FujiFilm unveils first cameras for new XD Picture Card

Fuji Photo Film Co. Ltd. (FujiFilm) has wasted no time in announcing its first line-up of products compatible with the XD Picture Card, a new memory card format backed by the company that was unveiled earlier this week.

The company said Thursday it will begin selling new cameras, three models in Japan and five models in the U.S., supporting the memory cards from early September, FujiFilm said in a statement. FujiFilm also provided, for the first time, an indication of the price of XD Picture Cards saying it expects them to be broadly in line with those for SmartMedia cards.

At the low-end, the company announced the Finepix A202 (A200 in the U.S.). This is similar in both appearance and features to the A201 that is currently on sale in both markets but has a smaller body. With a 2 megapixel class CCD (charge coupled device) image pick-up, the camera can take images at up to 1,600 pixel by 1,200 pixel resolution. Other features include a 2.5x digital zoom, basic movie mode with no sound, the ability to be used as a PC camera and 1.5 inch LCD (liquid crystal display) monitor.

For the mid-market, the company announced the 3 megapixel class Finepix A303. Features include a 3x optical zoom, fastest shutter speed of 1/2000th of a second, 1.5 inch LCD monitor and the ability to take images up to 2,048 pixel by 1,536 pixel resolution.

At the high-end, FujiFilm unveiled the S304 (Finepix 3800 in the U.S.). Like the A303, this camera has a 3 megapixel class CCD image pickup but excels in several areas. There is a 6x optical zoom, a slightly larger 1.8 inch LCD monitor, 0.33 inch LCD viewfinder and the movie mode enables a 320 by 240 pixel resolution video with sound to be recorded for up to 1 minute.

All three cameras accept XD Picture Card and can be connected to a PC via USB (Universal Serial Bus).

Consumers in Japan and the U.S. can expect to see the new cameras in retail stores from early September. Fujifilm provided suggested retail prices for the U.S. market of US$180 for the A200; $250 for the Finepix 2650; $280 for the A203; $350 for the A303 and $450 for the Finepix 3800. The company said it expects the equivalent models to retail for roughly the same price in Japan. Launch plans for other countries and regions are under consideration by the company's local units, it said.

In making the announcement, the company became the first to unveil products using the memory card format. Until now, FujiFilm has offered support for SmartMedia in its cameras, but a growing need for larger capacity and smaller cards led the company to develop the new format in partnership with fellow Japanese camera maker Olympus Optical Co. Ltd. The two companies were among the five that designed the SmartMedia card, which became the first mass-market flash memory card when it appeared in 1995. FujiFilm will bundle a 16M-byte XD Picture Card with each of the new cameras and also plans to put on sale 16M-byte, 32M-byte, 64M-byte and 128M-byte cards at the same time.

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