Japan camera prettifies subjects, even adds "makeup"

TOKYO Tue Mar 1, 2011 10:50am GMT

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TOKYO (Reuters) - Photos are everything for Yuka Obara, a well-known Japanese blogger who insists anything showing her online be picture-perfect -- especially because it's hard these days to delete poor-quality photos once on the web.

The 20-year-old Obara, known by her online profile Yunkoro, has honed her art for four years in line with Japan's cult of the "kawaii" or cute, which has given rise to creative profile picture-taking.

Yunkoro, for example, has lots of advice on how to photograph taking photos so the subjects look honey-eyed and candy-sweet using everyday items such as hand-held mirrors and curtains.

"My blogs are there for people to see, so to have something to show I am quite particular about photos," she said, adding that in the past she has had as many as 1.1 million hits a day.

"I have many points I obsess over when it comes to taking pictures of myself or an object."

Though Yunkoro is proud of her photographic skill, additional help has arrived on the scene from Japanese electronics maker Panasonic Corp -- a camera that can brush up, clean up and even put make-up on the subject's face.

The LUMIX FX77, released last Friday, has a "beauty re-touch" function that will whiten your teeth, increase the translucency of your skin, remove dark eye circles, make your face look smaller and even magnify the size of your eyes.

For the final touch, it will apply rouge, lipstick and even eye shadow.

There has been huge customer demand for such a product, said Akiko Enoki, a Panasonic project manager in charge of developing the camera.

"According to data we've acquired, around 50 percent of our digital camera clients are not satisfied with the way their faces look in a photograph," she said.

"So we came up with the idea so our clients can fix parts they don't like about their faces after they've taken the picture."

With the digital camera market saturated, Panasonic hopes the current craze for social networking and blogs that has swept Japan and the world will help lift their product's fortunes.

The new camera has already been a hit at Bic Camera, a discount electronics retailer, which was allowed to sell the camera a week before the official launch date.

"It's very popular among people who use pictures in their blogs, or those taking just one commemorative photo that they need to be flawless," said Hiromi Honma, a Bic Camera sales representative.

Profile picture mavens such as Yunkoro are looking forward to the camera, but she said that there are certain tricks of the trade that technology can never replace.

"If your cheeks look too wide in a photograph, you can place your hands on your cheeks so it hides them, and it will have the effect of making your face look much smaller," she added.

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