News archive for January 2007
As the run-up to PMA starts in earnest Panasonic has announced a fairly major refresh of its compact Lumix range, starting here with the DMC-FZ8, which replaces last year's DMC-FZ7. The DMC-FZ8 ups resolution to 7.2 million pixels, adds a newly-optimised (we are told) version of the Venus III processor and throws Raw mode into the mix. The remaining spec (including the stabilized Leica DC Vario-Elmarit 12x zoom lens) is otherwise broadly unchanged. We've had an FZ8 in our hands for a week or so now and a review should be forthcoming very soon.
Next up are the twin replacements for the TZ1 'travel zoom' compact, the Lumix DMC-TZ2 and DMC-TZ3. At 6.0 and 7.2 million pixels respectively, both feature several enhancements over the original model, most exciting of which is a new 28-280mm (equiv.) 10x Leica DC Vario-Elmar lens (with OIS). The DMC-TZ2 also has a 2.5-inch LCD whereas the DMC-TZ3 has the larger 3.0-inch.
Panasonic is also giving its affordable LZ series a resolution boost in the form of the DMC-LZ7 and DMC-LZ65, replacing the LZ3 and LZ5, respectively. As well as upping the pixel count (to 7.2MP in both cases) the new models add several features and move the range to the Venus III processor. The only significant difference between the two models is the screen size.
Nikon has today issued firmware updates for the D40 and D80 digital SLRs. The D40 update contains a range of new features and fixes including issues with flash exposure and Auto ISO, the D80 update includes fixes for a retouching mode crash and improvements to long exposure NR. These updates can be downloaded and installed by owners.
Casio has today announced two new additions to its popular ultra-slim Exilim Zoom range. We start here with the 10.1-megapixal EX-Z1050, successor to the EX-Z1000. The EX-Z1050 is just a shade smaller and lighter than the EX-Z1000, features a wider aspect 2.6-inch LCD screen and increases sensitivity to ISO 800.
The third and final camera from Samsung is the i7, a curious model which appears in specifications to be the same as the i70 except that this model's 3.0" Touch Screen LCD can be rotated through 180 degrees, we presume to enable easier viewing of portrait images. It also adds SVGA MPEG-4 video capture capability and 512 MB of internal memory. It does appear that this model won't be available in North America but should hit European shores from mid-March this year.
The second new Samsung today is the NV11, a ten megapixel, five times optical zoom compact digital camera with a 2.7" LCD monitor, MPEG-4 video (VGA) and a highest sensitivity of ISO 1600. The NV11 also features Samsung's Face Recognition technology (this seasons favorite add-on feature). The NV11 is priced at $400 and should be on sale this Spring.
The first of three new Samsung cameras today is the L74 Wide. With a 28 mm wide angle lens, seven megapixel CCD, 450 MB of internal memory, MPEG-4 SVGA video recording and a 3.0" Touch Screen LCD it's good to see at least one manufacturer pushing the features envelope (if still with disappointing image quality). The L74 is priced at US$ 350 and should be on sale this Spring.
Just Posted! A quick review of a camera we've had knocking around for a few months now, Canon's top of the range IXUS/ELPH model, the 10 megapixel, titanium-bodied SD900 (IXUS 900Ti). Now we've finally cleared the backlog before we start looking forward to PMA, we promise this is the last Canon compact review for a little while...
At Photokina last September Hasselblad launched their '48 mm Full-Frame DSLR camera system' the H3D. At the time there were two models, the 22 and 39 megapixels, Hasselblad has now announced a 31 megpixel option; the H3D-31. Unlike the 22 and 39 megapixel cameras the 31 megapixel unit isn't quite "Full-Frame 48mm" as its sensor measures 44x33mm, however it does surpass them in another respect; it uses microlenses to improve fill factor and gain a stop of sensitivity; now up to ISO 800. Unless you win the lottery the H3D-31 is unlikely to be replacing your Digital Rebel as it's priced at US$ 24,995.
After being in beta for some twelve months Adobe has today announced the availability of Photoshop Lightroom 1.0 'Final' at an introductory price of $199 (until April 30; after that $299). This new offloading, browsing, organizing and editing tool promises improved professional workflow for everyone including easy to use pick/reject features and tagging. In addition Lightroom leverages Adobe Camera Raw meaning it can read and display hundreds of Raw formats. Photoshop Lightroom should ship in mid-February.
Today is Olympus day with the announcement of eight new cameras in the FE, Stylus (Mju) and SP ranges. Most interesting is the SP-550 UZ ultrazoom, boasting the world's first 18x (yes 18x) zoom capability. Covering an astounding 28-504mm (equiv.) range it is sure to appeal to travellers seeking a compact camera for all occasions. Also featuring CCD-shift Image Stabilization, a 15fps burst mode (1.2MP) and a 7.1 megapixel sensor, the SP-550 continues a legacy of innovative large-zoom cameras from Olympus.
Today also sees the announcement of the addition to Olympus's range of 'tough' cameras; the Stylus 770 SW (Mju 700 SW). Built to carry on after most photographers have run for shelter, the 770 is waterproof to 10m (33ft), shockproof* enough to withstand a fall of 1.5m (4.9ft) and happy in temperatures as low as -10 C (14 F). If you are in the habit of dropping cinderblocks on your cameras, the news that the 770 will withstand loads of up to 100kg (220lb) will come as a relief.
* according to MIL standards
* according to MIL standards
Next up is a new top-of-the-range addition to the entry-level FE range. The FE-250 boasts an 8MP sensor, 3x zoom and slim metal casing. It's also the first FE model to feature the company's 'Bright Capture' technology (nice name for an old idea; pixel binning to increase ISO). What makes the FE-250 stand out for us though, is that it scales new heights in sensitivity, offering an ISO 10,000 (yes, that's ten thousand) option (at 3MP). Now we may be jumping the gun here, but we suspect there may be some sacrifice in quality involved. Either that or Olympus has - in a £200 compact - re-written the laws of physics.
Just in case you didn't think Olympus already offered you enough choice in the affordable, slim, 7MP category here's another one. The FE-240 is actually pretty nice; 17.6mm thick and boasting a 5x zoom and 2.5-inch LCD for around £180. Thanks to its 1/2.5 inch sensor this one 'only' manages ISO 1000.
And finally, yet another 3x zoom, 7.1 megapixel compact from Olympus. This model, the FE-210, places the emphasis on economy and ease of use rather than headline-grabbing features. The 'one button, one function' places commonly used features within easy reach of novice photographers whilst 15 scene modes tune the camera's settings to particular shooting conditions.
Just Posted! Our in depth review of the Samsung NV7 OPS - which has taken a lot longer than expected due to faulty cameras and some fairly extensive re-testing to double-check some of our findings. The NV7 OPS is - on paper at least - an exciting product from the increasingly innovative Korean manufacturer, offering 7MP, 7x zoom, image stabilization and a feature list as long as your arm in a surprisingly compact body. And it's very aggressively priced to boot. Find out if the NV7 OPS lives up to its promise after the link...
Microsoft has today released a new 'Photo Info' tool designed specifically for digital photographers. After installation this tool provides a new option of 'Photo Info' on the Explorer context menu. The Photo Info dialog enables you to edit both EXIF and IPTC information in compatible image formats as either a single image or a collection. The Photo Info tool works on either Windows XP or Vista and is a free download.
Pentax introduces a couple of new cameras today, starting here with the T30, successor to the T20. The T30 ups resolution to 7.1 million pixels, ISO sensitivity to 3200 and is 0.5mm slimmer than its predecessor at just 19mm. Still sporting a 3.0-inch screen with touch display control and a 3x zoom but theT30 also throws Face Recognition AF and AE into the mix.
Sharp Japan has announced a new 1/2.5" CCD, now packing a frankly shocking eight million pixels into an area measuring just 5.8 x 4.3 mm it has a pixel pitch of just 1.75 µm which Sharp are proud to announce is the smallest in its class. Is this a good thing? I think probably not, as we will see manufacturers cramming this sensor into existing designs with average quality lenses and then claiming to deliver high sensitivities such as ISO 1600. Progress marches on, at least the marketing department will be happy.
Canon has today announced three new models in their affordable PowerShot A range. Slotting in at the entry-level, the PowerShot A450 and A460 replace the previous A420 and A430. Both sport 5.0 megapixel sensors and 3.2x / 4x zooms respectively. The A550 meanwhile enters the mid-range to supersede the A530, and offers a little more both in terms of features and control as well as increasing the pixel count to 7.1 million.
Sony has today revealed no less than four new seven megapixel digital cameras. First come two new W series the W35 and W55 both with three times zoom lenses but with 2.0" and 2.5" LCD screens respectively. Next the S650 and S700, again with a three times zoom lens and 2.0" and 2.4" LCD screens respectively. The four models range in price from US150 to US$200 and should be available in March.
Just Posted! We're finally sweeping up the last few Canon Photokina 2006 cameras with our Review of the SD 800 IS Digital ELPH (Digital IXUS 850 IS). The SD 800 IS builds on the successful formula established with the SD700 IS (Ixus 800) but adds an extra million pixels and a useful 28-105mm equiv. wideangle zoom. The SD700 IS was one of the better ultra compact P&S cameras of last year, find out if we liked the SD800 IS as much after the link...
Lexar has announced new SDHC cards in two speed categories; a standard line conforming to SDHC class 2* (Greater than 2MB per second) and Platinum II which is class 6* (Greater than 6MB per second). Both types will be available in 4GB capacity from February with 8GB to follow later in the year.
* Minimum sustained write speed
* Minimum sustained write speed
CES 2007: Zoran Corporation has today announced its new Coach 9 processor which will enable high quality DivX video encoding for digital cameras. 'By working with DivX, we are able to provide our OEM customers with high-quality video recording as a key product differentiator,' said Ohad Meitav, Senior Director, digital cameras at Zoran. 'In addition, consumers can enjoy the benefit of video compatibility with the tens of millions of DivX Certified DVD players and recorders powered by Zoran in the market today.'
CES 2007: Panasonic has today officially announced its range of 'Class 6 SD Speed' cards, an addition to the Pro High Speed SD card range. These new cards, available in 1, 2 and 4 GB capacities are 'Class 6' speed compliant, meaning they have a guaranteed minimum write speed of 6 MB/sec, they are capable of burst speeds of up to 20 MB/sec. In addition Panasonic has upgraded its existing card range to the next class (Class 4; 4 MB/sec minimum) and also revealed that they intend to introduce a 16 GB card this year.
CES 2007: Samsung has announced 7 new models today. Perhaps the most interesting is the S1050, which has the same styling as the NV10/NV7 launched earlier in the year, though without the innovative Smart Touch user interface. The S1050 is a 10MP model with a 5x optical zoom, lots of exposure modes (including A,S and M) and what Samsung describes as an 'Advanced Shake Reduction' system (but we know as an ISO boosting mode).
CES 2007: The second new S series camera from Samsung announced today is the S850, which - as the name implies - is an 8MP / 5x zoom model. As well as lots of exposure modes (including A, S and M) and a 2.5-inch screen the S850 sports face recognition technology and, once again, 'Advanced Shake Reduction' that features neither a moving lens element nor a shifting CCD...
CES 2007: Bringing up the rear of the S series launch are the twin S630 and S730 models featuring 6 and 7MP sensors, respectively, and 3x optical zoom lenses. Both cameras also sport 2.5-inch screens, MPEG-4 movie capture and a range of subject / scene mode. And yes, the same 'ASR' system as all the others...
CES 2007: The fifth new camera from Samsung today is the slim 7MP. 3x zoom model with a decent range of features - including face recognition technology, the Smart Touch interface, MPEG-4 movies, motion-triggered self-timer and a plethora of scene modes. The L73 will be available in black or silver.
CES 2007: Kodak has today announced three new digital cameras; the eight and ten megapixel V803 and V1003 and the entry-level six megapixel C653. The stylish rounded V803 and V1003 both feature a three itmes optical zoom lens, high sensitivity ISO 1600, 32 MB of internal storage, VGA (640 x 480) MPEG-4 video clips at 30 fps and Lithium-Ion batteries. We'll dock Kodak ten points for describing a high ISO mode as 'Digital Image Stabilization'.
CES 2007: Kodak has today announced four new digital (LCD) picture frames; a 10 and 8 inch with built-in Wi-Fi (EX1011 and EX811) and an 8 and 7 inch standard (SV811 and SV710). These picture frames are all capable of displaying JPEG images as well as video in MPEG-1, MPEG-4, MOV and AVI formats as well as playing MP3 music files. The Wi-Fi functionality in the EX1011 and EX811 models allows you to either display images from your local network or from an online 'Kodak Gallery'. All should be available in March at prices ranging from $280 for the EX1011 to $130 for the SV710.
Here at dpreview we're always pleased to see new technological innovations which lead to genuine improvements. However one thing which has become annoying is the increasing use of the label 'Image Stabilization' or 'Anti-Shake' to describe nothing more than a (noisy) high sensitivity mode. In our product database we only give a 'yes' flag to those cameras which implement image stabilization in the true sense, as either stabilization of a lens element or of the sensor itself (on a shifting platform) which allow you to take a blur free shot at slower shutter speeds. Some manufacturers prefix with 'Digital', however to the average consumer this isn't enough to correct what is a misleading and confusing description.
Pre-CES 2007: In addition to the three typical consumer cameras Fujifilm has also announced a specialized infrared sensitive version of the SLR-like S9100. The new IS-1 joins the quietly introduced S3 Pro UVIR in providing additional sensitivity to the infrared spectrum, used mostly for law enforcement and specialized scientific applications. Additionally you can purchase an add-on hot mirror filter to block IR light and produce results similar to a normal digital camera. Just like the S9100 the IS-1 has a 10.7x optical zoom lens and nine megapixel Super CCD sensor. The IS-1 will be available in February for around $900.
Pre-CES 2007: Fujifilm has announced a new addition to the growing FinePix 'F' range. The F40fd offers an increased pixel count (8.3 MP) and (perhaps because of this) a slightly lower ISO 2000 maximum sensitivity, and Fuji's new Face Detection system. Interestingly the F40fd has dual memory card slots (xD and SD), but lacks the F30's Aperture/Shutter priority modes.
Pre-CES 2007: Fujifilm has also announced a couple of additions to its entry-level 'A' series range. The A610 and A800 (6.3MP and 8.3MP respectively) are notable mainly for being the first A series cameras to sport Super CCD HR sensors and Real Photo processors. Like the F40fd (see above) both cameras have dual media slots (for xD and SD cards). Is this the beginning of the end for xD-Picture card?
Pre-CES 2007: Just three days in to 2007 and Pentax becomes the first company to announce a new digital camera. The Optio E30 is a body re-design and feature upgrade to Pentax's affordable (low end) E series digital cameras, it features a seven megapixel CCD sensor, three times optical zoom lens, 11 MB of built-in flash storage and movie clips at 640x480 resolution. The E30 should retail for around US$150 and will be available in February.
Canon has issued a safety notice to owners of its Powershot A530 and A540 cameras. Certain examples of these models appear to have a design fault involving the metal spring on the door of their battery compartment allowing it to cause a short circuit which may lead to reduced battery life and the possibility of overheating.