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May 2002 news and reviews

May 30
Fujifilm FinePix F401 Zoom

Fujifilm has today announced the FinePix F401 Zoom. This ultra-compact digital camera has a three times optical zoom lens and 2.1 megapixel Super CCD which produces a 3.9 megapixel final image size (2304 x 1728). The F401 has an ISO sensitivity range of ISO 200 - 1600 and conforms to EXIF 2.2 (ExifPRint). Just like its bigger brother the F601 the F401 also has a dedicated dock system for charging and image transfer. Storage is by SmartMedia card and the camera is powered by the same NP-60 used on the F601. UPDATED: Press release, specs and more pictures added.

May 29

Right now I'm not sure what's going on, we were told no samples from beta cameras but the Japanese 'photo album' site 'Miscall' has posted some samples from both the 4500 and 5700, also Nikon Japan has posted samples from both the 4500 and 5700. So, for those curious about these new camera's image quality it looks as though you may now have an opportunity.

Nikon Coolpix 5700 and previewed!

15:00 JST: Part three of the 'Coolpix³' trio is the new five megapixel, eight times optical zoom Coolpix 5700. The 5700 is based heavily on the 5000, yet there are some obvious and distinct differences. The 5700 has a big eight times optical zoom which has a respectable maximum aperture of F2.8 to F4.2. It also features the first EVF (Electronic Viewfinder) we've seen in a Nikon digital camera (and a good one it is too). Oh, and you can shoot RAW now too! We have had a pre-production Coolpix 5700 in-house in order to produce a detailed ten page preview, come in for much more information...

Nikon Coolpix 4500 and previewed!

15:00 JST: Part two of the 'Coolpix³' trio is the new four megapixel, four times optical zoom Coolpix 4500. The Coolpix 4500 continues the split-body line of Coolpix digital cameras, this time we get an increase in resolution and a reduction in size. The 4500 looks much more stylized than its predecessor (the Coolpix 990/995). The 4500 does away with a control panel LCD but keeps a pop-up flash, although this time it's neatly flush fitted. We have had a pre-production Coolpix 4500 in-house in order to produce a ten page preview, come in for much more detail...

Nikon Coolpix 2000 First Look

15:00 JST: Part one of the 'Coolpix³' trio is the new two megapixel, three times optical zoom entry level Coolpix 2000. Designed with the beginner in mind the 2000 has simple controls and ease of use. The 2000 is powered by four AA batteries and has a Compact Flash Type I slot. The 2000 has six shooting modes, five of which are scene modes. The 2000 is also the first Nikon consumer digital camera to have a primary (GRGB) colour filter array.

Nikon Cool-light SL-1

15:00 JST: In addition to the announcement of three new Coolpix digital cameras Nikon has also today announced the 'Macro Cool-light SL-1' accessory. This ring-light screws onto the standard 28 mm lens thread of the Coolpix 950, 990, 995 or 4500 or the Coolpix 880, 885 or 775 with a step down adapter ring. The Cool-light provides a permanent white light (it's not a flash strobe, but a circle of white LED's). The Cool-light is especially useful when shooting macros which, on close focusing digital cameras are invariably difficult to light.

May 28
Sony DSC-P2 & DSC-P7

00:00 EST: Sony US has today announced the two megapixel, three times optical zoom DSC-P2 (previously announced at CeBit and in Japan) and the three megapixel, three times optical zoom DSC-P7. These two cameras complement the DSC-P9 and carry many of its features. This 'fills out' the lower end of Sony's line of ultra-compact digital cameras.

May 21
Kodak announces new camera, dock and software

Kodak has today announced its new enhanced EasyShare system. The new system includes new EasyShare software designed to make the 'arriving home' experience easier. Kodak has also announced the CX4230 2 megapixel digital camera (which rotates images to the correct orientation in the camera) and the new EasyShare Dock II. The new Dock II allows the transfer of images back to the computer as well as in-camera charging of the supplied NiMH rechargeable battery (now with charge indicators).

May 20
First Contax N Digital samples online

Kyocera Japan has today posted three sample images from the much awaited six megapixel full-frame sensor Contax N Digital. These three samples are available on the Kyocera Japan website, all were taken at either ISO 25 or ISO 50 (which is a little concerning). Although these images look good reduced in size but are not as sharp or detailed as images from the Canon EOS-D60, Nikon D100 or Nikon D1x. UPDATE 15/May: Kyocera has pulled these samples from their website. UPDATE: Reduced size images have been put back.

May 17
Nikon UK confirm D100 at £1899.99

By email today Nikon UK has confirmed the Recommended Retail Price of their D100 digital SLR (body only) is £1899.99, approximately £100 cheaper than the RRP for Canon's EOS-D60. We assume this price includes VAT (at 17.5%), subtracting VAT this works out at approximately US$ 2400 or 2570 EURO. Still around $400 more expensive than in the States. The email goes on to state that the camera "is due to go on sale at the end of June" and that "Kit prices for the camera will be announced soon".

May 16
Just posted! Kodak EasyShare DX4900 review

Just posted! Our review of Kodak's latest four megapixel budget priced digital camera, the DX4900. This camera shares much of its functionality and design with the three megapixel DX3900 but increases maximum image size to 2448 x 1632 (3.99 million pixels). The DX4900 is designed to be easy to use and is fully compatible with Kodak's EasyShare dock system. See how it shaped up to our tests.

May 15
Nikon D100 Samples Gallery Online

In a major update to our already updated preview (phew!) I have just posted a gallery of 25 images from a pre-production Nikon D100 running firmware V0.32. The gallery was shot in a range of different circumstances with a variety of lenses. Also added to the preview are colour patch and colour chart test shots, resolution chart crops and some comparison to the Canon EOS-D60. At the moment the D100 is looking very good, image quality is excellent and it's shaping up to be more than a match for the EOS-D60.

Canon's new image sensor patent

Canon was yesterday granted US patent 6,388,709 (filed in 1996) which is titled "Image sensing apparatus with optical modulation elements having transmission characteristics controllable by pixel". This patent goes on to describe an image sensor which can control the colour of the filter in front of each pixel. From looking through the diagrams it appears the idea is to capture two images, each with a shifted RRGGBGG pattern and then combine these two images to produce a full colour image output. This design also allows the control of the amount of light to each pixel, extending dynamic range. - Our thanks to Wilfried Bittner for spotting this.

Nikon Coolpix 3 - what's it all about?

Nikon it would appear is going to announce a new digital camera on May 29th. That according to a new splash 'pop-up' on the Nikon Coolpix (USA) website. The clues are - Simply Cool, Digital from all Angles, Taking Digital to the Next Dimension. You can even sign up on the Nikon Coolpix page to be the first to hear of the new camera as it is announced.

Minolta DiMAGE X Marine Case

Minolta Japan has today announced the MC-DG100 Marine Case for the Ultra-Slim DiMAGE X digital camera. We note that this product was on display at the Photo Expo 2002 show back in March but at that time there were no details available. The MC-DG100 allows the DiMAGE X to be used at depths of up to 30m and adds just 260 g (9.2 oz) to the weight of the DiMAGE X. The MC-DG100 has an expected Japan retail price of 25,000 YEN (US$195). We have no details at this time of when this product is expected to reach other shores.

May 14
Qimage Pro 2002 v2.0 released

Mike Chaney, author of the image manipulation / RAW converison / print management application Qimage Pro has today announced his latest version. Qimage Pro 2002 v2.0 introduces new features include a new WYSIWYG view of the printed page, cummulative filters, high quality full-screen preview algorithm, support for full size 3072 x 2040 Kodak PCD images and more.

First Olympus C-720UZ samples online

The Japanese site 'Miscall' (who used to be associated with Dreamarts) has again managed to be the first website to publish samples from a new camera. This time it's a pre-production Olympus C-720UZ, the 8x optical zoom, 3 megapixel update to the C-700UZ. This new camera has certainly generated quite a bit of interest but as of yet it appears this camera may only be released in the US and Asia (not Europe).

May 10
Other sites reviews

Just catching up with reviews posted elsewhere on the web. In the mad rush after PMA lots of new cameras have been reviewed: Kodak DX3700 / DX3900 / DX4900, Canon PowerShot S200 / S330, Minolta DiMAGE X / S404 / F100, Sony DSC-P31 / DSC-P51 / DSC-P9, Kyocera Finecam S4, Fujifilm FinePix F601 / S602, Nikon Coolpix 2500, Panasonic DMC-LC5 / DMC-LC40, Casio GV-10.

Minolta DiMAGE 7 upgrade soon?

Minolta Japan has announced that it will soon be making available a firmware upgrade for the DiMAGE 7. This new firmware incorporates several of features found in the new DiMAGE 7i such as improved AF speed, improved continuous shooting, Ultra High Speed (UHS) 1280 x 960 shooting mode, direct manual focus (manual focus after AF) and the real time histogram display (plus some others). Minolta Japan are offering this upgrade for 6,000 YEN (approx. $50), a new version of DiMAGE Viewer is also priced at 6,000 YEN (approx. $50) or a bundle of the two for 10,000 YEN (approx. $80). It's unclear at this stage whether this upgrade service will be available in other regions of the world.

Just posted! HP PhotoSmart 812 review

Just posted! Our exclusive review of HP's four megapixel PhotoSmart 812. The 812 is an ultra compact easy-to-use digital camera with a three times optical zoom lens and four megapixel sensor. The 812 takes SD card storage and is powered by two AA batteries. Competition in this sector of the market is fierce and the 812 now faces some serious challengers. So just how well does it do in our tests?

May 9
Carl Zeiss get excited about the Contax N Digital

Carl Zeiss (the company), who of course will have more than a passing interest in the N Digital, has today posted a news article titled "Contax N Digital Passes the First Practical Test with Flying Colors!". It's about an opportunity 30 Italian photographers and dealers had to get their hands on the N Digital at the end of last month, "It was the unanimous opinion of all participants that the Contax N Digital passed this test with flying colors despite adverse weather conditions in Rothenburg."

Polaroid to be sold, 28th June

Polaroid has today announced that, "U.S. Bankruptcy Court has approved procedures for the proposed sale of its business to an investor group led by One Equity Partners -- the private equity arm of Bank One Corporation) - or to a bidder with a higher or better offer. The court has set Friday, June 28, 2002, for a final hearing on the sale." They go on to say, "This is an important milestone in our plan to emerge from Chapter 11. We remain committed to securing a strong buyer for the company to maximize value for our creditors and to create a new beginning for Polaroid as an ongoing business." UPDATE 9/May: And the chairman / CEO resigns.

Contax N Digital - spec changes

Kyocera Japan has today announced that the Contax N Digital will finally go on sale on Sunday 19th May (we hope). Interestingly there have also been a number of specification changes announced. These are: a reduction in final image size from 6.13 to 6.04 megapixels, addition of colour saturation adjustment, reduction in sensitivity from ISO 50-1600 in the original specification to ISO 25-400 for the final camera, an reduction of battery life expectation from 500 to 300 images and an increase in weight of 10 g to 1 KG (2.2 lb).

May 8
Olympus C-720 Ultra Zoom

Olympus has today announced the C-720 Ultra Zoom, this camera is an update to the C-700 Ultra Zoom. The C-720 UZ appears to have a reduced zoom range, the C-700 UZ had a 10x optical zoom, the C-720 UZ only 8x. The C-720 UZ is expected to be available in June with a US street price of $599.

Olympus C-300 Zoom / D-550 Zoom

00:00 GMT: Olympus has today announced the three megapixel budget priced C-300 Zoom (known as the D-550 Zoom in the US). The C-300Z is based around the previous C-200Z, the new camera has a 2.8x optical zoom lens and 3 megapixel CCD sensor. Key new features are the 'virtual mode dial', night scene noise reduction, pixel mapping, panorama mode (using Olympus card) and a 3:2 image format. This camera will have a UK retail price of £299, a 'kit' containing rechargable batteries and a charger will cost just £50 more.

Nikon Japan sets D100 price

Nikon Japan has today announced the local (Japanese) price for the D100 as 300,000 ¥ (approx. US$2,340) as well as several D100 accessories such as the MB-D100 battery-grip and the RAW file conversion software Nikon Capture 3. Another interesting fact in their press release is that the D100 is due for release (in Japan at least) on 22nd June 2002.

May 6
Nikon View 5.1 & Capture 3.0

Another exclusive preview! In an update to the D100 preview I posted this morning I've now added a full preview of the software which will come with the D100 (Nikon View 5.1) as well as the optional Nikon Capture 3.0. There's also a nice surprise in Nikon View 5.1, it now comes with a new application called 'Nikon View Editor' which provides basic RAW image manipulation (exposure compensation, white balance selection).

Nikon D100 Preview - Major Update

I've just posted our updated Nikon D100 Preview. This update was produced using one of the most recent D100's with the latest pre-production firmware (v0.32). Gone is the four page article prepared in my hotel room at PMA, now replaced with an eight page detailed preview with clean, high resolution product shots and LCD monitor captures. This preview now includes specifications, body & design, operation, displays and menus (essentially this is 'half of a review'). Nikon's policy of not allowing publication of samples from pre-production cameras stands, this means that our next update will be the final review (sorry, no time scale yet).

May 3
Bibble 2002 3.0 released

Eric Hyman, author of the RAW converison application Bibble has today announced the release of a whole new version of Bibble, 2002 3.0. This new version has a completely re-designed user interface, higher speed, support for more cameras (although not yet the EOS-1D and EOS-D60). Bibble also now has "Kodak Color", to quote, "Through a partnership with Kodak, Bibble now uses Kodak Digital Science software for its internal color engine and profile generation, Thus bringing Kodak Color to All users of Bibble no matter what camera they shoot."

EOS-D60 field test & medium format comparison

Michael Reichmann, who some of you will know for his comparison of the EOS-D30 to 35 mm film has today posted two new articles on the EOS-D60. His first article is a field test of the EOS-D60 (as a 'working photographer') it covers the ins and outs of the new camera from the point of view of a film and D30 photographer. Secondly he has also posted a comparison of the D30 and D60 versus 35 mm, 645 and 6x7 film scans.