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Canon, Nikon revamp digital camera lines

Two major manufacturers refresh their lineups with more resolution, less vibration and networking via Wi-Fi.

Canon and Nikon, two major manufacturers of digital cameras, updated large swaths of their product lines Tuesday, adding higher resolution sensors, vibration reduction and wireless networking.

The companies announced the cameras shortly before the Photo Marketing Association International's PMA 2006 convention, which begins Sunday in Orlando, Fla.

Digital cameras, a fast-growing market, have all but supplanted film models. In January, Nikon announced it was discontinuing production of all but two high-end film cameras.

The highest-end of Canon's new models is the EOS 30D digital SLR camera, an 8.2-megapixel model that can take up to 30 JPEG images in its 5-frames-per-second burst mode, a notch more than the 23 images the current 20D can shoot. It also adds a 3-frame-per-second burst mode that can take as many as 37 pictures. The EOS 30D starts up in a quick 0.15 seconds, has more precise focusing and sports a larger image-viewing screen than its predecessor, Canon said.

In the "ultrazoom" category, Canon announced that the $500 PowerShot S3 IS will be available in May. It retains the image-stabilized 12x zoom of the current PowerShot S2 IS but upgrades the 5-megapixel image sensor to a 6-megapixel model and boosts its sensitivity when shooting photos in low-light conditions.

Image stabilization compensates for some shaking or vibration, a useful feature when shooting in dim light or with a zoom lens set in telephoto configurations. Nikon announced two models, the Coolpix P3 and P4, that incorporate the company's vibration reduction feature into 8.1-megapixel cameras. The $450 P3 includes 802.11 Wi-Fi wireless networking abilities, but the $400 P4 does not; both cameras are due to arrive in March, Nikon said.

Nikon is updating its Coolpix S line--the S stands for "style"--with the S5 and S6. Both are 6-megapixel models with 3X zoom lenses, a feature to fix red-eye problems commonly experienced when using a compact camera's flash. They're scheduled to go on sale in March. The S6 includes 802.11 wireless networking and costs $450; the S5 doesn't and costs $350.

The entry-level Coolpix L line has three new models: the $250 6-megapixel L2, available in February; the $200 5.1-megapixel L3, available in February; and the $150 4-megapixel L4, available in March.

Canon also updated its compact Digital Elph line with 6-megapixel image sensors and better low-light sensitivity. One new model is the $500 SD700, which is due in April and incorporates image stabilization and the first 4X zoom to reach the Elph line. Others are the $400 SD630, available in March, and the $350 SD600, available in April.

Updates to Canon's A series, so named for its use of AA batteries, offer longer zoom ranges and higher resolution images. New models are the $350 6-megapixel A700 with a 6X zoom lens and available in April; the $300 6-megapixel A540 and $230 5-megapixel A530, both with a 4X zoom and available in March; and the $180 4-megapixel A430.