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October 2003 news and reviews

October 31
Kodak Introduces Digital Sho Professional Plug-In

Kodak has introduced the new DIGITAL SHO Professional Plug-In, which optimizes contrast and exposure to reveal hidden details in highlight and shadow areas of digital images. It was developed and launched by KODAK’s Austin Development Center, formerly Applied Science Fiction, which is a leader in automatic image correction and photo restoration applications. A free trial version is available for download now. This fully functional trial version applies digital watermarks to images. To disable the watermark, users may purchase a software key via a secure, e-commerce site for $99.95.

SanDisk and Fujifilm xD-Picture Card Agreement

SanDisk has announced it has signed an agreement with Fuji Photo Film that covers the xD-Picture Card™ format. SanDisk will manufacture Fujifilm-branded xD-Picture Cards for Fujifilm and supply these xD-Picture Cards to Fujifilm for distribution through Fujifilm’s global retail distribution channels. SanDisk will also sell xD-Picture Cards under the Fujifilm brand through SanDisk’s global retail distribution channels. SanDisk will begin shipments of Fujifilm xD-Picture Cards in the current quarter.

October 30
Lexar CF Readers & Image Rescue 2.0

Lexar has today announced two new addtions to its card reader range. These are high speed CompactFlash devices utilising USB 2.0 and Firewire for connectivety. “Serious digital photographers find speed very important, which is why Lexar Media strives to provide the fastest speeds available in its digital media and readers,” said Dave Klenske, Lexar Media, director of product marketing. The FireWire (IEEE 1394a) and USB 2.0 readers are immediately available with estimated retail prices of $49.99 and $24.99, respectively. Lexar has also today introduced Image Rescue 2.0, an enhanced version of its popular image recovery software. Image Rescue 2.0 is bundled free of charge on all of Lexar Media’s Professional Series CompactFlash and will also be available as a stand-alone product at retail locations nationwide this November for $39.95.

Canon EOS 10D Firmware 2.0.0

Canon today posted firmware 2.0.0 for the EOS 10D. This firmware update primarily adds PictBridge support but it also makes three improvements / fixes: 1. Improves release lag when using Microdrive's, 2. Corrects AE Lock operation when using custom function 4 settings, 3. Fixes Exposure compensation display errors when using the ST-E2 Speedlite Transmitter. Update is very easy, simply drop the firmware update file onto a Compact Flash card, insert it into the camera, power on and select 'OK'.

October 28
ACD Systems release FotoCanvas 3.0

Software: ACD Systems has released FotoCanvas 3.0, the latest version of its photo editing software program. ACD FotoCanvas is an affordable and easy-to-use program with all of the essential tools needed to enable users to make edits to their digital photos and create simple web graphics. New workflow enhancement features in ACD FotoCanvas 3.0 include the Dodge and Burn tool, the ability to add Bubble Talk to images, an easy step-by-step Photo Correction Wizard and a Professional Color Management system. ACD FotoCanvas 3.0 in English is available for $39.99 (USD) or as part of ACDSee 6.0 PowerPack for $79.99 (USD).

Just posted! Pentax *ist D review

Just posted! Our full in-depth review of Pentax's first digital SLR, the *ist D. The *ist D is based around the design of the *ist film SLR, it features a six megapixel APS size CCD sensor and a Pentax lens mount. The *ist D is the smallest and lightest lens interchangeable digital SLR and is packed with manual controls and advanced features. On paper the *ist D appears impressive, see how it performed in our tests and how it compared to the Canon EOS 10D and Nikon D100.

Nikon Coolpix 3700

Nikon today announced the new ultra-compact aluminium bodied Coolpix 3700. The Coolpix 3700 has a three megapixel sensor and three times optical zoom, it's also the first Coolpix to use Secure Digital for storage and is powered by a Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery. Nikon are clearly going for style and design with this camera, without being too 'way out'. One unique feature of the 3700 is 'sound release' which allows you to put the camera in a sort of self-timer mode and trigger the shutter release with a loud sound (such as a clap).

October 27
Sigma SD10, preview and samples

Sigma today announced the new SD10 digital SLR. The SD10 is a successor to the SD9, originally announced in February last year. The SD10 has an updated 10M X3 sensor from Foveon, the new sensor promises improved dynamic range, color response and sensitivity (thanks to the addition of microlenses). The primary differences between the SD9 and the SD10 are extended ISO sensitivity (up to 1600 in extended mode), longer exposures, a single battery power supply, 1/3 EV steps, wireless TTL flash support and image processing enhancements provided by Sigma Photo Pro 2.0. We have a brief preview and samples from a pre-production SD10. UPDATE: Imaging-Resource post full review.

Sigma announce new DC lenses

Sigma today announced two new lenses designed specifically for digital SLR APS sensor size. The 18 - 50 mm F3.5 - 5.6 DC and 55 - 200 mm F4.5 - 5.6 DC lens can be made considerably smaller and lighter because they are designed to produce an image circle specifically large enough for an APS size sensor (all current digital SLRs except the Canon EOS-1D/1Ds and Kodak DCS-14n). Both lenses are notably lighter and more compact than 35 mm equivalents. Used on the Sigma SD9 or SD10 these new lenses would provide an equivalent field of view of 30 - 85 mm and 93 - 340 mm respectively.

Foveon X3 Fill Light

Foveon today announced that Sigma Photo Pro 2.0 (for the SD10, also works with the SD9) has a new and important feature called 'X3 Fill Light'. This feature works by lightening dark areas of the image much in the same way a flash fill light would (auto dodge and burn or 'locally varying tone correction'). As the new X3 Fill Light operates using the RAW data stored in the X3F file it appears to produce far better results than we have seen from any similar Photoshop plug-in type enhancement. The new X3 Fill Light feature is implemented as an adjustment slider in Photo Pro and its setting can be stored in the X3F file along with all other rendering adjustments (another new feature of Photo Pro 2.0).

Foveon updated X3 Pro 10M sensor

Foveon today announced an updated version of its X3 Pro 10M sensor, this new sensor is used in the new Sigma SD10 which has also been announced today. While the sensor has the same resolution as that used in the SD9 (2268 x 1512 x 3) Foveon has finally taken the step to calling this a 10.2 megapixel sensor. The new sensor is said to have improved dynamic range and color response as well as increasing sensitivity by utilizing a microlens over each pixel location, sensitivity for the SD10 is up to ISO 100 to 800 with ISO 1600 available as an extended option.

October 23
Canon EOS 300D / Digital Rebel Firmware 1.1.1

Canon today posted firmware 1.1.1 for the EOS 300D / Digital Rebel. This is the first firmware update for this camera and appears to be a fairly mild update with fixes mostly to USB communications. In detail this firmware fixes two problems: increases the reliability of RemoteCapture application when the camera is used, increases the reliability of operations when used on Windows XP and Mac OS X with PTP. Canon note that this firmware update can only be installed on cameras with firmware version 1.0.2 (final production). Update is very easy, simply drop the firmware update file onto a Compact Flash card, insert it into the camera, power on and select 'OK'.

October 22
Nikon to delay the D2H

Nikon Japan has today announced that it is to delay the launch of the D2H. First announced in July this year this is the much anticipated sucessor to the D1H. It was due to go into retail channels late this month but has now been put back to late November.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T1 - ultra slim 5mp

Sony today announced the ultra slim Cyber-shot DSC-T1. The DSC-T1 is the first 'credit card style' digital cameras from Sony, it utilizes a folded-optics lens system (in the same manner as Minolta's DiMAGE X/Xi/Xt) which means that the optical zoom is mounted vertically in the camera body, it 'sees' through the final lens element by way of a 90 degree prism. This provides the DSC-T1 with a three times optical zoom coupled with a five megapixel sensor. Additionally Sony appear to have taken a leaf out of Casio's book and fitted the DSC-T1 with a huge 2.5" LCD monitor, with an excellent 211,000 pixel resolution. The DSC-T1 is also only the second Sony digital camera to come with a docking station for charging and image transfer (the F77 had one but it was only released in Asia). The DSC-T1 should be available in January at around $550.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-U40

Sony today announced the Cyber-shot DSC-U40, the latest in line of 'U' ultra-compact digital cameras. The U40 has a fixed focal length lens and two megapixel CCD sensor, it stores its images on the smaller Memory Stick Duo or Memory Stick Pro Duo. The U40 is powered by AAA batteries (rechargeable NiMH's included) and of course supports direct printing using the PictBrdige standard. As with some other DSC-U digital cameras the U40 will be available in a range of four colors. The DSC-U40 should be available in January at around $200.

October 21
Delkin CardBus CF adapter tested

We have just received and tested Delkin's CardBus CF adapter (and OEM ASKA SpeedOver CF32A). This compact flash adapter offers laptop and notebook users (Windows only at this time) image transfer performance which actually beats a FireWire card reader on a desktop PC. Anyone who has used a standard PCMCIA adapter will know how slow these devices are, in our tests the new CardBus CF adapter from Delkin was almost four times faster than a standard PCMCIA adapter.

The biggest! 4 GB and 6 GB CF tested

We are lucky enough to have both the Lexar 40x 4 GB and Pretec 6 GB Compact Flash cards on hand and have performed a variety of tests on these very high capacity cards. While the Lexar 40x 4 GB is impressive the Pretec 6 GB is even more so considering that it is similar in design to IBM's Microdrive (both a miniature hard disks) but has trumped Hitachi-IBM's new 4 GB Microdrive both in capacity and time to market. The Lexar is likely only to appeal to professionals who require total reliability and performance, the Pretec may well find its way into all sorts of devices, not just digital cameras. We have compared these two cards with SanDisk's new Ultra II 1 GB card and the industry benchmark IBM Microdrive 1 GB.

Fujifilm FinePix F420 Zoom

Fujifilm today announced the FinePix F420 Zoom, while it has a similar look and feel to the F410 it has a smaller case a larger, higher resolution LCD monitor, is powered by a supplied rechargeable battery or AAA batteries and a video out socket for display on a TV. The camera features a 3.1 million pixel SuperCCD HR and three times optical zoom lens. In addition movies can be recorded at a full 30 frames per second for as long as there is space on the xD-Picture Card. Jumping on the bandwagon the F420 Zoom also has PictBridge support (although just how many people will use it in any camera is yet to be seen).

October 18
Kyocera Finecam L30 - with MPEG-4 video

Kyocera Japan has announced the three megapixel, three times optical zoom Finecam L30. At first sight this appears to be 'just another' three megapixel digital camera (indeed very similar in appearance to the L3v/L4v) however the Finecam L30 has superior video recording capability. The reason for this is that the L30 records video using the MPEG-4 video compression codec which should mean much smaller video file sizes and longer recording times. The L30 records video at 320x240 (15 fps) or 160x112 (30 fps) for as long as there is space on the storage card (SD/MMC plus 16 MB built-in). Lets hope this is the first of many digital cameras which will provide MPEG-4 as their video compression codec (almost all current digital cameras use Motion JPEG or MPEG-1).

Sigma 12 - 24 mm F4.5-5.6 EX DG HSM

Sigma Japan has announced a new wide angle zoom lens, the 12 - 24 mm F4.5-5.6 EX DG HSM. This lens is clearly aimed at providing a good wide angle range for digital SLR's as well as ultra wide angle for film SLR's. On the Sigma SD9 (1.7x crop) this lens would provide the same field of view as a 20-41 mm lens, on the Canon EOS-10D/300D this would be approx. 19-38 mm. This new lens will be available in Sigma, Canon, Nikon, Pentax (non-HSM) and Minolta (non-HSM) mounts and has an estimated Japanese list price of 99,000 YEN ($901 at todays exchange rate).

Belkin Media Reader for iPod

Belkin has announced an adapter unit which will add digital photo storage capability to an Apple iPod portable music player. The media reader connects to the iPod via its FireWire interface and stores images from CompactFlash Type I or II (and other media via CF adapters) in 'roll' directories on the iPod, these can easily be retrieved later by simply connecting the iPod to your computer. The Belkin Media Reader requires iPod Software 2.1 or later and one of the newer iPod's with the dock mount on the bottom, Media Reader is priced at $99.99.

October 16
Konica Minolta announces PictBridge support

Konica Minolta has today announced support for PictBridge in their new DiMAGE Z1 and DiMAGE E323 digital cameras. PictBridge is the new industry standard for direct printing of images and allows a user to print directly from a PictBridge compatible digital camera connected via a cable to a PictBridge compatible printer without the use of a PC. "PictBridge support provides consumers with more options for sharing their digital photos than ever before," says Hidenori Toyoda, General Manager Photo Division, Minolta Europe.

October 14
Olympus E-System ZUIKO DIGITAL 11-22mm lens

Olympus has today announced that next year they will introduce five new interchangeable ZUIKO DIGITAL lenses for the Olympus E-System. Among the new models planned for release next year is the ZUIKO DIGITAL 11-22mm, F2.8-3.5 lens (35mm camera equivalent: 22-44mm), plus three other zoom lenses, including an ultra-wide-angle lens, and a bright lens with a fixed focal length. They have also announced that work has started on products to be launched in 2005 and later to show their commitment to the E-System.

Minolta DiMAGE G400 with dual memory-card slot

Minolta has today introduced the new DiMAGE G400 which looks very Konica Revio in origin. The DiMAGE G400 has a newly designed signal-processing engine with a 0.7 second startup time. You can turn the camera on, focus, set the exposure, capture an image, and turn the camera off in 1.5 seconds. It takes less than a second from turning the camera on to being ready to capture a sharp, well-exposed image. It has a 4.2 megapixel CCD and a 3x GT Hexanon zoom lens which has seven elements in six groups to provide sharp, high-contrast images. It has a dual card-slot system for flexible image storage. Both Memory Sticks and SD Memory Cards can be used singly or in combination.

October 10
Olympus Studio Review & Lenses

We have just updated our Olympus E-1 preview with a detailed look at the Olympus Studio software, a $150 optional upgrade to the Olympus Viewer supplied with the camera. This review, prepared by Les Freed examines the Studio software in some detail. Studio provides facilities for image transfer, browsing, viewing, editting, printing, RAW conversion and tethered camera operation. Overall Les was impressed (especially with the RAW conversion speed) but would have liked to have seen Studio making up a standard part of the E-1 Kit. In other news Olympus Japan today announced a tentative timeline of new E system lenses, we should expect approximately five new E system lenses in 2004 and seven new E system lenses in 2005.

October 7
Olympus updates range, adds PictBridge support

Olympus Japan has today announced updated versions of their mju and Camedia range. These are esentially the same as the previous models, except for the addition of PictBridge support. PictBridge is the new industry standard for direct printing that allows you to print images without using a computer by directly connecting digital cameras and digital camcorders to a printer, regardless of the devices' brand and model.

Delkin CardBus CF adapter

Back in May we reported on the Aska Corp CF32A Compact Flash CardBus PCMCIA adapter, at that time it was a Japan only product. Today Delkin has announced their own CardBus PCMCIA adapter which promises high speed transfer from Compact Flash cards for Notebook users. Delkin's own tests suggest a transfer speed of up to 5.5 MB/sec using the eFilm PRO CardBus PCMCIA adapter, almost five times faster than a standard Compact Flash PCMCIA adapter.

NEC Mitsubishi 22" CRT Adobe RGB monitor

NEC Mitsubishi Japan has today announced a 22" CRT monitor which is calibrated to the Adobe RGB color space. The Diamondtron RDF225WG is capable of reproducing 97.6% of the color gamut available from Adobe RGB and has a specific Adobe RGB mode which will allow images in this color space to be displayed without first converting to sRGB (as would normally be carried out by your photo application). This monitor is clearly aimed at the DTP and design market but should also be of interest to high end digital photography and specific roles such as print publication picture editors. No price has yet been announced however availability is said to be 'end of December'.

October 6
GS Magicstore 1" 4.8GB HDD

According to the Japanese website PC Watch and also EE Times, GS Magicstore will release a 4.8GB version of its 1" HDD in November. It is a Type II CF format card and will be compatible with digital cameras from Canon, Nikon, Fuji, Sanyo, Olympus and Minolta. Additionally the GS Magicstore product road map indicates a 7 - 8 GB unit late in 2004, 10 GB at the start of 2005 and 16 - 20 GB late in 2005. The company is also developing a 40 GB 1.8-inch drive which it will launch in April.

Adobe Photoshop Album 2.0

Adobe has today announced a major new release of its Album software. Photoshop Album 2.0 introduces a range of new features including an improved calendar view and new sharing features for sending your pictures to mobile phones, Palm OS handhelds and TiVo Series2 digital video recorders. Adobe has also introduced the 'Starter Edition' of Album 2.0 which is a free download, the full version of Album 2.0 will cost $49.99 ($15 rebate for existing Album owners) and the combination of Elements 2.0 and Album 2.0 will be $129.99. (Again Photoshop Album is a Windows only application)

October 2
Olympus E-1 preview updated

We have just updated our Olympus E-1 preview with a hands-on experience report from dpreview.com contributor Les Freed. Olympus America invited several journalists and photographers - including Les - to attend the US Grand Prix races last weekend. The purpose of the trip was to give the attendees hands-on, real-world shooting experience at a major motorsport event.

Ulead Celebrates 15 Years with PhotoImpact XL

Software: Ulead has today announced Ulead® PhotoImpact® XL, an enhanced version of PhotoImpact, Ulead’s flagship image editing software for the PC. PhotoImpact XL offers extensive learning materials, striking new filters and effects, and useful basic and high-end photo correction tools. The software is a complete image editing solution for digital photographers, graphic designers, and Web creators at home, school and the workplace. "As one of the original founders of Ulead Systems, it's exciting for me to reflect on the past 15 years of our success in developing innovative image editing software,” says Lewis Liaw, president of Ulead Systems, North America. It is available immediately from the web site for $89.95 and in retail in November.

Panasonic launches two more Lumix models

In addition to the DMC-FZ10 announced ealier today Panasonic has introduced the stylish DMC-FX5, with a 3x optical zoom and a four-megapixel CCD, and the DMC-FX1, with a 3x optical zoom and three-megapixel CCD. As with the DMC-FZ10 both additional models incorporate Panasonic's MEGA Optical Image Stabilizer (MEGA O.I.S.). They will be released in November with no suggested retail prices.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ10

Panasonic has today introduced the first 4-megapixel consumer digital camera with 12x optical zoom. Featuring F2.8 brightness throughout the entire zoom range, the camera's powerful 12x zoom (equiv. to 35-420mm on 35mm). It has Panasonic's MEGA O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilizer) which helps to deliver sharp, vivid images even when taking handheld telephoto shots or shooting in low light. It is targeted for retail introduction in November, and will have a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $599.00.

October 1
ACD Systems releases ACDSee 6.0

Software: ACD Systems has released ACDSee 6.0, the newest version of its flagship digital imaging software program for consumer and corporate markets. ACDSee is known for its speed, ease-of-use and powerful image management capabilities including features for viewing, organizing, searching, printing and sharing digital image collections of any size. New features in ACDSee 6.0 include the ability to rate images, burn photos to CD/DVDs and quickly view and locate photos from different folders and categories with the Easy Select and Selective Browsing features. ACDSee 6.0 in English is available for $49.99 (USD) for the full version, or $39.99 (USD) for the upgrade from ACDSee 5.0.

Canon add PictBridge support

Canon has today posted a firmware update for the majority of its current digital cameras (S400 Digital Elph, Digital Ixus 400, G5, S50, A70, A60, A300). This firmware upgrade, version 2.0, adds PictBridge support. PictBridge is the new industry standard for direct printing that allows you to print images without using a computer by directly connecting digital cameras and digital camcorders to a printer, regardless of the devices' brand and model.