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Palm-sized snappers from Panasonic

Tiny digicam and camcorder to launch in October

Panasonic has unveiled two tiny digital cameras at the IFA exhibition in Berlin.

One, the SV-AV100 is a compact camcorder, while the other, the SV-AS10, is a dinky digital stills camera.

The SV-AV100, which captures Mpeg2 or Mpeg4 footage to a diminutive Secure Digital (SD) card, has been shrunk to just 33x90x65mm and 156g. This means there's no need for the cassette mechanism normally used in camcorders.

The only downside is that SD cards are more expensive and offer less capacity than MiniDV tapes. The camera can record to Secure Digital at 6Mbps (megabits per second), which means a 512MB SD card can only hold around 10 minutes of video.

The camera comes with one 512MB SD card but to buy another one will set you back around £250 from online retailer Amazon, whereas an 80 minute Panasonic MiniDV, used in other compact camcorders, tape costs just £12.

Of course the memory card brings advantages, like fast transfer to a PC, and it can be quickly erased and reused although the price means it isn't quite yet a viable mass-market replacement for digital video tape.

If you want to shoot more video you have the option of recording in Mpeg2 at half the bit rate, which Panasonic calls "normal" mode, or switching to Mpeg4, which is lower quality and lower bit rate. Mpeg4 recording options with the camera range from a "super fine" rate of 1Mbps at 320x240 pixel resolution to the "economy" rate of 100Kbps (kilobits per second) at 176x144 pixel resolution. That translates to between 70 and 700 minutes of recording time with a 512MB SD card.

The camera features an 800,000 pixel CCD (charge-coupled device) sensor and there is also a 10x optical zoom lens and a 2.5in LCD. Still images are recorded in Jpeg format.

The SV-AV100 is due to ship in Europe from October this year for ?1,299 (£900).

The SV-AS10 still camera is even smaller than the camcorder at 10mm thick across most of its body and 13.5mm thick in the area around the lens, 52mm wide and 104mm high. It weighs just 57g. These dimensions make it lighter and slightly thinner than the Casio Exilim digital still camera ? currently one of the thinnest display-equipped cameras on the market ? across the entire body except for the lens area.

The camera has a 2Mp CCD sensor and a lens mechanism that can rotate through 180 degrees to make taking pictures of yourself easier. Other features are what you would expect these days ? flash, red-eye reduction, a macro and the ability to take three photos in quick succession.

A 1.5in monitor and a digital music player with support for MP3, AAC and WMA files are also built into the camera. It can also be used as a voice recorder.

Like the SV-AV100, the camera will also go on sale in Europe from October. It will carry a price of ?329 (£228).

Related links:
Amazon
Casio
IFA
Panasonic


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