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New camera round-up: Six of the best

Nikon, Kodak, Olympus, Panasonic and Ricoh were among those splurging out new digital camera announcements this week. We picked out six of the best

It's been a big week for digital camera announcements. There's been a veritable raft of new cameras announced, but are they any cop? We pick out six we're looking forward to.

Nikon launched no less than eight new Coolpix compact cameras. Now that's productivity. Doesn't it have a home to go to? But we're more interested in the two new dSLRs Nikon's hardworking engineers have sweated out.

Kicking things off is the Nikon D3 SLR. It's a pro model that packs 12.1 megapixels into an FX-format (36x24mm) image sensor. It shoots an eye-watering 9 frames per second, has a completely new 51-point autofocus system, and boasts a 76mm (3-inch) LCD screen with live view. Click through for more.

The Nikon D300 SLR is pitched slightly lower than its sibling, but Nikon hasn't given the D3 too close a shave judging by the D300's 12.3 megapixel resolution, 6fps shooting rate, self-cleaning sensor unit and 76mm LCD display. It could be yours from November 2007 for around £1,300.

Update: a Nikon D300 review is now on the site

Kodak weighs in with the EasyShare Z812 IS, the flagship of its new superzoom Z-series. That's a 12x optical zoom, that is, with optical image stabilisation and face detection.

There's the usual 8 megapixels and 64mm (2.5-inch) LCD screen, but what's unusual is Kodak's claims to hi-def goodness. The Z812 IS captures photos in 16:9 wide format and movies at 720p resolution at 30fps, rather than the standard VGA (640x480-pixel) resolution. You can then view HD images and movies on HDTVs, perhaps with the optional Kodak EasyShare HDTV Dock.

Not to be outdone in the zoom stakes, Olympus presents the SP-560. It's the latest in the recent trend towards whopping 18x optical zooms, with the added bonus of being satisfyingly wide at the other end (equivalent to 27-486mm). Optical image stabilisation is included, naturally, and there's 8 megapixels and a 64mm (2.5-inch) LCD onboard.

The SP-560 also boasts shadow adjustment technology for those high-contrast scenes where deep shadows can throw off the exposure. Face detection is in there, and on the slightly pointless front there's a mode to detect when people are smiling. It takes AA batteries (thumbs-up) and xD memory cards (thumbs down).

We like the sound of the Ricoh R7 compact camera. It comes in silver, black and orange shades, and does everything a compact should these days. There's a pleasingly large 69mm (2.7-inch) LCD, face recognition and optical image stabilisation. The body is a respectable 21mm at its thinnest point, and contains a thumping great 7.1x optical wide zoom lens (28–200 mm in 35mm camera format). On top of that, there's a truly impressive 10mm macro function.

As if that wasn't enough, you get not one, not two, but three different types of automatic bracketing functions, which present you with a choice of the same picture taken at different settings of either exposure, white balance or colour. Fortunately there's not long to wait because the R7 will be available in September for a weighty, but quite possibly worth it, £230.

Finally, there's the Panasonic DMC-L10 SLR. It comes with a supersonic wave-filter system to bring the noise to any dust clogging up the 10.1-megapixel Live MOS sensor. We also like the look of the 64mm free-angle LCD screen that offers 270-degree rotation and live view.

The L10 drops in October. No word yet on UK pricing, but we'll keep you posted.

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