PMA Digicam Shootout 2006: Review

Dennis Faas's picture

I just got back from the 82nd annual Photo Marketing Association (PMA) trade show in Orlando, Florida, and I've got some new hot picks to share.

With Kodak claiming that the digital photography market is now in "phase two," the rush to buy one is over, now we have to figure out how to track all the digital photos. WiFi is being added to cameras to enable images to be shared and stored in real-time.

James Neal, GM for Digital Imaging at Sony boasts how Sony pioneered digital photography with the "first auto-focus body-integral SLR camera in 1985." Sony acquired Minolta's assets when they shut down In January and they want to reach Minolta's niche as a "good value for the price conscious photo enthusiast who shies away from brands like Nikon." Hum, have they seen how low the prices are on Nikon cameras? $550 for the D-50.

Below are some of my favorites to be introduced in 2006. But don't run to the store just yet -- cause most won't be available till sometime this summer!:

CANON is introducing three 6-megapixel Elphs in the spring. The SD700 IS ($499.99) is Canon's first Elph to feature a 4x optical zoom with optical image stabilization, a 173K pixel 2.5-inch LCD and ISO 800 sensitivity. The SD630 ($399.99) features a 3-inch wide viewing angle type LCD with 15 levels of brightness control. A new touch control dial lets users quickly scroll through stored images.

FUJIFILM ups the "sensitivity sweepstakes" with the 6.3-megapixel FinePix F30, capable of shooting full-resolution images at ISO 3,200! No flash needed! Capture what you see, but what about noise?

The F30 achieves its sensitivity, the company says, thanks to the second generation of the company's "Real Photo Technology," which refers to the company's Super CCD sensor.

But in case you aren't into documentary photography, you have a choice, the F30 also comes equipped with a flash system dubbed "i-Flash." The camera features a "natural light and with flash" mode that takes two photos at once, with and without the flash, giving the user the option to choose the better one!? Candid and posed? Smile. ($399)

KODAK offers a 6-megapixel V603. ($299) The compact camera features VGA/30 fps movie recording, in-camera photo enhancement (including the company's "Perfect Touch" technology) and in-camera panorama stitching. The camera provides electronic image stabilization for both stills and videos.

NIKON will expand its WiFi-enabled offering, introducing cameras with 802.11b/g connectivity. Blur-reducing technology from its DSLRs comes to Nikon's compact cameras along with a new in-camera slide show creator, called Pictmotion. Cameras with Pictmotion come with five preloaded music files and users can load their own music into the camera via included software (Windows only).

Nikon is also debuting in 2006 two 6-megapixel/3x optical zoom models in its S-series. The focus is in sharing photos after you take them that will share automatic image rotation. (is it really too hard to twist the camera when looking at a vertical?) LCDs with a 170 degree field of view, and a rotary multi-selector for scrolling through stored images at 10 fps. A new "portrait" button gives users access to Nikon's in-camera auto fix technology for "red eye fix, D-Lighting and Face-priority AF." Need to take the time to set the camera up before taking the pix on the S6, which will feature integrated WiFi and a 3-inch LCD for $449.

The Nikon P-series adds two 8-megapixel models, the P3 ($499.95 with WiFi) and P4 ($399.95). The new models feature built-in vibration reduction, available in two shooting modes: normal and active. Additional shared features include a 3.5x optical zoom, 2.5-inch LCD, 16 scene modes, continuous shooting at 1.8 fps to five frames, VGA/30 fps movie recording and 23MB of internal memory.

PENTAX is bringing out a new T-series model, the T10, will feature a 3-inch touch-panel LCD. An included stylus lets users draw on photos and add stamps and pictures frames to photos from preloaded options. The 6-megapixel T10 sports a 3x optical zoom lens. ($349.95)

The 6-megapixel W10 ($299.95) claims JIIS certified Class 8 waterproofing, which enables the camera to be submerged in up to three feet of water for 30 minutes, and Class 5 dust-proof protection. ($299.95)

SAMSUNG is offering in 2006 at 6-megapixel Digimax L6 featuring a 3x optical/5x digital zoom SHD lens, 2.4-inch color LCD display, and VGA/30 fps MPEG-4 movie recording with built-in stabilization. It offers 11 scene modes and several special effects options, built-in image editing, auto macro, 32MB of built-in memory and voice recording. ($299.99) No cell phone, Samsung introduced a 6-megapixel camera phone in Korea in 2005.

SONY will discontinue its P-series in favor of the new W-series featured in December's Infopacket. The 8-megapixel W100 ($350) offers a 3x optical zoom, 2.5-inch LCD screen, 64MB of internal memory, VGA/30 fps MPEG video capture and an "HD image" recording option for a 1,920 by 1,080 resolution photo.

The 7-megapixel W70 ($300) offers the same feature set as the W100 but with 58MB of internal memory.

Find out about more cameras and accessories in Part II (due tomorrow).

Contact photo coach Jim Domke at jim(at)!

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