Forget what you know about photo technology: 2002 changes everything. The first 6-megapixel consumer digitals are here, as is the first Foveon-sensor camera. New printers offer double the resolution. Here's the skinny on the new photography gear.
1. Autofocus on People
Inexperienced photographers need smart cameras–particularly when shooting groups of objects. The autofocus in Minolta’s 3.7X zoom Freedom Zoom 140 ($179, shown) and 4.3X zoom Freedom Zoom 160 ($199) 35mm cameras is as intelligent as they get, singling out human forms and making them the focal point–even if they move. www.minolta.com
2. A Film Camera Doubles as Digital
Can’t decide between film and digital? There’s no need to choose with Kodak’s Advantix EasyShare APS camera. Take a shot, and the camera exposes APS film and stores a low-resolution image. The digital images are perfect for e-mailing. Price: $200. www.kodak.com
Bring on 6 Megapixels
Finally, high-end SLRs to go with your high-end lenses.
Digital choices for photographers who own high-quality SLR lenses have been limited-namely, the $2,500 3-megapixel Canon D30 or a $5,000 pro camera. But this summer the field widens with three new digital SLRs. All will cost around $3,000. Canon’s D60 and Nikon’s D100 bring 6 megapixels within reach of the average snapper. But the dark horse is Sigma’s 3-megapixel SD-9, which uses a Foveon X3 sensor to capture full color at each pixel-traditional sensors need four pixels for color. The trick: Each pixel has three light detectors instead of one; they’re placed on the sensor’s silicon at the precise depths that red, green, and blue light are absorbed. The result: The SD-9, with half the pixels, could surpass the D60 and D100 in image quality. We’ll test the much-hyped Foveon cameras in future issues.
They don’t get any easier to pack than this: Each of these fits in the palm of your hand.
1. Canon Elph Z3 ($260)
The APS camera that established the mini-camera category gets a new look, a longer zoom lens (2.3X), and a three-point autofocus system. 3.9 by 2 by 1.3 inches.
2. SiPix StyleCam Blink ($40)
This keychain-size, 0.3-megapixel digital camera stores 100 VGA (640- by 480-pixel) images and doubles as a videoconferencing unit when hooked to a computer. 1.97 by 1.97 by 0.6 inches.
3. Fujifilm Nexia Q1 ($60)
Small, sleek (3.85 ounces), and colorful (blue, purple, pink, or dark blue), this APS camera is all about style. 3.78 by 2.95 by 1.34 inches. 3.78 by 2.95 by 1.34 inches.
4. Casio Exilim EX-S1 ($299)
This 1.24-megapixel digital camera comes with 14MB of internal memory, a SD card slot, and a 1.6-inch color display. Add just 0.04 inches of thickness and get an MP3 player (EX-M1 model, $349, shown). 3.46 by 2.17 by 0.49 inches.
Next: Online photo services
Finding a Digital Shoebox
Not all Web-based photo services are created equal-and none offers it all. Look for one with editing tools, especially red-eye fix and cropping. If you’re into retouching, you’ll want a site that offers editing software for download-online editing gets tedious. Some sites also permit family and friends to download and print photos. And don’t base your decision on ancillary products-you can always upload a shot to a different site for a specific product. Here’s what the most popular sites offer.
2. Epson Stylus Photo 2200
New pigment-based archival inks deliver great color and last up to 44 years. There’s also an extra ink cartridge: The seventh color is low-density black.
Price: $699. www.epson.com
3. Canon S900
This printer has 3,072 nozzles, double the usual number, which shoot 74 million dots per second to complete an 8-by-10 image in 1 minute.
Price: $399. www.canonusa.com
Sport Cameras: Two for the Beach
Kodak’s Max Water (below left, top: $14) works at depths of 35 feet, deeper than any other one-time-use camera. Digital more your speed? The 1.23-megapixel Casio GV-10 ($350) shrugs off sand and can withstand water for 30 minutes. www.kodak.com and www.casio.com.