Today we have posted not one, not two but three full in-depth reviews of three ultra-compact three megapixel digital cameras. Reviews posted today are of the Pentax Optio S (3 mp, 3x), the Casio EXILIM EX-Z3 (3 mp, 3x) and the new Canon PowerShot SD100 (3 mp, 2x). All of these cameras are aimed as pocketable 'carry anywhere' cameras with a basic easy to use capability as well as a few advanced features you can grow into. Each has their merits but which offers the best combination of image quality, feature set and value for money?
Kyodo News have posted an interesting story about Fujifilm planing to reduce its digital camera shipment outlook for fiscal year 2003 by 500,000, fearing it will become difficult to procure components manufactured in China due to the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). Company officials said Wednesday "Digital cameras are strategic products, for which demand has been rapidly expanding on a global basis, creating procurement difficulties for some components."
I/OMagic the manufacturer of data storage devices, recently introduced the Digital Photo Library. It is a portable, stand alone device that is equipped with a 6 in 1 memory card reader supporting CF Type I/II including MicroDrive, Smart Media, Memory Stick, SD/MMC and a 20 GB 2.5" HDD. The Digital Photo Library is available now for an MSRP of $229.99.
Just posted! Our full, in-depth review of Canon's four megapixel ultra-compact PowerShot S400. This camera is also known as the Digital IXUS 400 in Europe. The PowerShot S400 was announced just before PMA this year as part of Canon's new line of digital cameras. It differs from previous PowerShot ultra-compacts in the use of a new 'Cerabrite' material which is a ceramic / metal alloy, it's lighter in color and doesn't mark as easily. The S400 is also remarkable as it packs a three times optical zoom lens into the same size body as the S230 which has only a two times lens. Come in and see how the S400 performed in our tests.
Canon has recently launched their 2003 Digital Creators Contest. The contest started in 2000, targeting professionals, students and amateurs who can present innovative digital media in four categories - digital photography, graphics and illustration, movie, and the Web. Entries can be made in New York, Tokyo, Amsterdam, or Hong Kong. Top creative professionals will serve as judges, searching for new talent and rewarding those whose work displays originality, novelty, expressiveness, and the ability to convey a message to viewers.
Just posted! Our full review of the five megapixel Olympus C-50 Zoom. The C-50 Zoom was announced at Photokina last year and was noteworthy at the time for being the first Olympus digital camera to be supplied with a rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery and charger. The stylish metal bodied design was also a pointer for future Olympus digital cameras. See how the C-50 Zoom did in our tests, read the review in full.
Just posted! Another compact five megapixel digital camera review, the Pentax Optio 550. The Optio 550 was introduced at PMA this year, it's an attractive offering because it packs five megapixels and a five times optical zoom lens into a compact body. It's powered by a supplied Lithium-Ion battery (which lasts forever) and stores images on Secure Digital cards. See how the Optio 550 did in our tests, read the review in full.
Nikon has released a major new version of its Nikon View software, and it's available for free download from the Nikon Europe website. Nikon View 6.0.1 has various improvements, fixes and features which include the integration of the automatic red-eye solution from Pixology, image search, various copy/move and rename functions and a copy and resize function. Nikon View 6.0.1 is available for both Windows and Mac Operating Systems (inc. OS X) currently in English only with French, German and Spanish versions "coming soon".
Nikon Europe has today posted new firmware for the Coolpix 3100 digital camera. Firmware v1.2 addresses an issue with the reporting of battery level on the LCD monitor, the camera may have under-reported the available power when using the EN-MH1 rechargeable battery, although this didn't affect the actual life of the battery. The download is available in English for Windows and Macintosh operating systems.
Sony has released a statement on its support site about a potential issue affecting some of its Cyber-shot DSC-P1 digital cameras. The cameras may exhibit shorter time between charges and/or the inaccurate indication of the need for battery recharging. The issue seems to be caused by corrosion on the connection between the AC adaptor and the camera.
Leica has today announced the new D-Lux digital camera. The D-Lux has a three million pixel sensor and three times optical zoom lens. It is powered by a Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery and stores its images on SD / MMC storage card (a large 64 MB SD card is provided). It has a 1.5" LCD monitor and even supports full speed USB 2.0 data transfer. There are some sample images available on the Leica website which appear to have been shot in Las Vegas just before PMA 2003. As noted in our forums the D-Lux does appear to be a re-styled re-branded Panasonic DMC-F1. UPDATED: Added press release.
Rob Galbraith has today posted his review of Kodak's DSC-14n digital SLR. The 14n certainly caused quite a stir at Photokina last September when it stepped up to the start line with a fourteen megapixel CMOS sensor. Since then has been fraught by delays which have left people wondering if the camera would ever make it into buyers hands. About the 14n Rob has this to say, "...until the 14n can produce vibrant, pleasing, printable colour in a variety of shooting situations, and until noise processing is less harmful to detail in low contrast areas, this is not a camera we would be prepared to shoot with to get our work done. Even at the low ISO settings this camera will be best used at."
This coming Wednesday Phase One will release 'Capture One DSLR Limited Edition', this cut down version of their excellent Capture One DSLR software offers a cheaper option ($99) for RAW conversion to owners of Canon EOS-10D/D30/D60 and Nikon D100 digital SLR's. We have a review version 1.2 Beta 7 of Capture One DSLR Limited Edition. At the same time Phase One will be updating the full Capture One DSLR software with the new features introduced with LE as well as support for the Canon EOS-10D/D30/D60 and Nikon D100. UPDATED: Review updated with improved EOS-10D profile and better sharpening settings.
Matsushita Display Technology Co. has today announced a new LCD display which can actually capture the image of an object in front of the screen. The LTPS LCD ('Input Display') has QVGA resolution (320 x 240 x 3) and has an optical sensor in each pixel, this means that not only can it display an image but it can also capture one by scanning down the screen. At the moment this device is monochrome only and captures a 960 x 240 image (3 sub-pixels for each square pixel). Original story: EE Times.
Nixvue Systems has today announced the new Digital Album Lite HDO, this new version of the Digital Album product comes without a pre-installed hard disk, instead the buyer can choose to install a 2.5" laptop type hard disk of their choosing. Installation requires only basic PC component knowledge, a screwdrive and pair of scissors. The DA Lite has a high speed USB 2.0 interface and a Compact Flash Type I/II slot. This new low price option is priced at just $199.
Fujifilm Japan has today announced that its first digital camera based on the high dynamic range SuperCCD SR sensor has been delayed until 'Summer 2003'. The announcement notes that originally Fujifilm had hoped to release the camera in May but has had to delay the camera until the Summer. The reason given is "A delay in material procurement". The FinePix F700 has a 3.14 million pixel SuperCCD SR sensor, the new sensor design has two photodiodes at each photosite, one captures a 'normal' dynamic range the second captures higher details which should give the F700 the ability to reproduce a much higher dynamic range (dark to light).
JOBO has announced the Apacer Disc Steno CP100. It is a battery powered image-copying machine which burns CDs (CD-R/CD-RW) directly from memory cards without a computer. It is compatible with CompactFlash (CF) Type I and II, MicroDrive, Memory Stick (MS), SecureDigital (SD), MultiMedia (MMC), SmartMedia (SM), xD (with optional xD to CF adapter), and has multi-session capabilities for adding the contents of mutiple cards.
Seiko Epson Japan has today announced the Rio PhotoPC Player P-1000. It is a very interesting product because with the features it has, it could be used in place of PC. It has a new 3.8" "Photo Fine" TFT LCD, 1.8" 10GB hard disk of which 9GB is available, Type II Compact Flash slot with support for other cards using a CF adapter, USB direct print to a number of Epson printers and USB connection to CD-R/RW drives for archiving. It is expected to ship in the summer for approx. 70,000 Yen ($590, 545 Euros).
Just posted! Our full in-depth review of Canon's EOS-10D Digital SLR. The EOS-10D is the direct successor to popular EOS-D60, with the same six megapixel CMOS sensor and the same basic functionality, however there have been some significant improvements. Gone is the at times frustrating AF, replaced with an improved seven point system from the EOS-30, gone is the plastic body, replaced with magnesium alloy, gone is the ISO 1000 limit of the EOS-D60, the EOS-10D goes up to ISO 3200. Best of all though has to be the value proposition, the EOS-10D enters the market with a list price $600 less than the EOS-D60 at the time it was introduced. Did Canon cut any corners to reduce the price? Read our full review to find out.
Dazzle, an SCM Microsystems brand has today announced the Universal TV Photo Show. It accepts the six most common types of digital media, CompactFlash(TM) Type I and II, IBM Microdrive, SmartMedia(TM), MultiMediaCard/Secure Digital, and Memory Stick, and can read any megapixel resolution photo from any digital camera. New features allow users to customize their slideshows by arranging and deleting images, removing red-eye and performing editing features like rotating, panning and zooming in on photos all by simply pushing a button on the included remote control.
Canon has today posted new firmware for their eleven megapixel EOS-1Ds digital SLR. Firmware version 1.0.2 fixes three bugs; (1) White balance defaulting to 'daylight' when Auto was selected and personal function 25 (default settings for camera reset) is set, (2) for JPEG Small/Fine images a gray bar was seen on the right hand edge, (3) Error in display of aperture in Remote Capture application (1.4 1.4 instead of F1.4).
Nikon has today posted new firmware for the Coolpix 4500 and 5700. Nikon Coolpix 4500 firmware 1.2 fixes a problem between the MC-EU1 remote cord shooting at HI image quality which led to corrupted images. Nikon Coolpix 5700 firmware 1.1 fixes three problems: A digit error in date/time for RAW images, the metering bug in user sets and a playback problem with RAW images.
Dave Etchells from Imaging-Resource has just dropped me a note to let me know he's posted his lengthy review of Kodak's fourteen megapixel digital SLR, the DCS-14n. Note that his review is based on a pre-production camera. About this camera Dave says "It delivers excellent color, and an unusually flexible post-exposure workflow, thanks to the capabilities of Kodak's DCR "raw" file format. Unfortunately, it also has a number of limitations, many of which appear to stem from overly high noise levels in the sensor itself. No matter how much tweaking Kodak may do with their image processing algorithms, they're really at the mercy of their sensor supplier to deliver chips with better noise performance.".
Nikon has today announced a new look for its famous black on yellow logo. The new logo keeps the yellow background and Nikon typeface but adds white 'rays' to the yellow background, which according to the press release "Add a graphic element of sequential rays, to represent the future, and express Nikon's mission, will and future possibilities". We're not sure at this stage if this also means the end of the two blue bars either side of the yellow logo which is often seen on Nikon printed material.
CDM Optics has recently been granted a patent for Wavefront Coding. Wavefront Coding allows traditional digital imaging systems to perform in non-traditional ways, by greatly increasing their depth-of-field performance. This system works by changing the phase of the light, instead of the size of the aperture, by doing this no light is wasted. Since the phase is changed, the resulting image on the CCD is out of focus and has to be post-processed to generate a sharp image. Anyone fancy a macro lens with infinite DOF?
Canon Bebit has today posted firmware updates for the PowerShot S230 (IXUS v³), PowerShot S45 and PowerShot G3. The firmware carries the version number 1.0.2, it fixes one common bug (occasional transmission errors to connected computers) as well as different things for each model. The PowerShot S230 (IXUS v³) gets a slow-sync flash underexposure fix, the S45 gets a fix to FlexiZone AF and the G3 gets a fix with compatibility to the 380EX SpeedLite flash.
CeBIT 2003: SanDisk also yesterday announced an addition to its standard MMC card range in 128MB size. The new card, which also can be used in most portable devices that have a slot for SD memory cards, is the top MultiMediaCard capacity offered in the industry. SanDisk also sells 32 and 64MB MultiMediaCards. The 128MB MultiMediaCard has a suggested retail price of $74.99 and will start shipping to retail stores later this month.
CeBIT 2003: SanDisk also yesterday announced additions to its standard SD card range in 512MB and 1GB sizes which use one gigabit NAND flash memory chips, based on multi-level cell (MLC) technology. MLC allows two bits of data to be stored in one memory cell, doubling memory capacity. The 512MB and 1GB SanDisk SD cards have suggested retail prices of $169.99 and $329.99 respectively. The 512MB SD card is expected to be available in the second quarter while the 1GB SD card is expected to be available in the third quarter.
CeBIT 2003: SanDisk has today announced their ImageMate card readers for a variety of popular flash memory cards. The four new ImageMate models, all with hi-speed USB 2.0 connectivity, are available for CompactFlash® Type I and Type II cards along with the IBM MicroDrive cards, SD and MultiMediaCards, SmartMedia and the xD-Picture Card and Memory Stick® and Memory Stick PRO. The latter model is the first card reader in the industry for both the Memory Stick and the Memory Stick PRO. The new single slot readers have a suggested retail price of $19.99 except for the SmartMedia/xD model that is priced at $24.99.
CeBIT 2003: SanDisk has today announced a 4GB CompactFlash Card, the highest capacity CF Type I card available. The 4GB CompactFlash card has a suggested retail price of $999.99 and is expected to start shipping this summer. Chris Chute, a senior analyst at the IDC market research firm, said, "This new SanDisk card will be an especially compelling product for professional photographers who need all the storage capacity they can get to store their many images."
CeBIT 2003: SanDisk has today announced the SanDisk miniSD which joins the MemoryStick Duo and XD card at this small form factor. The miniSD card was recently adopted by the SD Association as an ultra-small form factor extension to the SD card standard. SanDisk will offer the new format in capacities between 16-256MB. It is expected to ship in 2003 and will be around the same price as an SD card of the same capacity.
Just posted! Our final PMA 2003 Show Report has now been posted. This report is designed to cover all of the new digital photography products announced this year at PMA Las Vegas. The report is spread over six pages and covers the more than seventy new digital photography announcements this year. Don't hesitate, get into the report and get down with what PMA 2003 had for the digital photographer.
Post-PMA 2003: Just before PMA our friends at DC Resource noted a small paragraph in Fujifilm USA's PMA preview article about a new 20.8 megapixel medium format back. Since then Fujifilm has published a more detailed press release and high resolution images of the back. On the 2nd March Fujifilm announced a new 20.8 megapixel SuperCCD medium format back which has a very large 37 x 52 mm sensor. The new back is designed to be used with medium-format professional camera systems such as the Fujifilm GX 680. The SuperCCD chip produces a 41.4 million pixel image (5408 x 7648). The back has a 1.8" LCD monitor, sensitivity options of ISO 100, 200 and 400 and stores images in either JPEG or CCD-RAW formats. No pricing or availability has been announced.
Olympus has today launched a new informational website at 'www.four-thirds.com', this site provides some basic information on the new "digital SLR standard" as well as the advantages of the four thirds size sensor, in theory lower aberrations due to straight light path to the sensor and larger lens mount in proportion to the sensor size. The site clearly indicates Four Thirds as being supported by Olympus, Kodak and Fujifilm. The site also re-confirms our original statement that 4/3 refers to the sensor size '4/3-inch type' (13.5 x 18 mm).
CeBIT 2003, 0530 GMT: Fujifilm has today announced the new FinePix A310 Zoom, the second camera to be based on Fujifilm's fourth generation SuperCCD HR (High Resolution) sensor. The A310 has a three million pixel sensor which produces a six million pixel image. The A310 also supports high sensitivity (up to ISO 800 at 1280 x 960; ISO 400 otherwise), stores images on xD-Picture card (16 MB supplied) and is powered by two AA type batteries. The optional PictureCradle docking station provides USB and video out as well as charging AA NiMH batteries in the camera.
Larry Berman and Chris Maher, writers for Shutterbug magazine, first discovered the work of Asya Schween right here on our Nikon Talk forum. Asya's haunting, beautiful and inspiring self-portrature is the perfect example of how digital photography aides the rapid realization of your own photography skills. Asya's work stands as testimony that many who consider themselves amateur photographers have far more inside them. Asya is an exchange student from Russia doing postgraduate work at the University of Southern California. Come in to see more and read part of Larry and Chris's interview with Asya.
Foveon has today announced a license agreement for the manufacture and distribution of X3 technology to National Semiconductor. "Foveon has developed a large portfolio of image sensor products and image capture technologies that we are bringing to market through partners. Through National's worldwide sales and marketing organization we will see the accelerated adoption of X3 based products in key markets," said Jim Lau, president and CEO of Foveon, Inc.
ColorVision has released Japanese and Chinese versions of the Spyder with OptiCAL product for monitor calibration. The software is available as a free download to users that have a serial number for previous versions of the OptiCAL software and began shipping on March 2. The product combines the Spyder, an all-digital, seven-filter colorimeter that works with both LCD and CRT displays with the OptiCAL software. The Spyder with OptiCAL calibrates monitors to a universal standard for color and automatically creates a correct monitor profile. The end result is a monitor that displays accurate color and lets users trust what they see on their display. The Spyder is a USB device and works on both Windows (98,ME,2000,XP) and Mac (OS 9x, OSX 10.1 or better) platforms.
PMA 2003: Duracell has announced an all new battery designed specifically for digital cameras, the CP1 is a high-power lithium primary prismatic battery. It is flat and rectangular, designed to fit into small digital cameras. Although this press release doesn't mention it we know that Duracell will be producing both a rechargeable and a 'retail' non-rechargeable battery. It's very likely we will see future digital cameras supporting the new Duracell CP1.
Olympus has today announced a three year deal to sponsor the Ferrari F1 racing team. The Olympus logo will be prominently displayed on the nose of Ferrari F1 cars beginning with the 2003 Australian Gand Prix (March 9, 2003). "As a world leader in digital imaging and medical diagnostic equipment, Olympus sponsorship of the No. 1 team in the demanding field of F1 racing is a natural and fitting partnership. Just as speed, precision, and team spirit have earned Ferrari a position at the pinnacle of motor sports, they are also a driving force behind Olympus' success as a major global brand."
PMA 2003, Live: Yesterday we got our hands on Olympus's new Digital SLR 'E System' which is based around the 4/3 announced by Olympus and Kodak at PMA last year. The system is currently made up of an unamed Digital SLR, four lenses and a flash unit. At this stage Olympus have no firm specifications or details about the system other than that the body design and layout is pretty much final and that the majority of the remainig work is inside the camera (firmware etc.). I was impressed by the build quality and professional design features and am looking forward to testing the digital SLR later this year.
PMA 2003: SimpleTech has today announced the FlashLink PhotoZen. It is a TV photo image viewer, USB Flash memory card reader and PowerPoint presentation projector. PhotoZen displays digital photos of up to six megapixels from CompactFlash (Type I/Type II), MicroDrive, Sony Memory Stick, SD, MMC and SmartMedia cards.
PMA 2003: SanDisk has today announced new additions to its Ultra(TM) line of high-performance cards, a 1.0 GB CF and a 512 MB Secure Digital. The new Ultra CompactFlash cards have write speed of up to 6MB/sec and read speed of 9MB/sec., which is approximately twice the speed of SanDisk's current Ultra line. The Ultra line now also includes SD cards for the first time. These have a sustained write speed of up to 2.5MB/sec., which again is more than twice the speed of current SD cards. Both are expected to start shipping in Q2 2003.
PMA 2003: SanDisk has today announced SanDisk Extreme(TM), a line of high-performance CompactFlash and SD cards. Extreme CompactFlash have write speed of up to 6MB/sec, and will initially ship in capacities of 256, 512MB and 1 gigabyte, with street prices of $99, $189 and $379 respectively. Extreme SD cards have write speeds of up to 2.5MB/sec, and will be available in 256 and 512MB capacities with a street price $109 and $219 respectively. Both card formats are expected to start shipping in Q2 2003.
PMA 2003, Live: Yesterday we got our hands on the very early prototype Pentax *ist D digital SLR which is being shown at the Pentax stand. This is a bit of a 'me too' article as we note that several other sites have also posted their own images of this camera. At this stage the camera is still in an early form, although does power up. The first thing that strikes you about this camera is its size and weight, it's noticeably smaller than the current digital SLR's (Canon EOS-D60 / 10D, Nikon D100), it's also clear that although loosely based on the *ist film SLR this body and control layout has been design to be digital from day one. We're looking forward to testing the *ist D, and hope that it can proove to be some real competition to the Canon and Nikon offerings. We also heard a rumour (not at the Pentax stand) that it will have a street price of US$1,600.
PMA 2003: HP has today announced its new five megapixel, three times optical zoom Photosmart 935. The 935 has a similar design to the 735 announced today. "As the first camera at this price point to offer an impressive 5 megapixels, Pentax® 3x optical zoom, 7x digital zoom (21x total), video and audio clip facility and a range of sophisticated manual controls with on-camera help wizards, the HP Photosmart 935 meets the needs of creative individuals and family users."