Casio Unveils Pro Digicam for Consumers

Casio Computer Co. Ltd. has raised the bar on consumer digital cameras with a new model that promises extremely high-resolution images.

The QV-3000EX is said to capture film-quality images at a top resolution of 2048-by-1536 pixels. It is being announced at the Consumer Electronics Show here this week, but is not scheduled to be available until March. Expected to sell for just under $999, the camera records images with a 3.34 million-pixel charge-coupled device, which stores colors and helps determine resolution.

Casio claims the QV-3000EX is the world's first consumer digital camera with a CCD (charge coupled device) capable of such high resolution. A quick check on the Web revealed that the camera's nearest competitor in the consumer market is the Kodak DC290, which sells for $999 and has a 2.1 million-pixel CCD. Through interpolation, a process that enhances image resolution via software, the Kodak DC290 can produce images with up to 2240-by-1500 pixels. As a rule, image quality of interpolated pictures can degrade when the picture is enlarged, however.

The QV-3000EX also features a 3X wide-aperture zoom lens, equivalent to a 33mm-100mm lens on a 35mm film camera. Its four flash modes include one for red-eye reduction. You can frame and play back pictures using a 1.8-inch color LCD. The camera also features an optical viewfinder, which lets you frame pictures without using the battery-sucking LCD.

Along with still images, you can also capture motion sequences up to 30 seconds long, at 320-by-240 pixel resolution. Image files are transferred to a PC using a Universal Serial Bus cable or a CompactFlash memory card (both included). To upload images using a memory card, however, you'll need an optional CompactFlash reader for your PC or an adapter that lets you insert a CompactFlash card into a floppy disk drive. In addition, the QV-3000EX supports a 340M byte IBM MicroDrive, which can store approximately 245 images at top resolution.

Other features include a night mode for improving the quality of images taken in low-level lighting; the capability to choose between shutter-speed and aperture priorities for more creative control; and a continuous mode for capturing images at intervals of approximately two seconds.

The included Photo Loader software automatically begins uploading images when the camera is connected to a PC using the USB cable or the CompactFlash card.

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