Latest Digital Cameras Hard to Resist

If you haven’t yet gone digital, pricing and features of the latest offerings may make this the year the right time to do it.

February 1, 2004

Been putting off the purchase of a new digital camera for a while? You’ve probably served yourself and your wallet well.

This year’s models—announced at the Consumer Electronics Show last month and expected at the photo industry’s upcoming Photo Market Association gathering this month—suggest that 2004 will be a buyer’s market for digital camera seekers. Not only will there be many more digital imaging solutions to choose from, but prices will be significantly less than in years past. Here’s a rundown on some of the latest easy-to-use models, all attractively priced.

  • Concord Camera Corp. is pushing the pricing envelope—and perhaps setting the tone for future pricing. The company has just started shipping its new Eye-Q 4360z, a high-resolution camera with a 4-megapixel image sensor and 3X optical/6X digital zoom, at a suggested retail price under $200. (Note: Digital cameras rarely come with a true wide-angle setting, which is about 28mm or less. Standard is the 3X lens, which is roughly equivalent to 35mm to 105mm lens on a 35mm camera and wide enough to capture a whole house for most needs.) Features include a 1.5-inch LCD screen, 16MB of internal memory, and video recording capability.
  • For about $20 less, you can buy theEYE-Q 3341z, featuring a 3.1-megapixel sensor 3X optical/4X digital zoom, 16MB internal memory, and video recording capability. The Eye-Q Go Wireless, a Bluetooth-compatible camera designed to simplify transmission of images from the camera to compatible printers, PDAs, or PCs, starts at under $150. It has a 2-megapixel sensor and 4X digital zoom.
  • Those who prefer to stick with a more familiar brand will still find great value but at a slightly higher price. Nikon has added two new compact CoolPix models, with an emphasis on ease of use. The CoolPix 2200, which sells for less than $200, has a 2-megapixel sensor, while the 3200 offers a higher-resolution, 3.2-megapixel sensor. Nikon claims the 2200 will capture enough image data for crisp, clear prints up to 8-by-10 inches; the 3200 provides crisp prints up to 11-by-14 inches. Features common to both models include a 3X optical zoom, 14.5MB of internal memory, 15 scene modes for simplified operation, and a built-in best shot selector. This feature automatically selects and records the clearest image in a series of shots taken of the same subject. Click away, and the camera keeps only the best shot of the house.
  • Several vendors plan to offer 5-megapixel cameras in the $400 range. If you intend to print oversized images of home interiors and exteriors, take a look at these higher-resolution cameras. Examples: The Casio’s QV-R51 features a 3X optical zoom, 2-inch LCD screen, and 10MB of internal memory. The Samsung Digimax V50 offers a swiveling 2-inch LCD, 3X optical zoom, and the capability to capture images on either Memory Stick Duo or Secure Digital media.
  • Kodak’s lineup now includes the EASYSHARE LS753, a new 5-megapixel camera, and EASYSHARE LS743, a 4-megapixel model. Both models sport a 2.8X optical zoom in a protective aluminum body. They’re compatible with Kodak’s EASYSHARE docking station for printing and uploading of images to the Internet.
  • Electronics maker Panasonic has upgraded its line of Lumix digital cameras. Its new DCM-FX5 combines a 4.2-megapixel sensor with 3X Leica lens and a feature that helps prevent blurred shots if the camera is moved while the picture is being taken. The camera should be in stores in March at a suggested retail price under $450.
  • As the year progresses, expect to see more imaging options in camera cell phones, too. Although better image sensors and zooms are coming, these phones are still considered best for capturing small images for use on the Internet or sharing by e-mail. Case in point: Motorola’s new V600, which will be available through AT&T Wireless for under $300. The phone has a 4X zoom, and can record video clips and still images. Other new camera phones in the pipeline include the Audiovox CDM-8910, a 1-megapixel camera phone with built-in flash, and the new T630 from Sony Ericsson. Pricing and availability of these two models to be announced by cellular service providers.
  • Both Sony and Kodak have announced plans for new services to simplify the process of saving, storing, and retrieving images directly through mobile hardware. For $2.99 a month, the Kodak Mobile service gives anyone with a camera, phone, or PDA that supports the Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) a solution for uploading and downloading images right from the handset. You could, for example, retrieve images of other listings with the camera phone and let clients decide which property they’d like to see next. Sony’s ImageStation picture and video service also lets users access and share an unlimited number of images from Web-enabled phones, PDAs, and mobile PCs. Pricing and availability haven’t yet been set.

With so many affordable solutions in digital imaging, it’s hard to make a case against upgrading or buying your digital camera in 2004. Whether you’re in the market for a first digital camera or looking to step up from the unit that’s already paid for itself in savings on film and developing, you’ll be well served with one of this year’s models.

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