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One Camera For Still Pictures and Video

Boot Camp feature for Tuesday, June 18, 2002

One camera for still pictures and video. Bloomberg Boot Camp, a report on today's technology. It's summer vacation season... .and if you're going away chances are you're taking along a video camera and a still camera. There are digital camcorders that can take snapshots... .and digital cameras that can take video clips. But I haven't seen one yet that does a good job at both. But new technology on the horizon promises to change that. Eric Zarakov is VP at a Santa Clara based start-up called Foveon... that is making a new digital photography chip it calls X3... .

"What most people don't know is that digital cameras today only capture one third of the color that is available. And the result is you get pictures that are good but not nearly as good as they could be. And with the Foveon X3 technology, we capture all of the color in the scene, and that results in images that will tend to be twice as sharp."

And cameras using the new chip will be able to shoot high quality digital video and still pictures... .

"What this means for consumers is that if I'm a soccer mom watching a soccer game, I could be using a new X3 enabled digital camera and take video of the scene unfolding and if I see a shot that I want to take and get a still of it, I can press the shutter, a strobe will go off and the sensor will go from low res video mode to very high resolution still mode, capture a still picture that I could blow up to an 8 by 10, that is comparable to any 35 millimeter print you would get today, and then it immediately goes back to video."

Mainstream cameras using the technology should be on the market some time next year. While Foveon does face competition... the company says it is talking to virtually all of big names in the industry.