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Plawa's AgfaPhoto DC735 digital camera. Courtesy of Plawa, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Agfa returns to the digicam market
By Michael R. Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Thursday, September 7, 2006 - 18:05 EDT)

After an absence of nearly five years, the Agfa brandname will be found on digital cameras once more, courtesy of a deal announced today in Germany.

A part of the digital camera market from the mid 1990s through to 2001, Agfa's lineup included about fifteen models. These spanned a wide range, all the way from entry-level consumer cameras to pro-oriented models such as a a sixteen megapixel scanning studio camera with a Nikon lens mount, and a rebranded Minolta digital SLR.

Fierce competition saw the company drop out of the game after announcing the ePhoto CL45 in March of 2001. In late 2004, Agfa-Gevaert N.V. finalised the sale of its consumer imaging business to the newly created AgfaPhoto GmbH, and just over six months later the newly formed entity filed for bankruptcy protection.

AgfaPhoto GmbH is currently in the process of liquidation, and likely as part of that process, a German company by the name of plawa-feinwerktechnik GmbH & Co. has obtained an exclusive license from AgfaPhoto Holding to distribute digital cameras under the AgfaPhoto brand. The company has disclosed plans to launch a line of cameras at the upcoming Photokina tradeshow in Cologne, Germany.

According to the release, the company plans to introduce cameras priced from €99 to €199 in the five to ten megapixel segment, with the aim of achieving a five percent market share. AgfaPhoto digital cameras will be sold by Plawa in Germany, and through distributors in other European markets. Singaporean company Flextronics Int'l Ltd. - which recently announced a deal to manufacture and distribute digital cameras in cooperation with Kodak - has apparently also been lined up as a partner by Plawa.

Alongside the press release, a product box shot has been made available, indicating that one of the first models on offer will apparently be a seven megapixel CCD-based camera with a 6.55 - 18.07mm, F3.27 - 5.44 3x optical zoom lens. Dubbed the AgfaPhoto DC-735, other features will include a 2.5" TFT LCD display, built-in flash, movie mode with sound, Lithium Ion battery, and a metal chassis.

The AgfaPhoto DC-735 looks to be a fairly straightforward update of an existing 5.3 megapixel Polaroid-branded digital camera model, the Polaroid m536. This is perhaps not altogether surprising, given that Plawa, the company behind the new AgfaPhoto digital cameras, also offers Polaroid-branded cameras in Europe. Polaroid's brandname was licensed out after that company went through a liquidation process not unlike AgfaPhoto's own.

More news on the new AgfaPhoto lineup can be expected alongside the Photokina tradeshow.

Plawa's AgfaPhoto DC735 digital camera. Courtesy of Plawa, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!

Original Source Press Release:

AGFAPHOTO is Going Digital: plawa Granted Exclusive License for Digital Cameras

UHINGEN, September 7, 2006 - The digital camera specialist plawa has been granted an exclusive license for AGFAPHOTO digital cameras effective today, when the agreement came into force. The license was granted by Cologne-based AgfaPhoto Holding GmbH.

Agfa has been one of the most prominent names in the photography industry for over a century. According to a digital camera survey conducted by Stern magazine in 2004, Agfa has an 83 percent brand awareness, making it the second best known camera brand.

AgfaPhoto Holding CEO Dr. Frank Nellissen noted the following: "In plawa we've found a licensee that has the product and marketing acumen in this key product sector that is needed for success in this aggressive and fast moving market. The AGFAPHOTO brand is all about providing photo retailers with quality cameras at good prices. plawa has decades of marketing and manufacturing experience with cameras and is a known quantity in the industry, making them the perfect partner for us".

"Market success will be decided in the high volume price segment ranging from 99 to 199 euros for five to ten megapixel digital cameras. We will be launching a line of cameras with features of varying scope in September. We will also be unveiling the first AGFAPHOTO digital cameras for partners and industry professionals at photokina in Cologne," noted Michael Roessler, CEO of plawa-feinwerktechnik GmbH & Co. KG.

plawa hopes to gain a five percent market share in the medium term on the basis of outstanding products, the robust AGFAPHOTO brand and an enticing warranty and technical support package. plawa will be marketing AGFAPHOTO digital cameras in Germany, while the other European markets will be serviced by distributors.

When it comes to product development, plawa has extensive experience with leading Asian production and technology partners such as Flextronics, which is already on board as the partner for the new product line.

A high resolution photograph of the new AGFAPHOTO product packaging and the present press release in Word and pdf formats are available for download from:
www.panama-pr.de/download/agfaphoto_EN.zip .

About the companies
plawa-feinwerktechnik GmbH & Co. KG was founded in 1969, expanded rapidly as a specialist in slide frames and film rolls, and with these products became a leader on the German market. In 2000 the company entered the digital photography market and now distributes AGFAPHOTO digital cameras. In addition to popular digital music and mobile TV/video products, plawa is also master distributor of the world's first mass produced laser keyboard, the Celluon Laserkey. Product lines and promotional products are supplied to photography, IT, electronics and food sector retailers throughout Europe from the company's headquarters in Uhingen. www.plawa.com

AgfaPhoto Holding GmbH is the licensee for Agfa-Gevaert's AgfaPhoto brand. This exclusive sublicense for digital cameras was granted to plawa by AgfaPhoto Holding GmbH.

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