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February 2002 news and reviews

February 26
Contax N Digital does exist!

PMA 2002: We got our hands on Contax's long awaited N Digital D-SLR today. This camera has been on the books now since July 2000. For those who don't know or don't remember the N Digital is based around the full frame (36 x 24 mm) Philips 6 megapixel chip. At last years PMA Contax had a plastic mock-up, this year we find real working pre-production models which shoot, review and have working menu systems. Contax seem confident that the camera isn't too far away. My concern is that they'll be bringing an expensive six megapixel to market at least a year too late.

Sigma SD9 - from the show floor

PMA 2002: Yesterday we had an exclusive hands-on with Sigma's SD9. As we all know the SD9 will be the first digital camera to utilize Foveon's new X3 sensor technology. The SD9 digital SLR is fitted with a 3.54 x 3 million pixel X3 sensor which produces a 2268 x 1512 x 3 image (captures RAW in-camera). The SD9 has a Sigma lens mount (which may well be it's Achilles heel) and a host of manual controls which you'd expect of a D-SLR at this level. The SD9 is set to retail for US$3,000. UPDATE: Added image of dust protection filter.

2002 DIMA Innovative Digital Product Awards

PMA 2002: DIMA, the Digital Imaging Marketing Association have announced the winners of the 2002 Innovative Digital Product Awards announced. Foveon scored well by not only receiving an award for the innovative X3 image sensor but also in a round about way in the shape of Sigma's award for the SD9. Other notable products were Nikon D100, Adobe Photoshop 7, Leica Digilux 1 and the Minolta DiMAGE X.

Four new digital cameras from Samsung

PMA 2002: Samsung has announced no less than four new digital cameras at PMA this year. The $349.99 Digimax 230 has a 2 megapixel sensor and 3x optical zoom. The $479.99 Digimax 340 has a 3 megapixel sensor and 3x optical zoom. The $549.99 Digimax 350SE has a 3 megapixel sensor, 3x optical zoom, high resolution LCD and manual features. And finally the $679.99 Digimax 410 has a 4 megapixel sensor, 3x optical zoom and some manual features.

2002 DIMA Digital Camera Shoot-Out

PMA 2002: DIMA, the Digital Imaging Marketing Association have announced the winners of the 2002 Digital Camera Shoot-Out. They are the Kodak DCS 760, Minolta DiMAGE 7, Sony DCR-TRV50, Sony DSC F707, Minolta DiMAGE 5, Epson Photo PC3100Z, Kodak EasyShare Dx4900, Fuji FinePix 2600Z, Toshiba PDR-M11 and finally the Zoran CamMini.

February 25
Canon EOS-D60 Japan Price
Canon Japan has today announced pricing for the Canon EOS-D60 Kit as 358,000 YEN, this works out at approximately US$2,700. In addition to this we also found an official retail price published by Canon USA as US$2,999. This pricing is around the level we expected and of course we will see lower street prices a month or two after the camera hits the shelves. (Note: The Japanese Kit includes the same items which come as standard in the US and Europe).
Adobe Photoshop 7.0

PMA 2002: Adobe has today revealed Photoshop 7.0. Probably the most widely used photo manipulation package in the digital photography world this latest incarnation of Adobe's benchmark application promises more than ever. It has native support for Mac OS X as well as a swathe of new features such as improved EXIF data support, a sophisticated new scripting language (say goodbye to actions), new file browser, web output enhancements, auto color command and a healing brush for automatically removing dust, scratches etc.

Canon and Exif Print (Exif 2.2)

PMA 2002: JEITA announced the new Exif Print (Exif 2.2) standard earlier this month. Today Canon has posted a press release indicating their support for Exif Print and confirming the compatibility of their new digital cameras, software, drivers and printers with the Exif Print standard. Essentially Exif Print (Exif 2.2) standardizes much of the information which in the past different digital camera manufacturers stored in different ways. This new standard is designed to 'optimize' print output from digital camera images.

February 24
Canon EOS-D60 Update: Samples online

PMA 2002: 12:00 EST: When I got my hands-on the EOS-D60 Canon asked me not to publish sample images from the camera until 12:00 EST today. Added to the existing preview article are a noise comparison, colour comparison, resolution comparison and 21 image samples gallery. Enjoy!

Nixvue announce Vista with LCD screen

PMA 2002: Nixvue has today announced their latest generation 'Digital Album' product with the new Vista. The Vista improves on the Digital Album design by having a built in 1.8" colour LCD screen which can be used to review and manipulate images transferred and stored on the unit. Other improvments include direct connection ports along the side of the unit (no need for a 'travel jack'), higher capacity battery for longer life, replacement of the PCMCIA slot with a CF Type II connector (no need for adapters to read CF cards - other media adapters will be available). Connectivity is via USB although USB 2.0, Firewire and Ethernet add-ons are planned. The Vista will be available in 5, 10, 20 and 30 GB capacities.

Two new digital cameras from Konica

PMA 2002: Konica has just announced two new digital cameras; the Digital Revio KD-400Z and the KD-310Z. What's totally unique about these two digital cameras is that they support both SD/MMC Memor Cards and Sony Memory Stick. As far as I know these are the first non-Sony digital cameras to support Memory Stick. The KD-400Z has a 4 megapixel sensor and 3x optical zoom lens, the KD-310Z has a 3 megapixel sensor and 3x optical zoom lens. Both cameras are designed to be ultra-compact and are styled in a metallic case.

February 23
Kodak's first 4 megapixel camera

PMA 2002: Kodak has today announced their first 4 megapixel digital camera. It's called the DX4900 and is based on the same body as last years DX3900, again using their EasyShare system, except with a few minor tweaks. It has a 2 x zoom lens, takes Compact Flash Type I cards (16MB supplied) and uses two AA batteries.

Canon EOS-D60 - 6 megapixel D-SLR

PMA 2002: 09:00 EST: Canon has today announced its sucessor to the popular EOS-D30 digital SLR. The EOS-D60 takes the D30 body to the next level, now with a 6.3 megapixel CMOS sensor, improved LCD monitor, improved low light AF, shorter shutter release lag, viewfinder highlighted focus points, extended viewfinder information, parameter control in-camera, illuminated top LCD panel and more. Despite the increase in resolution the D60 can still manage 3 fps for up to 8 frames. The EOS-D60 maintains compatibility with D30 accessories (such as the battery grip).

Nikon D100 - 6 megapixel D-SLR

PMA 2002: 07:00 EST GMT: Nikon has today announced its first foray into the 'prosumer' digital SLR market. The new D100 digital SLR is based on the popular F80 film SLR. The D100 features a six megapixel sensor (1.5x field-of-view crop / focal length multiplier), ISO 200 - 1600 sensitivity, three colour modes (inc. sRGB & Adobe RGB), pop-up flash, five area AF, AF assist lamp, 3D Matrix Meteringplus full Nikon F mount lens support. There's also an optional add-on battery pack / portrait grip for extended battery life (which also adds a microphone). Nikon has not yet announced a price for the D100 but we expect it to be VERY competitive. Available this summer.

Nikon Coolpix 2500

PMA 2002: 07:00 EST GMT: Nikon has today announced the stylish, new split-body (with a twist) Coolpix 2500. This new model is the first split-body Coolpix where the twisting lens portion of the camera sits inside the main body. This offers better protection to the lens when closed and a stiffer, more robust overall camera feel. The Coolpix 2500 has a 2 megapixel CCD sensor, a 3x optical zoom lensand easy-to-use features. The Coolpix 2500 is a stylish shift from the previous Coolpix split-body range and marks an interesting new option in the 'middle ground' of the digital camera market.

Lexar announces 24x Pro CF cards

PMA 2002: Lexar Media has today announced new 24x professional Compact Flash cards. Lexar claim a throughput of 3.6 MB per second (although they don't specify which camera this was tested on) where 1x is 150 KB/sec. "We believe this is the fastest digital film available. Lexar Media alone can claim consistent write speeds that clock at a minimum of 3.6MB per second'' said Eric Stang, president and CEO, Lexar Media. "Professional photographers use faster cards, such as our 24X, to dramatically increase image file write speeds, especially when shooting in high-resolution modes...."

Exclusive Nikon D100 hands-on preview

PMA 2002: We've had an exclusive opportunity to try out Nikon's new six megapixel D100 digital SLR. The D100 is due to go up against the Canon EOS-D60, Sigma SD9 and Fujifilm S2 Pro in this years "Battle of the digital SLR's". So far the D100 appears to be one of the strongest contenders with a very good feature set, excellent controls, auto focus, speed and resolution. Dive in for our exclusive close-up look at Nikon's latest. UPDATE: Added continuous shooting test results.

Foveon announces Adobe and Microsoft support

PMA 2002: Carver Mead, CEO of Foveon today gave a talk in an early morning DIMA session called "The Cutting Edge of Commercial Imaging". In this talk he explained the limitations of the current mosaic type CCD sensor and went on to talk about the new X3 sensor in some detail. As part of his talk he also announced that Foveon are working with Adobe to provide X3 RAW support from within products such as Photoshop. He saved the best for last, a video of Microsoft's Bill Gates endorsing the Foveon X3 technology and announcing that Microsoft are working with Foveon to provide native support for X3 RAW images from within Windows XP.

Toshiba PDR-T10

Toshiba Japan has announced its new PDR-T10 digital camera. The PDR-T10 seems to take its concept from mobile phones by allowing the owner to change the front cover. It has a 2.1 megapixel CCD, a fixed lens, 8MB SD memory card and uses 2 AA batteries.

February 22
Hands-on preview of Canon's EOS-D60

PMA 2002: This week I got an exclusive hands-on with Canon's EOS-D60. I've summarised what's new, what I discovered and what to expect in the form of a preview article. This article includes a detailed breakdown of each new feature, full specifications and a hands-on editorial of what I found and thought of Canon's latest EOS D-SLR. UPDATE: To those who read this article earlier I've just added an additional page.

Canon PowerShot G2 Black Kit

PMA 2002: 09:00 EST: Canon Europe has today announced a new Black PowerShot G2 which comes as a kit bundled with a 1 GB IBM Microdrive. "By combining the strength of two respected technology leaders, Canon has enhanced the PowerShot G2 to deliver extended shooting performance." Says Mr. Komatsuzaki, Executive Vice President, Canon Consumer Imaging.

Canon's new entry-level PowerShot A30 and A40

PMA 2002: 09:00 EST: Canon has today announced the new PowerShot A30 and A40. The A30 and A40 update and replace last years A10 and A20. Both cameras feature a 3x optical zoom lens, the A30 has a 1.2 megapixel CCD sensor, the A40 has a 2.0 megapixel CCD sensor. Both cameras take Compact Flash Type I cards and require four AA batteries. We liked last years A20 as one of the best entry-level digital cameras, the A40 looks to be well placed this year but will face stiffer competition from other manufacturers.

Canon's new entry-level PowerShot A100

PMA 2002: 09:00 EST: Canon has today announced the PowerShot A100. This new model has a 1.2 megapixel CCD (1280 x 960 image size) and a fixed focal length (39 mm equiv.) F2.8 lens. The A100 is aimed squarly at the budget and first-time buyer market but still has a good feature and specifications list. The A100 also supports Canon's direct printing and is Exif Print compatible.

Canon CP-100 for direct 4x6 inch prints

PMA 2002: 09:00 EST: Canon has today announced its new Direct Card Photo Printer CP-100. The CP-100 takes the concept of the CP-10 to the next logical level and offers full sized 4 x 6 in dye-sub printing direct from a connected compatible camera (or from a computer using a separate kit). The CP-100 is compatible with all the new PowerShot cameras announced today and older PowerShot cameras via a soon to be announced firmware update.

February 21
Nikkor 70-200 mm F2.8 VR & 24-85 mm AF-S

PMA 2002: 07:00 EST GMT: Nikon has today announced the new Zoom Nikkor 70 - 200 mm F2.8G AF-S VR IF-ED (whoa, nice short name) as well as a 24 - 85 mm F3.5 - F4.5 AF-S ED lens. The 79 - 200 mm has a fixed body, internal focus and internal zoom mechanism. It also has a 'Silent Wave Motor' focusing motor and 'Vibration Reduction' stabilisation system.

Nikon announces three new speedlights

PMA 2002: 07:00 EST GMT: Nikon has today announced no less than three new Speedlight flash units. The SB-29s is a modified SB-29 designed to work better with digital SLR's, it adds an extra stop lower power level. The SB-30 is an ultra-compact Speedlight designed to be used with SLR's, digital SLR's and Coolpix digital cameras. The SB-80DX replaces the SB-28/28DX and adds new features and functionality.

February 20
Sony MVC-CD400 Quick Preview

Pre-PMA 2002: Having just received a pre-production CD400 in the last few days I haven't had time to put together a full review. Instead I've put together a simple 'quick preview' article and some samples for you to take a look at. The CD400 appears to be a very promising digital camera for those who are looking for an alternative to flash storage. It figures as an improved DSC-S85 with the 'CD Mavica' backend for storage directly onto 8 cm CD-R or CD-RW.

Sony DSC-P71 Quick Preview

Pre-PMA 2002: As a prelude to a full review of the DSC-P71 we have a quick preview article and sample images available. This camera is aimed squarely at the entry-level portion of the market, priced extremely competitively the DSC-P71 offers a 3 megapixel sensor, 3x optical zoom and a variety of features such as unlimited MPEG recording (limited only by storage), new white balance modes and selectable ISO sensitivity. The P71 takes just two AA batteries (NiMH rechargeables are included) and stores its images on a Memory Stick.

Two new Sony CD Mavica's

Pre-PMA 2002: 17:01 EST: Sony has today announced two new CD Mavica digital cameras. The MVC-CD250 is a 2 megapixel, 3 x optical zoom digital camera, the MVC-CD400 is a 4 megapixel, 3 x optical zoom digital camera. Both cameras store their images directly onto 8 cm CD-R or CD-RW discs. Both cameras offer significant improvments over last years offerings, most notably the 4 megapixel sensor in the CD400, five area selectable AF (CD400), new white balance options, MPEQ HQX and a flash hot-shoe (CD400). Sony has also proved it listens to its customers by adding a 'Confirm before write' option for both of these cameras.

Three new DSC-P digital cameras from Sony

Pre-PMA 2002: 17:01 EST: Sony has today announced three new 'entry level' DSC-P digital cameras. The DSC-P31 and DSC-P51 are both two megapixel digital cameras, the P31 with a fixed 33 mm equiv. lens, the P51 with a 2x optical zoom (41 - 82 mm equiv.). The DSC-P71 has a three megapixel CCD sensor plus a three times optical zoom lens. All three cameras feature a new three area multi-point AF mode, Memory Stick storage, 320 x 240 MPEG HQX video recording, a new full range of white balance settings and take two AA batteries.

Foveon X3 exclusive preview

Pre-PMA 2002: 00:01 EST: Almost three months ago we had an exclusive opportunity to test Foveon's new X3 sensor technology for ourselves. Foveon provided dpreview with an early prototype sensor in a standard Foveon studio body (the same used for their Foveon II Portrait Camera). The prototype setup was a tethered only solution and despite the prototype nature of the this sensor the results were very impressive. UPDATED 17th Feb - Crops from TIFF originals replace first set of crops. 20th Feb - Resolution chart.

Kyocera Finecam S4, S3x

Pre-PMA 2002: 03:00 EST: Kyocera has today announced the new Finecam S4 (four megapixel, 3x optical zoom) and Finecam S3x (three megapixel, 3x optical zoom). The S3x is an 'improved' S3 with a new 3x optical zoom lens to replace the S3's 2x unit. Note the new pop-up flash and shifted viewfinder to make space for the larger lens mechanism.The S4 is based around a four megapixel CCD sensor and the same 3x optical zoom lens used in the update S3x. Prices in Japan for the S4 and S3x are expected to be 88,000 YEN (US$660) and 98,000 YEN (US$740) respectively.

February 18
Sigma SD9 D-SLR: Foveon X3 sensor

Pre-PMA 2002: Sigma's new SD9 D-SLR will be the first digital camera to utilize Foveon's recently announced X3 sensor technology. This new camera has a 3.43 megapixel (effective) X3 sensor which outputs 2268 x 1512 x 3 pixels. Each pixel is 9 microns which makes the sensor 20.7 x 13.8 mm (a 1.7x focal length multiplier). The SD9 has a Sigma lens mount and a unique dust protector just behind the lens mount to stop dust from attaching itself to the sensor. Price is expected to be around US$3,000. UPDATED: Full specifications. Pre-order today!

Archos Jukebox Multimedia

The Archos Jukebox Multimedia is the first portable mass storage device to feature a full colour display which can be used to view images and video. The Jukebox Multimedia can transfer images directly from your storage card to its internal 10 GB hard drive using the optional 'Photo Module'. The 'Camera Module' allows you to take images directly via the unit, the 'Video Module' enables you to record and playback video (MPEG4 format). The Jukebox Multimedia can of course also play MP3 audio. Connection is via USB 1.1 but there should be optional modules for USB 2.0 and Firewire connectivity.

PMA 2002 Show Report - Preview

Pre-PMA 2002: In preparation for what is undoubtedly the most important trade show of the year (for digital photography) I have posted the beginnings of our PMA 2002 show report. This new show report format enables you to keep up to date with all the latest product announcements, get reports and updates from the show floor as well as read the final show report which should be posted towards the end of next week. We are expecting several announcements this week, which will be posted both here on the front page and will also be linked from the 'New Product Index' found in the PMA 2002 Show Report. The show starts this Sunday and we'll be there to deliver all the details straight back to you.

February 17
Sony ICX413AQ six megapixel CCD

Thanks to Niklas on our Sony Talk forum for noting Sony's new ICX413AQ six megapixel 3:2 ratio APS sized CCD. After some digging I managed to confirm this chip either is or soon will be in production. The chip is APS sized and has a pixel cell size of 7.8µm x 7.8µm, it is an interline frame readout chip and requires a mechanical shutter, thus it is designed for D-SLR's. Interestingly it's capable of capturing at 3 fps in single channel mode and 5 fps in dual channel mode. This sensor is ideally sized and specified to be used in a 35 mm SLR bodied D-SLR (it would produce a 1.5x focal length multiplier).

February 16
StudioAvenue closes its doors

StudioAvenue, the online photo sharing company owned by JASC, of Paint Shop Pro fame, has shut the doors as of yesterday. This may not be one of the major sites and so perhaps not a news story, except that StudioAvenue is just a re-branding of PhotoLoft, the first of the sites to move to a subscription based service last March. They say "That means any photos left on StudioAvenue.com after February 15, 2002 will be deleted", and should be "uploaded to another photo-sharing site (such as Ofoto, Snapfish, or Shutterfly)". This will undoubtedly be a loss in revenue for PhotoLoft, and in less than a month they will be asking their members to renew their yearly subscriptions.

February 14

There seems to have been some activity from Photopoint, the short message they're now displaying is to assure people that their photos are still safe but due to bandwidth, hardware and labor costs they can not be put online (ouch). If you're an existing Photopoint user you can complete a survey displayed on the site(requires your Photopoint password). The questions are: Would you pay for a CD-ROM of your pictures ($24.95), Would you pay $5.95 per month for the service, how important is third party photo hosting. If Photopoint want to charge existing users to get their own images back it raises the question what happened to all the subscriptions paid by the same users? UPDATE: CEO Dale Gass responds to my comments on the Imaging-Resource website.

February 11
Foveon X3 technology overview

Pre-PMA 2002: 00:01 EST: As a part of our coverage of Foveon's X3 sensor technology this news article is a reproduction of a technology overview presentation provided by Foveon in its standard press kit. This overview summarises the method of the existing mosaic sensors and the way in which the new X3 sensor works.

Foveon's revolutionary X3 sensor

Pre-PMA 2002: 00:01 EST: Foveon has today announced a new, revolutionary image sensor called the X3. A traditional digital camera sensor works by capturing just one colour (red, green or blue) at each pixel location. These individual pixels are then combined in software to produce a full colour pixel. The X3 is the first sensor which is capable of capturing full colour for every pixel in its array. The X3 does so with a special photosite which is measures different colours at different 'depths' within the silicon. The first camera to use the new sensor will be the $3,000 Sigma SD9 D-SLR (Sigma lens mount), Kodak have also shown an interest in using the X3 technology.

February 9
Nikon's new digital camera competition

Pre-PMA 2002: Nikon has started a 14 day countdown to the announcement of its latest Coolpix digital camera. As a part of the build-up Nikon USA are running a 'Guess the slogan' competition which has new clues published on the nikoncoolpix.com website every day. So far we've had two clues: an ice cream cone and a twister. Enter and you could win one of the new cameras!

February 5
EXIF 2.2 standard - the new PIM?

JEITA (Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Assocation) Technical Standardization Committee has today published the new EXIF 2.2 standard (white paper, open for comment until 5th April 2002). The 'Exchangeable image file format for Digital Still Camera' describes what format the image files from digital cameras should take and what additional information should be embedded in the file header (almost all current digital cameras use EXIF 2.1). The new 2.2 standard is interesting because it includes a special portion specifically designed to be interpreted by printer drivers / printers to enable them to perform accurate image adjustment before printing (a bit like Epson's PIM).

February 1
Matsushita 1900 mAh NiMH

Matsushita (Panasonic) has today announced new 1900 mAh AA NiMH rechargeable batteries. Up until this point the maximum capacity of NiMH AA available was around 1800 mAh. Interestingly the batteries are labelled as '2000' but Panasonic claim a minimum capacity of 1900 mAh. This makes sense considering that in our own (and others) testing it's clear that the actual usable capacity of these batteries tends to be less than indicated.

Pocket Phojo Short Review

Pocket Phojo by Idruna Software is an image manipulation, editting and transfer application designed for PocketPC PDA's. Specifically, this application can browse, edit and tag images on a storage card inserted into the PDA (depending on the PDA / sleeve used) and then transmit them via FTP back to 'the office'. With the advent of the new faster PocketPC 2002 PDA's many of which have built-in communications interfaces this ultra-compact method of image transfer is very attractive to Photo Journalists. I've taken a quick look at Pocket Phojo running on my Compaq iPAQ H3870.

First Fujifilm FinePix F601 samples online

The Japanese site 'Miscall' (who used to be associated with Dreamarts) has managed to pull another Internet first by being the first site to publish samples from Fujifilm's new F601 Zoom (a beta camera). The F601 Zoom, announced just last week is an update to the popular 6800Z. The F601 is also one of three new cameras based on Fujifilm's updated SuperCCD III technology. So, in effect these are also the first samples from a SuperCCD III sensor (although will in no way be representative of the level of quality we expect from the S2 Pro).