Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Digital Camera LineUps (every single digital camera from the major manufacturers is here)

We are now starting a rather ambitious post. In this very post you will find listed (almost) every digital camera model that is currently available for sale as new. If you are not familiar with every current digital camera, grab a cup of coffee or two, and start reading :)


Canon DSLRs
Canon has a very solid DSLR line-up that starts right above the $500 price range, and goes all the way up to the most expensive 35mm DSLR. It also includes the least expensive 35mm full frame DSLR. Let's meet them!

The 1Ds Mark III takes over from the 1Ds Mark II as the new Canon flagship DSLR. Intended for a very specific audience with a very specific budget this camera is often treated as if it was a medium format camera by DSLR enthusiasts.

The 1D Mark III, with the technical issues and all, is the one that has enthusiasts more interested in, perhaps because of its blazing speed and other advanced features.

The Canon 5D is the lowest priced 35mm full frame DSLR at the moment and with its price getting closer and closer to $2000 it poses an interesting alternative to buyers interested in a DSLR in that price range.

Canon's new workhorse among mid-range DSLRs is the EOS 40D which is priced below the newest entries from Sony and Nikon, and offers a power duo combined with the Canon 30D which continues to run in parallel. Some people may point out the megapixels issue, namely that the 40D and 30D are at 10mp and 8mp respectively while their competitors are at 12mp and 10mp. In my opinion, unless someone has very specific requirements that need the extra 2mps, I don't think it's really an issue.

The line-up intended for a wide variety of SLR and DSLR buyers is the Digital Rebel line, also known as KISS in Japan. Not sure if they had the heavy metal group KISS in mind when they came up with that name, or Hersey's Kisses. The newest model is the 400D aka Digital Rebel XTi, with a 10mp sensor and the usual 1.6x EF-S mount found in this and the 30D/40D line-up. Its predecessor continues to be available as well, the Digital Rebel 350D XT at 8mp. This camera is flirting with the $500 price range.

Oh and one more thing, those into astrophotography may want to consider the specialty release the Canon 20Da, which is very related to the Canon 20D.


Canon fixed lens digital cameras
Canon has the most solid fixed lens digital camera line-up among all digital camera manufacturers, with just two holes.

The first hole is at the top where their most advanced non-DSLR is the Canon G9, which is sadly their only current non-dSLR camera that supports RAW. While this camera does not compare well to the original Canon G-series, when evaluated on its own merits and not the G-series name, this GINO turns out to be quite a versatile performer. Check the recent dpreview review of it. Also running in parallel to it, is its predecessor, the first GINO, the Canon G7. What is a GINO you ask? A G-series camera In Name Only.

On the long zoom front, Canon is "only" at 12X, while the competition has jumped to 18X (Olympus, Fuji, Panasonic) and 15X (Sony). This is not a surprise, Canon is not the first to jump on a new trend (or fad). Their next long zoom at PMA 2008 will probably have to jump the zoom ratio, but at the moment they were forced to crash land the S5 IS to make it competitive with the other super zooms. Current price is a shockingly delicious $340 :) Also running in parallel is the predecessor, the S3 IS.

In the emerging long-zoom sub-segment, the "fun zooms" Canon tried their hand last year with the Canon TX1 which was - by Canon standards - a failure. This year's attempt is much more promising, the SX100 IS, along with the Sony H3 are the two cameras challenging the Panasonic TZ3 for the most fun fun-zoom model. The SX100 IS does have full PSAM which is a plus.

The Canon A-Series is probably the longest running and most recognizable name among compact digital cameras. And for good reason, they offer a very good compromise between price and features. The A-series has been growing as well, on both ends of the spectrum. On one end we have some models hugging the $100 priceline, while on the other end we have a "G9-Lite" in the A650-IS.

Last year, the A710 IS was the spotlight A-series Powershot because of its 6x lens and image stabilization, despite it's 1/2.5" sensor. The 1/1.8' models of the time, the A640 and A630 were merely 4x zooms without stabilization. But the tables were turned this year, with the new A650 IS jumping well ahead of the line with a 12mp 1/1.7" sensor, 6x optical zoom lens with image stabilization. We all this a "G9 Lite" but then again the A650IS has twice the battery life of the G9. Whose the lite one now? However the A650-IS has had its technical issues which were acknowledged by Canon. Meanwhile the A710's replacement, the A720 IS has been given a new role - to be a fast seller at the big electronics chain stores. With a very tempting starting price of $250, and 6x IS, this camera is as good of a camera to get as any at that price range.

The next tier below the 6x IS models is the bread and butter A-series trio that usually gets refreshed every PMA. This trio is led by the A570 IS, along with the A560 and A550. But Canon did not stop there, as they decided to fight off the price cutters with an even lower tier A-series, the A4xx-series. Despite millions of camera phones out there, the battle for the $100 digital cameras is getting more fierce. At one point the thought was that manufacturers would move on up in order to fend off the cameraphones, but I guess the battle for market share forced them all to remain and drop even further down. The two models in this segment are the A460 and A450.

They call them Canon Elph, Ixus, Ixy, SD-series (any other names I forgot?) Canon chose to globally confuse us by giving them similar but different model names depending on geography. Their plans has worked as I am utterly confused on which name refers to which model in which region, so I will be using the North America model numbers. Dpreview and DCViews typically list the names for all regions if you want to cross-reference them.

The darling of the Elphs is the SD 1000, a hard to resist little matchbox that sells faster than hot cakes. Every Canon generation has one designated mass market seller, and this is the one. Its partner is the SD 750 which features a 3" LCD for those who love bigger LCDs.

Answering Panasonic's attempt at ultracompacts starting at 28mm wide, Canon introduced the 1/2.5"-based 28mm Ixus models. The absolute latest one is the SD 870 IS, which follows the SD 800 IS. Canon is notoriously successful by pairing newer with older models and having them run in parallel. That way they grab the buyers who want the latest models, and they also grab the buyers who want a more affordable and thoroughly tested model.

But wait there's more! The SD 850 IS offers IS and a 4x lens, but it is not a wide angle. It has a 1/2.5" sensor and it is a step above the SD1000 with the IS and bigger zoom lens. Surprisingly still hanging around after two years (*gasp*) is the SD 430. Why is this puppy still hanging around? It is a Wireless model, and Canon presumably didn't want to not have a wireless model in their line-up. The fact that Nikon has a few, made it mandatory :)

Last in the Elphs is group that uses larger sensors, 1/1.8" and 1/1.7". While grown up, this line-up has not reached to take up the place once occupied by the likes o f the S60, S70, and S80. Although there are some similarities. The latest one is the SD 950 IS which features a 12mp sensor. Also available is the SD 900, without IS. Although they feature a 4x lens, it does not start at 28mm. Their 7mp predecessor, and that 7mp 1/1.8" sensor was a critically acclaimed one, is the SD 750 which is still available and may be an interesting choice for buyers who are worried about the latest wave of noisy megapixel-loaded sensors.

And this concludes Canon, which as you can see has the most complete line-up among all the manufacturers. Well okay, you can't see that yet since I only published Canon, but you will see it once they are all written up :)


Nikon DSLRs
While Nikon's DSLR line-up may not have as big of a flagship as Canon, or an "affordable" full frame, it has something that Canon does not have: BUZZ! The Nikon D3 took the world by storm shortly after its leak-troduction as semi official high ISO sample pictures began to surface. The camera showed a clear improvement and advantage in the holy grail of modern era pixel peeping. While we still haven't seen a full production review or the camera itself, it's not hard to predict that this camera, the D3, has changed the rules of the game, and has raised the ante for Canon, putting pressure on them to deliver something impressive with their 5D Mark II or perhaps they mythical 3D.

D3's sidekick the Nikon D300 managed to thrive in the shadow of its more famous friend. Given the price of $1800 compared to the Canon 40D and Sony A700, the D300 needs to show results as good as its buzz. The price wedges it between the Canon 40D and 5D, while the speculation of a Canon 7D at around 42000 may cause some interesting and never ending comparisons and FX vs DX debates. But regardless the D300 is one of the most anticipated cameras.

Hey, scream the Nikon D2Xs, Nikon D2X, and Nikon D200, just because there's new cameras it doesn't mean we stopped working. And that is absolutely true. While all three are showing signs of their age, they are still very capable tools, especially if they fit the task. the same can be said, perhaps to a lesser extend about the Nikon D2Hs.

As we get to the sub-$1000 price level we find the Nikon D80, one of the cameras responsible for the Nikon renaissance. Just one year old this camera is wedged between the Digital Rebels, the 30D and the 40D, although a closer face-off candidate for the Canon 30D. Definitely a camera worth considering.

After that we have Nikon's mass market duo, the 6mp D40 and the 10mp D40x. While not compatible with a number of older lenses, these duo targets the entry-level and people on specific budgets. The D40 with the 18-55 kit lens is already under $500. Yes a sub-$500 Nikon DSLR with a DX kit lens. The D40x costs a bit more, but this unlikely duo seems to be giving Canon a run for its money - at least in Japan. As you may recall, the D40x was a November surprise, most people thought that Nikon was heading into the holiday shopping season with the D40 and D80, and along came the D40x which provided an interesting alternative.

As you can see from Nikon's line-up there is a staircase effect up to the D300, but then there's a big gap between it and the D3. The gap in some ways can be filled by the previous generation of DSLRs, such as the and D2X(s), D2H(s). Fuji's S5 is another sub-$2000 mid-range alternative to the D300 and D200 for the Mikon mount.


Nikon fixed lens digital cameras
In contrast to their DSLRs, this segment is limited in both scope and selection. Nikon seems to be happy to use their brand name to move entry-level and mid-range compact digital cameras, but they have abstained from the prosumers. Once upon a time Nikon had three current models, the 8400, 8700 and 8800. Not so now. None of their non-dSLRs support RAW which is a shame because the P5100 and P5000 would have been good candidates for RAW support.

The P5000 and P5100 are an interesting proposition from Nikon. While they do have their flaws, they also have their pluses, and the P5000 got "discovered" later in its lifecycle, which Nikon hopes that it translates into good sales for the P5100. It's a camera that people like to use, and perhaps because of that, it could have been a lot more, for example if it had RAW support. If nothing else, this is a relatively unique camera, which is a plus these days :)

Following on the heels of the P5000, Nikon introduced the Nikon P50 which bears some resemblance and has some similar traits but offers the users a lens that starts at 28mm, a welcome arrival for wide angle fans of compact cameras. Again, this could have been a lot more, but we can only use what's available. The complaints are at times a sign that a camera has found a niche, but not taken it by storm.

Nikon was probably the first among the majors to come up with a fun zoom, but their fun zooms did not get any traction. Nikon did not pay as much attention to them. Infact they haven't even announced a new fun-zoom this year. Their most recent is the one year old Nikon S10 VR which offers VR, and a "fun" swiveling body, but it has not gained a lot of traction. Certainly no where near as much as the Panasonic TZ3, and it looks like the new Sony H3 and Canon SX100 IS have already jumped ahead of it. A year older than the S10 is the Nikon S4, without VR. Both use a 10x optical zoom, which has become the zoom range of choice for "fun zooms".

The rest of the Nikon lineup consists of their two lines of ultra-compacts. One of them is closer to the boxy Canon Elph series and another one is closer to the folded optics style of the Sony T-series. Adding to the variety is Nikon's continued support of wireless cameras (the ones whose model name ends with "c"), which apparently forced Canon to keep the two year old SD430 Wireless as a current model just so it has one to compete with them.

Just as the Canon Elphs grew to 1/1.8" sensors, so did the Coolpix S-series with the Nikon S700, featuring a 12mp 1/1.7" sensor. A miserable battery life of 150 CIPA and a pedestrian 3x zoom range make us wonder where this camera was cut/pasted from. Its partner in crime is the 8mp 1/2.5" Nikon S510, which follows up on the Nikon S500. Meanwhile on the T-series wannabe-clones front, Nikon introduced the S51 and S51c, which follow up on the S50 and S50c.

Next the L-Series which used to stand for "El Cheapo" is starting to grow up. The new Nikon L15 featuring optical stabilization and a more refined style with multiple body colors and a 2.8" LCD to boot. Nikon is apparently going through the motions of trying to offer something to compete with the Canon A-series on some level - at least in the big electronics chain stores. Its sidekick, the L14 is famous for claiming 1000 CIPA shots with Energizer AA lithium batteries. Their previous El Cheapos are also available such as the L12 and L11.

And in typical Nikon fashion, some of the older models continue to linger around, the Nikon P3 and Nikon P4. Nikon usually does keep their models around longer than most of the other majors, perhaps hoping that their DSLR brand recognition will move them eventually.


Sony Minolta DSLRs
While Sony and Minolta fans will have to wait until 2008 for their new flagship A900 DSLRs, they do have something nice to cheer about right now, the Sony A700, or as some call it the replacement of what would have been the Minolta 7D Mark II. Note the "7" in its name and the "9" in the A900 name. Minolta fans are very familiar with those two numbers. The A700 is certainly a worthy contender in the busy mid-range price-range which includes the 40D, E3, D300 and the existing DSLRs. Its companion is the Sony A100 which started out as a mid-range DSLR at 10 megapixels and it continues to slide in price and in comparison with the newer models. Then again this DSLR is not even 1.5 years old yet, so it's not like we are talking about a dinosaur. If there will be a new Sony entry-level DSLR, it will probably be next year. This year they are heading into the holiday shopping period with the A700 and A100 duo.


Sony fixed lens digital cameras
Once upon a time Sony led the way in high-end fixed lens cameras. Who can forget the R1, the F727 F828, F707 and the V3. And their Minolta counterpart had its share with the A2, A200, A1, 7i, 7hi, etc. Nowadays they have nothing in this segment. Perhaps for financial reasons they have tried to streamline and cut down their line-up and this seems to have paid dividends because their Q2 2007 financial results showed nice profits from digital cameras. So while once Sony tried to go head to head with Canon on every segment, now Sony is content to focus (no pun intended) on just some segments of the market.

Sadly none of their cameras here have RAW support. Their most "advanced" line-up in the H-series which includes the Sony H9 and Sony H7 which feature 15x stabilized zoom lenses but they haven't been received with wild cheers to put it mildly. The previous year they introduced the Sony H5 and Sony H2. Some Sony fans will tell you that the H2 may be your best bet among that lot. Not wanting to be left behind in the fun zoom sweepstakes, Sony introduced the Sony H3, which along with the Canon SX100 IS are mounting an offensive on what is considered to be the top fun zoom at the moment, the Panasonic Noisix Lumix TZ-3. This while not perfect was a good move by Sony in my opinion.

And while we are hoping for a dual Memory Stick / SD drive to be introduced, like Fuji did for xD (don't hold your breath, infact don't hold anything), the T-series continues to take a more prominent role in Sony's line-up. Just a few days ago we had the introduction of the Sony T2, a typical T-series camera but with a secret inside: it has 4gb of internal memory in addition to the MS Pro Duo memory card slot. This is indeed an interesting move, and a bit surpring we haven't seen much of this before (although there was the Samsung L74w that had a boatload of travel data on it).

But back to the T-series, the more "advanced" versions feature a 5x folded optics lens (good luck with that?) such as the Sony T200 and the predecessor Sony T100. The T200 featured a big 3.5" touchscreen display. It's counter part, the Sony T70 is a more "traditional" 3x optical zoom with a 3" LCD. Prior to the T70, we had the Sony T20 and Sony T50 and Sony T10, all of which offer image stabilization which Sony calls Super Steady Shot.

Meanwhile the W-series has morphed. It started with the W1 as an alternative to the Canon A-series, but over time it morphed into a Canon Elph competitor by dropping the AA batteries in favor of the slimmer LiIons. Currently the Sony W200 leads the way with 12 megapixels. The W200 was one of the first 12mp cameras to be announced. Next to it stands the Sony W90, Sony W80 and Sony W55. The W55, available in many colors is Sony's answer to the Canon Elph cuties at the affordable compact range. The model names and the megapixels are out of sync in this case so don't try to predict based on that :)

Then we have the really affordable Sonys, with the Sony S700 and Sony S650 available at unheard of low prices for Sony. As we said before, the battle for market share is fierce and companies like Canon and Sony realized that they can't just concede uncontested market share to Kodak, Samsung and HP who offer sub-$100 cameras.

We close Sony's compressed line-up with two (abandonded?) experiments, the Sony N2 (touch screen 10mp 1/1.8" camera) and the Sony G1 (wireless).


Fuji DSLRs
The Fuji S5 Pro is Fuji's specialty DSLR that has just found itself some new company coming from all over the place, such as the Nikon D300, Olympus E3, Sony A700 and Canon 40D. Things are getting more competitive in that segment and Fuji is adapting by lowering the price. Take a look at this special Fuji designed bundle where you get the camera and a free Grip and Pantone Huey by mail. S5's predecessor is the Fuji S3 but that was a long time ago in digital camera time. Fuji also issued a special UV IR edition of the S3, which I call the Uvir (sounds very LOTR-ish).


Fuji fixed lens digital cameras
With Fuji deterministically out of the sub-$1500 DSLR market, there was no need to "protect" DSLR and lens revenue from advanced non-DSLRs, and Fuji introduced its share of prosumers, the latest one being the Fuji S9100 (aka S9600) and it's infrared sensitive cousin the Fuji IS1. One year earlier we had the Fuji S9000 (aka S9500). These were using 9mp 1/1.6" sensors. Fuji jumped on to a 12mp sensor, but we have not had a big S-series refresher just yet.

Another camera we have not seen an update to is the Fuji S6000fd (aka S6500fd) which features the 6mp "magic" SuperCCD sensor. Unfortunately this camera was made before Fuji made the common sense move to dual SD/xD memory card drives. But it does offer RAW, so it is sort of like a mid-range zoom for Fuji's line-up.

Both of the above may have been victims of the new 18x superzoom, the Fuji S8000fd which also uses sensor shift stabilization, something that was way overdue and missing from Fuji's long zooms. The S8000fd throws a monkey wrench into their line-up though, as it confuses the raison d^etre of an S9100 and S6000 follow-up. Price-wise the S8000fd has settled in the S6000fd price range which is interesting, but not illogical. Wth the flexibility of a dual SD/xD memory card drive and the introduction of sensor shift stabilization, the S8000fd is not at a disadvantage. But it is not using a Fuji sensor but rather a standard Bayer CCD.

The third tier of Fuji long zooms are more of the affordable variety instead of the "fun zoom" variety. Still without any form of stabilization (digital doesn't count), the Fuji S700 (aka S5700), along with the new S5800 (not available in all markets) are providing users with an lower price alternative to the higher priced zooms. While some people may not touch a 10x long zoom without image stabilization, these cameras have their own set of trade-offs, including lower price that can make them a reasonable trade off when purchasing. They became sort of a continuation of the old Fuji 6x zooms, such as the 2800 and S3100.

Fuji's last attempt at a non-long-zoom camera above the mid-range was the Fuji E900 about two years ago. The camera is still available for around $230 and it has its merits, such a RAW and a 9mp 1/1.6" sensor. This was another camera that got "discovered" after its price fell to a more affordable level. Many have wondered why Fuji hadn't put the 6mp "magic" SuperCCD sensor in this and released it as the E600.

And speaking of that magic sensor, it appears that Fuji has given up on it, with the critically acclaimed Fuji F31fd and Fuji F30 geting harder and harder to find. Although the F31fd appears to be available at Amazon UK. The combination of sensor and image processing engine gave the F31fd an undisputed noise advantage over the competition. While not everyone agrees how big is the advantage (1 stop, 2 stop, 3 stops?), very few people dispute it has one. But Fuji fell into the trap of megapixel madness and completely ignored this sensor as they introduced their 2007 models. Memo to Fuji: revitalize this sensor! If Snoy is producing a 6mp 60fps sensor, so can you. If not, let Toshiba make it and sell it to anyone willing to buy it! Panasonic are you listening? Okay enough of the editorializing, back to the cameras :)

The Fuji F50fd added something F31fd fans and owners wanted, sensor shift image stabilization and a dual SD/xD memory card drive. But the megapixels doubled and judging from the early F50fd reviews it looks like that has backfired on Fuji. While the F50fd is the youngest, there are some slightly older models: At 9mp 1/1.6" we have the Fuji F47fd, and at 8mp we have the Fuji F45fd and Fuji F40fd. The F40fd and F45fd are very very similar, one visible difference being the color of the camera body. I kid you not :) Last but certainly not least is the Fuji F20, currently available for around $150, and this camera does feature the 6mp magic sensor, but features-wise it is a basic P&S. Still the sensor has the magic, and if you can stomach the xD card, this is a great purchase for people who are averse to noise :)

Now moving on to Fuji's ultracompact series, the Z-series we find some really nice looking cameras. And with the introduction of the dual SD/xD cameras they are ready for mass market appeal. Available in multiple deliciously fashionable colors (is this becoming an E! special on cameras?) they have a chance to make a splash in the market. Their competitive prices are helpful as well. They even picked up worthy causes as the pink version of the Z5fd makes donations to a breast cancer project.

So let's see what we have in the Z-series line-up. The newest models are the Z100fd, available in some markets, and the Fuji Z10fd available everywhere. The Z100fd is going after the Sony T-series as it is the second camera of that style to offer a folded optics 5x optical zoom. No longer having the burden of xD, it is poised for more appeal. And so is the Z10fd which features a more typical configuration (7mp, 3x optical), available in five fashionable colors, going after the Y generation and even having a blogging function. Infact I am writing this blog entry on the Z10fd. Okay, the last sentence was an attempt at a joke, but you get the message. Fuji is on the attack in the sub-$300 segment. Their previous generation is *gasp* two megapixels behind the competition, but they are using SuperCCD sensors in them. I am talking about the 6mp Fuji Z5fd available in different colors, including a chocolate brown. Warning! Please do not eat the cameras or the cellphones if their names says chocolate :) The Z5fd is another alternative for those interested in a stylish compact camera for around $150. Please note though that is only uses xD memory cards.

Meanwhile their A-series, which on paper may be the one line-up that matches up with the Canon A-series now that they have added SD support - at least when compared to what the other manufacturers have to offer. Their new Fuji A920 offers a 9mp 1/1.6" sensor and a 4x optical zoom, similar to its predecessor, the Fuji A900, which was announced at about the same time as the 8mp A820 and A800. Also the A825 was a limited availability model. Oh the confusion! Also available are the A700 and A610.

But we are not done yet! There is more! The Fuji F480 was a nice surprise this year, this is an affordable camera with a twist: it starts at 28mm wide. This is probably the most affordable new digital camera starting this wide. It is under $180 and features a 2.7" LCD. Also hanging around are its predecessors the Fuji F650 and F470. Also available is Fuji's experimental return to the square-ish cameras (you may remember the old F-series) with the Fuji V10 which is still available despite its "age".

And this concludes Fuji, which has publicly said that they are planning to release different models in different regions based on various factors. And as you can see from above, they have done that and managed to confuse us along the way :)

And one parting shot, the recent news that Fuji is transferring sensor production to Toshiba can be seen as good news as that frees up Fuji to do camera things and let a big electronics company like Toshiba handle the sensors.


Sigma DSLRs
The Sigma SD14 pretty much ended the Foveon vs Bayer wars in that it was released on Sigma time and by that time, its competitors came up with new DSLRs, and the SD14 had no chance to break out. Still though, it has a very loyal following, along with a very loyal hatorade following. The Foveon debates are always a hot topic in camera forums. Priced at just above $1000, it has a lot of price competition, but it is offering an alternative approach to dSLRing. For some, the Foveon advantage is a must have. For others, it's give me megapixels or give me more megapixels ;-) It is now obvious that if Foveon is to become a factor in the market numbers wise, Sigma is not the medium.


Sigma fixed lens Digital Cameras
The Sigma DP1 was announced - in typical Sigma fashion - centuries before its delivery. While it is nice that Sigma is giving us advanced notice of their development projects, they have done a very poor job of keeping us updated on their progress. This is particuarly frustrating because this camera is very intriguing. Along with the Sony R1, it uses the largest sensor found in fixed lens cameras, it is a 1.7x Foveon sensor, which also adds to the intrigue. The camera has a fixed focal length lens (a prime if you must) which is also something that has been under-served by the digital camera industry. The only other advanced recent camera to offer that is the Ricoh GRD. So when do we get to see the Sigma DP1? I do not have the answer, but one anonymous source reported that the BigFoot was seen taking closeup portraits of the Loch Ness monster using the DP-1, while the leprechaun was holding the deflector ;-)


Olympus DSLRs
The Olympus E3 is the current Olympus flagship, which finds itself competing in the mid-range price-range with the other sub-$2K cameras. This camera followed up the first 4/3rds DSLRs, the trusty Olympus E1. The 4/3rds line-up is currently staircased price-wise, with the Panasonic L10 over $1000, the Olympus E510 under $1000, and the Olympus E410 tempting the masses with a compact yet capable DSLR, starting around $500 for body only. AS it is typical with Olympus DSLRs, the best bang for the buck is the two lens kit, as you essentially get the 2nd lens at a very steep discount. And with good reason, 4/3rds is relatively new. While you can use OM mount lenses on it (with a 2X FOV crop), you don't get all the automation and benefits. But for those who are experienced photographers, the OM and other lenses (eg Konica pancakes) can be a great bargain selection to add to your arsenal.

Also available from Olympus are some slightly older DSLRs, such as the Olympus E400 (not available in all regions), the Olympus E330 (currently at $400 with a kit lens!), along with the Olympus E500.


Olympus fixed lens digital cameras
Unlike Sony that has a vertical and horizontal line of consumer electronics to integrate the Memory Stick along with an established buyer's base, Olympus has just their cmaeras and Fuji's cameras that use the xD memory card drive. With Fuji's recent (and very wise) decision to offer dual xD/SD drives, Olympus remains alone in using xD exclusively for the majority of their digital cameras. No doubt this hurts sales, because let's face it, who wants yet another memory card format, incompatible with everything else, and it costs 1.5 to 2 times as much as SD?

Not to mention that Olympus insists on their scammy "must have Olympus branded memory card in order to use the panorama feature". Thankfully for users there is a simple workaround to make any card work with panoramas. But this reflects very poorly on Olympus, given that they are the only company that stubbornly insists on using this ineffective gimmick in order to sell more memory cards. I hope they apologize to all the users out there and offer firmeware upgrades for all their cameras to remove this restriction.

So after this lovely introduction, let's look at the current Olympus digital cameras!

Just like the other traditional SLR manufacturers, Olympus went into SLR-priority mode once DSLRs became affordable. By doing that, they eliminated or downsized any products or lines that would get in the way of DSLRs sales. With that we said goodbye to the storied Olympus C-series, which includes the very critically acclaimed Olympus C8080. With that they also downsized their mid-range line-up, with the two 18x superzooms being the most "advanced" Olympus fixed lens cameras.

The brand new Olympus SP560 is the second generation 18x hyper zoom, a zoom range that Olympus pioneered with the Olympus SP550. SP560 coverage at RAWsumer. While it's too early to tell on the SP560, the SP550, being the first of its kind, had its fair share of issues, some of which were deal killers for some people. Wit the prices continuing to fall, the SP560 is around $400 while the SP550 around $300. Not bad for an 18x superzoom? Both of these use sensor shift stabilization, with the SP560 using a slightly larger 1/2.3" sensor instead of the typical 1/2.5". More on the 1/2.3" later on. Kudos to Olympus for offering RAW and AA in these two batteries as it gives its users more flexibility.

Apart from these two, the mid-range RAWsumer Olympus SP320 is still available making it three Olympus cameras with RAW.

From here on, we move into the realm of the Stylus and the FE-series. Pay close attention because these are all twisted :)

One of the distinguishing characterists of the Stylus lineup, apart from the ...style, is their splashproofness. That doesn't mean you put them under water, just that they can take a splash or two without falling apart.

The Stylus line has a big sensor (1/1.8"-ish), and a small sensor (1/2.3") subsegment. Let's start with the big sensor line-up which is decidedly easier to sort out. The 1200 leads the way with the obligatory 12mp, following up on the 1000 with the obligatory 10mp sensor, and the Stylus 810 and 800 at 8mp as the name suggests. And that's it.

Now to the smaller sensor'ed Styluses. The most eye-catching is the SW line, because it is not only waterproof but it's also shockproof and it can take drops of a few feet without problem. NY Times editor David Pogue tried this on camera during his funny but unfortunately short-lived show "It's all geek to me" on the Discovery/Science Channel. The latest model is the 790SW which uses folded optics and stays at 7mp with a 1/2.3" sensor. No stabilization though (adjusting the ISO or shutter speed is not stabilization). The previous model is the 770SW which has longer drop and water immersion limits. Something that has disappointed 790SW fans. But there is a new version of the 770SW in the 795SW, but that one is not available in every market.

Now that we got the shockproof Styluses out of the way, let's look at the ones with 5x optical zoom lenses. The two newer models are the 830 and 820. They are similar models, with the 830 having sensor shift image stabilization. Also with a 5x lens we have the 780 and the 750 which was the first 5x Stylus to get sensor shift stabilization, unlike the 740.

Now let's move on to the Stylus models with 3x lenses, starting with the 730 which was a rather bling bling model, and had a more SW-like styling but was not a shockproof model like the SW-series. We also have the 760 which is the first 3x Stylus to add sensor shift stabilization. Prior to that, the 710 and 700 were the first amogn the Stylus line-up to jump from a 1/2.5" sensor to a 1/2.3" sensor.

And that does it for the Stylus line-up. Next up the FE-series. Every time Olympus makes an announcement we get a cat litter of these, so please bear with me while I try to sort through them. The FE-series starts as a basic AA-based entry-level line-up but soon started to grow and advance and soon the AAs were dropped in favor of LiIon which allowed the cameras to become slimmer and more stylish. Just like the Stylus, they have smaller and larger sensor sub-groups.

The 1/1.8"-ish group is led by the FE 300 which features the obligatory 12mp sensor, making it a mid-rangey candidate by megapixelation alone. It features a 3x zoom lens (35-105) and the usual features of a P&S. Those looking for alternative, may find the FE 290 of interest as it features a 4x lens that starts at 28mm, and has a 3" LCD. The sensor is a 7mp 1/2.5". Next up is the FE 280 which has a typicla 3x lens and an 8mp 1/2.3" sensor. Sensor soup! Finally from this litter the FE 270 is a AA-based entry level with 7mp 1/2.5" and 3x optical.

The previous litter (January 2007) features the FE 250 at 8mp 1/1.8", 3x optical, the FE 240 at 7mp 1/2.5", 5x optical (not wide), along with the more traditional 3x optical FE 230, FE 220, and FE 210.

Of the previous to that wave of FE-series models, the one of interest was the FE 200 because it started at 28mm wide with a 5x optical zoom lens. Needless to say I'm stopping with the FE-series right here :)

This concludes the Olympus line-up which would have more mass appeal if it supported SD cards and followed Fuji's lead in offering a dual xD/SD card. But since this is the company that stubbornly insists on Olympus branded memory cards for their panorama feature, don't count on it!


Pentax DSLRs
As it has been the story with Pentax, they are (pardon to Kyocera) the new value frontier. The Pentax K10D, while not perfect, offers a great combination of features and value compared to the competition, at a fraction of the price. And that's a logical trade-off to make. And I'm not kidding about the fraction. You can get the K10D body only for around $650, which is about half the price of the Canon 40D and Sony A700, and about one third the price of the Nikon D300 and the Olympus E3. Clearly while those cameras are newer and may have some advantages over the K10D, are they two or three times better? Certainly not!

The K10D has a new companion, the K100 Super which is an updated version of the K100D. This is another great bargain DSLR, which can be had for around $400 with the DA kit lens after rebate. On top of everything else, it has sensor shift stabilization. And while it may not be as effective as in-lens or some other DSLR's sensor shift stabilization, you get it for free with almost every lens you attach to it. What do you prefer? A two-stop sensor shift stabilization advantage with the K100D or nothing which is what the Canon, Nikon, and Olympus cameras at the $500 price range? Speaking of no stabilization, you may still find the Pentax K110D still lingering around. Although I would recommend getting the K100D or K100Ds (K100D Super) since you get the stabilization with them.


Pentax fixed lens digital cameras
Pentax had found a flow to their fixed lens camera line-up by making it compact and limited in scope, but that didn't last long as they decide to explore again. The 10s (A10, T10, M10, E10, W10) made their debut in January 2006 and continued with the 20s, 30s and some 40s.

None of the Pentax fixed lens digital cameras support RAW. Their top tier is the A-series, and they offer 1/1.8"+ sensors and sensor-shift stabilization. If you were anxiously waiting to get their obligatory 12mp model, the Pentax A40, unfortuntely you have to wait until February 2008 because of a fire at a Matsushita plant that made this camera's batteries. Fans of AA batteries will say "We told you so! Because if this camera was using AA batteries, it would have been released on time". But the prior models are still avaiable, you can have the 10mp Pentax A30 and Pentax A20, or the original 8mp Pentax A10.

The most unique series was undoubtely the W-series, which offered waterproof cameras, but sadly Pentax has not announced a 2007 model in this series. The most recent models are the Pentax W30 and Pentax W20. The prices are reasonable, the waterproofness is relatively unique, but the optics are folded which may be an issue for some in terms of image quality. If you are not sure, check the camera and check the reviews.

The T-series was another semi-unique series in that it offered Touch-screen displays, hence the T. This did nto get updated in 2007, the most recent models are the Pentax T30 and Pentax T20.

One line that did get updated is what started as Pentax's attempt at the Canon A-series with the AA-based M-series, but starting with the Pentax M30 and the new Pentax M40 they moved to slimmer LiIon based versions. But if you are a AA fan, the Pentax M20 may be available.

The E-series is their entry-level line-up, with the Pentax E40, and the Pentax E30, and the Pentax E20.

2007 also saw the return of their famous ultracompact S-series but in a different format. The last true-to-form S-series was the Pentax S7 in 2006. This new one is using a 10mp 1/1.8"-ish sensor, and will be available exclusively at WalMart. Strange? You decide. It actually looks like a promising camera for those who want a compact and stylish model without the tiny overpopulated sensors.

The new experiment is the Pentax Z10, which looks very very familiar (*hint* think Casio EX-V series). A 7x zoom folded optics lens using a tiny sensor may scare people in terms of image quality. So be sure to check user and professional reviews on these cutesy cameras.

Those who may remember some of Pentax's other unique or quirky designs will be disappointed to know that they have not been continued. The likes of the swiveling Optio X, 5x optical 850 and SV/SVi, and the awkward looking MX and MX4 long-zoom hybrids are gone.


Panasonic DSLRs
Panasonic made its DSLR debut last year with the Panasonic L1 which borrowed from the Olympus E330. The Panasonic benefit was that it came bundled with an expensive Leica lens that in itself is valued at close to $1000. This camera has its own distinct style and it has its fan base, and it is still available. While if you compare it to the competition, it may fall behind in terms of price, it has intangibles going for it, one of them being the bundled Leica lens.

This year Panasonic went to a slightly more general interest camera with the Panasonic L10, available at around $1300 with an "entry-level" (OMG!) image stabilized Leica lens. This is still not intended as a mass market camera as you can tell from the prices/features, but another entry in the field, capitalizing on the Leica lens name and the Panasonic fan club. It also slots in the 4/3rds line-up pricewise in between the E510 and the new E3.


Panasonic fixed lens digital cameras
Panasonic has a modest line-up but they offer a number of either unique or trail-blazing models. Unfortunately for them Venus (both the planet and the engine) are too hot (and produce noise) :-) But on the plus side, Panasonic has the highest number of non-DSLR models offering RAW. Yes folks, the "appliance" company has more RAW models than the traditional photography companies. Isn't that ironic?

Another interesting tidbit with Panasonic is that every single one of their non-DSLRs currently have a MegaOIS lens, even their $100 P&S models. The irony is that their most expensive models (L1 and L10 DSLRs, and LC1 fixed lens) did not have MegaOIS or sensor shift stabilization. Go figure :)

The big FZ-series, with the Panasonic FZ50 and the Panasonic FZ30 is a little bit unique among current super zoom models because they feature a 1/1.8" sensor with an image stabilized lens. Their prices have been dropping, making a tempting (yet frustrating perhaps) purchase candidate at around just $440 at the moment. With no replacement in sight for 2007, these will carry the load in 2007. RAW shooters can certainly sidestep some of the noise (and noise reduction) issues, and the lenses of these two cameras are critically acclaimed. Apparently it's not just the Leica name that makes them good, they stand on their own two feet(s).

The mid-range FZ-series got a makeover when the 18x hyperzoom Panasonic FZ18 came along. This camera offers an interesting proposition, starting at 28mm with an image stabilized Leica-branded 18x hyper zoom lens. The early reports are in from the users and power users, all that is left are for the reviews from the major sites to come in. The previous model in the mid-range FZ-series was the Panasonic FZ8 with a "traditional" 12x MegaOIS zoom, and the debut of RAW support in the mid-range FZs. This is another camera that has its share of trade-offs but its price is very tempting considering you can get it at $225 at the moment. Before that came the Panasonic FZ7.

The small FZ-series (remember the FZ1?) were recently replaced by the new "fun zoom" TZ-series. The lineup started in modest fashion with the Panasonic TZ1, which created some interest, but it was the Panasonic TZ3 that gave Panasonic its first blockbuster camera model. This camera essentially put the "fun zoom" segment on the map, forcing Canon and Sony to respond in September with the SX100 IS and Cybershot H3. While this is another camera with its list of trade-offs, some of which may be deal killers for some people, its combination of compact size, 10x zoom starting at 28mm with image stabilization, and its "fun factor" have made it very popular among buyers of all experience levels and denominations. Along size the TZ3 we also have the TZ2, which is not available in all markets. In typical Panasonic fashion, they release the main model (TZ3) and they also release a less expensive sidekick. Remember the FZ5 and the FZ4 which was not released in all markets?

While Panasonic is loaded with MegaOIS zoom models, their mid-range+ line-up has just one camera, the Panasonic LX2. This is yet another camera that has a long list of trade-offs, some of them deal killers for some people, others have fallen in love with the ergonomics and features of this camera. It does offer RAW, so some of the sensor/Venus issues can be side-stepped. If you prefer fewer megapixels, the Panasonic LX1 may be around.

The FX-series has found a "new leader" in the 12 megapixel Panasonic FX100. Panasonic did not start this trend, as we've had glorified P&S with 1/1.8"+ sensors from Olympus Stylus, Canon Elph, Kodak V-series and others, already. The rest of the FX-series are using smaller 1/2.5"-ish sensors.

The Panasonic FX55 and Panasonic FX33 use 8mp 1/2.5" sensors and follow up the Panasonic FX50 and Panasonic FX30, and all four have 28-100mm eq MegaOIS lenses, both of those trends popularized by Panasonic (wide angle compacts, and stabilized P&S compacts). The same lens can be found in the Panasonic FX07, and FX01.

Meanwhile a more affordable line of FX-series was created, with a more pedestratian 3x 35-105mm lens instead of the wide angle. This is populated by the Panasonic FX12, FX10, and FX3.

Have I given you an FX-headache? Okay moving along to the LZ-series then, it is Panasonic's affordable mid-range-zooms with a 6x MegaOIS lens and an affordable price range. These are traditionally introduced every January in pairs, the latest ones being the LZ7 and LZ6, preceded last year by the LZ5 and LZ3 and the year before by the LZ2 and LZ1.

Panasonic's entry-level line up is the LS-series, but despite being entry-level, they do include a MegaOIS 3x optical zoom lens. Despite that, they don't seem to be getting a lot of attention. They are also introduced every January, with the LS75, LS70 and LS60 coming out this year, in some markets. Previous year models include the LS2 and LS1.

And this concludes our Panasonic coverage with a parting number: Panasonic has four current fixed lens digital cameras that support RAW (FZ50, FZ8, FZ18, LX2), which is four more than Sony and Nikon (zero), and three more than Canon (one). Come on "traditional camera manufacturers" isn't RAW a very photographic feature? How many washers and dryers do you see with RAW? ;-)


Leica DSLRs, Digital Rangefinders and Backs
Leica's first 4/3rds DSLR was the Leicasonic version of the Panasonic L1, known as the Leica Digilux 3, and priced at the Leicaffordable price of $2500 with the $1000 lens included.

Also from Leica we have their first digital M-series, the Leica M8 available in two colors at around $5500 each. Not for the faint of pocket or credit because you still have to buy lenses for it (if you don't have any or want new ones) :)

While there's no digital R9 just yet, there is a digital back in the works using a Kodak CCD sensor.


Leica fixed lens digital cameras
All the Leica digital cameras has an eerie resemblance to Panasonic cameras, perhaps because they are Leicasonics. But the value of the red dot and the Leicifications of these cameras are enough (for some people) to separate them from their Panasonic equivalents and justify their higher prices. Leica obviously do not "port" every Panasonic digital camera, they pick and chose the ones that will likely have more Leica appeal.

And they are, the Leica V-Lux 1, aka Panasonic FZ50, the Leica D-Lux 3, aka Panasonic LX2, Leica C-Lux 1, aka Panasonic FX-01, the Leica D-Lux 2, aka Panasonic LX1. As you may recall, Leica used to partner with Fuji and made LeicaFujis before they joined with Panasonic to make Leicasonics.

This may come to you as a surprise, but Leica has not announced any new fixed lens digital cameras in 2007. That's right. None!


Samsung DSLRs
Samsung's DSLRs at the moment are Pentax cameras inside with a Samsung interface and face-lift for the most part. They have their own version of the K10D, and they call it the Samsung GX10 and it sells for about the same price as the K10D, give or take.

Also available are the decidely older Samsung GX1S (aka Pentax *ist DS2), and the Samsung GX1L (aka Pentax *ist DL2). You thought you'd never see *ist mentioned before, didn't you? :) Neither one of these has sensor shift stabilization, so if you are interested in a K-mount DSLR, and unless you love the Samsung brand or find these are at great price, I recommend getting the ones with sensor shift stabilization (K100D, K100D Super, K10D, GX10),


Samsung fixed lens digital cameras
There is something you need to know about Samsung so you can understand their digital camera line-up. They have a goal. And their goal is to become the #3 global market share leader. This affected their decisions on what type of cameras to produce and this is why we didn't see more exciting monster-sumers like the Samsung Pro 815.

While it is true that a flagship-like camera would have helped increase sales of other cameras using the "tide lifts all boats" reasoning, the benefits gained from that would not have been big enough for Samsung's devious plan for the #3 spot.

So instead they chose two more effective ways to do it: Super low prices (aka buy market share), and a unique design (the NV style). And both of them are working. Okay, enough mumbo jumbo, let's look at the cameras!

Because not many people are familiar with the Samsung cameras, I'll start from the beginning of the NV-series. This was the start of the "new Samsungs", the point where they rebooted their digital camera line-up. The NV series came to be in July 2006 with a trio of distinctly styled cameras. Part of it was the black finish, part of it was the new approach to the user interface with touch-soft buttons forming an reverse L-shape around the LCD screen. This distinct and stylish look got people's attention and got them to start taking Samsung seriously.

The first trio of NV-series featured the flagship NV10 (10mp, 3x optical), the NV7 (7mp 1/2.5", 7x optical, not wide at all, and no stabilization), and the NV3 which was essentially an NV-styled version of their ultracompacts. The reactions on these were mixed, some people continued to complain about IQ issues, so be sure to check reviews and actual (and sample) images taken with them. But one thing almost everyone agreed was that they had a rather unique design and style.

The NV-series continued with the NV11 in January 2007. As the name suggests, the NV11 was similar to the NV10, but had a 5x optical zoom lens instead.

Then the time came to refresh the NV-series. Three new cameras were announced, but two of the original designs were dropped. No updates for the NV7 or the NV3. Instead the flagship NV10 was split into three models. Yes three, the NV20 (12mp), the NV15 (10mp) and the NV8 (8mp), all using sensors in the 1/1.7"-ish range, and offering the user their choice of megapixelation. And that's where we are right now. You have a choice of seven NV-series.

Next up we have the Samsung L-series. NV-series style elements have moved on to some of the L-series, making them stand out a bit more. The most talked about model was the Samsung L74w, which apart from the fact that is starts at 28mm, it had about half a gigabyte of preloaded travel data stored on it along with a 3" touch screen display. That's right, travel data! You have to give them bonus points for trying, regardless of whether you like this idea or this camera. The L-series also features the Samsung L77 which continues from the NV7, but without any form of stabilization (digital doesn't count, sorry). Then there's the Samsung L83T which is really more of an i-series ultracompact with folded optics.

The more traditional and affordable L-series are the Samsung L830 and Samsung L730. Also there is the Samsung L73 and Samsung L700. The L83, just like all the double digit post-NV L-series borrows from the NV-styling (Smart Touch interface) while the L-three digit series are more traditional shiny silvers. According to one veteran dpreview forum user, the L700 does a pretty good job with regards to noise.

In the pre-NV era, the Samsung L85 was rather unique in that it offered an 8mp 1/1.8", 5x optical sensor in a clunky body, but the camera turned out to be better not as clunky as it looked. Along with it came a traditional shiny silver, the Samsung L60.

On the ultracompact front, the Samsung i85 is a P(i)MP, a personal multimedia thingy as well as a camera. Just like the Fuji Z100fd, it goes after the Sony T-series with a 5x folded optics zoom lens. Prior to that we had the Samsugn i7, Samsugn i70, and Samsung i6.

And now to the S-series, which also improved its standing by adding NV style elements, including the signature black finish. The 1/1.8"-ish S-series cameras do offer PSAM, offering users a PSAM alternative to the long established Canon A-series with PSAM. Keeping track of all the S-series models is not an easy task! We will break them by sensor size first, the 1/1.8"-ish and the ones using 1/2.5"-ish sensors.

The big sensor S-series consists of two tiers. The top tier features cameras with 5x optical zooms, the Samsung S1050 and Samsung S850, while the second tier features similar cameras but with 3x optical zoom lenses, the Samsung S1030 and Samsung S830.

The Samsung S85 appears to be the "flagship" of the smaller S-series as it features an 8mp sensor and a 5x optical zoom lens. The only one that does not have a 3x optical. The "blockbuster" models in terms of sales are the Samsung S630 and the Samsung S730. The S630 is currently available for around $90 and it is a 6mp, 3x optical, 2.5" LCD, SD, AA camera. Samsung has already confessed that last year's duo, the S500 and S600 were "blockbuster" models, they sold over 1 million units. And that's how you grab market share. The cheaper they are, the more they sell.

But there's more, the >Samsung S73 that showed up in stores unannounced and in a blister pack looks very similar to the S730. Also similar is the S750 which appears to be destined for the German market. Furthermore, the D103 was a Xmas 2006 model for the UK, and it looks very similar to the S1030 that was announced in 2007.

Please note that none of the current Samsung cameras features RAW or image stabilization (other than "digital"). Have you memorized all the names? There's a quiz coming up :)


Kodak DSLRs
Kodak has exited the DSLR market, so the only Kodak branded DSLRs you can find are in the used market. All Kodak DSLRs were expensive professional models, so don't expect a bargain basement price. In a recent interview with Amateur Photographer UK, Kodak officials did not rule out new consumer tier DSLRs, but they said it was very unlikely in the short term.


Kodak fixed lens digital cameras
It's been two years since Kodak release a prosumer camera, the Kodak P880, a camera that picked up momentum once its price fell and more people were willing to give it a chance. Without that, and without DSLRs, the "top" Kodak model are the Z-series long zoom cameras. There's quite a few of them so let's get started!

The new Kodak Z812 IS leads the way, alongside the Kodak Z712 IS and the Kodak Z612 IS. These form the middle tier of their long zooms, with the long gone the Kodak P850 and the Kodak P712 forming the upper tier. On the budget level we find the 10x optical zoom, no IS, the Kodak ZD710, the Kodak Z710 and the Kodak Z650.

Next up the smaller Z-series, without the long zooms, but with the Z name. This features the Kodak Z1275 with the must-have 12mp sensor and the Kodak Z885 at 8mp, along with its predecessor the Kodak C875. All of these are using 1/1.8"-ish sensors, so they can be seen as a continuation of Kodak's "mid-range" line-up that had the likes of the Z740 and Z760 (or something along those lines).

From there we meet the V-series, where 1/1.8"-ish sensors are in. The the Kodak V1253 and Kodak V1233 sports the obligatory 12mp sensor, while their predecessors the Kodak V1003, Kodak V803 and Kodak V603 were differentiated by megapixels as their names suggest.

The last time we had a new dual-sensor dual-CCD design was 2006, where we had the Kodak V610, Kodak V570 and Kodak V705. While the ideas were great, the delivery left something to be desired, to put it kindly and mildly. I don't want to throw out the sensor with the camera water here ;-)

The C-series was Kodak's bread and butter, the one sold at low prices and got them their lovely market share. However, Kodak has noticed the shift in designs, and the clunky C-series wouldn't cut it anymore, so Kodak moved their bread and butter to the new LiIon-based M-series.

M-series here we come! The M-series consists of four similar cameras, the M883, M783, M853, and M753 using 1/2.5" 7mp and 8mp sensors, with plastic vs metal body being a differentiator with the "8" vs a "5" in the second digit of the model name.

But the C-series is not just done yet! The C763, C653, and C613 are all 2007 models. And just as Kodak said they are leaving the "entry level" segment, they announced the one right below:

Last but not least, the most buzzworthy Kodak camera in the photography forums might be none other than the brand new $80 Easyshare C513. Why? Because it uses a 1/2.5" CMOS sensor. With CCDs being the common type of sensor used by the major manufacturers at the 1/1.8"-ish and 1/2.5"-ish level, people are interested to see what they can get from a CMOS sensor. As you may be aware, a number of DSLRs are using CMOS sensors.

This concludes Kodak's lineup which seems to be in market share defense mode as Samsung has launched an all out assault for the global #3 spot in 2007.


Ricoh fixed lens digital cameras
It's a good thing I didn't write up Ricoh yesterday, because I would have missed the introduction of the Ricoh GRD II. This new digital GR follows on the footsteps of the original Ricoh GRD that was introduced two years ago. Ricoh earns bonus points for picking the best available sensor for the GR-D2, instead of the one with the most megapixels. This one is using a 10mp 1/1.75" sensor, while the original was using an 8mp sensor. Ricoh promises a number of improvements on the new one, along with the new Ricoh Engine II. These two are certainly unique among digital cameras and they have their small but strong following.

In the same category we could easily put the Ricoh GX100, perhaps the most advanced among current prosumers out there, with a lens that starts at 24mm wide, and a number of photographer endorsed features. While not perfect, especially when using JPEG, the camera can produce some great pictures in the hands of those who know how to use it. It is certainly an intriguing camera, but not for the casual user who may get frustrated by the out of the camera JPEGs. This is a photographer's camera for sure!

The GX100 was preceded by the single digit GX-series, teh last one of which was the GX8, which featured an 8mp sensor and a 3x zoom lens (28-85mm eq).

Ricoh's R-series also offers something different, a 7x 28-200mm equivalent zoom lens using a 1/2.5"-ish sensors. The cameras in this line-up are the Ricoh R7, Ricoh R6, and Ricoh R5.

Further down the line we find the more casual RR-series, which are more of the point and shoot variety. These 1/2.5" sensor'ed cameras include the RR750, RR730, RR660, and R40. Also part of Ricoh's line-up are the "tough" Caplio 500G Wide and Caplio 500 SE.

If you are not familiar with some of the older Ricoh models, here they are, on the Ricoh global website.


Casio fixed lens digital cameras
The most exciting Casio camera does not exist. IT was announced as a development project a couple of months ago, it will be using the new Sony 6mp 1/1.8" that can record images as fast as 60fps. Yes, 6mp images, not pictures! The camera will feature a 12x stabilized lens and the typical assortment of features associated (hopefully). More details when Casio decides to let us know more.

While Casio has tried different segments of the market in the past, their bread and butter is the cutesy compact and ultracompacts. These were popular in Japan originally, with the likes of the Casio EX-Z3 and Z4, but over time they picked up in popularity in Europe and North America.

Casio essentially has three lines of these. One uses 1/1.8"+ sensors, while the other two use 1/2.5" and they are either small or smaller. The smaller ones are part of the EX-S series which uses the ceramic lenses. But let's start from the beginning.

They obviously have the obligatory 12 megapixel camera, the Casio EX-Z1200 SR, which adds sensor shift stabilization but their stars may be the 10mp 1/1.8" models, the Casio EX-Z1080 and Casio EX-Z1050. The latter got a very promising review at dcresource.com. Before that they had the Z1000, the Z850, and the critically acclaimed Z750 which was using a 7mp 1/1.8" sensor.

The bread and butter of their lineup are the 1/2.5" EX-Z series that have been running around for (digital camera) ages. The order is usually set by the LCD size, although now that they have the 1/1.8"+ sensor models, they are obviously the top tier. We have the Casio EX Z77 and Casio EX Z75, and going back to the 2006 models, we find the Casio EX Z700, Casio EX Z70, and the budget (homage to their past models) Casio EX Z5.

On the ceramic ultra-compact EX-S series we find the new Casio EX S880 replacing the Casio EX S770 which replaced the Casio EX S600. We also had an MPEG4 edition, the Casio EX S600d.

On the experimental side of Casio, we find the EX-V series with two models featuring a 7x folded optics lens. If that sounds scary, read the reviews first :) A similar Pentax version has sprung up as well. They are the Casio EX V8 and Casio EX V7.

One experiment that appears to have been abandoned is the Casio EX P505, and I can't really blame them :) Unforutnately their very promising P-series was also abandoned after just two models the Casio EX P7000 and the Casio EX P6000.

The AA-based Casios have either been phased out or were put on hold. The last new ones were the Casio EX Z120, EX-Z110 and EX-Z100. And a bit further in time we find the historic QV-series.


HP fixed lens digital cameras
HP's digital camera lineup is very compressed, and it appears to be more of a sidekick and accessory to their other products (computers, printers, etc). It's been a while since HP attempted a "serious" mid-range camera. Now they appear to be happy producing consumer electronics superstore models.

Their line-up is divided into three groups, the R-series which is the more compact and stylish models using a LiIon batteries, the M-series which are your typical P&S digital cameras and the E-series which is the market share grabbing $100-ish cameras.

The R-series is led by the HP R937 which features a 3.6" touch screen LCD and the all important slimming feature, along with the HP R847, HP R837. and HP R742.

The M-series has a new leader, the HP Mz67 which features an 8mp sensor with a 6x optical zoom and AA batteries. A contender for your mid-range-zoom dollars, similar perhaps to the Panasonic LZ-series, except the HP does not have image stabilization or the Venus engine ;-)

The rest of the M-series is your typical P&S models, such as the M847, HP M737, HP M637, HP M547 and HP M447.

Finally the new "leader" of the E-series is the $79 HP E337, a 5mp no-zoom lens camera.

To conclude, we'd like to point out that before this wave of new cameras, HP's previous wave of new cameras came at CES 2006. with the likes of the R927, R727 and more.


Anyone else?
Did I forget any other manufacturer you think needs to be mentioned? If yes, please let me know!


Further Reading
Interesting in finding more details and reviews about these cameras? There's plenty of places to check. Here are some:




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Work in Progress
This is a long work-in-progress article, more coming up! Also please forgive minor formatting and typos while it is under construction :) We are operating on content-priority, not grammour and spielling priority :-) But if you have any comments, corrections, omissions, etc, please leave them as a comment or send an email to 1001noisycameras [at] gmail [dot] com.

Speculators
While this article is more focused on making a sense out of the hundreds of digital camera models available, we have similarly long articles that are based on speculation about future products. If you enjoy those, please visit our PMA 2008 speculation, Fauxtokina 2007 speculation and Photokina 2006 speculation.

4 comments:

Candy said...

Wow!

That was a great article. Enjoyed reading it.

Of course, you'll (hopefully) have to add a lot of new cameras to it after PMA 2008...

Maybe the Sigma DP1 will here by then...

And then maybe pigs will sprout wings before that happens! LOL

1001 noisy cameras said...

Thanks Candy! I'm glad you enjoyed it! PMA 2008 is going to be exciting since it's earlier on, so the announcements will probably be more compressed.

Perhaps the first sample picture from the Sigma DP1 will be of pigs sprouting wings, followed by a portrait of the Loch Ness monster, and the BigFoot :)

ciao said...

Hey, you missed the first digital camera ever: Dycam Model 1 or Logitech FotoMan :)

1001 noisy cameras said...

Those were the days where every pixel counted for something! :-)

We've come a long way since! And who knows, maybe 20 years later, the market will be completely different again if RED has its way!