News archive for September 2000
Absolute web exclusive! We've managed to get our hands on a pre-production Olympus E-10 (4 megapixel Digital SLR). Although it's not yet ready for a full review we've posted a short first look with some sample images. We hope to have a full review just as soon as Olympus can provide a production camera.
Our friend Rob Galbraith has posted all four parts of his Photokina 2000 report. It was good to meet Rob at Photokina, although there weren't that many new pro products there. "With few all-new products to chase down, I spent the bulk of my time on the show floor speaking to vendors, listening in on product demonstrations, and sleuthing out hitherto-unknown digital hardware and software. "
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and if it were possible to see into the future it would make rating todays digital cameras much easier. Unfortunately when we review a digital camera it can often strike us as "the best there is at the moment", this in turn means we give the camera a "recommended" or "highly recommended" conclusion. Well, not any more.
Thanks to Don Hergert for discovering it and Steve Sanders for publishing it, there's a new wa to upgrade the firmware of your Coolpix 950 / 990 by simply placing the firmware file into a special directory of a CompactFlash card, inserting it into the camera and turning the camera to Play. Why on earth Nikon didn't make this method publicly available is beyond me, it's much more straightforward (and less prone to mistakes). Note - you'll need a card reader to upgrade using this method.
Dave over at Imaging-Resource is churning them out, he's got a review of Kodak's rugged DC5000 which is based on the older DC280 "Images shot with the DC5000 should look fine printed on photo-quality output devices at sizes up to 8x10 inches. " and the Olympus/Polaroid C-211 Camera/Printer "Because it's fully digital, the C-211 Zoom allows you to shoot and select only the images you want to keep, and since the initial exposure is not made directly on the Polaroid film, as it is in traditional Polaroid models, you have the option of printing only the photographs you want."
Today Ofoto (one of our sponsors) expanded their award winning photo finishing service to the Worldwide audience. You can now order prints online at Ofoto which can be shipped to any one of 180 countries. Internaitonal shipping takes 3 - 12 days (depending on location) and costs just US$4.79 or US$19.99 for air express mail.
Lurking in our review queue for some time now, we've finally posted our review of Sony's innovative CD1000, the only digital camera to use mini CD-R's for storage. This was certainly an interesting camera to review, though it hardly set me on fire. "A few other reviewers have been as brave as to say that mini CD-R will be the future of storage in digital cameras. I'd have to place myself on the other side of that fence. Don't get me wrong, there's a place for it and I'm sure the CD1000 will sell well..."
Ok, so it's not necessarily digital photography related, but it does involve a well known name. "...the world's largest photography company warned it will fall short of third-quarter earnings projections due to an unexpected falloff in demand for photography products." "... The setback came while Kodak was trying to overcome higher costs for raw materials, rising investments in digital photography and the adverse effect of a strong U.S. dollar in Europe."
Toshiba, in a Japanese press release today announced 128MB SmartMedia will go on sale at the "end of September". The big "gotcha" of course is that because SmartMedia is really "Dumb" (it doesn't have a controller in the card like CF) almost none of todays SmartMedia digital cameras will be able to use the new 128MB cards.. No manufacturers have yet announced updates for their cameras to be able to use it.
Any manufacturers who'd like to confirm their cameras work with the upcoming 128MB SmartMedia please send me an email.
Finally back on UK soil I've taken stock and had an opportunity to update the report pages with some further manufacturers (Adobe, Digi-Frame, Iomega, Konica and Samsung). And refresh / update the text associated with each stand report. We've also included a brief diary and list of "key products" (IMHO) at the show.
At Photokina next week Pentax will announce a new 6 megapixel (3072 x 2048) Digital SLR, it will use Philip's 6 megapixel 35mm size CCD (12-bit progressive, 12 µm pixel pitch) and support Pentax KAF2 mount (645N & 67II lenses can be used). It will have dual storage slots supporting PCMCIA Type II and CF Type II simultaneously and write TIFF, JPEG and RAW. There'll be a two inch LCD and a IEEE1394 (FireWire) connector.
UPDATED: more specifications thanks to Yamada Kumio.
According to a new report published by Infotrends Digital Camera Sales now represent 13% of the Worldwide Camera Market this year. Four manufacturers: Olympus, Sony, Kodak and Fujifilm are worldwide market leaders with 60% unit market share. "While digital camera sales have not begun to erode film camera sales or film usage on a worldwide basis, steady market growth will inevitably begin to replace film camera adoption."
Steve Sanders has just posted a first look at a beta Fujifilm Finepix 4900Z. He says "I've just posted the first review on the Internet of Fujifilm's FinePix 4900 Zoom. This first look report includes all the usual detailed camera photos, 360-degree QTVR virtual tour, controls, menus and sample photos. The FinePix 4900 Zoom we reviewed is a pre-production unit but was still most impressive in both features and image quality."
Photokina 2000: The biggest photography fair in Europe (arguably in the World) is currently taking place at Koln Messe in Cologne, Germany (20-25th Sept). DPReview are here and bringing you reports of the key digital photography products currently on show. Broken into several parts this first report covers: Adobe, Agfa, Canon, Casio, Delkin and Foveon (& Hasselblad). Subsequent parts appear below (company names sorted alphabetically).
Photokina 2000: Second report, moving on to the next group of manufacturers: FujiFilm (Finepix 4900Z), HP (C-912 and two new digital cameras), IBM (1 GB Microdrive), Imacon (Carnival 3020 medium format back), Iomega (Fotoshow), Kodak (DCS Pro Back, EZ-200, DC4800) and Kyocera (Yashica Finecam 3300, Contax N Digital).
Somehow (!) Yamada Kumio managed to persuade Olympus to loan him an E-10 while at the Photokina show, he's posted four sample images for us all to criticise... I was told that all the E-10's at the show were still prototype and still had early firmware so I'd personally not read too much into any problems you see in these images.
We saw a prototype knocking around at Photokina (though I didn't manage to get a shot of it, Yamada dug it out), in any case Kodak have just announced the budget level DC3200... I find it interesting that Kodak had a few months break in releasing new cameras and have now loaded the market with no less than six models (EZ200, DC4800, DC5000, DC3400, DC3800 and now DC3200). Kodak are back, they're after the mass market and they mean business (another Sharp OEM camera?).
Steve Sanders has just posted a first look of the Pentax EI-200 (AKA. HP C-618), "The lightweight EI-200 looks and operates like a conventional 35mm camera except the two-inch color LCD monitor allows for instant review and/or deletion of stored images. Image data can be transmitted using a high-speed USB cable, CompactFlash (Type I or II) card, or IrDA-compliant wireless infrared link. Digita allows custom functions and easy transfer of photos to computer, directly to HP JetSend compatible printers, or to other Digita-compatible cameras."
The quarterly Japanese "digital camera magazine" published by Impress Group of Japan always make original images available on their website in association with articles printed in their magazine. Just released are a set of very interesting samples taken with the Nikon D1, Canon EOS-D30 and Fujifilm S1 Pro.... This material is like gold dust right now. There are also a couple of other D30 galleries and samples from the new Fujifilm FinePix 4900Z, Pentax EI-2000 (HP C-916), Yashica Finecam 3300, Kodak DC3800, Olympus C-2100UZ, Minolta Dimage 2330 and more...
Photokina 2000: Just as I was leaving the house this morning.. Fujifilm Japan announced the tiny FinePix 4500. Looking distinctively like the 40i with an identical body, lens and CCD this pocket sized fixed lens digicam enters the realm of Canon's Digital IXUS and the new Sony DSC-P1. Full specifications inside...
Photokina 2000: A few weeks ago Kodak announced a range of new sensors including a 4096 x 4096 16 megapixel beast. Well, now they've implemented it. Presenting the all new Kodak DCS Pro Back, a 16 megapixel medium-format camera back which can be used untethered (or tethered), dual PC Card slots, has a flip-out multi-angle LCD, Zoom and Pan image inspection (up to 1:1), FireWire (IEEE1394) connectivity and compatible with Hasselblad 555 ELD and Mamiya RZ film cameras. One additional big feature of the DCS Pro Back is Kodak's all new DCS Capture Studio 1.5 for acquisition and editting. No price yet announced.
As the pace of digital photography accelerates we recognised that it's becoming increasingly difficult to visualise digital camera product releases. As an answer to this problem we've produced a unique interface to our news articles / cameras database and named it the "Newest Digital Cameras Timeline". This graphical representation of new camera announcements with links to reviews and specifications gives an instant overview of the current status of the digital camera marketplace. We hope you'll find it useful.
UPDATED (twice): Now back to 1997 and with a megapixel value for each camera.
Just a few days ago we posted a complete list of updates for the new Coolpix 990 1.1 firmware, now Nikon USA, Nikon Europe and Nikon Japan have all put up a download page for the firmware. Improvements include better autofocus, better continuous shooting, improved BSS, shorter review times and better white balance (certainly sounds like a recommended update).
Pre-Photokina 2000: Colorado MicroDisplay have today introduced their new QVGA viewfinder LCD, designed to be used as a "TTL viewfinder" for digital cameras without the use of prisms and mirrors, the LCD operates in much the same way as the main LCD on the rear of the camera but with the advantage of a true TTL view at eye-cup viewfinder sizes. (Sony have already made use of such technology in some of their Mavica digital cameras)
Pre-Photokina 2000: Today Canon unveil their latest digital camera, the G1. Aimed squarely at the "prosumer" marketplace the G1 enters the arena as a direct competitor to the Coolpix 990, Sony F505V and Olympus C-3030Z. Canon have listened, the G1 supports CF Type II (for IBM Microdrive) has a flash hotshoe and (Pro 70 users will love this) and flip out and twist LCD screen for viewing at any angle, and there's RAW mode images too.. There's lots more goodies in store, so come on in for the full story. (We have exclusive images, menus and other details). UPDATE: Sample Images online.
Vitals: 3.14 megapixels effective (2048 x 1536), 3 x optical zoom lens (F2.0 - F2.5), flip-out and twist coated LCD screen, flash hot-shoe, Compact Flash Type II, ISO 50 - 400, JPEG / RAW image format, InfraRed remote control. Front-on just a little bigger than a S10/S20.
Over the last few weeks Kodak have been trickling out "Shop @ Kodak" online stores for different countries. Now open on websites for the US, UK, Italy, Spain, Denmark and the Netherlands. In some regions you can't yet buy Kodak digital cameras through these sites (it looks as though the US site is now selling cameras direct) there are a good range of Kodak accessories available including CF cards, power adapters, lenses, card readers, paper, CD-R etc.
Thanks to William Chang from photography.com.hk for sending a note over that he has posted the first "hands-on article" of Olympus's Digital SLR the E10. He also has a couple of original sample images (the first full originals posted on the web as far as we're aware). So get over there and read his great preview and check out those samples...
I thought it would be timely to mention the use of Pro digital cameras at the Olympics. We can be sure that there'll be plenty of Kodak DCS's, Nikon D1's and Canon EOS-D30's (maybe even the odd S1 Pro or two) filling up storage cards and burning their way through rechargeable batteries over the next two and a bit weeks. Most of the major manufacturers will have support teams in Sydney and a few of them have setup Olympics information websites.
Someone just emailed me a link to a preliminary Nikon Coolpix 990 firmware 1.1 update. I feel it's my responsibility to warn you against trying to download / install this firmware even if you're told the link, Nikon have not yet officially announced it and it may still be open to update. It's obvious looking at the readme file that they haven't finished writing it. Patience. In the mean time we'll let you read what will be in this update. Nikon will make this update publicly available on 18th September.
Ofoto today announced integration of the PictureIQ service into their website enabling customers to enhance photos in-browser before sending them for printing or sharing them with friends. "...customers can perform one-touch instant photo fixing, cropping, rotation of pictures and apply special effects, such as changing color photos to black and white. PictureIQ technology ensures that enhancements made on screen translate straight through to the printing process, resulting in a true 'what you see is what you get' experience."
Sony's latest creation is certainly a head turner, ultra compact and beautifully designed it has build quality and solid feel you'd expect of more expensive "full size" cameras. And we can bring you a full in-depth review of this new digital camera. "Probably the most common comparison people will make with the P1 is to it's bigger brother the S70, as the P1 shares the same 3.34 megapixel imager, a 3 x optical zoom (although not Carl Zeiss) and very similar onboard software it really does look like a baby S70. However, there are some important differences". Review Now, Available October, Price $799.
Sony today announced their tiny DSC-P1. Althought not as small as their prototype "spy camera" it's still small, about the same height as Canon's Digital IXUS (S100) and a little bit longer, the big deal here is that the P1 has the same 3 megapixel CCD seen in the S70 & F505V AND a 3x optical zoom lens with an automatic lens cover (how did they ever fit it in there??). Other improvements seem to have been made, auto focus is said to be much faster as is zoom speed, and start up times of just 3 seconds. We have exclusive images of the camera, full specifications and a press release.
Canon France have set the MSRP price of the new EOS- D30 Digital SLR at 22,000 FF including taxes (18,395 FF excluding taxes). That (at todays exchange rates) is € 2,800 or US$ 2,430, excluding taxes. Canon Germany have set the MSRP price to 6,499 DM including taxes (5,459 DM excluding taxes) that's € 2,800 or US$ 2,420.
Just two weeks ago Kodak announced a range of new / improved CCD's. Today the NY Times (online) is carrying a story of a new prototype camera from Foveon which also sports a 16 megapixel imager, this time a CMOS device at a considerably lower price (according to them) than the Kodak device. They say "...able to capture digital images with a resolution of 4,096 by 4,096 picture elements - or pixels - per square inch. That, by some measures, is about twice the resolution of 35-millimeter film."
According to a study by InfoTrends wireless imaging is "an emerging frontier" in the digital photography and wireless telecom services markets. It's interesting to note the timing of this announcement just as Ricoh are releasing details of their RDC-i700 which indeed supports wireless communications cards and Internet protocols. "Hardware vendors are creating new types of image capture devices - from wireless Internet-connected digital cameras to lens attachments for mobile Internet appliances. Software vendors and online photo services are optimizing their solutions for handheld platforms. Perhaps most importantly, a host of companies are attempting to solve the problem of how to optimize and deliver images for viewing on multiple platforms. "
Last Wednesday we brought you news of Ricoh's new i700 digital camera with a touch sensitive 3.5" LCD panel and a FAX & Internet ready operating system (web browsing, email & HTML markup), there's a PCMCIA slot to take either a modem or ethernet card. On Monday Ricoh will announce this camera worldwide, Ricoh Japan have already put up their information page and some sample images.
Thanks to Huu Phuc, a forum contributor, for noticing a small detail on the Nikon-Image website, Nikon will be releasing firmware version 1.1 for download on September 18th. There aren't any specific details about what will be included in the new firmware other than support for some of the new accessories (MC-EU1 USB remote control, WC-E63 wide angle converter, ES-E28 slide copy converter). Obviously we're expecting some bug fixes and potentially new features but we haven't got any further details, yet.
Digitalkamera.de are carrying a news story about a new thermal sublimation printer from Sony which prints at 400 x 400 dpi on 10 x 15 cm paper (4 x 6") - max 2360 x 1560. The printer can natively support MemoryStick via a slot on the front and also supports other media as it has a PC Card slot. The printer can be hooked up to a TV for printer control and image selection. Supplied with a "printing pack" for 10 pictures at 10 x 15 cm. Priced at 500 EUR (~US$440) and launch in November.
The work of a professor at Columbia University has lead to the invention of a new approach to dynamic range on CCD's. This new system deliberately exposes neighbouring pixels of a CCD at slightly different levels, the theory being that if one pixel is over or under exposed information which is "nearly right" can be gathered from a neighbour. Interesting..."The computed image appears comparable in dynamic range to that produced by a high-end, professional grade digital camera,'' says Nayar.
As people "in the industry" know lots of big electronics companies do development / production work for some of the digital camera manufacturers (of course it's all nudge nudge we can't mention who). In a report from Bloomberg Kodak have confirmed that Sharp will produce digital cameras for them (I'll take a guess at the upcoming DC3800). "Kiyoshi Osaki, a spokesman for Kodak Japan Ltd., confirmed that Eastman Kodak is getting digital cameras from Sharp for sale in the U.S. He declined to provide further details."
Jeff Keller over at DC Resource has just posted a review of Kodak's familiar looking DC3400, here's what he had to say "The Kodak DC3400 is an updated version of the DC280 that we reviewed earlier this year. (Actually, I'm not clear on what's changed between the two models...It's a good camera, but not the best for the money. I compared the DC3400 to the Olympus D-490Z at the beginning of the review, and I'd say the D-490Z wins the battle hands down. If the Olympus had USB, it would be the perfect $500 camera."
Two new cameras from FujiFilm are seemingly upgrades to older models, the FinePix 2400 (September sale) replacing the 1400 now with a 2 megapixel CCD and the FinePix 1300 (October sale) now replacing the old MX-1200 now with USB and several enhancements. Interestingly neither of these new digital cameras use the SuperCCD.
UPDATE: Samples from FinePix 2400 online
Dave over at Imaging-Resource has compiled a set of Ofoto Albums containing their standard test samples from no less than 30 digital cameras, via links on the Imaging-Resource page you can select and order prints of these test images. If you've not joined Ofoto before (or you still have some left) you can use the 50 free 4 x 6 prints for some of these samples. Kudos to Dave for a great idea.
Canon today announced a prototype Canon EF 400mm f/4 DO IS USM lens, the prototype will be shown at Photokina 2000 (which we will attend) in Cologne, Germany, from Sept 20 - 25. A full commercial version of the lens should be available in the first half of 2001. Diffractive optical elements use a diffraction grating to alter the light path, this new 400mm lens is significantly smaller and lighter (almost 1 KG) than Canon's current 400mm f/4.
Today Y Media have announced the YM-3170A, a 1/2" 3.17 megapixel (2056 x 1544) CMOS sensor with a 3.3 µm pixel pitch which is aimed at "digital still cameras, video cameras and HDTV camcorders" (the inclusion last two kind of make you wonder what quality of image this device produces). It can also run up to 30fps @ 640 x 480 (for live video previews / movie capture).
Thanks to forums contributor Jim Cockfield for noting a new website from Olympus providing even more detailed information about their upcoming digital SLR the E-10 and it's fast shooting smaller brother the E-100RS. This new website is nicely designed with lots of info and downloadable PDF brochures. If you're interested in either of these cameras I recommend you have a look...
Thanks to Herb Hou over on the Taiwan based dcview.com for putting me on the trail of Ricoh's next 3 megapixel digital camera. Based on the RDC-7 the new RDC-i700 will have extended functionality, not least of which (a first in digital cameras) a 3.5" touch sensitive LCD display (to be used with supplied scribe) and supports Internet connectivity (another digital camera first). It will be possible to upload images and email images directly from the camera. This camera will go on the market in Japan on September 20th at 158,000 YEN (US$1,480). (Oh and you can browse the web, yeah ok so now you want one)
UPDATE: More information from Impress PC Watch.
Many thanks to forums contributor Matthew Williamson who recently acquired a 1 GB IBM Microdrive and has done some comparative Write Speed timing against a 340 MB Microdrive and a 160 MB Lexar 8X Compact Flash card using a Nikon D1. His results are interesting, especially if the introduction of the 1 GB pushes the price of the older 340 MB down it may be better to buy a few 340's...
Just had a note from Eric Hyman that he's now made the first official release of MacBibble v1.0 for OS8.5/OS9. Bibble is a tool for accessing, converting and manipulating Nikon D1 .NEF (RAW files) as well as JPEGs. "This release represents all the features of MacBibble being online. All of the power of the original Bibble are now yours to use in MacBibble, as well as some unique macintosh features (preview icons)"
Ever wondered why when you convert full colour digital camera images to black and white they just don't look the same as 35mm black and white film? Because black and white film reacts differently to differet parts of the colour spectrum, and most photo packages don't take this into account. But help is at hand! SilverOxide have a set of Photoshop plugins which can reproduce the look of various brands of B&W film from existing colour digital images. And it really works!
The UK company Chase recently released the CARDport Swift Syncro USB card reader. This handy card reader can accept SmartMedia, PCMCIA Type II, CF Type I/II (by adapter), MemoryStick (by adapter) and many other media into its dual slots. Small, light, functional and well priced the Swift Syncro is one of those accessories that will pay for itself in your saved time. We've had one in-house and have posted a review of it...
The monthly bi-lingual digital camera webzine Megapixel.Net have just released their September edition, under the reviewers eye this month are the Olympus D-490 Zoom, Minolta Dimage 2300, Pentax EI-200 (AKA HP Photosmart C618) and the Sony Mavica FD90. There's also an interesting article on colour correction.
Delayed, but now online Olympus's Camedia Gallery is currently showing images by three different photographers using the E-10 and E-100RS... And very nice they are too, unfortunately (and a bit of a let down after the wait) no full resolution samples are available.. And although there's an "Original Photo" area in the "Download" section of the website there's just a message saying they are "being prepared"... Oh, and the English pages aren't ready yet.. so it's all in Japanese at the moment.
In the "you get what you pay for" category. MegaVision have introduced the S3 Pro, a 3072 x 2048 single shot camera back
Just had word from Mike Chaney that he's released QImage Pro 9.0. This innovative image processing application grew from a simple NEF (Nikon RAW image format) converter and print layout application to an almost indispensable tool for digital camera owners. There are so many enhancements I can't fit them in this summary.. see inside for more details.
Carrying on their tradition of rebadging Fujifilm digital cameras, Leica have made public their Digilux 4.3. It's basically a Fujifilm 4700Z with a different badge, champagne case and rubber hand grip. Specification wise it's identical to the 4700Z. What's more interesting about the Leica offering is that there are two optional add-on lens systems, the "digicopy" for digitizing slide film and the "digimacro" for enhancing the Digilux 4.3 (Fujifilm 4700Z) macro abilities - quoted as "Objects down to 13 x 17 mm in size can now be photographed filling the whole frame." Shame about the "4.3" in the name.. that might suggest it had a 4.3 megapixel CCD...
Ever wanted to go for a swim with your S100/IXUS? Now you can, Canon's AW-PS 200 waterproof case will allow you to go down to three metres, it also protects the camera from the odd knock and is also dust proof. It's available now (in Europe at least) for 225 EUR (£ 140, US$ 200). Thanks to Digitalkamera.de for this article.
Canon Japan (BeBit) have today published seven JPEG samples from (according to my contacts) what is considered to be a production quality EOS-D30. These seven samples cover a variety of situations (including night and skintones). Don't forget, in addition to these samples we also have 26 sample images in our galleries from the D30, 4 of which taken in RAW.
UPDATE: Now with FULL exposure information.