Night vision and blur-free: New trends for digital cameras
By Arnd Petry Dec 25, 2005, 13:26 GMT
Frankfurt - The market for digital single lens reflex (SLR) and compact cameras continues to grow.
'Single lens reflex cameras are the hit this year. We expect to see 300,000 units sold for 2005,' says Constanze Clauss from the Photo Industry Association (PIV) in Frankfurt, Germany. If the numbers hold it, it will mean a doubling of 2004 sales. Yet the success shouldn't come as much of a surprise, since 2005 saw digital single lens reflex (D-SLR) cameras finally break through the 1,000 euro (1,180-dollar) price threshold.
'You can get an entry-level unit for around 600 euros right now,' says Yvan Boeres from the Internet portal 'digitalkamera.de'.
This includes the D50 and D70s from Nikon, the EOS 300D and EOS 350D from Canon, the *ist DL and *ist Ds from Pentax as well as the Dynax 5D from KonicaMinolta. Olympus is adding the E-500 to the list as well. The latter device costs 699 euros and offers 8 megapixels.
The more pixels, the higher the cost. Canon intends its EOS 5D to fill the gap between semi-professional D-SLRs and high end models. 12.8 megapixels in 35mm format cost 3,399 euros. Nikon's 1,699-euro D 200 is fresh in the stores and offers 10 megapixels.
The drive for ultra-compactness in digital cameras has begun to hit its limits. 'They can't get much smaller,' Boeres believes. But even the smallest of the devices can, however, be improved with image stabilizers. The 6-megapixel Exilim Card EX-S600 from Casio is a good example, even if it won't hit the stores until the start of 2006.
Another entrant scheduled to miss the Christmas rush is Sony's Cybershot DSC T9 (449 euros): the unit's optical image stabilization system can detect unsteadiness and compensate through countermovement of the lens unit. The system steps in when a fast shutter speed is used in poorly lit environments, and includes a noise reduction to fight against any extra visual static.
The ability to adapt aperture settings is a big selling point because a new generation of more powerful processors allows for better calculation of the dark areas of the image, notes PIV spokeswoman Clauss. The chips also provide better harmony between lenses that can handle a broad band of lighting situations and the current crop of powerful image sensors. An example of this is 'Real Photo Technology' from Fujifilm.
Another trend for compact and so-called bridge cameras are zoom lenses with enormous focal lengths. Many super-zoom models offers lenses with 12-times optical zoom. The Sony Cybershot DSC H1 promises optical image stabilization and a resolution of 5.1 megapixels (449 euros). KonicaMinolta's Dimage Z 6 (6 megapixel; 499 euros) features a moveable photo sensor, while Canon is showcasing the PowerShot S2 IS (5 megapixel, 549 euros).
So-called 'prosumer' cameras speak to another class of buyer. 'This camera class has regained momentum through the release of new models,' Boeres feels.
This includes the Lumix DMC-FZ30 from Panasonic. It offers 8 megapixels and a 12-time zoom lens from Leica (699 euros). Fujifilm's entry into this class is the FinePix S9500 with 'Real Photo Technology' and 10.7 times optical zoom (9 megapixel, 699 euros). The Cybershot DSC-R1 from Sony offers 10.3 megapixels and optics from Zeiss. It costs 949 euros.
'You shouldn't spend less than 300 or 400 euros,' says Yvan Boeres. There are 6 megapixel cameras available for less than 200 euros. Yet these are usually a generation or two behind the new name-brand devices, he notes.© 2005 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur