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December 1999 news and reviews

December 31
Megapixel.Net January 2000 issue out
The excellent bi-lingual monthly digicam magazine Megapixel.Net has their January 2000 issue available, including reviews of the Casio QV-2000UX, Olympus C-2500L, Nikon Coolpix 800 and Sony Mavica MVC-FD73. They also have an article on resolution vs. sharpness and a large capacity storage roundup.
December 29
BERLIN - The International Standards Organization's JPEG2000 committee has finalized specs for a new algorithm that compresses images up to 200 times with no appreciable degradation in quality. The JPEG2000 spec, which will become ISO 15444 when it's officially approved in 2001, uses wavelet transformations instead of Fourier transforms to achieve the performance gain. UPDATED
December 27
Ok, good news Nikontech USA have also posted the 1.3 firmware, so it's now available for all 950's (PAL or NTSC). UPDATED
Just found this interesting article over on DigitalDarkroom which is a comparitive look at the quality of "photo inkjet" printers vs. dye-sub printers.. These comparisons were done by "Nai-Chi Li": "For a long time, I wanted to see for myself how well does the best (consumer-grade) inkjet printer stack up against a dye-sub printer. I finally got the opportunity to do so. I have printed a high-resolution test image (3360x2240x24 bits) from these three photo printers: Epson 700, Epson 750, and the Alps MD-5000 dye-sub. Please come take a look at my comparison scans, and see if you agree with my observations"
Yet another interesting EETimes article: A new approach to CMOS image sensor design offers unprecedented image quality by eliminating fixed pattern noise from the equation, according to Photon Vision Systems LLC.
December 24
Merry Christmas 1999!
Here's wishing all our visitors a very Merry Christmas.. Don't over-indulge on the Christmas Food but DO over-indulge on digital photos.. keep shooting!! (PS. Hope Santa brought you some nice digital photography surprises!)
December 23
Here's an interesting story: Nearly 19% of high-end cameras sold in October were digital cameras, according to leading marketing information provider NPD INTELECT. 'High-end' refers to cameras sold for more than $50. Sales for the burgeoning category were up significantly over the same period last year, when only 7% of all cameras sold (above $50) were digital.
December 22
Flash Cards seek the upper hand
Just read this interesting article over at EETimes on Flash cards and how common place they're becoming, an interesting read... Stamp-sized flash storage cards are in position to become a universal media for off-line digital content while enabling the exchange of data or entertainment content among various digital consumer electronics products. Several proposed formats now vying to become the de facto storage media for consumer products will be showcased at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) early next month in Las Vegas.
December 20
Epson Stylus Photo 870 - 10 year prints
Just got a message from my good friend Tham Kok Leong over at Digital Darkroom, it's not often that we mention printers on this site but being the proud owner of an Epson Stylus Photo 750 I feel that I should mention Epson's latest printer the 870 with the promise of longer lasting prints (claimed 10 years), edge-to-edge printing and "photo rolls" the ability to produce 35mm-like prints at home with a good quality digital camera and printer is already here.
Agfa ship ePhoto CL30 Clik!
(Actually this is more of an Iomega press release...) Iomega Corporation (NYSE: IOM), a leader in smart, portable storage solutions, and Agfa Corporation's Desktop Products Group (USA-DTP), a leading provider of award-winning digital cameras and desktop scanners, today announced that Agfa is shipping the first ever digital camera with a built-in Iomega Clik!(TM) drive, called the ePhoto CL30 Clik! digital camera. This ePhoto CL30 Clik! digital camera will allow consumers to save approximately 60 megapixel, or near 35 millimeter quality, images on one removable 40MB Clik! disk that is about as affordable as purchasing and developing a roll of film, but has the added bonus of being reusable.
December 19
3,000,000 visitors
"So, that's another million then", he says casually. I never dreamt that DPR could ever become as popular as it has done, back in August we broke the 1,000,000 visitor barrier, I predicted at the time that we'd just make it through 2,000,000 by the year 2000. Well, we broke through that at the end of October and here now up to 500,000+ unique visitors per month I'm beginning to loose count!
December 16
Vol 14. of Impress Digital Camera Magazine
Impress Digital Camera magazine is published in Japanese, they always setup a website for their readers to view images discussed in the printed magazine. Issue fourteen has just been released along with sample images from many new cameras including the Oly C2020Z, Minolta RD3000, Kodak DCS330, Epson CP800S, Ricoh RDC5300 and others. There are also three pages of image comparisons of the same scene shot with different cameras. Plus a Nikon D1 vs. F5 report. [EXCELLENT STUFF]
ACDSee gets even better
The excellent, fast and flexible thumbnailer / image viewer ACDSee (my image manager of choice) has just been updated to version 3.0, it now supports digital camera "metadata" which means you can now retrieve the exposure information from your digital camera images.
December 15
Canon post S10 firmware update
Only two days ago it was noted that Canon Germany had (too hastily it turns out) posted a firmware update to fix the incompatibility S10 owners were suffering with the IBM Microdrive (CF Type II storage card). The update is now available on Canon's BeBit website for download by S10 owners. UPDATED.
Imaging Resource post a Sony DSC-F505 review
And again they came to a similar conclusion I did "With the DSC-F505s unique rotating lens and its movie recording capabilities, you get a fun camera that takes great pictures too. The sharpness of the Carl Zeiss optics show in the final images, and we really like the "real camera" manual-focus option. The full 5x optical zoom is a big plus that we wish more manufacturers would adopt."
After reading the "rumor" on Steves-Digicams about the Canon S20 I contacted one of my industry contacts who confirmed: Canon S20 (name may change), Same form factor as S10, 3.3 Megapixels, 2x zoom, USB, CF I & II, shipped with 16MB CF card.
December 14
Just posted! Nikon Coolpix 800 review
We've just finished off the Nikon Coolpix 800 review, a little camera which packs a big punch, delivers image quality when it matters and is easy to use. As a cut down version of its bigger brother the 950 it's inherited some great features and yet it retails at $200 less...
December 13
Kodak v3.0.9 firmware & v5.8.1 acquire
After releasing v3.0.8 for the DCS520 / 560 last week Kodak have just posted v3.0.9 firmware for the DCS 620 / 660. The companion "acquire" software is also updated to v5.8.1. This update brings in-camera JPEG mode, support for dual storage cards and more... see inside. (Thanks to Rob Galbraith for this one)
Kingston launch high capacity ATA Flash Cards
If you own/use a Kodak Pro DCS or Sony DSC-D7x0 digital camera then this story may interest you. You can now get 0.5GB capacity on an ATA card! Kingston� Technology Company today announced the expansion of its Flash memory product line with the introduction of high-capacity ATA Flash cards ranging up to 512MB. The new cards set a new low price point at approximately $2.73/MB for a 512MB ATA Flash card.
Ofoto Offers $50 Million of Free Photos
Ofoto Offers $50 Million in Free Photos to First Million Members: Ofoto Jump-Starts Online Photo-Finishing With Free Prints for the Millennium. Ofoto Inc. today announced that beginning immediately it will give away $50 million in free prints through January 15, 2000. Ofoto (www.ofoto.com) makes it easy for people to upload the digital photos they take and then purchase high quality photographic prints at very affordable prices. Ofoto will reward its first one million members with 100 free 4``x 6'' prints to be used any time in the year 2000. Consumers that take advantage of this offer will also receive free shipping for their first order.
December 10
Uh Oh.. I've had to pull the article I wrote on the D1 vs. DCS620 noise. It turns out the images Kristian Linnemann for sent me for the D1 were shot at ISO200 not at ISO1600 as he'd claimed... I don't know who to believe right now so I'm waiting to peform these tests FOR MYSELF... If you want something doing properly... sigh.
Imaging Resource post Canon S10 review
The guys over at Imaging Resource have just posted a Canon S10 review, looks like they came to a very similar conclusion as me "Canon's remarkable little 2.1 megapixel digicam, the PowerShot S10. We say "remarkable", because it's not only the smallest digicam currently on the market, but it takes pictures of exceptional quality: Color, detail, and tonal range are all excellent, comfortably in the top tier of the current two megapixel marketplace."
December 9
After numerous requests from many visitors we've initiated a weekly newsletter which will contain a summary of all that's new in the Digital Photography world from the previous week. To receive this newsletter once a week simply enter your email address in the box provided (right side of this news column) and click 'Go'.
Plucked out this interesting article from EETimes: "Digital still cameras could rival the image quality of 35-mm film photography within a couple of years due to a charge coupled device (CCD) image sensor with over six million pixels developed by Philips Semiconductors (Eindhoven, Netherlands). "
December 8
Rob Galbraith over at his excellent Digital photojournalism site has noted that one of his readers reported a potential incompatibility between the new v3.0.8 firmware (for Kodak Professional DCS cameras 520 & 560) and Lexar Media cards.
Fuji announce rough and tough 230HD
What, a new camera? Yeah, it's been a while. Today Fuji Japan announced its waterproof and dustproof "Big Job" DS-230HD, with a 1.5 megapixel CCD and 28mm fixed lens, this camera is obviously aimed at the construction industry. It'll be release in Japan in February 2000 at 99,800 YEN (US$890).

Last year at this time most, if not all, of the popular digital cameras were sold out for Christmas. Anyone trying to get their hands on a Nikon Coolpix 900s or Olympus D-320, among others were sadly disappointed.

This year we are starting to see similar shortages all over again. The combination of an overseas earthquake about six weeks ago, and strong consumer demand, are making it tough for manufacturers to keep up, thus leaving many retailers without enough product.

Imaging Resource post a review of the Kodak DC215, Dave says "With its simplified controls and focus-free lens, the Kodak DC215 camera is clearly intended to meet the needs of the point & shoot user, and succeeds well in that goal. First-time users will appreciate its simplicity and ease of use. At just exactly a megapixel, the DC215's resolution is adequate for ~4x6 prints, but will look noticeably soft if enlarged much beyond that size. "
December 7
Kodak v3.0.8 firmware & v5.8.1 acquire
Kodak post v3.0.8 firmware for the Kodak DCS 520 / 560. The companion "acquire" software is also updated to v5.8.1. This update brings in-camera JPEG mode, support for dual storage cards and more... see inside. (No news on DCS 620 / 660 v3.0.8 yet).
December 6
Just posted: Olympus C-2500L Review
Just added a complete in-depth (and long term) review of the Olympus C-2500L, this is an impressive camera with plenty of features and a very nice feel to it, great image quality and colour accuracy. I did have my share of niggles with this one though...
Thanks to poster Furrukh who posted these links to the Nikon Europe manuals for the Nikon D1. He posted on our new Pro Digital Forum which has proved to be very popular since its creation a few days ago. Included is the D1 fast track, D1 reference, Nikon View DX for D1 and Nikon Control for D1 manuals. Thanks Furrukh.
December 2
Just received a note from Max Lyons to let me know that version 3.1 of Thumber has been released with a few interesting new features: "Thumber 3.1 has just been released. Version 3.1 adds many new features, including an image editor, ability to save JPG files (and retain EXIF data), insert EXIF data into edited files, whitebalance and program mode data, improved image quality, 24 hour time format, support for new cameras and much more."
December 1
Rob posts two articles arguing against the noise comparisons between Nikon's new D1 and Kodak's DCS 620 posted on the website www.pressphoto.dk, I had to admit I had the same problems with this supposed comparison, having come under some criticism for being too pro Nikon I kept out of it but hearing it from a long term Pro like Rob kinda puts my mind at ease.
There has been much debate about the Nikon D1 recently, and this has stirred interest in other Pro digital cameras, this discussion as mostly taken place on the Nikon Talk discussion forum and so to help both Nikon consumer readers and give Professional photographers their own space I've created the Pro Digital Talk forum. Please try to use this as an area to talk about any brand of Pro Digital camera.
Thanks to Rob Galbraith for this pointer, Nikon Europe have posted an early D1 FAQ and Hints & Tips page, I'm sure this will be of interest to owners or prospective owners.
Ever wanted to see inside a C2020Z ?
In one part of an interesting article posted by the Japanese webzine PC Watch on the Olympus technology fair 80 they have a picture of C2020Z which has been cross-sectioned at the lens. This gives an interesting insight into the internal works of the lens/CCD capture system of a modern digital camera.