Thanks to Danny Brenner for noting a new 'USB-CF' Compact Flash card from a Chinese manufacturer called 'Netac'. Their card works in the same way as any other 128 MB Compact Flash card but additionally has a Mini-USB port on the rear left corner for direct connection to a PC / Mac. We have seen something similar to this in the past with Lexar's JumpShot cable, however it's interesting to see the solution implemented with an industry standard Mini-USB port.
The MultiMediaCard Association (MMCA) has approved a new RS-MMC (Reduced Size MultiMediaCard) standard. This new flash storage format has the same width but almost half the length of existing MMC cards, RS-MMC cards will be 24 x 18 x 1.4 mm. Hitachi are the first manufacturer to announced RS-MMC cards up to 64 MB in capacity. It's clear that this new reduced size format is aimed primarily at the mobile phone / PDA market but I'm sure it would also offer digital camera manufacturers the opportunity to build even smaller digital cameras.
COMDEX 2002: Pretec Electronics Corp. has announced three new high capacity Compact Flash cards. Previously their largest capacity had been 640 MB, these new cards widen their range considerably. The 1.5 GB and 3.0 GB are CF Type II, the 2.0 GB is CF Type I. These new cards are all larger than anything else on the market, the 3.0 GB card will no doubt be of special interest to digital SLR photographers whose cameras continue to create larger and larger files as the manufacturers increase resolution year on year.
Nikon US has today announced an additional $50 saving on the four megapixel Coolpix 4500, this in addition to the $50 mail-in rebate already available (valid until 31st December). This should bring the effective list price of the Coolpix 4500 down to an attractive $599. We reviewed the Coolpix 4500 back in August and were very impressed with this evolution on the unique Nikon split-body design.
Electronica 2002: Sandisk has today introduced a line of compact storage designed to be rugged, highly durable and long lasting. "The ability to withstand a tremendous level of G-forces, wide temperature ranges as well as shock and vibration is an important requirement for the military, which is using the SanDisk Industrial Grade CompactFlash cards in a number of applications including hand held computers, field radios and jet fighter planes. The Industrial Grade cards are reinforced with RTV silicon for protection against shock, vibration and up to 3000-G operating shock."
Fujifilm has today announced the updated FinePix S602 Pro Zoom. The "Pro" notation adds a PC Sync flash socket, Manual (threaded) cable release socket, All-black finish, 4 NiMH AA batteries and fast charger and a bundled 340 MB IBM Microdrive. This new version of the S602 improves the camera's chances against the competition, notably the also-updated Minolta DiMAGE 7Hi. All other S602 specifications stand, the same 3.1 million pixel SuperCCD which produces 6 million final image pixels.
Epson has today announced the availability of a PRINT Image Matching II plug-in for Adobe Photoshop 6.0, 7.0 and Elements 1.0, 2.0 for Windows and Macintosh. The plug-in is designed to allow you to import PIM II or ExifPrint (EXIF 2.2) JPEG's and print them accurately on a PIM II (Epson) printer. "The availability of the P.I.M. II plug-in furthers Epson's pursuit to provide the ultimate photo printing solutions for consumers looking to print the best prints possible from their photo printer."
Minolta US has today announced an underwater ("Marine") case for the DiMAGE X or DiMAGE Xi digital camera. We actually covered this new accessory when it was announced by Minolta Japan back in May and also in our Photokina 2002 show report, today Minolta made it official and announced a list price of $249. "This new durable housing allows users involved in virtually any outdoor activity to bring their DiMAGE X or DiMAGE Xi camera with them anywhere they go to document their day-to-day activities or special adventures," said Jon Sienkiewicz, vice president of marketing.
Dave Etchells over at Imaging Resource has today posted his review of Sigma's SD9 digital SLR which is the first digital camera to use the revolutionary Foveon X3 sensor. "The Foveon technology is impressive but not perfect, and I fully expect a holy war to erupt on the 'net over the issues of color purity and image noise with the SD9. Supporters will point to the SD9's excellent capabilities, good resolution, and affordable price, while detractors will call attention to its substantially higher than average image noise in the red portion of the spectrum and maximum shutter time limitation. Mixed into the fray will be arguments over subtle aspects of the "look" of images derived from a sensor with full-color pixels." The SD9 is currently second in our queue of cameras to review (out of six here awaiting review). UPDATE: Some comparison shots posted.
Just posted! Our exclusive review of Canon's new PowerShot S45, the update to their successful S40. The updated S45 is Canon's response to new entrants to the four megapixel subcompact market, it expands the S40's feature set and introduces several new capabilities which are based around the new DiGiC processor which is at the heart of the camera. Although not yet officially announced in the US the S45 has been launched elsewhere in the world and I'm sure it won't be long before we'll see it hitting US shores.
Toshiba Japan has today announced the new 'Sora' PDR-T15 digital camera. This ultra-compact ultra-slim digital camera has a two megapixel sensor and fixed focal length lens. The T15 also has a removable facia and so cashing in on the mobile phone craze for customizing the look there are a wide variety of clip-on facia's available, probably just for the Japanese market.
During Photokina Phase One announced that they would be producing a version of their sophisticated Capture One software for DSLR's. Named 'Capture One DSLR' this new application provides workflow management, RAW conversion and sophisticated image manipulation initially for Canon RAW files (including the EOS-1Ds). In the future this package will also support Nikon, Fujifilm and Kodak D-SLR's. We have an exclusive preview of a beta version of this new application, a more detailed look will be included in our EOS-1Ds review.
Environmental activist Ken Adelman with his Nikon D1X, Robinson R-44 Helicopter and an Apple PowerBook is taking thousands of photographs of the California coastline. His images are being used to identify illegal seawalls and for other environmental uses. So far he's taken 7,000 images, and expects this to rise to 10,000 when he's completed the entire coastline. All of the images are available on his website californiacoastline.org. "The camera is linked with a cable to the helicopter's global positioning system, and to an Apple Power Book laptop. Every three seconds, he snaps a picture, and the exact longitude, latitude and altitude are recorded."
Sony has posted a short note that some 'initial production' DSC-F717's will produce images which are out of focus when used with the Hologram AF (Laser light illumination) at certain focal lengths and certain light conditions. "Although these circumstances are limited, Sony will offer a parameter adjustment to the Hologram AF system for end users in accordance with its limited warranty, through Sony Service Centers and Sony's Authorized Service Centers." A list of serial numbers can be found within. UPDATE 31/Oct: Sony US have contacted us and have also posted update procedure.
Thanks to several of our readers who have sent emails of concern about the fact that there have been no news updates for over a week. There have been no news articles because at the moment we are in the typical quiet news period after a large show (Photokina). From a personal level I also moved house last weekend which meant that the currently active reviews had to be put on hold, I started working on them again yesterday. Please bear with me on this, the move is over but the 'moving in' isn't. Thanks again!
Thanks to forums poster 'Andreas P.' for noting that seven new Sigma SD9 samples have been posted on the German website Foto Erhardt. These samples were taken during Photokina under studio conditions (on the stand probably) and are Copyright Sigma. Several of these images show the huge potential of the X3 sensor and its ability to deliver very fine single pixel resolution. Kudos also to the Photographer who I assume is the same as was doing the demo on the Sigma stand.
Respected Professional Photographer Rob Galbraith has today posted an article titled "Canon EOS-1Ds delivers detail, and lots of it". The article is an examiniation of the image quality of a pre-production EOS-1Ds, Rob notes "Summing up EOS-1Ds image quality is difficult. On the one hand, the camera delivers crisp, detailed photos which are effectively noise-free at ISO 100, and surprisingly clean at ISO 1250. On the other hand, certain 16-35mm photos contain heaps of chromatic aberration, while portrait colour can be too vivid and contrasty."
Dave over at Imaging Resource has just posted a side-by-side comparison of the eleven megapixel EOS-1Ds and the six megapixel EOS-D60 posing the question "How much difference does it make?" (the additional five megapixels). Dave is lucky to have already received a production EOS-1Ds (we're expecting ours sometime next week). "The short answer to the "how much difference" question is "a lot" - Check out the photos below for comparison crops from each camera's images, including some in which the D60's image has been upsampled in Photoshop to match the scale of the one from the 1Ds, as well as some experiments with unsharp masking."
Pre-Photokina 2002, 0600 GMT: Canon has today announced the PowerShot S45. This new camera is essentially a refresh of the S40, it adds newly announced technologies such as the DIGIC processor, FlexiZone AF/AE, 9-point AiAF, Custom exposure mode, two manual white balance presets, focus bracketing, orientation sensor and up to 3 minute movie clips (using a high speed CF card). The PowerShot S45 has a four megapixel sensor and three times optical zoom lens.
Yesterday we noted a short article posted on the Japan Industrial Journal website (in Japanese) about a new Pentax D-SLR to be announced next 'Spring' (PMA). I've waited until now to get this news verified by our Japanese contact, and it does appear to be accurate and official as it was based on an interview with Pentax. The camera will be based around an APS sized sensor and will have a price around 200,000 YEN (US$1,600). It's not really surprising to find out Pentax have something in the works especially considering the announced and cancelled full-frame D-SLR of two years ago. Good news for increased competition in the D-SLR market, although I'm sure this won't be the only new D-SLR at PMA next year.
Jeff Keller over at DCResource has today posted his review of the four megapixel Nikon Coolpix 4300, "The Nikon Coolpix 4300 is a worthy follow up to its predecessor, the 885. It offers most of the features found on the more expensive Coolpix 4500, including the use of conversion lenses and the macro ring flash! Most importantly, the 4300 has the excellent photo quality that is found on the more expensive Coolpix". In addition Jeff has also posted a small gallery of side-by-side comparison shots from the Coolpix 4300 and Kodak's LS443.
For users of digital cameras which take AA batteries the new MH-C401FS 100 minute charger could be just what you need. The MH-C401FS charges each battery independently which makes for a better overall charge and no overcharging. This charger also has a five hour 'gentle charge' option for optimum charge capacity. The MH-C401FS fast charges at 1000 mA, for a 1800 mAh battery that's 0.6 C.
Pentax has today announced a firmware update for the recently introduced 330GS digital camera. This update improves "the compatibility of the Optio330GS with various new CF cards being introduced in the market". Current 330GS digital cameras will have firmware version 1.0 loaded, this new firmware is version 1.1. The update is carried out by copying the new firmware (.bin) file onto a Compact Flash card and inserting it into the camera. The updater is available for Windows and Mac OS.
Nikon has today announced new firmware for the Coolpix 885 digital camera. Firmware v1.2, which is slightly less radical than the new firmware announced for the Coolpix 5000, simply adds EXIF 2.2 (ExifPrint) support and PTP USB connection mode. Interestingly (and I hadn't noticed this with other similar firmware upgrades) Nikon specifically notes that Epson's PRINT Image Matching is no longer supported. Looks like PIM is dead.
Panasonic Japan has today confirmed the details of the Lumix DMC-FZ1 which was quietly introduced at Photokina (and reported in detail here), they have also announced the Lumix DMC-F1 which seems to be based on the existing DMC-F7. In addition to this there are also two new interesting SD products. The SV-PT1 is a portable storage device based around a 5 GB hard disk PCMCIA card, you can use it to store images from your SD card while out in the field and print directly to the new SV-P20 portable printer. The SV-P20 is a portable printer which can be connected to the SV-PT1 or can support an SD card directly. UPDATE: Yamada posts samples from DMC-FZ1.
Just posted! Our full in-depth review of Minolta's compact four megapixel, three times optical zoom, DiMAGE F100. This slim digital camera offers a wide and flexible feature set, small dimensions, SD/MMC storage and just double AA battery requirements (which also keeps weight down). The DiMAGE F100 enters the higher end of the compact market where image quality and features can sometimes win over price. See how the F100 did in our tests.
Photokina 2002: Panasonic has announced (and demonstrated) the new two megapixel DMC-FZ1 digital camera which has a unique "Leica" F2.8 12x optical zoom lens with a built-in stabilizer. The camera has selectable sensitivities of ISO 50 - 400, an electronic viewfinder, a 1.5" LCD monitor and stores images to SD / MMC cards. The DMC-FZ1 will soon be available in Silver (DMC-FZ1-S) or Black (DMC-FZ1-K) finishes.
Olympus Europe has this morning become the first Olympus website to publish information on the new C-5050 Zoom. This new prosumer level digital camera has a F1.8 - F2.6 3x optical zoom lens (35 - 105 mm equiv.), a tilting 1.8" LCD display and a 5 megapixel 1/1.8" CCD sensor. The last detail being the most interesting, with a 5 megapixel 1/1.8" CCD around we're likely to see many more new 5 megapixel cameras hitting the market utilizing the same lenses seen in previous 3 and 4 megapixel digital cameras. UPDATE: Detailed specifications.
Nikon Europe has today announced new firmware for the D100 (ver 2.00) and D1X / D1H (ver 1.10). Both firmware upgrades contain some common elements such as embedded ICC profiles for Adobe RGB images and support for Lexar Media Pro 'Write Acceleration' technology. The D100 upgrade adds support for PTP USB connections, the D1X / D1H upgrade adds EXIF 2.2 support, better battery power detection and additional lens information in EXIF headers. Firmware upgrades will be carried out free of charge although you will have to return the camera to your nearest Nikon Support Facility.
Photokina 2002: UPDATE: At last the sun is shining here in Cologne so we ran back to the Sigma booth and grabbed an SD9. These images are far more representative of what we had hoped and expected from Foveon's X3 technology and really show what an amazing step forward it is. I'm very happy with these images, and am looking forward to a full and final review of this camera sometime in October. UPDATE: Added more information about RAW converter, re-converted images.
Just posted! Our full in-depth review of Sony's five megapixel DSC-F717. In this review we have gone further than we have before including comparisons of the DSC-F717 to the camera it replaces, the DSC-F707 as well as a three way comparison between the DSC-F717 and Minolta's new DiMAGE 7Hi and Nikon's Coolpix 5700. The DSC-F717 brings new hardware changes, new software changes and some clear image quality tweaks. Noteworthy is the fact that our production camera doesn't have the red clipping problem we noted on the pre-production unit. See how well it performed in our tests and against the competition.
We regularly receive emails from readers confused as to the actual size of sensor used in digital cameras. Sensors (CCD / CMOS) are often refered to with an imperial fraction designation such as 1/1.8" or 2/3", this measurement actually originates back in the 1950's and the time of Vidicon tubes. Those who find the specification sheets for these sensors are then even more confused about the relationship between the fraction and the actual diagonal size of the sensor. Inside you'll find an explanation and a table of common sensor sizes. We'll be adding this information to our glossary for future reference.
Nikon Europe has today announced Nikon Capture Version 3.5. This new version of the excellent (and ever improving) image management / RAW conversion application adds several new features including D100 capture control with Mac OS X and PTP compatibility, support for Mac OS X 10.2 (Jaguar), 10 megapixel output mode for D1X NEF files, Large thumbnail (1600 x 1063) output option, improved noise reduction and interestingly Automatic Vignette Control which can automatically counteract the effects of fall of at lens edges experienced with certain lenses at maximum aperture. The new Auto Vignette Control feature requires the new firmware upgrades announced today (because of the additional lens information required).
Nikon Europe has today announced the availability of a RAM upgrade for the D1x digital SLR. This upgrade increases the D1X's buffer depth from the standard 9 JPEG frames to 21 JPEG frames and from 6 RAW frames to 14 RAW frames. This upgrade will cost approximately €250 here in Europe, we have yet to receive pricing details and availability from Nikon USA.
Just posted! Our updated Photokina 2002 Show Report covers twenty two manufacturers over five pages of images and product detail, links back to news articles and manufacturers websites. Photokina 2002 was another huge show, but this time had a much stronger digital influence. New products were around although at the consumer end we saw more product refresh than innovation. Photokina 2002 however will be remembered on one side as the beginning of a new age of digital SLR's with high pixel count full image frame sensors and on the other the first time the general public got the opportunity to examine Foveon X3 images.
Photokina 2002: In addition to the huge interest surrounding the SD-9 Digital SLR Sigma has also introduced three new big zoom lenses at the Photokina show. These are the APO 80 - 400 mm F4.5 - 5.6 ES OS, APO 120 - 300 mm F2.8 EX IF HSM and the APO 300 - 800 mm F5.6 EX IF HSM. The last of which would provide a huge 1360 mm when mounted on the SD-9! The APO 80 - 400 mm is the first Sigma lens to feature image stabilisation.
As of this morning ACD Systems has made available ACDSee 5.0 for download. Existing ACDSee users can upgrade to 5.0 for $34.95, a full non-upgrade license is $49.95. The ACDSee 5.0 PowerPack includes ACD FotoCanvas (basic photo editting) and ACD FotoAngelo (slideshow / screensaver builder) for $79.95. ACDSee 5.0 includes several new features including calendar based browsing, image grouping and interface customization. ACDSee 5.0 also performs lossless JPEG rotation by default (yipee!)
Photokina 2002: About a month ago we first heard of the Kyocera Finecam S5 and some hint of a new Contax TVS Digital. At Photokina Kyocera / Contax took the covers off a pre-production TVS Digital, and a stylish looking compact digital camera it is too! As far as we can tell the five megapixel TVS Digital is based on the Finecam S5 digital engine but has a different lens, which is labelled "Carl Zeiss" (not the same Carl Zeiss lens as the Sony's?;) UPDATED: Specifications confirmed and updated.
Nikon USA, Europe and Japan have today posted new firmware for the Coolpix 5000. Version 1.7 adds numerous features Nikon introduced into the 5700. Thesei nclude RAW (NEF) image format, quick response shutter release option, internal flash off function, PTP USB support, EXIF 2.2 support, improved LCD display, Auto Focus improvements and a fix for the recorded shutter speed in Bulb exposures. This has to be one of the most comprehensive firmware updates issued by any manufacturer for any digital camera, Kudos to Nikon.
Canon's newest digital SLR looks to be the best digital EOS yet. With a full sized 35 mm eleven megapixel CMOS sensor and a body, metering and AF system from the EOS-1D/1V the EOS-1Ds is certainly an amazing digital camera. The only thing we couldn't say about this camera (until now) is the image quality. Today I have posted a gallery of twelve sample images from the EOS-1Ds as well as a test shot of our standard resolution chart.
Photokina 2002: Canon has introduced a new wider replacement for the popular EF 28 - 70 F2.8 L USM lens. The new lens provides wide angle coverage from 24 mm up to a standard-zoom 70 mm, all at a constant maximum aperture of F2.8. Other improvements include a closer minimum focus distance, rubber environment seal around the mount and near circular aperture diaphragm between F2.8 and F5.6.
Photokina 2002: Kyocera has announced the new Finecam S3L and S5. Both cameras are based on the previous ultra-compact Finecam platform but now feature a new silver body design and new features. As the name implies the S5 features the same five megapixel sensor we have seen as an upgrade to several other models at this Photokina. Both cameras have a three times optical zoom lens, store images on SD/MMC cards and come supplied with a Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery.
Photokina 2002: Konica has introduced the five megapixel Revio KD-500Z and the ultra thin Revio C2. The KD-500Z is based on the dual-slot four megapixel KD-400Z but now features a new five megapixel 1/1.8" CCD sensor and a restyled black case. The Revio C2 is based on a 1.2 megapixel 1/3.4" CMOS sensor and a fixed focal length lens, it has 14 MB of internal storage is powered by two AAA batteries and can also record short video clips.
Photokina 2002: Phase One has announced that it will be producing a version of its much admired image processing and workflow software for Canon's new EOS-1Ds and will also be compatible with the EOS-1D. This new software will be able to manage and convert RAW files directly from these cameras and the release states, Nikon, Fuji and Kodak D-SLR users at a later date.
We've had a pre-production Coolpix 4300 in-house for a few days now, just enough time to produce a very brief First Look at Nikon's latest digital camera. The 4300 has many advanced features such as manual exposure, 5-area selectable Auto Focus, Noise Reduction, Bracketing and a 4 cm (1.6 in) macro mode. Note that this level of camera doesn't represent final image quality and thus we will not be posting any sample images at this stage.
Photokina 2002: EXCLUSIVE: We have managed to get a sample from Kodak Pro's new DCS 645H mounted on a new Hasselblad H1 medium format camera. The sample was taken in a studio environment and measures 4072 x 4072 pixels (16.5 megapixels). Quality looks good and the image size is unbelievable. But then so is the total price of this particular photographic solution.
Photokina 2002: EXCLUSIVE: We have had an opportunity to shoot some sample images with a late pre-production Sigma SD9. Thanks to the weather here in Cologne (wet and heavily overcast) we have been struggling with very slow shutter speeds but have managed to put together a few samples. If the weather improves tomorrow or the day after we'll get some nicer sunlit shots for you too. In addition we also have two images provided by Foveon.
Photokina 2002: Belgian electronics company FillFactory has today announced that it is the supplier of the 35 mm full frame 13.8 megapixel CMOS sensor used in Kodak's new DCS-14n. "This new high-resolution CMOS image sensor is the result of a joint research and development effort that started about 18 months ago."
Pre-Photokina 2002: Fujifilm has today announced the FinePix F402. This ultra compact, ultra slim digital camera has a fixed 39 mm equiv. lens and a 2.4 megapixel SuperCCD. The F402 is notably slimmer than the F401 but does lose the zoom lens. The F401 also now uses the new xD Picture Card for storage and comes with a PictureCradle for easy connectivity and charging.
Photokina 2002: Fujifilm has today announced the new multi-function FinePix M603. This 'two in one' device is designed to provide the best of a still camera and a camcorder. It can record VGA moves at 30 or 15 fps with video and also capture still images using its 3 megapixel SuperCCD (6 megapixel final image size). The M603 supports both xD-Picture Card as well as Compact Flash (specifically the IBM Microdrive). With a Microdrive installed the M603 can record 15 minutes of 30 fps video or 30 minutes of 15 fps video.