Tie: Canon PowerShot Pro 1 and Konica Minolta Dimage A2
Though its $499.99 price is a bit steep for a 4-megapixel point-and-shoot, this camera rises above the crowd for one crucial reason: it's fast. We've seen what the company's RTune technology has achieved in its recent models, and the Finecam M410R's ability to shoot 3.3 frames per second (fps) until the card fills up will make a huge difference to a lot of frustrated shooters. Throw in a few user favorites, such as the 10X optical zoom and the ability to record 30fps VGA-resolution movies to the capacity of the memory card, and we think people will find this Kyocera to be worth the extra bucks.
In the short run, we wish the PictureMate were faster, but ultimately, this lunchbox-size, 4x6-inch photo printer's output plans to be around for the long haul, thanks to Epson's pigment-based inks. In addition to great photo prints with a relatively low 29-cent consumables cost, this standalone unit can connect to an external storage device for PC-free image archiving on USB-connected devices such as Zip or CD-R/W drives.
When you're really pleased with your photos, you want the whole world to see them. Not only can the $449 i9900 print them at up to 13x19 inches in size--and extremely quickly--but they'll look great. With this model, Canon introduces its 8-color ChromaPlus ink system, a hybrid HiFi-color scheme that throws in red and green inks to broaden the printer's color gamut in some critical hues.
The first of Casio's Exilim Pro line, the EX-P600 gives both snapshooters and more-ambitious photographers a lot of useful tools in a compact package. This 6-megapixel comes loaded with a 4X Canon zoom lens and a nice, big 2-inch LCD. We especially like its EX Finder and Manual Assist features, which are designed to help photographers hone their skills and get better shots.
Alera DVD/CD Digital Photo Copy Station
A portable DVD burner that accepts flash memory cards, this $599 device brings easy, high-capacity archiving and copying to photo enthusiasts and pros. It accepts six kinds of flash memory card and burns image (or other) files directly to a disc--no computer required. Of course, you can connect it to your PC as well with a USB 2.0 connection.
While some budget-priced point-and-shoots make you choose between megapixels and optical zoom, Pentax gives you both for $200, along with a surprisingly large feature set. The 3.2-megapixel Optio 30 sports a retractable 3X zoom lens and a lightweight, compact design. It gives snapshot photographers plenty of automatic selections, while offering advanced features such as a live histogram, too.
With 8-megapixel resolution and 8.5fps capture for up to 40 shots, this dSLR has already won the hearts of professional photographers far and wide. It brings many of the options and refinements of the 11-megapixel Canon EOS 1Ds down to a reasonable $4,499 (body only) and makes a significant improvement on its predecessor, the Canon EOS 1D. And it comes with Canon's new Digital Photo Professional software package, a welcome replacement for the company's older RAW-processing tools.
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GEAR FOR '04