Canon has launched a new consumer compact digital camera with 3.2megapixels and a 4x optical zoom.

The new model, which Canon is saying is smaller than many 3x zoom cameras features 20 shooting modes, VGA movies, a powerful zoom flash, extended direct print functions, plus an optional waterproof case and adaptor lenses.

The A510 follows on from the PowerShot A75 and is 13% smaller and 20% lighter than its predecessor. The f/2.6-5.5 zoom lens offers 35-140mm (35mm equivalent) and also features a new rear-focus system for more efficient focus that limits power consumption.

The 20 shooting modes include eight 'Special Scene' modes that optimise the camera's white balance, exposure and other settings for specific shooting situations and a further 12 modes including 'fireworks', 'foliage', 'beach', 'snow', 'underwater' (for use with the camera's optional 40m depth case) ‘kids and pets' and ‘night snapshot'. Movie clips of up to 3 minutes can be recorded, complete with sound and with the option to cut and edit in-camera. Manual mode allows more experienced or adventurous users to take control of settings such as white balance, exposure compensation and shutter speed.

In a first for its digital camera line-up, Canon has introduced an optional zoom flash, the HF-DC1. Linked to the zoom lens, the zoom mechanism narrows the flash's angle of throw to extend flash range at the telephoto end and further extends the options for night and indoor shooting. With a guide number of 18 (ISO 100 metres), the slave flash automatically fires in-sync with the camera's in-built flash, ignoring any pre-flash. It can be adjusted to three power output settings based on the aperture value of the camera. The unit attaches to the camera with a supplied bracket that maintains the ability to mount both camera and flash on a tripod.

The PowerShot A510 will be available from early February 2004 for £199.00