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Nikon's 3rd Gen Wi-Fi Camera Debuts

Nikon's no stranger to Wi-Fi on cameras, having helped start it with the CoolPix P2 and P1 and more recently the CoolPix S6. The latest, the CoolPix S7c, is one of five new Nikon digital cameras announced today, and the only one of the five with integrated 802.11b/g. Not only is the price lower than the S6 ($350 compared to $400), it supports more megapixels (7.1 vs 6 megapixels on the S6) and for one year, users can connect free to T-Mobile Hotspots with the camera to upload pictures for sharing.


The new service is called CoolPix Connect. Pictures uploaded there are stored on a server, with emails sent to whoever you choose with links back to the images. No one has to download a potentially unwelcome or overwhelmingly large image in their e-mail.

Connection to CoolPix Connect is automatic if you're at a T-Mobile Hotspot (7,000 of them in the United States found in Starbucks, Borders Books and elsewhere) if the camera is in Wi-Fi mode. It doesn't work with overseas T-Mobile Hotpots. You can also upload via any other open Wi-Fi hotspot, or a home or work network.  The access via T-Mobile locations is only free for a year, starting with the first connection, but you have to connect with the camera prior to Sept. 30, 2007 (13 months from now). No word on cost to access the CoolPix Connect service through T-Mobile after the year is up.

You can still use the wireless to send images directly to a PC or printer as well, or just use a USB cable.

As for camera features, the new Nikon line has new functionality including "Face-priority AF" for automatic focus on a subject's face, in-camera red-eye fix, correction of inadequate light for an image, and TV Quality Movie Mode for 30 frame-per-second video. The S7c sports a 3x Zoom optical lens with vibration reduction, and can do stop-motion animated movies.

The entire new line of CoolPix cameras should be on sale by September.

Other models in the CoolPix line with Wi-Fi built in include the 8.1-megapixel CoolPix P3. Canon and Kodak also make Wi-Fi equipped digital cameras. A startup company out of Menlo Park, California named Eye-Fi is working on a camera memory card called Eye-Film that will also support Wi-Fi, potentially making any and all digital cameras Wi-Fi capable without further upgrades. They'll support SD sizes first, with Compact Flash to follow. Beta trials of Eye-Film are expected by the third quarter of this year.