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Panasonic's digital camera can store 1,500 images

Panasonic's new camera mimics many of the easy-to-use features of Sony's Mavica and also holds significantly more pictures.

Hoping to bump Sony from its lofty position in the digital camera market, Panasonic today introduced a new camera that mimics many of the easy-to-use features of Sony's Mavica and also holds significantly more pictures.

The new PV-SD4090 PalmCam is the first camera from Panasonic to save images to a SuperDisk, a Panasonic technology that offers far more storage capacity than traditional floppy disks. A floppy disk holds about 1.44MB of data, or about 17 pictures, according to Panasonic. The SuperDisk holds 120MB, or up to 1,500 digital images per disk.

The PalmCam will be available next month for $899.

The SuperDisk system also promises to be fairly easy for photographers to use, a feature that seems directly aimed at taking some of the wind out of the Mavica. One of the biggest complaints among digital camera owners is the unwieldy process of connecting the camera to the PC, downloading the image, and saving it to the hard drive. Sony's Mavica cameras allow users to store images on cheap floppy disks that can be inserted directly into PCs.

Despite its relatively high-price of about $800, the Mavica has been the best seller among digital cameras every month for the last year, according to market research firm PC Data.

Sony's success comes despite the efforts of Microsoft, Intel, Iomega, and others to devise high-tech alternatives to the lowly floppy disk. The SuperDisk system replicates the same sort of "load and shoot" functionality, but with the expanded storage capacity.

The catch? To read a SuperDisk, you need a SuperDisk drive, which costs about $200. The Panasonic camera can also store images on floppies, though. SuperDisks cost about $10, while floppies can often be obtained for free through rebate offers.

"With this new camera's capabilities, we expect it to be a top-seller in this product category," said Mary Gelb, product manager at Panasonic.

The PalmCam records images of up to 1.3 million pixels and offers a 2.5-inch LCD display to view images on the camera. In addition, the camera uses a rechargeable lithium ion battery, 3x optical zoom and 2x digital zoom, and can record audio.

The camera comes with one 120MB SuperDisk, Adobe's PhotoDeluxe Home Edition image editing software, a video cable to view pictures on a television, and a USB cable.