Options Grow to Capture, Print Digital Photos

The photo industry’s recent trade show provides a peek into the growing options for digital cameras and printers rolling out this year.

March 1, 2005

If you’ve waited until now to buy that new digital camera, you should be happy with the selection in stores over the next few months. At the Photo Marketing Association International’s PMA 2005, the photo/imaging industry’s annual trade show, manufacturers unveiled an abundance of models, as well as camera phones and specialized color printers.

Latest Digital Cameras

This year, digital camera manufacturers hope to entice first- and second-time buyers by emphasizing convenience and ease of use. Some of the improvements in the latest models include:

  • Lower price. Because most real estate professionals will need the creative options of a digital SLR (a camera body that allows you to attach accessory lenses) and wide-angle lens, you’ll find everything you need in a digital camera for a very affordable price. The minimum standard in image resolution, even for entry-level cameras, is now a 3-megapixel (MP) image sensor. Both Eastman Kodak Co. and Concord Camera Corp. unveiled basic digital camera models for under $100. Kodak’s C300, which will be available in May, is designed for point-and-shoot convenience with a fixed-focus lens and 3MP image sensor. Concord Camera has several models priced below $100, including its new Concord C-40 Slim, the first 5MP camera to break that price point.
  • Larger display screens. Cameras are smaller while LCDs are getting larger—as large as 2.7 inches, up from an average range of 1.5 inches to 2 inches. LCDs allow you to frame a picture on the camera’s monitor without looking through the viewfinder.
  • More power. There’s been significant improvement in power consumption. Many models can capture hundreds of images before batteries need to be recharged or replaced.
  • Easier printing. With the common PictBridge feature found in many cameras today, you can print directly from the camera when it’s connected to a compatible printer.

If you’re looking for optical zoom, ultra-compact design, easy printing, and better power consumption, the selection of digital camera models will seem overwhelming. Hewlett-Packard’s entry-level zoom model is the $200 PhotoSmart M417, a 5MP camera with 3X optical zoom. For just $100 more, you can buy the 6MP PhotoSmart M717.

Only a few new models come equipped with the wide-angle lenses required for real estate, but adapters are available for many for about $50 to $100.

Other companies that have new offerings coming out this year include:

  • Canon is offering its full-featured Digital Rebel XT SLR bundled with an 18mm to 55mm wide-angle lens for $999.
  • Olympus includes wide-angle photography as a standard feature on its C-7070 Wide Zoom camera. This model, with a suggested retail price of $699, is equipped with a 7MP sensor and a 27mm to 110mm 3X optical zoom lens.
  • Sony offers an optional $100 wide-angle adapter for several new cameras, including the new DSC-W5 ($350), a 5MP model, and the W7 ($450) with a 7MP sensor. Both feature a 3X optical zoom lens and 2.5-inch LCD monitor.
  • Casio’s 5MP EX-Z57 boasts a 2.7-inch LCD. This $399 camera has a 3X optical zoom and can capture up to 400 photos before its battery needs recharging.
  • Fujifilm’s F10 can last even longer, capturing up to 500 pictures before its battery is drained. Features of this $500 camera include a 6MP sensor, 3X optical zoom, and 2.5-inch LCD monitor.

Latest Camera Phones

If you’ve been contemplating an investment in a camera phone, your options are getting better also. Using a camera phone allows you to capture images of a property to quickly send to clients as an initial look-see or to provide you with a visual reference so that you can remember key points to highlight in marketing materials for a listing. Options for camera phones coming out this year include:

  • Nokia’s 6682 smartphone. The unit supports wireless voice and data communications, including e-mail and short messaging. As a camera, it features a 1.3MP sensor with digital zoom, and captures both stills and video. The phone has a mini-SD Flash media card slot for storing images and also supports PictBridge for direct printing. Pricing and carriers of this camera phone haven’t yet been announced.
  • Sanyo Wireless’ MM-5600 multimedia phone with service from Sprint. This unit is slated to debut in mid-March. As a camera, it has a 1.3MP image sensor with digital zoom, built-in Flash media card slot, and PictBridge support. It also has entertainment value, with built-in stereo audio playback and a media player for displaying video at 15 frames per second. Suggested retail price on this model is $429.99 through Sprint, but final cost after rebates is $279.99.

New Digital Photo Printers

Several new printing solutions also were unveiled at PMA. They include:

  • Fujifilm’s Digital Mobile Printer MP-70, a portable printer specifically designed for use with camera phones.
  • Pentax Imaging Co.’s PocketJet3 and PocketJet3Plus portables. Both are just 10.4 inches wide, weigh 1 pound, and support printing via a USB or IrDA wireless connection. The $349 PocketJet 3 prints at 200 dpi, while the $450 3Plus prints at 300 dpi.
  • Canon’s PIXMA MP760 Photo All-in-One for the home-office user. As a photo printer, the $299 unit can print directly from cameras and Flash media cards. It also doubles as a scanner and copier and will produce photo prints from slides and negatives.
  • Epson’s RX620 ($299), which offers a multifunction photo printer/scanner/copier.
  • HP’s Photosmart 8750 professional printer for those who need a dedicated photo printer to print photos in quantity. The $499 unit is a nine-color printer with built-in color management control functions for consistent quality when printing in black and white or color.

These are just the highlights of what’s new in imaging. With the larger selection and the more affordable prices, there are fewer excuses for not capturing perfect images of your listings.

Editor’s Note: Hewlett-Packard Co. is a REALTOR VIP® Alliance Program partner, which means NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® members receive special discounts on the purchase of HP products. To learn more about how you can save money on your next purchase, see the Hewlett-Packard information at REALTOR.org.

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