Canon to launch 'world's smallest' digital SLR camera

The SLR to be priced at about $800 and go on sale from April in the U.S. and Japan

Canon will soon launch what it is calling the world's smallest digital single-lens camera, with a body that weighs just over 370 grams and featuring an 18-megapixel image sensor.

The company said its new camera, which is called the "EOS Rebel SL1" in the U.S. and the "EOS Kiss X7" in Japan, will go on sale from next month. It measures 116.8mm wide by 90.7mm tall, with a thickness of 69.4mm.

Digital SLR makers like Canon are increasingly feeling competition from lower-priced "bridge cameras," that offer a step up from a digital point-and-shoot models but are far cheaper and easier to use. Bridge models typically feature a single optical zoom lens that cannot be swapped out.

Canon said it is the smallest digital SLR with an APS-C image sensor, a format used in many mid-range and high-end single lens cameras. In Japan it has a suggested retail price of $833 for the body alone.

The company said its size and weight are about 25% less than previous models.

The image sensor and graphics processor in the X7 allow for shooting about four frames per second. It will also allow auto-focus on about 80% of image area it shows.

The company said the new camera and lens combination were designed for video as well as still shots, with quieter and smoother operation than previous models.

Canon also announced a separate camera, called the X7i in Japan, that offers a slightly upgraded feature set, including an LCD display that can be rotated for shooting at different angles.

Canon said it will initially produce 200,000 units per month of the smaller sized model.

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