Canon's skyscraper cam
The PowerShot TX1's 10x zoom lens fits by folding straight back rather than sideways.
Cramming large lenses into ultracompact cameras isn't very new. Neither is a vertically oriented digital camera design--in fact, most of the earliest models looked more like camcorders than traditional film cameras. But most manufacturers have been folding their optical path sideways to fit 4x-plus lenses into tiny cameras. But when Canon went looking for more interiorl real estate to fit a 10x 39-to-390mm-equivalent lens into its new 7-megapixel ultracompact, it took a New York approach and went vertical.
The lens completely retracts back into the camera when powered off, and extends just about a half-inch past the camera body when shooting.
Other notable specs include Face Detection AF (people only), which looks like the hot feature to have for 2007, optical image stabilization, and a 1280x720 30fps movie mode. Though it lacks an optical viewfinder, it does have a flip-and-twist LCD--a mighty small 1.8-incher. The TX1 incorporates Canon's latest image processor, Digic III, which makes the higher-resolution movie mode and the camera's claimed 2.2fps continuous-shooting speed possible.
There are some potential disappointments. Battery life is rated at a mere 160 shots (CIPA standard), the lens really lacks a wide-angle view, and there's no red-eye reduction or removal, despite the proximity of the lens to the flash. The camera will also be a bit pricey, $500 when it ships next month.