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At first glance, Canon's new PowerShot A460 looks like a lot of camera for a hundred and fifty bucks.
You might have thought that Sony and Canon would have released their newest entry-level digital camera before the holiday buying season, but that wasn't the case. Instead, the two companies are apparently hoping that you'll take some of that holiday cash gifted to you by relatives too busy to shop, and use it to pick up one of the six cameras they just released for $200 or less.
Canon today announced two budget cameras, the $199.99, 7.1-megapixel A550, and the $149.99, 5-megapixel A460. The A550 features a 4x optical zoom and a 2-inch LCD (in addition to an optical viewfinder). It replaces the A530, and improves upon that comparably priced model with an improved video mode (640 by 480 at 30 fps), and, Canon claims, longer battery life.
Canon's less-expensive A460 also has a 2-inch LCD and an optical viewfinder, plus the same 4x optical zoom as the A550 - the A460's lower 5-megapixel resolution and less-ergonomic handling are the main differences between the two. Both cameras use Canon's DIGIC II photo processor, AiAF autofocusing, and iSAPS scene-analysis algorithms, both are powered by two AA batteries, and both accept MMC, SD and SDHC memory cards.
Sony doubles Canon's announcements with four new inexpensive models. Sony didn't give firm prices for the new cameras, so the prices listed here are what Sony says are "about" what they will be available for.
Two new Sony cameras will be in the Cyber-shot W series: the $200 DSC-W55 and the $180 DSC-W35. Both are 7.2-megapixel models that include Carl Zeiss Vatio-Tessar lenses. The W55 is available in "Caribbean blue, pale pink, elegant black and sleek silver," and has a 2.5-inch LCD, while the W35 "will shimmer in silver," and has a 2-inch LCD.
The two other Sony cameras are in the Cyber-shot S series, the $180 DSC-S700 and the $150 DSC-S650. Both of these will "shine in classic silver;" the S700 has a 2.4-inch LCD and the S650, a 2-inch LCD.
All four of Sony's new offerings have a 3x optical zoom and ISO settings up to 1000. Sony claims that the W series cameras will take up to 380 shots on one charge of their lithium-ion batteries. The S series cameras run on AA batteries, and Sony claims that they'll take up to 460 shots on rechargeables.