SNAP HAPPY

Jen­nifer Dud­ley- Ni­chol­son

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Front Page -

Prices plunge for dig­i­tal cam­eras.

THE picture is bleak for dig­i­tal cam­eras.

Multi- megapixel smart­phones are steal­ing the cam­era’s thun­der, lo­cal prices are un­der pres­sure as the Aus­tralian dol­lar climbs and con­sumers who al­ready own two or three dig­i­tal cam­eras de­mand com­pelling rea­sons to up­grade.

In the face of these chal­lenges, the Imag­ing and Dig­i­tal En­ter­tain­ment As­so­ci­a­tion pre­dicts zero growth for Aus­tralian cam­era sales this year.

But rather than wal­low in the gloomy fore­cast, man­u­fac­tur­ers are arm­ing new mod­els for bat­tle, with fresh pho­to­graphic fea­tures, bet­ter lenses and sig­nif­i­cantly cheaper prices across the board.

Cam­eras are even bor­row­ing fea­tures from smart­phones, adding touch- sen­si­tive screens and, in some cases, apps and in­ter­net con­nec­tiv­ity.

Pana­sonic be­came the lat­est com­pany to head off the chal­lenge this month, re­veal­ing nine new still cam­eras and seven new video recorders to ar­rive be­fore May.

The de­vices, un­veiled on Nor­folk Is­land, in­clude a travel cam­era with a 30x zoom lens ( TZ30), a tough model ( FT4) that can dive up to 12m be­low the waves, and a $ 199 cam­era with an F2.5 lens ( FH8).

Lu­mix group mar­ket­ing man­ager Alis­tair Robins ad­mits the cam­era in­dus­try is un­der pres­sure, but says it is re­spond­ing strongly.

Pana­sonic’s 2012 cam­eras will pack in ex­tras in­clud­ing an auto- stitch­ing panoramic mode, a high- dy­namic range fea­ture that com­bines two pho­tos for the best ex­po­sure, and creative post- pro­cess­ing modes for strik­ing ef­fects.

Robins says prices will also be lower this year, even for ad­vanced dig­i­tal cam­eras.

‘‘ Five years ago a Lu­mix com­pact cam­era such as a TZ7 would have cost around $ 700 and this prod­uct had a 10x op­ti­cal zoom, mo­tion JPG video and weighed around 232g. To­day with the TZ30 we’re an­nounc­ing, you get a 20x op­ti­cal zoom, full high- def­i­ni­tion video, a MOS sen­sor and GPS in a slimline 190g body that costs costs 36 per cent less ($ 449).’’

Robins says smart­phone use is clearly chal­leng­ing dig­i­tal cam­eras, but he ar­gues it is also re­cruit­ing new pho­tog­ra­phers who will be­come more

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