Sony unveils thin 5M-pixel digital camera

Sony didn't so much enter the market for small and thin digital still cameras as break down the door on Wednesday when it unveiled a camera that is about the size of a pack of playing cards.

Sony claims the camera to be the smallest 5-megapixel model currently available.

The camera will help Sony to compete against the growing number of small and thin cameras, such as Casio Computer's Exilim, Konica Minolta Camera's Dimage Xi/Xt and Pentax's Optio S.

Until Wednesday, the best competition that Sony has been able to offer against these cameras has been its boxy Cybershot U series, a new version of which was also announced Wednesday. Not only is the Cybershot U camera a little chunkier than some of the competition but it also has a relatively small LCD (liquid crystal display) monitor.

The DSC-T1 is tall and thin and sports a 2.5-inch LCD monitor on its rear, which beats the Exilim's 2-inch display, and at 5 megapixels it also outshines the competition in terms of image resolution.

The Carl Zeiss lens is capable of 3X optical zoom but it doesn't protrude from the camera as a zoom lens normally would. That's because the lens is mounted sideways and is already extended inside the body of the camera with a prism used to reflect light so that the lens can see ahead. Such a layout is gaining favor among designers of small cameras because it helps keep the cameras thin and cuts down on both start-up time and noise.

The maximum resolution available from the camera is 2,592 pixels by 1,944 pixels and there are four additional resolution settings. It can also record MPEG1 format video and audio at 640 pixel by 480 pixel (VGA) resolution at 30 frames per second. Other features include a USB (Universal Serial Bus) 2.0 interface and it uses MemoryStick Duo and MemoryStick Pro Duo memory cards.

The camera measures 91 millimeters by 60 millimeters by 21 millimeters and weighs 180 grams with a memory card and battery inserted.

The DSC-T1 will be available in Japan from Nov. 21 and will cost around ¥60,000 (US$550). Sony plans to sell the camera overseas, but further details on availability are to be announced..

The company also announced Wednesday a new member of its Cybershot U series, the DSC-U40. The camera looks similar to the DSC-U10 and has the same sliding door covering the lens on the front of the body, although is a little more stylish than the earlier model. It has a 2-megapixel CCD image sensor, a 1-inch LCD monitor and uses either MemoryStick Duo or MemoryStick Pro Duo memory cards for storage.

Other features of the camera are fairly standard, such as a number of different resolution modes, the ability to shoot short video clips and a USB port for connection to a computer. It measures 83 millimeters by 39 millimeters by 26 millimeters and weighs 114 grams.

The DSC-U40 will cost around US$200. Further availability details are to be announced.

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Martyn Williams

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