Bibble Labs has announced version 4.3 of its RAW workflow software, which now adds support for Nikon's newest DSLRs, the D70s and the D50, as well as Epson's R-D1 digital rangefinder camera. Other new features include an arbitrary rotation tool, plug-in interface, a plug-in to remove lens distortion plus new EXIF Makernotes and faster RAW file processing. Bibble 4.3 is a free update to all owners of any prior version of Bibble 4.
Japanese electronics manufacturer Sanyo Group is to open a $13m digital camera plant in Vietnam's Bien Hoa I Industrial Zone in the southern Dong Nai Province, reports VietNamNet. The factory will be capable of producing 100,000 units a month, which will all be for export, and has been chosen as a 'strategic investment site'. The plant is due to open on September 13.
Among the doom and gloom stories of the last few months, today we get some good news from Nikon that its first quarter profit has soared, Yahoo! News reports. Following several manufacturers reporting profit losses and job cuts, the world's second largest DSLR manufacturer announced an operating profit of ¥13.94 bn ($124.8 m), over four times the ¥3.13bn profit it made in the same period last year. Nikon attributes its success to a shift in focus to the digital SLR market as the low end of the market has become increasingly competitive and often non profitable.
UK high street retailer Dixons has announced today that it plans to stop selling 35mm cameras, following the huge surge in popularity of their digital equivalents. Dixons reports that sales of digital cameras are now outstripping sales of 35mm cameras by 15 to 1 and it says that it will not stock any more 35mm cameras once the current stock runs out. The company says film is now an 'increasingly niche market' and Bryan Magrath, marketing director at Dixons, says that "digital cameras are now the rule, rather than the exception".
Casio has today announced a new five million-pixel model to add to the Exilim range which overcomes the problem that has blighted digital cameras since they were launched. The Exilim EX-Z500 houses a proprietary SUPER LIFE lithium-ion rechargeable battery that can take up to 500 shots on a single charge (a claim also made by Fuji's FinePix F10 Zoom). It boasts a huge 2.7-inch LCD (but no viewfinder) as well as Casio's ubiquitous BESTSHOT modes - a handy 31 of them. The Casio EXILIM Zoom EX-Z500 will be available next month priced £279.99 and comes with a USB cradle for charging the battery, transferring your images or connecting it to a television.
HP has announced plans to stop selling digital cameras in the Asian market. An HP spokesman told dpreview, the company wants to "increase focus on opportunities that offer the highest possible return and where the company can deliver greatest customer value." It will instead turn its attention to home printing in the region, reports ZDNet. The move is thought to be as a result of stiff competition from other manufacturers and follows the news that HP could make up to 25,000 of its workforce redundant. Digital camera sales for the region were not encouraging and research analysts IDC, showed that the company was selling so few cameras last year that it fell into the 'other' category. Outside of Asia however the company performed better, ranking no.5 in the United States and no.7 in Europe and Latin America.
Olympus has reported a 62% drop in profits in the first quarter compared to the same period last year, reports the PMA daily news. In the period April-June 2004, the Japanese company made a net profit of ¥1.06 billion ($9.5 m) compared to ¥403 million ($3.6 m) in the fiscal first quarter of this year. Despite disappointing figures the company still hopes to make a net profit of ¥23 billion ($206 m) in the year to March following its first ever consolidated net loss of ¥11.8 billion ($105 m) in 2004-2005.
Sony has been forced to slash its earnings forecast following a first quarter operating loss that has created 'almighty problems' for the electronics giant, reports The Times. First quarter net losses amount to around ¥7.3 billion ($69.4 m) forcing the company to dramatically cut its forecast earnings from ¥80 billion ($712 m) to ¥10 billion ($89 m). The problems are as a result of poor performance in its TV division as well as falling retail prices of digital cameras. Recently appointed chief executive Howard Stringer and president Ryoji Chubachi are expected to unveil a new strategy in September.
Pretec has announced the first 4GB SD in the world. The card is the newest addition of its high speed line of 133X SD cards, which are available in capacities ranging from 256MB to 4GB. It is also the fastest card, with access speeds of up to 20MB/s. It will be available next month priced $699 (approx. €578). The company also announces the availability of 2GB MMC 4.x card (MMC Plus) today. Pretec has slashed the price of its 12GB CompactFlash card by half price, from $9999 to $4999 (approx. €4136).
Fujifilm has today announced a new E series compact that offers 9 million effective pixels. The matt black FinePix E900, Fujifilm's 'power-packed compact', houses a 5th generation Super CCD HR, Real Photo Technology which is supposed to reduce noise at high sensitivity settings, ISO 80 - 800, 4x optical zoom (32 - 128mm equiv.) and boasts a 2-inch LCD. It also offers full manual control and RAW capture. Pricing and availability is yet to be announced.
Pentax has announced a new camera into the Optio range. The six million pixel Optio 60 will go on sale next month and is priced $200. The new compact offers full manual control, plus a 2.0-inch LCD screen. The Optio 60 is said to 'lower the learning curve' with a Simple Mode on the mode dial which automatically selects the best focus and settings for the scene. It also offers a 3x zoom (36- 108mm lens), which is pretty much standard on compact cameras.
Adobe has released a new 'lite' version of image management software program Photoshop Album Starter Edition. Version 3.0 is free to download an offers some of the features of Photoshop Album such as basic image editing, organization tools, and the ability to share your images in a slideshow or email them to family and friends.
Cardmedia Europe has announced a new addition to its portable storage range with the 30GB X'S-Drive 2 XL VP2260, which is priced £140. The device has a new long life built-in rechargeable battery for up to two hours use and the LCD shows file transfer status, battery power level and capacity left on the hard drive. It has three card slots which can transfer data from Compactflash, IBM Microdrive, SmartMedia, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, SD/MMC and xD-Picture Card media without adapters. A high speed transfer rate can copy data from a 1GB card in eight minutes. The X'S-Drive 2 XL VP2260 is available in 20GB to 80GB capacities.
Kodak is to cut up to 10,000 more jobs, while the company makes the tough transition from film to digital, reports the Altus Times. The announcement coincided with reports of a second quarter loss and shares dropped by more than 2%. The new cuts are expected to affect around 7,000 manufacturing jobs, many in Kodak's home town. Eighteen months ago Kodak announced that it would cut around 15,000 jobs over the next three years. Despite the fact that Kodak will add around 8,000 employees, the workforce will eventually number under 50,000 compared to 86,000 people it employed in 1998.
Electronics manufacturer BenQ has added some credence to its cameras by attaching a Pentax Super Multi-Coated (SMC) lens to them. The first two cameras to benefit from the partnership with Pentax are the E510 and E520, both five megapixels. The SMC system, which was developed in 1971, is suppoed to effectively eliminate surface reflection and flares and deliver sharper and clearer images. Both cameras feature BenQ's proprietary Senseye Technology which is supposed to greatly enhance color performance while significantly reducing image noise.
Panasonic has added three high capacity SD cards to its Pro High Speed, High Speed and miniSD ranges. First up is the flagship 2GB card introduced to the Pro High Speed range. It offers a data transfer rate of 20MB/s and will hit the shops in August with a price tag of €249.99 (US$299). The new addition to the High Speed range is the 1GB SD card available in August for €99.99 (US$119). And for mobile phones with built-in cameras there is a 512MB miniSD memory card, which can store music and images and will be priced €49.99 (US$59) when it hits the shops next month.
Pentax has announced that its profits fell by 42% in the fiscal first quarter, compared to the previous year, reports the International Herald Tribune. Net income fell to ¥261m (US$2.32) from ¥448m (US$3.97m) the previous year. The loss is blamed on ever decreasing profit margins on compact digital cameras and the company says it plans to focus on the "more profitable single-lens reflex digital camera to offset price declines in compact types" as well as "raise the pace of new model introductions to three per year from two, starting this year," says Fumio Urano, Pentax president. Urano said that the company will also cut 300 jobs in the next two years.
Industry analysts InfoTrends/CAP Ventures has reported that unit sales of digital cameras in North America hit a high of 22.2 million in 2004, and the number is continuing to rise. Although the pace at which the market is growing has slowed to 16% from 27%, the market is expected to reach 26 million units this year. Household penetration is also set to rise above half for the first time, at 55%. One of the biggest growth sectors is DSLRs. InfoTrends/CAP Ventures expects the consumer DSLR market to grow 81% in 2005. Research also shows that the market has matured greatly since the introduction of digital cameras nearly 10 years ago, and that by the end of this decade nine out of 10 buyers will be previous owners.
Canon USA has announced that customers with the Battery Grip BG-E2 used with the EOS 20D and 20Da, and a certain serial number range can return their grip/magazine for a free repair/replacement. This is due to a cases where even with fully charged batteries (exclusive battery pack or NiMH battery) or unused AA size batteries, only a few shots can be taken or 'bc' is displayed immediately.