Nikon has today announced the new SB-800 Speedlight. This new flash unit is designed to complement the D2H digital SLR and incorporates many new features associated with Nikon's i-TTL 'Creative Lighting System' including Flash Value Lock, Auto FP High-Speed Sync and Flash Colour Information Communication. The SB-800 also facilitates advanced wireless lighting, "Up to 3 SB-800 units can now communicate monitor pre-flash data with the Master unit for fully automatic multiple flash exposures, removing the need for flash meters or manual calculations. The D2H Digital SLR 1005-pixel Matrix metering sensor is utilized to calculate exposures, and transmit each Slave output changes back to each Slave unit."
Nikon has today made official the camera leaked all over the net in the last week. The D2H is a four megapixel digital SLR which can shoot continuously at eight frames per second. Its buffer is large enough for 40 JPEG or 25 NEF (RAW) frames shot at this rate. The sensor used in the D2H is Nikon's first in-house designed sensor and based on a totally new 'JFET LBCAST' technology which appears to be similar to CMOS but capable of outputting data at a far higher speed. The D2H supports an optional accessory, the WT-1 which provides direct wireless transmission of images from the camera by WiFi (802.11b), images are sent using the FTP protocol. The D2H has numerous other new features and improvements such as; 11-area Multi-CAM 2000 AF module, 80 ms viewfinder blackout, ambient WB sensor, new Lithium-Ion battery, 2.5" 211,000 pixel LCD monitor, orientation sensor, more viewfinder information and support for the advanced i-TTL flash lighting system. We have a detailed five page preview article available.
Along with the introduction of the new D2H Digital SLR Nikon is also introducing two 'complementary' DX format lenses. The Nikkor AF-S DX 17-55 mm F2.8 G provides an equivalent field of view of 25.5 to 82.5 mm on a DX format digital SLR (D2H, D1 series, D100), having handled this lens I can say that it is slightly smaller and lighter than the Nikkor AF-S 28 - 70 mm F2.8 lens. The other amazing lens is the new AF DX 10.5 mm F2.8 G fisheye, on a DX format digital SLR this lens provides an equivalent field of view of 15.75 mm.
Dave over at Imaging-Resource has today posted his review of the Pentax Optio 550 and the cool looking if not absolutely convincing Contax TVS Digital. Dave says "...a Zeiss lens that's unusually sharp from corner to corner, and that also seems to have significantly less flare than I'm accustomed to seeing in digicam lenses. Image quality is good, if not knock-your-socks-off impressive."
According to an article in the Japanese Nikkei, Nikon has developed a new image sensor based on a new 'LBCAST' technology (which appears to be similar to CMOS but faster). This new sensor design allows data to be read twice as fast as standard sensors. The new sensor is destined for digital SLR's, to quote the article "An SLR camera with the LBCAST sensor will be capable of consecutive shooting at the best level for CMOS cameras made by other companies, or 8 shots per second, which is also more than twice that of ordinary compact digital cameras with CCD (charge-coupled device) sensors." As far as I know this is the first in-house developed sensor from Nikon.
TIPA (Technical Image Press Assocation) has announced the results of its awards for 2003 to 2004. TIPA is made up of numerous photography publications (print media) from all around Europe. Awards of interest to digital photographers are the Best Design to the Nikon Coolpix SQ, the Best Digital Consumer Camera to the Olympus Mju 400 Digital, the Best Digital Prosumer Camera to the Sony DSC-V1, the Best Digital SLR System Camera to the Canon EOS-1Ds and the Best Innovative Technology to the Olympus 4/3 Digital System.
ACD Systems has today released FotoSlate 3.0. FotoSlate is a comprehensive photo printing application designed to make it easier to print your photos. Photos can be printed as full page images or with a variety of templates such as cards, calendars and contact sheets. FotoSlate also features color management including EXIF 2.2 and ICC color profile support. FotoSlate three includes new features such as 'Paper Saver' for printing as many photos on one page as possible, EXIF 2.2 and ICC support, image resampling filters and more. ACD FotoSlate 3.0 is priced at $39.99, you can download a free trial version from the ACD Systems website..
Fairly significant news as this is a first for any Sony digital camera, a user installable firmware upgrade. Sony has today posted firmware 2.0 for the DSC-V1, it doesn't claim to make any image quality or performance related changes to the camera but simply adds language choices for German, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese to the existing English and French. Installation is carried out by simply copying the firmware update file (.ASH) onto a Memory Stick and inserting it into the camera. At long last we may begin to see Sony post user installable fixes for camera issues!
Both Japan Today and Japan Times websites have a story from Kyodo News about a prototype Fujifilm digital camera that has integrated Wi-Fi. The prototype was displayed at the Wireless Japan 2003 exhibition for information technology business. It has a three megapixel sensor and a Wi-Fi LAN card with a transmission capacity of 11 megabits per second (802.11b). Fujifilm said plans for the camera, including price and when it will go on sale, have yet to be determined.
Sony Corporation (Japan) has today announced that it will be implementing a new four color filter array pattern on a 'consumer CCD' (we can only assume this is the new ICX456 eight megapixel CCD sensor). Instead of the 'traditional' three color RGB bayer pattern the new color filter array has a RGBE layout where 'E' is a light blue color which Sony are referring to as 'Emerald' (although it looks more like Cyan to me). Their claim is that this pattern is "closer to the natural sight perception of the human eye". In addition Sony has developed a new image processor to complement the "4 color filter CCD".
Minolta has today announced the new DiMAGE X20 digital camera. According to Minolta the X20 is "the world's smallest and lightest 2-megapixel digital camera with a 3x optical zoom". The camera is clearly based on the 'folded optics' lens design first seen in the DiMAGE X, that is a 3x optical zoom mechanism which is 'laid' inside the camera body and views the world through a mirrored prism. This entry level camera is powered by two AA batteries and stores images on SD card. The X20 also has a 'self-portrait mirror' on the front of the camera to help you take those all important pictures of yourself!
Four days ago the New York Times ran an article about Olympus's new E System and specificaly the E-1 digital SLR. In it they stated that the camera would cost 'less than 100,000 yen ($847.17)'. This of course caused a huge stir on our forums (as well as a flood of emails to us asking for clarification) with half of the people believing it, and half not. Today Olympus Tokyo has issued a statement clarifiying that the MSRP for the E-1 body as $2,199.
Vosonic has announced the DigiViewer DV-320, a new 6 in 1 Digital Multimedia Viewer for TV. The DiGi VIEWER DV-320 supports the playing of MPEG videos, Jpeg image files, and listen to MP3s and Windows Media files from memory cards including SmartMedia, Secure Digital/MultiMediaCard, Memory Stick (and MS Pro), CompactFlash Type I & II, and IBM Microdrives. The RRP is £69.90
While we wouldn't normally post links to individual lens reviews we did feel it appropriate to bring this review of Nikon's first DX lens to our readers attention. The DX lens is designed specifically for Nikon digital SLR's, with a smaller imaging circle than standard Nikkor 35 mm lenses the lens itself can be made smaller and lighter. This concept is not unlike that intended by Olympus in their 4/3 standard. Bjørn Rørslett (Nærfoto) has posted an extensive review of the AFS 12-24 mm f/4 G ED IF DX Nikkor lens, the first and certainly most detailed you could expect.
Just posted! As part of our trio of 'five megapixel, four times zoom' reviews posted today we bring you an in-depth review of the Canon PowerShot G5. The G5 is essentially an upgraded G3, with all the same features and controls the G5 brings an 30% increase in pixel count and a black body. To see how the G5 did in our tests and how it compared to the rest come in and read our review in full.
Just posted! As part of our trio of 'five megapixel, four times zoom' reviews posted today we bring you an in-depth review of the Nikon Coolpix 5400. The 5400 is the sucessor to Nikon's popular and innovative Coolpix 5000. The 5400 expands the zoom range to four times but maintains the 28 mm wide angle which was so popular among Coolpix 5000 owners. To see how the 5400 did in our tests and how it compared to the rest come in and read our review in full.
Just posted! As part of our trio of 'five megapixel, four times zoom' reviews posted today we bring you an in-depth review of the Sony DSC-V1. The V1 could be seen as a development of the DSC-S75/S85 design, although this camera is much more compact and advanced. Sporting a full hot shoe and four times optical zoom lens the DSC-V1 is the smallest of the three cameras reviewed but its no less capable. To see how the DSC-V1 did in our tests and how it compared to the rest come in and read our review in full.
Olympus UK has today confirmed that the body only list price of the E-1 digital SLR (including 17.5% VAT) will be £1699.99. This means that at least initially the E-1 will be approximately £200 more than a Nikon D100 and £450 more than a Canon EOS-10D. Assuming the E-1's street price drops once the immediate rush is over we could see it matching the D100 at £1499 (inc. VAT). In my opinion this price is simply too high for a new SLR system. We still don't have official pricing for lenses or accessories.
Fujifilm Japan has today announced that its first digital camera based on the high dynamic range SuperCCD SR sensor has been delayed again, this time until 'October 2003'. The SuperCCD SR technology was first announced in January this year, shortly followed by an announcement of the F700 in February. In April Fujifilm announced the F700 would be delayed until 'Summer 2003', this new delay adds at least four months to that. The reason give is the same as it was in April, "A delay in material procurement".
Canon has posted EOS-10D firmware 1.0.1 on its BeBit website. Copies of this firmware have been floating around the Internet for a few days now, this is the first official copy and installation guide. This firmware seems fairly unremarkable with only two fixes, the first improves the reliability of USB communication when performing a Direct Print, the second corrects some Chinese lettering in the menu system.
Leica has today announced the development of a Digital Module for the Leica R8 & R9. This new module has a ten megapixel Kodak sensor and has been developed in association with Imacon. The module is made up of two parts, a digital back which cliips onto the rear of the camera and a power unit which fits on the base. The digital back has a ten megapixel Kodak sensor which produces a FOV crop of 1.37x and has a sensitivity of ISO 100 to 800. Image formats will include RAW (Imacon 3F), storage by SD card.
In a very interesting story published on Nikkei BP Olympus are said to be aiming for sales of 90,000 units of their recently announced E-1 digital SLR this fiscal year (from now to end of March 2004). Global shipments of digital SLRs reached approximately 250,000 units in 2002 and Canon are apparently shipping 30,000 units of their six megapixel EOS-10D digital SLR per month, according to Canon production is still unable to keep up.
1500 CET: The embargo is over and we can finally bring you our detailed preview of Olympus's long awaited E-1 digital SLR. We had just under 48 hours with a pre-production camera, just long enough for me to produce a ten page preview of the camera and system. Unfortunately at this stage we are not allowed to publish image samples or talk about image quality.
0700 CET: Olympus has today officially announced the Olympus E-1 digital SLR. The E-1 is the first Olympus removable lens digital SLR, it's also the first digital SLR with an entirely new lens mount. The E-1 conforms to the '4/3 System' standard with a standard 4/3" type CCD (18 x 13.5 mm) from Kodak (five megapixel) and the 4/3 System lens mount. Olympus has also confirmed five ZUIKO DIGITAL lenses and three flash units. UPDATE: While we weren't given any pricing it looks like other sites were, see inside...
0700 CET: As part of their announcement of the new E-1 digital SLR Olympus has also issued a press release covering the available lenses and accessories, this includes a couple of new flash units, a teleconverter, extension tube and one new ultra-wide angle zoom lens which should be available towards the end of the year. Olympus has also now branded the lenses, "ZUIKO DIGITAL", the name 'ZUIKO' synonymous with quality OM lenses of the past. The new zoom lens provides a 35 mm equivalent field of view of 21 to 44 mm with a maximum aperture of F2.8 to F3.5 (sounds very interesting). Other items of interest include a different focusing screen and an eyecup. Kudos to Olympus for ensuring a relatively wide range of accessories and lenses at the time of announcement of the new E-1 digital SLR.
According to a report published today by In-Stat/MDR the results of recent survey reveals that 37 percent of respondents planned to buy a digital camera in the next twelve months. The report goes on, "Digital cameras in general, are currently among the hottest consumer items on the market. Whether digital still cameras, digital camcorders, or PC cameras, consumers have taken advantage of falling prices and increasing quality to make digital imaging a marketplace phenomenon over the past three to five years."
Toshiba Imaging Systems has recently announced the new PDR-3340. It offers a 3.2 megapixel resolution, 3X optical zoom lens (34mm - 102mm) and 16Mb of internal memory, expandable with SD cards. "The PDR-3340 is perfect for entry-level consumers making the transition from traditional film cameras to digital cameras," said Doug Freck, Vice President and General Manager, Toshiba Imaging Systems. The PDR-3340 is expected to ship in August with an MSRP of $249.
Toshiba Imaging Systems has recently announced its new M Series range of digital camera, the PDR-M700 and PDR-M500. The PDR-M700 offers a 3.2 megapixel resolution, while the PDR-M500 offers 2.0 megapixels. Both have with 10x Canon optical zoom lenses (35mm equiv. to 35mm - 350mm) and 16Mb SD cards. The PDR-M700 is priced at around US $449 and the PDR-M500 at around US $349.
ColorVision Inc. has today announced the latest in their line of color calibration products. The PrintFIX hardware and software combination offer a very affordable method for profiling your printer (at first Epson inkjets) allowing you to produce far more accurate print color. This product is also especially useful for users of high end Epson Stylus Photo printers using third party papers. We have managed to arrange for a special deal price of $299 for PrintFIX ($352 SRP) and $499 for a Spyder and PrintFIX suite pack ($587 SRP, $704 total if bought individually).
Sigma Japan has today announced a new lens. The 24 - 135 mm F2.8 - F4.5 will be available for Sigma, Canon , Nikon, Minolta and Pentax lens mounts, it has a 77 mm filter size, 50 cm (19.7 in) minimum focus distance and weighs 530 g (17 oz). This lens will no doubt be interesting to digital SLR owners because of its relatively wide angle 24 mm, on the Sigma SD9 this lens would provide an equivelant field of view of approx. 41 - 230 mm, on the Canon EOS-10D approx. 38 - 216 mm and on the Nikon D100 approx. 36 - 203 mm.
Thanks to forums contributor 'Andreas P' for spotting this, a Taiwanese technology website is currently running an article about the difference between CCD and CMOS sensors. On this page they have a copy of a Sony sensor road map, on it is the ICX 456 sensor, it's 2/3" in size (8.8 x 6.6 mm) and has eight megapixels (a pixel pitch of 2.7 µm). The box on the roadmap is marked '1H03' (first half '03) which would make it available for manufacturers looking to release some prosumer cameras before Christmas this year (a new Sony DSC-F717 or Canon Pro 90 perhaps?).
Sony Japan has today announced a range of new 'high quality' products under the 'QUALIA' name, each product is identified simply by the QUALIA name and a three digit product number. Inlcuded as part of this range is the 'Qualia 016' an ultra-compact two megapixel digital camera which stores images on Memory Stick Duo and has a 0.55" LCD monitor installed. The camera measures just 69 x 24 x 17 mm (2.7 x 0.9 x 0.7 in) and weighs just 50 g (1.8 oz) ready to use - significantly smaller than the 'U' series. The body is made almost completely from aluminium and is supplied in a very neat looking black box with a range of accessories including a flash unit, viewer unit, wide conversion lens and tele conversion lens. Yours for just 380,000 YEN ($3,200). With no word from Sony companies elsewhere in the world it does look as though this may be another exciting product only available in Japan, we will try to get confirmation on this later in the day.
Creo has today announced the Leaf Valeo 22 digital camera back for in studio and portable shooting. It utilizes a newly developed 22 megapixel CCD giving 4,056 x 5,356 resolution in a sensor size of 48 x 36 mm. Raw data files reach 126 MB in 16 bit and are stored on a removable 5 GB or 10 GB Leaf Digital Magazine. A detachable 6 x 7 cm display, based on the HP iPAQ pocket PC, and removable Digital Magazine provides Leaf Portable Power. Demonstration units are available from July 2003 and commercial shipments begin September 1, 2003.
Samsung UK has recently announced two new additions to their Digimax range, the 420 and 360. The Digimax 420 offers a 4 megapixel resolution, while the 360 offers 3.2 megapixels. Both have with 3x optical zoom lenses (35mm equiv. to 38mm - 114mm) and 16Mb internal memories, which can be upgraded using SD cards. The Digimax 420 is priced at around £300 and the Digimax 360 at around £250.
Site contributor Vincent Bockaert has today announced an updated version of his excellent 'The 123 of digital imaging Interactive e-book'. This new version has been reedited, has updated content, new technology information as well as improved internal search engine and other more subtle improvements such as cover design and shipping media. Upgrade to version 1.1 is free for owners of version 1.0, an all new 2.4 MB downloadable demo is also now available. I can thoroughly recommend this e-book to anyone, whether you consider yourself an expert or are a complete beginner, there's something here for everyone. (Apologies to Mac users, this product is Windows only).
Konica has revealed the KD-510Z, for quite a while today I think they probably underestimated the amount of traffic their server would have to deal with (especially after tempting everyone with that teaser last week). After all that the KD-510Z seems to be a fairly unremarkable five megapixel three times optical zoom digital camera virtually identical to the black bodied KD-500Z they announced at Photokina last year. Just like the previous camera the KD-510Z can store images on both SD/MMC and MemoryStick, making Konica the only manufacturer other than Sony to use the format.
0700 GMT: Canon has today (officially) announced the five megapixel PowerShot G5. While we are often happy to respect embargo's (to get what we are told is exclusive info) it's getting repeatedly more frustrating when you see so called embargo information published sometimes weeks ahead of the real announcement (it does make you wonder if such leaks aren't planned by the manufacturers). The PowerShot G5 is a camera I feel Canon should have announced at Photokina last year instead of the G3, it's a essentially a black bodied, five megapixel version of that camera. Five megapixel 1/1.8" sensor and a four times optical zoom lens, the competition will be Sony's DSC-V1 and the recently announced Nikon Coolpix 5400. List price €899 in Europe, $899 in the US.
Konica has recently put up a flash teaser on their Japanese web site, very much in the vien of Nikon with their Coolpix SQ earlier this year. It shows a number of Konica cameras through the years and ends with a sillouette of the new model with the promise of more information coming on the 6th of June. There are two very good samples linked from the page though, so I think again its a case of wait and see.
Nikon has today announced the new five megapixel four times optical zoom Coolpix 5400 (the Coolpix 5000's sucessor). The Coolpix 5400 is especially interesting because it offers a wide angle 28 mm equiv. four times zoom compared to the typical 35 or 38 mm equiv. Other noteworthy specifications include 1/1.8" sensor (the Coolpix 5000 used a 2/3"), ISO 50 - 400 sensitivity, up to 10 minute Bulb exposures and front or rear flash sync.. Available "Summer 2003" with a list price of $799. UPDATE: 5400 will get RAW "in Spring 2004" via a firmware update.
Sony has today announce two new U-series ultra-compact digital cameras. The DSC-U30 (available in three colors) is essentially an update to the DSC-U20, it has a two megapixel CCD sensor and fixed lens. The 'new feature' for the DSC-U30 is a convex mirror on the front of the camera so that you (or your friends) can see yourselves before taking a shot. The DSC-U60 is Sony's first ruggedized and waterproofed model, it has a rubber body and is waterproof in up to 1.5 m (5 ft) of water. Both cameras should be available in July at $200 and $250 respectively.
Media and SanDisk have today both announced support for the xD-Picture
Card format, which was developed by Olympus, FujiFilm and Toshiba. Lexar
Media will now be offering xD-Picture Cards
in Lexar packaging through many of its worldwide retail outlets and SanDisk have signed a 5 year agreement with Olympus to manufacture as well as sell xD-Picture Cards under the Olympus brand.
An interesting story on EE Times today about a new image processor for digital cameras from NuCore Technologies called CleanCapture. CleanCapture chips lower noise in the analog stage, thefore improving compression using standard algorithms. If an image file contains noise, the noise is treated as data and deteriorates compression efficiency. "A JPEG file created by NuCore's processor is on average a half or one third the size of conventionally processed JPEG files" said Seiichiro Watanabe.
In their second announcement of the day Fujfilm has revealed the new FinePix A210 Zoom, a three megapixel, three times optical zoom entry-level digital camera. The camera has a 1.5" LCD monitor, is powered by two AA batteries and stores images on xD Picture Card (16 MB included). The A210 is designed to appeal to first time digital camera users with an easy to use interface which includes larger buttons and clear labelling.
To coincide with the Olympus announcement (which just pipped them to the post) Fujifilm has also today announced their 512 MB xD Picture Card. The xD Picture Card format was jointly developed by Fujifilm, Olympus and Toshiba (who produce the cards). Adrian Clarke, Director of Consumer Products at Fujifilm, said: "The new capacity for the xD-Picture Card takes it into a commanding competitive position compared to other storage formats, whilst the tiny physical dimensions are of considerable benefit with regard to camera design and size."
Olympus Japan has today announced another step in capacity for the relatively new xD Picture Card flash storage format, according to the press release they expect the 512 MB xD Picture Card (M-XD512P) to go on sale in Japan this June (next month). This new, higher capacity card, is already compatible with several recently released Olympus digital cameras; C-5050 Zoom, C-50 Zoom, C-730 Ultra Zoom, C-740 Ultra Zoom, C-750 Ultra Zoom, Stylus 400 (mju 400) Digital, Stylus 300 (mju 300) Digital. Although not confirmed in the Japanese release we assume this new card would be compatible with the US models D-560 Zoom and D-390.
Lexar has recently identified a rare compatibility issue between some of their 32x and 40x Professional Series CompactFlash cards and Nikon D1x & D1h cameras. Under certain conditions, the cards can become corrupted resulting in a standard "CHA" error message on the camera's LCD display. The affected cards can be identified by the card's serial number located at the bottom edge of the card opposite the connector. Cards with a serial number ending with the last 4 characters of 4D8D or 6DB4 should be updated with the latest firmware.
Pentax has today issued an English (the previous was only in Japanese) press release about the delay of the *ist D digital SLR. "Due to a delay in the delivery of some components, the product launch has been pushed back to late August of this year. In the sales memorandum of February 27, 2003, the original date was announced to be sometime in June or July. Final specifications will be announced later." For their sake I hope they can hit this new target and not delay any further, having a flagship digital product is important and Pentax really need to prove that they can actually produce a digital SLR.
Displaytech has announced the LightView 311k Display Module, the highest resolution display produced for digital still camera and camcorder viewfinders. The 311k is a 0.26-inch diagonal FLC on reflective CMOS microdisplay with 432 by 240 pixel display resolution. Each pixel has 24-bit color depth, and it operates at 120 Hz (360 Hz RGB field rate) to provide flicker free, full color video imaging.
Phew! Perhaps one of the most exhaustive (and exhausting) reviews I've ever produced, our review of the fourteen megapixel DCS-14n spans no less than 24 pages, five of which are dedicated to comparing this camera to Canon's eleven megapixel EOS-1Ds. We've had our DCS-14n for some time now so I've had a good chance to evaluate the camera, and the various firmware versions which have flowed our way. And that's part of the problem, is the 14n actual finished yet? Dive into our review and see how Kodak's latest digital SLR stacks up.