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Sony Debuts Digital Cameras, Photo Printer

What's your pleasure -- pocket-size photographic convenience or ultra-high-resolution image quality? The newest additions to Sony Electronics' digital imaging lineup offer both.

Taking the pocket-size products first, two new Cyber-shot digital still cameras are Sony's smallest to date -- even slimmer than the popular DSC-P1. The Cyber-shot DSC-P5 (about $600) features a two-step barrel lens that retracts into the body of the camera, as well as a tiny new lithium-ion battery that provides more than an hour of continuous shooting capacity. The 3.34-megapixel camera offers 3X optical and 6X digital zoom.

A fixed lens with 3X digital zoom makes the Cyber-shot DSC-P3 even faster and lighter, as well as more economical (about $500). It, too, has a 3.34-megapixel CCD.

Both new cameras feature an AF illuminator light that briefly illuminates subjects to allow positive focus lock even in dark conditions; a two-frame, two-frames-per-second burst mode; 8MB Memory Stick storage media; and the ability to capture either 320 by 240-pixel MPEG video clips or smaller ClipMotion (series of 10 GIF images) animated files. A $250 Marine Pack will make either camera usable at depths up to nearly 133 feet.

Sony's DPP-MP1 digital photo printer, shipping in November for about $280, creates borderless, full-color photos on durable business-card-sized paper in less than two minutes. The miniature dye-sublimation printer weighs under a pound, including paper tray and optional battery pack ($70); it's aimed at mobile real estate, insurance, and law enforcement professionals, as well as consumers eager to take home memories of parties.

Finally, for images that will look great at far larger than business-card size, the new Cyber-shot DSC-F707 is the first 5.24-megapixel (up to 2,560 by 1,720 resolution) digital camera with features designed for the mainstream consumer market.

Priced at around $1,000, it boasts a pivoting Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar 5X optical zoom lens; high-speed auto focus and manual focus ring with LCD magnifier; exclusive Hologram AF laser focusing system to achieve accurate focus on low-contrast subjects in dark conditions; multi-pattern and pre-flash metering systems for accurate exposure in any lighting; 16MB Memory Stick media card; and infrared NightShot and NightFraming features for taking photos or MPEG movies ("of sleeping children or nocturnal wildlife," suggests the press release) with no visible light at all.

Eric Grevstad is managing editor of sister site HardwareCentral.