Who cares about megapixels anymore? Stroll the aisles at any photo show these days and you may find that people seem to be caring less and less. Instead, they're talking about features-what can the camera's software do? How much optical zoom does it have? What's the start-up time? How small is it? What kind of lens does it have? What media formats does it take? Can it make full screen video? How long does the battery last? And so on. Gone are the days when pixels were measured to the thousandth degree and terms like VGA, SVGA and XGA were considered cutting edge.
Photo industry watchers have been predicting a leveling off of megapixel counts in consumer level digital cameras to some kind of "industry standard" for awhile now. So, although the numbers keep climbing toward the 20 million pixel market on the pro side, on the consumer end, three megapixels is starting to seem "just about right." But when you no longer have megapixels to brag about, what else can you say about a digital camera? A lot apparently, if you read any of the press material put out during a new camera release these days.
To help sort the hits from the hype, we checked out some of the hottest new features out there right now and discovered that there are a lot of ways to talk up the latest digital cameras to your customers, most of which have nothing to do with megapixels.
Canon-Delivering DiG!C One of the biggest selling points Canon is trying to push with their latest line of digital cameras is something most consumers might not think twice about in a digicam-the processor. But with a new $42 million print and TV ad campaign that touts the new image processor, known as DiG!C (Digital Imaging Integrated Circuit), Canon is hoping to get them to think about it more often. Developed specifically for use in Canon's latest digital cameras, the proprietary DiG!C combines the jobs of image processing and camera function control into one chip.
According to Canon, because DiG!C was designed specifically for digital cameras, it's capable of handling JPEG compression/expansion, memory card control, LCD/video control and processing, gain control (control of CCD signal amplification), auto exposure, auto focus, auto white balance control and most other functions of the camera.
What this means for users is a faster and more powerful auto focus, faster image processing, longer battery life and the ability to record three-minute movie clips with sound. Some of the latest Canon cameras to feature DiG!C include the PowerShot G3, the PowerShot S4, PowerShot G5, PowerShot S230 Digital ELPH and the Canon EOS 10D Digital SLR.
In discussing the new ad campaign for DiG!C with PTN, Canon spokesperson Michael Zorich said "We want to show consumers that digital photography is more than just megapixels."
Nikon-No Red Eyes Two of Nikon's latest Coolpix cameras, the 2100 and 3100 share the designation of smallest Coolpix bodies to date. The cameras are also Nikon's first models with Scene Assist modes to help produce better photographs. Scene Assist adjusts exposure and focus based upon composition of the image. Users simply line up the subjects with the in-camera guides for correctly focused and exposed photographs.
Both technologies were designed to make it easier for consumers to take better digital images. They solve problems that everyone can relate to, said Jerry Grossman, Nikon's VP of Marketing, Consumer Digital Products and Compact Cameras. "We can't forget there are many people who are buying digital cameras for the first time," Grossman said. He explained that the mass market user as opposed to the early adopter is less technically savvy and needs a camera that is intuitive when it comes to making great photos. "It's not a megapixel race, its about the features," he concluded.
Kodak-A Better Display Sometimes it's what's on back of the camera that's as important as what's inside. At least that's what the folks at Kodak want your customers to consider with Kodak's latest digital camera innovation, the OLED, or organic light-emitting diode display. The full color, full motion, flat panel OLED is designed to display bright, sharp images for better on-camera viewing and sharing from most angles. The 2.2" screen, which displays crystal clear images, is up to 107% larger than most displays which average about 1.5".
The OLED made its debut at PMA 2003, featured on Kodak's EasyShare LS633, zoom digital. The LS633's OLED display features a wide, 165 degree viewing angle, that makes it easy to see even in bright light.
Another feature Kodak has been touting with the LS633 is its professional-quality Schneider-Kreuznach Variogon 3x optical lens, along with its continuous 3.3x advanced digital zoom that can create detailed pictures up to 11"x14".
"The combination of the stunning display and the latest imaging technology enables users to get a bright, clear view of the image at virtually any angle," said Pierre Schaeffer, chief marketing officer and vice president of Kodak's Digital & Applied Imaging division.
Sony-Their Own Formats As long as digital cameras have been around, Sony has created models with unique designs, oftentimes utilizing proprietary media formats such as Memory Stick or 3" CDs.