Digital Imaging Crosses Over With CE
by Dan Havlik
latest digital cameras at
No where was the convergence of the Consumer Electronics and
Photo channels more in evidence than at last month’s Consumer
Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas where digital imaging products
competed for space with plasma TVs and satellite radio receivers
and—more often than not—held their own.
Viewed as something of a curiosity at Consumer Electronics Shows gone by, digital imaging products took center stage at many booths this year both figuratively and, in the case of Olympus’ sprawling site which came complete with a fashion runway and its very own fashion photographer—quite literally.
In fact, most of the major photo manufacturers who will be carving out big chunks of real estate on the Las Vegas Convention Center floor for PMA 2004 were also out in force at CES either at onsite booths or in hotel suites across the city. Better yet, almost all of those who came to play at CES this year brought along a goodie bag of new releases to play with, many of which will be making their “official” debuts at PMA this month.
What follows is a glimpse of some of the things we saw behind closed doors at CES this year that peaked our interest.
Fujifilm is upgrading its A-series of consumer digital cameras with the 3.2MP A330 and 4MP A340, both of which are slightly smaller and thinner than previous incarnations. The A330, which will sell for $199 and the A340, which will sell for $249, are PictBridge enabled and are compatible with A series cradles. Both will ship in March.
Bruce Tripidio, senior marketing manager for Consumer Digital Cameras at Fuji Photo Film U.S.A., explained that Fuji is seeking to position itself on the higher end.
“The goal of the company as a whole is to move upstream a bit,” Tripidio told PTN. “And we will be talking about the things that drive us crazy (in digital cameras) like battery life and like shutter lag.”
Tripidio hinted that Fuji would also be emphasizing some of the attributes of the image processors in its cameras that help remedy these issues. (Canon launched the opening salvo in the image processor battle last year with its DIGIC chip.)
Also being released by Fuji is the new 6MP Finepix S20 pro, designed for photographers who “want pro level features but not the girth of a pro camera.” While its body is similar to Fuji’s S7000, the S20 pro will offer additional features including an SR Super CCD, PC sync for external strobes, live video, FireWire and USB 2.0 compatibility, a 6x optical zoom, an ISO range of 160-800 and dual media slots for CompactFlash and xD.
In addition, Fujifilm has entered the inkjet paper market with its “Premium Plus” paper offered in 4”x6” and 8.5” x 11” sizes. Fuji also revealed that its Aladdin kiosks will be Bluetooth enabled to allow for wireless transmission of images from camera phones. Older Aladdins can also be retrofitted for Bluetooth, according to John Prendergast, vice president of Digital Imaging Strategies for Fujifilm.
Nikon gave us a sneak preview of their new “dynamic duo” of consumer digital cameras, the 4MP Coolpix 4200 and the 5MP Coolpix 5200. The 4200, which sells for $399, will ship in June and the 5200, which goes for $499, will ship in May. The two cameras are the first Nikon Coolpix models to use “ED glass” in their 3X optical lenses. The cameras will accept SD cards and include 11-14 MP of internal memory. They will also feature Nikon’s Best Shot selections, movies with sound, and a “small pic” function to shrink images down to email size. The cameras accept Duracell’s new Lithium CP1 disposable digital camera battery.
What might be most interesting about the new Coolpix models though is their remarkable in-camera red-eye fix feature. The correction automatically turns on in the “flash red-eye reduction mode” which also uses a “double flash” to further the reduction, said Bill Giordano, Nikon’s general manager of Consumer Digital Products and Compact Cameras.
“The picture is taken, there’s a momentary pause of 3 seconds or so as it analyzes the picture and then the correction is made,” Giordano explained. “It’s astonishing. It’s something everybody can relate to. We had it in the Nikon View software but we wanted to get it in camera.”
(Photo by Dan Havlik)
In a brief test by a PTN reporter in a Las Vegas hotel room, the
red-eye feature appeared to work as it was explained.