Google, probably the best search engine on the Internet has launched a new (still in beta) search engine for images. Just type in a few words and it will scan its indexed database of 150 million images from all over the web. It's really rather good, it's fast and accurate. For parents there's even a mature content filter.
June 2001 news and reviews
David and Michael over at the Imaging Resource have just posted their full review of the Olympus D-510Zoom, and what they call "short form" reviews of the Ricoh RDC-i700 and the Polaroid PDC-2300 posted here's what they concluded, firstly the Olympus "an excellent camera for consumers accustomed to the point-and-shoot style... a great solution for those who want a good digicam that'll go just about anywhere" the Ricoh "There's literally nothing else like it. Buy it." and the Polaroid "At $399, there are some genuinely excellent products on the market that will offer much better image quality, smoother operation, and just a better overall picture-taking experience"
PC Expo: Pretec has announced what is now the largest flash memory Compact Flash card (clearly the 1 GB Microdrive is larger, but it is a hard drive device). There's also an "industrial and military grade" version, "Industrial and Military grade 640MB CF card is also available from Pretec. Designed with precision mechanics, and full metal protection, the breakthrough product sustains a wide range ( -40°C~125°C) working temperature and offers ultimate level of new data protection and security features to prevent user's image files, software, crucial data and products from being damaged."
SanDisk has today announced the largest capacity SD (Secure Digital) flash card yet available, the new 128 MB piece is expected to be priced at around $200 (some 50-80% more expensive than the equivalent Compact Flash, SmartMedia or Memory Stick). This new card will be shipping by 'third quarter this year'. "The strong consumer electronics market continues to demand higher capacity storage cards. The availability of higher capacity cards makes them much more feasible for applications such as digital video camcorders which require considerable storage. This high capacity also allows consumers to buy fewer cards..."
Today, in a press release issued by Epson three more companies have announced that they will be incorporating Epson's Print Image Matching (PIM) colour technology into their upcoming camera models. They are Nikon Corp., Pentax Corp. and Sanyo Electric Co. This now brings the total number of manufacturers supporting this colour matching technology (source to print) to twelve. Others already signed up include Sony, Olympus, Casio and Minolta.
Japan has today announced the new 4 megapixel QV-4000. This camera, obviously
the 'next in line' from the QV-3000, QV-3500 series, features a 4.1 megapixel
CCD sensor outputing a 2240 x 1680 image (3.7 megapixels). It has a 3x
optical zoom lens which is labelled "Canon Lens", interestingly
this lens looks identical to that used on most of last year 3 megapixel
digital cameras. (something some of us suspected for a long time). Design
wise it's much better looking than the older Casio's, definetly some echo's
of the DSC-S75 there though...
UPDATE: Samples available.
In a fascinating story posted on Rob Galbraith's website, photographer David Bergman writes about how his D1x shot while on assignment at the US Open not only made it into the magazine but was printed as a two page spread in the 'Leading Off' section. "The photo was shot from a helicopter with a Nikon D1X as Bergman took in the US Open from acircling helicopter. Shooting info: 400mm f/2.8, ISO 200, 1/750 at f/5.6, JPEG Fine (16.9MB when opened into Photoshop), Cloudy WB, Normal Contrast and Sharpness".
We've just posted our review of Fujifilm's 6x optical zoom, 3.3 megapixel 6900Z. Design and operation based heavily on the 4900Z of last year, the new model now has a 3.3 (instead of 2.4) megapixel SuperCCD which outputs a 6 megapixel image. There are also a few changes 'under the hood' as well as the cool looking black body. Anyone who read my 4900Z review will recall I wasn't overly keen, so what of the 6900Z?
Mike Chaney just dropped me a line to let me know he's just posted QImage Pro 2001, v2.0. This new version has several new improvements not least of which it's support for Nikon D1x NEF RAW images (uncompressed) including a 10 megapixel (4020 x 2638) output format as well as faster RAW file decoding, better colour rendition for Olympus ORF RAW files and a couple of bug fixes.
Hands up everyone who thought the "40" meant 4 megapixels? Nope. Olympus today announced the C-3040Z and C-2040Z, new releases of existing cameras (C-3030Z and C-2020Z) with a new fast F1.8 - F2.6 lens (dubbed "Super Bright Zoom Lens"). This move addresses some of the initial criticism of the C-3030Z which was based around the move from a fast F2.0 to slower F2.8 lens.. There are a few other subtle difference between the new cameras and the (now) old models.
12 PM GMT: Olympus has today announced the new C-4040Z. Based on the popular and successful C-3040Z / C-3030Z body and design the new C-4040Z increases the pixel count with the new 1/1.8" 4.1 megapixel CCD we've seen on Sony's DSC-S85. It has the same F1.8 - F2.6, 3x optical zoom lens as used on the C-3040Z (though now with a rubber barrel grip). There's also now the addition of a 7.7 megapixel interpolated mode (in-camera) and a noise reduction system. Burst shooting speed is 2 frames per second for up to 8 images. Street price $1099.
You've visited the site, you've read the reviews, you're a regular in the forums... Now you can wear the T-Shirt, drink from the Mug or glide over the Mousepad! You can now get official dpreview.com merchandise right here. We've got simple, high quality T-Shirts with the dpreview.com logo on the front and a small 'dpreview.com' on the back, there are also mugs and mousepads... Every purchase contributes to the upkeep of this site!
Kudos to Dave Etchells for getting his hands on a production D1X before any of us (I should receive mine today) and posting up a full review. Here's what he thinks of Nikon's flagship digital SLR "They've managed to simultaneously improve nearly every operating parameter, from color quality, to resolution, to image noise, while at the same time incorporating numerous user-interface improvements and ergonomic niceties... ...Outstanding in every respect!"
Canon BeBit has just posted firmware version 126.96.36.199 for the PowerShot G1 and PowerShot Pro90 IS. This new firmware fixes : "...eliminates the occasional occurrence of unusual brightness or darkness in the LCD panel display when the shutter button is pressed halfway in the Tv mode..." This update can be carried out either via USB or by placing the update files on a Compact Flash card.
Before the cameras have hit the shelves (at least outside Japan) Nikon Japan has announced that the Coolpix 995 problem (strange exposures when the swivel is twisted to the self portrait angle) is solved in firmware version 1.6 and that the D1X / IBM Microdrive incompatibility problem will be solved with its firmware version 1.01. The releases go on to state that these updates can be carried out at Nikon Service Centers (Japan). Although we haven't yet received confirmation from Nikon it's likely that shipping 995 / D1X's outside Japan will have the new firmware.
In an email letter sent to all its members Zing.com has confirmed that it will be shutting down permenently as of July 2, 2001. However, what's new in this letter is that Zing are encouraging users to transfer their images to Ofoto (who are of course now owned by Kodak, oh, the irony). Zing users will soon have a 'Transfer to Ofoto' option which will transfer images directly to Ofoto. The question now of course is whether Ofoto can cope with the thousands of users transferring all their images... These are interesting times. NOTE: FotoTime also supports import from other photo sharing sites.
Seems to be a good day to talk about IBM's Microdrive. Today Microtech announced a $50 mail-in rebate off the 340MB Microdrive (only Microtech brand). "The Microtech kits combine the 340MB IBM Microdrive with the award winning Microtech CameraMate and ZiO! lines of digital card readers, as well as with the new MediaVault digital media storage accessory. The rebate is also applicable to the IBM retail packaged drive and Travel Kit." The offer is available until August 10, 2001.
We have now received the official statement from Nikon Europe on the incompatibility problem between newer 512 MB or 1 GB IBM Microdrive's and the D1x digital SLR. We first picked up on this problem when it was published on a Nikon Japan site and then later on an IBM compatibilty chart. Nikon Europe say, "The incompatibility has arisen as a consequence of a manufacturing change to a key component within the MicroDrive...". There's also a note that the D1x can be upgraded to firmware v1.01 which will solve this problem.
Sony should be pretty happy with recently announced market share results. According to a story in c|net, from just 7% of the flash storage market in Spring 2000 the little purple (or white) stick now (Spring 2001) commands some 25% of sales. Both Compact Flash and SmartMedia have suffered from the competition losing 9% market share each. SmartMedia now represents just 32% of the flash storage market, it looks to me at least as though it won't be long before Memory Stick overtakes SmartMedia. Sony also expect a 256 MB version next year followed by 1 and 2 GB versions by 2003.
It's two weeks since we caught news of the 4 megapixel PDR-M81 from Toshiba Japan. Toshiba US will present the PDR-M81 on Monday at Digital Focus and PC Expo. We've just received the official press release. Labelled as 4.2 megapixels the camera outputs a 2400 x 1600 image (3:2 ratio) which works out at 3.84 megapixels. It has an (unusual) 2.8x optical zoom lens (made by Canon) supports Print Image Matching, weighs in at 240 g (no batts) with an expected retail price of approx. US$600.
Last week I attended the Canon Europe Digital Camera Journalists tour to Japan. There were a total of 29 journalists from various European countries. Despite some initial guesses this visit didn't turn up any new products but was rather an opportunity for Canon Inc. (Japan) to meet us and for us to learn a little more about Canon's digital imaging strategy. During the tour we also visited the Canon factory at Oita, which is essentially the birthplace for all of Canon's digital cameras.
Thanks to an observant poster for noting that Zing Network CEO David Ezequelle has written a letter on the 'dev.zing.com' website. "We regret to inform you that as of June 30, 2001, Zing.com will no longer be available. We know that you have trusted us with many of your most personal and valuable digital images and memories, and so we have done our very best to ensure that these images and memories will not be lost." UPDATE: this is now official.
Sony has today announced the DSC-P20, a budget entry-level 1,3 megapixel digital camera based on the DSC-P30. The primary differences are that the DSC-P20 has a fixed focal length lens, no video out, a stepless digital zoom and a new livery. Just like the P30 and P50 the P20 is powered by two AA batteries. The DSC-P20 has a list price of US$299 (expected street price of US$249).
Nixvue's Digital Album first made the headlines in December last year. Nixvue themselves had a strong presence at PMA 2001 in February, winning the DIMA award for "Innovative Digital Product". We received a prototype review model shortly after that, but weren't happy enough with it to post a review. After some work by Nixvue we now have our review of a full production Digital Album. The news is good, it does everything it's supposed to, it's easy to use and it has the bonus of being able to display images on a TV.
In a press release today Polaroid Corp. announced a "major global restructuring plan" which is designed to reduce debt. Approximately 2,000 jobs out of a global workforce of 8,000 will be "phased out" over the next one and a half years. This doesn't come as too much of a surprise after the recent appointment of a new CFO and various press releases concerning its troubled business.
IBM Japan has today posted its own Microdrive compatibility chart for both MK 1 (170 MB / 340 MB) and MK 2 (512 MB / 1 GB) Microdrive Compact Flash Type II storage cards. The chart covers all sorts of devices from digital cameras to printers and PDA's. We've extracted and translated the portion covering digital cameras as a reference to our readers.
Eric Hyman has just posted Bibble version 2.99 which can now decode .CRW (Canon RAW - EOS-D30), .NEF (D1 / D1X) and JPEG files. Bibble now features a new engine which is sharper and faster than before, it has a new demosaicing feature which produces sharper images without producing the tell-tail colour mosaic. The other big thing about version 2.99 is support for D1X RAW files including a special 10 megapixel output size (4024 x 2624).
Toshiba has just posted a firmware update for the PDR-M60, PDR-M61 or PDR-M65 digital cameras to give them support for 128 MB SmartMedia cards. The update can be downloaded from the Toshiba US website and self-installed either via the supplied USB cable or by placing the update file on a SmartMedia card. No other fixes / changes are noted for this firmware udpate.
As well as Intel and Olympus. Kodak has announced it has made an equity investment in DataPlay who has developed their tiny $10 a piece 500 MB DataPlay optical storage disc technology (also available as a single-sided 250 MB disc). In a second press release from DataPlay they confirm the Kodak investment as well as more from Intel, Olympus Optical, Imation and other key investors.
4 PM EST: 1 AM EST: Hot on the heels of the DSC-S75... Sony has today announced the camera we'd all heard of but weren't quite sure if it was real. I can confirm it's very real, indeed we've already reviewed it! The DSC-S85 is essentially a DSC-S75 with the new Sony 1/1.8" 4.1 megapixel CCD. The camera produces a 2272 x 1704 image (3.8 megapixels) which is about 10% larger horizontally and vertically than a 3.1 megapixel image. REVIEW ONLINE NOW!!! SORRY!!
Sony has today announced two new dye-sub photo printers, the DPP-SV77 and DPP-SV88. The SV77 is based on the sucessful 400dpi, 4 x 6" SV55 engine, however it adds 3.5" touch-sensitive LCD screen which allows you to select and manipulate your prints without a TV monitor. The SV88, also based on the SV55 engine is more revolutionary, it's designed to fit into a AV system rack (all controls are on the front) and adds a CD-R/RW drive which brings the capability to browse, print and archive all from one device. Plus you can view / print / archive directly from CD Mavica CD-R/RW discs (without finalizing!). UPDATED: Specs.
Displaytech's QVGA Display Module is the basis of Minolta's Digital Hyper Viewfinder (EVF). The EVF functions as an information center, showing a full array of shooting information and monitoring effects of image manipulation and control. Displaytech's microdisplay provides photographers with clear images, even under bright light, and delivers a visual resolution equivalent to almost 220,000 pixels. The variable position viewfinder can be tilted up to 90 degrees, and allows photographers to simultaneously monitor the image and camera settings.
7 AM EST: Kodak Professional has today announced the new Pro DCS 720x. Essentially an updated 620x based on the new '7 platform' it also utilizes the high sensitivity 2 megapixel (1728 x 1152 ) CMY CCD sensor (ISO 400 - 6400) we first saw in last years 620x (which is based on the Nikon F5). The differences are in the details, the 720x now has Kodak's new onboard software, the new brighter LCD and can shoot faster (4.3 fps) for longer (25 images).
Polaroid has today announced two new "revolutionary" digital printing platforms. Opal is a two sheet thermal print medium with fast print speed and long lasting characteristics is aimed at home and retail users. Onyx is a single sheet thermal print medium designed to be used in mobile applications such as PDAs, mobile phones or one-off printers. Expect to see devices based on Onyx technology by the end of this year and Opal in 2002.