TOKYO Optical disks measuring 8 centimeters in diameter will enter the digital camera scene next month as large-capacity bridge media to PCs.
In the vanguard of DVD-RAM promoters, Hitachi Ltd. will introduce a DVD video camera that uses an 8-cm version of the latest DVD-RAM Version 2.0 disk format, packing 1.4 Gbytes per side for the first time. And using mature, recordable-CD technology, Sony Corp. will introduce an 8-cm version of CD-R with a 156-Mbyte capacity, another first for digital still camera applications.
The disk format makes it possible for cameras to store a mixture of still and video images on one medium, which was not possible for tape-based cameras. Once those disks are recorded by the cameras, they can can be read by ROM drives, which is also seen as a big advantage. However, DVD-RAM disks still have to wait until compatible DVD-ROM drives more widely penetrate the market.
"DVD connects the digital audio-video world and the PC world with one medium," said Yoshinori Fujimori, chief executive officer of Hitachi Digital Media Group. "Hitachi will promote the DVD world, positioning its DVD-RAM camera as a strategic product."
Hitachi's DVD video camera, dubbed DZ-MV100, can capture and store MPEG-2 video and still JPEG images on one disk. The camera is said to achieve video-picture quality of more than 500 TV lines, outdoing the VHS format's roughly 300 TV lines and the laser disk's 425 lines. For still images, 1,280 x 960-dot resolution is available, Hitachi said. One disk can store about 60 minutes of MPEG-2 video, recorded at a fixed data rate of 6 Mbits/second, or 1,998 JPEG images per side, the company said.
Hitachi Maxell will start selling the 8-cm DVD-RAM disk in a cartridge late next month, timed with the camera's introduction. The list price in Japan will be about $29 per disk.
While the 12-cm DVD-RAM disk (4.7-Gbyte) for recorders complies with the Content Protection for Recordable Media scheme, the 8-cm disk has no need for CPRM, since it is dedicated for camera use, to shoot original images. Disks can be taken out of the cartridge to ensure future compatibility with DVD-ROM drives and DVD-Video players, when they are upgraded to DVD-RAM compatibility, Hitachi said.
Hitachi developed the two major components for the camera in-house an MPEG-2 encoding chip; and a camera signal-processing chip. With partners it developed a 0.25-inch, 1.1 million-pixel CCD sensor and a 12x optical zoom lens for the strategic camera.
The MPEG-2 chip features low power consumption of 350 milliwatts. The DSP-6 signal-processing chip is inherited from the MPEG-1 camera that Hitachi introduced in 1997.