Leading HP's assault on the digital still camera market is its Photosmart 812. HP says the camera is designed to suit the sleek pocket-sized design of today's consumer market. Nevertheless, the 812 with 4-megapixel resolution and 3x optical, 7x digital zoom places it at the higher end of the performance market. The 812 comes with HP's Instant Share technology built in, which enables users to send images to any preset locations when connected to their PC or USB-enabled HP Photosmart or DeskJet printer. An optional Photosmart 8881 digital camera dock also enables images to be sent to predetermined e-mail addresses or plugged into a standard TV for "slide show" viewing. The 812 can capture audio and video clips of up to 60 seconds and comes with a 16MB Secure Digital (SD) memory card for storing images.
The 812 runs on two AA batteries, which it will chew through with considerable haste, is priced at $1,299 (RRP) and is distributed by Ingram Micro (1300 653 333), Tech Pacific (02 9381 6000), Synnex (1300 880 038) and Digiland (1300 652 005).
Not Canon's flagship high-end digital camera, but a great performer for the manufacturer in the first-time digital consumer market, is the Canon PowerShot Digital IXUS v3. It combines a brush-finish stainless-steel body with a lightweight (180g) design. The camera features a sound 3-megapixel resolution with 2x optical zoom and automatic focusing and evaluative exposure control. All of Canon's PowerShot cameras come bundled with ZoomBrowser, ImageBrowser, PhotoStitch and RemoteCapture software, which gives the user a number of options in regards to browsing, archiving and retouching images.
Supporting most operating systems from Windows 98 (Standard Edition) and Mac OS 8.6 and above, the Digital IXUS v3 carries a retail price tag of around $999. For local distributors, resellers should call Canon on 1800 021 167.
The 2-megapixel upgrade version of an earlier model, Sanyo's VPC-MZ3 is due to be released for Christmas in mid-November. The camera features 3x optical, 5x digital zoom and doubles as a webcam. The camera runs on a lithium-ion type battery and boasts auto and manual focus capabilities. The 1.5-inch TFT LCD optical view finder features 110 pixels, while with video record mode (QuickTime Motion JPEG format) the camera captures 30 images (640x480 pixels) in one second. The camera weighs in at a lightweight 205g without the battery.
To be priced at around $849, resellers should call Sanyo on 02 8825 2822 for local distributors.
Kyocera has launched two digital cameras in the past two months, which the manufacturer claims are the smallest and lightest cameras in their respective classes. With a weight of around 175g for both the Finecam S3x and Finecam S4, the cameras are said to be designed for performance and ease of mobility. The S3x is a 3-megapixel camera with variable shutter speed range, sturdy stainless-steel case and, according to some of the digital camera reviews it received on launch, has very little by way of competition in the ultra-compact 3-megapixel class. The Finecam S4 is a gruntier 4.1-megapixel camera with a 7.3mm-21.9mm optical zoom. The camera received mixed reviews from customers, according to Digital Photography Review, with some claiming to encounter problems with using additional memory sticks besides the 16MB that comes standard, while others raved about the camera's ability to be used by amateur and professional photographers alike.
The Finecam S3x is priced at $998.80 (RRP) while the Finecam S4 carries an RRP of $1,299.10. Both are distributed by Tech Pacific (02 9381 6000) and Alloys International (03 9415 8888).
Building on its first "style" camera (the LS420, released in May), Kodak's flagship model of its 2002 EasyShare portfolio is the LS443. The 4-megapixel resolution camera features a 3x optical zoom through Kodak's partnership with German lens manufacturer Schneider-Kreuznach. This is combined with Kodak's proprietary 3.3x digital zoom and colour "science" technology, which the manufacturer states is the result of decades of research and development. The LS443 is equipped with a 1.8-inch indoor/outdoor LCD screen with MultiScene modes that lets the user choose from different setups such as close-up, landscape, sport, night and movie. The camera has the functionality to film continuous video with audio capture and built-in speakers. The LS443 comes with Kodak EasyShare software to edit, organise, e-mail and print images as well as a special edition dock. The new docking and recharge device for the camera's lithium-ion rechargeable battery is faster than Kodak's previous models and enables one-touch picture transfer. With 16MB of internal memory as standard, the LS443 also has an expansion slot for MultiMedia Card and Secure Digital memory cards.
The LS443 Zoom Digital Camera has a retail price of around $1,199. For local distributors, call Kodak on 1800 147 701.
In July, Sony launched its ultra-compact 1.3-megapixel Cyber-shot U (DSCU10) simultaneously in Japan and Australia, giving Australians the rare opportunity to see the technology before the US or Europe. Now the company is set to release a 2-megapixel version just in time for Christmas. But you'll have to look closely because this diminutive (85mm long) camera tips the scales at a brief 87g (without accessories). But that's not to say it lacks features. Besides a higher resolution, the DSCU20 also features an auto power-on function as the lens cover is slid open to capture life's unexpected moments while the auto focus and auto white balance make it a simple "point and click" camera. The DSCU20 has three shooting environments - "Soft Snap" for people and object images, "Twilight Illumination Snap" for use at night, and "Vivid Nature" for outdoors and landscapes. The 8MB memory stick allows up to 15 seconds of MPEG recording while USB cable provides easy hookup to computers and printers.
The DSCU20 comes in a choice of three colours and is distributed by Tech Pacific (02 9381 6000), J Mills Distribution (08 9344 1660), BBF (1800 803 802), IT Wholesale (02 9648 1800) and MultiMedia Technology (03 9837 2500). The estimated retail price will be $699 when it launches at the end of this month.