News archive for July 2010
Panasonic has released firmware updates for its DMC-LX3 premium compact, and the DMC-TZ7/ZS3 and DMC-TZ6/ZS1 compact superzooms. The company has not provided any information about the updates' actions beyond the slightly obscure 'Optimization of software processing. Change in software version has no effect on camera performance.' Firmware v2.2 for the LX3 and v1.3 for the TZ7 and TZ6 are available for immediate download from Panasonic's website.
Sinar has announced the 'p-slr' system that allows DSLR owners use their camera bodies as digital backs with the company's view camera system via an adapter. Currently compatible with Canon and Nikon cameras, the system gives access to a range of medium format and view camera lenses and accessories such as bellows, filters etc. An included 'Quick Clamping' adapter also allows users to easily change the orientation of the camera body from landscape to portrait and vice versa. The p-slr system comes in various combinations of mounting brackets, bellows and the Quick Clamping adapter, and a number of optional accessories. It will be available from next month at a retail price of 1980 Swiss Francs (~ €1440).
Just Posted: Our review of the Sony Alpha 390. Sony's latest DSLR is a minor upgrade to the A380, but Sony has made some important ergonomic changes that should make the new model easier to get to grips with (literally). At the core of the A390 is the same 14Mp CCD sensor as the A380 and A350, from which the A390 also inherits its innovative Fast AF Live View mode. Is a new handgrip enough to make the A390 stand out from the crowd? Check out our review and sample gallery to find out...
Samsung has introduced the ST80 Wi-Fi enabled digital camera allowing users connect to wireless networks for uploading or emailing images and videos. A simpler version of the company's CL80 and CL65 Wi-Fi cameras, it has a smaller 3.0" touch-screen LCD and more limited un-stabilized 3x zoom lens with no real wide-angle capability (35-114mm equiv.) rather than the existing models' 7x and 5x stabilized zooms. Beyond this, it continues to offer 720p HD video recording with H.264 compression. The ST80 will be available from September 2010 at a suggested retail price of $249.99 in charcoal black, white, fuchsia pink and mint blue.
Panasonic has announced it is developing a digital 3D interchangeable lens for the Micro Four Thirds system, to be launched by the end of the year. The lens will include two optical paths, projecting left and right image pairs onto the camera sensor. These twin images can later be combined to provide a single 3D image using the company's 3D image processing system and displayed using one of its Viera televisions. The company says it will be the first such lens for a digital system.
Pentax has posted a firmware update for its K-7 mid-level DSLR. Version 1.10 adds in-camera movie editing options via its playback mode, an electronic level and a Reversal Film mode to the K-7. Additionally, autofocusing in live view can now be activated by half pressing the shutter. The latest firmware is available for immediate download from Pentax's website.
Just posted: The star of the show amongst Sony's trio of newly announced lenses is undoubtedly the Carl Zeiss-branded Distagon T* 24mm F2 SSM. We've had a pre-production sample on loan from Sony for the past couple of days, and have put together a detailed preview. We've also shot a small samples gallery, using both full frame and APS-C cameras, to give you an initial flavor of its capabilities.
Sony has released three prime lenses for its Alpha SLR system. First up is the eagerly-awaited Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 24mm F2 SSM, which we saw in prototype form at PMA. Designed as a fast wideangle for full frame, it also offers a classic 35mm-equivalent field of view on APS-C. Second we have the DT 35mm F1.8 SAM, a fast normal lens for APS-C. Finally this is joined in Sony's newly-christened 'Easy Choice' range of inexpensive primes by the 85mm F2.8 SAM, a compact 'portrait' telephoto that works on both APS-C and full frame cameras. All of these lenses can also be used on the NEX mirrorless cameras via the LA-EA1 adapter, although in manual focus mode only. The 24mm and 85mm lenses will start shipping from late September at retail prices of €1,250 and €250 respectively, followed by the 35mm which will be available from mid-October at a retail price of €200. With regards to the US price and availability of the three lenses, the company says, “Announcement for US market is not being made at this time, but will be made closer to the products’ market introduction.”
Novoflex has announced the EOS/NIK-NT lens adapter for using Nikon F mount lenses without aperture rings on Canon EOS bodies. The -NT version differs from the existing EOS/NIK adapter through the addition of a lever that lets users control the aperture on Nikkor G-series lenses. The adapter provides a mechanical connection between the lens and the body but retains automatic metering for aperture priority mode and allow focusing to infinity. According to the the company's US distributer, HP Marketing it is available at retail price of $292.99.
Just posted! Our lens review starring the world's first optically-stabilized ultra-wide zoom: the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm 1:4G ED VR. Conceived as a relatively inexpensive alternative to the highly-regarded AF-S 14-24mm 1:2.8G, this lens features Nikon's latest 'VR II' stabilization unit in a high quality magnesium alloy body. We've put it through our usual battery of tests to see how it performs.
Just posted: our review of Adobe Lightroom 3. It's been more than three years since Adobe introduced the first version of Lightroom - its raw processing and workflow tool aimed specifically at photographers. In June 2010 the company released the third version which represented the biggest update the software has yet seen, including the incorporation of an entirely new raw processing engine. We've been using the latest version extensively and have prepared a eight-page review assessing its usefulness as a tool for photographers. We've also looked at its relationship with the rest of the Photoshop family and, most importantly, how its output compares to that of its rivals.
Canon has posted a firmware update for its EOS 7D digital SLR. Firmware v1.2.2 fixes AF point selection and display bugs occuring under specific shooting conditions, and also addresses an error in movie mode. It also corrects misspellings in the Spanish and Thai language menus. The firmware is available for immediate download from Canon's website.
Samsung has launched 14.2MP versions of its dual LCD compact cameras in the shape of the ST600 and ST100. Both feature larger 3.5" rear LCDs and slightly bigger 1.8" front LCDs compared their DualView predecessors (known as 2View in Europe). The ST600 comes with a 5x image stabilized zoom starting at a useful 27mm equivalent, while the ST100 comes with a 35-175mm equiv. lens. The ST100 is a departure for the DualView series, being a card-style camera built around a periscope lens. Both cameras are designed around touch-screen interfaces. The ST600 and ST100 will be available from September at a retail price of $329.99 and $349.99 respectively.
Just posted: full sized images from the Panasonic DMC-LX5. We had the chance to shoot with the newly-announced LX5 and have prepared a 24 shot gallery of images. We intentionally shot at a variety of apertures, ISOs, focal lengths and aspect ratios to give a flavor of what the camera can do. The images were taken with a pre-production camera, so may not be representative of final, production image quality.
Panasonic has officially unveiled the DMC-LX5, successor to the popular LX3. The latest model features a revised sensor, longer zoom range and improved control layout without fundamentally changing the existing model's formula. It offers a more flexible 24-90mm equivalent lens with a bright F2.0-3.3 maximum aperture range and a comparatively large 10MP sensor in a small body. The body itself is barely changed compared to the LX3 - gaining an improved hand grip, clickable control dial, direct movie record button and a 1:1 position on the aspect ratio slider. Most significantly it gains a connector to add the DMW-LVF1 electronic viewfinder originally launched with the GF1. Other than this, the LX5 gains the AVCHD Lite format for its 720p video, and its image stabilization is branded with the company's latest 'Power O.I.S' designation. It will be available from the end of August for a suggested retail price of $499.95. We've had a chance to use an LX5 for a bit, so have prepared some notes on our first impressions.
Fujifilm has unveiled the FinePix F300EXR which debuts a new Hybrid autofocus system that the company claims is as fast as that on DSLRs. The camera automatically chooses between using the contrast-detection AF method used in compact cameras and the phase-detection method usually used in DSLRs. In addition the F300 offers a 15x optical zoom lens starting at a wide 24mm, a 1/2" 12MP Super CCD EXR sensor and a 460k 3.0" LCD. The camera's image stabilization system has also been tweaked, adding a 'Gyro' sensor to detect a wider range of camera movements that can contribute to shaky images. Other features include manual exposure modes, 360 degrees Motion Panorama and a Super Intelligent flash that attempts to balance flash illumination across the foreground and background.
Panasonic has released the Lumix DMC-FZ100 super-zoom digital camera with Full HD AVCHD video recording. With a 24x zoom lens (25mm - 600mm equiv.), 14.1 MP CMOS sensor and 460K dot 3.0 inch tiltable LCD, it includes features such as Image Stabilization, the latest Venus Engine FHD processor and P/A/S/M shooting modes. It also offers the industry's fastest full resolution burst shooting using a mechanical shutter at 11 fps. The camera is designed with a focus mode switch on the lens barrel, and a rear jog dial for better control while shooting manually. It will be available from the end of August for a suggested retail price of $499.95. Now with demonstration of zoom range added.
Fujifilm has released the FinePix Z800EXR premium ultra-compact. A successor to the Z700EXR, the camera features a second-generation EXR CCD that incorporates sensors for the company's new Hybrid autofocus system. The camera automatically chooses between using the contrast-detection AF method used in compact cameras and the phase-detection method usually used in DSLRs to offer DSLR-like autofocus times. The camera also inherits the 3.5" touch screen LCD and 5x (35-175mm equiv.) optical zoom lens from its predecessor.
Along with the DMC-FZ100, Panasonic has also announced the Lumix DMC-FZ40 superzoom (FZ45 in Europe). Slotting in where the FZ38/35 left off, it features the same 25-600mm equiv. lens as the FZ100, but with a 14.1MP CCD sensor and simpler 230K dot 3.0 inch fixed LCD (as opposed to the FZ100's CMOS sensor and high-res screen). The FZ40 also offers AVCHD Lite 720p HD video recording, manual shooting modes and 'Sonic Speed' auto-focus system that the company says offers the industry's fastest focus times. The European FZ45 version is limited to 29 minutes video recording. It will be available from the end of August for a suggested retail price of $399.95.
Panasonic has announced the Lumix DMC-FX700 touch-screen digital compact, featuring a stabilized wide angle 5x zoom lens (24-120mm) with a semi-fast F2.2-5.9 maximum aperture range. The camera reduces buttons to a minimum, instead depending on its touch-sensitive 3.0" screen. It also offers full 1080i AVCHD video and 10 fps full resolution burst shooting. Other features include P/A/S/M shooting modes and the latest Venus Engine FHD processor.
Panasonic has announced the Lumix DMC-TS10 rugged compact camera (known as the FT10 in Europe). A simpler version of the DMC-TS2, it sports a 35-140mm equivalent 4x optical zoom lens, and is certified waterproof at depths of up to 3 meters /10 ft and shockproof for drops of up to 1.5 meters /5 ft (as opposed to 10 meters and 2 meters repectively for the FT2). The rest of the features remain the same, including a 14.1MP CCD sensor and a 2.7" LCD. It will be available from mid-Septemeber for a suggested retail price of $249.95.
Fujifilm has announced what it claims to be the world's smallest 18x zoom camera in the shape of FinePix S2800HD. It appears to be a 14MP version of its existing S2500HD/S2600HD model, using the same 28-420mm equivalent zoom lens and 3.0" LCD. It offers standard 720p HD video recording alongside features such as AF tracking and Panorama Shooting mode, and is powered by AA batteries.
Olympus has released an updated version of its 'ib' image editing software. Version 1.2 adds video-editing features including creation of movie slideshows. It also adds the ability to perform color management. The update can be accessed via the software's update feature or can be downloaded from the company's website.
Ricoh and Samsung have announced firmware updates for the GXR system and TL500/EX1 enthusiast compact respectively. Ricoh's update, covering the A12 50mm equiv. macro, S10 24-72mm equiv. and P10 28-300 equiv. zoom lens units, fixes bugs and brings in a few improvements. Meanwhile, firmware version 006291 for the Samsung EX1 and v.006254 for the TL500 are bug-fixes - correcting an error when the camera is turned on with the playback button and contributing towards system stability.
Sigma Corporation of America has announced that the Sigma 17-50 F2.8 EX DC OS HSM is now available. The lens, originally announced at the PMA exhibition in February 2010, offers a faster, image stabilized alternative for APS-C users wanting to upgrade from their kit lens. It is now available in Canon mount with Pentax, Sony, Nikon and Sigma-mount versions expected 'in the coming weeks.' The lens will sell with a recommended price of $980/£649.99.
Two months after announcing its development, Sony has launched the NEX-VG10E - an E-mount camcorder that becomes the worlds' first consumer-grade HD camcorder with interchangeable lenses. Although appearing under Sony's Handycam brand, rather than Alpha, it retains a lot in common with the Alpha NEX series. It features the same 14.6MP Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor but is capable of recording 1080i video at a higher, 24mbps, bitrate. The NEX-VG10E also features an electronic viewfinder and 'Quad Capsule Spatial Array Stereo Microphone' that uses four microphone elements to provide better channel separation and cancel unwanted noise. In every other respect it is essentially a NEX 5, featuring the same user interface (though with more external controls) and both SD and MemoryStick storage. It will sold as kit with image-stabilised E18-200mm F3.5-6.3 OSS lens and will be available a suggested retail price of €2000 / $2000.
Paris-based software maker Oloneo has launched a beta version of its image processing suite called PhotoEngine for Windows that includes raw processing, HDR merging and a method for combining images shot under different lighting conditions to give control over the individual light sources. The software is based around a 32-bit per channel wide color gamut that allows users to edit tonal range and color with minimum data loss. PhotoEngine Beta 1 is available immediately as a free download from the company's website.
Just Posted: Our review of the Sony Alpha 390. Sony's latest DSLR is a minior upgrade to the A380, but Sony has made some important ergonomic changes that should make the new model easier to get to grips with (literally). At the core of the A390 is the same 14Mp CCD sensor as the A380 and A350 and the A390 also features the same innovative Fast AF Live View mode. Is a new handgrip enough to make the A390 stand out from the crowd? Check out our review and sample gallery to find out...
Just Posted: Our review of the Samsung TL500 (EX1 in Europe). The future of the enthusiast compact camera is under threat from the small mirrorless cameras that are starting to encroach on their territory. However, the Samsung TL500's smaller sensor (compared to the mirrorless models) means the company has been able to include a lens that not only offers a useful 24-72mm equivalent range but also a phenomenally bright F1.8-2.4 maximum aperture range. This lens flexibility is combined with a tilt/swivel OLED screen in a package smaller than any mirrorless camera with zoom lens. So does the camera live up to the promise of its specifications?
Sigma has set the suggested retail price of its latest 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM lens at £1500. Announced in PMA 2010, the lens will be available from July 23 in Canon EF mount. The lens features a new optical design that uses two elements made of the company's recently developed 'FLD' glass plus three SLD glass elements to reduce aberrations, a 9-blade circular aperture, and features full-time manual focus override. The lens is designed for full frame cameras but comes with a lens hood adapter to provide better shading for APS-C cameras.
Sony has unveiled the Cyber-shot DSC-WX5, DSC-TX9 and DSC-T99 digital compacts. The WX5 and TX9 incorporate the company's latest 12.2MP, 1/2.3" Exmor R back illuminated CMOS sensor. Both feature a 'Superior Auto' mode that shoots bursts of between 2 and 6 shots then combines them either to reduced noise or boost dynamic range, depending on the scene you're shooting. The WX5 includes a wide angle 5x optical zoom lens starting at 24mm equivalent and a 2.8" LCD, while the TX9 comes with a 3.5" touchscreen LCD and a 25-100mm equivalent lens. Other features include a Background Defocus mode, 3D Sweep Panorama mode and 1080i Full AVCHD video recording. The DSC-T99 features the same lens and body design as the TX9, a smaller LCD and a 14MP CCD sensor that cannot achieve the fast multi-shot shooting required for Superior Auto mode. All three cameras offer a Soft Skin mode that tries to smooth out wrinkles and other blemishes from the subject's skin.
Lexar has announced a Facebook based sweepstake with a chance to win either a Canon 7D or Nikon D300S DSLR kit with Lexar memory cards and reader. To enter the 'Take the Next Shot' sweepstake participants need to submit a 'favourite' photograph along with a 15 word caption and click on the 'Like' button in the company's Facebook page. Entries need to be submitted before July 31, 2010.
Canon has released firmware updates for its EOS-1D Mark IV and EOS Rebel T2i/550D digital SLRs. Firmware v1.0.8 for both cameras fixes a bug in the movie mode. The update for the EOS 1D Mark IV also corrects misspellings in the French and Spanish language menus. The latest versions are available for immediate download from Canon's website.
Just Posted: Our group test of the latest 'super zoom' cameras. Despite entry-level DSLRs getting cheaper and cheaper the super zoom models are as popular as ever. This latest generation comes with up to 30x zoom lenses, HD video recording and, in some cases, high speed stills and video capture. We've taken 9 super zoom cameras from the leading manufacturers and put them through the usual dpreview test procedures. Read our group test to find out which one is the best superzoom to take to the soccer pitch or on safari this summer.
A few days before the release of Unified Color Technology's HDR Expose software, we got a chance to speak to the company's marketing director John Omvik. He told us how different it is from the previous HDR PhotoStudio software, what's in store for high dynamic range users and how will they can benefit from the new features.
HDR software maker, Unified Color Technologies has unveiled the HDR Expose 32-bit HDR merge and editing software. It replaces the company's flagship HDR PhotoStudio software, but inherits its core features and technology. Headline features include the addition of de-ghosting algorithms and a Brightness Histogram to help maintain highlight and shadow details at lower bit-depths. It also includes new plug-ins allowing direct export from third party Raw conversion software. The software will be available from July 12, 2010 as a free upgrade to existing users of HDR PhotoStudio or for an introductory price of $99.00 for new users.
Tokina has announced that its 16-28mm F2.8 ultra wide angle zoom lens will be available in Nikon and Canon full-frame mounts. Announced at PMA 2010, the AT-X 16-28 F2.8 PRO FX lens features the company's newly developed AF system that features a quieter Silent Drive-Module (SD-M) autofocus motor and promises more precise focusing. The weather-sealed lens comes with a fixed lens hood and does not incorporate a filter thread. Priced at ¥123, 900 (~ US $1400) the Nikon mount will start shipping From August 6, 2010 while the Canon version will ship from mid-September.
Just posted! A quick sample gallery of 49 shots taken with the latest lens / sensor module for the Ricoh GXR system, the P10 28-300 mm F3.5-5.6 VC. Sporting a 10.7x wide-to-tele zoom and a ten megapixel 1/2.3" back-illuminated CMOS sensor, the P10 unit offers an interesting alternative to the 'travel zoom' compacts reviewed in our recent group test. We took the new unit on a flying visit to South Africa to put it through its paces.
Print-on-demand book publisher Blurb's third annual international Photography Book Now competition is now in the final phase for submissions - the deadline being July 15, 2010. The competition has had 880 book submissions to date. As the company's founder and CEO Eileen Gittins was on visit to sunny London, we took the opportunity to talk to her about Blurb - how it works, who uses it and what they get out of it.
Sony has released the promised firmware update for its NEX cameras adding 3D Sweep Panorama mode. This mode separates the left and right edges of the individual image used for creating panoramic shots. It then uses these slices' differing perspectives to create a 3D still image that can be played back if you buy one of the company's Bravia TVs. Firmware version 02 also includes bug fixes and promises to improve camera performance including quicker start-up in low light conditions. The updates are available for immediate download from the company's website.