Pentax offers new point-and-shoot cameras

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Pentax has introduced three new models of its Optio line of point-and-shoot digital cameras. The company is rolling out the M50, S12 and E50 models between now and April, at prices ranging from $149.95 to $279.95.

The $149.95 E50 is aimed at new digital camera buyers. It features an 8.0 megapixel sensor, 2.4-inch LCD display and 3X optical zoom. The auto-focus mechanism sports face recognition and it also has digital shake reduction technology. The E50 runs on two AA batteries, and records images to 9.5MB of internal memory, along with an SD or SDHC card. It connects to a Mac or PC using USB 2.0. The E50 is due out in March.

The M50 also has 8.0 megapixels, but boosts its optical zoom to 5X. It has a 2.5-inch viewfinder, and features "Smile Capture," which recognizes when a subject is smiling and can automatically release the shutter, and face recognition. The M50 comes in three different colors -- light blue, silver and pink. It'll be released in March for $229.95.

The $279.95 S12, coming in April, rounds out the new offerings. Available in either silver or black, the S12 has a 12.0 megapixel sensor, 3X zoom and 2.5-inch display with anti-reflective coating and "Bright Mode." It uses rechargeable lithium ion batteries, supports ISO up to 3200, and "Dynamic Range Adjustment," which Pentax says can help capture portraits.

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