Pre-PMA 2005: Nikon has today announced a unique new feature which is available in their new Coolpix 7900, 5900 and 7600 compact digital cameras. Face-Priority AF is available in Portrait Mode and when active can identify facial features in the live view and activate auto-focus on these areas. This new feature was developed in conjunction with Identix and their FaceIt technology.

Press Release:

Nikon Face-priority AF

Face-priority Auto Focus Industry Leading Technology Featured in New COOLPIX 7900, 5900 and 7600, Compact Digital Cameras

Tokyo — Nikon Corporation is pleased to announce an exciting new technology that makes it easier to take high-quality, sharply focused portraits. Called Face-priority AF (Autofocus), this technology is an industry first and will be initially available on the new COOLPIX 7900, the COOLPIX 5900 and the COOLPIX 7600 compact digital cameras.

Nikon’s newest built-in technologies have set a trend that helps make better pictures with less effort a reality; they’re for making picture taking easier and more effective. While built-in automation has long assured good results, Nikon’s introduction of a new generation of industry leading built-in automatic technologies such as One-Touch Transfer button, In-Camera Red Eye Fix, Scene Assist and D-Lighting facilitate even better results and easier operation. With these newest built-in technologies, the fix is in the camera, and with the announcement of Nikon’s next leadership built-in technology, the next level of exciting picture taking will be achieved.

The Face-priority AF function uses the latest digital technology to automatically detect a person’s face at typical portrait taking distances, then, operating based on real photographic techniques, activates autofocus to focus upon the face area!

Here’s how it works: when you’re ready to take a portrait, select the camera’s Portrait Mode and Face-priority is automatically activated. A special digital detection program will scan for facial details and then control autofocus operation based on the location of the detected face in the scene. Even if the subject moves, or as the photographer recomposes the picture, Face-priority AF will respond and keep focus on the subject’s face. Manual techniques that formerly required the photographer to use focus lock can be avoided in favor of the new automation of Face-priority AF. It’s faster, responsive to creative composition, and makes portrait picture taking easier than ever.

Based on detection of facial characteristics and general scene arrangement, the technology can detect when the camera is composed for vertical or horizontal composition and works effectively even if the composition is a little tilted. Even when the subject’s distance changes within the typical portrait distance, Face-priority AF will continue to operate.

To use the new technology, Select Portrait Mode on the camera’s mode dial and Face-priority AF will be automatically selected. Compose on the person, which must have their face towards the camera, then, ½ depress the shutter button to activate the camera. As Face-prioity AF activates, a square outline on the camera’s LCD will appear around the face, confirming operation; if the photographer decides to recompose the image, Face-priority AF will track the subject’s facial area and will confirm the moving subject by changing color for the square outline and keeping the square outline around the face. When there are two or three people in the scene, Face-priority AF will operate using closest subject priority and the square confirming outline will indicate the closest person in the scene’s composition.

Taking a portrait is not a static, always the same situation. Picture taking varies with the photographer’s creativity. So, each Nikon model that features Nikon’s new Face-prioity AF, will also include Nikon’s popular Scene Assist Mode and Multiple AF sensing areas such as those featured in 5-area automatic focus function or 99-area manual focus selection in the new COOLPIX 5900 and 7900 models as well! Portrait Mode picture taking will be effective and a more exciting part of anyone’s picture taking enjoyment.

* Note: Face recognition capability may be limited in some shooting conditions. For example, the camera may not recognize a face if it is too near or far from the camera, or if some portion of the face is obstructed, such as when a person is wearing sunglasses. Face-priority AF indication outline is visible only on the camera’s LCD panel, and is not visible in the optical viewfinder.

Subject as seen on the COOLPIX 5900 camera’s color LCD and when using Nikon’s Face-priority AF function. Subject as seen on the COOLPIX 7600 camera’s color LCD and when there are three people in the scene using Nikon’s Face-priority AF function.

Nikon Corporation has succeeded in bringing this new technology to the market through working closely with Identix (USA – Nasdaq: IDNX). The incorporation of Identix’ industry-leading facial recognition technology, FaceIt® was critical to enabling Nikon’s latest digital photography feature. Dr. Joseph Atick, president and CEO of Identix commented:

“As a leading innovator in camera technology and user friendly features, Nikon is consistently associating itself with many firsts in the history of modern photography. We are proud to collaborate with Nikon on this industry first and to provide our advanced face-finding biometric technologies for the consumer market. Our industry-leading FaceIt face recognition technology is being incorporated as a feature in the new COOLPIX cameras to provide users with an entirely new and convenient photographic experience. We look forward to working closely with Nikon in their quest to continually improve the customers’ experience with their products.”

The new Face-priority AF function is one more example of how Nikon continues to build on the success of the COOLPIX selection of compact digital cameras — making the COOLPIX ever more user friendly and capable of producing better pictures with ease through Nikon built-in technologies.

Every COOLPIX camera model is packaged together with Nikon PictureProject software, designed to help any photographer Organize, Edit, Design and Share their pictures with family and friends. PictureProject … a perfect companion for Nikon photography!

* Identix and FaceIt are registered trademarks of Identix Incorporated.