News archive for July 2005
Sony has been forced to slash its earnings forecast following a first quarter operating loss that has created 'almighty problems' for the electronics giant, reports The Times. First quarter net losses amount to around ¥7.3 billion ($69.4 m) forcing the company to dramatically cut its forecast earnings from ¥80 billion ($712 m) to ¥10 billion ($89 m). The problems are as a result of poor performance in its TV division as well as falling retail prices of digital cameras. Recently appointed chief executive Howard Stringer and president Ryoji Chubachi are expected to unveil a new strategy in September.
Pretec has announced the first 4GB SD in the world. The card is the newest addition of its high speed line of 133X SD cards, which are available in capacities ranging from 256MB to 4GB. It is also the fastest card, with access speeds of up to 20MB/s. It will be available next month priced $699 (approx. €578). The company also announces the availability of 2GB MMC 4.x card (MMC Plus) today. Pretec has slashed the price of its 12GB CompactFlash card by half price, from $9999 to $4999 (approx. €4136).
Fujifilm has today announced a new E series compact that offers 9 million effective pixels. The matt black FinePix E900, Fujifilm's 'power-packed compact', houses a 5th generation Super CCD HR, Real Photo Technology which is supposed to reduce noise at high sensitivity settings, ISO 80 - 800, 4x optical zoom (32 - 128mm equiv.) and boasts a 2-inch LCD. It also offers full manual control and RAW capture. Pricing and availability is yet to be announced.
Pentax has announced a new camera into the Optio range. The six million pixel Optio 60 will go on sale next month and is priced $200. The new compact offers full manual control, plus a 2.0-inch LCD screen. The Optio 60 is said to 'lower the learning curve' with a Simple Mode on the mode dial which automatically selects the best focus and settings for the scene. It also offers a 3x zoom (36- 108mm lens), which is pretty much standard on compact cameras.
Adobe has released a new 'lite' version of image management software program Photoshop Album Starter Edition. Version 3.0 is free to download an offers some of the features of Photoshop Album such as basic image editing, organization tools, and the ability to share your images in a slideshow or email them to family and friends.
Cardmedia Europe has announced a new addition to its portable storage range with the 30GB X'S-Drive 2 XL VP2260, which is priced £140. The device has a new long life built-in rechargeable battery for up to two hours use and the LCD shows file transfer status, battery power level and capacity left on the hard drive. It has three card slots which can transfer data from Compactflash, IBM Microdrive, SmartMedia, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, SD/MMC and xD-Picture Card media without adapters. A high speed transfer rate can copy data from a 1GB card in eight minutes. The X'S-Drive 2 XL VP2260 is available in 20GB to 80GB capacities.
Kodak is to cut up to 10,000 more jobs, while the company makes the tough transition from film to digital, reports the Altus Times. The announcement coincided with reports of a second quarter loss and shares dropped by more than 2%. The new cuts are expected to affect around 7,000 manufacturing jobs, many in Kodak's home town. Eighteen months ago Kodak announced that it would cut around 15,000 jobs over the next three years. Despite the fact that Kodak will add around 8,000 employees, the workforce will eventually number under 50,000 compared to 86,000 people it employed in 1998.
Electronics manufacturer BenQ has added some credence to its cameras by attaching a Pentax Super Multi-Coated (SMC) lens to them. The first two cameras to benefit from the partnership with Pentax are the E510 and E520, both five megapixels. The SMC system, which was developed in 1971, is suppoed to effectively eliminate surface reflection and flares and deliver sharper and clearer images. Both cameras feature BenQ's proprietary Senseye Technology which is supposed to greatly enhance color performance while significantly reducing image noise.
Panasonic has added three high capacity SD cards to its Pro High Speed, High Speed and miniSD ranges. First up is the flagship 2GB card introduced to the Pro High Speed range. It offers a data transfer rate of 20MB/s and will hit the shops in August with a price tag of €249.99 (US$299). The new addition to the High Speed range is the 1GB SD card available in August for €99.99 (US$119). And for mobile phones with built-in cameras there is a 512MB miniSD memory card, which can store music and images and will be priced €49.99 (US$59) when it hits the shops next month.
Pentax has announced that its profits fell by 42% in the fiscal first quarter, compared to the previous year, reports the International Herald Tribune. Net income fell to ¥261m (US$2.32) from ¥448m (US$3.97m) the previous year. The loss is blamed on ever decreasing profit margins on compact digital cameras and the company says it plans to focus on the "more profitable single-lens reflex digital camera to offset price declines in compact types" as well as "raise the pace of new model introductions to three per year from two, starting this year," says Fumio Urano, Pentax president. Urano said that the company will also cut 300 jobs in the next two years.
Industry analysts InfoTrends/CAP Ventures has reported that unit sales of digital cameras in North America hit a high of 22.2 million in 2004, and the number is continuing to rise. Although the pace at which the market is growing has slowed to 16% from 27%, the market is expected to reach 26 million units this year. Household penetration is also set to rise above half for the first time, at 55%. One of the biggest growth sectors is DSLRs. InfoTrends/CAP Ventures expects the consumer DSLR market to grow 81% in 2005. Research also shows that the market has matured greatly since the introduction of digital cameras nearly 10 years ago, and that by the end of this decade nine out of 10 buyers will be previous owners.
Canon USA has announced that customers with the Battery Grip BG-E2 used with the EOS 20D and 20Da, and a certain serial number range can return their grip/magazine for a free repair/replacement. This is due to a cases where even with fully charged batteries (exclusive battery pack or NiMH battery) or unused AA size batteries, only a few shots can be taken or 'bc' is displayed immediately.
German manufacturer Rollei has announced its offering for the 8 megapixel market with the dp8300. The metal-bodied compact offers a 36 - 108 mm 3x zoom lens, large 2.5-inch LCD, 5cm macro function plus 640 x 480-pixel movie mode which is limited only by the size of the memory card. The Rollei dp8300 will be on sale at the end of the month for around €349 ($422).
Sales of digital SLRs continue to rise and nearly doubled in the period 2003-2004, according to industry analyst NPD Techworld. PMA Sales of DSLRs rose from 277,796 in 2003 to 578,000 in 2004 and are on track to break records this year as 200,000 units had already been sold by April 2005. The 2005 PMA US Consumer Photo Buying report also reveals that 60% of DSLR owners are male, who are slightly older than compact digital camera users at around 48 years old, but younger than 35mm SLR users at 52
In further evidence of its commitment to digital, Eastman Kodak has announced plans to accelerate moves into the CMOS image sensor market after news of a manufacturing alliance with IBM. The recently available three and five megapixel CIS devices are intended for mass market products such as camera phones and digital cameras. The KODAK KAC-3100 and KAC-5000 Image Sensors incorporate Kodak PIXELUX technology, which is designed to improve image quality and performance, and offer more features than other CMOS-based image sensors on the market.
Extensis has released a free update for Portfolio 7 that adds support for several digital SLRs and compact cameras. The Portfolio Raw Filter 2 update adds support for 14 new cameras including the Nikon D2x, D2H, Olympus E-300, Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II, Digital Rebel XT, Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D and the Pentax *ist DS. Additionally, update version 7.0.6 also provides compatibility updates for Adobe CS2 and Apple Mac OS 10.4 (Tiger).
Olympus has announced the successor to the TIPA-winning C-310, which was only announced at PMA in February. The Olympus C-315 Zoom boasts a higher resolution at 5.1 megapixel but a slightly shorter 2.8x zoom. Looks-wise the C-315 is practically the same; 1.8-inch LCD and basic controls. Like its predecessor it's aimed at the 'ambitious' beginners. It will be available at the end of July.