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November 2003 news and reviews

November 29
Just posted! Olympus E-1 full review

Just posted! Our full in-depth review of Olympus's first lens interchangeable digital SLR, the new E-1. The E-1 marks the first digital SLR of the Olympus 'E system' and is also the first digital SLR compatible with the 4/3 imaging standard and helps to launch a whole new lens mount and sensor size. The E-1 has a five megapixel Kodak CCD sensor, a full magnesium alloy body and is powered by a Lithium-Ion battery. See how the E-1 performed in our tests and my opinion of it. UPDATED 30/Nov - Added RAW conversion comparison with Adobe Photoshop CS.

November 28
Konica Minolta A1 firmware upgrade

Konica Minolta Europe has recently posted a firmware update for the DiMAGE A1. This firmware upgrade, version 101e, resolves a problem when using DiMAGE Capture, the camera stops while interval recording, and when using a 2GB or larger storage media, the camera cannot record movies. As usual please read carefully the firmware installation information before installing the DiMAGE A1 firmware!

November 26
Quiksilver U60

Quiksilver, the clothing and accessories brand, has launched a limited edition version of Sonys' Cyber-shot(R) DSC-U60 digital camera. The 150 limited-edition, Quiksilver-designed pieces feature original artwork on the camera, and are packaged in a specially designed custom box. "Quiksilver's lifestyle brand captures the imagination of consumers around the globe and it is exciting to bring these action sports enthusiasts to Sony's Cybershot product," said Matt Jacobson, Vice President of Quiksilver Entertainment. The camera will be available for purchase at Quiksilver Boardrider's Clubs in New York, Orlando, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Orange County, Honolulu and Maui at a suggested retail price of $300.

FotoWare FotoStation PRO 5.0

Software: FotoWare has recently launched version 5.0 of their FotoStation PRO digital asset managment system. New features include fully integrated Color Management, workflow-oriented interface, configurable "Actions" for the automation of time-consuming operations and advanced printer output.

Fujifilm FinePix F610

Fujifilm today announce the FinePix F610, the first compact digital camera with a six million pixel sensor. The F610 replaces the F601 Zoom and has the same upright orientation, it appears to use the same SuperCCD HR sensor used in the S7000 Zoom which has 6 million effective pixels with a maximum output image size of 12 million pixels. The F610 also has a unique 'dual screen' on the rear of the camera, at the top a normal 1.8" LCD monitor, just below this a monochrome screen displaying camera settings and menu options (a bit like the S2 Pro). The F610 also continues Fujifilm's tradition for excellent video recording performance, it allows you to record VGA (640 x 480) video clips at 30 frames per second (still no MPEG-4 though).

November 25
Nikon Warns of Imitation Rechargeable Batteries

Nikon has today issued a warning to their customers about the use of imitation Nikon Li-Ion batteries for their digital cameras. The products are branded as Nikon products but are not genuine Nikon products and therefore are counterfeit. Some of the imitation batteries are not equipped with a safety feature required for rechargeable batteries.

November 24
Archos turn their AV300's into a DSC

Archos has today announced the AVCam 300, a digital still camera and camcorder attachment for their AV300 series portable audio and video players. The AVCam has a 3.3 megapixel CCD, plus a 3x Ricoh optical zoom. The AVCam can store up to 40,000 3.3-megapixel photos and record up to 80 hours of MPEG-4 video when used with the AV380. The AVCam is available on November 27th for $199.95.

November 20
Kyocera Finecam S3R, 3 fps no limit

Kyocera Japan has announced the new Finecam S3R. This is a 3 megapixel version of the S5R launched in August. As with the S5R it contains the image processor dubbed 'RTUNE' which allows the S3R to shoot at 3 frames per second until the SD card is full. This does however require a high speed SD card capable of 10 MB/sec or more. The S3R comes in 3 colours, silver, red and blue and will be available in December.

Capture One Pro v1.2 for OS X

Phase One has announced that its excellent Capture One Pro workflow and RAW conversion software is now available for Mac OS X 10.3 (Panther). The new version of C1 Pro supports the full range of Canon Digital SLR's including the EOS-1Ds, 1D, 10D, D30, D60 and 300D (Digital Rebel). A fully functional 30 day trial of C1 Pro is available for download.

November 19
Digital camera sales to near 53 million in 2004

According to a study by the research group InfoTrends worldwide digital camera sales should reach nearly 53 million units sold in 2004. In addition to this digital camera sales are expected to continue to grow and a compound rate of 15% over the following four years reaching an incredible 82 million units sold in 2008. According to InfoTrends the market leaders in 2003 are expected to be Canon, Sony, Olympus, Fujifilm and Kodak with a combined market share of three quarters (75%).

November 18
The 123 of digital imaging e-book 2.0

Site contributor Vincent Bockaert has today announced the latest version of his excellent 'The 123 of digital imaging Interactive e-book'. The new e-book appears to be far more than a simple upgrade, the e-book now covers even more software including Adobe Photoshop CS and Photoshop Album 2.0 (as well as keeping content for Photoshop 7 and Album 1.0). The layout and control of the e-book has also been improved as a result of user feedback. Building on the previous version this e-book is probably the most comprehensive guide you'll ever need for the most in-depth knowledge of digital imaging and digital photography. Available as a download or packaged CD-ROM.

Sigma 17-35 mm F2.8-F4.0 EX DG HSM

Sigma has today announced a new version of its 17-35 mm F2.8-F4.0. The new version of this popular lens now utilizes a new type of Hyper Sonic Motor which provides full-time manual focus from the focusing ring. "We, Sigma Corporation, are the pioneer of the wide angle zoom. In 1979, we introduced the first wide angle zoom lens, "Zoom Gamma 21-35 F3.5-4". Since then, we've been leading the development of the wide angle zoom lenses. (1994/ 18-35mm F3.5-4.5, 1999/ 17-35mm F2.8-4, 2001/ 15-30mm F3.5-4.5 2003/ 12-24mm F4.5-5.6) We hope the customers can enjoy the improved performance."

Rob Galbraith posts Nikon D2H Test

Rob Galbraith has today posted a set of test images and commentary based on a production Nikon D2H. Rob has tested the camera in a wide variety of situations and especially concentrated on the D2H's 'home ground', sports photography. There are comparisons to the D1H and D1X as well as Canon's sport shooter, the EOS-1D. Rob appears to be happy with the D2H's performance at this point, noting better detail and color than previous cameras, he also comments that "Production cameras are less noisy than preproduction cameras Okay, at least the ones we've been given an opportunity to shoot with; the experience of some other early testers we compared notes with suggests that this wasn't universal."

November 17
BenQ 5 Megapixel C50

BenQ Europe have today announced the C50 digital camera. The C50 features a 5.0 megapixel CCD, 3X optical zoom and PASM mode (Program AE, Aperture Priority, Shutter Speed Priority, Manual), offering advanced features and options for aspiring photographers. "With the C50, we've developed a feature-packed product that is both portable and fun," expressed William Wang, BenQ Vice President and General Manager of Imaging Network Business Group.

Aska CardBus MS and SD adapters

Aska Corporation, the people who brought us the superb CF32A Compact Flash CardBus adapter (AKA. the Delkin CardBus CF adapter) have today announced high speed CardBus adapters for Memory Stick (including Memory Stick Pro and Memory Stick Duo) - the MS32A and Secure Digital - the SD32A. These new adapters should provide the highest possible throughput from Memory Stick or Secure Digital cards for your Notebook or Laptop computer. Aska claim read throughputs of almost 4,500 KB/sec for the the Memory Stick adapter and 3,000 KB/sec for the Secure Digital adapter. As per their previous adapter these will initiially only be available in Japan but we wouldn't be surprised to see Delkin snap these up and offer them as a Delkin badged product.

November 15
Sigma Photo Pro 2.0 available for download

Sigma Japan has today made Photo Pro 2.0 available for download (for both Windows and Macintosh). This will be great news for owners of the Sigma SD9 digital SLR as Photo Pro 2.0 can be used with RAW (.X3F) files from this camera as well as the new Sigma SD10 digital SLR. Our experience of Photo Pro 2.0 was very positive, image processing is improved, especially the handling of clipped color near highlights. In addition Photo Pro 2.0 has new features including the storage of processing parameters on a per image basis as well as the new X3 Fill Light.

November 14
Nikon to go all digital or not?

An article floating around several news sites including Pacific Business News is that Nikon are about to stop producion of their 35mm compact camera range and go all digital. The Tokyo-based Nihon Keizai Shimbun broke the story from company sources in its Thursday editions. Though the company said no decision has been made yet, the newspaper said production is being halted and shipments to stores will stop in a few months. UPDATE: Nikon Japan has posted a press release in English denying this rumour.

Wacom Go Pro Photography Contest

Wacom (the company behind the excellent Graphire, Intuos and Cintiq tablets) are currently running a photography contest named 'Go Pro'. The grand prize is a 40 GB Apple iPod and US$ 1,000 as payment for the commercial rights to the winning photo which will be included in the PhotoSpin professional stock photo collection. Entry is easy, simply upload your favourite image (must be 500 KB or less JPEG). The winning photograph will be chosen by a panel of professional photographers simply choose the photo that is the most compelling in all respects. Note that this contest is only open to residents of the US and Canada.

November 13
Nikon delay Nikkor 17-55mm AF-S DX lens

Nikon has today announced that one of the Nikkor lenses which was announced at the same time as the D2H, the AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8G, has been delayed until the spring of 2004. The AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8G is a sophisticated 3.2 zoom ratio lens with fast f/2.8 aperture featuring a unique optical design tailored to the demands of high performance digital photography with all of Nikon’s DX format Digital SLR cameras, namely the Nikon D1X, D1H, D1, D100 and D2H. Nikon apologize for any inconvenience caused to customers.

Ritz single-use digital hacked

There is a story today on Slashdot, the geek news site, that the Ritz single-use digital camera has been hacked. The $10.99 two megapixel (CMOS) fixed focal length camera with no LCD was announced in July and carries the 'Dakota Digital' name but is made by 'Pure Digital Technologies' of San Francisco. Software has been wirtten which allows the pictures to be downloaded to a computer using USB and printed without consent from Ritz. We said back in July that we didn't think this was a good thing for consumers and now its not good news for Ritz.

November 11
Nikon may outsource low-end

An interesting article on DigiTimes.com has said that Nikon may be planning to outsource production of its low-end digital still cameras to Taiwan. A source at Taiwanese DSC maker Primax Electronics acknowledged that Nikon is looking for OEM suppliers in Taiwan but could not identify how many firms have been contacted by the Japanese firm. If finalized, it would take about nine to 12 months for Taiwan’s makers to begin delivering DSCs to Nikon, the source said.

Just posted! Minolta DiMAGE A1 review

Just posted! Our full in-depth review of Minolta's DiMAGE A1 digital camera. The A1 is the sucessor to the popular DiMAGE 7 series, it is Minolta's new flagship prosumer digital camera and carries one of the widest range of features of any digital camera on the market. The DiMAGE A1's vital specs are a wide angle seven times optical zoom lens, a five megapixel CCD sensor, Anti-Shake image stabilization, a metal body, tilting LCD monitor, tilting EVF, Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery, a wide range of manual controls and an almost endless selection of customizable settings. See how the new DiMAGE A1 performed in our tests.

November 10
Alera Technologies Digital Photo Copy Cruiser

Alera Technologies has today announced the Digital Photo Copy Cruiser which enables the copying of digital photos directly from camera memory cards to CD without a computer. Photos from memory cards can be added to the CD in multi-session format so the full capacity of the CD can be used, it can also be used as a USB 2.0 36x CD recorder when connected to a computer. The Digital Photo Copy Cruiser supports the following Digital Memory Card formats: CF Type I and II, SD, MMC, SM, MS, MS Pro, and Micro Drive. The Digital Photo Copy Cruiser has an Estimated Street Price (ESP) of $229.

SimpleTech ProX SD Cards

SimpleTech has today announced SD (Secure Digital) versions of its ProX(TM) line of high performance cards. They are available in 256MB and 512MB formats and are available for immediate delivery. "ProX SD cards provide ultra-fast data connectivity for nearly every device using SD cards on the market," said Ken Roberts, director of product marketing for SimpleTech. Manufacturer's suggested retail prices are $159 for 256MB and $299 for 512MB.

November 7
PMA Digital Printing Initiative

Photo Marketing Association International (PMA) has announced the launch of an industry-wide consumer and retailer education initiative designed to promote digital printing to consumers through an Internet Web site due to launch late November 2003 as well as national public relations, advertising and mass media outlets. One component of this initiative includes a Qualified Digital Processing Center program to ensure that consumers know where to go to get their prints made and retailers are prepared to handle the consumer demand for printing of their digital files.

November 6
Fujifilm Q1 Digital

Following the success of its popular Q1 film camera, Fujifilm has today announced an addition to the family: the Q1 Digital. This curvy, silver, compact digital camera is perfect for beginners, or for those looking for a second camera to keep in their pocket or bag at all times. Easy to operate, and very light in weight at just 108g, the Q1 Digital makes the ideal gift for anyone taking their first steps in photography ? adults and children included!. The Q1 Digital will be available in November 2003 at an expected approximate street price of £100 inc VAT.

November 4
Kodak DCS 14n Firmware Upgrade

Kodak has recently posted a firmware update for the DCS 14n. This firmware upgrade, version 4.4.3, resolves a fixed focal length being reported when using some zoom lenses, adjusted automatic lens type selection for some lenses, a minor issue with selecting Job Tracker files from memory, an SD/MMC card formatting issue and changed in camera Digital Exposure Correction range limit on JPEG images to +/– 1EV. New features also include a longer exposure feature, camera mirror Prerelease feature, Wedding and Event "Looks" and Korean language support.

November 3
Smartdisk Flashtrax 40GB and 80GB models

SmartDisk has today introduced 40GB and 80GB models of its FlashTrax(TM) handheld portable multimedia device for offloading and storing digital images and music. FlashTrax stores images transferred from any flash memory card onto the built-in USB2.0 hard drive and displays them on a 3.5" LCD screen. "The Professional Photographers Association has just recognized FlashTrax as one of the hottest new imaging products of 2003," says Charles Klinker, Vice President-Marketing for SmartDisk.

November 1
Sigma SD10 - resolution same as SD9

We've just received our review Sigma SD10 (after a little mix-up with the courier) and I'm happy to report that resolution is identical to the SD9. I decided to test this immediately after we read reports elsewhere that resolution was significantly lower because of the use of microlenses. In our own shots of a standard ISO resolution chart we can measure absolutely no difference in resolution between the SD9 and SD10 using the same lens at (almost) the same aperture.