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(Nikkei BP Group)

(No.1 High-Tech News Site in Japanese)

  • High-Performance Digital Cameras Debut in Rapid Succession
  • October 20, 1998 (TOKYO) -- In the half year since megapixel digital cameras from Japanese makers hit the market, they gained enough momentum so that new models already are debuting in rapid succession.
    From August through September 1998, six makers announced 14 models in total, all of which are slated for shipment by the end of 1998.

    Today, the megapixel is a run-of-the-mill specification, and the market is focused on what features will be added to it. The makers are promoting a low-price policy, and are planning to put products enriched with a variety of features on the market.

    They include products capable of handling voice and motion pictures for consumers, and value-added products with an optical zoom lens, continual shooting, lens interchange and other features for professionals and amateurs with high skills.

    High-End Products Enriched with Features

    For high-end digital cameras priced at more than 100,000 yen (US$870), models with an optical zoom lens have come to be accepted as normal by the market. Some models come with continual shooting, connection with an external stroboscope, lens interchange and similar features.

    Models of this class include the CAMEDIA C-1400XL to supersede the CAMEDIA C-1400L shipped by Olympus Optical Co., Ltd. in October 1997, the DSC-D700 from Sony Corp. with an optical 5x zoom lens, the FinePix 600Z from Fuji Photo Film Co., Ltd. with a 3x zoom lens and the Dimage EX from Minolta Co., Ltd. with an interchangeable lens section.

    Among them, the Olympus C-1400XL, Minolta Dimage EX and Sony DSC-D700 have a continual shooting feature.

    All these cameras are equipped with in-built storage to save image data taken during continual shooting, and the data is written into a memory card when continual shooting finishes.

    The Olympus C-1400XL is available for continual shooting of up to 5 frames at 3.3 frames/sec., the Sony DSC-D700 of up to 16 frames at 2 frames/sec. and the Minolta Dimage EX of up to 7 frames at 3.5 frames/sec.

    Models connectable with an external stroboscope are the C-1400XL of Olympus, PowerShot Pro 70 of Canon Inc., FinePix 600Z of Fuji Photo Film and DSC-D700 of Sony. The stroboscope built into a camera is useful when the amount of light is not sufficient for photographing.

    Models capable of interchanging the lens are the Minolta Dimage EX and Canon EOS D6000. Of the two, the Minolta Dimage EX is considered a unique model.

    It is designed to enable the entire lens section, including a charge coupled device (CCD), to be interchanged. A 3x zoom lens and a wide-angle lens with a single focal point are provided. Also, users can use an optional cable (1.5m) to connect between the lens section and camera body.

    The Canon EOS D6000 is a super high-end product using a lens set of the Canon EOS single-lens reflex camera. It sells for a high price of 3.6 million yen (US$31,500), but the 6-million-pixel CCD of the camera enables pictures of a 3,040 x 2,008-pixel resolution to be taken.

    Mid-Range Models Get More Functions

    Products priced at less than 100,000 yen have been launched by Olympus, Casio Computer Co., Ltd., Sanyo Electric Co., Ltd. and Fuji Photo Film.

    In the market of this class, models with a 850,000-pixel CCD, or a bit below the mega-pixel range, are playing the leading role. Even with the 850,000 pixels, the 1,024 x 768 pixels and XGA resolution enable pictures to be taken. The lowest-priced product in the XGA class is the CLIP-IT80 of Fuji Photo Film. It costs 49,800 yen (US$435), or almost the same price as one-generation old products of the VGA class (640 x 480 pixels).

    In a price range higher by one level, the products are equipped with further advanced multifunction features. As a result, small-scale motion pictures and voice can be taken and recorded at about 15 frames/sec.

    For example, the Sanyo DSC-X100 records motion pictures of a 320 x 240-pixel resolution for a maximum of 15 seconds at 15 frames /sec. The Sony MVC-FD81, which uses a floppy disk for the recording media, records voices and motion pictures for 60 seconds in the MPEG1 format.

    The product list is on the web site of the Nikkei CG (in Japanese only).

    (Nikkei Computer Graphics)

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    Nikkei BP BizTech, Inc.
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    Updated: Mon Oct 19 18:19:07 1998 PDT