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January 2002 news and reviews

January 31
Fujifilm FinePix S602 Zoom

Pre-PMA 2002: The second camera announced by Fujifilm is the new FinePix S602 Zoom. For a while now many people on our Fuji Talk forum have complained that they have been unable to get the 6900Z, well here's the reason. The S602 Zoom replaces the 6900Z and then some. Just like the other cameras announced today the S602 uses the new third generation SuperCCD. On top of the 6900Z features is a higher resolution EVF, dual media slots (now takes CF Type I/II as well as SmartMedia), an all new body, a new user interface and several other new features.

Kodak honour DX3700 for £100 error

Here in the UK there has been an ongoing saga about a mistake made on Kodak's website where the DX3700 digital camera (inc. memory card & inkjet paper) was priced at £100. Soon after this price appeared several hundred people ordered but were later told that they would not get the camera at the erroneous price. After not inconsiderable pressure from angry customers, consumer groups and the threat of legal action Kodak (after more than a month) has agreed to honour those customers who ordered the DX3700 at the advertised price. Full statement inside...

January 30
Fujifilm FinePix F601 Zoom

Pre-PMA 2002: As part of three new cameras announced today based on its third generation SuperCCD technology Fujifilm has revealed the FinePix F601 Zoom. This camera, as the sucessor to the popular 6800Z also features a 3.1 megapixel SuperCCD (although this time the new 'third generation') which produces a 6 megapixel image. There are a full set of manual controls, selectable ISO sensitivity and high speed continuous shooting at five frames per second.

January 29
Fujifilm FinePix S2 Pro D-SLR

Pre-PMA 2002: Fujifilm has today announced a camera which will no doub turn quite a few heads. The S2 Pro has a 6.17 megapixel SuperCCD III which produces a huge 12 megapixel image (yes, twelve). The new camera also addresses two of the major issues with the S1 Pro; it is based on the Nikon F80/N80 body which means it's more robust, this also means it can now shoot with AF-D, AF-G and AF-S Nikkor lenses. Other new features include CCD-Raw files and ISO 100 support.

January 28
Sony cuts Memory Stick prices

Sony has today announced price cuts to its Memory Stick storage (this actually took place last Friday). This is the second price cut in six months. This latest reduction brings the street price of Memory Stick more into line with other storage such as Compact Flash and SD/MMC cards. Sony are now showing the list price for a 128 MB Stick as $89 (down an amazing $60). Memory Sticks can already be ordered at this new price from Sony Style and Sony Imagestation.

Imaging Resource battery shootout

Kudos to Dave Etchells for posting an excellent (technical and logical) comparison of different brands of high capacity AA NiMH batteries. His comparison (although done outside of a digital camera) measured precisely the amount of power these batteries are able to store and return. "First, I was rather surprised that the Rayovac battery / charger combination did as well as it did. Besides their being a newcomer to the NiMH world, I'd seen rather disappointing results from other "name brand" batteries, namely the Energizer Accu Rechargeables."

January 25
Digital Camera shipments up 42.7%

According to the JCIA (Japan Camera Industry Association) Digital Camera sales totalled no less than 14.75 million units in 2001 a rise of some 42.7% over the previous year. In more detail the local Japanese (domestic) market for digital cameras has grown 63.8% and the export market (the rest of the world) has grown 34.2%. This figure is in line with results published by JCIA in August last year which were for the first half of 2001. A pretty amazing result showing just how many digital cameras were destined for the Christmas market.

January 24
Kodak Lost $206 Million in Q4 2001

Kodak lost a total of $206 million in the last quarter of 2001. This is a net loss of 71 cents per share for that period. Sales dropped 6% dragged down by a 10% drop in film sales. "Our strategy during this difficult economic year has been to strengthen our balance sheet so that the company will be in a better financial position once the recovery begins,'' said chief executive Dan Carp.

Lexar announce Pro 1 GB 16x card

Lexar has today announce it plans to ship its new 1 GB 16x Professional CF Type II card by January 31. This new card which has a retail price of $1,199 has a claimed write speed of 2.4 MB per second and will be demonstrated at the upcoming PMA (Photo Marketing Association) show in Orlando at the end of February. Eric Stang, president and CEO says "Our new 1GB delivers everything professional photographers want: a minimum sustained write speed of 2.4MB per second, the highest capacity available and the reliability of solid-state storage."

Fujifilm SuperCCD III

Over on the Finepix.Com page Fujifilm are running a teaser about an upcoming product announcement which will use an updated verison of their SuperCCD technology, this time called SuperCCD III. The second generation SuperCCD was used in the 6800Z and 6900Z. According to the teaser more information will be available on 30th January. The page just after the teaser reveals three shooting modes; "Candleshot", "Speedsnap" and "Motionphoto". The hype build-up to PMA has begun...

January 21
Updated: Olympus E-20 review

Phew! I've just posted our fully updated Olympus E-20 review. The review is now based on a full production E-20P (firmware 29-1102). Updates include a brand new gallery, re-shot resolution chart, colour patches, image quality, sharpening, white balance, chromatics test etc. And a new comparison including the Nikon Coolpix 5000. There's also a new section on the supplied software.

Canon release new G1, G2 and Pro90IS firmware

Canon has today released new firmware for the G1, G2 and Pro90IS. For the G2 it is labelled version and for the G1 / Pro90IS it is labeled version These firmware updates both address the same issue: "With Firmware Version nnn, BP-511 or BP-512 Battery Packs that had become over-discharged were sometimes not chargeable in the camera. With Version nnn, such Battery Packs can be charged in the camera."

January 20
Just posted! Nikon Coolpix 5000 review

The long wait is now over... It seems like an eternity since I started this review, it was indeed before Christmas. At that time the camera I had for review revealed a fault and we didn't receive a replacement camera until the New Year. Since then the British weather and a host of other commitments have done all they can to delay this review. Anyway I've worked solidly to get it out, and here it is... Nikon's latest Coolpix prosumer digital camera, the 5000 under our spotlight and run through our tests. So just how well did it do?

January 18
For those awaiting Coolpix 5000 review

This is a message to the fifteen to twenty people who email me every day asking when I will be posting my Nikon Coolpix 5000 review. I received my latest (working) Coolpix 5000 on 2nd January, I'm currently about 50% through the review and it should be published mid to end of next week. There will be image quality comparisons with the Olympus E20 and Sony DSC-F707. The only potential issue at the moment is the appalling weather we've been having here in London for the last week. So please guys, stop emailing me and let me get on with it :) UPDATED 18/Jan/2002: DELAYED AGAIN.

No more Olympus OM 35mm

The OM-10 was the first 35mm camera I owned, and today Olympus has announced that there will be no more OM cameras from them. "Olympus will discontinue the OM series of 35-mm cameras. The company will continue to manufacture selected lenses and accessories for the OM System and they will remain on sale with limited availability until the end of March 2003." This is not a surprise considering the huge shift of ownership from 35mm to digital.

January 16
SanDisk announces 256 MB SD card

CES 2002: SanDisk has today announced the latest step forward for the MMC/SD format, a 256 MB SD card. This new card uses a 1-Gigabit NAND flash storage chip. "The SD Card is a flash memory storage device with built-in security functions designed to facilitate the secure exchange of content between devices and the card. It is 32 millimeters (mm) long, 24mm wide and 2.1mm thick. More than 100 products with slots for the card have been introduced. " It should be available "first quarter" and will be priced at a competitive $199.

January 15
Apple iPhoto Album Contest

Apple has opened a contest for iPhoto generated iTools HomePages. The competition has three categories: People, Creative and Nature. The competition is open until the 27th January and is available only to US residents. There are three Nikon Coolpix 775's and three Apple iPod's up for grabs.

January 14
SanDisk introduces new dual-slot readers

CES 2002: SanDisk has today announced a range of new ImageMate dual-slot card readers, the readers will be available in three flavors - CompactFlash & SmartMEdia, CompactFlash & Memory Stick and CompactFlash & MMC/SD. These new readers are all USB (why no Firewire?) Mass Storage Class devices and will have an approximate street price of US$40.

January 11
Titan waterproof housing for E-10/E-20

Light & Motion has today announced its Titan waterproof housing for the Olympus E-10 / E-20 Digital SLR's. The housing repeats all of the camera controls on the outside of the housing as well as providing access to the viewfinder and two large handles on either side of the unit. The Titan housing is waterproof down to 300 ft and has a visual moisture alarm should a fault occur. You can also attach optional dedicated lenses. The housing alone costs $2699.

Panasonic confirm Lumix line

CES 2002: Panasonic has confirmed its range of 2002 Lumix digital cameras as well as availability and pricing. In this press release they also confirm two new models we've not previously heard of, the DMC-LC20 and DMC-LC40. The Lumix range boasts Leica Optics in combination with Panasonic (Matsushita) digital imaging. The line starts at $349.95 with the DMC-LC20 and goes up to $899.95 for the four megapixel DMC-LC5.

January 10
Digital Camera sleeve for iPAQ Pocket PC

CES 2002: Nexian, better known for their GPS add-ons for Visor PDA's has announced a new NexiCam "sleeve" for the Compaq iPAQ Pocket PC which adds SVGA (800 x 600) digital camera capability to the iPAQ. "The NexiCam digital camera offers exciting new options for our iPAQ customers, such as its video conferencing and digital video capturing capabilities," said Roger Frizzell, Director of Global Communications with Compaq. "With this new product, we continue to expand the exciting capabilities iPAQ Pocket PC's." List price is $199.

January 9
Minolta DiMAGE X and reviewed!

CES 2002: 9 PM EST: Minolta has today announced the ultra-compact DiMAGE X digital camera. The DiMAGE X features a 2.1 megapixel CCD and an innovative new 'folded optics' 3x optical zoom lens. What's so unique about the lens is that it's mounted on its side and shoots through a prism. This enables the camera to maintain its slim dimensions but also provide a 3x optical zoom. The X comes with a Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery and takes SD/MMC cards. REVIEW ONLINE.

HP announces Photosmart 812 (4 megapixel)

CES 2002: As part of a press release about HP CEO Carly Fiorina's keynote speech HP reveal their new Photosmart 812 digital camera. The 812 has a 4 megapixel CCD, 3x Pentax optical zoom lens will have a retail price of $599 and there's even an optional docking station which will be available for $79. The docking station can be directly connected to USB HP printers for "print direct".

January 8
Anthrax Mail Cleaning Zaps flash cards

CES 2002: An interesting article out of CES today from the Compact Flash Assocation has confirmed that the irradiation process the U.S. Postal Service is using to sanitize mail against anthrax can not only destroy the data on flash storage (and other semiconductors) but can leave them unusable. "Testing has confirmed that these systems, which operate in the range of 55 kGy, damage not only semiconductors, but other goods as well, including pharmaceuticals, contact lenses, biological samples, and photographic film,'' the group said.

Minolta DiMAGE S404 (4 megapixel)

CES 2002: 9 PM EST: Minolta has today announced an updated version of the DiMAGE S304. The S404 has a 4 megapixel CCD, 4x optical zoom lens and shifted ISO sensitivity range (ISO 64, 100, 200, 400). We've had a prototype S404 for two days now, however as Minolta don't want us to post samples from this camera we won't be reviewing this model until a production unit is available.

Lexar cruise in with their own reader

(Pun). CES 2002: Lexar has today announced a new Portable USB card reader for MMC/SD cards. Not to be outdone by SanDisk and just a day after they announced their Cruze product the new Lexar portable USB MMC/SD card reader is also a 'Mass Storage Class' device (which means it will work with most modern operating systems without a driver). The reader alone will cost $29.99. It's worth noting that unlike the SanDisk unit (which is self contained) the Lexar reader does have a cable.

Apple iPhoto

CES 2002: Apple has today announced iPhoto, a new application for its OS X operating system which is designed to make it easier to download, organize, categorize, share and print your digital camera images. iPhoto supports a wide range of digital cameras and can automatically download images from the camera into a 'roll'. The best thing about iPhoto is the extremely simple "Import / Organize / Edit / Book / Share" sequence, this makes it easy for the complete novice to connect their camera and orgnize their photos just as they would if they had hard prints in front of them (only better).

SanDisk introduces "Cruzer" USB storage

CES 2002: SanDisk has today announced "Cruzer", a USB compatible device which is compatible with SD / MMC storage cards. It's essentially a USB "jacket" for these storage cards. Thanks to the "mass storage class" USB device standard the Cruzer can be plugged into any modern operating system without the requirement for drivers. A 128 MB Cruzer will cost you $99.99. (Phil: sounds like a pocket sized SD / MMC card reader to me...)

Two new Sony Mavica's

CES 2002: Sony has today announced two new Mavica "Dual-Media" digital cameras. The 1.2 megapixel FD100 and 2.1 megapixel FD200 can take either 3.5" Floppy disks (yes, still) or Memory Stick flash media. Both cameras have a 3x optical zoom lens and InfoLithium batteries and USB connectivity. The FD100 has an expected retail price of $400, the FD200 a price of $500.

Photopoint owner makes public statement

Thanks to one of our regular readers for noting that Pantellic President (owners of Photopoint) Dale Gass has spoken to CNET by email he writes "While Pantellic has ceased operations, we are actively working on a solution for people to get copies of their photos," Pantellic President Dale Gass wrote in an e-mail. "There will be an announcement at www.photopoint.com, and members will be notified via e-mail when this is available." According to Gass, Pantellic has been unable to communicate with its customers since a "substantial amount" of its networking equipment was seized on the day the Halifax, Nova Scotia-based company ceased operations.

January 7
Two new Canon reviews

Uwe Steinmueller of Digital Outback Photo has just let me know that he's posted a review of Canon's EOS-1D digital SLR and the new EF 400mm f/4 DO IS lens. Of the EOS-1D Uwe says, "Even if the EOS-1D might have low noise compared to other cameras at ISO 400 and above we will try to stay with ISO 200 as often as possible. ISO 400 (and higher even more so) look clearly more grainy than ISO 200 photos (if seen at 100% pixel level)."

Olympus looking for profits next year

Olympus has today said that it is looking to bring its digital camera operations into the black after a tough time last year. Olympus are looking to shift a large amount of its domestic digital camera production to China. "Our biggest problem this business year was inventories,'' Yusuke Kojima, senior manager for sales and marketing in Olympus's imaging systems group, told a news conference. "Digital cameras have been hit by intensely competitive conditions.'' Like personal computers, he said, digital cameras now have a very short shelf-life because of the rapid emergence of new models.