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Digital cameras closer to film quality

Digital imaging company Agfa begins shipping a high-powered consumer digital camera with a resolution that will closer approximate what can be done with film.

Digital imaging company Agfa today began shipping a high-powered consumer digital camera with a resolution that will closer approximate what can be done with film, while Canon announced its own fancy upcoming camera.

The two new cameras are part of a new breed of digital cameras offering upwards of 1.3 million pixels per image. At this time last year, one megapixel cameras were just being unveiled and came with price tags well over $1,000. Today, these cameras claim to create pictures that rival traditional photographs at prices in the three digit range.

Price reductions and consumer awareness, as a result, are igniting a boom in the business. According to Semico Research Report, the digital camera market is expected to grow from 6 million units in 1999 to 26 million units in 2002.

Agfa's new ePhoto CL50 digital camera, which was announced about a month ago, is now shipping nationally for $799. The ePhoto CL50 offers an optical resolution of 1.3 megapixel, but can achieve resolutions of up to 1.9 megapixels, according to Agfa, because of a proprietary image enhancement technology.

The professional-ready ePhoto CL50 joins Agfa's entry level ePhoto CL30, which sells for $399 and comes with a maximum resolution of 1.5 megapixels.

The CL50 includes a built-in microphone, burst mode, panorama options and Agfa's PhotoWise image editing software. In addition, the CL50 offers a SunCatcher feature which is designed to prevent the LCD from appearing faint in bright sunlight.

Canon today announced its PowerShot A50, a new 1.3 megapixel camera with a 2-inch LCD monitor to preview images. The camera supports the Digital Print Order Format, which allows users to specify printing instructions for developers like Kodak and FujiFilm.

"We expect that the PowerShot product line will set the standard for the digital still market, just as Canon cameras before it became the de facto standard for Advanced Photo System and other photographic technologies," said Ted Ando, vice president and general manager of Canon's Camera Division, in a statement.

The PowerShot A50 will be available in the second half of this year. Pricing has not yet been determined.