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January 2003 news and reviews

January 29
Canon File Viewer Utility RAW problem

Canon BeBit has discovered an incompatibility when using File Viewer Utility to convert RAW format images shot in Custom White Balance mode with the Canon PowerShot G3/ PowerShot S45. An update patch will be made available shortly, until then workarounds are available.

Shop@Kodak to close on Feb 13

Thanks to DPReview regular Steve for pointing out that Shop@Kodak, Kodak's e-Commerce venture, is to close its doors on February the 13th. The following statement is posted on their site: "Kodak.com is improving its website with richer product and picture-taking information - all for your benefit. As part of this change, shop@kodak will close on Febryary 13."

MacBibble 3.0

Eric Hayman, author of the RAW conversion tools Bibble and MacBibble has just sent me a note that MacBibble 3.0 is now available. Major new features include support for raw files from D1/X/H/100, Fuji S2, Kodak 720x/760, Oly E10/E20, dramatic speed improvments (multithreading), Photoshop 7.0 support, support for OSX and OS9, Improved browser and much more.

January 28
Titan Underwater Housing for Nikon D100

Light & Motion have today announced an addition to its Professional Digital Photography line with the entrance of the Titan D100 SLR Underwater Photo Housing. The Titan D100 is designed specifically for the Nikon D100 and includes fingertip access to most camera controls using both mechanical interfaces, as well as infrared through the newly designed Smart Grips.

Vosonic XS-Drive II Portable Storage Device

Vosonic Technology Corporation, based in Taiwan and the manufacturer of the X'S-Drive and V-MP3H storage devices, has announced the X'S-Drive II , a new 6 in 1 Portable Storage device with USB 2.0 and an LCD Panel. The Vosonic X'S-Drive II is a new generation of X'S-Drive, combining the Fast USB 2.0 compatible interface and an LCD panel to indicate the Working status, File transfer, battery power level, and out of memory indicator.
UPDATE: Recommended selling price and web links added.

January 27
Nikon Coolpix SQ - Quick Preview

15:00 TOKYO: Nikon today announced three new digital cameras, the Coolpix 2100, 3100 and SQ. This article is a quick preview of the new three megapixel, three times optical zoom Coolpix SQ. A totally radical design and another new approach from Nikon, the SQ has a flat square profile with their trademark twisting lens design. In forward shooting mode it's wacky looking but oh-so Nikon. This preview is based on an early pre-production model, as such I won't be presenting any image samples or a particularly in-depth analysis of performance.

January 21
Fujifilm announce SuperCCD SR

Fujifilm has today announced the new 'SuperCCD SR' sensor type. This announcement is the second of two which mark SuperCCD's fourth generation. The SuperCCD SR (Super Dynamic Range) offers almost two stops more dynamic range than conventional CCD. Beneath each microlens on the sensor surface (a photosite) are two photodiodes, the primary captures a dark and normal light levels (more sensitive), the secondary captures brighter details (less sensitive). The signals from the two photodiodes are intelligently combined by the camera to deliver an image with extended dynamic range. The first Super CCD SR sensor will have an effective resolution of three megapixels.

Fujifilm announce SuperCCD HR

Fujifilm has today announced the new 'SuperCCD HR' sensor type. This announcement is first of two which mark SuperCCD's fourth generation. The SuperCCD HR (High Resolution) offers an effective resolution of six megapixels at the 1/1.7" size and three megapixels at the 1/2.7" size. This would for instance push the resolution of an S602 Zoom type camera up to six megapixels effective, twelve megapixels output image size. What's a little disappointing is that this announcement comes at the same time as the more interesting but lower resolution 'SuperCCD SR' sensor (see next news article).

New PowerEx Lithium Battery Packs

Maha Energy Corp., the maker of the PowerEx batteries and chargers have announced their latest Lithium battery packs for Digital Cameras. The MH-NB2L Lithium Ion battery for Canon Powershot S30, S40 and S45 series will retail for under $40 and the Lithium Polymer MH-ENEL2 for Nikon Coolpix 2500 and 3500 cameras for under $30. Both are designed to be 100% interchangeable with the original and have up to 20% higher runtime.
UPDATE: Corrected model numbers in press release.

January 16
Just posted! Olympus C-5050 Zoom review

Just posted! Our full in-depth review of Olympus's C-5050 Zoom five megapixel, three times optical zoom digital camera. The C-5050 Zoom is one of the first of a new generation of five megapixel digital cameras based around a 1/1.8" (7.2 x 5.3 mm) CCD sensor. The advantage of sticking to the 1/1.8" format are that existing lens systems and bodies originally designed for three and four megapixel sensors can be used as the basis for the new cameras. This is exactly the case with the C-5050 Zoom. Read on to see how the camera fared in our tests.

January 14
Kodak DCS-14n second delay and samples

Kodak Professional has today announced that it expects the ship date for the new fourteen megapixel Kodak DCS-14n to slip by approximately two weeks to mid February. Speaking to Jay Kelbley of Kodak Pro he reasons given for this delay are simply "to get image quality where we want it". In addition Kodak Pro has issued two sample images for us to publish and some more on the Kodak Pro website. UPDATE: More samples on Japanese website / Kodak replace existing samples with much improved versions (less noise reduction).

January 13
SimpleTech 512MB SD Card

Today SimpleTech introduced a 512 MB SD Memory card. Featuring up to 10MB/s write speeds, this complements their original line up of SD cards in 32MB, 64MB, 128MB and 256MB capacities. It is available immediately for $400. SimpleTech have also announced the FlashLink USB Reader, the Bonzai USB Mini-Drive, 60GB SimpleDrive Deluxe External Storage Solution and the 5GB PC Card Hard Drive.

January 11
Samsung's MiniDV / 4 mp stills 'Duocam'

CES 2003: Samsung has announced their new SCD5000 combined MiniDV camcorder and four megapixel digital camera. Digital Video is recorded directly to MiniDV tape, digital stills to Memory Stick. The camera features a swivel ten times (video) / three times (stills) optical zoom lens, built-in flash, electronic image stabilisation and a two inch 211,000 pixel LCD monitor. There is a USB port for transfer of still images and a IEEE 1394 (Firewire) port for video, which sort of hints that although it's one product there are two separate systems inside.

SanDisk Memory Stick Pro

CES 2003: SanDisk has announced it will be producing its own Memory Stick Pro media in 256 MB, 512 MB and 1 GB capacities. "SanDisk has invested its expertise and intellectual property in its partnership with Sony to make the Memory Stick PRO a reality," said Nelson Chan, senior vice president and general manager of SanDisk's Retail Business Unit. "We believe that the key features of the Memory Stick Pro card-high performance, large capacities and advanced security features-will significantly enhance the consumers' usage experience for storing their music, photos and videos on their optimized devices."

SanDisk Digital Photo Viewer

CES 2003: SanDisk has introduced the SanDisk Digital Photo Viewer (DPV) that provides a simple, fast and convenient way to view photos taken with a digital camera on a television screen. It has media slots that accept storage cards in CompactFlash, SmartMedia, MultiMediaCard, SD and MemoryStick formats. It supports JPEG files at resolutions up to 6 megapixels, and includes a remote control to allow the user to delete, rotate and zoom pictures.

January 10
Rob Galbraith's Mac and PC Comparision

Rob over at RobGalbraith.com has posted an interesting comparision between PC's and Mac's using Photoshop. Taking a state of the art dual processor G4 Mac, a single processor P4 3Ghz PC, plus an older Mac and PC, he ran various Photoshop operations. His conclusion was that the PC outclassed the Mac in almost all of the tests.

Lexar JumpDrive Trio

CES 2003: Lexar have announced a new addition to their JumpDrive line of products. The device features a three-in-one card slot that accepts either Memory Stick, MultiMediaCards, or Secure Digital cards. It is the only USB flash drive to incorporate all three media formats in one device. JumpDrive Trio's capacity is limited only by the size of the memory card inserted, with the current maximum capacity at 512MB, using a Secure Digital card.
UPDATE: Product image online.

Sony CLIÉ PEG-NZ90 with 2 megapixel camera

CES 2003: Not strictly digital camera news but today Sony has revealed its latest Palm OS based PDA, the CLIÉ PEG-NZ90 has a two megapixel fixed lens (35 mm equiv.) digital camera build in. With a large, high resolution 320 x 480 flip-and-twist LCD monitor, mini keybaord, WiFi option and integrated Bluetooth this is one flexible and almost do-anything PDA. Priced at $800 the CLIÉ NZ90 should be shipping towards the end of February. "Rivaling the gadgetry found in modern day spy movies, the CLIÉ NZ90 handheld integrates a feature uncommon in the handheld market these days: excitement," said Russell Paik, Sony Electronics' vice president for handheld marketing. "It's a turning point in the way handheld devices are defined."

January 9
SanDisk introduces WiFi combo CF cards

CES 2003: SanDisk has today introduced a combined WiFi (802.11b) and flash memory Compact Flash and Secure Digital cards. The 'Connect' product line starts with a 128 MB & WiFi Compact Flash card and a 256 MB & WiFi Secure Digital Card. Obviously at first these products will be aimed at the PDA market but it would be interesting to see if any camera manufacturers take advantage of this technology.

Lexar Memory Stick Pro products

CES 2003: Lexar has today announced it will be producing its own Memory Stick Pro media in 256 MB, 512 MB and 1 GB capacities. "We are delighted to be partnered with Lexar Media, which has collaborated with Sony in support of the Memory Stick format for over 3 years now," said Masaharu Yanaga, Senior General Manager of the Memory Stick Division, Sony Corporation. "Having Lexar Media support Memory Stick will further strengthen our Memory Stick platform strategy. Together with Lexar Media and other partners, we will continue to work toward making Memory Stick a standard recording media throughout the world."

Sony Memory Stick Pro and Select

CES 2003: Sony has today introduced the new Memory Stick Pro and Memory Stick with Select Function. Memory Stick Pro has the same form factor as the original Memory Stick but with twice the number of connectors as the original, available in capacities of 256 MB, 512 MB and 1 GB, good news for DSC-F717 owners is that this camera is already Memory Stick Pro compatible. The new Pro stick has funky new pearl-like transparent case. Memory Stick with Select Function provides higher capacity for other Memory Stick devices by providing two banks of 128 MB on a standard Memory Stick which can be selected with a manually operated switch.

Olympus Mju/Stylus Digital 300 and 400

CES 2003: Olympus has announced the first digital cameras to carry their famous Mju (Europe) and Stylus (North America) names. The 300 Digital and 400 Digital have an all metal 'weather proof' body, a three times optical zoom lens, three and four megapixel sensors respectively. Both cameras are powered by a Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery and store images on the new xD-Picture Card.

Casio announce EXILIM Zoom EX-Z3

CES 2003: Casio has today announced the ultra compact EX-Z3 digital camera, The EX-Z3 has a three megapixel CCD sensor and utilizes Pentax's sliding lens mechanism which we first saw yesterday in the 'Optio S'. Size wise the EX-Z3 is only a little bigger than the 'Optio S' but at the back has a much larger two inch LCD monitor. The EX-Z3 also has a cradle for the charging and transfer of images, this can also be put into 'photo stand' mode which initiates the camera to display a slideshow of images. The EX-Z3 will be available from the beginning of March (in Japan).

256 MB xD-Picture Card on sale soon

CES 2003: Fujifilm has announced that the 256 MB xD-Picture Card will be available to buy from 30th January 2003. This is a significant event as it marks the first major leap in storage capacity compared to SmartMedia which it in effect replaces. The xD-Picture Card format was announced in July last year as a joint venture between Fujifilm and Olympus, since then both companies have released cameras with xD-Picture Card slots.

Minolta DiMAGE F300 - five megapixel

CES 2003: 2100 EST: Minolta has today announced the new five megapixel DiMAGE F300 digital camera. Based on the slim DiMAGE F100 the F300 has a 5.3 megapixel 1/1.8" CCD sensor, the same 3x optical zoom lens, subject AF tracking and improved noise reduction systems. The DiMAGE F300 comes with supplied with four NiMH rechargeable batteries (it only requires two for operation) and a 32 MB Secure Digital card. UPDATE: Sample images online.

January 8
Pentax Optio S - Ultra compact

CES 2003: Pentax has today announced the ultra tiny Optio S digital camera. The new three megapixel, three times optical zoom 'Optio S' measures just 83 x 52 x 20 mm (3.3 x 2.0 x 0.8 in) and weighs 115 g (4.1 oz) loaded with its Lithium-Ion battery and an SD storage card. The Optio S has a tough and stylish aluminium alloy case and has a more 'designer' look than the previous Optio digital cameras. This amazing feat of miniturisation was achieved with a unique sliding lens, a design which has elements which slide out of the imaging path when powered off.

January 7
Canon EOS-D60 discontinued?

We have received several emails from concerned readers who were interested in buying an EOS-D60 have been told by their dealer that the D60 has been discontinued. This information is coming out of Canada and has apparently been (accidentally) confirmed by Canon Canada. This is indeed interesting news especially with PMA 2003 just around the corner. That said you would think that Canon could sell plenty more D60's even in the time between now and any future model hitting the streets. UPDATE: As of yet this has NOT been confirmed to us directly by Canon USA or UK. More news, this time from Australia. Also apparently confirmed by Canon France.

Konica and Minolta Agree on Merger

Japan's Konica Corp. and Minolta Co., two film photography giants struggling for a foothold in the digital era, said today they had agreed on a merger that could propel them into the big league. Konica, the world's third-largest photo film maker, and Minolta, a leading maker of SLR cameras struggling after poor financial results, already have a mutual supply deal in photocopier machines and a toner joint venture.

January 6
Iomega HDD 60GB USB 2.0 Portable Hard Drive

Iomega have today announced a new 60GB portable hard drive to add to the original 20, 30 and 40GB versions. It is available with either USB 2.0 (backwards compatable to USB 1.1) and Firewire configurations, so connections to both PC's and Macs are covered. It comes bundled with Norton Ghost disaster recovery and Iomega automatic backup software.

Adobe Photoshop Album Review

We have had a copy of Adobe Photoshop Album 1.0 beta for evaluation, and I have to admit it's very impressive. Photoshop Album is designed to be a total solution for the acquisition, organisation, identification and output of your images. It works around the concept of a catalog of images which can be tagged and easily re-located later (including images on removable media).

4 GB Microdrive coming end of the year

Thanks to Mike Tedesco for noting that IBM Storage Technology has merged with Hitachi Storage forming the new Hitachi Global Storage Technologies. Today HGST has announced that the Microdrive will take a four fold leap in capacity at the end of this year. "The areal density of the 4GB Microdrive is made possible by using a new five-layer version of Hitachi's patented "Pixie Dust" media technology. This data storage breakthrough is achieved by taking a three-atom-thick layer of the element ruthenium, a precious metal similar to platinum, and sandwiching it between three magnetic layers."

PowerEx's 2000mAh AA Rechargeables

Maha Energy Corp., the maker of the PowerEx brand batteries and chargers, unveils its latest 2000 mAh NiMH AA rechargeable batteries: MH-4AA200BH. The PowerEx MH-4AA200BH batteries includes 4 new 2000mAh NiMH AA rechargeable batteries and battery carrying case and will retail for $16.95.

Adobe announces Photoshop Album

Adobe has today announced its new Photoshop Album software, which promises to be the ultimate 'digital Shoe Box' for digital images. Images can be imported into an Album Catalog where they can be organized by attaching multiple People, Places, Events and Other tags to them. A catalog can then be easily searched by combining tags or selecting a range of time on the timeline. The output options are also extensive with numerous local and online print options, personal web photo galleries or online sharing, calendars, slideshows, E-Mail, eCards and even slideshows on VideoCD. We will be posting our own preview of Photoshop Album later today.

January 3
Stolen Nikon D100's

Thanks to Yvan Boeres from digitalkamera.de for letting us know about this story. On 21st December 2002 there was a burgulary at Nikon Germany warehouse, 192 Nikon D100 and 100 Nikon Coolpix 2500 digital cameras were stolen. Nikon Germany is offering a €36,000 reward for any information about these stolen cameras. Buyers in Germany and the rest of Europe should beware of too-good-to-be-true offers for such cameras. A partial list of serial numbers for the stolen D100's can be found inside...