Jeff Keller over at DCResource has today posted his final review of a production Sony DSC-F828. Overall Jeff loved much of the camera but was concerned over a few image quality related problems, "So what areas aren't so hot? While I think noise levels in images are comparable, the F828 does tend to have higher levels of purple fringing (or whatever you want to call it) than the competition... ...It's just not the 'hey, let's throw away the EOS-10D' that some were hoping for, especially in terms of image quality. It is, however, a very worthy successor to the DSC-F717 that competes with the best fixed-lens cameras out there."
December 2003 news and reviews
I'd like to wish all of our readers, supporters, sponsors and fellow webmasters a very Merry Christmas and express my gratitude for your continued patronage of the site. I hope you had all of your digital photography needs satisfied this Christmas. I'm looking forward to seeing lots of snowy images in our forums, the weather here in the UK has been too mild for the traditional sprinkle of snow. December 25th also marks our fifth anniversary, the first version of this site was published on Christmas Day 1998. Here's looking forward to the continued growth of digital photography next year.
Just posted, our full in-depth review of Nikon's latest flagship digital SLR, the D2H. The D2H features a four megapixel in-house developed 'LBCAST' sensor, an eight frames per second shooting rate and a huge 40 JPEG frame buffer. Compared to the D1 the D2H is quite an evolution with a wide variety of control, function, feature and speed improvements. The D2H is clearly aimed at the sports and current affairs photo journalism with supreme viewfinder blackout and shutter release lag which literally takes your breath away the first time you use the camera. See how the D2H stacked up to the competition and how it fared in our other tests.
We first caught sight of Fujifilm's medium format back tucked away and behind glass at the PMA show earlier this year, but at the time there was no specific information available. Nine months later Fujifilm has now officially announced the 'DBP for GX680' medium format digital back. This digital back features a 52 x 37 mm SuperCCD sensor with 20.68 million effective pixels producing a maximum output image of 41.36 million pixels (7648 x 5408). This digital back is designed for use with Fujifilm's GX680 series of medium format cameras (up to 6 x 8 cm film). The back has selectable sensitivity of ISO 50, 100, 160 and 200, a 1.8" TFT LCD monitor, can shoot one frame every 1.5 seconds and stores images on Compact Flash (Type I or II). The back is due to go on sale at the end of January 2004 (in Japan) at a price of 2,380,000 YEN ($22,120), what a bargain! UPDATE: We have just heard that this product WILL NOT be available in the US.
Canon has announced today that it plans to roll-out nearly 20 new compact digital cameras in 2004 in an aggressive product push to grab 25 percent of the global market and it seems that this is aimed squarely at Sony. Takashi Oshiyama, head of Canon's digital imaging business group, told Reuters in an interview "Those companies out there that have no experience producing film cameras have yet to create a camera that performs like a real camera should. I won't say who that is." Oshiyama said shipments of digital cameras by Japanese manufacturers would total between 40 and 44 million units in 2003. That compares to last year's 25 million units, according to Japan's Camera and Imaging Products Association (CIPA).
Sharp today announced the six megapixel, 1/1.8" type RJ21T3AAPT/ST CCD. This new sensor is exactly the same size (type) as used in many current four and five megapixel digital cameras and so will be an attractive option for digital camera manufacturer as an easy way to launch 'new' models with more megapixels (it's sad but people are still buying the numbers game). Once more this raises the question of noise and lens quality, how much noisier (if it all) will this sensor be and will the current lenses (some of which were designed for three megapixel 1/1.8 CCD's) be able to deliver enough resolution to deliver any real gain (other than file size). This new sensor has a pixel pitch of just 2.5 µm, the smallest yet.
The first samples from full production Sony DSC-F828's are appearing on review sites around the web. Both A-Digital-Eye.Com and dcresource.com have posted galleries of samples images from this interesting eight megapixel, seven times optical zoom digital camera. It's fair to say that the DSC-F828 has taken longer to reach market than most had expected and indeed it appears that the camera is shipping to customers at about the same time as it's reaching reviewers. (We haven't yet received ours, it's expected anytime now).
Olympus today announced a range of new flash accessories for the Olympus E System (currently the only camera being the E-1). This range is driven primarily by two flash units, the FS-RF11 ring flash and the TF-22 twin flash. Both of these units can be attached to the 14-54 mm lens and 50-200 mm lens via their bayonet filter mounts, for attachment to the 50 mm Macro lens the additional FS-FR1 flash adapter ring is required. The FS-FC1 macro flash controller attaches to the hot shoe of the E-1 and is then used to control the FS-RF11 or TF-22.
According to a 'report from Japan' on the Popular Photography website Minolta will be introducing a digital SLR next year and that it's highly possible that an operational sample will be shown at PMA 2004. In addition to the report also reveals that Olympus will have two more digital SLR's next year as will Pentax and that other manufacturers are looking at putting vibration reduction technology in the camera rather than the lens (just like Minolta did with the DiMAGE A1). For lots more gossip from Japan why not read the article in full...
Many of you asked for it and thanks to Leica UK for supplying very high resolution images of the new five megapixel Digilux 2. This camera may well have a Panasonic heart but it's instantly recognisable as a Leica and features a very interesting F2.0 - F2.4 lens. The brand certainly carries a lot of weight and this camera appears to be one of the more interesting new releases of recent months.
has announced the X'S-Drive Pro VP300 6in1 Portable Storage Device. The
X'S-Drive Pro has a USB 2.0 compatible interface, LCD panel to indicate
detailed working status. Like the previous X'S-Drive II VP2060, the X'S-Drive
Pro VP300 allows the transfer of pictures and all the other files from
any memory card (Compactflash, IBM Microdrive, SmartMedia, Memory Stick,
Memory Stick Pro, Secure Digital, and MultiMediaCard, and xD picture cards
with any adapter) to its internal 2.5 inches hard drive. It displays on
its 2.5" LCD information such as the filename, transfer progress
and battery level. The RRP is for the X'S-Drive Pro 20GB are: $335 excl
VAT / 275 Euros excl VAT / £225 incl VAT.
UPDATE: Specification corrections
Olympus has today announced an expansion to their ZUIKO lens range with the wide-angle ZUIKO DIGITAL 11-22mm F2.8-3.5 lens (35mm camera equivalent: 22-44mm). Nearly telecentric optics ensure images have perfect colour, clarity and brightness from the centre to the periphery of the frame. The lenses' high resolving power makes sure the image sensor obtains the detail it needs to achieve its full potential. Furthermore, thanks to their splash-proof construction, the ZUIKO DIGITAL lenses are also protected from the elements. The new ZUIKO DIGITAL 11-22mm, F2.8-3.5 is scheduled to go on sale in February 2004.
In a feature we haven't done for some time here's a round up of reviews on other sites around the web. Cameras in the spotlight this last month include the Olympus C-5060 Zoom, Minolta DiMAGE A1, Pentax Optio 555, HP Photosmart 945 and the Fujifilm Finepix A310 Zoom among others. Dave Etchells at Imaging-Resource had this to say about the Pentax Optio 555, "Battery life is a good bit longer than average too, so you can bring back more images from each outing. About the only negative point is its somewhat sluggish shutter response. All in all, an excellent choice for a compact digicam with a full set of features. (Chalk up another Dave's Pick for Pentax...)"
Pentax has today announced a new companion lens for the *ist D digital SLR camera. The compact, high-performance, interchangeable smc PENTAX-DA 16 mm - 45 mm F4 ED AL lens features a 3X zoom ratio with focal lengths covering ultra-wide to moderate-telephoto ranges for the angle of view equivalent to 24.5mm-69mm in the 35mm format. Pentax U.S.A. will preview the lens at the PEPCOM Digital Focus media event on January 7 in Las Vegas during the 2004 Consumer Electronics Show. UPDATE: Samples from an *ist D with this new lens posted on the Pentax Japan website.
Our friends over at Lets Go Digital and DCViews have news about another Minox digital camera, the DC 5211. The new MINOX DC 5211 has a CCD image sensor with 5.25 megapixels as well as a fast high-performance MINOCTAR lens with multiple coating. The 3x zoom lens boasts an autofocus feature and gives the photographer freedom for creative picture composition.
Minox has today announced the DD1 Diamond. It looks exactly the same as the standard DD1, announced earlier this year, except with the addition of 8 synthetic diamonds around its edge. This is more fashion accessory than camera, so I won't bother you with the specifications. The Minox DD1 Diamond will be available from all good stockists from December 2003.
Microsoft will soon be charging manufacturers of flash memory card devices and those which use them $0.25 per unit or up to $250,000 to use the FAT filesystem. For those who are unaware the FAT file system was developed by Microsoft back in 1976 and has become the standard file system for all digital still cameras. Microsoft owns patents to the FAT File System but for many years hasn't even hinted that it may one day decide to charge for it. These new licenses appear to come into effect immediately and specifically make mention of 'compact flash memory cards' and 'portable digital still cameras'. What a great way for Microsoft to cash in on the most popular consumer products (as if they don't make enough money already).
Digital Domain has released of the 2004 edition of Qimage, the digital photo batch printing/processing software for Windows that optimizes print quality while simplifying the printing process. Qimage is based largely on user feedback and suggestions and the 2004 edition includes features such as a new print cropping tool, a new easier to use batch filter window, improved thumbnail resolution, faster processing of thumbnails and screen redraws, print size "suggestor" that automatically highlights the most compatible print size(s) for selected images, new quick access keys, sound to indicate completion of processing, some user interface improvements, and much more. Qimage 2004 is available immediately for $44.95.
Idruna Software has announced the launch of Pocket Phojo 2.5, a major update to the Pocket PC solution specifically designed to allow photojournalists to get photos back to base as rapidly and conveniently as possible. Major enhancements include an all new image processing engine, lower memory usage, extra features for Nikon D2H users, support for images from the Canon 1DS, Kodak 14N and the Kodak DCS 520. Pocket Phojo 2.5 is a free upgrade for existing customers or new customers can purchase for the software for $489 ($389 for freelancers until Jan 1st), or a preconfigured HP iPAQ Pocket PC from $897.
Nikon today announced that it is "working on" a new budget priced digital SLR, the D70 and a new complementary DX lens. From the hints given in the 'development press releases' it's fairly easy to come to the conclusion that this camera will be fully announced at PMA 2004 and should hit the stores shortly afterwards. Considering its "budget price" and considering the current competition I will make a wild guess that the D70 will be based around the D100 engine with the same six megapixel sensor. Styling hints however do appear to be taken from the D2H. Body only price of the D70 is expected to be $999 (in the US) or € 1,100 (in Europe).
Leica today announced the Digilux 2, a five megapixel compact digital camera with a 3.2x optical zoom lens. Leica are promoting this camera as the "analog" digital camera, in essence this is driven by the camera's design and control layout which is almost identical to a standard manual film camera (such as aperture ring, shutter speed dial etc.) The lens is also pretty special, a 28 - 90 mm equiv. with a maximum aperture of F2.0 at wide angle and F2.4 at telephoto. The Digilux 2 has a magnesium body, a trans-reflective 2.5" LCD monitor, Electronic viewfinder, stores images on SD card and is powered by a 1400 mAh Lithium-Ion battery.