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Digital camera sets new standard

Kodak and Canon release a professional-quality device capable of 2 million pixels per image and 3.5 frames per second.

The digital photography season officially kicked off today with the release a professional-level digital camera jointly developed by Kodak and Canon.

The DCS 520 establishes a new high end in digital

EOS-DCS 5 digital camera
EOS-DCS 5 digital camera
photography for both companies. Designed for professional photographers, military surveillance personnel, news organizations, among others, the DCS 520 encompasses approximately 30 new patents as well as technology that was developed for the Mars Pathfinder mission.

The camera achieves a resolution of approximately 2 million pixels per image and can manage 12 consecutive frames at 3.5 frames per second, according to Kodak. Other innovations include a new charge-coupled device that allows for low-light photography as well as an image verification function that allows photographers to check images on a built-in LCD screen. As with other digital cameras, the images captured are available immediately.

Unlike most digital cameras, the DCS 520 functions like a traditional single lens reflex (SLR) camera. That is, the photographer looks through the camera lens when studying the image to be photographed, rather than a viewfinder. Most digital cameras to date have employed a viewfinder. Photographers can also change the lenses on the camera, another difference.

So far, the companies can point to at least one successful field test. The Associated Press, which was consulted during the design phase of the new unit, used the DC 520 to shoot pictures at the Super Bowl in January.

The camera is not is cheap. The DC 520 will sell for $14,995 when it becomes commercially available in March. It will also be marketed under the Canon name as the EOS D2000.

Today's announcement will likely be first of many for the month. Kodak and a number of other manufacturers are expected to release digital cameras that achieve a resolution of 1 million pixels per image or more in the more reasonable $600 to $800 price range.

"Several different people have told me that there as many as a half dozen megapixels [cameras] in the $600 range coming out in the next month," said Carl Holec, senior imaging analyst at ARS, a market analysis firm. "These are good enough to give you photo-quality output on a 5-by-7 print. Two megapixels will be next. These will be good enough to for 8-by-10 quality prints," he said.

The watershed for these announcements is expected to be the Photographic Marketing Association Show in New Orleans, which starts February 11, Holec said. Announcements, and other digital camera news, may occur before the show.