Canon upgrades the Ixy Digital

Canon has given its popular Ixy digital still camera a face-lift, adding a couple of features it has previously put only on high-end cameras while also lowering the price.

New on the Ixy Digital 200a and 300a cameras is a sensor that detects the orientation of the camera and records whether the pictures taken were portraits or landscapes. This has benefits when viewing images using the built-in 1.5-inch (3.75-centimeter) liquid crystal display because portrait images are automatically rotated, sparing the user the need to rotate the camera. The system also communicates the same information to Canon's companion image printer for best printing orientation and placement of the image date.

Also new are five software-enabled photo effects: vivid, neutral, sepia, black and white and low sharpening.

As with the previous models, each camera features a CCD (charge coupled device) sensor with 2 million pixel effective area. The 200a has a 2x retractable optical zoom lens while the 300a has a 3x version.

While adding the new features, Canon has also managed to reduce the size of the 200a camera. Compared to the previous 200 model, the new camera is 1.1 millimeters thinner at 25.8 millimeters at its thinnest point, and 26.7 millimeters at its widest point. The 300a is slightly thicker at 31.5 millimeters, and the width and height of the cameras is roughly the same as a credit card.

The best news for consumers comes in the lower prices. The 200a has a price tag of ¥63,000 (US$477), down from ¥72,000, while the price of the 300a has been cut to ¥69,000 from ¥85,000. Canon attributes more efficient production and development methods to the price drop.

The 300a will go on sale in Japan on April 5 and is expected to hit shelves in North America at around the same time, and reach consumers in Europe, Asia and Oceania in late April. The 200a will debut in Japan on April 25 and in all world regions at around the same time, said Canon.

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