lens, equipped with a 3x optical zoom. The camera is the first Kyocera compact digital to come with a Tessar rather than Sonnar Zeiss lens. Clad in magnesium and leather and equipped with a special hood over the lens, the SL300R T* is noticeably different than Kyocera's Finecam SL300R model, which shares the same body design.

The SL300R T* uses Kyocera's RTUNE imaging engine, which the company says eliminates shutter speed lag time and slow "shot to shot" speed. The net result is a diminutive digital still camera that can capture up to 3.5 frames per second at its full resolution of 2048-x-1536, depending on the speed of the media it's writing to. It uses a rechargeable lithium ion battery.

Special capabilities of the camera include seven different "scene modes" including Standard, Sport Action, Night View and more. It also has five different flash modes and six white balance modes, along with five sharpness settings, two chroma settings and exposure compensation. The camera features AVI video capture and voice memo recording capabilities.

The SL300R T* sports a 1.5-inch LCD TFT display. It uses a USB interface to connect to PCs or Macs. It writes content to a SD flash media card. You can also print directly to an Epson PRINT Imaging Matching-compatible printer. The lens will take a filter adaptor, to allow the fitting of 28mm filters and other lens accessories.