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October 2002 news and reviews

October 31
Sony offer adjustment for DSC-F717's

Sony has posted a short note that some 'initial production' DSC-F717's will produce images which are out of focus when used with the Hologram AF (Laser light illumination) at certain focal lengths and certain light conditions. "Although these circumstances are limited, Sony will offer a parameter adjustment to the Hologram AF system for end users in accordance with its limited warranty, through Sony Service Centers and Sony's Authorized Service Centers." A list of serial numbers can be found within. UPDATE 31/Oct: Sony US have contacted us and have also posted update procedure.

October 30

Thanks to several of our readers who have sent emails of concern about the fact that there have been no news updates for over a week. There have been no news articles because at the moment we are in the typical quiet news period after a large show (Photokina). From a personal level I also moved house last weekend which meant that the currently active reviews had to be put on hold, I started working on them again yesterday. Please bear with me on this, the move is over but the 'moving in' isn't. Thanks again!

October 28
More Sigma SD9 samples

Thanks to forums poster 'Andreas P.' for noting that seven new Sigma SD9 samples have been posted on the German website Foto Erhardt. These samples were taken during Photokina under studio conditions (on the stand probably) and are Copyright Sigma. Several of these images show the huge potential of the X3 sensor and its ability to deliver very fine single pixel resolution. Kudos also to the Photographer who I assume is the same as was doing the demo on the Sigma stand.

October 21
Rob Galbraith examines the EOS-1Ds

Respected Professional Photographer Rob Galbraith has today posted an article titled "Canon EOS-1Ds delivers detail, and lots of it". The article is an examiniation of the image quality of a pre-production EOS-1Ds, Rob notes "Summing up EOS-1Ds image quality is difficult. On the one hand, the camera delivers crisp, detailed photos which are effectively noise-free at ISO 100, and surprisingly clean at ISO 1250. On the other hand, certain 16-35mm photos contain heaps of chromatic aberration, while portrait colour can be too vivid and contrasty."

October 19
Canon EOS-1Ds vs. EOS-D60

Dave over at Imaging Resource has just posted a side-by-side comparison of the eleven megapixel EOS-1Ds and the six megapixel EOS-D60 posing the question "How much difference does it make?" (the additional five megapixels). Dave is lucky to have already received a production EOS-1Ds (we're expecting ours sometime next week). "The short answer to the "how much difference" question is "a lot" - Check out the photos below for comparison crops from each camera's images, including some in which the D60's image has been upsampled in Photoshop to match the scale of the one from the 1Ds, as well as some experiments with unsharp masking."

October 18
Canon PowerShot S45

Pre-Photokina 2002, 0600 GMT: Canon has today announced the PowerShot S45. This new camera is essentially a refresh of the S40, it adds newly announced technologies such as the DIGIC processor, FlexiZone AF/AE, 9-point AiAF, Custom exposure mode, two manual white balance presets, focus bracketing, orientation sensor and up to 3 minute movie clips (using a high speed CF card). The PowerShot S45 has a four megapixel sensor and three times optical zoom lens.

October 17
Pentax D-SLR next year - official

Yesterday we noted a short article posted on the Japan Industrial Journal website (in Japanese) about a new Pentax D-SLR to be announced next 'Spring' (PMA). I've waited until now to get this news verified by our Japanese contact, and it does appear to be accurate and official as it was based on an interview with Pentax. The camera will be based around an APS sized sensor and will have a price around 200,000 YEN (US$1,600). It's not really surprising to find out Pentax have something in the works especially considering the announced and cancelled full-frame D-SLR of two years ago. Good news for increased competition in the D-SLR market, although I'm sure this won't be the only new D-SLR at PMA next year.

October 16
DCResource tests Coolpix 4300 compare to LS443

Jeff Keller over at DCResource has today posted his review of the four megapixel Nikon Coolpix 4300, "The Nikon Coolpix 4300 is a worthy follow up to its predecessor, the 885. It offers most of the features found on the more expensive Coolpix 4500, including the use of conversion lenses and the macro ring flash! Most importantly, the 4300 has the excellent photo quality that is found on the more expensive Coolpix". In addition Jeff has also posted a small gallery of side-by-side comparison shots from the Coolpix 4300 and Kodak's LS443.

Maha launch 100 minute charger

For users of digital cameras which take AA batteries the new MH-C401FS 100 minute charger could be just what you need. The MH-C401FS charges each battery independently which makes for a better overall charge and no overcharging. This charger also has a five hour 'gentle charge' option for optimum charge capacity. The MH-C401FS fast charges at 1000 mA, for a 1800 mAh battery that's 0.6 C.

October 15
Pentax Optio 330GS Firmware Update

Pentax has today announced a firmware update for the recently introduced 330GS digital camera. This update improves "the compatibility of the Optio330GS with various new CF cards being introduced in the market". Current 330GS digital cameras will have firmware version 1.0 loaded, this new firmware is version 1.1. The update is carried out by copying the new firmware (.bin) file onto a Compact Flash card and inserting it into the camera. The updater is available for Windows and Mac OS.

October 11
Nikon Coolpix 885 Firmware v1.2

Nikon has today announced new firmware for the Coolpix 885 digital camera. Firmware v1.2, which is slightly less radical than the new firmware announced for the Coolpix 5000, simply adds EXIF 2.2 (ExifPrint) support and PTP USB connection mode. Interestingly (and I hadn't noticed this with other similar firmware upgrades) Nikon specifically notes that Epson's PRINT Image Matching is no longer supported. Looks like PIM is dead.

October 10
Panasonic confirm DMC-FZ1 announce DMC-F1

Panasonic Japan has today confirmed the details of the Lumix DMC-FZ1 which was quietly introduced at Photokina (and reported in detail here), they have also announced the Lumix DMC-F1 which seems to be based on the existing DMC-F7. In addition to this there are also two new interesting SD products. The SV-PT1 is a portable storage device based around a 5 GB hard disk PCMCIA card, you can use it to store images from your SD card while out in the field and print directly to the new SV-P20 portable printer. The SV-P20 is a portable printer which can be connected to the SV-PT1 or can support an SD card directly. UPDATE: Yamada posts samples from DMC-FZ1.

October 9
Just posted! Minolta DiMAGE F100 review

Just posted! Our full in-depth review of Minolta's compact four megapixel, three times optical zoom, DiMAGE F100. This slim digital camera offers a wide and flexible feature set, small dimensions, SD/MMC storage and just double AA battery requirements (which also keeps weight down). The DiMAGE F100 enters the higher end of the compact market where image quality and features can sometimes win over price. See how the F100 did in our tests.

Panasonic DMC-FZ1 compact with 12x lens

Photokina 2002: Panasonic has announced (and demonstrated) the new two megapixel DMC-FZ1 digital camera which has a unique "Leica" F2.8 12x optical zoom lens with a built-in stabilizer. The camera has selectable sensitivities of ISO 50 - 400, an electronic viewfinder, a 1.5" LCD monitor and stores images to SD / MMC cards. The DMC-FZ1 will soon be available in Silver (DMC-FZ1-S) or Black (DMC-FZ1-K) finishes.

October 7
Olympus Europe make C-5050 Zoom official

Olympus Europe has this morning become the first Olympus website to publish information on the new C-5050 Zoom. This new prosumer level digital camera has a F1.8 - F2.6 3x optical zoom lens (35 - 105 mm equiv.), a tilting 1.8" LCD display and a 5 megapixel 1/1.8" CCD sensor. The last detail being the most interesting, with a 5 megapixel 1/1.8" CCD around we're likely to see many more new 5 megapixel cameras hitting the market utilizing the same lenses seen in previous 3 and 4 megapixel digital cameras. UPDATE: Detailed specifications.

New firmware for Nikon D100 / D1X / D1H

Nikon Europe has today announced new firmware for the D100 (ver 2.00) and D1X / D1H (ver 1.10). Both firmware upgrades contain some common elements such as embedded ICC profiles for Adobe RGB images and support for Lexar Media Pro 'Write Acceleration' technology. The D100 upgrade adds support for PTP USB connections, the D1X / D1H upgrade adds EXIF 2.2 support, better battery power detection and additional lens information in EXIF headers. Firmware upgrades will be carried out free of charge although you will have to return the camera to your nearest Nikon Support Facility.

Much Better Sigma SD9 samples!

Photokina 2002: UPDATE: At last the sun is shining here in Cologne so we ran back to the Sigma booth and grabbed an SD9. These images are far more representative of what we had hoped and expected from Foveon's X3 technology and really show what an amazing step forward it is. I'm very happy with these images, and am looking forward to a full and final review of this camera sometime in October. UPDATE: Added more information about RAW converter, re-converted images.

Just posted! Sony Cybershot DSC-F717 review

Just posted! Our full in-depth review of Sony's five megapixel DSC-F717. In this review we have gone further than we have before including comparisons of the DSC-F717 to the camera it replaces, the DSC-F707 as well as a three way comparison between the DSC-F717 and Minolta's new DiMAGE 7Hi and Nikon's Coolpix 5700. The DSC-F717 brings new hardware changes, new software changes and some clear image quality tweaks. Noteworthy is the fact that our production camera doesn't have the red clipping problem we noted on the pre-production unit. See how well it performed in our tests and against the competition.

Making (some) sense out of sensor sizes

We regularly receive emails from readers confused as to the actual size of sensor used in digital cameras. Sensors (CCD / CMOS) are often refered to with an imperial fraction designation such as 1/1.8" or 2/3", this measurement actually originates back in the 1950's and the time of Vidicon tubes. Those who find the specification sheets for these sensors are then even more confused about the relationship between the fraction and the actual diagonal size of the sensor. Inside you'll find an explanation and a table of common sensor sizes. We'll be adding this information to our glossary for future reference.

Nikon Capture 3.5 with Auto Vignette Control

Nikon Europe has today announced Nikon Capture Version 3.5. This new version of the excellent (and ever improving) image management / RAW conversion application adds several new features including D100 capture control with Mac OS X and PTP compatibility, support for Mac OS X 10.2 (Jaguar), 10 megapixel output mode for D1X NEF files, Large thumbnail (1600 x 1063) output option, improved noise reduction and interestingly Automatic Vignette Control which can automatically counteract the effects of fall of at lens edges experienced with certain lenses at maximum aperture. The new Auto Vignette Control feature requires the new firmware upgrades announced today (because of the additional lens information required).

Nikon announce RAM upgrade for D1X

Nikon Europe has today announced the availability of a RAM upgrade for the D1x digital SLR. This upgrade increases the D1X's buffer depth from the standard 9 JPEG frames to 21 JPEG frames and from 6 RAW frames to 14 RAW frames. This upgrade will cost approximately €250 here in Europe, we have yet to receive pricing details and availability from Nikon USA.

October 4
Photokina 2002 Show Report Updated

Just posted! Our updated Photokina 2002 Show Report covers twenty two manufacturers over five pages of images and product detail, links back to news articles and manufacturers websites. Photokina 2002 was another huge show, but this time had a much stronger digital influence. New products were around although at the consumer end we saw more product refresh than innovation. Photokina 2002 however will be remembered on one side as the beginning of a new age of digital SLR's with high pixel count full image frame sensors and on the other the first time the general public got the opportunity to examine Foveon X3 images.

Sigma introduce three new big zoom lenses

Photokina 2002: In addition to the huge interest surrounding the SD-9 Digital SLR Sigma has also introduced three new big zoom lenses at the Photokina show. These are the APO 80 - 400 mm F4.5 - 5.6 ES OS, APO 120 - 300 mm F2.8 EX IF HSM and the APO 300 - 800 mm F5.6 EX IF HSM. The last of which would provide a huge 1360 mm when mounted on the SD-9! The APO 80 - 400 mm is the first Sigma lens to feature image stabilisation.

October 1
ACDSee 5.0 available for download

As of this morning ACD Systems has made available ACDSee 5.0 for download. Existing ACDSee users can upgrade to 5.0 for $34.95, a full non-upgrade license is $49.95. The ACDSee 5.0 PowerPack includes ACD FotoCanvas (basic photo editting) and ACD FotoAngelo (slideshow / screensaver builder) for $79.95. ACDSee 5.0 includes several new features including calendar based browsing, image grouping and interface customization. ACDSee 5.0 also performs lossless JPEG rotation by default (yipee!)

Contax TVS Digital shown at Photokina

Photokina 2002: About a month ago we first heard of the Kyocera Finecam S5 and some hint of a new Contax TVS Digital. At Photokina Kyocera / Contax took the covers off a pre-production TVS Digital, and a stylish looking compact digital camera it is too! As far as we can tell the five megapixel TVS Digital is based on the Finecam S5 digital engine but has a different lens, which is labelled "Carl Zeiss" (not the same Carl Zeiss lens as the Sony's?;) UPDATED: Specifications confirmed and updated.