February 22, 2006 5:35 PM PST
Canon, Nikon revamp digital camera lines
The companies announced the cameras shortly before the Photo Marketing Association International's PMA 2006 convention, which begins Sunday in Orlando, Fla.
Digital cameras, a fast-growing market, have all but supplanted film models. In January, Nikon announced it was discontinuing production of all but two high-end film cameras.
The highest-end of Canon's new models is the EOS 30D digital SLR camera, an 8.2-megapixel model that can take up to 30 JPEG images in its 5-frames-per-second burst mode, a notch more than the 23 images the current 20D can shoot. It also adds a 3-frame-per-second burst mode that can take as many as 37 pictures. The EOS 30D starts up in a quick 0.15 seconds, has more precise focusing and sports a larger image-viewing screen than its predecessor, Canon said.
In the "ultrazoom" category, Canon announced that the $500 PowerShot S3 IS will be available in May. It retains the image-stabilized 12x zoom of the current PowerShot S2 IS but upgrades the 5-megapixel image sensor to a 6-megapixel model and boosts its sensitivity when shooting photos in low-light conditions.
Image stabilization compensates for some shaking or vibration, a useful feature when shooting in dim light or with a zoom lens set in telephoto configurations. Nikon announced two models, the Coolpix P3 and P4, that incorporate the company's vibration reduction feature into 8.1-megapixel cameras. The $450 P3 includes 802.11 Wi-Fi wireless networking abilities, but the $400 P4 does not; both cameras are due to arrive in March, Nikon said.
Nikon is updating its Coolpix S line--the S stands for "style"--with the S5 and S6. Both are 6-megapixel models with 3X zoom lenses, a feature to fix red-eye problems commonly experienced when using a compact camera's flash. They're scheduled to go on sale in March. The S6 includes 802.11 wireless networking and costs $450; the S5 doesn't and costs $350.
The entry-level Coolpix L line has three new models: the $250 6-megapixel L2, available in February; the $200 5.1-megapixel L3, available in February; and the $150 4-megapixel L4, available in March.
Canon also updated its compact Digital Elph line with 6-megapixel image sensors and better low-light sensitivity. One new model is the $500 SD700, which is due in April and incorporates image stabilization and the first 4X zoom to reach the Elph line. Others are the $400 SD630, available in March, and the $350 SD600, available in April.
Updates to Canon's A series, so named for its use of AA batteries, offer longer zoom ranges and higher resolution images. New models are the $350 6-megapixel A700 with a 6X zoom lens and available in April; the $300 6-megapixel A540 and $230 5-megapixel A530, both with a 4X zoom and available in March; and the $180 4-megapixel A430.
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