Details of new Sony digital cameras hit the Web

They're not due to be officially announced until next week but details of Sony's new line-up of digital still cameras hit numerous Web sites on Tuesday.

They're not due to be officially announced until next week, but details of Sony's new line-up of digital still cameras hit numerous Web sites Tuesday.

Apparently leaked from Europe, the information about the cameras is surprisingly thorough. First reports provided basic specifications of the cameras but some later reports carried photographs of pages from what appear to be a catalog Sony used to promote the cameras to dealers in the U.K. The catalog shots are complete with "confidential until February 27" warnings across the top of the listings.

Sony wouldn't confirm any of the specifications but there isn't any reason to believe the reports are fake.

Among the cameras detailed is the Cybershot G1, a 6-megapixel camera with a 3X optical zoom lens and 3-inch LCD (liquid crystal display) monitor. It has a built-in Wi-Fi adapter -- a feature gaining popularity in cameras as a way to send pictures to PCs. The camera is DLNA (digital living network alliance) complaint, so it should network easier with other gadgets, has an impressive 2G-byte internal memory and can record MPEG 4 movies. Sony says it can manage about 270 shots on a single battery charge, according to the information.

Also new is the Cybershot T100, according to the published documents. This camera combines an 8.1-megapixel image sensor with 5X optical zoom lens and Sony's Bionz processing engine that sits in the heart of the digital SLR (single lens reflex) camera it launched last year. Bionz aids high-speed, high-quality image processing to result in pictures with less image noise, according to the company.

The Cybershot H-series gets two new cameras, the H7 and H9, the reports say. Both maintain the distinctive large lens and offer 8-megapixel quality with 15X optical zoom. They also carry the Bionz processor and other features like anti-shake and Pictbridge printing. The major difference between the two cameras appears to be in the size of the LCD monitor, which is 2.5-inches on the H7 and 3-inches on the H9.

There are also five new W-series models coming up, according to the reports. They include the Cybershot W200, which offers 12.1-megapixel image sensors. That's higher than many other cameras, especially compact cameras, and is sure to be a key selling point, but its usefulness is limited unless the user wants to enlarge pictures to cover entire walls or do some serious cropping and still be left with a usable picture.

Full details of the new cameras, including price and launch date, are expected next week. Sony has scheduled a news conference to announce new Cybershot cameras in Tokyo on Feb. 28.

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Martyn Williams

IDG News Service

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