News archive for October 2009
The strong Yen has resulted in fifth consecutive quarter of falling sales income for Canon's camera division, compared to the same period in previous years. Despite this, the company's operating profit and profit margin increased, prompting the company to improve its forecast for the next quarter. Total sales for the division fell 8.3% to ¥229 bn ($2,545m) once currency effects have been taken into account, though they actually grew 6.2% in the currencies they were sold in.
Kodak has reported that its business division that includes digital cameras suffered a 49% fall in sales (compared to the same period last year) in the third quarter of 2009. "Continued declines in consumer spending have had significant impacts in the company's digital camera and digital picture frame businesses," it said. The sales drop has primarily been due to a decline of approximately $157 million in intellectual property royalty revenues, the company said.
Nikon has introduced the 'Learn & Explore' app for Apple's iPhone in collaboration with the 'interactive agency' Molecular. Currently available only to US customers, the app gives photo enthusiasts access to images, video lectures and audio commentary from the company's website and enables them to read and bookmark articles from the Nikon World magazine. It is available for download from the Apple App Store.
Panasonic's eighth annual online LUMIX Award digital photo competition is now open for entries. Participants can submit one image per month under this year's theme 'Visualize music'. Each month a winner will be chosen and awarded a DMC-ZX1 digital compact. The overall winner for the single best digital photo will receive a DMC-GF1 Micro Four-Thirds camera along with tickets to see the Blue Man Group performance theatre troupe, while two runner-ups will receive a DMC-FZ38 compact. Entries can be up to 1200x1600 pixels and must be smaller than 2MB. The competition is only open to European entrants and runs until April 30 2010.
Phase One has released Capture One 5 PRO, the latest version of its RAW workflow software. It extends RAW support for additional DSLRs and digital backs and includes a host of new features including Focus Tool and Focus Mask that allows users to instantly assess and make selections from the focused area in images. It also features a new Skin Tone enhancer for smoother skin tones. Furthermore, users can now add vignetting to images, adjust individual color channels and edit an expanded set of metadata fields. The software is currently available for US $399 and €299 from Phase One's website with reduced-price upgrades for version 4 users.
Canon has said it is investigating an issue with its recently released EOS 7D digital SLR. In a service notice it says there is an occasional issue where traces of a preceding frame may be visible in images captured in continuous shooting mode. The company says it will release a firmware update to resolve the problem.
Fujifilm has announced the Remora Slave Flash kit for underwater flash photography, which is compatible with its line-up of digital compact cameras and underwater housings. The kit consists of the Remora Flash unit with a guide number of 20 and a flash beam angle of 60 degrees, a flexible arm and a fibre-optic cable. It also includes a built- in mount to for a focus light to pre-focus under water. The kit is available for £229 from Fujifilm approved Dive stores.
Toshiba has announced the development of a back-illuminated CMOS sensor suitable for compact digital cameras. The technology, as used by Sony in its Exmor R sensors, will now be used in a 14.6MP, 1/2.3" sensor. The company says it will start shipping the Dynastron-branded chip by the third quarter of 2010. It will initially produce 500,000 units and expand in response to demand.
Color management specialist Datacolor has released its Spyder3Print SR printer calibrator as a standalone product. The spectrocolorimeter-based calibrator, previously available as part of the company's Spyder3Studio SR monitor and print calibration system, is available for a suggested price of US $339. It promises fast and accurate color measurement and the simple creation of ICC printer profiles.
Steve Sasson, the man credited with inventing the first digital camera, has been awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Rochester for his work. Sasson developed the first prototype, with a resolution of 0.01 megapixels, in 1975 while working at Kodak and received a patent for it in 1978. Although the diagrams included in the original patent won't look too familiar, its description of 'a solidstate light responsive device' for image capture is instantly recognizable. Earlier this month, Sasson also received an 'Innovation Award' from The Economist magazine for the same work.
SanDisk has announced 32GB variants of its Ultra Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo and Memory Stick PRO Duo memory cards. The Ultra-branded Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo with read/write speeds of up to 30 MB/s will ship from November 2009 at a price of $279.99 while the Memory Stick PRO Duo is available now for $223.99.
Tamron has announced the availability of its 17-50mm f/2.8 Di II VC midrange zoom for Canon mount. This image stabilized version of the company's popular APS-C format fast standard zoom, announced in September, will ship from the end of this month. It is already available for Nikon with a built-in motor.
Nikon has announced version 1.5.0 of its ViewNX image viewing and editing software. The new version resolves minor issues and extends support to the recently released D3S digital SLR. It also enables location tagging via GPS logs from third-party receivers (including cellular phones) and supports Epson's E-Photo printing plug-in. Furthermore the software can also now run on Mac OS X version 10.5.8 and 64-bit versions of Windows Vista. Nikon has also updated its Transfer software to version 1.5.1.
Nik Software has announced a new version of its Viveza selective color and light control plug-in for Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom and Apple Aperture. Version 2 brings in a host of new features and improvements including global image adjustment feature that allows users to control most of the color and light adjustments in a single step.The plug-in will be available from December for $199.95 or $99.95 to existing users.
Pentax has released a firmware update for its K-7 mid-level DSLR. Version 1.02 adds a new Fine Sharpness 2 custom function for extra sharpness in images. In specific shooting conditions, it improves image processing performance and stability. The firmware is available for immediate download from Pentax's website.
Adobe has released a beta version of its Photoshop Lightroom 3 workflow and image editing software. Available immediately for free download from Adobe Labs, the new version includes features such as 'intuitive' importing, improved noise reduction, enhanced slideshows and direct online publishing options (such as Flickr).
Lensbaby has announced the addition of Fisheye and Soft Focus lenses to its Optic Swap system, offering focal lengths of 12mm and 50mm respectively. Both are compatible with Lensbaby's Composer and Muse body units, and Soft Focus can also be used with the Control Freak. The lenses both use Lensbaby's familiar removable disk aperture system, although unlike earlier optics, they do not feature a 'sweet spot' of focus. The Fisheye optic is now available for $149.95, while the Soft Focus Optic is $89.95.
Leaf has released the Aptus II 5 digital back. Priced at €5,995, the new back is expected to ship from November 2009. Phase One's 645AF camera body with 80mm lens can be purchased along with the back for an additional €2,000. With a total price of €7,995 for the camera system, we are seeing a trend of affordable medium format cameras trickling into the market. Featuring the fastest capture rate of 0.9 fps in the Aptus-II product line-up, the back includes a 22 MP sensor, 2.5 touch screen LCD, 12-stop dynamic range and 25-400 ISO range.
Mamiya has announced the price and availability of its new DM22 and DM28 medium format cameras. Priced at $9,995, for the body and 80mm f/2.8 lens D series lens, DM22 is one of the cheapest medium format camera around. The 22 MP camera has a 48 x 36 mm sensor and features true 16 bit/channel RAW files, dynamic range of 12 f stops and and an ISO range of 25-400. The 28 MP DM28 is identical to the DM22, except for its 44 x 33mm sensor and an ISO range of 50-800. It is priced at $14,990 for the body and 80mm f/2.8 lens and will start shipping along with the DM22 from November 2009.
As promised, Panasonic has today re-posted the latest firmware update for its Lumix DMC-LX3 digital compact. After a brief suspension, v2.1 which is the corrected version of the firmware previously available as version 2.0, is now available for immediate download via Panasonic's website. Version 2.1 offers a host of additional functions and improvements.
Just posted! Our lens review of the Panasonic Leica DG Macro-Elmarit 45mm F2.8 Macro ASPH Mega OIS (or, obviously, the H-ES045 for short). Rounding off our Micro Four Thirds mini-season, we take a look at this latest marvel of miniaturization, which shoehorns 1:1 macro focusing and optical image stabilization into a lens just 2.5" in each dimension. Click through to found out if it's a hat-trick of hits for Panasonic's September releases.
Cosina has announced the availability of its first Voigtländer branded lenses for Canon EF mount, in the shape of Color Skopar 20mm F3.5 SL II Aspherical ultra-wide angle lens and Ultron 40mm F2 SL II Aspherical pancake lens. Measuring just 24.5mm lengthwise, the Ultron lens is probably the most compact lens available in an EF mount to date. These two manual focus lenses are now available at a retail price of 58,000 yen and 53,000 yen respectively.
Lexar has announced the Professional 600x (90MB/s) UDMA CompactFlash memory card in 32GB, 16GB and 8GB capacities. The fastest CF card from Lexar to date, it is compatible with the new generation of UDMA-enabled DSLR's. The company has also introduced a new Professional ExpressCard CompactFlash reader, supporting read/write speeds of up to 133MB/s (886x). In addition, Lexar has also upgraded it's Image Rescue image recovery software to version 4.
Canon has announced the long-awaited successor to the EOS-1D Mark III. The EOS-1D Mark IV features a totally new 45-point autofocus system that's claimed to fix all the issues reported with its predecessor, and has been extensively tested by professionals prior to launch. The new model also sports 10 fps continuous shooting, a new 1.3x crop (APS-H) 16.1 megapixel CMOS sensor and 1080p HD video capture. Like the recently announced Nikon D3S, the EOS-1D Mark IV pushes the sensitivity barrier with a top rating of ISO 102,400.
Canon has announced two new Wireless File Transmitters for the new EOS-1D Mark IV and EOS 5D Mark II digital SLRs. The WFT-E2 II (for the EOS-1D Mark IV) and WFT-E4 II (for the 5D Mark II) allow photographers to transfer image files securely to a computer or server, control the camera remotely and connect to Wi-Fi enabled devices to view images directly from the camera. Unfortunately there's still no support for the faster 802.11n standard.
Leica has announced a delay in production of its new S2 autofocus medium format DSLR. According to the company, this delay has been caused by 'higher than expected' demand. To us it seems more likely that higher than expected demand for other recently announced Leica products may also be having a knock-on effect. The camera, announced at Photokina last year was supposed to hit the shelves this month, but will now be available from December 2009 (hopefully).
Canon has released the Easy Photo-Print App, which enables wireless photo printing via Apple's iPhone and iPod Touch to a compatible Canon PIXMA printer. The app allows users to print photos up to 8.5" x 11" on six different types of paper and make 20 copies at a time. The Easy-Photo-Print App is available for free from the Apple App Store.
Japanese software developer Ichikawa Soft Laboratory has announced a 'release candidate' version of its Silkypix Developer Studio Pro raw converter that supports Sigma's SD14, DP1 and DP2 digital cameras. The new version also extends raw suppport to most cameras including the Nikon D300S and Canon EOS 5D Mark II, and offers features such lens aberration controllers, noise reduction, color accuracy and batch processing. The Sigma RC will be available as a free download until November 30, 2009. The release candidate label indicates the update is tested, but not yet the finalized version.
Epson is claiming its new Ultimicron series of compact, high-temperature polysilicon (HTPS) panels will allow electronic viewfinders to offer the 'resolution and fidelity' required to fully replace optical viewfinders on digital SLRs. The new panel, which has just gone into mass production, offers a similar 1.44MP resolution (800x600xRGB) to the class-leading viewfinders in Panasonic's DMC-G1/GH1, but uses a color filter to prevent color breakup when panning or shooting fast-moving objects. The poor performance of most existing EVF technology when compared to reflex viewfinders is a major barrier to the adoption of mirrorless interchangeable lens system cameras, and Epson obviously has high hopes for a market segment that's expected to grow significantly during 2010.
Just Posted: Our in-depth review of the GF1 - the third model in Panasonic's Micro Four Thirds 'G' system. The GF1 squeezes much the same functionality as the G1/GH1 into a body that's roughly the same size as the Olympus E-P1. So how does it compare to the Digital Pen, and can it compete with similarly-priced digital SLRs? Check out the review after the link to find out...
The publication of today's Panasonic Lumix GF1 review sees the first use of our new, improved fixed studio shot, one of the cornerstones of a review format that, though always developing, has remained essentially unchanged for over a decade. The new studio setup (only the third major change since 2000) has been designed to tell us considerably more about a camera in a single shot - to find out more check out the explanation after the link.
The new Nikon D3S is the manufacturer's first full-frame DSLR to offer a movie mode, and with a whopping ISO 102,400 maximum sensitivity, is capable of capturing images in near darkness. Nikon was kind enough to leave us a pre-production model at the office so we could have a closer look at the new features and differences to its predecessor - the D3.
Nikon has unveiled the D3S professional DSLR. The new model is an upgrade to the popular D3 and comes with 720p HD video recording and a sensitivity range up to ISO 102,400 for improved low light performance. Images are captured on a new 36 x 23.9 mm CMOS sensor and buffer size has been increased for 48 RAW frames in one burst. Futher improvements include a faster contrast detect AF in Live View and in-camera RAW-processing. Body shape, quality and operation are virtually identical to the D3.
Nikon has also introduced an image-stabilised micro lens for DX format cameras, the AF-S DX Micro Nikkor 85mm F3.5G VR. Featuring a whole host of goodies, including an AF-S motor for fast silent autofocus, Nikon's second-generation vibration reduction (VR II) system, and a circular diaphragm for attractive background blur, this lens gives 1:1 magnification at minimum focus distance of 28cm. The 85mm focal length (equivalent to 128mm on full frame) also gives a flattering perspective for portraits. The optical design uses 14 elements in 10 groups with one ED element, and the internal focus design means the front element does not rotate on focusing, enabling the use of lens-mounted macro lights.
Epson has introduced the PictureMate Charm compact photo printer. With a print speed of 37 seconds for postcard size images, it sports a 2.5 inch LCD and memory card slots for a selection of media. It includes a built-in carry handle and an optional battery pack to enable portability. The printer features Auto Photo Correction and multiple print layout options. It will start shipping this month at a retail price of US $149.99.
Canon has posted a firmware update for its EOS Rebel XS (1000D) DSLR. Version 1.0.6 rectifies the issue pertaining to an "Err 99"- shooting not possible message. It also resolves other issues related to its LCD display, viewfinder information and freezing of the shutter release. The firmware is available for immediate download from Canon's website.
onOne Software, a maker of software and plug-ins for photographers has released a new version of its DSLR Camera Remote Server software, which allows users to remotely control Canon and Nikon DSLRs using their iPhone or iPod Touch. Version 1.2 extends support to the Nikon D300s DSLR and brings in a host of improvements and fixes.
Carl Zeiss has announced the Distagon T* 2/28 wide-angle lens in Canon EF mount, for both analog and digital EOS SLRs. This manual focus lens, with its large f2 aperture, is made up of 10 elements in 8 groups and uses a floating focus mechanism for high image quality across the full range of focus distances. It will start shipping this autumn for a suggested retail price of €965.55.
Adobe has introduced Photoshop.com Mobile as an application for Apple's iPhone. It enables users to view, edit and apply effects to images via gesture-based editing. Once edited, images can be uploaded to the user's Photoshop.com account for sharing or back-up purposes. The application is available as a free download from Apple's App Store.
Eye-Fi has announced the launch of its wireless memory cards in the UK. The cards allow users to wirelessly upload photos and videos within range of their Wi-Fi network. The Eye-Fi Home Video, Share Video and Pro SDHC cards in 4GB capacities will be available from October 11, 2009 at a retail price of £49.99, £69.99 and £119.99 respectively.
Just Posted: Our hands on-preview of the Leica X1. This retro-stlyed compact promises SLR-level imaging with its fixed high quality lens and large APS-C sensor, but in a much more portable package. We borrowed an early sample camera from Leica for a week to take a close look at its design and operation.
Two physicists who co-invented the CCD image sensor have been rewarded with a share of this year's Nobel Prize for Physics. Willard S. Boyle and George E. Smith developed the charge-coupled device in 1969 while working at Bell Laboratories, producing the world's first solid-state video camera just a year later. Each receives a quarter share in the $1.4 million prize.
Just Posted: Our in-depth review of the Pentax K-7. When it arrived in May we were impressed by the way the K-7 managed to squeeze all the features of its predecessor and a handful of new tricks into such a compact package. It still has a 14.6 megapixel CMOS sensor but gains a new metering system, revised autofocus, a faster shutter mechanism, a high resolution LCD, faster continuous shooting and the ability to shoot HD movies. And, as that svelte little magnesium alloy body has been passed around the office, it's continued to leave a good impression. So, how did it fare in our studio tests?
Sigma has announced the DP1s digital compact camera, a slightly revised version of its DP1 large-sensor compact camera. Featuring the same sensor and processor as the DP1, it assigns the QS (Quick set) function from Sigma's DP2 to its digital zoom button and the ability to simultaneously shoot separate RAW and JPEG images. The company says it also performs better when shooting backlit subjects.
Panasonic has suspended the availability of the firmware update for its Lumix DMC-LX3 digital compact camera. Version 2.0 was meant to bring a host of additional functions as well as feature improvements for the 14-month-old camera. A revised update will be available 'around October 20th' the company says.
Fujifilm has announced the US price and availability of its 3D imaging system including the W1 digital camera, V1 picture viewer and 3D prints. The W1, is now available for a retail price of US $599.95 and the digital viewer is available for US $499.95. 3D prints will be made available from mid-October, through the company's printing website SeeHere.com for approximately US $6.99 per print.