Michael Reichmann over at The Luminous Landscape has today posted is first look at the 22 megapixel, $29,990 almost full-frame medium format 645 digital back. This back delivers images which have 5440 horizontal pixels and 4080 vertical pixels from a 48.9 x 36.7 mm (1.9 x 1.4 in) 22 megapixel CCD sensor. "The Phase One H25 has become something of a benchmark for studio-based professional photographers during the nine months or so since introduction. There is something about Phase One's ability to extract shadow detail and produce extremely clean raw files that seems to me to be just a step ahead of what is seen from other backs."
According to a news article on Nikkei Electronics today the six major Japanese manufacturers expect to ship 61.5 million digital cameras in 2004. Sales for financial year 2003 topped 40 million units which is an increase of 71% over financial year 2002. Of all the manufacturers Canon posted the best improvement, a 100% increase year on year with an estimated 76% increase coming this year. Matching Canon will be Sony who expect to ship 15 milliion units, closely followed by Olympus with 11 million. Most interesting is that Canon and Nikon combined expect to ship more than 1 million digital SLRs in 2004, considering their higher price it's certainly shaping up to be a lucrative market for them.
A new study published by InfoTrends/Cap Ventures reveals that while most digital camera owners are taking more photos than they ever had that most of them aren't printing and when they do it's only in small numbers. Most users share their photos through e-mail or online. This is something I've been arguing for some time now, obviously there are some manufacturers who have vested interest in increasing the number of digital photos printed however thanks to pervasive Internet usage and other methods of sharing images users simply don't feel the need to print.
Olympus has today posted the second firmware update for their E-1 digital SLR. Version 1.2 improves the function of the shutter release button, allowing you to repeatedly 'pump' the shutter release button while it is half-pressed. Additionally this update also adds a display of focus points in the finder's LCD. For those who haven't yet upgraded their E-1 this update also includes improvements made in 1.1 such as higher shparness settings, improved exposure in macro mode with flash and quicker startup time from sleep mode. This update can be installed automatically via the Olympus Studio software.
Foveon has today issued a press release announcing the F19 1/1.8" Type CMOS 'Direct Image Sensor'. This press release essentially puts a name to the sensor to be used in the Polaroid x530 digital camera which was announced at PMA. As with previous X3 sensors the F19 captures three individual colors (red, green and blue) for each pixel location, in this case 1440 x 1080 x 3 layers. Hence this new chip is being labelled as a '4.5 Megapixel CMOS Direct Image Sensor'. This sensor is also designated to be used in the new HanVision HVDUO-5M digital camera which is aimed at industrial, scientific, medical, and communications applications.
The Japanese IT news website Impress PC Watch has today posted a hands-on article with Epson's unique and unusual R-D1 rangefinder digital camera. This camera is a joint development between Epson and Cosina, it supports Leica M and L mount lenses and features a six megapixel APS size CCD sensor. The R-D1 was first revealed by Epson at PMA (behind glass), more detail and a full press release was published later. This new article (published in Japanese) is a hands-on with the R-D1 and contains a set of (fairly average) samples taken with the camera in combination with a range of different prime lenses.
Sigma today announced new versions of the 50 mm F2.8 and 105 mm F2.8 Macro lenses. Both of the new lenses carry the EX DG notation have improved coatings and a new 'Floating Mechanism' to reduce aberrations. Both lenses are also 'improved for the characteristics of digital SLRs'. For improved macro depth of field both lenses have an impressive minimum aperture of F45 on Sigma, Canon and Konica Minolta lens mounts, F32 on Nikon, Pentax mounts.
Fujifilm has today announced the FinePix F440 and F450 Zoom. These two ultra-compact cameras are successors to the popular F410 and F420 Zoom. Perhaps the most interesting element of this announcement is that just like the FinePix A330 and A340 (announced just before PMA) the F440 and F450 feature standard CCD sensors of four and five megapixels respectively. This means that out of the eight new cameras announced by Fujifilm this year five of them are based around standard CCD sensors rather than Fujifilm's own SuperCCD. Both cameras have 3.4x optical zoom lenses, are powered by a Lithium-Ion battery, store images on xD-Picture Card and 2.0" LCD monitors.
In an interview with Reuters Nikon's managing director Makoto Kimura has stated that Nikon will be increasing production of the D70 by 20,000 units per month to a total of 90,000 units per month and may soon exit the compact film camera market. To quote Mr Kimura, "There is still the matter of timing, but eventually we will have to dissolve this business... ...there really is no region in the world where you can do good business in compact film cameras anymore."
Konica Minolta Europe today announced the DiMAGE X31, a three megapixel version of the two megapixel X21 announced back in February. Just like that camera and other DiMAGE X models the X31 features a 'folded optics' lens system which fits vertically in the camera body, a prism mirror then 'folds' the optical path through 90 degrees. This allows the camera to have a slim profile, have no extending lens and maintain a very fast startup time.
Nikon has posted new firmware for the Coolpix 5400. This new release of firmware adds RAW file format support to the camera, this will be a significant improvement for current owners as it opens up a wide range of RAW development options as well as higher image quality. NEF files created in the Coolpix 5400 are compatible with Nikon View 6.2.2, Nikon Capture 4.1.0 and PictureProject 1.0 (or later). Installation of the firmware is fairly straightforward, just drop the 'firmware.bin' file into a firmware folder on a CF and start the camera in play mode.
Just posted! Our full in-depth review of Canon's latest professional digital SLR, the EOS-1D Mark II. This remarkable digital SLR has a high resolution eight megapixel CMOS sensor, can shoot at over eight frames per second and buffer up to forty frames (JPEG). And that's just the achievement of the camera internals, externally the camera is built 'like it was hewn from a solid block of metal' and has environmental seals around all compartment doors and controls. All this for around $4,500, making it around $1,000 cheaper than the four megapixel EOS-1D it replaces (price at time of introduction).
Konica Minolta has released new firmware for its DiMAGE A2 digital camera. Version 1.12 applies several improvements including LCD brightness while using Flex Digital Magnifier, focusing at a specific zoom range and with Flex Focus Point, improved flash metering, EVF timing functionality, improved support for add-on lenses. This firmware can be downloaded and installed by users of the camera by simply placing the firmware update file on a Compact Flash card or transfering it via USB directly to the camera.
Seagate has announced it is to produce a 5 GB HDD in the CF Type II form factor, although they can't use the name 'Microdrive' that is essentially what this device is. Details at this point are a little thin on the ground, the metal cased device will be available in 2.5 GB and 5 GB capacities, it has a rotational speed of 3600 RPM and features 'RunOn' technology which appears to be a buffering system which avoids data loss if the unit is knocked or vibrated in use. Seagate will also be producing a 'built in' version of the device which is designed to be hardwired into devices such as MP3 players or PDA's.
According to an article published in Nikkei Electronics, Pentax are planning to introduce a new digital SLR aimed at 'general consumers' that will cost around 100,000 YEN (approx. $900). One discrepancy in the news article is that "the company intends to ship about 100,000 units by March 31, 2004", we assume they mean "March 31, 2005". This would probably mean we should expect to see this new camera at Photokina in September. This comes as yet more good news in the 'affordable' segment of the digital SLR market. Pentax's current digital SLR, the *ist D is currently in stores for between $1,200 and $1,600. UPDATE: This story is confrimed by Pentax USA.
Sony Support USA today announced that they are extending the limited warranty on DSC-F828, DSC-T1, and Y2004 models DSC-P41, DSC-P73, DSC-P93, DSC-P100, DSC-W1. Previously the warranty covered parts for 1 year and labor for 90 days, Sony has now extended the labor portion of the warranty to a full year providing full 1 year cover for these models. All other digital cameras are covered by the warranty specific to that model.
At Computex Taipei today Pretec demonstrated a new 2 GB card which conforms to the new MMC 4 standard and which Pretec are calling the 'World's Fastest Flash Memory Card'. Thanks to the fact that MMC 4 allows for transfer of 4-bits of data in parallel this new card has a quoted write speed of around 18 MB/sec (120X) and a read speed of around 22.5 MB/sec (150X). If verified this card would indeed be far faster than any current flash memory card. The new card is also backwardly compatible with standard SD / MMC devices.
Korean electronics manufacturer iRiver has today announced the new H300 series portable music and photo player. The unit will come in two flavors, the 20 GB H320 and the 40 GB H340. The big difference with this unit compared to several other on the market (including the recently announced Sony) is that it act as a USB 2.0 host allow you to connect any mass storage device (such as a digital camera or card reader) directly and have the unit transfer directly. The upside is that you won't need special card adapters and won't need to remove the storage card from the camera, the downside will be that the majority of digital cameras still only support USB 1.1 (which is pretty slow), the unit itself has no card slots, you will need to carry a USB cable and it can't display RAW files. The H320 will retail for 47,800 YEN (approx. $430), the H340 for 59,800 YEN (approx. $540).
Nikon today announced a four megapixel version of the Coolpix 3200, the new Coolpix 4100. The 4100 has a four megapixel CCD and a three times optical zoom lens, it has 14.5 MB of built-in flash storage and an SD memory card slot. Designed to be as easy to use as possible the Coolpix 4100 has a straightforward control layout, a new simplified Graphic User Interface and a range of scene shooting modes designed to help even the complete novice get results in different situations.
Nikon today announced the new 200 mm F2.0 AF-S VR G lens, a very fast prime telephoto lens with Vibration Reduction capability when the light gets low. This promises to be a very interesting and very sharp lens which will provide photographers with some great possibilities for shots with very nice soft bokeh. In addition Nikon also announced a new teleconverter, the TC-17EII 1.7x. Combined with the TC-17EII 1.7x teleconverter this lens becomes a 340 mm F3.3.
Riding on the back of news yesterday about dropping flash memory prices Pretec today announced their new range of high capacity Compact Flash cards. These new cards (marked as '80x') will be available as 3 GB, 4 GB, 6 GB and 12 GB. The first three cards (3, 4 & 6 GB) are available in Japan as of today, the larger 12 GB card by the end of the year. Despite lower NAND flash prices these cards are still unbelievably expensive, the 3 GB card is 166,000 YEN ($1,490), the 4 GB card is 207,00 YEN ($1,860), the 6 GB card is 525,000 YEN ($4,700), the 12 GB card is expected to be 1,659,000 YEN ($14,900). Once you get over the price the next question must be would you be willing to put so much data in the trust of one card?
Sigma today announced a new Lithium-Ion battery and charger kit for the SD9/SD10 digital SLR's. The kit consists of two rechargeable Lithium-Ion CR-V3 batteries (BP-11, 3V, 1160 mAh) and a charger, this kit is expected to retail for around £59.99 in the UK. It's not clear at this stage if any decision has been made to include this with the SD10 digital SLR kit but to me it would be a logical move and would at least bring the SD10 in to line with other digital SLR's from a power supply point of view.
Sony Japan today announced their new portable storage device aimed squarely at 'high megapixel digital still camera'. The HDD Photo Storage HDPS-M1 has a 40 GB hard disk built-in, Memory Stick and Compact Flash slots, a Lithium-Ion battery, a one-button Copy function and USB 2.0 (high speed) connectivity. Clearly designed to be very easy to use the HDPS-M1 has no LCD display or video output capability, instead it is purely intended to be used as a backup / mass storage device for digital photographers. The compact HDPS-M1 measures just 135 x 92 mm (5.3 x 3.5 in) and is 30 mm (1.1 in) thick, it weighs just 300 g (10.6 oz) ready to use. It's expected to go on sale in Japan on 18th June at a price of 29,800 YEN (approx. $270).
According to an article today published by Reuters the price of NAND flash memory (the basic building block for almost all removable flash media) is set to drop dramatically on the back of price cuts announced by Toshiba and Samsung (two of the largest manufacturers of NAND flash). It appears Toshiba and Samsung are cutting prices in the face of strong competition from upcoming competitors like Infineon, Hynix and Micron. The price cuts amount to an almost halving of the cost of NAND flash compared to October last year. We are beginning to see the oligopoly between Toshiba and Samsung hang on to the last stages of its life, and I'm sure they will want to maximize it while they can," Eric Stang, the chief executive of Lexar Media Inc, told a conference last week.
Software: Triscape has today announced the release of its most comprehensive software suites, FxFoto 2.0 Standard, Deluxe Collage, and Pro Media Editions. The FxFoto 2.0 titles are targeted at photography enthusiasts and advanced multimedia users giving them full control over their pictures and the tools to create stunning and captivating presentations and movies. FxFoto 2.0 Standard is available today as a fully functional free download, while the Deluxe Collage Edition can be obtained for $29.99 and Pro Media Edition for $39.99. All titles are upgradeable.
Casio Japan has today released the Casio EWC-40 underwater housing for its Casio Exilim EX-Z40 and EX-Z30 digital cameras. The EWC-40 is usable down to 40 meters with all the major controls available to user. It is only 128mm (w) x 70.5mm (d) x 86mm (h) and weighs 270g. The Casio EWC-40 will be available in early July for a suggested Y23,100 (approx. $190).
The 'cheap and cheerful' Che-ez! brand today announced their new ultra-compact ultra-slim Foxz2 digital camera, with a fixed focal length lens and basic functionality it's not exactly a remarkable camera however it is another compact camera with a two megapixel CMOS sensor (unusual in itself). No sample images have yet been made available by Che-ez! so it will be interesting to see just how good this 2mp CMOS sensor is. The Foxz2 is also impressively slim at just 9.8 mm (0.4 in). The Foxz2 has a 1.5" LCD monitor, is powered by a Lithium-Polymer rechargeable battery, takes SD card (as well as having 8 MB internal flash) and has a USB 2.0 interface.
The future where major new technologies, such as JPEG-2000 and other advanced image manipulation techniques not yet available, are able to be added to exisitng digital cameras may be getting closer. A company called Quicksilver has a technology solution called ACM. ACM is the only software-programmable, realtime adaptive IC that offers high performance, low power consumption, low cost, and architecture flexibility in a single chip. Olympus signed a deal with Quciksilver over a year ago to develop digital imaging IC's with a view to the OEM market.
An interesting story on DigiTimes suggests that Panasonic will be releasing an OEM'd 6-megapixel digital camera with MPEG4 support later this year. This camera is being sourced from Ability Enterprise, a leading digital camera manufacturer in Taiwan, who already has Casio is its main Japanese client. Expect lots of 6 megapixel camera releases by the end of the year from Panasonic and others.
Sigma today announced an all new 'DC' (Digital Camera) lens designed to be used only on digital SLR's with an APS (or smaller) sized sensor. The new 18 - 125 mm F3.5 - F5.6 DC lens has a non-rotating front element as well as a zoom lock button, it will initially be available for Sigma AF, Canon AF and Nikon AF-D lens mounts. Expected retail price in Japan will be 45,000 YEN (approx. $400), in the UK £229.99.
Canon today announced that it has made Digital Photo Professional (DPP) Version 1.0.0 available for download for all EOS-1D and EOS-1Ds owners. DPP can now be downloaded from Canon's website but requires validation with the camera body serial number. At this time DPP doesn't support the EOS-10D. Digital Photo Professional is a new image management and RAW conversion application which was introduced with the EOS-1D Mark II, compared to the File Viewer Utility DPP provides far more control, a considerably better user interface and faster performance.
SMaL Camera Technologies has today announced its new Ultra-Pocket® 5 rapid development kit for 3-megapixel credit card cameras with color TFT display. The Ultra-Pocket 5 kit enables manufacturers and brands to rapidly enter the heart of the mass consumer market 3-megapixel with unparalleled thinness, style, wide dynamic range, and worry-free battery life, in the sub-$129 retail price range. The kit is available now to qualified OEMs looking to ship products into the marketplace in the second half of 2004.
Sanyo Japan today announced two new 'Xacti' digital cameras, the four megapixel DSC-S4 and the three megapixel DSC-S3. These two entry level compact digital cameras have an identical body design and appear to utilize the same lens but because of the different size of the CCD in each the DSC-S4 only achieves 2.8x optical zoom compared to the DSC-S3's 3.0x optical zoom. The DSC-S3's price works out at around US$300, the DSC-S4 at around $380.
Olympus UK today announced the new 'Ferrari Digital Model 2004', this ultra-compact digital camera has a three megapixel CCD sensor and three times optical zoom lens (which appears to be of the folded optics variety). This camera appears to be based on the AZ-1 which was announced last month in Japan. The Ferrari Digital Model 2004 is colored in 'Ferrari Red' (Rosso Corsa), has flashes of (fake) carbon fibre and plays the sound of a Ferrari engine when powered up (nice...). The camera will be produced in a limited run of 10,000, half of which will make their way to Europe. It will be available in the UK in July 2004 at a price of £499.99 (inc VAT). UPDATE 20/May/2004: Pictures of Schumacher, Barrichello and Jean Todt using the new camera.
Sony today announced a new five megapixel three times optical zoom digital camera, the DSC-F88. Those of you who are aware of some of Sony's older digital cameras will recognize the F88's design as being very similar to the DSC-F77 (Sep 2002) and the original DSC-F55 (Feb 1999). Just like those previous models the F88 has a rotating lens / flash portion along the top of the camera body, however it now implements the 'folded lens' system of the DSC-T1 / DSC-T11 mounted horizontally within this rotating portion giving you a full three times optical zoom (the F77 / F55 had no zoom). Note that the F88 also has a viewfinder, unlike the previous cameras. We have some of our own hands-on pictures with this camera.
Software: Jasc has recently announced the release of Paint Shop Photo Album 5 - Deluxe Edition, the newest version of its digital camera software. Sporting a completely redesigned interface that follows the digital photographer's workflow, Photo Album 5 puts the tools users need to organize, enhance, share and protect photos at their fingertips. "By listening to consumers, we will continue focusing on providing smarter software that integrates the way people create, enhance, organize and share their photos and images." said Kris Tufto, president and CEO of Jasc Software.
Sigma has today announced a new constant aperture wide angle zoom lens, the 24-60 mm F2.8 EX DG. This lens is designed to be compact but also 'fast' (large, constant maximum aperture) and to provide a usable zoom range for digital SLR users, on a Nikon digital SLR this lens would have an equivalent field of view of a 36 - 90 mm, on a Canon 1.6x digital SLR (10D, 300D / Digital Rebel, etc.) of 38 - 96 mm.
DO Labs has announced that their DxO Optics Pro software will be available to buy online from May 24th. This software is designed to enable digital SLR owners to correct images which suffer from distortion, vignetting, blur and CA. The software works by using modules created by DO Labs based on detailed analysis of the camera bodies and lenses. In a new press release DO Labs reveal the camera bodies and lenses which will be initially supported and also their pricing structure; the DxO Optics Pro software + the camera body module + the lens module.
Just posted! Our full in-depth review of Leica's latest digital camera. The Digilux 2 has a 3.2x optical zoom lens and a five megapixel CCD sensor. It has a retro design and metal case, it feels robust and has a high finish level, control layout is logical and has the most straightforward and natural method for switching between automatic and manual operation. See how the Digilux 2 performed in our tests and how it compares to other cameras.
Canon today revealed the replacement for their fifteen month old PowerShot S50, the new PowerShot S60. Despite the name this camera doesn't have a six megapixel CCD, instead it sticks with the tried and tested 1/1.8" five megapixel CCD. The biggest external differences with this camera are its new compact 3.6x wide zoom lens which provides an impressive 28 - 100 mm equiv. and the slick new body design which is thinner than the S50. Thankfully Canon has also done away with the annoying combined zoom / 4-way controller, the S60 now has a normal 4-way direction pad, separate SET button and zoom lever.
Nikon Europe has today posted firmware Version 1.2 for the Coolpix 3700. This firmware update offers following improvements and additions; certain brands of Secure Digital memory cards can cause image visibility problems, brightness levels of movies vary under certain lighting conditions and corrections to city names in setup menu. As usual please read carefully the firmware installation information before installing the firmware update!
Kodak has today announced three new cameras in its Easyshare line, plus a new printer dock. They are the DX7440 with 4-megapixel resolution, a SCHNEIDER-KREUZNACH VARIOGON 4X optical zoom lens (33 - 132 mm equivalent), and 0.2-second click-to-capture rating. The CX7530 and CX7330 have 5 and 3 megapixel resolution CCD's plus 3x optical zoom. The DX7440, CX7530 and CX7330 camera will be available in the summer at a suggested retail prices of just £299.99, £249.99 and £149.99 respectively.
Olympus today announced a series of price reductions and new rebates on the E-1 digital SLR and lenses. In the US the base E-1 body has been reduced by $300 to $1499, in the UK the E-1's body price is down £300 to £999 inc VAT (the kit including 14-54mm lens now £1399 inc VAT). This new price change brings the E-1 into line with the Canon EOS 10D (excluding lenses). In addition Olympus America are also offering a range of rebates up to $100 off Zuiko Digital lenses.
Iomega has today announced the availability of the new Iomega® Floppy Plus 7-in-1 Card Reader. Iomegas new host-powered drive is ideal for photographers and mobile users, bundling a convenient 1.44 MB floppy drive with the seamless capability to read and write all of the most common flash media formats. The Iomega Floppy Plus 7-in-1 Card Reader is available now for $59.95 (U.S. suggested retail price).
Forgent Networks has today made good their 2002 claim to JPEG and their intention to pursue licensing revenue from companies who use it. They own United States patent 4,698,672 which covers the JPEG compression standard, this patent was created by Compression Labs who Forgent bought back in 1997. Over the last two years, Forgent's has generated $90 million from licensing the patent to 30 different companies. The camera companies include Canon, Kodak, Fuji, Kyocera, HP, Panasonic, Ricoh, Toshiba, Concord and software suppliers Adobe, Macromedia, JASC.
Adobe has today released version 2.2 of its Camera Raw plugin for Adobe Photoshop CS. New cameras from Canon (PowerShot Pro1, EOS-1D MARK II), Kodak (DCS Pro 14nx, DCS Pro SLR/n), Konica Minolta (DiMAGE A2), Nikon (D70, Coolpix 8700), Olympus (C-8080 Wide Zoom) and Sigma (SD9, SD10) are now supported.
There is an interesting story today in the UK newspaper, The Independent, about the claims manufacturers make about the lifespan of their CD-R's. They are the easiest means of archiving digital photographs today, but if disc is useless after 2 years, perhaps another archival medium is required. If CD-R is still your chosen media, then purchase the best, record at the recommened speed for your drive, and store in a cool dry environment.
Just posted! Our full in-depth review of the eight megapixel Olympus C-8080 Wide Zoom. This camera combines a brand new five times optical wide zoom (28 - 140 mm) lens with a 2/3" type eight megapixel CCD. The C-8080 also sports a new body design and comprehensive control system. See how the C-8080 Wide Zoom performed in our tests and how it compares to the other four eight megapixel digital cameras currently on the market.
Just posted! Our full in-depth review of the all new eight megapixel Canon PowerShot Pro1. This camera features a 2/3" type eight megapixel CCD sensor combined with a Canon "L-type" 7x optical zoom lens which provides a wide zoom of 28 mm to 200 mm. See how the Pro1 performed in our tests and how it compares to the other four eight megapixel digital cameras currently on the market.
Just posted! Our full in-depth review of the eight megapixel Nikon Coolpix 8700. This camera is visually identical to the Coolpix 5700 as it shares that camera's body and lens, however there have been quite a few changes inside the camera. This is Nikon's offering to the eight megapixel prosumer market which is now made up of five cameras. See how the Coolpix 8700 performed in our tests and how it compares to the other four eight megapixel digital cameras currently on the market.