Up until now auto focus has been carried out either by DC motor or Ultra Sonic / Silent Wave Motors, however a new innovation noted by Monty Solomon and reported in todays New Scientist may offer another option, especially for ultra-compact lens systems. A company called '1 Limited' of Cambridge, UK has developed a sheet of piezoelectric ceramic material which can move whatever is placed on it (by using a grip and shift type movement), roll it into a cylinder and you could move a small camera lens up or down the cylinder (zoom or focus). At the moment this technology is aimed at camera phones however I have no doubt that it could be important for lens systems in ultra-compact cameras.
Pentax UK has announced pricing for the *ist D digital SLR and Kits. The *ist D camera body is is priced at £1,400 (inc VAT), the *ist D with the SMC 18 - 35 mm F4.0 - F5.6 lens £1,529.99 (other lens kits will also be available). This places the *ist D along side the Olympus E-1 at the £1,400 point, we will have to hope that these prices will drop slightly to bring the *ist D more in line with the price of the EOS-10D (around £1,250 inc VAT). Of course it will be interesting to see what effect the arrival of the EOS-300D in shops will have on all of these recently announced digital SLR's.
Olympus UK has today announced the official pricing for the E-1., lenses and accessories (the 'E-System') for the UK, as ever prices are quoted without VAT (value added tax) however we prefer to stick to prices including VAT. The Olympus E-1 MRSP is £1,408.83 (inc VAT), the Olympus E-1 Kit (which includes the 14-54 mm lens) is £1,820.08 (inc VAT). Full details inside.
have today announced the C-5000 Zoom. We don't have much information,
except the press release from Olympus Europe, but it seems that its a
5 megapixel, 3x zoom model with a fair degree of manual control and appears
to be a similar transition as was made from the C-4040 Zoom to the C-4000
Zoom, the new C-5000 Zoom looks like a cut-down C-5050 Zoom. Sales of
the camera are expected to commence in autumn 2003.
Updated to add specifications.
SanDisk has today also announced updated versions of its SanDisk Ultra(TM) II line of high-performance CompactFlash and SD cards. The cards now deliver a minimum write speed of 9 megabytes per second (MB/sec.) and a minimum read speed of 10MB/sec. The new Ultra II CF card will initially be available in 256MB, 512MB and 1GB. The 256 and 512MB cards started shipping this month while the 1GB cards will be released in the next thirty days. The Ultra II SD cards will be available in 256MB and 512MB capacities in October and November, respectively.
SanDisk has today announced updated versions of its SanDisk Extreme(TM) line of high-performance CompactFlash and SD cards. The cards now deliver a minimum write speed of 9 megabytes per second (MB/sec.) and a minimum read speed of 10MB/sec. They have also been improved for use in extreme conditions, they will operate from well below freezing (minus 13 degrees F/minus 25 degrees C) to near boiling (185 degrees F/85 degrees C), and each card is ruggedized with a layer of heavy duty RTV silicone to withstand 3000 G-forces.
Gateway has today announced it is entering the digital camera market. It has launched four cameras, the DC-T50 and M-50 which are 5 megapixel and 3x zoom, the M-40 which is 4 megapixel and the DC-T20 which is 2 megapixel. The cameras are priced at $399, $299, $199 and $129.99 respectively. They are available through Gateway's retail stores, phone and Web site.
Casio has today announced the successors to the EX-S2 and M2, the EX-S20 and M20. These two models are based on the same camera, a two megapixel fixed lens ultra-slim, ultra-compact digital camera. The obvious difference between the two models is that the M20 supports MP3 playback and is supplied with a set of headphones and wired remote control. Both are just 11 mm (0.4 in) thin both have a 1.6" LCD monitor, built-in 10 MB of flash storage (as well as support for SD/MMC cards) and are powered by a dedicated Lithium-Ion battery.
Casio has today announced a 'megapixel upgrade' to its EXILIM EX-Z3 model, the new EX-Z4 is essentially the same camera but now features a four megapixel 1/2.5" type CCD sensor. The EX-Z4 is powered by a dedicated Lithium-Ion battery which it charges on the supplied cradle stand. Storage is provided by the built-in 10 MB of flash RAM and an optional SD/MMC card. The EX-Z4 just like the EX-Z3 and S3 has a huge 2.0" LCD monitor (although it's resolution isn't fantastic).
Mission3-D has announced the launch of their Photo3-D product, the world's first affordable device that enables anyone to easily take 3-D photographs. Photo3-D works with any digital camera, and the full product package - Photo3-D 303 Kit - includes everything needed to easily take, see and share 3-D photographs. The manufacturers suggested retail price for the Photo3-D 303 Kit is US$129.
Konica (Japan) has today announced the DG-3Z digital camera, aimed at industrial use this rugged digital camera with its rubberised case and dustproofing can be used almost anywhere, it follows in the footsteps of the DG-2 of 2001 and the DG-1 of 1998. The DG-3Z has a 3.2 megapixel CCD and a 3x zoom (35-105 mm 35mm equiv.). It will cost approx. 99,800 YEN and should be available in September. At this stage we are not sure if this is a domestic only (Japan) product or will be available worldwide.
Fuji Photo Film has today announced the the Fujifilm FinePix S3000. This model replaces the existing FinePix 3800, and will be available to consumers in October. It has a 3.2 megapixel CCD, 6x optical and 3.2x digital zooms, movie recording without sound and several scene positioning modes. The FinePix S3000 comes bundled with a 16MB xD-Picture Card, four AA alkaline batteries, shoulder strap, USB cable, lens adapter ring, FinePix Viewer 4.1, and ImageMixer VCD 2 for FinePix. The camera will be available for purchase in October 2003 at the suggested list price of $399.99.
Olympus USA has sent us pricing for the entire E-1 D-SLR system, the new pricing includes approximate street prices. Olympus expect the E-1 body to have a street price of $1799, the 14-54 mm lens a street price of $499. That's a total starter price of $2298 before Kit discounts and Taxes which is more in line with the Kit pricing we recently announced for the UK. On average street prices appear to be approximately 20% lower than the MSRP.
Hitachi has today confirmed their 2 and 4 GB Microdrive (Compact Flash Type II). IBM Storage Technology and Hitachi Storage merged at the beginning of the year. At that time Hitachi Glboal Storage Technologies (HGST) announced that they would have a 4 GB Microdrive by the end of the year, today they have officially confirmed that they will be producing a 2 and 4 GB Microdrive. These higher capacities are made possible using Hitachi's patented "Pixie Dust" surface layer technology. Note that the 4 GB card will only work with a digital camera which supports the FAT32 filesystem. The 4 GB card will hit the shelves this November at a price of $499 (just $0.12/MB), a third of the price of Lexar's 4 GB 40x.
Software: Minolta has today announced Minolta DiMAGE Messenger 2.0. Minoltas new DiMAGE Messenger 2.0 software program allows users to automatically link written text, additional images or an audio track to specific portions of digital images, share the combination with others via e-mail or printed copy, and invite related comments to be added from the receiver all in just a few, simple steps. In addition, a new search feature allows specific comments to be located quickly. Searches can be made by word, date of entry, or user name.
Software: Cerious Software has released its ThumbsPlus 6.0 for Windows. ThumbsPlus locates, views, edits, prints and organizes images, metafiles, fonts and multimedia files. The software contains easy to use wizards for optimized image and catalog printing, as well as to create web pages, slide shows and contact sheets. A versatile batch converter allows complex image manipulations with more than 300 editing functions.
Software: LumaPix has announce the latest version of its FotoFusion image managment and printing software. Formerlly called CollageFactory, the new version 2.0 adds one-click autocollage, drop shadows and frame borders, color correction, final resolution preview, photo swapping, improved printing and a revamped UI.
Thanks to Mark Allen for noticing that Jessops, one of the largest photographic retailers in the UK has dropped the price of the Olympus E-1 Kit (which includes the E-1 body and a 14-54 mm lens) to £1,819 (including VAT at 17.5%), this is down approximately £680 compared to the previously advertised price. That works out at approximately US$2,440 without tax for a kit including the E-1 body and a 14-54 mm lens, about $358 less than US list. Additionally the official Olympus UK list price for the E-1 body alone is £1699 (including VAT at 17.5%), Olympus UK haven't released individual pricing for 4/3 lenses.
Sanyo Japan have today announced their new Xacti DSC-S1. This 3.2 megapixel camera has a 3x optical zoom lens and excellent battery life. It has a startup time of approx 1.9s, shutter lag of approx 0.05s and a shot to shot time of approx 2.0s. It will be available on 19 September for approximately 40,000 Yen.
The European Imaging & Sound Association (EISA) has named the EXILIM EX-Z3 from Casio as Digital Mini Camera of the year 2003 / 2004 at the IFA fair in Berlin. "To receive an award from such a well respected organisation as EISA is not only an honour, but an endorsement of EXILIM's prime design criteria of the latest in digital technology and style married to ease of use," commented David Hodgkinson, Manager Channel Marketing, Casio Electronics Co. Ltd.
Canon has today announced the four megapixel PowerShot A80. As with all Canon's 'A' series digital cameras this one is aimed at the beginner, having said that it's far more feature rich than most entry level digital cameras with a flip-out and twist LCD monitor and a wide range of manual controls. Unlike the A60 and A70 which use the 1/2.7" type CCD (5.3 x 4.0 mm) the A80 has a 1/1.8" type CCD (7.2 x 5.3 mm) which actually gives it larger pixel size than its predecessors. The A80 maintains a three times optical zoom lens, AA battery power and Compact Flash storage.
Canon has today announced the EOS Digital Rebel (US name) / EOS-300D (Rest of world) / Kiss Digital (Japan name). This six megapixel digital SLR is essentially a feature reduced EOS-10D in the EOS-300's silver body (plastic). It will have a body only priced of $900 in the US, €1,100 in Europe and 120,000 YEN (US$1,013 / €911) in Japan. This camera will be available as a "body only kit" or a "with lens kit", the latter will include a new 18 - 55 mm EF-S lens which has been "optimized" for the size of the D-SLR sensor (sounds familiar).
Canon has today announced two new lenses to 'complement' the EOS-300D digital SLR. The first is the EF-S 18 - 55 mm F3.5 - F5.6 lens (28 - 90 mm equiv. FOV on the EOS-300D). To quote from Canon's press release "The more compact sensor size of the EOS 300D means the camera's reflex mirror can also be smaller, making it possible to bring the back of the lens closer to the image sensor. The 'S' in the EF S nomenclature stands for 'short back focus', which describes this new system." Also announced today is the EF 55 - 200 mm F4.5 - F5.6 II USM lens (88 - 320 mm equiv. FOV on the EOS-300D). Note that the new EF-S lens can only be used on EF-S compatible EOS SLR's (currently only the EOS-300D).
Ricoh has today announced the Caplio G4wide digital camera. As with the standard G4 it is a 3.24-megapixel, 3x optical zoom but the Caplio G4wide has a newly developed compact lens and exceptional speed. The lens arrangement comprises three lenses, one of which is a concave Meniscus aspherical lens made of low-dispersion glass with a high refractive index.
Kodak has today announced the 10x optical zoom, 4 megapixel DX6490. This camera is Kodak's first foray into the big zoom SLR-like prosumer category, priced at $499 it's certainly competitive. The 'Schneider-Kreuznach' lens provides an equivelant focal length range of 38 to 380 mm with a maximum aperture of F2.8 to F3.7, interestingly it also has a dual speed zoom mechanism which should be useful for quickly zooming and then applying subtle adjustment.
Fujifilm Japan has today announced the WP-FX700 waterproof case for the new FinePix F700. The WP-FX700 allows you to use the FinePix F700 underwater to a depth of 40 m (131 ft). The case itself weighs just 313 g (11 oz) or 503 g (17.7 oz) including the camera. Accessories for the WP-FX700 include a macro flash adapter and balance weight which will provide neutral buoyancy. It is expected to go on sale in Japan in the third week of September with a recommended retail price of 25,000 YEN (approx. US$ 200).
Sony has today also announced an expansion to its Memory Stick line-up. This includes the new Memory Stick PRO Duo with capacities of 256MB and 512MB, Memory Stick Duo in sizes up to 128MB and the MSAC-US30 Memory Stick USB Reader/Writer which supports all Memory Stick formats. People need high-speed transfer rates, resilient readout and ultra-compact design to get the most out of their networked products, whether they are at their desk, in an airport or on the beach. This new Memory Stick Duo line-up is a major step towards delivering this.
13:00 CET: Sony has today revealed its new flagship prosumer digital camera, the Cybershot DSC-F828. The F828 carries on the tradition of a split body / lens design which we first saw on the DSC-F505, the F828 however is a very different beast. The F828 has a new Sony 2/3" type eight megapixel four color (RGBE) CCD sensor, coupled to this is one of the most impressive digital camera lenses ever seen, a Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* seven times wide angle zoom (28 - 200 mm equiv.) with a maximum aperture of F2.0 - F2.8, better still zoom is controlled by a mechanically linked zoom ring. Oh yes, and it has RAW and a Compact Flash slot! We have had a pre-production DSC-F828 for a short amount of time, just long enough to produce a detailed nine page preview of this amazing camera.
13:00 CET: Sony has today announced the ultra-compact and stylish Cybershot DSC-U50. This $250 compact digital camera has a rotating lens element with a fixed focal length lens and a two megapixel CCD. The DSC-U50 is the first Sony Cybershot to record images to the smaller MemoryStick Duo format, so far only used on PDA's and mobile phones. The press release also makes note of a new 'Memory Stick Duo Pro', something we've not heard of before.
Software: ArcSoft has announced PhotoImpression 5, an all-in-one photo editor and project maker for Windows and Macintosh. "PhotoImpression 5 picks up right where the previous version leaves off," explains Todd Rumaner, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing for ArcSoft. "Any photo lover who uses a digital camera, scanner, or printer will appreciate the powerful editing features and intuitive interface. It has just about everything you need to view, edit, print, and share your pictures."
Fujifilm has today announced that its FinePix S2 Pro now supports the Macintosh OS X operating system. Fujifilm will bundle this upgrade with all FinePix S2 Pro cameras from August. The new software package also has new features including a new EXIF Extractor and updated versions of the RAW File converter LE, RAW File Converter EX Version 2.0 and Camera Shooting Software Version 2.0. Fujifilm also announced a price reduction for the FinePix S2 Pro, which is now available at a suggested price of $2295.
Just posted! Our full in-depth review of Nikon's entry-level zoom Coolpix 3100. This three megapixel three times optical zoom digital camera was announced at PMA earlier this year and is aimed at beginners or those on a budget, it's pocket sized proportions and cute rounded styling make it a great go anywhere camera which won't break the bank. Read the full review to see how the Coolpix 3100 performed in our tests.
Just posted! Our full in-depth review of Canon's entry-level zoom PowerShot A70. This three megapixel three times optical zoom digital camera was announced at PMA earlier this year and is aimed at beginners or those on a budget, unlike most entry-level digital cameras the A70 sports a fairly good range of manual controls such as selectable ISO sensitivity, aperture priority, shutter priority and manual exposure mode. Read the full review to see how the A70 performed in our tests.
Rob Galbraith has today posted his delayed D2H Preview. Rob has added to the information we could provide in our D2H, it looks to me as though he had longer with the camera, has menu captures, some nice diagrams and timings as well as coverage of Nikon Capture 4.0. "Are we excited about the potential of this new digital SLR camera? You bet. Our only concern right now is that the D2H might not be able to live up to the monstrous engineering effort that clearly has gone into designing it. If the retooled AF system and all-new, Nikon-designed imager work as well as Nikon is promising, the new camera could in fact be the 500 pound frog that LoPinto describes. If not, well... With so much that's new in one camera, we recommend not counting all your D2H chickens before the camera hatches later this year."
Canon Europe has joined forces with the European Union and the Anti-Counterfeit Group to campaign against black-market trade and raise consumer awareness about the dangers and the real costs of counterfeit products. James Leipnik, Chief of Communication and Corporate Relations, Canon Europe, said, Canon is concerned about protecting the rights of the consumer who is the number one victim. Fake goods may sometimes seem like a bargain but there are always hidden dangers for consumers. The person who sells you a fake won't be around to help if it doesn't work properly; fakes don't come with guarantees. Only the genuine article can offer a good deal.
Thanks to Andreas P for noting that Pentax Japan has just posted three sample image from the *ist D digital SLR. We recently posted our exclusive *ist D preview but at that time the camera we had was too early to be used for sample images. Those curious about the *ist D's image quality can now at least have something to work from.
HP has today announced no less than four new digital cameras. The 435 and 635 (priced at $149 and $179 respectively) are entry level digital cameras. The 945 becomes HP's new flagship model with a five megapixel CCD and 8x zoom (see next news article). The 435 has a three megapixel CCD and a fixed focal length lens, the 635 has a two megapixel CCD and a three times optical zoom lens. In addition HP has also announced a new 'iPAQ Pocket Camera' which is a digital camera add-on for the iPAQ PDA.
HP has today announced the Photosmart 945. This camera is a progression from the 850 and features a similar body design, the same eight times optical zoom lens but now with a five megapixel CCD. The 945 also has a couple of unique features including HP's Adaptive Lighting technology (which we praised highly in our 935 review) and also a brand new feature; Digital Flash. Digital Flash works by analyzing the image and automatically brightening dark areas, similar to a fill-flash but without the flash! We have some exclusive hands-on images of the 945.
We finally have our hands on an initial production Olympus E-1 and can now bring you a range of sample images from Olympus's first lens interchangeable digital SLR and the first digital SLR based on the 4/3 System. The preview has been refreshed with some new images, updated information pages, updated display and menu captures. In addition we have added noise and resolution comparisons to the Canon EOS-10D, Nikon D100 and Fujifilm S2 Pro as well as an exclusive eighteen image samples gallery. UPDATE: Yamada @ digitalcamera.gr.jp also posts samples.
Panasonic has today announced the DMC-FZ2, this new camera appears to a development of the DMC-FZ1 which keeps the body design and 12x optical zoom stabilized F2.8 lens and two megapixel sensor. Indeed the changes appear to be under the skin, the FZ2 adds aperture and shutter prioirity, white balance fine tuning and color saturation control. As with the previous model the FZ2 will be available in both black and silver and is supplied with a lens hood.
Panasonic has today announced the Lumix DMC-LC43 and DMC-LC33 digital cameras. These two cameras are based around the same camera body with a Leica branded three times optical zoom lens, the DMC-LC43 has a four megapixel CCD, the DMC-LC33 has a three megapixel CCD. One thing that is interesting about the DMC-LC43 is that it uses a 1/2.5" type 4.23 million pixel sensor, to my knowledge this is the smallest four megapixel CCD so far used in a digital camera.
Kyocera has today announced the new Finecam S5R. This update to the S5 ultra-compact sees a slightly revised body design and an improvement in performance thanks to a new image processor dubbed 'RTUNE'. The RTUNE processor allows the S5R to shoot at 3 frames per second until the SD card is full. This does however require a high speed SD card capable of 10 MB/sec or more. The S5R also supports movies of 640 x 480, 320 x 240 or 160 x 120 at 15 or 30 fps (with audio) limited only by card space. Expected price in Japan will be 75,000 YEN (approx. US$600).
Foveon has released specifications for the 'Foveon X3 5M CMOS Image Sensor'. This is a very interesting sensor because it is the same size as the now almost standard 1/1.8" type used in many of todays compact digital cameras. The X3 5M has 4.53 MPS (million pixel sensors) in an array of 1420 x 1060 x 3 layers. This sensor is also capable of 640 x 480 full color video (3 colors per output pixel) at an impressive 30 frames per second using Foveon's Variable Pixel Size (VPS) capability. Could this be a sign that we will soon see consumer level digital cameras with X3 sensors? (Note: According to our friends at Imaging-Resource mention was made of this sensor back in March but until now we had not seen the specifications).
Pentax has today put official specifications to the *ist D digital SLR first seen at PMA earlier this year. Pentax are describing the six megapixel *ist D as the world's smallest and lightest lens-interchangeable digital SLR, and that's easy to believe when you see it beside the competition (see our preview). The *ist D has a Pentax KAF mount which is compatible with KAF2, KAF and KA mount lenses (as well as K, S, 67/645 lenses with adapters / restrictions). It has a sensitivity range of ISO 200 to 1600 (3200 as a boost option), has selectable color sapce, stores images on Compact Flash (Type I/II) and supports RAW format. We have an exclusive detailed preview of the Pentax *ist D available.
PM EST: Minolta has today announced the all new DiMAGE A1. The
A1 is the replacement for the DiMAGE 7 series, it has a new body design,
new control layout, enhanced feature set, new Lithium-Ion rechargeable
battery, flip-out tilting LCD monitor and many more new features. It's
biggest new improvement however must be the new anti-shake system implemented
by stabilizing the CCD instead of a lens element. This unique approach
is a first in the digital camera world and it will be interested to see
how it performs in the field. We have a fully detailed
preview available along with a comparison to the DiMAGE 7Hi and a video
of the anti-shake system in action. 12:00
PM EST: Minolta has today announced a new Program/Maxxum Flash
2500(D) designed to complement the new DiMAGE A1 and DiMAGE Z1 digital
cameras. "The new Minolta Program/Maxxum Flash 2500 (D) is the perfect
complement to Minolta's Maxxum SLR film cameras and DiMAGE digital cameras,"
said Jon Sienkiewicz, vice president of marketing, Minolta Corporation's
Consumer Products Group. "This new programmed flash unit is an accessory
designed to obtain maximum compatibility between our film and digital
cameras. It provides photographers with the most reliable flash exposure
and the creative freedom they need to capture their visions on film or
digital media, regardless of the existing lighting conditions."