introduced a new line
of digital cameras that are smaller, lighter, and less expensive than
previous models, as well as a 'personal' photo printer for use with digital
The new cameras will offer the same image quality as Olympus' previous line
of cameras but will include enhancements that should make them more versatile
and broaden their appeal beyond traditional PC users.
Olympus says that pictures taken by the new cameras can be viewed on a
television with the use of a built-in video-out connector. This connector
also allows images to be taped on a VCR. Users without computers can store pictures on the VCR tape instead of a computer's hard drive.
Additionally, the new cameras can store images on a removable 2MB or 4MB
SmartMedia storage card. The storage cards enable users to take panoramic
shots by "stitching" together as many as 20 shots for one large photo. Picture
storage is limited only by the number of removable cards one has, although
higher quality images take up more storage space.
Because digital cameras can transfer photographs directly to a PC for
viewing and retouching with the use of special software, the market for the
devices is expected to expand rapidly. Marketing research companies such as
International Data Corporation forecast that the digital still camera
market will grow to 15 million units annually by 2000.
Camera vendors and PC manufacturers alike are betting that digital cameras
will be the tool of choice for shutterbugs.
Intel has announced guidelines for new
low-cost digital cameras in an attempt to make these devices as
commonplace as printers. Kodak, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, and other major companies
will support the guidelines. (See related story)
Olympus is offering two new digital cameras--the D-220L and D-320L. The
D-220L offers an image resolution as high as 640 by 480 pixels, the D-320L 1024 by 768 pixels. Pictures can be viewed on
a built-in 2-inch LCD screen. Also, both cameras offer selectable image
quality (lower resolution means more pictures can be stored), exposure
control, and four flash modes.
Olympus is bundling photo-editing software from Adobe and multimedia presentation software
with both new cameras.
In related news, Olympus introduced a color photo printer that it claims offers
print quality equivalent to a 2,400-dpi (dots-per-inch) ink-jet printer. Most ink-jet and laser printers can achieve only a 600-dpi
When connected to the new Olympus digital cameras, the printer can create
an index page showing up to 30 photos for archiving purposes and provide
reprints of photos still stored in the camera. The printer is expected to
be available in October for a price of $399.
The D-220L digital camera is expected to have a street price of $499, the D-320L $699. Both are expected to be available in September.