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August 2, 2005 – Looking to add to the success of their EasyShare system, Kodak added a new P-Series line today with the release of two high-end consumer cameras, offering advanced features previously unseen on EasyShare models. Joining the competitive "ultra-zoom" segment of consumer level digital cameras is the 8.0 megapixel EasyShare P880, featuring a wide angle zoom lens with manual focus and zoom rings around the large Schneider-Kreuznach Variogon lens barrel. Kodak is also releasing the 5.1 megapixel EasyShare P850 which features an optically stabilized 12x zoom lens. The P880 is expected to be available in early September, with an estimated street price of $599, while the P850 is expected later this month at an estimated price of $499.
"The new P-Series breaks new ground by deftly combining high performance and simplicity," said Greg Westbrook, Kodak’s general manager of digital capture products. "Its flagship, the Easyshare P880 camera, introduces a new, highly compelling alternative to pricier, bulkier dSLRs," he said.
The 8 megapixel P880 (spec sheet), Kodak’s flagship for the new line, does not include image stabilization, rather looking to distinguish itself with its wide angle capabilities and manual zoom and focus rings. The P880 zooms to 5.8x optical magnification, equating to a variable focal length of 24-140mm in 35mm format, with an aperture range of f/2.8 - f/4.1. Manual control over focus and zoom extends to the P880’s video mode, which offers full frame VGA capture at 30 frames per second. The camera also boasts several other features aimed at prosumer-level users, including a PC sync port for off-camera flash units, live histogram, shadow and highlight clipping and support for RAW format images, a first for Kodak.
Together with the P880, Kodak is introducing the EasyShare P850 (spec sheet), an "ultra zoom" model featuring optical image stabilization and 12x optical zoom with an aperture range of f/2.8 – f/3.7 and a 5.1 megapixel CCD sensor. While not offering the manual controls of the P880, the P850 boasts an advanced auto-focus system with 25 selectable points. The P850 also offers full-frame VGA video capture at 30 frames per second, helping users attain full motion video at respectable quality. Like the P880, the P850 offers a live histogram with shadow and highlight clipping as well as support for RAW format files. The P850 also contains a hot shoe, a feature also available on the P880.
Both cameras use SD memory cards, are compatible with Kodak Easyshare printer docks and Imagelink print system and provide support for Pictbridge technology.
Along with the P880 and P850, Kodak is also introducing a line of accessories aimed at upper level consumers. The P20 zoom flash provides coverage up to 35 feet at ISO 100, with a zoom head and tilt capability for bouncing illumination. A 1.4x teleconverter is offered for both cameras and polarizing and neutral density filters are available for the P850 as is a 0.7x wide angle accessory lens.
With the introduction of their P Series, Kodak is offering ease of use and simple sharing and printing options of the EasyShare system to the prosumer level, where competitors Canon, Panasonic and Fujifilm have technically similar offerings that lack Kodak’s one-touch shoot and print capability.
While consumers at the entry and mid levels have shown a desire for such simplicity, as demonstrated by Kodak’s success at those levels, there is no guarantee that prosumer level users want to be removed from the control of editing images on a computer.
Features such as RAW file format support and manual controls show that Kodak is trying to cater to consumers who may look for advanced control, while balancing such sophistication with features designed for simplicity.
But with the dropping prices of DSLRs, which offer higher image quality and greater sophistication, it remains to be seen what place simplified consumer imaging systems, such as Kodak’s EasyShare line, will have with advanced level users.