More Megapixels for Your Buck

SAN FRANCISCO (03/28/2000) - Maybe you were just getting used to the idea of 2-megapixel cameras-but digital camera makers aren't standing still. They're planning a slew of releases for the latest in high-resolution devices: cameras with resolutions topping 3 megapixels.

While the new models will cost approximately $1,000, they should drive down the prices of their 2-megapixel predecessors.

Nikon Corp. (800/526-4566, has announced the Coolpix 990, a 3.34-megapixel camera with a 3x optical zoom lens. The camera can generate nearly 10MB files with 2,048-by-1,536-pixel resolution.

Quick Trigger

The company claims the camera can shoot 2 frames per second (fps) in full resolution, nearly eliminating the lag time between shots in most digital cameras. In movie mode, the camera can shoot 40 seconds of 320-by-240-pixel resolution images at 15 fps. The Coolpix 990 accepts CompactFlash memory cards and has a USB interface. Its predecessor, the Coolpix 950, now sells for $900.

Nikon plans an April 2000 release for the new camera.

Olympus (800/622-6372, has also announced a 3.34-megapixel camera. The C-3030 Zoom features a 3x optical zoom and USB and serial connectivity.

The camera features a 15-fps QuickTime movie mode that records 191 seconds of video at 160-by-120-pixel resolution or 46 seconds at 320 by 240 pixels. The C-3030 comes with a 16MB SmartMedia card and should ship this May.

Toshiba (800/288-1354, planned to start shipping the PDR-M70 this March. The 3.37-megapixel CCD camera can produce 2,048-by-1,536-pixel images. The camera also has a 3x optical zoom and an AVI movie function capable of recording 30 seconds of 15-fps video at 320 by 240 pixels. It is USB-compatible and accepts SmartMedia cards.

Known mostly for its conventional film technologies, Fujifilm (800/800-3854, has recently announced the FinePix 4700 Zoom, a camera featuring the firm's Super CCD image sensor technology.

Diode Design

The CCD has about 2.4 million photosites-light-sensitive diodes that record image information. Fujifilm says that the camera can produce a 4.3-megapixel image file, thanks to its Super CCD technology. Instead of placing rectangular photosites on a rectangular grid, Fujifilm arranges hexagonal diodes in a honeycomb pattern. By maximizing space, the company can boost the size of the photosites.

Because the Super CCD photosites are closer together and larger, they can measure light more accurately than a conventional CCD with the same number of diodes.

The FinePix 4700 Zoom features an AVI video function, a 3x optical zoom, and three metering modes. The USB-compatible camera uses SmartMedia cards. It should ship in April 2000.

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