News archive for May 2011
Just Posted: Our review of the Nikon Coolpix P300. The P300 is interesting in the way it straddles camera classes - offering enthusiast camera features such as twin control dials and PASM shooting modes but built around a smaller sensor than its apparent peers. This smaller sensor and inability to record Raw files mark it out from the likes of the Canon S95 and Samsung's EX1 but, then again, so does its much more affordable price tag. So does this leave the P300 with the right balance of price and capability or leave it falling short of expectations? Read our concise review to find out...
Fujifilm is to update the firmware of its X100 large-sensor compact camera to address some of the criticisms raised in our review. The statement from Fujifilm Japan says: 'Fujifilm is planning to release a new version of firmware in the near future. The new firmware will include and respond to some of functionality posted by dpreview.' We will, of course, revisit our review in the light of these changes, when the update becomes available.
Canon has updated the firmware for its EOS-1D Mark IV and EOS 5D Mark II digital SLRs. Firmware versions 1.1.0 and 2.0.9 respectively both improve read/write speeds with UDMA 7-compatible CF cards, and also correct minor bugs and menu language errors. The firmware will be available for download from Canon's regional websites.
Datacolor has introduced an app for the Apple iPad that allows you to use its Spider3 color calibration system to calibrate the tablet's screen. The free SpyderGallery app can be used with both the iPad and iPad2 and allows all the images on the device to be viewed within a single color-corrected gallery. The app requires you to own the Spyder3 calibration tool (Express, Pro or Elite) and have access to a WiFi network. It is available for download now from the Apple's App Store.
Just Posted: Our review of the Sony DSLR A580. With all the progress Sony has been making with its mirrorless and 'translucent' mirror technologies, it's easy to overlook the company's continued development of its two-sensor liveview DSLRs. The A580 is the latest (and possibly last?) in a line that started with the promising but quirky A350. The A550 was a big step forwards for these feature-packed enthusiast DSLRs and the A580 takes this progress further with the addition of Sony's excellent 16MP sensor. Offering all the usual Sony processing cleverness - such as sweep panorama, in-camera HDR and multi-shot noise reduction - the only apparent cloud in its sky is the existence of the less expensive, full-time liveview sister model, the SLT A55. So, with an in-house competitor threatening to steal the A580's liveview crown, can its more conventional DSLR design offer the best of both worlds?
Hasselblad has announced a camera capable of producing 200MP images based on shifting its 50MP sensor. The H4D-200MS uses an extension of the company's sensor-shift, multi-shot (MS) technology to create a 200 megapixel file from six images taken at slight offsets. It can also use the four-shot mode used by the H4D-50MS that shifts the sensor by one pixel in each direction to capture all colors at each position. The latest approach adds 1/2pixel offsets to increase the captured resolution to 200MP. The H4D-200MS is available for €32,000 or as a €7,000 factory-return upgrade for H4D-50MS owners.
Leica has announced the V-Lux 30 superzoom compact featuring an image-stabilized wideangle 16x zoom lens (24-384mm equivalent). The camera also offers 1080i Full HD movie recording in the AVCHD format, 10fps continuous shooting at full 14.1MP resolution, built-in GPS, and can generate 3D images. Rounding off the features set is a 3" touch-sensitive screen. The V-Lux 30 comes complete with Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 and Adobe Premiere Elements 9 software, and will be available from June 2011 at a price of £550.
We've just published the third in a series of articles by Uwe Steinmueller of Digital Outback Photo on the art of HDR photography. The third chapter (of what will eventually become Uwe's next E-book) covers HDR workflow essentials. Future chapters will cover advanced HDR techniques. For now, enjoy this exclusive third part of what we hope will develop into a useful manual for anyone interested in getting more of the dynamic range they see in the scenes they photograph into the images and prints they produce.
Nikon has announced it is suing Sigma for infringing two of its patents relating to image stabilized lenses. The company says it had attempted to negotiate a resolution but concluded 'filing a lawsuit was the only way it could protect its intellectual property.' Japanese website DCWatch is reporting the disagreement as relating to Japanese patents 3,755,609 and 3,269,223, which cover 'zoom lens that can shift the image' and equipment 'provided with an ultrasonic motor and vibration detector,' respectively. News agency Reuters reports Nikon as seeking around 12.6 billion Yen ($154m). Due to the ongoing legal process, Sigma declined to comment.
Sigma has stressed the differences between recommended selling prices (MSRPs) and the 'street' price that most consumers will be expected to pay. In the light of the dissatisfaction expressed about the SD1's recommended price, the company has pointed out that the camera's body-only street price will be around $6,899. The company also announced that its DP2x large-sensor compact is now available for a street price of $699.
ACD Systems has released the final version of its ACDSee Pro 4 image editing, browsing and organization software. ACDSee Pro 4 increases the level of control offered in terms of image editing - including lighting and contrast enhancement (LCE) tools to improve highlight and shadow characteristics in raw conversions, maximizing the use of the camera's captured dynamic range. This builds on the range of non-destructive edits that can be easily applied, without affecting the original file or the need to import the images into a database. There are also tools for correcting vignetting and chromatic aberrations, as well as the batch processing options and engagement with external editing tools that were already a part of ACDSee.
Just posted! Our hands-on preview of Sigma's flagship SD1 DSLR. With its unique 15MPx3 Foveon X3 sensor that captures full color detail at each pixel location, the SD1 caused a something of a stir when it was first announced at Photokina 2010, and possibly an even bigger one when its eye-watering price was revealed recently. We've been lucky enough to get hold of a rare pre-production camera, and have prepared a hands-on preview detailing its design and operation.
Sigma has announced details of the pricing of its SD1 APS-C 15x3MP DSLR, saying it is aiming at users currently shooting medium format. The camera, based on the technology of Sigma's sensor development company Foveon, captures information about three colors for each of its 15 million pixels, rather than just one color per pixel in conventional, 'Bayer' designs. This gives 46 million pieces of color information. It is the company's first move away from the 4.7x3MP sensors used in its existing DSLRs and DP-series fixed lens large sensor compacts. The SD1 features the ability to shoot at 5 frames per second, offers a 3.0" 460,000 dot LCD screen and an 11-point AF system. It is based around the company's own SA lens mount. Cameras will available from the end of June at a price of $9,700 in the US and £6,199.99 (inc VAT) in the UK.
Samsung has published the second in a series of articles explaining the development of lenses for its NX mirrorless camera system. The article features video and interviews with a range of the people involved in the planning, design and development of lenses (and various aspects of the NX system). Also included in the article is an image of what appear to be design studies for the NX system - including some retro/futurist, seemingly Hasselblad-inspired mockups. If you have any interest in the NX system, the piece gives an interesting insight into the possibilities the company is considering. (from PetaPixel)
Lexar has launched a high-speed CF and SD card reader, capable of transferring data at up to 500MB/sec. The USB 3.0 device allows compatible computers to take advantage of the increased speeds of the latest UDMA Compact Flash cards as well as the emerging ultra high speed interface (UHS-I) SDXC cards. The device also allows full-speed copying from one card to another, even if your computer communicate with the device at its full speed. The reader features a pop-up design that protects the card slots if you throw it in your bag. It will sell for around $49.99 in the US and £39.99 in the UK.
Flash accessory specialist Gary Fong has launched a version of its 'Puffer' flash diffuser for Micro Four Thirds cameras. The Micro Four Thirds Puffer clips into the hotshoe of the Panasonic GF and PEN E-PL series cameras and hangs a diffuser in front of the pop-up flash. The intent is to mitigate the harsh, direct lighting that can spoil portrait images with on-board flash, though it is likely to further limit the already low-powered internal flash output.
Canon has posted a firmware update for its EOS Rebel T3i / 600D digital SLR. Firmware v1.0.1 clarifies the on-screen feature guide description of the digital zoom function in movie mode, and fixes a bug relating to computer connectivity via USB. The firmware is available for immediate download from Canon's website.
Just Posted: Our in-depth Fujifilm X100 review. The X100 has been an object of fascination and desire amongst photography enthusiasts since it was unveiled at Photokina last September. The camera marries elegant retro looks with an advanced viewfinder and a well-respected sensor. A 35mm equivalent F2 lens completes this modern interpretation of the classic fixed-lens rangefinder concept. However, despite the undeniable attraction of the camera, it won't come as shocking news to hear that it's not an unqualified success. As a result, we've taken a little longer than usual over our review, partly because it's a camera that requires some time to really appreciate it. Mainly though, we wanted to rigorously assess which drawbacks prove to be truely significant after extensive real-life use, and which ones you can be charmed into forgiving.
Nikon USA has announced that its Coolpix S4100 and S6100 models will continue to be available to American customers. This follows a statement from Nikon Japan that the recently-introduced S4100 was being withdrawn as a result of component shortages following the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The withdrawal only affects certain markets, says Nikon USA, and confirmed both models will continue to be available in 'The Americas.' We have not yet heard about European availability.
Panasonic has announced the DMC-G3 Micro Four Thirds mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The G3 uses a brand new 16.6MP sensor, producing 15.8MP images and features a considerably downsized body compared to its predecessors. It pushes further towards touch-screen control in an attempt to make the camera ever-more accessible to beginners. We've had a final production standard G3 and have prepared a hands-on preview with both studio test shots and real-world samples.
Panasonic has introduced the Lumix DMC-FH7 digital compact camera (DMC-FS22 in Europe). Featuring a Leica 4x zoom lenses starting at 28mm and 720p HD video recording, the 16Mp FH7 comes with a similar feature set to the 6-month-old FH5 but boasts a 3" touch-sensitive LCD screen. Pricing and availability have yet to be announced.
Phase One has launched Media Pro, a digital asset management program. The package has evolved from software originally created by iView Multimedia and later sold as Microsoft Expression Media. Now called Media Pro, the Phase One version provides a flexible way of cataloging, organizing and accessing stored media. Media Pro includes the raw image rendering engine from the company's Capture One software, allowing Raw files to be previewed (including any adjustments made in Capture One). Media Pro is designed to be independent of platform or software, to allowing use with the best contemporary processing tools, minimising the the likelihood of you having to re-catalog your media in the future.
Just Posted: Our improved studio comparison tool, with five additional cameras. As something of a trailer for our forthcoming in-depth review, we've added Fujifilm X100 samples in both Raw and JPEG. The Samsung NX100, Nikon Coolpix P300, Canon 5D Mark II and Sony DSLR A900 have also joined the list of available cameras. But the biggest change is that we've updated our comparison tool to make it more flexible: you can now create your own comparisons of up to four cameras, even if they haven't been fully reviewed. You can then copy the URL from the address bar of your browser, allowing you to easily share or bookmark your chosen comparisons.
Japanese accessory maker U.N has announced a retractable lens cap for the Olympus XZ-1. Using a design similar to Ricoh's LC-2, the U.N unit features a custom-machined mounting ring that uses Allen bolts to secure it to the front of the camera. The company describes the unit as craftsman-made but a spokesman said they believed they could make enough for customers outside Japan. These can be bought direct from the company using PayPal, at a cost of ¥7350 (around $90), including shipping. (From DC.Watch)
Samyang Optics has announced it has started shipping its 35mm F1.4 lens in Canon and Nikon mount, as well as the 8mm F3.5 CS VG10 Fisheye lens for Sony's NEX-VG10 camcorder. The 35mm lens is available €399 for Canon's EF mount and €419 for the Nikon's AE mount. The 8mm fisheye lens is available for €299.
ABSoft has announced an upgraded version of its Neat Image Pro noise reduction plug-in for Adobe Photoshop and Apple Aperture. There are also standalone versions of the software for Mac OS and Linux systems. Version 7 includes a redesigned user interface, support for 32-bit images and and a 'Smart Profile' system to improve noise profiling. Priced at $69.90 it is available for immediate download as a plug-in or a stand-alone application for Windows, Mac and Linux. A simpler version, 'Neat Image 7 Home' with limited features is also available for $39.90.
Just posted: Tamron 18-270mm F3.5-6.3 sample gallery. We've borrowed a Canon-mount version of Tamron's latest comparatively-compact DSLR superzoom lens and taken the opportunity to shoot with it in a variety of situations. The Tamron 18-270mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD, to give it its full name, is an image-stabilized 15x zoom for APS-C sensor cameras, available in Canon, Nikon and Sony mounts. Despite the impressive zoom range, when un-extended the lens is a mere 3.5" (89mm) long, making it an appealing travel and general-use lens for DSLR owners. This latest version is one of the first to include Tamron's piezoelectric autofocus drive motor.
The PMA has cancelled its 2011 trade show and convention. The show, which was re-branded as CliQ 2011 earlier this year, had been scheduled for September 6-11 in Las Vegas, Nevada, a move away from its traditional spring timing. The show will instead take place alongside the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas as PMA@CES in January next year. The move is likely to give increased importance to the PDN PhotoPlus International Conference + Expo in late October.
Olympus has announced the LS-20M pocket camcorder with built-in 24 bit/96 hHz Linear PCM stereo sound recording (or perhaps one of its sound recorders with built-in video). Capable of recording full 1080p HD videos, it features a 2" color LCD, an additional 1.46" data LCD, two microphones and HD output. It also includes the company's 'Magic filter' processing effects. The camcorder will be available from June 2011 at a suggested retail price of $299.99.
Seagate has announced the world's first 3.5" external hard drive with 1TB platters. The move represents a 30% increase in storage capacity over the previous limit of 750GB per platter. The first product to be launched is the 3.5-inch Barracuda desktop hard drive with 3TB of storage on 3 disk platters, offering greater storage for photographers struggling with the space demands of video, and making it easier to establish large-capacity RAID arrays for data security.
Sony has published the instruction manual for a camera called the NEX-C3 on its Czech website. The manual shows the camera as being smaller than the existing NEX-5 model but with a 16MP sensor and a series of Picture Effect modes including Toy Camera and Retro Photo. The camera retains a similar button arrangement to the NEX-3 and 5 but appears to offer greater control over the function of those buttons than the existing models. The manual was placed on a password-protected directory but with the login details publicly posted elsewhere on the site.