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May 2000 news and reviews

May 30
What Digital Camera - what no news?

It's not often that us online types get a chance to take a swipe at our printed brothers, but in an amusing twist it appears that the excellent UK publication "WHAT DIGITAL CAMERA" published my April Fools joke about Canon's new CCD in their May edition as a real rumour (Page 9)... Better still not only did they publish it but obviously didn't visit the site the next day to read the retraction. Excellent.

Fooled you What Digital Camera? I think so.


I found an interesting summary of JPEG2000, advancements and current status over on EETimes, according to the author Junko Yoshida "The boom in Internet commerce, combined with the advent of higher-resolution digital cameras and ever beefier desktop computers, has led companies involved in a broad range of imaging technologies to anticipate a swift transition to JPEG2000-possibly within a couple of years, according to the experts. Backers expect JPEG2000 to become the accepted, universal file format for digital images, whether on the Web or from digital cameras, printers, faxes, remote sensors or wireless transmissions. "

May 29
Just Posted! Canon Digital IXUS / ELPH review

We've just posted our latest review.. Canon's tiny Digital IXUS (also known as PowerShot S100 Digital ELPH and Digital IXY). "Open your wallet, take out a credit card.. No, I'm not going to ask you to order one just yet, that credit card is the same size as the front of the Digital IXUS. Small? You bet. This is truly the smallest digicam I've ever reviewed and weighs in as the smallest 1.92 mp digital camera on the market."

May 27
Imaging-Resource posts Minolta RD-3000 review

Imaging-Resource post reivew of Minolta's chunky, 2.7 megapixel, CCD-stitching, APS lens (Vectis) digital SLR. Here's what Dave had to say "Given its bulk, feature set and price, the RD 3000 clearly isn't a camera intended for the casual picture-snapper. On the other hand, its options for interchangeable lenses, excellent tonal range, and understated color handling make it well suited for professional use, particularly for portraiture or other situations where smooth skin tones, good shadow detail and low image noise are important. Full manual exposure control, a very clean user interface (thanks to all those buttons), and dual flash connections lend versatility that we think many serious users will appreciate"

FotoTime release version 1.11

FotoTime just released FotoAlbum version 1.11. FotoTime allows you to organizes and share your digital pictures. This new release has improved sorting capabilities, complete EXIF tag display, and an improved screen saver. FotoAlbum supports lossless JPEG rotation and the new Casio QV3000 uncompressed TIFF format. In addition, the FotoTime web site now provides unlimited storage.

May 26

As long as you don't mind ordering it, a downloadable update will be made available "some time in June".. No details are available of what they've fixed in 1.1.1, all the update page says is "Nikon Capture allows you to translate the "Raw" file format available from the D1 to provide the ultimate in picture quality by utilizing the power of your computers processor to use more complex equations during the conversion of raw files data to the more common TIFF and JPEG file format. "

Site slow... Now better

We've been receiving reports over the last couple of days that the site has become slow and unusable. This news came as a bit of a shock as we've actually just cleaned up much of the backend database and procedures. Interestingly these complaints fell in line with the start of a new ad campaign with doubleclick which required javascript inserts.

UPDATE: Things are better, overwhelming response. Some words from our advertiser.

May 25
Canon announces 10x stablised digicam lens

In a surprise announcement Canon have revealed a 10x zoom lens (35 mm - 350 mm) for digital cameras with lens-shift optical image stabilisation. "The lens's outstanding image performance and high 10x zoom ratio are made possible through the introduction of a new mechanical structure, which makes possible the precision movement of the correcting lens group, and a new optical design compatible with high resolving capability."

Nikon announce 14mm lens aimed at D1

Nikon today announced the AF Nikkor 14mm f/2.8 ED lens which they're aiming at photojournalists using the Nikon D1. Because of the D1's focal length multiplier of 1.55x this lens works out at a nice wide 21.7 mm on the D1. There's also a gelatine filter holder at the rear of the lens.

May 23
Sony launch UP-DP10 home photo printer

Sony's new Digital Photo Printer (Dye Sub) can print 4" x 6" in a variety of finishes (Matte, Glossy, Textured). Each print takes 85 seconds. Print packs (including ink) priced at $14.95 for 25 prints. Resolution is 300dpi, producing 1162 x 1536 pixel prints. Priced at $389, available in June.

May 22
GadgetSquad post Sony DSC-S70 first-look

Thanks to Alan Dang from GadgetSquad for letting me know he's just posted a first-look of Sony's DSC-S70 3.34 mp digital camera. Alan says "We've been very impressed with the DSC-S70 so far, and we'll have our full in-depth review of the Sony DSC-S70 shortly. Until then, we've got a small gallery of images to whet your appetite. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words! "

May 21
Steve posts 3 user reviews

Steve Sanders has posted reviews of Fuji's FinePix 4700Z, Toshiba's M70 and Sony's cult-like FD-95 of which he says "The FD-95 has got a GREAT zoom lens! And a super battery. But once again Sony has used way too much compression on the images to make them fit on 1.44MB floppies. They touted that this camera and all other year 2000 Mavicas could use the MemoryStick and the MSAC-FD2 floppy adapter for lots more storage but ... there is no option for less-compressed images!"

May 20
EE Times has an article on Canon's CMOS sensor

Thanks to Bill Geary for noting this article on EE Times about Canon's CMOS Sensor, it's got a few more technical details than we covered in our preview. "Canon uses CMOS sensor to gain digicam edge"... Time will tell.

More S1 Pro samples, along with some D1

My good friends over at Impress PC Watch have just published another set of sample images from the FujiFilm S1 Pro Digital SLR. This time at different resolutions, compression settings and ISO's. And to please some people there are even comparison shots with Nikon's D1 taken of the same scene on the same day.

May 18
Canon EOS-D30 Digital SLR

Tokyo, 13:00. As part of a worldwide announcement of new digital camera products Canon today revealed the details of the EOS-D30 Digital SLR. We first saw a glimpse of this camera back at PMA. Today Canon make the official announcement, reveal specifications, expected price and release dates. We've got that and a WHOLE lot more.

PREVIEW: I've had an exclusive hands-on with Canon's first "home grown" digital SLR priced to be affordable and probably a camera which marks a defining moment for digital photography.

Vital statistics: 3.11mp effective (2,160 x 1,440), Canon APS sized CMOS sensor, EF lens mount, 1.6x focal length multiplier, 12-bit RAW mode, 3+ fps up to 8 images, CF Type I / II, Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery (and optional battery pack), September 2000, Europe: 3000€ (US$3,500).

Another interesting article from EE Times: "We are converting some DRAM production lines [over] to flash memories," a Samsung executive said. "But it's still hard to meet the demands for NAND," the flash memory used mainly in MP3 players and digital cameras. Samsung said it expects sales in the flash memory sector to grow as high as $700 million this year.

In a move no doubt timed to coincide with Canon's announcement of the EOS-D30 yesterday, FujiFilm today announced the S1 Pro will be available (on sale) on July 8th at 375,000 YEN in Japan. That (at todays exchange rates) works out at around US$3,500 which is almost identical to the price stated by Canon US yesterday for the EOS-D30. (Although notably Canon Europe state a price of 3000 EUR; $2700 and Canon France 20,000 FFr; $2700).

DCEX & PC Watch post FujiFilm S1 Pro samples

Roll up, Roll up, get yer S1 Pro samples here, they're free ladies and gentlement... The Japanese Digital Camera webzine DCEX have published six sample images in a range of situations from FujiFilm's S1 Pro digital SLR. The camera features a 3.2 megapixel SuperCCD which (when combined with internal interpolation algorigthms) generates a 6 megapixel image. Each image is a 2.5MB JPEG (3,040 x 2,016).

Phil says: Bit soft at 1:1, but downsampled they're pretty sweet, you can't fault the colour balance or metering. A couple of the PC Watch samples show good dynamic range.


May 17
Canon Digital Ixus / S100 Elph hands-on

Read the official announcement below, I had an exclusive hands-on with this tiny, steel cased, power packed digicam and have summarised my impressions along with some exclusive photos of the camera.

UPDATED: Sample images available.

Canon announce Digital Ixus / S100 Elph
Tokyo, 13:00. As part of a worldwide announcement of new digital camera products Canon today revealed the smallest, lightest 2.1 megapixel digital camera yet - Digital Ixus (known as the Powershot S100 Digital Elph in the USA). Clad in a strong steel case with a completely flat face (switched off) it measures a minuscule 87 x 57 x 26.9mm (3.4 x 2.2 x 1") - front on that's about the same size as a credit card, weighs in at just 190 g (6.7 oz).
May 16
TSMC, one of the biggest IC foundries in the world announced volume production of CMOS sensors. "Using TSMC as its IC foundry, OmniVision offers the OV7600 series of completely programmable digital imaging devices with a VGA (video graphic array) resolution image array size of 640x480 pixels. The OV7600 combines the sensor array with an on-chip A/D converter that delivers 8-bit and 16-bit parallel digital output."
Kodak DCS 620X
Kodak today announced an enhanced version of the DCS620 named the DCS620X. The major new feature is the new camera's ability to work at very high ISO's (up to ISO 6400), typically trying to get this amount of sensitivity out of a CCD is a problem but with a new CMY colour pattern allowing more light through and some noise reduction processing built into the cameras firmware Kodak think the DSC620X will produce usable high quality images even at high ISOs. List price $10,495.

According to JEIDA (Japan Electronic Industry Development Association) Japanese shipments of digital camera almost doubled to 5.82 million over the past year. This number rose to 82% in the year to March, 31. By value shipments rose 72% from a year earlier to 255.88 billion Yen ($2.34 billion). These rises were attributed to new 2 and 3 megapixel models.

Rob Galbraith's D1 custom settings cheat sheet
Cruising over to Rob's website I noticed he's published a PDF "cheat sheet" of custom settings for the Nikon D1, which when printed can be cut and stuck to the LCD cover for quick reference to those otherwise indecipherable numerical settings.
May 15
Canon S10 firmware update now available
There'll be a collective sigh of relief from S10 owners. Canon have release firmware for download which has been seen already on new S10's. The procedure for update is different depending on whether you have a CF card reader or not so read the download page very carefully. Fixes are: IBM Microdrive compatibility, faster (1/30s) shutter speed for flash shots, auto whitebalance automatically for flash shots.
May 14
Thumber version 3.14
Thanks to Max Lyons for letting me know he's released version 3.14 of Thumber. Thumber allows you to examine your digital camera images in detail, it's able to extract that all important EXIF information (exposure, camera settings etc.), can do lossless JPEG rotation and it'll also create webpages based on a folder of images or output exposure information to text files.
May 13
Imaging-Resource post a full Nikon D1 review
Dave over at Imaging-Resource has completed the mammoth task of reviewing Nikon's D1. Here's a comment he made "One thing that we did that was a little unusual was to run resolution tests on a fairly wide variety of different lenses. Turns out the D1 really shines with good glass, really shows up the limitations of the cheap stuff. (Don't know that I'll ever look at my Tamron 28-300 mm "vacation lens" the same again. OTOH, I'm now more impressed than ever with the sharpness of my Micro Nikkor 105 f/2.8.) A note for the future for all of us: Lens choice really does make a significant difference in resolution on the pro digicams. "
May 12
Imaging-Resource post Sony DSC-S50 review
Imaging-Resource have just posted their Sony DSC-S50 (1.92 million effective pixels - 1600 x 1200) review. Here's what Dave had to say: "By contrast, the S50 arrived in the midst of a batch of 3 megapixel models, so we initially weren't terribly impressed with its resolution. Imagine our surprise then, when we compared it with other two megapixel digicams, and found that it tested right up there with the very best of them."
Sanyo and Kodak will demonstrate a 5.5" (low resolution: 320 x 240) OLED display panel at the Society for Information Display 2000 International Symposium next week in Long Beach, Calif. The advantages of OLED (organic electroluminescent light-emitting diode) displays is their low power consumption, low drive voltage, high refresh rates and brightness. Although this prototype is limited lets hope that this kind of display technology filters down for use in smaller devices such as digital cameras.
Steve updates his High-Capacity Storage report
Steve Sanders maintains a "high-capacity memory storage options" report, he's just finished updating it with info on the largest available Type I and II CF cards along with interesting info on upcoming storage technologies and the differences between different types of miniture (but high capacity) digital camera storage. An excellent read.
Modified Nikon Coolpix 950 for Karen Darke
This from the Nikon website: Physically challenged British Woman Takes a 60-Day Journey Across Japan Using a Specially Designed "Hand-cycle" . On April 3, 2000, Ms. Karen DARKE set out from Sapporo, on the island of Hokkaido, to begin a two-month journey she has dubbed "Don't Give Up Your Dreams." Nikon has provided Karen with a specially modified COOLPIX 950 digital camera, that will enable her to document her hand-cycle trip through Japan.
Kodak still seen as "old economy" company
Kodak's Chairman complains of bad image: Photography giant Eastman Kodak Co. (NYSE:EK - news) has not told its story effectively to a stock market that still views it as an "old economy'' company, Chairman George Fisher said, noting Kodak's stock price has lagged despite record earnings... ...If you look at our digital revenues, it's $2.5 billion now,'' Fisher said.
May 10
Toshiba reveal 2GB PCMCIA Type II HD
Here's one for all you Pro photographers with digital cameras which will take PCMCIA. Toshiba today announced a 55g (1.9 oz) PCMCIA Type II (5mm high) Hard Disk with a capacity of 2GB with a low power requirement of 0.5W @ 3.3V.
May 9
ACDSee Mac Beta version available
One of my favourite image browsers for Windows is now available (as Beta) on the Mac. ACDSee soon became my favourite a few years ago as it is simply the fastest rendering JPEG viewer / thumbnailer around, it also features the ability to do lossless JPEG rotations (in groups if required) and view camera metadata (EXIF exposure information). ACDSee allows you to view up to 40 different file formats...
Plenty of reading for you all. Firstly if as if nobody noticed we published our C-3030Z review yesterday along with a comparison with the Coolpix 990. Imaging-Resource posted their (now complete) Sony DSC-S70 (sharp-stick) review (with promise of an S50 review this week) and Steves-Digicams has just posted a FujiFilm FinePix 1400 review...
May 8
Just posted! Olympus C-3030Z Review
Hot on the heels of our Coolpix 990 review comes the Olympus C-3030Z. "Olympus's upgraded C-2020Z is the C-3030Z, with pretty much similar features to its older brother but with a nice new black metallic case, wider shooting angles and the 3.3 megapixel CCD. The C-3030Z will probably be up near the top of most buyers lists and just like the C-2020Z there'll always be a fierce debate over the Olympus C-3030Z and Nikon Coolpix 990. " We've also updated the Nikon Coolpix 990 review with the same "Olympus C-3030Z vs. Nikon Coolpix 990 page" and a new chromatic aberration test shot.
May 7
Imaging-Resource's Sony S70 review
Hats off to Imaging-Resource for getting the scoop on Sony's Zeiss powered DSC-S70.. Sharper than a very sharp knife in a sharpening shop and more resolution than we've seen so far from a consumer digital camera (kewl). Colour balance looks pretty good too (though there is some noise). Heads up Nikon, Olympus and Canon... Sony & Zeiss are here. (If you can put up with the menu system ;)
Megapixel.Net publish May 2000 issue
The guys over at Bi-Lingual Megapixel.Net have just published their May 2000 edition with reviews of the Olympus-C3030Z, Casio QV-3000EX, FujiFilm FinePix 1400 and RCA CDS4100 (wah weird). They also have articles on the use of photos on the web, readers issues and a CMOS digital camera.
May 4
This in from Infortrends: good news no doubt for digicam manufacturers and digicam websites alike ;-) A new study from InfoTrends Research Group reveals that revenue from digital camera sales in North America will reach $1.9 billion this year, exceeding revenue generated from film camera sales by almost 10%. Digital camera unit sales will exceed film cameras by 2002, growing from 6.7 million in 2000 to 42 million in 2005.
Epson PhotoPC 3000Z (3.34 mp)
In case you missed it... We reported on Epson's 3.34mp CP900Z previously as a Japanese model, it'll enter the US / European market renamed the PhotoPC 3000Z and we've just added its specifications to our digital camera database... All the specifications inside.
May 3
The effect of temperature on CCD's
And a great new way to take quality night shots with your digicam (Nikon Coolpix 990 used for these samples). I've known this for a long time, but didn't explore it with the new 3.3 megapixel digicams. The "dark current" noise increases with temperature. Thanks to Dave Martindale for detailing this, "dark current noise is exponentially related to temperature - it DOUBLES for every 6 or 8 degrees C temperature rise (depending on the CCD)." Taking this practically I took one shot with the camera at room temperature, leaving the camera outside for 20 minutes and took another... the results speak for themselves.
Even longer exposures: 15 & 30 seconds
Something I'd have never attempted with a digital camera if I'd not experienced the huge decrease in dark noise from my experiments yesterday. Tonight I took a few (no style) shots after letting the camera cool down to the outside temperature (about 10oC), using a Nikon Coolpix 990 in BULB mode, EagleEye Wing, Shutter release arm & cable.
May 2
Sony US officially announce F505V
Something we reported last week, me thinks Sony need to start doing worldwide announcements (theres this thing called the Internet don't you know...) "Second Generation Cyber-Shot(TM) Digital Camera Offers More User Control and Improved Images With 3.3 Mega-Pixel CCD and Advanced Manual/In-Camera Options". US Availability is said to be June, priced at $900 (the same street price as the F505) and that makes it very competitive against the rest of the 3 megapixel mob.
May 1
Halo 250MB CF Type I Microdrive
A product which was mentioned by Mike Rubin of Nikon, and once again on our News Discussion forum, Halo Data Devices are working on a 250MB Microdrive which is in a CF Type I form factor, meaning it would in theory work in all existing CF Digicams (including we hope the Coolpix 990). Brief specs are: CF Type I, 250MB, 5400RPM, 5ms average read time, 10g. Availability Mid-2000.
FujiFilm announce 4700z availability
FujiFilm have produced a very carefully worded press release announcing that the 4700Z is now available at retailers all over the US. "Pocketable, stylish, yet solidly built, the FinePix 4700 ZOOM builds upon the legacy of its MX-700, MX-2700 and MX-1700 ZOOM predecessors with an added twist; it's the first digital camera to utilize Fujifilm's new Super CCD for increased sensitivity, improved signal-to-noise ratio and wider dynamic range, attributes that result in sharp, vivid and colorful pictures. " (Note, no mention of pixels).
Focus-Online back online (!)
James Wakefield over at Focus-Online sent me news that after six weeks of downtime (thanks to his webhosting company going bankrupt) he's back online and ramping up with plenty of new content. Focus Online is a well established source of 'traditional photography' information, maintained by James Wakefield the editor there's plenty of reviews of 35mm cameras and lots of readers photos.
DCResource post Coolpix 990 vs. Olympus C-3030Z article
The Digital Camera Resource Page have posted a Nikon Coolpix 990 vs. Olympus C-3030Z head-to-head, here's what Jeff has to say "After a non-stop week of working on this darn thing, I've finally posted the most extensive DCRP review ever: The Nikon Coolpix 990 vs. Olympus C-3030Z, the two hottest 3.3 Megapixel cameras at the moment (this week, at least). This time I covered not only What's in the Box, Look and Feel, and Using the Camera, but I've also done tests (most rather unscientific) on the cameras' abilities at: movies, macro shots, night shots, flash shots, and more!"