Casio has announced its latest compact digital still camera for consumers. The new camera works faster than previous cameras and promises to help prevent frustrated digital still camera users from missing another perfect moment to take a picture, the company said.

One of the mechanical problems a digital still camera has, in comparison with a conventional film camera, is that when the shutter release button is pressed, there is a delay between that point and the time the image is recorded, called the shutter lag.

For example, Nikon's high-end digital still cameras, the D1X and the D1H, which were released in 2001, have a shutter release time lag of 0.058 second. Another consumer compact digital still camera, the IXY 300a by Canon, which was released in April this year, has a 0.05 second lag. Photographers who were used to film cameras have had a hard time adjusting to the digital still cameras' shutter release lag time, and very often have missed the perfect moment to capture a picture.

Casio has shortened that time lag on its QV-R4 to 0.01 second - this will allow for an almost immediate responses from the shutter release, according a Casio statement.

New lags The same technology is also built into its 1.24-megapixel-class Exilim camera, which was rolled out recently and is the thinnest digital camera in its class, according to Casio. This means the QV-R4 and the Exilim have the fastest release lag time among the existing digital still cameras, according to Nobutaka Ishii, a Casio spokesman.

The QV-R4 is equipped with a 4.13-megapixel CCD (charge coupled device), a 3X optical zoom lens and 3.2X digital zoom, which can make up to 9.6X zoom when combined, 11MB of internal flash memory and a SD (Secure Digital)/MMC (MultiMedia Card) slot. A 64M-byte SD card will store up to 54 still images in 2,304-x-1,712 pixel mode or five and a half minutes of moving images.

The device measures 90mm-x-59mm-x-31mm and weighs 200 grams.

The QV-R4 will be rolled out at the end of July in Japan at around ¥60,000 (£350). Outside Japan, the company will also unveil the 3.35-megapixel QV-R3, Ishii said. The launch date of the QV-R4 and the QV-R3 in North America and Europe is expected to be in August, he said.