Hitachi as today announced a range of MMC (MultiMediaCard) cards. They range in capacity from 16 to 128 MB. It's worth noting that this is only the third announcement (Toshiba, SanDisk previously) of 128MB MMC (or SD) cards. The 16 and 32 MB cards have a claimed transfer speed of 1 MB/sec, the 64 and 128 MB cards have a claimed transfer speed of 2 MB/sec. (Though it's not clear what Hitachi define MB as).
We don't often put these offers up as a news article, but this one is too good to miss. State Street Direct (our official affiliate) are offering a 320 MB Compact Flash card for just $99.95 with the purchase of any in-stock Canon, Nikon, Pentax or Minolta digital camera. Or, a 128MB Smartmedia Memory Card for only $34.95 with the purchase of any Fuji, or Olympus digital camera over $250. If you've read the reviews and made a decision then now could be a very good time to pick up the camera you want. All purchases help to support this site. Limited period only - valid from 09/07/01 - 09/09/01.
A rumour bouncing around a couple of Japanese digital camera sites is that the SSFDC Forum (those companies involved in development and production of SmartMedia and SmartMedia products) will be sitting down in October to lay out a standard for 256 MB SmartMedia. The aim is that 256 MB SmartMedia should be priced between 10,000 and 20,000 YEN (US$80 - US$160) per piece. My question is (a) is it soon enough (b) can SmartMedia perform well enough for the 4, 5 and 6 megapixel digital cameras coming up and (c) will those SmartMedia cameras which are 128 MB compatible support the new 256 MB cards?
PIE (Picture Information Extractor) is a shareware application which performs two important tasks. First of all it provides an easy 'one button' method for downloading all the images from your digital camera or card reader to your local hard disk, during the transfer it can rename the images to your own defined pattern (eg. date/time etc.). Secondly it provides a useful view into the detailed exposure information stored inside your digital images (in the EXIF header). PIE has several other additional features such as lossless JPEG rotation, flipping, trimming and slideshows. We use PIE to transfer and rename almost all our digital images.
We've been contacted by Epson who've let us know that the article we ran below is slightly inaccurate (and that their own site isn't particularly helpful). Downloading and installing the PIM drivers for your printer won't on its own give you colour matching with images created by PIM cameras. You still need to use THEIR OWN proprietary application (which you have to order) before you can get PIM matched colour. Makes you wonder what ever was wrong with ICC, why do we need a new standard like PIM which just makes things more confusing, narrow and proprietary? Now everyone is relying on Epson (who themselves admit confusion).
Epson US has today opened the doors to its new Print Image Matching website, unfortunately English drivers are not available for download but can be ordered (Huh?). What's annoying is that these drivers have been available for a couple of months in Japanese. PIM printer drivers enable you to get "matched colour" between your PIM compatible digital camera and the printer's final output. UPDATE: Download PIM drivers TODAY! Thanks to Magne Nilsen for noting that ENGLISH drivers have been available on the Epson UK (and US) site for some time.
Our friends over at digitalkamera.de have 'leaked' information about two new HP digital cameras. The Photosmart 318 has a 2.1 megapixel CCD and a fixed focal length F2.8 lens (38mm equiv.) which actually has auto focus (many fixed lens cameras are 'focus free' meaning they are locked at a certain focus distance). The Photosmart 715 is HP's first 3 megapixel digital camera to be officially announced (now whatever happened to the C913?), it has a 3x F2.0 - F2.5 optical zoom lens (sound familiar?). digitalkamera.de report the 318's price as €275 (~$250) and the 715 as €550 (~$490).
SanDisk and Sony have today announced that the have signed a cooperation agreement involving Memory Stick. Under this agreement SanDisk will ship its own branded Memory Stick. "The two companies also agreed to jointly develop, separately manufacture and sell the next generation of Memory Stick that will incorporate advanced features such as significantly higher performance and storage capacities."
Minolta Europe (and Japan) has announced the compact, DiMAGE E203. This 2 megapixel is a step up from the E201 as it adds a F2.8 - F4.6, 3x optical zoom lens. What's also significant about the E203 is its storage format. Unlike the E201 which has a Compact Flash slot, the E203 has an SD/MMC slot and is provided with an 8 MB SD card. Power comes from one CR-V3 Lithium or two AA batteries. As far as we know this camera will not be available in the US.
Another DiMAGE reviewed! Minolta's S304 was announced at the same time as the DiMAGE 5 and 7. Probably overshadowed by them at the time the S304 is a more than capable camera in its own right. With a 4x optical zoom lens and 3 megapixel CCD it offers a good range of both easy-to-use auto & scene modes as well as more creative manual settings and full control over internal processing algorithms. All this at a lower price point than its major competition, the Nikon Coolpix 995. See how it faired in our tests...
Our digital camera reviews have evolved over the last two years to cover almost every detail of the camera in design, operation, performance and image quality. The Nikon Coolpix 885 review (below) and Minolta S304 review (above) mark the first of a new reorganized review style which should make finding the right information in the right place easier, and make writing the reviews a quicker process for us.
We've just posted our full in-depth review of Nikon's latest Coolpix, the 3 megapixel 885. The 885 is far more than just an udpate to the 880, although it has a similar 'look' it has had a complete ergonimic overhaul. It also now has a full 3x optical zoom lens and a wide range of manual controls and features (only just less than the 995!). Best of all? The 885 should hit the streets for around $600, that should make it a bit of a bargain...
0000 GMT: Olympus has today announced the first pocket-sized four megapixel digital camera. The C-40Z features a 4 megapixel sensor and a 2.8x F2.8 - F4.8 optical zoom lens. It looks quite square from the front on with a sliding front cover which also acts as a power switch. Two things stand out about this compact, it's got six apertures for exposure (most compacts have only two) and it has virtually all the functionality of the C-4040Z. It weighs just 270 g (9.5 oz) with batteries and measures 87 x 69 x 44 mm (3.4 x 2.7 x 1.7 in). (Known as the D-40Z in US / Canada)
The monthly Canadian webzine Megapixel.Net has just released its September edition. This month they have reviewed the Sony DSC-S85, Kyocera Finecam S3, Sony MVC-CD300 and Olympus D-510Z. There's also an article on the use of optical filters in digital photogrpahy, covered are colour, close-up lenses, star filters, diffuse filters, ND filters, polarizing, UV, haze and skylight filters. "Exploring the uses of filters can help creativity, and encourages experimentation, two of the key ingredients of good photography. The digital camera is a superb tool to develop and enjoy the pleasures of photography and optical filters should be a part of the experience."
Something many digital camera owners have been crying out for has been answered by Metz in their new external flash unit. The mecablitz 34 CS-2 external flash can operate by hotshoe connection or as a 'slave flash' (firing when it detects the firing of a camera flash), it can now be programmed to ignore the pre-flash sometimes used by digital cameras to meter a scene.
2001: The IFA 2001 exhibition in Berlin falls as the only major trade
show (in Europe at least) before Christmas this year (Photokina being
biennial - every second year). Several manufacturers have announced new
products and most of those are on show at IFA. In this part of the report
we will cover Canon, Casio, Fujifilm, Grundig, Iomega and Kodak. (Part
one of two)
IFA 2001: The IFA 2001 exhibition in Berlin falls as the only major trade show (in Europe at least) before Christmas this year (Photokina being biennial - every second year). Several manufacturers have announced new products and most of those are on show at IFA. In this part of the report we will cover Nikon, SanDisk, Sanyo, Sony and Toshiba. (Part two of two)
IFA 2001: Philips and Kodak have today put out a joint press release stating that Philips will add Picture CD support to future products including DVD-video players and portable Audio CD players. Picture CD was launched by Kodak back in 1998. "Through this agreement, Kodak is bringing the benefit of digital imaging to the mass marketplace, allowing consumers to share images in the living room in addition to the computer room," said Dan Palumbo, president, Consumer Imaging, and senior vice-president of Kodak.
IFA 2001: 0800 EDT / 1300 GMT: Sony has today announced the portable DPP-MP1 dye-sub printer. Battery driven the printer can produce borderless card-size photos in less than two minutes. It can be connected to a computer via USB or print directly from Memory Stick. The printer is priced at $280, the battery pack an extra $70. Paper is sold in a pack of 24 with a print cartridge for about $20.
IFA 2001: 0800 EDT / 1300 GMT: Sony has today announced the successor to the popular DSC-F505V, the new DSC-F707. The DSC-F707 has a 5 megapixel CCD (4.92 megapixels effective) with a F2.0 - F2.4 5x optical zoom lens, the same design split lens / body as the 505V, longer life InfoLithium 'M' battery, an electronic viewfinder, jog-wheel, Multi-Segment metering, burst shooting, full manual exposure, NightShot and a new laser based 'hologram AF' low light focusing system. Unlike the misinformation leaked elsewhere on the net in the last 24 hours we can confirm that this beast of a digital camera will have a street price of $1,000. FULL REVIEW NOW AVAILABLE
IFA 2001: 0800 EDT / 1300 GMT: Sony today announces two new 'P' model digital cameras. The DSC-P5 has a 3.34 megapixel CCD (3.14 effective) and a 3x optical zoom lens, it's an evolution to last years DSC-P1 which adds manual focus, selectable ISO sensitivity an AF assist lamp, burst mode, MPEG EX and a new compact battery which makes the camera's case a third of an inch thinner. The DSC-P3, based on the DSC-P5 has a fixed focal length lens which crops the CCD producing a 2.8 megapixel image. The DSC-P5 has a street price of $600, the DSC-P3 around $500. FULL REVIEW OF DSC-P5 NOW AVAILABLE
IFA 2001: Fujifilm continue their assault on the entry level, low cost digital camera markets with the new Finepix A101, A201 and 2600Z. The A101 ($179) and A102 ($249) share the same body design, both have a fixed focal length lens and an extremely basic layout, the A101 has a 1.3 megapixel CCD and the A201 has a 2.0 megapixel CCD. The 2600Z ($299) has a 3x optical zoom lens which is shielded behind a sliding cover (which also acts as a power switch), it has a 2.0 megapixel CCD and a slightly more rectangular design than the A101 / A201.
IFA 2001: 0800 CET: Nikon today announces the Coolpix 885. A smaller, more attractive design and a full 3x optical zoom lens are just the beginning of the changes made to the 885. There are new scene modes, auto transfer, noise reduction and the exposure modes have been simplified, gone are P, A and M to be replaced by the CSM exposure mode in which you can select manual exposures. As you can see the cameras are available in silver and charcoal black, it's not yet been made clear whether this is different markets or whether both colours will be available everywhere. All this for a list price of $600!
A couple of the other digital camera sites have posted reviews in the last few days, as I've just returned from Berlin I'll fill you in on who's been doing the write-up on what. Steve Sanders has posted his 'user reviews' of the Kodak DX3900, Minolta DiMAGE S304 & 5 and Fujifilm A201. Dave Etchells (Imaging-Resource) gives us a review of the Toshiba PDR-M81 and Fujifilm FinePix 4800.
IFA 2001: The first of three digital cameras added to Kodak's "EasyShare" line today is the budget level DX3215, a 1.3 megapixel, 2x optical zoom digital camera with 8 MB of internal RAM and a SD/MMC slot for additional storage, price $199. Next comes the DX3700, a 3 megapixel, fixed optical lens digital camera with 8 MB of internal RAM and a SD/MMC slot for additional storage, price $399. Last comes the DX3900, a 3 megapixel, 2x optical zoom digital camera which comes with an 8 MB CompactFlash card, price $449.
0100 GMT: 0000 GMT: Canon has today announced
the PowerShot G2, a four megapixel sucessor to the popular PowerShot G1.
The G2 features the same 3x optical zoom lens, flip-out and swivel LCD
and Microdrive compatibility. Some new items are the four megapixel CCD,
AF area selection, evaluative metering, AE program shift, RAW mode 10-bit,
histogram and a 32 MB Compact Flash card. Best of all we've had
one for the last two weeks in order to bring you a full in-depth review
of a production camera! [FULL REVIEW ONLINE]
IFA 2001: We don't normally talk about camcorders here, but this announcement is interesting because of the technology employed. The new tiny 'Network Handycam IP' DCR-IP7 'MICROMV' digital camcorder records digital video onto new MICROMV tapes (which are 30% the volume of a DV tape). The DCR-IP7 can also shoot 640 x 480 JPEG's or MPEG-1 clips onto Memory Stick, even more interesting is that the camcorder supports Bluetooth wireless transfer as well as USB and Firewire (IEEE 1394). This neat little camcorder can also send email and browse the web. Oh yes, and it's 2 x 4 x 3 inches and weighs in at 370 g (13 oz) with battery.
IFA 2001: 0800 CET: Nikon Europe has this morning confirmed that the Coolpix 775 will be released to the European market, they have also announced the new upgraded and improved Coolpix 885. "As compact as most film cameras, the Coolpix 775 is a natural choice for families and individuals who want to make the move to digital and to enjoy sharing their images on line and on print.", "Ready for anything, the Coolpix 885 takes compact digital photography to a new level of sophistication in a remarkable combination of quality, convenience and ease of use."
IFA 2001: SanDisk has today announced that it will be expanding its retail presence in Europe and will also be opening a large distribution center in Holland. "One of the new products going into Europe for the first time this summer is the SanDisk Secure Digital memory card, a new stamp-sized, removable flash card targeted mainly for use in mobile phones, Internet music players and small-size digital cameras."
The EISA (European Imaging and Sound Association) Awards are chosen annually by a panel of Editors from 40 prominent magazines throughout Europe. This years photo awards were 35mm SLR: Minolta Dynax 7 SLR, Lens: Sigma EX 20mm F1.8 DG, Consumer digital: Sony DSC-S85, Professional digital: Nikon D1x, Film scanner: Nikon Coolscan 4000 ED, Photo Innovation: Epson PIM Technology and Photo Printer: Canon S800 Photo.
Thanks to the photographer for letting me know that the full page image (of Gary Condit and wife) on the front of this weeks People magazine was shot with a Canon EOS-D30. In his words, "People magazine cover story will come out on Gary Condit. The entire story and the COVER was all shoot on the D-30. This was shot under a extreme deadline, hence their openess to using digital.", "I have been using the D30 about 9 months . All most ALL my magazine work in this year (2001) has been digital on the D30, some of this work has been used as large as 2 pages."
Here's a useful accessory for Nikon D1 / D1x / D1H photographers. The interestingly named Ickiewarez have new waterproof covers for the Nikon D-SLR which cover the camera and lens, they have a velcro strap for the lens and a clear back so you can still keep an eye on the LCD monitor.Available for the D1 / D1x / D1H plus 28-70 F2.8, 80-200 F2.8, 300 F2.8 or 400 F2.8.
Minolta US has today confirmed that the DiMAGE E201 will be released in America at a price of $299. This entry level digital camera has a fixed focal length lens (38 mm equiv.) and 2.3 megapixel CCD features a movie clip mode and has CompactFlash storage (Type I only). The E201 was initially announced back in May this year but at that time wasn't at that time destined for the US market.
Not to be outdone by Sony and their DPP-SV88 multi-function printer Fujifilm has today announced the 'FinePix Memory Printer' NX-800M which provides the ability to archive and print. The NX-800M has both SmartMedia and PCMCIA slots for storage cards which can then be archived directly to CD-R/RW or printed on the internal 4 x 6 dye-sub printer. Prints can also then be made at a later date from the archived photos. The NX-800M also has a small LCD screen for preview / setup as well as connectivity to a TV/Monitor and/or PC/Mac via USB.
Sigma has today announced a new AF 20-40mm F2.8 EX DG lens. Again this lens appears to be aimed at owners of digital SLR's because it offers a relatively useable bottom end (wide end) to a normal mid point in a compact lens construction. For example, this lens on a Canon EOS-D30 would provide an equiv. range of 32-64 mm, on a Nikon D1x it provide an equiv. range of 30-60 mm. The lens has access at the back for filters.
Following on from my review of the Canon G2 and based on some of the questions and comments from our Canon Talk forum I've add a little to the review with an investigation into the true cause of some jagged / stepped diagonal lines I noted in some of our sample shots. It does appear to be related to the cameras bayer interpolation algorithm and is enhanced by sharpening.
SimpleTech has today announced the availability of Compact Flash Type I cards up to 640 MB in capacity and Type II of 850 MB and 1 GB. This announcement comes hot on the heels of one made earlier this week about their new partnership with Hitachi Semiconductor. "We can take Hitachi's leading edge flash memory silicon, double its density with SimpleTech's patented IC Tower(TM) stacking technology, and offer the world's highest capacity CompactFlash cards.'' said SimpleTech's Chief Technical Officer Mark Moshayedi.
Brave webmaster launches on the 13th! Fellow Digital Photography journalist, enthusiast and Brit Ian Burley has today launched his own site covering Digital Photography News, Reviews and Articles. Ian, a long time IT and photography journalist has years of experience behind him and we wish him luck in his new venture. Here's what Ian had to say, "Today we launched Digital Photography Now. Although there are some 40 pages already on this site for you to browse, DPN will grow rapidly over the next weeks and months."
We haven't yet been lucky enough to get our hands on Nikon's fast shooting D1H but Scott Audette (Pro Photographer) has posted four ISO 800 and ISO 1600 samples on his website. It has to be said that these are some of the cleanest, sharpest high ISO images I've seen from any digital SLR (including Kodak's DCS620x). I've checked the images and they are original and unaltered. Simply amazing.
The saga continues... Looks like Kodak have had a slight (sarcasm) change of heart over the Digital Photography features in Microsoft's new Windows XP Operating System. In a new official release they're now saying, "The changes made to Windows XP are a positive move. Kodak is pleased that our EasyShare digital cameras and software will work well with Windows XP," said Phil Gerskovich, chief operating officer, Digital and Applied Imaging, and vice president, Eastman Kodak Company. "We look forward to working with Microsoft to continue to improve the digital photography experience in Windows XP."
We've just posted our review of Think! Computer Products' Fire-N-Ice Firewire hard drives. These new drives come in two flavours, a smaller portable unit and a larger (higher capacity) (still portable) desktop unit. Both are Windows and Mac compatible and both use the high speed Oxford 911 Firewire bridge and IBM hard disks. These relatively low cost, portable, high speed, high capacity units offer another potential solution for your mounting collection of digital images.
Nikon, as a part of their Coolpix 775 promotions has today announced a 'Funniest Photo Competition', the prize winner of which will spend two nights in New York and a private party with Kim Cattrall who plays Samantha Jones in the TV series "Sex and the City". The photo contest will run for four consecutive weeks, officially beginning today, and ending on September 10, 2001. Photos will be judged on overall quality, creativity and most importantly, "funny" content.
Just before PMA 2001 we noted Lexar's press release about their new 512 MB Pro CF Type I card, today they've put out a press release which confirms that they are now shipping this card. Based on the same 'engine' as the 320 MB CF card it offers higher speed transfers, wearing a '12x' label (supposed to be 1.8 MB/sec). "The 512MB 12x is perfect for today's professional digital photographers, as it is capable of a sustained write speed of 1.8MB/sec. which greatly reduces file write time and camera recycle time.
Toshiba has today announced a new 128 MB MMC/SD (MultiMedia Card / Secure Digital card). Hot on the heals of SanDisk who announced a 128 MB card back in June. While I'm not a huge fan of new formats (surely we have enough already!) it's good to see that at least those who end up with MMC digital cameras will be able to buy relatively useful capacities. Toshiba also reveal that they hope to introduce a 256 MB MMC/SD card in 'fourth quarter 2001'.
We've just posted an update to our original DiMAGE 7 review, we've managed to get our hands on a later production sample with firmware v021e. Items updated: Resolution charts, colour charts, white balance, ISO sensitivity tests, night shots, comparisons, noise levels, timing & performance. No significant differences were discovered apart from slightly cleaner resolution chart images (less diagonal stepping).
LuraTech, the creators of the LuraWave image compression format (which we've covered previously) has release a JPEG2000 plug-in for Adobe Photoshop. You can download a 30 day trial copy TODAY for a glimpse into the future of JPEG compression. The full version of the plugin is priced at $79.95, an SDK is also available. JPEG2000 files (at least as loaded/saved by this plug-in have the .JP2 extension). We've done some side-by-side analysis of JPEG vs. JPEG2000 using a 4 megapixel TIFF from Sony's DSC-S85, the results are impressive. JPEG2000 also features a highly compressed lossless 'sub format' which we've calculated equates to approximately 1 MB per megapixel (very impressive).