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Olympus Announces 32MB SmartMedia™ Card

Olympus America Inc., Digital & Imaging Systems Group, the world leader in film and filmless photography, today announced 32MB SmartMedia cards under the Olympus brand. Also announced was a compatibility program bringing 32MB card compatibility to legacy filmless digital cameras and the P-330 Instant Photo Printer.

Olympus brand SmartMedia cards are compatible with camera models (from companies such as Agfa, Epson, Fuji, Minolta, Olympus, Toshiba and others) designed to accept industry standard SmartMedia cards. The Olympus brand 32MB SmartMedia card, which is expected to sell for $99, works in all digital camera models that are compatible with the 3.3V 32MB SmartMedia architecture. These new cards will be available in June at camera specialty stores, computer superstores, office superstores, warehouse club superstores, consumer electronic stores, and through mail order.

Though compatible with other brand digital cameras, when placed in many Olympus filmless digital cameras, the Olympus card enables additional capabilities. Besides allowing for storage of images, the card also carries additional firmware that is appended to the firmware in the camera itself. This extra firmware is accessed through the special function (star) button on the camera. The Olympus 32MB SmartMedia card enables the Olympus filmless cameras to be placed in a panorama mode.

Once in the panorama mode, the camera locks the exposure to the first exposure of the series. The exposure of each image in the panoramic set will then be the same. This benefits the end user by making the resulting stitched images more consistent in tone instead of having variations in color. Enroute Imaging's QuickStitch software, which is also included with each Olympus digital camera, can then be used to easily stitch images together for a smooth panoramic photo with superb results.

As camera resolutions increase, the need for removable memory cards in larger capacities also increases. For example, the Olympus 2.1 megapixel C-2000 Zoom can save 15 high-quality images on an 8MB SmartMedia card. Furthermore, new camera features place added pressure on camera storage. For example, burst mode photography is particularly demanding, as the user can effectively fill a card with images in just seconds. Panorama mode also stresses storage capacities as the user shoots multiple images to capture one vista or subject. As a result, panorama photography consumes storage quickly. Higher capacity cards assist with these newer use patterns.

Compatibility
As worldwide leaders in megapixel cameras, the Olympus D-400 Zoom, D-620L and C-2000 Zoom filmless digital cameras are inherently 32MB SmartMedia compatible. The pocket sized D-340L and D-340R come standard with 16MB SmartMedia compatibility and are optionally upgradeable to the latest 32MB SmartMedia card. Earlier D-220L and the D-320L cameras are 8MB SmartMedia compatible. Those owners of Olympus legacy D-320L cameras who want to bring them in-line with contemporary storage capacity may upgrade them to 16MB SmartMedia capability.

The new Olympus P-330 Instant Photo Printer also can read a SmartMedia card. While all current production printers are 32MB compatible, some early production units are not. Any printer with 32MB compatibility has a serial number of 2206021 or higher and is labeled on the shipping box. Owners of the earlier units who desire 32MB compatibility may upgrade their printer free of charge.

Upgrade Program
Starting on June 1, 1999 and continuing through December 31, 1999, all Olympus D-340R, D-340L, D-500L and D-600L owners will be able to upgrade these Olympus products to 32MB SmartMedia card compatibility. Additionally, all D-320L owners can upgrade their camera to 16MB SmartMedia compatibility. The upgrade service for the D-320L, D-340L or D-340R will cost $49.95, while the D-500L and D-600L upgrade will cost $69.95. As an extra benefit, those choosing to purchase a 16MB (MSRP $59.95) or 32MB (MSRP $99.95) SmartMedia card directly from Olympus as a part of the upgrade service will receive a $20 discount on the service fee. Return costs are included in the service price and a professional lens cleaning will also be included free of charge. Users who have already upgraded their D-500L or D-600L camera to 16MB SmartMedia compatibility and who choose to now upgrade to 32MB compatibility will receive the upgrade for free with the purchase of a 32MB card at the time of upgrade.

All owners of the P-330 Instant Photo Printers with a serial number lower than 2206021 may elect to upgrade their printer. Users will need to send their camera or printer to Olympus for upgrade service. All products should be returned to their owners in five to seven business days.

Flashpath&153; Floppy Disk Adapter
The Olympus floppy disk adapter is 32MB SmartMedia compatible. All floppy disk adapters with the part number (MAFP-2) are compatible as shipped, with 2, 4, 8, 16 and 32MB SmartMedia capacity. All devices that have a part number (MAFP-1) are compatible up to 16MB SmartMedia, with the ability to upgrade to 32MB compatibility by simply downloading an updated driver from the Olympus website at http://www.olympus.com/digital.

PCMCIA Adapter
All adapters that have a part number (MA-2) offer the user 2, 4, 8, 16 and 32MB SmartMedia compatibility. All earlier models (MA-1) are compatible with 2, 4 and 8MB SmartMedia. Due to the device architecture of the (MA-1) an upgrade is not available.

"Continuing its market leadership tradition, Olympus now offers to enhance our customer's level of satisfaction with its digital camera line-up. Customer satisfaction is at the heart of our 32MB SmartMedia Upgrade Program—offering the highest level of service our customers have come to expect," stated Ben La Marca, Group Vice President, Digital Marketing & Development, Olympus America, Digital & Imaging Systems Group.

The upgrade specifics are available from our website at http://www.olympus.com/digital or call (888) 55-DIGITAL or (888) 553-4448.

For more information, contact Olympus America, Digital & Imaging Systems Group, Two Corporate Center Dr., Melville, NY 11747-3157, ph: (516) 844-5000 (800) 347-4027, Fax: (516) 844-5262 or the Olympus Web Site specified above.

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Olympus America distributes a wide range of products for consumer, scientific, health care, commercial and industrial markets. These include film and filmless cameras, Microcassette and digital voice recorders, binoculars, film scanners, personal photo printers, medical and industrial endoscopes, biological and metallurgical microscopes and measuring instruments, clinical analyzers, and other high technology products. Olympus America is responsible for sales in Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.

Microcassette are trademarks of Olympus Optical Co. Ltd.
SmartMedia is a trademark of Toshiba America, Inc.
Flashpath is a trademark of Fisher company

Market Research

– According to Olympus there is a larger worldwide installed base of SmartMedia capable digital cameras than any other flash memory architecture. There have also been more SmartMedia cards sold than Compact Flash cards.
– At the most recent Photo Marketing Association (PMA) Show there were eight 2 megapixel class digital cameras announced. These, because of their high resolution images and larger file sizes, are the most demanding of removable storage systems. Four of the eight (50%) use SmartMedia cards, three of the eight (37.5) specify Compact Flash and one (12.5%) uses Memory Stick.