Original Source Press Release:
One digicam, two lenses: Kodak announces the EasyShare V570|
(Monday, January 2, 2006 - 07:00 EST)
Ultrawide angle zoom lenses are tricky and expensive to make, not to mention bulky. Kodak sidesteps these limitations by combining an ordinary 3x zoom lens and a 23mm equivalent fixed focal length ultrawide optic in a single camera, making what's sure to be one of the more intriguing cameras of 2006.
Given the maturity of the digital camera market, it's pretty rare when something genuinely new comes along. It's even more rare to find something new that actually meets a real need in the marketplace. The newly-announced Kodak EasyShare V570 looks like it just might satisfy on both counts, offering both a fixed ultra-wide angle lens and a separate 3x optical zoom lens in a very small package.
Wide angle capability is rare, but desirable in consumer digital cameras, as indoor confines often make it hard to capture all you want to see in your photograph even if you back up against the wall. While most modern digital cameras have a "wide" end to their zoom lens, it's seldom really that wide, equalling about 33 to 39mm on most digital cameras. To get quality wide angle lenses at a low price, you really need a prime (non-zoom) lens. Selling a non-zoom camera into this modern market would be tough, though, because they make framing and composing your shots much easier. Camera makers can design and build an ultra-wide angle lens, and zoom lens design and construction is a well-understood art. Combining the two is the tough part. A few cameras manage to cover a range from ultrawide to medium telephoto (notably the Kodak EasyShare P880 and the Sony DSC-R1), but the optics required to do so are relatively large and bulky, not to mention expensive to make and sell.
Rather than try to tweak the optics to go from 23mm to 117mm in a singe stroke, the engineers at Kodak decided to use two lenses to cover the range.
At first this sounds impractical, as the problem of swapping two lenses back and forth in front of a sensor chip would itself demand considerable cost and complexity, given the very tight mechanical tolerances required between chip and optics.
But why not just give each lens its own dedicated sensor? This initially sounds extravagantly expensive, until you stop to consider that the relentless march of Moore's Law means that the cost of the actual sensor chip has come to represent a smaller and smaller portion of the total cost of a digital camera. Compared to the cost and bulk of a single lens that could zoom from ultrawide to medium telephoto, two smaller, simpler lenses and two sensors represent a reasonable trade-off.
This is exactly what Kodak has done with the EasyShare V570, certainly one of the more unusual-looking cameras we've seen in recent memory. Two folded-optic lenses are stacked inside the camera body, each with its own 5-megapixel sensor attached. A fixed focal-length, hyperfocal (fixed focus) 23mm equivalent ultrawide angle lens sits atop a more conventional 39-117mm equivalent 3x optical zoom lens. In the camera's user interface, you can choose to either jump from 23mm to 39mm as you zoom, or to have a digital zoom function provide a smooth zoom range between the two lenses (with the image degradation that digital zoom always entails).
The illustrations below show a schematic view of the two lenses, and the way in which they're arranged inside the camera body. (Illustrations courtesy Eastman Kodak Company, modifications copyright 2006 Imaging Resource.)
Two lenses in the same body provide ultra-wide angle (23mm equivalent) and normal 3x zoom capability. Each sensor has its own CCD sensor chip.
By separating the ultrawide and normal zoom capabilities into two discrete lenses, the overall optical system can fit into a much smaller space than that required for a single zoom lens covering the same focal length range.
Besides its dual optical system, the EasyShare V570 incorporates a few other features that, while not absolutely unique, are unusual to find combined in a single package, particularly one this compact and at this price point. ($399 estimated street price)
We've seen in-camera panorama stitching in a few cameras previously, but it's been of somewhat limited effectiveness. In the EasyShare V570, a special panorama mode does a surprisingly good job of stitching three shots into a seamless panorama, provided you're careful enough in lining up the individual exposures. The camera helps you achieve good shot-to-shot alignment by showing a cropped rectangle from each prior shot on the viewfinder prior to the second and third shot of each series. Taking advantage of the wide field of view of the 23mm ultrawide angle lens, the V570 can create a full 180 degree panorama from just three shots. Playing with a prototype of the camera, we were impressed by how good a job it did stitching the images together. It was far from infallible, but with some care in the initial alignment, the panoramas it produced were almost entirely seamless.
Another feature that's been seen before, but only on much higher-end cameras, is in-camera distortion correction. Enabled by a setup menu selection, the V570's distortion correction feature removes most (but not quite all) of the barrel distortion from its ultrawide angle images, at the cost of just a few seconds of additional processing after each shot.
Taken together, the low-distortion ultrawide angle capability and in-camera panorama stitching should make the Kodak EasyShare V570 an absolute must-have camera for realtors: If you need to show off room interiors or building exteriors under cramped shooting conditions, there isn't another camera on the market that can touch the capability of the V570.
True MPEG-4 video recording is the third feature that's not unique, but still very nice to find. Carried forward from the previous V550 model, MPEG-4 encoding creates much smaller video files for a given quality level than the more common motion JPEG encoding. With MPEG-4 encoding, capturing high-quality, multi-minute videos with a digital camera becomes much more practical.
There's no question that the Kodak EasyShare V570 breaks new ground and offers an absolutely unique set of capabilities in a very compact camera body, and at an affordable price. What remains to be seen is how its image quality and exposure capabilities stack up against those of its more conventional competitors. - We have a sample of the V570 in house now, so should be able to more fully assess its capabilities within the next couple of weeks. Meanwhile, here are the full specs of the camera, and more photos that we shot of it.
|Kodak EasyShare V570|
|Dimensions||4.0 x 2.0 x 0.8"|
101.0 x 49.8 x 20.4mm
|Planned Availability||Early Jan 2006|
5.36 megapixels (total)
5.00 megapixels (effective)
|Aspect Ratio||4:3, 3:2|
|Image Dimensions||2576 x 1932 (5.0 megapixels)2576 x 1716 (4.4 megapixels)2304 x 1728 (4.0 megapixels)2048 x 1536 (3.1 megapixels)1552 x 1164 (1.8 megapixels)|
|Image Preview / Review|
|LCD||2.5", 230 pixels|
|Playback Zoom||8.0x max|
|Lens Type||Two Schneider Kreuznach C-Variogon|
5x optical zoom
|Focal Length||23 - 39mm (35mm equivalent)|
|Aperture Range||f2.8 (ultrawide) / f/3.9-4.4 (3x lens)|
|Focusing System||TTL auto, multi-zone, center spot with AF assist lamp|
|Focusing Range||Normal: 24" - infinity (60 cm - infinity)|
Macro: 2.0" - infinity (5.0 cm - infinity)
|ISO Sensitivity||64, 100, 200, 400, 800|
|Shutter Speed||1/2 sec - 1/1400 second|
|Metering Modes||Multi-pattern, center, spot|
|Exposure Compensation||+/- 2.0EV in 0.3EV increments|
|White Balance||Image Sensor - Auto, Daylight, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Open shade|
|Internal Flash||Guide Number: 6|
Modes: Auto, Fill, Red-eye, Off
Range: At ISO 200: 2.6-10 ft/0.8-3.1m (ULTRA-WIDE), 2.0-6.2 ft/0.6-1.6m (WIDE), 2.0-7.2 ft/0.6-2.2m (TELE)
|Scene Modes||Backlight, Beach, Candle light, Children, Close-up, Custom, Fireworks, Flower, Landscape, Manner/museum, Night landscape, Night portrait, Panning shot, Panorama, Party, Portrait, Self-portrait, Snow, Sport, Sunset, Text|
|Self Timer||Yes, 10 seconds|
|Recording Medium||SD/MMC, Built-in|
|File System||Complies with Design Rule for Camera File System (DCF)|
|File Format||JPEG (EXIF 2.21)|
|Video||Yes, NTSC / PAL switchable|
|Computer||USB 2.0 Full (LOW) Speed|
|Battery Form Factor||KLIC-7001|
|Software||Kodak EasyShare Software|
|Battery / Charger||Li-Ion Rechargeable battery and charger|
|Flash Memory||32.0MB Internal|
|Tripod Mount||Yes, Plastic|
|Operating System Compatibility||Windows, Mac OS|
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|Kodak Unveils World's First Dual-Lens Digital Camera; Combines Ultra-Wide Angle and Zoom Lenses in Compact Body|
Innovative KODAK EASYSHARE V570 Camera with RETINA Dual Lens Technology Shown First at CES 2006 in Kodak Booth 31400 (LVCC South/3)
LAS VEGAS, Jan. 2 -- Kicking off this week’s 2006 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Eastman Kodak Company today introduced the world’s first dual-lens digital still camera, the KODAK EASYSHARE V570 zoom digital camera. Using proprietary KODAK RETINA Dual Lens technology, the elegant V570 camera wraps an ultra-wide angle lens (23 mm) and an optical zoom lens (39 – 117 mm) into a small, sleek package less than an inch thin.
The innovative EASYSHARE V570 camera’s ultra-wide angle lens coupled with its optical zoom lens produces a total 5X optical zoom range, providing more options to help today’s picture takers capture the perfect shot —group photos, scenic landscapes, dramatic portraits, and close-ups. No other consumer digital camera offers such a wide angle of view, nor the unique, sophisticated design of this model, whose all-glass, stacked SCHNEIDER-KREUZNACH C-VARIOGON prism lenses never extend from the camera body.
“Today’s picture takers expect high-performance features in an attractive package. Kodak is first to give them a coveted but previously unavailable ultra-wide angle lens in a pocket-size camera,” said Mary Hadley, general manager of digital cameras for Kodak’s Consumer Digital Imaging Group. “Capturing high quality photos with maximum ease of use are at the top of people’s lists when buying a new digital camera. By delivering on these needs in a completely new way, the EASYSHARE V570 camera pushes the boundaries of innovative design for ultra-compact cameras.”
Wide-Angle Panorama Stitching and Advanced Video Performance
In addition to its dual lens design, the 5-megapixel V570 camera boasts a variety of notable features to enhance the photography experience, including in-camera panorama stitching, which automatically combines three pictures into a panorama photograph. Using the ultra-wide view in panorama scene mode, people can take in a 180-degree vista with just three shots — an industry exclusive.
Packing advanced video performance, the camera makes it easier for users to shoot all types of action in the way that many filmmakers prefer — with an ultra-wide angle to capture more of the scene. The EASYSHARE V570 camera records TV-quality video, up to 30 frames per second (fps) using advanced MPEG-4 compression. Built-in image stabilization technology reduces on-screen shaking from unintentional hand and camera movement. The camera also offers an optical zoom feature for video including auto focus. And it is simple to select any frame in a video, then save and print it as a “freeze frame” still picture in just seconds.
Other notable features of the V570 camera include:
- A big, brilliant 2.5-inch, high-resolution LCD screen;
- The exclusive KODAK Color Science image processing chip for phenomenal image quality with rich color, accurate skin tones, low noise and precise exposure;
- Automatic red-eye reduction, on-camera cropping, picture blur alert and auto picture rotation;
- In-camera distortion correction to compensate for ultra-wide angle fish-eye effects, which can be turned on or off;
- Twenty-two scene modes plus three color modes, helping snap shooters capture the best possible shot with the least possible effort;
- The Photo Frame Dock 2, which provides one-touch picture transfer to a connected computer while keeping the cameras’ high-capacity lithium-ion battery charged and ready to go, and which can play video and photo ‘slideshows’ on the camera’s high-resolution LCD screen;
- And 32 megabytes (MB) of internal memory, plus a SD card slot for additional storage.
The KODAK EASYSHARE V570 zoom digital camera with Photo Frame Dock 2 will be available worldwide beginning later this month for US$399 (MSRP).
EASYSHARE Software and Accessories
The KODAK EASYSHARE V570 camera includes KODAK EASYSHARE software for WINDOWS and MACINTOSH systems, providing effortless digital picture organization, editing, sharing and printing — and even CD and DVD burning. The exclusive One Touch to Better Pictures feature takes advantage of proprietary color technologies developed by Kodak to help users get vibrant, true-to-life prints from inkjet printers, while the enhanced favorites feature helps you always have your best shots at hand, whether on your camera, on your computer, or online via the KODAK EASYSHARE Gallery.
Kodak also makes it easy to accessorize the new V570 camera with a range of products that help show off your pictures. For instance, the popular KODAK EASYSHARE Printer Dock Plus Series 3 (US$179 MSRP) makes it one-touch simple to print real KODAK pictures at home in just 60 seconds — with or without a computer.
Following on the heels of its revolutionary wireless EASYSHARE-ONE zoom digital camera introduction at CES 2005, Kodak continues to bring groundbreaking features to its award-winning KODAK EASYSHARE digital photography system, enhancing the digital photography experience for consumers worldwide. The EASYSHARE system consists of cameras, snapshot printers, services, docks, software, inkjet and thermal photo papers, and accessories, making taking, organizing, sharing, and printing high quality digital pictures effortless. Further information on KODAK EASYSHARE products is available at www.kodak.com/go/EasyShare/
About Eastman Kodak Company
Kodak is the leader in helping people take, share, print and view images – for memories, for information, for entertainment. With sales of $13.5 billion in 2004, the company is committed to a digitally oriented growth strategy focused on the following businesses: Health -- supplying the medical and dental industries with traditional and digital imaging-information products and services, as well healthcare IT solutions and services; Graphic Communications - offering on-demand color and black and white printing, wide-format inkjet printing, high-speed, high-volume continuous inkjet printing, as well as document scanning, archiving and multi-vendor IT services; Digital & Film Imaging Systems - providing consumers, professionals and cinematographers with digital and traditional products and services; and Display & Components - which designs and manufactures state-of-the-art organic light-emitting diode displays as well as other specialty materials, and delivers imaging sensors to original equipment manufacturers. More information about Kodak (NYSE: EK) is available at www.kodak.com.