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Sony fault threatens camera market

Digital camera concerns add to battery woes

Problems with the image pick-up in eight models of Sony digital still camera could prevent users from taking clear pictures or any photos at all, the company has said.

Sony has found the CCD (charge-coupled device) in eight of its cameras sold worldwide between September 2003 and January 2005 could become faulty. The models are the DSC-F88, DSC-M1, DSC-T1, DSC-T11, DSC-T3, DSC-T33, DSC-U40 and DSC-U50.

Problems have generally been reported by users in countries where the weather is hot, said Tomio Takizawa, a spokesman for the Tokyo company. Sony will repair the camera at no charge if it shows the problem, he said.

The most recent announcement broadens a problem first reported by Sony in October 2005. At that time the company listed 20 models of digital still camera with the same potential fault.

Sony is one of the world's largest producers of CCD image sensors, which are the chips that sit behind the lens of the camera and convert light into electronic pulses. Because its sensors are used by other companies, the October 2005 problems reached beyond Sony and potentially affect more than 100 models of digital still camera.

At that time several other digital camera makers including Canon, Konica Minolta, Nikon, and Fujifilm announced plans to replace faulty CCDs for problems similar to those described by Sony.

It's the latest in a string of quality control problems to hit the Japanese consumer electronics giant. Earlier this year problematic metallic particles inside Sony batteries caused several fires and led to laptop makers recalling or offering to replace around 9.6m laptop batteries. Sony expects the battery problems will cost it around ¥51.2bn (about £228m).


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