Kyocera Finecam 3300 Digital Still Camera

Hardly a week goes by without one company debuting a digital still camera that breaks some type of record. This time it's the turn of Kyocera Corp., which has a new model out in its Finecam range that it claims is the smallest and lightest full-feature 3 megapixel class camera yet.

Most current digital cameras have image pickups that can produce a picture with resolution somewhere in the neighborhood of 1- or 2 million pixels -- so called 1 or 2 megapixel class cameras (a standard SVGA image of 800 by 600 dots has 0.48 million pixels). Kyocera's new camera, with a 3 megapixel class image pickup, is a generation above many of today's digital still cameras.

Like a PC screen or a high-definition TV picture, higher resolution leads to a better overall image and also provides better quality when zooming in on an area of a picture in question.

So just how light is light, and just how small is small? Kyocera says the Finecam 3300 weighs 200 grams and measures 93.5 mm by 66 mm by 37.5mm. At that size, it's larger than the Canon Digital Ixy, but that's a 2 megapixel class camera, so consumers looking for a small camera will have to make a trade-off between size and resolution and decide works for them. [See "Canon Digital IXY Camera," June 8.]A special feature on the new Finecam is the video shooting mode. If you can settle for QVGA resolution, which is half VGA resolution at 320 by 240 pixels, the camera can take 15 images per second for a maximum of 15 seconds -- for a total of 225 successive images. They are stored as an AVI format video file, which can be downloaded and viewed on a desktop computer.

Other features include a 2x optical zoom lens and 2x digital zoom lens and color 1.5-inch LCD (liquid crystal display) screen on which images can be viewed, both similar to the Canon.

Images are stored on a type 1 or type 2 CompactFlash (CF) media cards. The camera can also accommodate both 340M-byte and 1G-byte versions of IBM Corp.'s Microdrive high capacity storage system to allow for a day of almost unlimited shooting.

The Microdrive will come in handy when using the camera's highest-quality image mode, which records images directly in TIFF format, rather than JPEG. The JPEG format compresses images and can cause some detail to be lost. The TIFF-RGB mode results in high-quality, 2,048 by 1,536 pixel images that are a whopping 9.5M bytes in size.

Other shooting modes are super-fine and fine, both of which take images in the same 2,048 by 1,536 pixel resolution but with different levels of compression, and the normal mode, which takes images at 1,024 by 768 pixel resolution.

Other features, which are largely standard on digital still cameras today, include: four strobe modes (automatic flash, red-eye reduced flash, forced flash, flash prohibited), a distant view mode, color mode (color, sepia, monochrome) and white balance selection (auto, daylight, tungsten lamp, cloudy, fluorescent lamp, preset).

Product Name: Finecam 3300

Manufacturer: Kyocera Corp.

Price: 79,800 yen (US$735)

Availability: Sept. 15 in Japan

Web: http://www.kyocera.co.jp/news/2000/0007/0014-e.asp (Press release)(Editors: Images to accompany this story are available now on the IDG News Service Image Bank through Lotus Notes or http://www.idgns.com/. For comments on this new feature, please send e-mail to martyn_williams@idg.com.)

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