I-O Data has today announced the availability of 256 and 512 MB SD cards. The SD card is now beginning to establish itself in the digital camera market, the advent and availability of larger capacity cards will be very welcome to owners of SD/MMC storage cameras. Another positive aspect of the new cards is that there appear to be no known compatibility problems, so unlike the SmartMedia debacle of a few years ago existing SD/MMC digital cameras should be able to use these new cards without problems.
Last week I attended a trip to Japan organized by Fujifilm UK. This trip included an extensive tour of the Fujifilm manufacturing plant at Sendai, Japan. This is the place where the majority of Fujifilm digital cameras are made. This brief report is designed to give you an insight into what is involved in the manufacture of a Fujifilm digital camera and how Fujifilm have built an advantage over others.
Colorplaza Ltd. has today announced ColormailerPro, an online photo finishing service aimed specifically at professional photographers. The service can be used by those who shoot digital or traditional film. Print sizes range from 4 x 6 inch up to 20 x 28 inch and are printed using a Polieletronica LaserLab processing onto Agfa Digital Professional II Photo Paper. The ColormailerPro service is available in the UK, France, Germany and Switzerland.
Nikon Singapore has today announced an eleven city Asia Roadshow providing a sound advice and training in Digital Photography Workflow. Nikon Tour Manager Daren Tan emphasizes "There is certainly no lack of individual product information available... ...we wanted to get out and teach people face-to-face with solutions of a good synergistic digital workflow (a combined researched solution with the partners) in a comprehensive and solution-based approach. We're aiming an audience not just of professional photographers, but also of 'professionals who take photographs' ".
Nixvue has announced its new firmware version 1.04 (and soon 1.05) for the Vista portable storage / display unit. The new firmware adds support for the display of Nikon RAW (NEF) and Canon RAW (CRW) files on both the internal LCD and connected TV. Other new features include the viewing of EXIF and Histogram information and multiple sub-directory slideshow option.
Sanyo Japan has today posted a press release about their development of a prototype wireless network digital camera. In parallel they are also demonstrating this prototype at NETWORLD + INTEROP 2002 TOKYO. The prototype camera is based on the 1.5 megapixel DSC-SX560. This camera is designed to be used with an IEEE 802.11b (11 Mbps) wireless CompactFlash card for connection to both public wireless as well as private indoor wireless LAN. The camera includes a TCP/IP stack and can be configured to upload the image immediately to a server on the wireless network. Public 802.11b networks are starting to become a reality both in Japan and other parts of the world.
Sony has today announced their smallest and lightest digital camera the DSC-U10. This tiny 1.3 megapixel digital camera weighs in at just 118 g (4.2 oz) fully loaded, has a fixed focal length lens, one inch LCD, is powered by two AAA batteries and stores its images onto MemoryStick. This camera is expected to hit the stores in Japan on 20th July this year and should have a street price of 25,000 YEN (approx. US$200).
Delkin Devices has today announced the 'eFilm PicturePAD', the PicturePAD is a portable storage and display device for digital photography and appears to be an OEM Nixvue Vista. The PicturePAD has a 1.8 inch LCD monitor which is used to navigate menus and display images, the built-in CompactFlash slot is used to transfer images from CF (or other formats with an adapter) to the internal hard drive. The PicturePAD initially will be available in 20 and 30 GB capacities. The MSRP for the 20GB model is $549.
Olympus has announced the four megapixel C-4000Z. This camera is (yet) another re-hash of the same body design which we first saw used back on the C-2000Z. The C-4000Z appears to be based on the C-3020Z but with the addition of a four megapixel sensor, TV output and an external flash connector. Note that this camera does not have the fast F1.8 lens of its bigger brother the C-4040Z, instead it has the slightly slower F2.8 (still respectable). Expected UK price will be £449.99 inc VAT, available in August.
Nikon US has today confirmed the pricing (MSRP) of the Nikon Coolpix 5700, Coolpix 4500 and Coolpix 2000 as $1195.95, $699.95 and $249.95 respectively. This brings the price of these cameras in line with the competition and also distinguishes the 5700 from its lesser-zoom-brother the Coolpix 5000. According to the press release all of these cameras should be in the shops in July.
Just posted! Our full in-depth review of Fujifilm's new FinePix F601 Zoom. The F601 Zoom has the latest generation SuperCCD sensor which has 3.1 million pixels and creates a 6 megapixel output image. The F601 is Fujifilm's successor to the 6800Z, it's slightly smaller, slightly lighter better designed and faster. Indeed, the F601 Zoom may well be the fastest compact digital camera currently available.
Casio Japan has today announced the QV-R3 and QV-R4, three and four megapixel, three times optical zoom ultra-compact digital cameras in a metal case. Casio note that the lens is made by Pentax, which would probably make it the same lens unit used in the Optio 330/430. Casio are also promoting this camera has having a very short shutter release lag of 1/100th of a second. More hints about how heavily this new camera is based on Pentax's Optio 330/430 creep up in the specifications, with features such as World Time and the Alarm function.
Just posted! Our in-depth look at Minolta's new and update DiMAGE 7i. The 7i follows on from the success of last years DiMAGE 7, it adds several new features and fixes as well as some subtle design changes and build finish improvments. Since the introduction of the DiMAGE 7 the high end 5 megapixel market has seen several new cameras, Minolta's toughest test will be Nikon's new Coolpix 5700, a match which we will add to this review at a later date.
Epson, the creators of PIM (Print Image Matching) has today announced yet another standard. This time it's called PIM II (this could turn into a Rocky series) in addition to the original set of parameters PIM II now understands embeded noise reduction and custom scene flags. To me this is just another confusing standard for users who are STILL not getting reliable colour matching between their digital camera and their printer. None of the solutions put forward so far (PIM, PIM II or EXIF 2.2) are the real solution.
Nikon Europe has today posted the English installer version of firmware 1.1 for the Coolpix 2500. This firmware popped up on the Nikon Japan website last week, as far as we know the actual firmware is the same it's simply the installer which is now in the English language. This new firmware addresses issues arising from the rotation of images in Windows XP it also adds full support for EXIF 2.2 (ExifPrint). The installer requires that you have the camera connected to your PC via a USB cable.
Kodak has today announced that it has dropped the price of the Professional DCS 720x from $6,995 to $4,995. The 720x is based on the Nikon F5 body and features Kodak's unique Cyan, Magenta and Yellow CFA CCD. This provides the camera with a wide sensitivity range of ISO 400 to ISO 6400. "The DCS 720x digital camera is the ideal camera if you're shooting in low-light or action situations - such as military and law enforcement applications, or sports and news events - and now it's available at a very affordable price." To me the DCS's are now looking old, tired and outdated.
Minolta has today announced an upgrade kit for the DiMAGE 7. This kit contains new firmware for the camera and an updated version of the DiMAGE Viewer software. The firmware upgrade implements a large number of the new features available on the new DiMAGE 7i. The most interesting improvements are those made to AF speed, drive speed, live view histogram and the addition of Direct Manual Focus. The upgrade kit will be available for $79.95 (including DiMAGE Viewer) or $49.95 (just firmware) from the Minolta USA website soon.
In an interesting move Fujifilm US has now dropped the price of the S2 Pro digital SLR Kit to $2399 from its previous price of $3699. The S2 Pro has a six megapixel Super CCD sensor which produces a twelve megapixel output file. This new drop brings the price of this camera closer to that of the recently announced Nikon D100 and Canon EOS-D60. Note that there will now no longer be a non-kit version available. All pre-orders placed with our official affiliate will automatically be lowered to the new $2399 price. Place your order today and help support this site!
The Dutch website Tweakers.Net has posted a report on a tour they had of Dane-Elec's Irish memory factory. The first four pages of the tour concern themselves with standard PC RAM (SDRAM etc.), page five ownards offers an interesting peek into the production of Compact Flash cards. Anyone with even a passing interest of what the inside of these factories looks like should take a look at this report.
HP has posted new firmware (1.00.11) for its four megapixel 812. When we reviewed this camera we had more than a couple of issues with its image quality. Specifically images appeared soft and low resolution. The new firmware is supposed to address these issues by improving noise filtering and increasing image sharpening. We hope to update our 812 review sometime in the next week to reflect this new firmware. This update can be applied by the camera owner.
Maha, better known for their battery chargers has introduced a new business line called "Powerex". Powerex has introduced a range of four Lithium-Ion / Lithium-Polymer rechargeable battery packs which are directly compatible with several digital camera models which take proprietary designed packs. The four packs are the MH-BP511 (Canon G1, G2, D30, D60 etc.), MH-NP80 (Fujifilm / Toshiba / Kodak), MH-ENEL1 (Nikon Coolpix 775, 885, 995, 880, 885, 5000 etc.), MH-NB1L (Canon PowerShot S100, S110, S300 etc.). These packs are completely compatible and have either the same or higher capacity than the packs they replace.
Pentax has updated their 330 and 430 models as well as confirming the 'Digibino' DB-100. The 'RS' suffix for the 330 and 430 represents a variety of improvements over the previous cameras; improved LCD monitor (although still low 80,000 pixel resolution), improved performance (shot to shot time), filter modes, 3D mode (similar to Optio 230), easy view mode (a shooting priority play mode). Additionally the 'RS' cameras now feature 11 MB of internal RAM which allows you to shoot even when your CF card is full.
13:00 JST: Canon has today announced the new two megapixel, fixed lens PowerShot A200. This compact, lightweight entry level digital camera is relatively high on features and yet will be low priced. The A200 is based on the same body and overall design as the 1.3 megapixel A100 which was introduced at PMA this year. Features include selectable ISO sensitivity (ISO 50 - 400), highlighted AiAF focus points, movie clip recording, an AF assist beam and nine combinations of image size / quality. The A200 is powered by two AA batteries and stores its images on a Type I Compact Flash card.
Casio has today announced its updated GV-20 digital camera. The GV-20 is essentially a two megapixel version of the GV-10 which was announced back in October last year. The GV-20 is has a ruggedized and waterproof case. All seal points have o-rings and the main camera body is 'cushioned' within the case by internal rubber shock absorbers. The outside of the case is also coated by thick rubber, you can choose red or black. The GV-20 has a two megapixel CCD sensor and fixed focal length lens. More proof if any were needed that two megapixel is the new entry level.
The Cardmediaviewer available from Cardmedia UK is now available as a new model called the Cardmediaviewer-H with a 10 GB internal hard disk drive. The Cardmediaviewer-H can read Compact Flash (Type I or II) or SD/MMC cards natively as well as other cards via an adapter. This unit can display JPEG files as well as playback MPEG and audio MP3 files. The Cardmediaviewer-H is controlled by a small InfraRed remote control. Unlike Nixvue's Vista the Cardmediaviewer isn't designed to be portable and thus is tied ot an AC adapter.
Toshiba Japan has today announced the new 'Sora' PDR-T20 digital camera. This ultra-compact vertical orientation digital camera features a two megapixel CCD sensor and two times optical zoom lens. Something different, this camera has a touch-screen LCD panel. The camera is clad in a metal case and will be available (in Japan at least) in three different colour finishes. Turn the camera on its side and it does look a little like Canon's S30/S40.
Delkin Devices are now shipping their USB 6-in-1 card reader/writer. The 6-in-1 reader/writer supports CompactFlash (Type I or II), IBM Microdrive (CF Type II), SmartMedia, MultiMediaCard, SD and Sony MemoryStick. Because the unit complies to the 'mass storage device' standard it does not need drivers for most modern operating systems which understand this protocol. Drivers are included for other operating systems.
Thanks to Stephen H. Westin for noting that Kodak has released a PDF spec sheet on a new five megapixel 4/3 inch type CCD, the KAF-5101CE (update from the KAF-5100CE). This new sensor is of particular interest if you think back (quite a way) to February 2001 when Kodak and Olympus announced their new alliance to develop a new D-SLR standard (and cameras) based on the 4/3 inch sensor format. This could be the first sensor developed for that application. Perhaps we'll see this camera at Photokina in September.
Once more the Japanese 'gallery' site 'Miscall' has posted samples from yet another pre-production (Beta) camera. This time it's Fujifilm's S2 Pro digital SLR with its new third generation SuperCCD sensor. There are 23 samples, mostly shot outdoors, unfortunately there is little exposure or lens information with these samples. Not sure who the owner of this site is but he's always got his hands on early cameras (and doesn't seem to mind publishing from pre-production cameras). UPDATE: Yamada Kumio also posts samples (inc. comparisons to Nikon D100 & Canon EOS-D60).
Fujifilm has today announced the FinePix F401 Zoom. This ultra-compact digital camera has a three times optical zoom lens and 2.1 megapixel Super CCD which produces a 3.9 megapixel final image size (2304 x 1728). The F401 has an ISO sensitivity range of ISO 200 - 1600 and conforms to EXIF 2.2 (ExifPRint). Just like its bigger brother the F601 the F401 also has a dedicated dock system for charging and image transfer. Storage is by SmartMedia card and the camera is powered by the same NP-60 used on the F601. UPDATED: Press release, specs and more pictures added.
Right now I'm not sure what's going on, we were told no samples from beta cameras but the Japanese 'photo album' site 'Miscall' has posted some samples from both the 4500 and 5700, also Nikon Japan has posted samples from both the 4500 and 5700. So, for those curious about these new camera's image quality it looks as though you may now have an opportunity.
15:00 JST: Part three of the 'Coolpix³' trio is the new five megapixel, eight times optical zoom Coolpix 5700. The 5700 is based heavily on the 5000, yet there are some obvious and distinct differences. The 5700 has a big eight times optical zoom which has a respectable maximum aperture of F2.8 to F4.2. It also features the first EVF (Electronic Viewfinder) we've seen in a Nikon digital camera (and a good one it is too). Oh, and you can shoot RAW now too! We have had a pre-production Coolpix 5700 in-house in order to produce a detailed ten page preview, come in for much more information...
15:00 JST: Part two of the 'Coolpix³' trio is the new four megapixel, four times optical zoom Coolpix 4500. The Coolpix 4500 continues the split-body line of Coolpix digital cameras, this time we get an increase in resolution and a reduction in size. The 4500 looks much more stylized than its predecessor (the Coolpix 990/995). The 4500 does away with a control panel LCD but keeps a pop-up flash, although this time it's neatly flush fitted. We have had a pre-production Coolpix 4500 in-house in order to produce a ten page preview, come in for much more detail...
15:00 JST: Part one of the 'Coolpix³' trio is the new two megapixel, three times optical zoom entry level Coolpix 2000. Designed with the beginner in mind the 2000 has simple controls and ease of use. The 2000 is powered by four AA batteries and has a Compact Flash Type I slot. The 2000 has six shooting modes, five of which are scene modes. The 2000 is also the first Nikon consumer digital camera to have a primary (GRGB) colour filter array.
15:00 JST: In addition to the announcement of three new Coolpix digital cameras Nikon has also today announced the 'Macro Cool-light SL-1' accessory. This ring-light screws onto the standard 28 mm lens thread of the Coolpix 950, 990, 995 or 4500 or the Coolpix 880, 885 or 775 with a step down adapter ring. The Cool-light provides a permanent white light (it's not a flash strobe, but a circle of white LED's). The Cool-light is especially useful when shooting macros which, on close focusing digital cameras are invariably difficult to light.
00:00 EST: Sony US has today announced the two megapixel, three times optical zoom DSC-P2 (previously announced at CeBit and in Japan) and the three megapixel, three times optical zoom DSC-P7. These two cameras complement the DSC-P9 and carry many of its features. This 'fills out' the lower end of Sony's line of ultra-compact digital cameras.
Kodak has today announced its new enhanced EasyShare system. The new system includes new EasyShare software designed to make the 'arriving home' experience easier. Kodak has also announced the CX4230 2 megapixel digital camera (which rotates images to the correct orientation in the camera) and the new EasyShare Dock II. The new Dock II allows the transfer of images back to the computer as well as in-camera charging of the supplied NiMH rechargeable battery (now with charge indicators).
Kyocera Japan has today posted three sample images from the much awaited six megapixel full-frame sensor Contax N Digital. These three samples are available on the Kyocera Japan website, all were taken at either ISO 25 or ISO 50 (which is a little concerning). Although these images look good reduced in size but are not as sharp or detailed as images from the Canon EOS-D60, Nikon D100 or Nikon D1x. UPDATE 15/May: Kyocera has pulled these samples from their website. UPDATE: Reduced size images have been put back.
By email today Nikon UK has confirmed the Recommended Retail Price of their D100 digital SLR (body only) is £1899.99, approximately £100 cheaper than the RRP for Canon's EOS-D60. We assume this price includes VAT (at 17.5%), subtracting VAT this works out at approximately US$ 2400 or 2570 EURO. Still around $400 more expensive than in the States. The email goes on to state that the camera "is due to go on sale at the end of June" and that "Kit prices for the camera will be announced soon".
Just posted! Our review of Kodak's latest four megapixel budget priced digital camera, the DX4900. This camera shares much of its functionality and design with the three megapixel DX3900 but increases maximum image size to 2448 x 1632 (3.99 million pixels). The DX4900 is designed to be easy to use and is fully compatible with Kodak's EasyShare dock system. See how it shaped up to our tests.
In a major update to our already updated preview (phew!) I have just posted a gallery of 25 images from a pre-production Nikon D100 running firmware V0.32. The gallery was shot in a range of different circumstances with a variety of lenses. Also added to the preview are colour patch and colour chart test shots, resolution chart crops and some comparison to the Canon EOS-D60. At the moment the D100 is looking very good, image quality is excellent and it's shaping up to be more than a match for the EOS-D60.
Canon was yesterday granted US patent 6,388,709 (filed in 1996) which is titled "Image sensing apparatus with optical modulation elements having transmission characteristics controllable by pixel". This patent goes on to describe an image sensor which can control the colour of the filter in front of each pixel. From looking through the diagrams it appears the idea is to capture two images, each with a shifted RRGGBGG pattern and then combine these two images to produce a full colour image output. This design also allows the control of the amount of light to each pixel, extending dynamic range. - Our thanks to Wilfried Bittner for spotting this.
Nikon it would appear is going to announce a new digital camera on May 29th. That according to a new splash 'pop-up' on the Nikon Coolpix (USA) website. The clues are - Simply Cool, Digital from all Angles, Taking Digital to the Next Dimension. You can even sign up on the Nikon Coolpix page to be the first to hear of the new camera as it is announced.
Minolta Japan has today announced the MC-DG100 Marine Case for the Ultra-Slim DiMAGE X digital camera. We note that this product was on display at the Photo Expo 2002 show back in March but at that time there were no details available. The MC-DG100 allows the DiMAGE X to be used at depths of up to 30m and adds just 260 g (9.2 oz) to the weight of the DiMAGE X. The MC-DG100 has an expected Japan retail price of 25,000 YEN (US$195). We have no details at this time of when this product is expected to reach other shores.
Mike Chaney, author of the image manipulation / RAW converison / print management application Qimage Pro has today announced his latest version. Qimage Pro 2002 v2.0 introduces new features include a new WYSIWYG view of the printed page, cummulative filters, high quality full-screen preview algorithm, support for full size 3072 x 2040 Kodak PCD images and more.
The Japanese site 'Miscall' (who used to be associated with Dreamarts) has again managed to be the first website to publish samples from a new camera. This time it's a pre-production Olympus C-720UZ, the 8x optical zoom, 3 megapixel update to the C-700UZ. This new camera has certainly generated quite a bit of interest but as of yet it appears this camera may only be released in the US and Asia (not Europe).
Just catching up with reviews posted elsewhere on the web. In the mad rush after PMA lots of new cameras have been reviewed: Kodak DX3700 / DX3900 / DX4900, Canon PowerShot S200 / S330, Minolta DiMAGE X / S404 / F100, Sony DSC-P31 / DSC-P51 / DSC-P9, Kyocera Finecam S4, Fujifilm FinePix F601 / S602, Nikon Coolpix 2500, Panasonic DMC-LC5 / DMC-LC40, Casio GV-10.