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Nikon Coolpix SQ: The cat takes another step out of the bag?
By Michael R. Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Monday, February 10, 2003 - 19:51 EST)

Regular readers will be well aware of the Nikon Coolpix SQ (in form, if not in specification) - the camera was supposed to be gradually introduced through a series of teasers which were leaked early over the weekend.

Thus far, though, we've seen only speculation as to specifications from readers and in forums and newsgroups - nothing official has been released by Nikon, and none of the websites we've seen have posted anything beyond what was in the leaked Shockwave teaser files. If you'll pardon the corruption of the cliche, the cat has poked its head out of the bag, but it hasn't really come out yet.

That might be changing though, as a familiar voice from the European continent has spoken up. Chasseurs d'Images (the very name probably sends a shiver down Nikon's spine) has several times in the past got its hands on information of new Nikon digital cameras, and posted it well in advance of the expiration of NDAs. We don't know how they do it - either they have gotten away with flouting NDAs, or they forgo them altogether and have a source close to Nikon who leaks information to them. One way or the other, they've managed to fairly accurately describe several cameras before launch (although we'd caution that their information isn't *always* accurate).

And so the cycle continues: the cat might be taking another tentative step out of the bag with an article in French posted on Chasseurs d'Images' website. According to the French magazine, their information on the Coolpix SQ is "not a rumor", and the new camera will have dimensions of 85 x 86 x 25.5 mm (3.3" x 3.4" x 1"). The article is actually rather derogatory on the point of size, saying that to hold the Coolpix SQ in your hands, you'd "believe you were holding a McDonald's sandwich! In your pocket, its thickness will be a handicap: it will be difficult to forget the SQ is there".

Apparently the camera will be fast, however; turning it on is a matter of rotating the lens / flash unit, and Chasseurs says that there will be no perceptible delay for the camera to start up. The article says that the Coolpix SQ will not meet the expected specifications rumored in Internet forums, and will have a 3x optical zoom lens, and a 3.3 megapixel CCD imager. Chasseurs describe the SQ as being a more compact version of the Coolpix 990 / 995, and note that with the flash so close to the lens it will be very susceptible to red-eye in flash photos.

It isn't all bad though - they do list two points which they believe are strengths of the Coolpix SQ. The first is its startup speed, from whence it apparently derives its name ("SQ" = "Super Quick"). It will also apparently have a good reflective LCD screen with high contrast and brightness, that should remain readable in full sunlight and has a high resolution of 200,000 pixels.

Chasseurs says that the Nikon Coolpix SQ will cost "less than €599" (US$642 / CDN$982 / £395 / ¥78,000 ignoring currency fluctuations, taxes and duties). They say the camera will be shown first at PMA 2003 in Las Vegas (a point that seems extremely likely, given the time it is being unveiled), and that it won't go on sale until the second half of April.

The article continues with rumors that there will be no replacements for the Nikon D1X and D1H released until Summer 2003 at the earliest (although they say Nikon may talk about such cameras at PMA). They also suggest that the D100 might soon see a price drop to face a new EOS digital camera, and that a D100H might be announced. They describe new firmware and a larger buffer, but it isn't clear if this is a suggestion of what the D100H would entail, or whether this is a suggestion to extend the life of the D100 whilst the D100H would have an altogether different specification.

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