January 4, 2007 1:14 PM PST
Fujifilm punches up compact camera line
In advance of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the Japanese company announced the $129, 6-megapixel Finepix A610 and the $179, 8-megapixel A800. The models will join the A400, A500 and A700 when they go on sale in March.
In addition, Fujifilm announced its $299, 8-megapixel Finepix F40fd, which includes face-detection technology designed to recognize as many as 10 faces and set exposure and focus appropriately. It's also due in March.
Digital cameras represent a hot market, as consumers switch from film cameras or buy replacement models to keep up with fast-changing digital technology. From 2003 to 2005, digital cameras were the top-selling holiday gadget. They were displaced in 2006 by digital TVs but still sold 4.5 million units, according to The NPD Group.
That doesn't mean it's an easy business, however: although digital camera shipments jumped 20 percent from the 2005 holiday season to the 2006, the average price of digital cameras declined 15 percent.
All the new models include a 2.5-inch display and a 3X zoom lens. The F40fd, though, has higher light sensitivity, reaching to ISO 2,000, compared with ISO 400 for the A610 and A800.
Fujifilm's earlier compact cameras used xD memory cards to store images, but the A800, A610 and F40fd all have a slot that accommodates SD cards as well, the company said. That means consumers with SD cards--which are used by digital camera heavyweights Canon and Nikon, among others--won't have to buy new memory cards if they switch to Fujifilm.
"The xD/SD compatible slot allows us to appeal to current owners of both xD and SD compatible cameras when they are considering an upgrade or replacement," said Fujifilm spokesman Tom Shay.
Those who have already bought xD cards don't need to worry about being left in the lurch, Shay indicated. "Fujifilm will continue to support this format," he said. With the dual slot, "it's the user's choice," he added.
Fujifilm also announced the $900 IS-1, which can register infrared as well as visible light. It's designed for use in scientific research and for law enforcement seeking to gather evidence, when seeing beyond the visible spectrum of light is useful. It's less expensive than the company's single-lens reflex (SLR) model, the FinePix S3 Pro UVIR, which can take photographs in ultraviolet light too.
The 9-mexapixel camera comes with a built-in 28mm to 300mm lens and is scheduled to be available in February. It's based on the Finepix S9100 camera, but uses different internal components, the company said.
Taking photos with ultraviolet or infrared light is complicated by the fact that such light behaves differently than visible light, complicating optical issues such as focusing. The IS-1, though, "can capture a visible-light image very close in quality to that of a standard digital camera," Fujifilm said.