Sigma Japan has today made Photo Pro 2.0 available for download (for both Windows and Macintosh). This will be great news for owners of the Sigma SD9 digital SLR as Photo Pro 2.0 can be used with RAW (.X3F) files from this camera as well as the new Sigma SD10 digital SLR. Our experience of Photo Pro 2.0 was very positive, image processing is improved, especially the handling of clipped color near highlights. In addition Photo Pro 2.0 has new features including the storage of processing parameters on a per image basis as well as the new X3 Fill Light.
An article floating around several news sites including Pacific Business News is that Nikon are about to stop producion of their 35mm compact camera range and go all digital. The Tokyo-based Nihon Keizai Shimbun broke the story from company sources in its Thursday editions. Though the company said no decision has been made yet, the newspaper said production is being halted and shipments to stores will stop in a few months. UPDATE: Nikon Japan has posted a press release in English denying this rumour.
Wacom (the company behind the excellent Graphire, Intuos and Cintiq tablets) are currently running a photography contest named 'Go Pro'. The grand prize is a 40 GB Apple iPod and US$ 1,000 as payment for the commercial rights to the winning photo which will be included in the PhotoSpin professional stock photo collection. Entry is easy, simply upload your favourite image (must be 500 KB or less JPEG). The winning photograph will be chosen by a panel of professional photographers simply choose the photo that is the most compelling in all respects. Note that this contest is only open to residents of the US and Canada.
Nikon has today announced that one of the Nikkor lenses which was announced at the same time as the D2H, the AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8G, has been delayed until the spring of 2004. The AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8G is a sophisticated 3.2 zoom ratio lens with fast f/2.8 aperture featuring a unique optical design tailored to the demands of high performance digital photography with all of Nikons DX format Digital SLR cameras, namely the Nikon D1X, D1H, D1, D100 and D2H. Nikon apologize for any inconvenience caused to customers.
There is a story today on Slashdot, the geek news site, that the Ritz single-use digital camera has been hacked. The $10.99 two megapixel (CMOS) fixed focal length camera with no LCD was announced in July and carries the 'Dakota Digital' name but is made by 'Pure Digital Technologies' of San Francisco. Software has been wirtten which allows the pictures to be downloaded to a computer using USB and printed without consent from Ritz. We said back in July that we didn't think this was a good thing for consumers and now its not good news for Ritz.
An interesting article on DigiTimes.com has said that Nikon may be planning to outsource production of its low-end digital still cameras to Taiwan. A source at Taiwanese DSC maker Primax Electronics acknowledged that Nikon is looking for OEM suppliers in Taiwan but could not identify how many firms have been contacted by the Japanese firm. If finalized, it would take about nine to 12 months for Taiwans makers to begin delivering DSCs to Nikon, the source said.
Just posted! Our full in-depth review of Minolta's DiMAGE A1 digital camera. The A1 is the sucessor to the popular DiMAGE 7 series, it is Minolta's new flagship prosumer digital camera and carries one of the widest range of features of any digital camera on the market. The DiMAGE A1's vital specs are a wide angle seven times optical zoom lens, a five megapixel CCD sensor, Anti-Shake image stabilization, a metal body, tilting LCD monitor, tilting EVF, Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery, a wide range of manual controls and an almost endless selection of customizable settings. See how the new DiMAGE A1 performed in our tests.
Alera Technologies has today announced the Digital Photo Copy Cruiser which enables the copying of digital photos directly from camera memory cards to CD without a computer. Photos from memory cards can be added to the CD in multi-session format so the full capacity of the CD can be used, it can also be used as a USB 2.0 36x CD recorder when connected to a computer. The Digital Photo Copy Cruiser supports the following Digital Memory Card formats: CF Type I and II, SD, MMC, SM, MS, MS Pro, and Micro Drive. The Digital Photo Copy Cruiser has an Estimated Street Price (ESP) of $229.
SimpleTech has today announced SD (Secure Digital) versions of its ProX(TM) line of high performance cards. They are available in 256MB and 512MB formats and are available for immediate delivery. "ProX SD cards provide ultra-fast data connectivity for nearly every device using SD cards on the market," said Ken Roberts, director of product marketing for SimpleTech. Manufacturer's suggested retail prices are $159 for 256MB and $299 for 512MB.
Photo Marketing Association International (PMA) has announced the launch of an industry-wide consumer and retailer education initiative designed to promote digital printing to consumers through an Internet Web site due to launch late November 2003 as well as national public relations, advertising and mass media outlets. One component of this initiative includes a Qualified Digital Processing Center program to ensure that consumers know where to go to get their prints made and retailers are prepared to handle the consumer demand for printing of their digital files.
Following the success of its popular Q1 film camera, Fujifilm has today announced an addition to the family: the Q1 Digital. This curvy, silver, compact digital camera is perfect for beginners, or for those looking for a second camera to keep in their pocket or bag at all times. Easy to operate, and very light in weight at just 108g, the Q1 Digital makes the ideal gift for anyone taking their first steps in photography ? adults and children included!. The Q1 Digital will be available in November 2003 at an expected approximate street price of £100 inc VAT.
Kodak has recently posted a firmware update for the DCS 14n. This firmware upgrade, version 4.4.3, resolves a fixed focal length being reported when using some zoom lenses, adjusted automatic lens type selection for some lenses, a minor issue with selecting Job Tracker files from memory, an SD/MMC card formatting issue and changed in camera Digital Exposure Correction range limit on JPEG images to +/ 1EV. New features also include a longer exposure feature, camera mirror Prerelease feature, Wedding and Event "Looks" and Korean language support.
SmartDisk has today introduced 40GB and 80GB models of its FlashTrax(TM) handheld portable multimedia device for offloading and storing digital images and music. FlashTrax stores images transferred from any flash memory card onto the built-in USB2.0 hard drive and displays them on a 3.5" LCD screen. "The Professional Photographers Association has just recognized FlashTrax as one of the hottest new imaging products of 2003," says Charles Klinker, Vice President-Marketing for SmartDisk.
We've just received our review Sigma SD10 (after a little mix-up with the courier) and I'm happy to report that resolution is identical to the SD9. I decided to test this immediately after we read reports elsewhere that resolution was significantly lower because of the use of microlenses. In our own shots of a standard ISO resolution chart we can measure absolutely no difference in resolution between the SD9 and SD10 using the same lens at (almost) the same aperture.
Kodak has introduced the new DIGITAL SHO Professional Plug-In, which optimizes contrast and exposure to reveal hidden details in highlight and shadow areas of digital images. It was developed and launched by KODAKs Austin Development Center, formerly Applied Science Fiction, which is a leader in automatic image correction and photo restoration applications. A free trial version is available for download now. This fully functional trial version applies digital watermarks to images. To disable the watermark, users may purchase a software key via a secure, e-commerce site for $99.95.
SanDisk has announced it has signed an agreement with Fuji Photo Film that covers the xD-Picture Card format. SanDisk will manufacture Fujifilm-branded xD-Picture Cards for Fujifilm and supply these xD-Picture Cards to Fujifilm for distribution through Fujifilms global retail distribution channels. SanDisk will also sell xD-Picture Cards under the Fujifilm brand through SanDisks global retail distribution channels. SanDisk will begin shipments of Fujifilm xD-Picture Cards in the current quarter.
Lexar has today announced two new addtions to its card reader range. These are high speed CompactFlash devices utilising USB 2.0 and Firewire for connectivety. Serious digital photographers find speed very important, which is why Lexar Media strives to provide the fastest speeds available in its digital media and readers, said Dave Klenske, Lexar Media, director of product marketing. The FireWire (IEEE 1394a) and USB 2.0 readers are immediately available with estimated retail prices of $49.99 and $24.99, respectively. Lexar has also today introduced Image Rescue 2.0, an enhanced version of its popular image recovery software. Image Rescue 2.0 is bundled free of charge on all of Lexar Medias Professional Series CompactFlash and will also be available as a stand-alone product at retail locations nationwide this November for $39.95.
Canon today posted firmware 2.0.0 for the EOS 10D. This firmware update primarily adds PictBridge support but it also makes three improvements / fixes: 1. Improves release lag when using Microdrive's, 2. Corrects AE Lock operation when using custom function 4 settings, 3. Fixes Exposure compensation display errors when using the ST-E2 Speedlite Transmitter. Update is very easy, simply drop the firmware update file onto a Compact Flash card, insert it into the camera, power on and select 'OK'.
Software: ACD Systems has released FotoCanvas 3.0, the latest version of its photo editing software program. ACD FotoCanvas is an affordable and easy-to-use program with all of the essential tools needed to enable users to make edits to their digital photos and create simple web graphics. New workflow enhancement features in ACD FotoCanvas 3.0 include the Dodge and Burn tool, the ability to add Bubble Talk to images, an easy step-by-step Photo Correction Wizard and a Professional Color Management system. ACD FotoCanvas 3.0 in English is available for $39.99 (USD) or as part of ACDSee 6.0 PowerPack for $79.99 (USD).
Just posted! Our full in-depth review of Pentax's first digital SLR, the *ist D. The *ist D is based around the design of the *ist film SLR, it features a six megapixel APS size CCD sensor and a Pentax lens mount. The *ist D is the smallest and lightest lens interchangeable digital SLR and is packed with manual controls and advanced features. On paper the *ist D appears impressive, see how it performed in our tests and how it compared to the Canon EOS 10D and Nikon D100.
Nikon today announced the new ultra-compact aluminium bodied Coolpix 3700. The Coolpix 3700 has a three megapixel sensor and three times optical zoom, it's also the first Coolpix to use Secure Digital for storage and is powered by a Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery. Nikon are clearly going for style and design with this camera, without being too 'way out'. One unique feature of the 3700 is 'sound release' which allows you to put the camera in a sort of self-timer mode and trigger the shutter release with a loud sound (such as a clap).
Sigma today announced the new SD10 digital SLR. The SD10 is a successor to the SD9, originally announced in February last year. The SD10 has an updated 10M X3 sensor from Foveon, the new sensor promises improved dynamic range, color response and sensitivity (thanks to the addition of microlenses). The primary differences between the SD9 and the SD10 are extended ISO sensitivity (up to 1600 in extended mode), longer exposures, a single battery power supply, 1/3 EV steps, wireless TTL flash support and image processing enhancements provided by Sigma Photo Pro 2.0. We have a brief preview and samples from a pre-production SD10. UPDATE: Imaging-Resource post full review.
Sigma today announced two new lenses designed specifically for digital SLR APS sensor size. The 18 - 50 mm F3.5 - 5.6 DC and 55 - 200 mm F4.5 - 5.6 DC lens can be made considerably smaller and lighter because they are designed to produce an image circle specifically large enough for an APS size sensor (all current digital SLRs except the Canon EOS-1D/1Ds and Kodak DCS-14n). Both lenses are notably lighter and more compact than 35 mm equivalents. Used on the Sigma SD9 or SD10 these new lenses would provide an equivalent field of view of 30 - 85 mm and 93 - 340 mm respectively.
Foveon today announced that Sigma Photo Pro 2.0 (for the SD10, also works with the SD9) has a new and important feature called 'X3 Fill Light'. This feature works by lightening dark areas of the image much in the same way a flash fill light would (auto dodge and burn or 'locally varying tone correction'). As the new X3 Fill Light operates using the RAW data stored in the X3F file it appears to produce far better results than we have seen from any similar Photoshop plug-in type enhancement. The new X3 Fill Light feature is implemented as an adjustment slider in Photo Pro and its setting can be stored in the X3F file along with all other rendering adjustments (another new feature of Photo Pro 2.0).
Foveon today announced an updated version of its X3 Pro 10M sensor, this new sensor is used in the new Sigma SD10 which has also been announced today. While the sensor has the same resolution as that used in the SD9 (2268 x 1512 x 3) Foveon has finally taken the step to calling this a 10.2 megapixel sensor. The new sensor is said to have improved dynamic range and color response as well as increasing sensitivity by utilizing a microlens over each pixel location, sensitivity for the SD10 is up to ISO 100 to 800 with ISO 1600 available as an extended option.
Canon today posted firmware 1.1.1 for the EOS 300D / Digital Rebel. This is the first firmware update for this camera and appears to be a fairly mild update with fixes mostly to USB communications. In detail this firmware fixes two problems: increases the reliability of RemoteCapture application when the camera is used, increases the reliability of operations when used on Windows XP and Mac OS X with PTP. Canon note that this firmware update can only be installed on cameras with firmware version 1.0.2 (final production). Update is very easy, simply drop the firmware update file onto a Compact Flash card, insert it into the camera, power on and select 'OK'.
Sony today announced the ultra slim Cyber-shot DSC-T1. The DSC-T1 is the first 'credit card style' digital cameras from Sony, it utilizes a folded-optics lens system (in the same manner as Minolta's DiMAGE X/Xi/Xt) which means that the optical zoom is mounted vertically in the camera body, it 'sees' through the final lens element by way of a 90 degree prism. This provides the DSC-T1 with a three times optical zoom coupled with a five megapixel sensor. Additionally Sony appear to have taken a leaf out of Casio's book and fitted the DSC-T1 with a huge 2.5" LCD monitor, with an excellent 211,000 pixel resolution. The DSC-T1 is also only the second Sony digital camera to come with a docking station for charging and image transfer (the F77 had one but it was only released in Asia). The DSC-T1 should be available in January at around $550.
Sony today announced the Cyber-shot DSC-U40, the latest in line of 'U' ultra-compact digital cameras. The U40 has a fixed focal length lens and two megapixel CCD sensor, it stores its images on the smaller Memory Stick Duo or Memory Stick Pro Duo. The U40 is powered by AAA batteries (rechargeable NiMH's included) and of course supports direct printing using the PictBrdige standard. As with some other DSC-U digital cameras the U40 will be available in a range of four colors. The DSC-U40 should be available in January at around $200.
We have just received and tested Delkin's CardBus CF adapter (and OEM ASKA SpeedOver CF32A). This compact flash adapter offers laptop and notebook users (Windows only at this time) image transfer performance which actually beats a FireWire card reader on a desktop PC. Anyone who has used a standard PCMCIA adapter will know how slow these devices are, in our tests the new CardBus CF adapter from Delkin was almost four times faster than a standard PCMCIA adapter.
We are lucky enough to have both the Lexar 40x 4 GB and Pretec 6 GB Compact Flash cards on hand and have performed a variety of tests on these very high capacity cards. While the Lexar 40x 4 GB is impressive the Pretec 6 GB is even more so considering that it is similar in design to IBM's Microdrive (both a miniature hard disks) but has trumped Hitachi-IBM's new 4 GB Microdrive both in capacity and time to market. The Lexar is likely only to appeal to professionals who require total reliability and performance, the Pretec may well find its way into all sorts of devices, not just digital cameras. We have compared these two cards with SanDisk's new Ultra II 1 GB card and the industry benchmark IBM Microdrive 1 GB.
Fujifilm today announced the FinePix F420 Zoom, while it has a similar look and feel to the F410 it has a smaller case a larger, higher resolution LCD monitor, is powered by a supplied rechargeable battery or AAA batteries and a video out socket for display on a TV. The camera features a 3.1 million pixel SuperCCD HR and three times optical zoom lens. In addition movies can be recorded at a full 30 frames per second for as long as there is space on the xD-Picture Card. Jumping on the bandwagon the F420 Zoom also has PictBridge support (although just how many people will use it in any camera is yet to be seen).
Kyocera Japan has announced the three megapixel, three times optical zoom Finecam L30. At first sight this appears to be 'just another' three megapixel digital camera (indeed very similar in appearance to the L3v/L4v) however the Finecam L30 has superior video recording capability. The reason for this is that the L30 records video using the MPEG-4 video compression codec which should mean much smaller video file sizes and longer recording times. The L30 records video at 320x240 (15 fps) or 160x112 (30 fps) for as long as there is space on the storage card (SD/MMC plus 16 MB built-in). Lets hope this is the first of many digital cameras which will provide MPEG-4 as their video compression codec (almost all current digital cameras use Motion JPEG or MPEG-1).
Sigma Japan has announced a new wide angle zoom lens, the 12 - 24 mm F4.5-5.6 EX DG HSM. This lens is clearly aimed at providing a good wide angle range for digital SLR's as well as ultra wide angle for film SLR's. On the Sigma SD9 (1.7x crop) this lens would provide the same field of view as a 20-41 mm lens, on the Canon EOS-10D/300D this would be approx. 19-38 mm. This new lens will be available in Sigma, Canon, Nikon, Pentax (non-HSM) and Minolta (non-HSM) mounts and has an estimated Japanese list price of 99,000 YEN ($901 at todays exchange rate).
Belkin has announced an adapter unit which will add digital photo storage capability to an Apple iPod portable music player. The media reader connects to the iPod via its FireWire interface and stores images from CompactFlash Type I or II (and other media via CF adapters) in 'roll' directories on the iPod, these can easily be retrieved later by simply connecting the iPod to your computer. The Belkin Media Reader requires iPod Software 2.1 or later and one of the newer iPod's with the dock mount on the bottom, Media Reader is priced at $99.99.
Konica Minolta has today announced support for PictBridge in their new DiMAGE Z1 and DiMAGE E323 digital cameras. PictBridge is the new industry standard for direct printing of images and allows a user to print directly from a PictBridge compatible digital camera connected via a cable to a PictBridge compatible printer without the use of a PC. "PictBridge support provides consumers with more options for sharing their digital photos than ever before," says Hidenori Toyoda, General Manager Photo Division, Minolta Europe.
Olympus has today announced that next year they will introduce five new interchangeable ZUIKO DIGITAL lenses for the Olympus E-System. Among the new models planned for release next year is the ZUIKO DIGITAL 11-22mm, F2.8-3.5 lens (35mm camera equivalent: 22-44mm), plus three other zoom lenses, including an ultra-wide-angle lens, and a bright lens with a fixed focal length. They have also announced that work has started on products to be launched in 2005 and later to show their commitment to the E-System.
Minolta has today introduced the new DiMAGE G400 which looks very Konica Revio in origin. The DiMAGE G400 has a newly designed signal-processing engine with a 0.7 second startup time. You can turn the camera on, focus, set the exposure, capture an image, and turn the camera off in 1.5 seconds. It takes less than a second from turning the camera on to being ready to capture a sharp, well-exposed image. It has a 4.2 megapixel CCD and a 3x GT Hexanon zoom lens which has seven elements in six groups to provide sharp, high-contrast images. It has a dual card-slot system for flexible image storage. Both Memory Sticks and SD Memory Cards can be used singly or in combination.
We have just updated our Olympus E-1 preview with a detailed look at the Olympus Studio software, a $150 optional upgrade to the Olympus Viewer supplied with the camera. This review, prepared by Les Freed examines the Studio software in some detail. Studio provides facilities for image transfer, browsing, viewing, editting, printing, RAW conversion and tethered camera operation. Overall Les was impressed (especially with the RAW conversion speed) but would have liked to have seen Studio making up a standard part of the E-1 Kit. In other news Olympus Japan today announced a tentative timeline of new E system lenses, we should expect approximately five new E system lenses in 2004 and seven new E system lenses in 2005.
Olympus Japan has today announced updated versions of their mju and Camedia range. These are esentially the same as the previous models, except for the addition of PictBridge support. PictBridge is the new industry standard for direct printing that allows you to print images without using a computer by directly connecting digital cameras and digital camcorders to a printer, regardless of the devices' brand and model.
Back in May we reported on the Aska Corp CF32A Compact Flash CardBus PCMCIA adapter, at that time it was a Japan only product. Today Delkin has announced their own CardBus PCMCIA adapter which promises high speed transfer from Compact Flash cards for Notebook users. Delkin's own tests suggest a transfer speed of up to 5.5 MB/sec using the eFilm PRO CardBus PCMCIA adapter, almost five times faster than a standard Compact Flash PCMCIA adapter.
NEC Mitsubishi Japan has today announced a 22" CRT monitor which is calibrated to the Adobe RGB color space. The Diamondtron RDF225WG is capable of reproducing 97.6% of the color gamut available from Adobe RGB and has a specific Adobe RGB mode which will allow images in this color space to be displayed without first converting to sRGB (as would normally be carried out by your photo application). This monitor is clearly aimed at the DTP and design market but should also be of interest to high end digital photography and specific roles such as print publication picture editors. No price has yet been announced however availability is said to be 'end of December'.
According to the Japanese website PC Watch and also EE Times, GS Magicstore will release a 4.8GB version of its 1" HDD in November. It is a Type II CF format card and will be compatible with digital cameras from Canon, Nikon, Fuji, Sanyo, Olympus and Minolta. Additionally the GS Magicstore product road map indicates a 7 - 8 GB unit late in 2004, 10 GB at the start of 2005 and 16 - 20 GB late in 2005. The company is also developing a 40 GB 1.8-inch drive which it will launch in April.
Adobe has today announced a major new release of its Album software. Photoshop Album 2.0 introduces a range of new features including an improved calendar view and new sharing features for sending your pictures to mobile phones, Palm OS handhelds and TiVo Series2 digital video recorders. Adobe has also introduced the 'Starter Edition' of Album 2.0 which is a free download, the full version of Album 2.0 will cost $49.99 ($15 rebate for existing Album owners) and the combination of Elements 2.0 and Album 2.0 will be $129.99. (Again Photoshop Album is a Windows only application)
We have just updated our Olympus E-1 preview with a hands-on experience report from dpreview.com contributor Les Freed. Olympus America invited several journalists and photographers - including Les - to attend the US Grand Prix races last weekend. The purpose of the trip was to give the attendees hands-on, real-world shooting experience at a major motorsport event.
Software: Ulead has today announced Ulead® PhotoImpact® XL, an enhanced version of PhotoImpact, Uleads flagship image editing software for the PC. PhotoImpact XL offers extensive learning materials, striking new filters and effects, and useful basic and high-end photo correction tools. The software is a complete image editing solution for digital photographers, graphic designers, and Web creators at home, school and the workplace. "As one of the original founders of Ulead Systems, it's exciting for me to reflect on the past 15 years of our success in developing innovative image editing software, says Lewis Liaw, president of Ulead Systems, North America. It is available immediately from the web site for $89.95 and in retail in November.
In addition to the DMC-FZ10 announced ealier today Panasonic has introduced the stylish DMC-FX5, with a 3x optical zoom and a four-megapixel CCD, and the DMC-FX1, with a 3x optical zoom and three-megapixel CCD. As with the DMC-FZ10 both additional models incorporate Panasonic's MEGA Optical Image Stabilizer (MEGA O.I.S.). They will be released in November with no suggested retail prices.
Panasonic has today introduced the first 4-megapixel consumer digital camera with 12x optical zoom. Featuring F2.8 brightness throughout the entire zoom range, the camera's powerful 12x zoom (equiv. to 35-420mm on 35mm). It has Panasonic's MEGA O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilizer) which helps to deliver sharp, vivid images even when taking handheld telephoto shots or shooting in low light. It is targeted for retail introduction in November, and will have a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $599.00.
Software: ACD Systems has released ACDSee 6.0, the newest version of its flagship digital imaging software program for consumer and corporate markets. ACDSee is known for its speed, ease-of-use and powerful image management capabilities including features for viewing, organizing, searching, printing and sharing digital image collections of any size. New features in ACDSee 6.0 include the ability to rate images, burn photos to CD/DVDs and quickly view and locate photos from different folders and categories with the Easy Select and Selective Browsing features. ACDSee 6.0 in English is available for $49.99 (USD) for the full version, or $39.99 (USD) for the upgrade from ACDSee 5.0.
Canon has today posted a firmware update for the majority of its current digital cameras (S400 Digital Elph, Digital Ixus 400, G5, S50, A70, A60, A300). This firmware upgrade, version 2.0, adds PictBridge support. PictBridge is the new industry standard for direct printing that allows you to print images without using a computer by directly connecting digital cameras and digital camcorders to a printer, regardless of the devices' brand and model.