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July 2003 news and reviews

July 31
Canon net income up 74.5%

Canon Europe has today issued a press release which briefly outlines the highlights of the Canon Inc. first half 2003 results. These included consolidated net sales of 1535 billion YEN ($12 billion) which is an increase of 10.9% over the first half fiscal year 2002 as well as first half net income of 127.8 billion YEN ($1 billion), an increase of 74.5% over the same period last year. "For the quarter, Canon posted sales and profits, which not only exceeded its results for the same period last year, but also its projection, continuing a trend set in the first-quarter," said Toshizo Tanaka, Senior Managing Director and Group Executive for Finance and Accounting Headquarters, Canon Inc.

Single-Use Digital - a good thing?

Ritz Camera has announced that it will soon begin selling a $10.99 'Single-Use' digital camera. This two megapixel (CMOS) fixed focal length camera with no LCD carries the 'Dakota Digital' name and is made by 'Pure Digital Technologies' of San Francisco. Each camera allows for 25 images to be taken (although you can apparently delete), the camera must then be returned to Ritz Camera or Wolf Camera where you can produce digital prints and a Photo CD (although the exact cost of this service isn't declared). I feel the majority of users will still be much better off spending a few hundred dollars on a recent known brand three megapixel digital camera. UPDATE: User review online.

July 29
Extensis Portfolio with Bibble RAW

Extensis has today announced the availability of a the 'Pro Photo Raw Image Filter' for Portfolio 6. This new filter is available for free to registered owners of Portfolio. This plugin is powered by Bibble Lab's raw processing, a name which will be very familiar to many dpreview visitors. "Portfolio is the fastest way for photographers and creative professionals to share, organize, retrieve and distribute the digital files they create and use every day. It takes the grunt work out of organizing files and removes the chaos for creative workgroups and enterprises alike by providing instant visual access to digital photos, scans, other media files."

July 28
Fujifilm FinePix S5000 Zoom and preview

Fujifilm has today announced the FinePix S5000 Zoom, a ten times zoom compact 'SLR-like' digital camera with a three megapixel SuperCCD HR (the fourth generation SuperCCD sensor). Although not as sophisticated as the S7000 also announced today the S5000 does still have a fairly considerable range of features including full manual exposure control, continuous shooting (and auto focus) and CCD-RAW. Suggested list price is $499. We had a brief hands-on with the FinePix S5000 and have posted a detailed six page preview of this interesting and affordable digital camera. UPDATE: Samples online.

Fujifilm FinePix S7000 Zoom - 6 mp sensor

Fujifilm has today announced the FinePix S7000 Zoom, a successor to the popular S602 Zoom digital camera. The S7000 has the same six times optical zoom lens but a new six megapixel SuperCCD HR sensor (which produces a huge twelve megapixel image). Primary improvements over the S602 Zoom are a doubling of resolution, the addition of the CCD-RAW file format, new 'Color modes', an xD slot instead of SmartMedia (the S7000 still retains a CF slot), USB 2.0 and improved resolution EVF and LCD. Suggested list price is $799. Full specifications plus a side-by-side comparison with the S602 Zoom inside.

Fujifilm FinePix A205S Zoom

Fujifilm has today announced the FinePix A205S Zoom, a three times zoom compact entry level digital camera with a two megapixel CCD. Adrian Clarke, Fujifilm's Director of Consumer Products, commented, "This camera is the embodiment of 'keep it simple'. It's not intended to set the world alight with obscure technologies or features - instead it will enthuse people with its total accessibility."

Sony Digital Passport system with Bluetooth

Not for your average consumer but today Sony has announced a new Instant Digital Passport / ID / Event printing system which utilizes Bluetooth to transmit the image from the camera straight to the printer wirelessly. The UPX-C200 system includes a four megapixel digital still camera (with a very big flash!) and a 4 x 6 inch dye-sub printer which has numerous layouts including full-bleed portrait and two 2 x 2 inch passport photos. The camera can be configured to use one of up to three printers, allowing each to be configured with different paper and layout. The system has a suggested list price of $1,495.

Canon to double D-SLR CMOS production

In an interesting article posted today in the Japanese Nikkei, Canon is to invest 6 billion Yen (approx. $50 million) to install a new production line at its Ayase facility (Kanagawa, west Tokyo). This investment will apparently double product capacity of CMOS sensors for digital SLR cameras. This is interesting in that it confirms Canon's commitment to the use of CMOS in current and future digital SLR's.

Digital Camera shipments up 93%

According to our analysis of CIPA (Camera & Imaging Products Association) data, camera shipments by CIPA members (the majority of digital camera manufacturers) are up 93% for the period January to May 2003 compared to the same period last year. This is a 45% increase by value. In contrast film camera shipments are down 20%, interchangeable lenses down 11%. The biggest single leap was to Europe which took an amazing 4.5 million units (up 149%). Total shipments of digital cameras from January to May 2003 had a value of $3.43 billion, film cameras and lenses totaled $703 million. CIPA was established on July 1 2002 and has taken over from JCIA which was dissolved in June 2002.

July 24
Sony profits down on costs and competition

Sony has today reported a drop in its Q2 net profits to 1.1 billion YEN ($9.4 million), down 98% compared to Q2 2002. Sony attributes this drop to restructuring of its consumer electronics division (digital cameras, camcorders, mobile phones, PC's) which will take three years and cost a total of 1 trillion YEN ($8.4 billion). Other factors included the now poorly selling PlayStation2 and Trinitron TV's as well as competition from South Korea and China. Total sales were down 6.9% to 1.6 trillion YEN ($13.5 billion). On the upside however Sony still maintains its full year earnings estimate of a net profit of 50 billion YEN ($431 million). Original story from the BBC Business & CCN Business websites.

Casio QV-R40

Casio has today announced the four megapixel three times optical zoom QV-R40. Casio's big claim about this camera is a one second startup time and a shutter release lag of 0.01 seconds. The camera has an aluminium alloy body, has a 1.6" LCD monitor, stores images on internal flash memory or SD/MMC card and is powered by two AA batteries.

July 23
Kodak cutting up to 6,000 jobs

Kodak today issued its Q2 2003 earnings statement, in that the company states that overall sales declined by 6% and that earnings were down to $112 million in Q2 2003 compared to $284 million in Q2 2002. Sales for Q2 2003 totalled $3.3 billion, virtually unchanged compared to the same quarter last year. "Kodak expects to reduce employment by a range of 4,500 to 6,000, beginning later this year." This on top of the 7,000 jobs lost last year. Chairman and CEO Daniel A. Carp said "We are evolving from a historical film company into one that is aggressively pursuing the vast potential of digital imaging across all of our operations. We are extending the Kodak brand into the digital age so that we become known as the world's leading imaging company, building on our proud heritage as the world's leading picture company"

New Fujifilm FinePix 'S' model next week

Fujifilm's FinePix.com website is running a Flash teaser about a new FinePix 'S' model which will be announced on 29th July 2003. The only thing we can gather from this teaser is that the camera will have a relatively big zoom (this from the zooming action of the photos used) and that it will have the SuperCCD IV HR sensor (3 megapixel effective, 6 megapixel image size). Interestingly the filename of the Flash teaser is 'S5000.swf'.

July 22
Iomega 1.5 GB DCT cartridge

Iomega has today announced that it has developed a new 1.5 GB 'Digital Capture Technology' (DCT) platform. DCT is aimed at OEM manufacturers and consists of a cartridge about the size of a half-dollar coin and weighs just 9 g (0.3 oz). DCT platform partners include Fujifilm, Citizen Watch and Texas Instruments. “Existing portable storage solutions in today’s consumer electronics products are too expensive, too slow, too fragile, or too power hungry for the coming generation of mobile devices,” said Werner Heid, president and CEO, Iomega Corporation.

Nikon 200 - 400 F4 VR lens

Nikon has today announced the Nikkor AF-S VR 200 - 400 mm F4 G IF-ED, a new super telephoto zoom lens with vibration reduction and a silent wave motor. This new lens combines many interesting features, it is internally zoom and focusing, it has vibration reduction (essential and expected for modern long telephoot lenses) and a high speed silent wave motor. The lens also has a 'Memory Set' button which can instantly recall a memorized focus position. Another interesting addition to this lens is an environmental rubber seal around the F mount bayonet. On a 'DX format' digital SLR this lens would have a field of view equivalent to a 300 to 600 mm zoom lens.

Nikon SB-800 Speedlight

Nikon has today announced the new SB-800 Speedlight. This new flash unit is designed to complement the D2H digital SLR and incorporates many new features associated with Nikon's i-TTL 'Creative Lighting System' including Flash Value Lock, Auto FP High-Speed Sync and Flash Colour Information Communication. The SB-800 also facilitates advanced wireless lighting, "Up to 3 SB-800 units can now communicate monitor pre-flash data with the Master unit for fully automatic multiple flash exposures, removing the need for flash meters or manual calculations. The D2H Digital SLR 1005-pixel Matrix metering sensor is utilized to calculate exposures, and transmit each Slave output changes back to each Slave unit."

Nikon D2H - 4 mp, 8 fps, wireless

Nikon has today made official the camera leaked all over the net in the last week. The D2H is a four megapixel digital SLR which can shoot continuously at eight frames per second. Its buffer is large enough for 40 JPEG or 25 NEF (RAW) frames shot at this rate. The sensor used in the D2H is Nikon's first in-house designed sensor and based on a totally new 'JFET LBCAST' technology which appears to be similar to CMOS but capable of outputting data at a far higher speed. The D2H supports an optional accessory, the WT-1 which provides direct wireless transmission of images from the camera by WiFi (802.11b), images are sent using the FTP protocol. The D2H has numerous other new features and improvements such as; 11-area Multi-CAM 2000 AF module, 80 ms viewfinder blackout, ambient WB sensor, new Lithium-Ion battery, 2.5" 211,000 pixel LCD monitor, orientation sensor, more viewfinder information and support for the advanced i-TTL flash lighting system. We have a detailed five page preview article available.

Two new wide Nikon DX Format lenses

Along with the introduction of the new D2H Digital SLR Nikon is also introducing two 'complementary' DX format lenses. The Nikkor AF-S DX 17-55 mm F2.8 G provides an equivalent field of view of 25.5 to 82.5 mm on a DX format digital SLR (D2H, D1 series, D100), having handled this lens I can say that it is slightly smaller and lighter than the Nikkor AF-S 28 - 70 mm F2.8 lens. The other amazing lens is the new AF DX 10.5 mm F2.8 G fisheye, on a DX format digital SLR this lens provides an equivalent field of view of 15.75 mm.

July 20
Imaging-Resource post two new reviews

Dave over at Imaging-Resource has today posted his review of the Pentax Optio 550 and the cool looking if not absolutely convincing Contax TVS Digital. Dave says "...a Zeiss lens that's unusually sharp from corner to corner, and that also seems to have significantly less flare than I'm accustomed to seeing in digicam lenses. Image quality is good, if not knock-your-socks-off impressive."

July 18
Nikon develops new image sensor

According to an article in the Japanese Nikkei, Nikon has developed a new image sensor based on a new 'LBCAST' technology (which appears to be similar to CMOS but faster). This new sensor design allows data to be read twice as fast as standard sensors. The new sensor is destined for digital SLR's, to quote the article "An SLR camera with the LBCAST sensor will be capable of consecutive shooting at the best level for CMOS cameras made by other companies, or 8 shots per second, which is also more than twice that of ordinary compact digital cameras with CCD (charge-coupled device) sensors." As far as I know this is the first in-house developed sensor from Nikon.

July 17
TIPA Awards 2003 - 2004

TIPA (Technical Image Press Assocation) has announced the results of its awards for 2003 to 2004. TIPA is made up of numerous photography publications (print media) from all around Europe. Awards of interest to digital photographers are the Best Design to the Nikon Coolpix SQ, the Best Digital Consumer Camera to the Olympus Mju 400 Digital, the Best Digital Prosumer Camera to the Sony DSC-V1, the Best Digital SLR System Camera to the Canon EOS-1Ds and the Best Innovative Technology to the Olympus 4/3 Digital System.

ACD FotoSlate 3.0

ACD Systems has today released FotoSlate 3.0. FotoSlate is a comprehensive photo printing application designed to make it easier to print your photos. Photos can be printed as full page images or with a variety of templates such as cards, calendars and contact sheets. FotoSlate also features color management including EXIF 2.2 and ICC color profile support. FotoSlate three includes new features such as 'Paper Saver' for printing as many photos on one page as possible, EXIF 2.2 and ICC support, image resampling filters and more. ACD FotoSlate 3.0 is priced at $39.99, you can download a free trial version from the ACD Systems website..

Sony DSC-V1 firmware 2.0

Fairly significant news as this is a first for any Sony digital camera, a user installable firmware upgrade. Sony has today posted firmware 2.0 for the DSC-V1, it doesn't claim to make any image quality or performance related changes to the camera but simply adds language choices for German, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese to the existing English and French. Installation is carried out by simply copying the firmware update file (.ASH) onto a Memory Stick and inserting it into the camera. At long last we may begin to see Sony post user installable fixes for camera issues!

Fujifilm Wi-Fi Prototype

Both Japan Today and Japan Times websites have a story from Kyodo News about a prototype Fujifilm digital camera that has integrated Wi-Fi. The prototype was displayed at the Wireless Japan 2003 exhibition for information technology business. It has a three megapixel sensor and a Wi-Fi LAN card with a transmission capacity of 11 megabits per second (802.11b). Fujifilm said plans for the camera, including price and when it will go on sale, have yet to be determined.

July 15
Sony announce new RGBE CCD

Sony Corporation (Japan) has today announced that it will be implementing a new four color filter array pattern on a 'consumer CCD' (we can only assume this is the new ICX456 eight megapixel CCD sensor). Instead of the 'traditional' three color RGB bayer pattern the new color filter array has a RGBE layout where 'E' is a light blue color which Sony are referring to as 'Emerald' (although it looks more like Cyan to me). Their claim is that this pattern is "closer to the natural sight perception of the human eye". In addition Sony has developed a new image processor to complement the "4 color filter CCD".

Minolta DiMAGE X20

Minolta has today announced the new DiMAGE X20 digital camera. According to Minolta the X20 is "the world's smallest and lightest 2-megapixel digital camera with a 3x optical zoom". The camera is clearly based on the 'folded optics' lens design first seen in the DiMAGE X, that is a 3x optical zoom mechanism which is 'laid' inside the camera body and views the world through a mirrored prism. This entry level camera is powered by two AA batteries and stores images on SD card. The X20 also has a 'self-portrait mirror' on the front of the camera to help you take those all important pictures of yourself!

July 11
New York Times got the E-1 price wrong

Four days ago the New York Times ran an article about Olympus's new E System and specificaly the E-1 digital SLR. In it they stated that the camera would cost 'less than 100,000 yen ($847.17)'. This of course caused a huge stir on our forums (as well as a flood of emails to us asking for clarification) with half of the people believing it, and half not. Today Olympus Tokyo has issued a statement clarifiying that the MSRP for the E-1 body as $2,199.

Vosonic DigiViewer DV-320

Vosonic has announced the DigiViewer DV-320, a new 6 in 1 Digital Multimedia Viewer for TV. The DiGi VIEWER DV-320 supports the playing of MPEG videos, Jpeg image files, and listen to MP3s and Windows Media files from memory cards including SmartMedia, Secure Digital/MultiMediaCard, Memory Stick (and MS Pro), CompactFlash Type I & II, and IBM Microdrives. The RRP is £69.90

July 8
Nikkor 12 - 24 mm DX lens review

While we wouldn't normally post links to individual lens reviews we did feel it appropriate to bring this review of Nikon's first DX lens to our readers attention. The DX lens is designed specifically for Nikon digital SLR's, with a smaller imaging circle than standard Nikkor 35 mm lenses the lens itself can be made smaller and lighter. This concept is not unlike that intended by Olympus in their 4/3 standard. Bjørn Rørslett (Nærfoto) has posted an extensive review of the AFS 12-24 mm f/4 G ED IF DX Nikkor lens, the first and certainly most detailed you could expect.

July 1
Just posted! Sony DSC-V1 review

Just posted! As part of our trio of 'five megapixel, four times zoom' reviews posted today we bring you an in-depth review of the Sony DSC-V1. The V1 could be seen as a development of the DSC-S75/S85 design, although this camera is much more compact and advanced. Sporting a full hot shoe and four times optical zoom lens the DSC-V1 is the smallest of the three cameras reviewed but its no less capable. To see how the DSC-V1 did in our tests and how it compared to the rest come in and read our review in full.

Just posted! Nikon Coolpix 5400 review

Just posted! As part of our trio of 'five megapixel, four times zoom' reviews posted today we bring you an in-depth review of the Nikon Coolpix 5400. The 5400 is the sucessor to Nikon's popular and innovative Coolpix 5000. The 5400 expands the zoom range to four times but maintains the 28 mm wide angle which was so popular among Coolpix 5000 owners. To see how the 5400 did in our tests and how it compared to the rest come in and read our review in full.

Just posted! Canon PowerShot G5 review

Just posted! As part of our trio of 'five megapixel, four times zoom' reviews posted today we bring you an in-depth review of the Canon PowerShot G5. The G5 is essentially an upgraded G3, with all the same features and controls the G5 brings an 30% increase in pixel count and a black body. To see how the G5 did in our tests and how it compared to the rest come in and read our review in full.

Olympus E-1 UK price confirmed

Olympus UK has today confirmed that the body only list price of the E-1 digital SLR (including 17.5% VAT) will be £1699.99. This means that at least initially the E-1 will be approximately £200 more than a Nikon D100 and £450 more than a Canon EOS-10D. Assuming the E-1's street price drops once the immediate rush is over we could see it matching the D100 at £1499 (inc. VAT). In my opinion this price is simply too high for a new SLR system. We still don't have official pricing for lenses or accessories.

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