Panasonic develops first digital SLR camera

IDG News Service |  Hardware

Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd. (Panasonic) has developed its first digital SLR (single lens reflex) camera, it said Monday.

SLR cameras use a mirror placed between the lens and the film or image sensor to project the image to the camera's viewfinder. The mirror moves out of the way when the picture is taken. SLR cameras typically support interchangeable lenses and are generally respond faster and are more capable than fixed-lens cameras.

Panasonic's first camera, the DMC-L1, is the result of a joint-development agreement with Olympus Corp. signed a year earlier. The camera, a prototype of which is being shown at the Photo Marketing Association's 2006 trade fair that began in the U.S. on Sunday, includes a newly developed image sensor that allows for live images to be displayed on the camera's rear LCD (liquid crystal display) for an extended period. Such a function more closely resembles that offered in consumer compact digital cameras and isn't possible with current digital SLR cameras.

It also conforms to the "Four Thirds System" standard that specifies a common lens mount. Camera makers usually employ their own proprietary lens mounts -- the sockets that lenses plug into -- and that means lenses bought for one camera won't work in a model from a competing manufacturer. Removable lenses mean photographers don't have to go through the expense of replacing a lens when they upgrade a camera. But it does effectively lock a photographer into cameras from a specific manufacturer as replacing a number of lenses is often an expensive proposition.

The four-thirds system represents at attempt by Olympus, Panasonic, Eastman Kodak Co., Fuji Photo Film Co, Ltd., Sanyo Electric Co. Ltd. and Sigma Corp. to create a standard image sensor and lens mount. Nikon Corp. and Canon Inc. have their own mounts and Sony Corp. will be using the camera mount system of Konica Minolta Photo Imaging Inc.

Few other details of the Panasonic camera were available. The company said it plans to introduce it later this year.

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