Panasonic Announces New Dual-Use NV-EX21 MiniDV Camcorder

Panasonic AnnouncesTOKYO (Reuters) – Trying to pick between a digital still camera and a digital video camera?   For ,657, you can have both, says Matsushita Electric Industrial Co Ltd, best known for its Panasonic brand of consumer electronics.

On Monday, the company unveiled the Panasonic NV-EX21, the world’s first DV format digital camcorder with a detachable network-ready digital still camera. The product will go on sale on September 1, with the company aiming for monthly output of 5,000 cameras and a North American launch by the spring.

Analysts say Matsushita, the world’s biggest consumer electronics firm, is looking to capture market share in the high-growth area of digital video cameras.

The company said half of the 12 million video cameras sold around the world last year were digital — a relatively small ratio considering the Japanese market is more than 90 percent dominated by the digital format. Matsushita, which holds about 30 percent of the Japanese market for digital video cameras, trails market leader Sony Corp (news – web sites) in sales of both digital videos and still cameras.

Its latest product is an attempt to ease Sony’s grip. With the touch of a button, the NV-EX21 transforms from video camera to a digital camera sized to fit in your pocket. It can capture still pictures and offers MPEG-4 video — the industry standard in compressing moving pictures into a download-friendly format. All that information can be stored onto an SD Memory Card, a challenger to Sony’s Memory Stick.

The NV-EX21 is also wired with Bluetooth technology, which allows users to transfer through the camera still images wirelessly to a personal computer, up to 10 meters away. The new camera features an extra large capacity CCD, 1.08-megapixel recording capability, and built-in Leica Dicomar lens with a 10x optical and 25x/100x digital zoom.

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