Sony debuts new 3-megapixel still camera

Sony has made the second update in as many months to its P-series range of compact digital still cameras with the announcement this week of a new 3-megapixel model that will go on sale in Japan in July and overseas later this year.

The DSC-P7 replaces the DSC-P5, which was one of two digital still cameras announced in August last year. The other model that was announced at that time, the DSC-P3, was superseded by the DSC-P2 that went on sale in Japan earlier this month.

Sony has made a few small changes to the specifications of the DSC-P7 but the camera is broadly similar to the previous model in terms of features, such as its 3.2 million pixel CCD (charge coupled device) optical pickup, 3-times optical zoom and 1.5 inch TFT (thin film transistor) LCD (liquid crystal display) monitor. A USB (Universal Serial Bus) socket is provided for data transfer to a computer and, like all Sony cameras, the device uses Memory Stick media cards.

The main differences come in the software features.

New is a multi-picture mode that allows 16 images of 320 by 240 pixel resolution to be taken in quick succession with a single push of the shutter key. The interval between pictures can be set to either 1/30th, 1/15th or 1/7.5th of a second and the mode is intended to be used in applications such as capturing a golf-swing.

The new model also features an improved movie taking mode, 'MPEG Movie HQX,' which enables users to record video at 320 by 240 pixel resolution up to the capacity of the memory card. For a 128M-byte Memory Stick, Sony says this means 5 minutes and 40 seconds of video. The previous model was limited to 15 second movie clips.

Several other new features include a scene selection mode, to tailor the camera's settings to such conditions as night-time shots or those of a scenic panorama, and a light level setting, which also better tailors the camera's settings for different light levels caused by the weather at the time, such as a bright sunny day or a dark and cloudy day.

The new camera is also slightly smaller and lighter than its predecessor. It measures 11.4 centimeters (cm) by 5.1 cm by 3.6 cm and weighs 206 grams when the battery, Memory Stick and wrist strap are all taken into account.

The DSC-P7 will go on sale in Japan on July 13 for around ¥60,000 (US$486). Sony said it expects to put the camera on sale in overseas markets sometime during the remainder of 2002 but has yet to decide on a more concrete plan.

With the launch of the DSC-P7, Sony has five cameras in the P-series range, two of which are 3-megapixel class. The other, the DSC-P71 is not as closely related to the new DSC-P7 as its name might suggest. The camera is around a centimeter wider, deeper and taller and weighs about 40 percent more but has a cheaper price tag of around ¥50,000.

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Martyn Williams

PC World
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