Sony unveils a fistful of digital cameras

Sony unveiled nine new digital still cameras ahead of the Photo Marketing Association's (PMA's) annual convention, which began on Sunday in Las Vegas.

Among the new cameras are seven Cybershot models, including the first in a new V-series range, and two Mavica models, which record images onto CDs. Almost all of the new models have a 3X optical zoom and the lowest resolution offered by any of the cameras is 3 megapixels, with four models offering 5-megapixel resolution.

The DSC-V1 is Sony's new top-of-the-range compact digital still camera. It has a 5-megapixel CCD (charge coupled device) image sensor and 4X optical zoom lens and is being targeted at serious amateur users. This is much the same market as high-end models recently released by competitors and also the market targeted by the company's F717 digital still camera, although the V1 is a good deal smaller than the F717.

Like the F717, the V1 supports additional features such as Sony's Nightshot and Nightframing functions that are designed for photography in darkness or very low light conditions. There is also a hot-shoe for an external flash unit. The V1 will be available in the U.S. market from May and in Europe from June. It will be priced around US$700.

The company's point-and-shoot P-series has been updated with four new basic models. The P32, P52 and P72 all feature 3.2-megapixel CCD image sensors and are updates on the P31, P51 and P71 models. A fourth new model, the P92, is a 5-megapixel version of the P72. There is no optical zoom on the P32 but the P52 features a 2X lens and both the P72 and P92 have a 3X lens.

The four new P-series cameras will be available in the U.S. in April and in Europe from May. Prices are US$230 for the P32, US$280 for the P52, US$330 for the P72 and US$500 for the P92.

Sony has also refreshed the compact-models in the P-series with the P8 and P10, which are successors to the P7 and P9 respectively. Both have a 3X optical zoom lens and the P8 has a 3.2 megapixel CCD while the P10 has a 5 megapixel CCD. The P8 and P10 will be available in the U.S. from for US$400 and US$600 respectively. In Europe the P8 will be available in April and the P10 in May.

All of the Cybershot cameras record images onto the recently launched Memory Stick Pro media cards. The new format will be available from April in capacities up to 1G bytes versus the 128M bytes maximum capacity offered on conventional Memory Stick cards or the 256M bytes offered by the Memory Stick Select variant.

There are also two new models in the Mavica range, which record images directly onto 8-centimeter CD-R or CD-RW discs. Both the MVC-CD350 and MVC-CD500 have 3X optical zoom although the resolution is different, at 3.2 megapixels on the CD350 and 5 megapixels on the CD500. The cameras are due to be launched in the U.S. in April and in Europe in May and will cost US$500 and US$700 respectively.

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Martyn Williams.

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