News archive for March 2002
00:00 25/Mar Tokyo: I've just finished uploading the last few images which make up one of the largest reviews ever published here. Our full review of a production Canon EOS-D60 is now available. The review is spread over 25 web pages and covers almost every aspect of camera control, performance and image quality. This includes a detailed comparison to its older sibling the EOS-D30 as well as the benchmark six megapixel Nikon D1x. UPDATED: Added low light AF test (timings & sizes section).
Dale Gass, President of Pantellic Software (owner of failed photo sharing site Photopoint) has certainly featured in the headlines in the last few months and just a few days ago he gave an interview to CNET. Since then Mr Gass has contacted us and to his credit volunteered to answer our questions. "As far as selling my car and mortgaging the house to let people get access to their photos goes, I think that's a bit of a naive expectation. I poured my heart, soul, and dreams into PhotoPoint for the past four years, and did everything possible to keep it alive until the bitter end"
The Impress Digital Camera Magazine, a monthly Japanese publication, always provides a web page of sample images in conjunction with its latest printed copy. This month Impress DCM has posted a whole bunch of full size samples from a beta Canon EOS-D60, a Panasonic Lumix DMC-LC40 / DMC-LC5, Leica Digilux 1, Sony DSC-P71 / P31, Sanyo DSC-MZ2, Kyocera Finecam S3x, Olympus C-2 Zoom, Nikon Coolpix 2500 and Canon PowerShot A40.
Dale Gass, President of Pantellic Software (who bought back and ran PhotoPoint at the time of its demise) has given an interview to CNET. To quote Mr Gass, "Again, I think people underestimate the cost of keeping a site like PhotoPoint running. We see a lot of comments along the lines of: "They could have kept it up a week to let us get our photos." Unfortunately, that extra week represents tens of thousands of dollars in lease, bandwidth, salary, and so on that couldn't have been paid. It's not just a matter of leaving the server on."
We've managed to get our hands on a Japanese pre-production Fujifilm FinePix F601 Zoom. This is the 3.1 megapixel SuperCCD III successor to the popular FinePix 6800Z. The camera is one of just a few which have vertically orientated bodies, as is always the case with Fujifilm the design and finish on this camera is excellent with a full metal body and large automatic lens cover. A quick overview of the updates and a samples gallery are available.
SMaL Camera Technologies as today announced that Fujifilm Axia (a subsidiary of Fujifilm) will release a camera based on SMaL's Ultra-Pocket digital camera design and technology. The Axia 'eyeplate' weighs in at just 35 g (1.2 oz) including its built in storage and battery, features a 0.3 megapixel CMOS sensor (640 x 480 or 320 x 240 image sizes) and a fixed focal length lens. This camera is obviously both a bit of fun and an exercise in miniaturization. And I find it interesting that a company like Fujifilm have chosen to release it under one of their brands.
PMA 2002: Leica has today announced it's all new four megapixel digital camera the 'Digilux 1'. This camera features a 3x F2.0 - F2.5 optical zoom lens (sound familiar?), four megapixel CCD sensor, die-cast magnesium body, 3.8 frames per second continuous shooting, 2.5" 205,000 pixel LCD and SD/MMC storage. The Digilux 1 is powered by a supplied Lithium-Ion rechargeable and a slot-on LCD hood.
CeBIT 2002: Casio has today announced its ultra small, ultra thin 'Exilim' digital camera / MP3 player. There are two models both of which have the same digital camera functionality, the EX-M1 simply adds MP3 audio playback capability. Both Exilim have a 1.3 megapixel CCD, fixed 37 mm equiv. lens, internal RAM and SD/MMC storage slot, 1.6" TFT LCD and can take still images and movie clips. The EX-S1 weighs in at just 86 g (3 oz) without its battery.
Just posted! Our concise review of Sony's budget priced DSC-P71. The P71 was announced just before PMA this year as the top-of-the-line of three new budget level cameras 'P' digital cameras; DSC-P31, DSC-P51 and DSC-P71. The P71 is a three megapixel, three times optical zoom digital camera with similar looks to the DSC-P5 (but a larger body). The P71 is priced at just $399 which will make it very attractive to those on a budget or first time buyers, so how does it stack up?
We've just posted our full review of a production Nikon Coolpix 2500 (as far as I know this is the first review of a production unit). The two megapixel, three times zoom Coolpix 2500 was announced at PMA 2002 this year as Nikon's unique foray into the trendy, compact, yet affordable end of the digital camera market. The 2500 is a completely new camera yet has echos of its older split bodied siblings, with an internal twist mechanism the 2500 manages to keep the lens protected while still offering the flexibility of a lens which can be positioned freely. All this for under US$400, but how did it perform in our tests?
CeBIT 2002: 0800 GMT: Minolta has today announced the DiMAGE 7i as an update to its popular DiMAGE 7. The DiMAGE 7i keeps the same 7x optical zoom lens and 5 megapixel sensor. Major improvements are a re-styled hand grip, improved 'wide AF' with faster AF response and manual adjustment AFTER auto focus, LCD/viewfinder grid overlay, LCD/viewfinder live histogram, improved LCD viewfinder, maximum 1/4000 sec shutter speed, Ultra High Speed continuous mode (7 fps, 1280 x 960), two macro positions, wireless / remote slave control over Minolta flash units, improved saturation, contrast and exposure control and three new movies modes.
CeBIT 2002: 0800 GMT: Minolta has today announced the ultra-compact four megapixel, 3x optical zoom DiMAGE F100 digital camera. This is the first consumer digital camera to feature "Subject Tracking autofocus", the camera has a wide AF area and once the AF is locked the camera will automatically track the subject within the bounds of the scene. Another new feature on the F100 is automatic subject program selection (scene mode) which analyses the scene and decides which pre-defined exposure program to use. To my eye this camera has strong echos of Sony's DSC-P5 / P9.
CeBIT 2002: 0600 GMT: Canon has today announced the DIGITAL IXUS 330 (EU name) / S330 DIGITAL ELPH (US name). The DIGITAL IXUS 330 has the same 3x optical zoom, 2 megapixel CCD as the previous Digital IXUS 300 (S300). Just like the newly announced IXUS v² the 330 has a revised stainless steel body design, selectable ISO, spot metering, playback histogram, an orientation sensor, improved navigation controls, better Direct Print (CP-100, CP-10 and BJ S820D) and EXIF Print (EXIF 2.2) support. In addition there's also a new waterproof casing (WP-DC500) which enables the IXUS 330 to be used at depths of up to 30 m (100 ft).
CeBIT 2002: 0600 GMT: Canon has today announced the DIGITAL IXUS v² (EU name) / S200 DIGITAL ELPH (US name). The DIGITAL IXUS v² has the same 2x optical zoom, 2 megapixel CCD as the previous Digital IXUS (S110 ELPH) but now has a revised stainless steel body design, an orientation sensor, improved navigation controls, selectable ISO, spot metering, better Direct Print (CP-100, CP-10 and BJ S820D) and EXIF Print (EXIF 2.2) support. In addition there's also a new waterproof casing (WP-DC600) which enables the IXUS v² to be used at depths of up to 30 m (100 ft).
In a message posted on Kyocera's Japanese website the company informs those buyers who were expecting to be able to purchase the camera today that the sale of this camera has been delayed by 13 days. The new official sale date for the N Digital (at least in Japan) is now March 25th 2002. For those who don't know the Contax N Digital is the first digital SLR with a full frame (36 x 24 mm) sensor. The sensor is a six megapixel unit made by Philips. This camera was first announced in the summer of 2000, the camera is expected to go on sale for US$7,000.
Chris Dodkin and Anthony Blake, regular posters on our Canon SLR Talk discussion forum are organising the 'Dpreview Canon SLR Forum - Digital Day Out'. "It's time to dust of that digicam, and go take some pictures. This is the first UK meeting of the DPREVIEW Canon SLR Forum, at Twycross Zoo, Nr. Tamworth. A great chance to meet forum members, share ideas and experiences, and get some great shots of the animals at the zoo. Just pop along to the Digital Day Out web pages for a full plan of the day, location map and routes, along with details of the proposed pub lunch at the historic Cock Inn, Sibson."
Just a quick update to the article we ran last week about the price of the EOS-D60 in Canada and the UK. We can now confirm that Canon USA has announced its official pricing. State Stret Direct (our official affiliate) are now offering US$2,199 for the full EOS-D60 Kit (includes battery, charger and DC coupler) or US$1,999 for the EOS-D60 Body Only (no battery, charger or DC coupler). All previous orders will be adjusted to this new price. UPDATE: US$1,999 for the body only kit!
Pre-CeBIT 2002: Sony Japan has today announced the four megapixel sucessor to the ultra-compact DSC-P5, the new DSC-P9. In a joint press release covering the recently announced DSC-P31 and DSC-P71 Sony Japan has also let the DSC-P9 out of the bag. The new DSC-P9 has a 3x optical zoom lens, 4 megapixel sensor, expanded white balance settings, multi-point AF (although in automatic mode) and the new 320 x 240 unlimited recording time MPEG Movie HQX. We've had a DSC-P9 'in house' for a week or so now in preparation for a review, unfortunately at this time Sony are still tweaking image quality so we can't post samples.
Ian Burley over at DP-Now.Com has just posted an excellent and detailed review of Canon's S900 A4 Photo Printer. The S900 is the fastest A4 Photo Ink-Jet Printer available, but as Ian says "is there a price to be paid for all that speed?". "We do wonder if the extra speed of the S900 is the killer feature for buyers. The out-going S800 was already an impressively fast printer. Some other countries are getting an S820 model, which appears to be similar to an S900 operating at S800 speed."
State Street Direct Online, our official affiliate is now accepting pre-orders for the Canon EOS-D60, Nikon D100 and Sigma SD9. Placing a pre-order at this early stage will ensure you will be one of the first to own one of these new D-SLR's. Final prices for these cameras has not yet been set, when it does you will be notified and charged at the new price. Your order will help contribute to the upkeep of this site.
At the Focus On Imaging 2002 show last week in Birmingham Rollei had a mysterious camera in a glass case. It turns out that this camera is Rollei's latest foray into the digital realm. The d530 flex is a five megapixel with a non-removable three times optical zoom digital camera with a true TTL optical reflex type viewfinder (even has a micro-lens focusing screen). Curiously the camera only captures in RAW format. Storage is provided by a PCMCIA slot and playback on a 2.5" LCD monitor. This is a power hungry beast and requires no less than six AA batteries and is priced at £1,700 (inc VAT) - approx US$2,000 without taxes.
There's been a lot of debate on our discussion forums about the use of the "x 3" notation after the pixel count when describing Foveon's X3 sensors. After a meeting with Foveon at PMA they made clear that they feel that they conform to published JCIA (Japan Camera Industry Association) guidelines which say "For DSCs that use a plurality of image sensors, the number of image sensors and the number of effective pixels corresponding to each image sensor shall be noted." Obviously this standard was published before Foveon announced their new technology but the use of "x 3" does seems logical enough.
Matsushita Japan (known to us as Panasonic) has today announced that its ultra-compact DMC-F7 digital camera (2 megapixel, 2x optical zoom) which was announced with either silver or black body finishes will also be available in three additional colours. The new colours are gold (DMC-F7N), red (DMC-F7R) and blue (DMC-F7A). It's not clear at this stage if these new multi-coloured cameras are destined only for the domestic market (Japan).
In Canada at least... Canon has appeared to raise the stakes in the big Nikon vs. Canon poker game. We've just received word from a reliable Canadian source that the list price for the Canon EOS-D60 within Canada will be $3,500 CDN (exc. Taxes). This works out at about US$2,200 which is clearly a lot lower than the $2,999 quoted in the original Canon USA press release. If accurate and if these prices can be reflected elsewhere in the world this will certainly put a lot of pressure on Nikon and their pricing of the D100 (which is rumoured to be 'well below US$3,000'). UPDATE: We now have a receipt from one of our Candadian readers who yesterday pre-ordered a D60 at $3,500 CDN. UPDATE (7/Mar/02): UK Price is set at £2200 inc VAT.
PMA 2002: With Canon's announcement of the EOS-D60, Nikon's D100, Sigma's SD9 and the Fujifilm S2 Pro the market for digital SLR's has never been so open and so affordable. We're now faced with four very interesting digital SLR's from different manufacturers at either already announced or expected affordable prices. What could make it even more interesting is the fact that each D-SLR utilizes a slightly different type of sensor technology. This article provides a very quick features and specifications comparison to anyone considering one of these new D-SLR's. UPDATE: Canon USA has set the price of the EOS-D60.
Steve Sanders over at Steves-Digicams has just posted a first look review of Panasonic's four megapixel DMC-LC5. When announced this camera (along with the DMC-F7) marked a significant shift for Panasonic's digital line which was previously just the three megapixel 'iPalm' (which didn't do well). This new camera was designed in collaboration with Leica (indeed as far as we know Leica's Digilux 1 is simple a re-moulded DMC-LC5). Come in and see what Steve has to say. Comment: Questions about the origin of the lens.
PMA 2002: I've just put the finishing touches to our full "digital photography" PMA 2002 show report. The report covers no less than 32 manufacturers stands over 7 pages and includes many images of the show and products on display. There's a complete manufacturers index, new product index as well as our rating of the best stands and key products at the show. So, don't hesitate, get into the report and get down with what PMA 2002 had for the digital photographer.
Here's some non-PMA news for a change. Canon BeBit (Japan) has today posted another new version of their firmware for the EOS-1D digital SLR. This 'Noise Reduction ..second edition' firmware is said to take care of the single dark horizontal line sometimes seen near the top of high ISO images. According to Canon, "Significant noise reduction is possible by updating the firmware to Version 1.3.0. Further noise reduction is possible by employing the shooting method recommended in this guide.".
Troubled photo sharing and finishing outfit Photopoint has today posted an update message on its website which says "We have arranged for having members' accounts burned to CD. Online orders for these CD's at should be available here some time this week. Pricing will be $24.95 plus shipping and C.O.D. charges. Please stay tuned.". This confirms the information provided in their brief survey of users posted on the temporary pages. I'll not comment on this latest development, you all know where our forums are.
PMA 2002: The show's over and after a 12+ hour journey I'm finally back in London. This year's PMA proved to be far more exciting than last with lots of new product and technology. I'm also pleased that we were able to bring you an exclusive look at Nikon's new D100 D-SLR. As you can imagine I'm (just a little) worn out at the moment. But still the work goes on, Coming soon will be our full and final PMA show report with coverage of all the relevant stands and products. I hope to have this article complete and published by Sunday. Thanks for your patience.