Pre-PMA 2002: 00:01 EST: Almost three months ago we had an exclusive opportunity to test Foveon's new X3 sensor technology for ourselves. Foveon provided dpreview with an early prototype sensor in a standard Foveon studio body (the same used for their Foveon II Portrait Camera). The prototype setup was a tethered only solution and despite the prototype nature of the this sensor the results were very impressive. UPDATED 17th Feb - Crops from TIFF originals replace first set of crops. 20th Feb - Resolution chart.
Pre-PMA 2002: 03:00 EST: Kyocera has today announced the new Finecam S4 (four megapixel, 3x optical zoom) and Finecam S3x (three megapixel, 3x optical zoom). The S3x is an 'improved' S3 with a new 3x optical zoom lens to replace the S3's 2x unit. Note the new pop-up flash and shifted viewfinder to make space for the larger lens mechanism.The S4 is based around a four megapixel CCD sensor and the same 3x optical zoom lens used in the update S3x. Prices in Japan for the S4 and S3x are expected to be 88,000 YEN (US$660) and 98,000 YEN (US$740) respectively.
Pre-PMA 2002: Sigma's new SD9 D-SLR will be the first digital camera to utilize Foveon's recently announced X3 sensor technology. This new camera has a 3.43 megapixel (effective) X3 sensor which outputs 2268 x 1512 x 3 pixels. Each pixel is 9 microns which makes the sensor 20.7 x 13.8 mm (a 1.7x focal length multiplier). The SD9 has a Sigma lens mount and a unique dust protector just behind the lens mount to stop dust from attaching itself to the sensor. Price is expected to be around US$3,000. UPDATED: Full specifications. Pre-order today!
The Archos Jukebox Multimedia is the first portable mass storage device to feature a full colour display which can be used to view images and video. The Jukebox Multimedia can transfer images directly from your storage card to its internal 10 GB hard drive using the optional 'Photo Module'. The 'Camera Module' allows you to take images directly via the unit, the 'Video Module' enables you to record and playback video (MPEG4 format). The Jukebox Multimedia can of course also play MP3 audio. Connection is via USB 1.1 but there should be optional modules for USB 2.0 and Firewire connectivity.
Pre-PMA 2002: In preparation for what is undoubtedly the most important trade show of the year (for digital photography) I have posted the beginnings of our PMA 2002 show report. This new show report format enables you to keep up to date with all the latest product announcements, get reports and updates from the show floor as well as read the final show report which should be posted towards the end of next week. We are expecting several announcements this week, which will be posted both here on the front page and will also be linked from the 'New Product Index' found in the PMA 2002 Show Report. The show starts this Sunday and we'll be there to deliver all the details straight back to you.
Thanks to Niklas on our Sony Talk forum for noting Sony's new ICX413AQ six megapixel 3:2 ratio APS sized CCD. After some digging I managed to confirm this chip either is or soon will be in production. The chip is APS sized and has a pixel cell size of 7.8µm x 7.8µm, it is an interline frame readout chip and requires a mechanical shutter, thus it is designed for D-SLR's. Interestingly it's capable of capturing at 3 fps in single channel mode and 5 fps in dual channel mode. This sensor is ideally sized and specified to be used in a 35 mm SLR bodied D-SLR (it would produce a 1.5x focal length multiplier).
StudioAvenue, the online photo sharing company owned by JASC, of Paint Shop Pro fame, has shut the doors as of yesterday. This may not be one of the major sites and so perhaps not a news story, except that StudioAvenue is just a re-branding of PhotoLoft, the first of the sites to move to a subscription based service last March. They say "That means any photos left on StudioAvenue.com after February 15, 2002 will be deleted", and should be "uploaded to another photo-sharing site (such as Ofoto, Snapfish, or Shutterfly)". This will undoubtedly be a loss in revenue for PhotoLoft, and in less than a month they will be asking their members to renew their yearly subscriptions.
There seems to have been some activity from Photopoint, the short message they're now displaying is to assure people that their photos are still safe but due to bandwidth, hardware and labor costs they can not be put online (ouch). If you're an existing Photopoint user you can complete a survey displayed on the site(requires your Photopoint password). The questions are: Would you pay for a CD-ROM of your pictures ($24.95), Would you pay $5.95 per month for the service, how important is third party photo hosting. If Photopoint want to charge existing users to get their own images back it raises the question what happened to all the subscriptions paid by the same users? UPDATE: CEO Dale Gass responds to my comments on the Imaging-Resource website.
Pre-PMA 2002: 00:01 EST: As a part of our coverage of Foveon's X3 sensor technology this news article is a reproduction of a technology overview presentation provided by Foveon in its standard press kit. This overview summarises the method of the existing mosaic sensors and the way in which the new X3 sensor works.
Pre-PMA 2002: 00:01 EST: Foveon has today announced a new, revolutionary image sensor called the X3. A traditional digital camera sensor works by capturing just one colour (red, green or blue) at each pixel location. These individual pixels are then combined in software to produce a full colour pixel. The X3 is the first sensor which is capable of capturing full colour for every pixel in its array. The X3 does so with a special photosite which is measures different colours at different 'depths' within the silicon. The first camera to use the new sensor will be the $3,000 Sigma SD9 D-SLR (Sigma lens mount), Kodak have also shown an interest in using the X3 technology.
Pre-PMA 2002: Nikon has started a 14 day countdown to the announcement of its latest Coolpix digital camera. As a part of the build-up Nikon USA are running a 'Guess the slogan' competition which has new clues published on the nikoncoolpix.com website every day. So far we've had two clues: an ice cream cone and a twister. Enter and you could win one of the new cameras!
JEITA (Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Assocation) Technical Standardization Committee has today published the new EXIF 2.2 standard (white paper, open for comment until 5th April 2002). The 'Exchangeable image file format for Digital Still Camera' describes what format the image files from digital cameras should take and what additional information should be embedded in the file header (almost all current digital cameras use EXIF 2.1). The new 2.2 standard is interesting because it includes a special portion specifically designed to be interpreted by printer drivers / printers to enable them to perform accurate image adjustment before printing (a bit like Epson's PIM).
Matsushita (Panasonic) has today announced new 1900 mAh AA NiMH rechargeable batteries. Up until this point the maximum capacity of NiMH AA available was around 1800 mAh. Interestingly the batteries are labelled as '2000' but Panasonic claim a minimum capacity of 1900 mAh. This makes sense considering that in our own (and others) testing it's clear that the actual usable capacity of these batteries tends to be less than indicated.
Pocket Phojo by Idruna Software is an image manipulation, editting and transfer application designed for PocketPC PDA's. Specifically, this application can browse, edit and tag images on a storage card inserted into the PDA (depending on the PDA / sleeve used) and then transmit them via FTP back to 'the office'. With the advent of the new faster PocketPC 2002 PDA's many of which have built-in communications interfaces this ultra-compact method of image transfer is very attractive to Photo Journalists. I've taken a quick look at Pocket Phojo running on my Compaq iPAQ H3870.
The Japanese site 'Miscall' (who used to be associated with Dreamarts) has managed to pull another Internet first by being the first site to publish samples from Fujifilm's new F601 Zoom (a beta camera). The F601 Zoom, announced just last week is an update to the popular 6800Z. The F601 is also one of three new cameras based on Fujifilm's updated SuperCCD III technology. So, in effect these are also the first samples from a SuperCCD III sensor (although will in no way be representative of the level of quality we expect from the S2 Pro).
Pre-PMA 2002: The second camera announced by Fujifilm is the new FinePix S602 Zoom. For a while now many people on our Fuji Talk forum have complained that they have been unable to get the 6900Z, well here's the reason. The S602 Zoom replaces the 6900Z and then some. Just like the other cameras announced today the S602 uses the new third generation SuperCCD. On top of the 6900Z features is a higher resolution EVF, dual media slots (now takes CF Type I/II as well as SmartMedia), an all new body, a new user interface and several other new features.
Here in the UK there has been an ongoing saga about a mistake made on Kodak's website where the DX3700 digital camera (inc. memory card & inkjet paper) was priced at £100. Soon after this price appeared several hundred people ordered but were later told that they would not get the camera at the erroneous price. After not inconsiderable pressure from angry customers, consumer groups and the threat of legal action Kodak (after more than a month) has agreed to honour those customers who ordered the DX3700 at the advertised price. Full statement inside...
Pre-PMA 2002: As part of three new cameras announced today based on its third generation SuperCCD technology Fujifilm has revealed the FinePix F601 Zoom. This camera, as the sucessor to the popular 6800Z also features a 3.1 megapixel SuperCCD (although this time the new 'third generation') which produces a 6 megapixel image. There are a full set of manual controls, selectable ISO sensitivity and high speed continuous shooting at five frames per second.
Pre-PMA 2002: Fujifilm has today announced a camera which will no doub turn quite a few heads. The S2 Pro has a 6.17 megapixel SuperCCD III which produces a huge 12 megapixel image (yes, twelve). The new camera also addresses two of the major issues with the S1 Pro; it is based on the Nikon F80/N80 body which means it's more robust, this also means it can now shoot with AF-D, AF-G and AF-S Nikkor lenses. Other new features include CCD-Raw files and ISO 100 support.
Sony has today announced price cuts to its Memory Stick storage (this actually took place last Friday). This is the second price cut in six months. This latest reduction brings the street price of Memory Stick more into line with other storage such as Compact Flash and SD/MMC cards. Sony are now showing the list price for a 128 MB Stick as $89 (down an amazing $60). Memory Sticks can already be ordered at this new price from Sony Style and Sony Imagestation.
Kudos to Dave Etchells for posting an excellent (technical and logical) comparison of different brands of high capacity AA NiMH batteries. His comparison (although done outside of a digital camera) measured precisely the amount of power these batteries are able to store and return. "First, I was rather surprised that the Rayovac battery / charger combination did as well as it did. Besides their being a newcomer to the NiMH world, I'd seen rather disappointing results from other "name brand" batteries, namely the Energizer Accu Rechargeables."
According to the JCIA (Japan Camera Industry Association) Digital Camera sales totalled no less than 14.75 million units in 2001 a rise of some 42.7% over the previous year. In more detail the local Japanese (domestic) market for digital cameras has grown 63.8% and the export market (the rest of the world) has grown 34.2%. This figure is in line with results published by JCIA in August last year which were for the first half of 2001. A pretty amazing result showing just how many digital cameras were destined for the Christmas market.
Kodak lost a total of $206 million in the last quarter of 2001. This is a net loss of 71 cents per share for that period. Sales dropped 6% dragged down by a 10% drop in film sales. "Our strategy during this difficult economic year has been to strengthen our balance sheet so that the company will be in a better financial position once the recovery begins,'' said chief executive Dan Carp.
Lexar has today announce it plans to ship its new 1 GB 16x Professional CF Type II card by January 31. This new card which has a retail price of $1,199 has a claimed write speed of 2.4 MB per second and will be demonstrated at the upcoming PMA (Photo Marketing Association) show in Orlando at the end of February. Eric Stang, president and CEO says "Our new 1GB delivers everything professional photographers want: a minimum sustained write speed of 2.4MB per second, the highest capacity available and the reliability of solid-state storage."
Over on the Finepix.Com page Fujifilm are running a teaser about an upcoming product announcement which will use an updated verison of their SuperCCD technology, this time called SuperCCD III. The second generation SuperCCD was used in the 6800Z and 6900Z. According to the teaser more information will be available on 30th January. The page just after the teaser reveals three shooting modes; "Candleshot", "Speedsnap" and "Motionphoto". The hype build-up to PMA has begun...
Phew! I've just posted our fully updated Olympus E-20 review. The review is now based on a full production E-20P (firmware 29-1102). Updates include a brand new gallery, re-shot resolution chart, colour patches, image quality, sharpening, white balance, chromatics test etc. And a new comparison including the Nikon Coolpix 5000. There's also a new section on the supplied software.
Canon has today released new firmware for the G1, G2 and Pro90IS. For the G2 it is labelled version 188.8.131.52 and for the G1 / Pro90IS it is labeled version 184.108.40.206. These firmware updates both address the same issue: "With Firmware Version nnn, BP-511 or BP-512 Battery Packs that had become over-discharged were sometimes not chargeable in the camera. With Version nnn, such Battery Packs can be charged in the camera."
The long wait is now over... It seems like an eternity since I started this review, it was indeed before Christmas. At that time the camera I had for review revealed a fault and we didn't receive a replacement camera until the New Year. Since then the British weather and a host of other commitments have done all they can to delay this review. Anyway I've worked solidly to get it out, and here it is... Nikon's latest Coolpix prosumer digital camera, the 5000 under our spotlight and run through our tests. So just how well did it do?
This is a message to the fifteen to twenty people who email me every day asking when I will be posting my Nikon Coolpix 5000 review. I received my latest (working) Coolpix 5000 on 2nd January, I'm currently about 50% through the review and it should be published mid to end of next week. There will be image quality comparisons with the Olympus E20 and Sony DSC-F707. The only potential issue at the moment is the appalling weather we've been having here in London for the last week. So please guys, stop emailing me and let me get on with it :) UPDATED 18/Jan/2002: DELAYED AGAIN.
The OM-10 was the first 35mm camera I owned, and today Olympus has announced that there will be no more OM cameras from them. "Olympus will discontinue the OM series of 35-mm cameras. The company will continue to manufacture selected lenses and accessories for the OM System and they will remain on sale with limited availability until the end of March 2003." This is not a surprise considering the huge shift of ownership from 35mm to digital.
CES 2002: SanDisk has today announced the latest step forward for the MMC/SD format, a 256 MB SD card. This new card uses a 1-Gigabit NAND flash storage chip. "The SD Card is a flash memory storage device with built-in security functions designed to facilitate the secure exchange of content between devices and the card. It is 32 millimeters (mm) long, 24mm wide and 2.1mm thick. More than 100 products with slots for the card have been introduced. " It should be available "first quarter" and will be priced at a competitive $199.
CES 2002: SanDisk has today announced a range of new ImageMate dual-slot card readers, the readers will be available in three flavors - CompactFlash & SmartMEdia, CompactFlash & Memory Stick and CompactFlash & MMC/SD. These new readers are all USB (why no Firewire?) Mass Storage Class devices and will have an approximate street price of US$40.
Light & Motion has today announced its Titan waterproof housing for the Olympus E-10 / E-20 Digital SLR's. The housing repeats all of the camera controls on the outside of the housing as well as providing access to the viewfinder and two large handles on either side of the unit. The Titan housing is waterproof down to 300 ft and has a visual moisture alarm should a fault occur. You can also attach optional dedicated lenses. The housing alone costs $2699.
CES 2002: Panasonic has confirmed its range of 2002 Lumix digital cameras as well as availability and pricing. In this press release they also confirm two new models we've not previously heard of, the DMC-LC20 and DMC-LC40. The Lumix range boasts Leica Optics in combination with Panasonic (Matsushita) digital imaging. The line starts at $349.95 with the DMC-LC20 and goes up to $899.95 for the four megapixel DMC-LC5.
CES 2002: Nexian, better known for their GPS add-ons for Visor PDA's has announced a new NexiCam "sleeve" for the Compaq iPAQ Pocket PC which adds SVGA (800 x 600) digital camera capability to the iPAQ. "The NexiCam digital camera offers exciting new options for our iPAQ customers, such as its video conferencing and digital video capturing capabilities," said Roger Frizzell, Director of Global Communications with Compaq. "With this new product, we continue to expand the exciting capabilities iPAQ Pocket PC's." List price is $199.
CES 2002: 9 PM EST: Minolta has today announced the ultra-compact DiMAGE X digital camera. The DiMAGE X features a 2.1 megapixel CCD and an innovative new 'folded optics' 3x optical zoom lens. What's so unique about the lens is that it's mounted on its side and shoots through a prism. This enables the camera to maintain its slim dimensions but also provide a 3x optical zoom. The X comes with a Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery and takes SD/MMC cards. REVIEW ONLINE.
CES 2002: As part of a press release about HP CEO Carly Fiorina's keynote speech HP reveal their new Photosmart 812 digital camera. The 812 has a 4 megapixel CCD, 3x Pentax optical zoom lens will have a retail price of $599 and there's even an optional docking station which will be available for $79. The docking station can be directly connected to USB HP printers for "print direct".
CES 2002: An interesting article out of CES today from the Compact Flash Assocation has confirmed that the irradiation process the U.S. Postal Service is using to sanitize mail against anthrax can not only destroy the data on flash storage (and other semiconductors) but can leave them unusable. "Testing has confirmed that these systems, which operate in the range of 55 kGy, damage not only semiconductors, but other goods as well, including pharmaceuticals, contact lenses, biological samples, and photographic film,'' the group said.
CES 2002: 9 PM EST: Minolta has today announced an updated version of the DiMAGE S304. The S404 has a 4 megapixel CCD, 4x optical zoom lens and shifted ISO sensitivity range (ISO 64, 100, 200, 400). We've had a prototype S404 for two days now, however as Minolta don't want us to post samples from this camera we won't be reviewing this model until a production unit is available.
(Pun). CES 2002: Lexar has today announced a new Portable USB card reader for MMC/SD cards. Not to be outdone by SanDisk and just a day after they announced their Cruze product the new Lexar portable USB MMC/SD card reader is also a 'Mass Storage Class' device (which means it will work with most modern operating systems without a driver). The reader alone will cost $29.99. It's worth noting that unlike the SanDisk unit (which is self contained) the Lexar reader does have a cable.
CES 2002: Apple has today announced iPhoto, a new application for its OS X operating system which is designed to make it easier to download, organize, categorize, share and print your digital camera images. iPhoto supports a wide range of digital cameras and can automatically download images from the camera into a 'roll'. The best thing about iPhoto is the extremely simple "Import / Organize / Edit / Book / Share" sequence, this makes it easy for the complete novice to connect their camera and orgnize their photos just as they would if they had hard prints in front of them (only better).
CES 2002: SanDisk has today announced "Cruzer", a USB compatible device which is compatible with SD / MMC storage cards. It's essentially a USB "jacket" for these storage cards. Thanks to the "mass storage class" USB device standard the Cruzer can be plugged into any modern operating system without the requirement for drivers. A 128 MB Cruzer will cost you $99.99. (Phil: sounds like a pocket sized SD / MMC card reader to me...)
CES 2002: Sony has today announced two new Mavica "Dual-Media" digital cameras. The 1.2 megapixel FD100 and 2.1 megapixel FD200 can take either 3.5" Floppy disks (yes, still) or Memory Stick flash media. Both cameras have a 3x optical zoom lens and InfoLithium batteries and USB connectivity. The FD100 has an expected retail price of $400, the FD200 a price of $500.
Thanks to one of our regular readers for noting that Pantellic President (owners of Photopoint) Dale Gass has spoken to CNET by email he writes "While Pantellic has ceased operations, we are actively working on a solution for people to get copies of their photos," Pantellic President Dale Gass wrote in an e-mail. "There will be an announcement at www.photopoint.com, and members will be notified via e-mail when this is available." According to Gass, Pantellic has been unable to communicate with its customers since a "substantial amount" of its networking equipment was seized on the day the Halifax, Nova Scotia-based company ceased operations.
Uwe Steinmueller of Digital Outback Photo has just let me know that he's posted a review of Canon's EOS-1D digital SLR and the new EF 400mm f/4 DO IS lens. Of the EOS-1D Uwe says, "Even if the EOS-1D might have low noise compared to other cameras at ISO 400 and above we will try to stay with ISO 200 as often as possible. ISO 400 (and higher even more so) look clearly more grainy than ISO 200 photos (if seen at 100% pixel level)."
Olympus has today said that it is looking to bring its digital camera operations into the black after a tough time last year. Olympus are looking to shift a large amount of its domestic digital camera production to China. "Our biggest problem this business year was inventories,'' Yusuke Kojima, senior manager for sales and marketing in Olympus's imaging systems group, told a news conference. "Digital cameras have been hit by intensely competitive conditions.'' Like personal computers, he said, digital cameras now have a very short shelf-life because of the rapid emergence of new models.
Minolta US has today posted A1v121u English firmware for the DiMAGE 7 digital camera. This new firmware has been available on the Minolta Japan server for a few days and is now available on the Minolta US server. This version is for US DiMAGE 7's only. The installation documents say "Firmware version A1v121u was developed for general improvement in exposure performance (particularly for flash photography)." It's also worth noting that Minolta has also posted a new version of the DiMAGE Image Viewer Utility (required for proper colour space mapping).
Minolta yesterday announced that it will halt production and development of APS cameras in favour of attacking the ever expanding digital camera market. This comes as no surprise to dpreview as we have observed the dramatic shift in market share (and production) between 35 mm, APS and digital over the last two years. "Investors welcomed the news, sending shares in Minolta up 8.39 percent to 155 yen on Wednesday morning. The Nikkei average dipped 0.1 percent."