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January 2004 news and reviews

January 30
Olympus offers $300 trade-in to E-1

According to a message on our forums: Olympus USA has today announced a $300 trade-in promotion on their digital SLR E-System. You can take any SLR camera, film or digital for a $300 rebate against the E-1 digital SLR body and 14-54 mm lens bundle. This brings the total price for the bundle down to $1,999. This offer is available at certified Olympus E-System dealers until March 31st 2004.

Pentax cuts *ist D price by $300

Pentax USA today announced that it is cutting $300 from the retail price of the *ist D digital SLR as well as an additional $200 from the 16-45 mm DA lens if bought with the camera. By our estimates this means you should be able to get the *ist D with the 16-45 mm lens for around $1630 ($1399 for the discounted body and $229 for the lens), that's the camera and lens bundle for around $60 under the original retail price for the body alone. In addition Pentax USA has also cut $30 from the Optio S retail price and $50 from the Optio 550, 555 and 33WR.

Yet Another Flash Memory Format

According to a story yesterday on CNET it seems that we will have yet another flash memory format after February 5th, from the Universal Transportable Memory Association (UTMA). The UTMA is a consortium of unnamed consumer electronics manufactures. The cards will be smaller than Secure Digital (SD) cards, and initially be available in 1GB format with capacity increasing over time. From the URL of the web site it may be called "Fish Memory" Update: More details from the Inquirer, its a USB stick!!

January 29
SanDisk 1GB SD Card Ships

SanDisk has recently announced that they have started shipping their 1GB Secure Digital (SD) flash card. Although it has slipped its expected date, it is still the first production 1GB card. Jointly developed with Sharp, it contains a unique “stackable” packaging technology which has both a low-cost and high-yield so that it can be competitively-priced. It is available immediately with a suggested retail price of $499.99

PMA 2004 Show Report - Preview

Pre-PMA 2004: Due the popularity of this feature in the last two years and knowing the importance of the PMA show I have now activated our PMA 2004 show report page. The show report will enable you to stay informed about all the latest product announcements as well as live updates from the show floor once the show commences. We are expecting several announcements in the next two weeks which will be posted both on the front page of the site and linked from the 'New Product Index' page in the show report.

Canon EOS-1D Mark II, 8.2 mp, 8.5 fps

Pre-PMA 2004: Canon today announced the impressively specified EOS-1D Mark II which features a new 8.2 megapixel CMOS sensor, it can shoot at just over eight frames per second and has a 40 frame JPEG image buffer (20 frames in RAW mode). This means that shooting at full resolution at full speed the camera is buffering 69 megapixels per second (or 100 MB/sec). Other changes include the addition of a USB port, an SD slot, the removal of the external white balance sensor as well as some subtle body styling changes. The cost? $4,499 to you Sir... We have a detailed preview available.

Canon Data Verification Kit DVK-E2

Pre-PMA 2004: Canon today announced the latest version of its Data Verification Kit, the DVK-E2 kit is designed to deliver validation of an unmodified original image from a single camera body. This kit is aimed at law enforcement, insurance, news and other such agencies and can detect single bit discrepancy in modification of an image since it was taken. The new kit is much smaller than the old and uses a unique SM (secure mobile) card which is the same size as a Secure Digital card. The card reader connects to a computer USB port (only Windows 2000/XP compatible at the moment).

Canon EF 70 - 300 mm DO IS USM

Pre-PMA 2004: Canon has today announced the new EF 70 - 300 mm F4.5 - F5.6 DO IS USM zoom lens, the first zoom lens ever to use Diffractive Optical (DO) elements. These new elements, seen previously only in the 400 mm F4.0 DO lens enable this 4.2x telephoto zoom lens to measure less than 10 cm long at the 70 mm position. On a digital SLR with an 1.6x FOV crop such as the EOS 10D this lens has an effective field of view of 112 to 480 mm, on the new EOS-1D Mark II the lens has an effective field of view of 91 to 390 mm. The lens will be priced at $1,299 (US) / €1,299 (EU).

Canon EF 28-300 mm F3.5-F5.6 L IS USM

Pre-PMA 2004: Canon today announced the new EF 28 - 300 mm F3.5 - F5.6 L IS USM lens. This new lens provides almost eleven times push-pull zoom from a wide angle 28 mm and also adds Image Stabilisation (IS). On a digital SLR with an 1.6x FOV crop such as the EOS 10D this lens has an effective field of view of 45 to 480 mm, on the new EOS-1D Mark II the lens has an effective field of view of 36 to 390 mm. The lens will be priced at $2,499 (US) / €2,499 (EU).

January 28
Nikon Coolpix 4500 Firmware v1.3

Nikon Europe has today posted firmware Version 1.3 for the Coolpix 4500. This firmware fixes a problem with flash photography using the Remote Cord MC-EU1 which sometimes produced images that were underexposed, has been corrected. As usual please read carefully the firmware installation information before installing the Nikon Coolpix 4500 firmware!

Nikon D70, six megapixels, $1000 digital SLR

Pre-PMA 2004: Nikon today announced details of its $1000 D70 digital SLR. The D70 appears to be based around either the same or a similar CCD as the D100's (not LBCAST as some had predicted). Body design is also very similar to the D100, a few of the new design hints such as the triangular red stripe on the hand grip come from the D2H. This clearly opens up the entry level digital SLR market yet further providing real competition to the Canon EOS 300D. The D70 will cost $999 as body only and $1299 with the new 18 - 70 mm DX lens. We have a detailed preview available.

Nikon Coolpix 8700, 8 mp, 8x zoom

Pre-PMA 2004: Nikon has today announced the eight megapixel, eight times optical zoom Coolpix 8700. Looking very similar to the Coolpix 5700 the 8700 appears to share an almost identical body (although the LCD monitor is larger) and lens system (35 - 280 mm equiv, F2.8 - F4.2). The Coolpix 8700 has a magnesium alloy body, a Compact Flash Type I/II media slot, is powered by a rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery and can shoot continuously at 2.5 frames per second for up to five frames. This camera becomes only the second eight megapixel prosumer level digital camera announced to date (Sony's DSC-F828 being the first).

Nikon 18 - 70 mm DX lens

Pre-PMA 2004: Nikon has today announced the AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor 18 - 70 mm F3.5 - F4.5 G IF-ED lens (what a mouthful!). This new lens joins the range of DX Nikkor lenses which are designed specifically for DX compatible Nikon digital SLR's. Of course the 18 - 70 mm DX is the perfect complement to the newly announced D70 digital SLR. On any Nikon DX compatible digital SLR this lens provides an equivelant field of view of 27 to 105 mm (approx. 4x zoom). This lens is also obviously aimed to 'one up' the Canon 18 - 55 mm lens which now falls short at the telephoto end.

Nikon Speedlight SB-600

Pre-PMA 2004: As part of a range of announcements and to complement the new D70 Nikon has today announced the Speedlight SB-600. "When used in combination with Nikon's latest digital SLRs, the D70 or D2H, the SB-600 supports Advanced Wireless Lighting as a remote Speedlight that can be positioned as one of multiple remote flashes to significantly extend creative possibilities. To assist in such situations, the Speedlight SB-600 also has two Ready Lights located on both the left and right of the front that can be easily seen from a distance. The SB-600 can also emit an audible alert for further assistance."

Nikon CoolWalker MSV-01

Pre-PMA 2004: Nikon enter the mobile storage market with the new CoolWalker product line, starting with the MSV-01. The CoolWalker MSV-01 has a 2.5" TFT LCD monitor, rubberized body finish, a Compact Flash Type I/II slot (other media supported via CF adapters), 30 GB hard disk, Hi-Speed USB 2.0 interface, Audio/Video output plus supplied IR remote control, is powered by a Lithium Polymer battery and has PictBridge direct printing support. The CoolWalker MSV-01 measures 130 x 81 x 35 mm (5.1 x 3.2 x 1.4 in) and weighs just 350 g (12.3 oz). The CoolWalker supports JPEG, TIFF and NEF (Nikon RAW from digital cameras) as well as the playback of audio and video clips (Motion JPEG).

Nikon PictureProject

Pre-PMA 2004: Nikon today announced PictureProject a new application set to replace NikonView for new Nikon digital cameras. The new software supports automatic transfer of images from the camera as soon as it is connected, a new single window management system, quick browsing, searching and keyword attachment. "Beginning this spring, it will be included with newly released Nikon digital cameras, not merely as a complimentary offering, but as a powerful tool that adds value and enjoyment to digital photography. Signaling Nikon's intention to expand and further strengthen its software portfolio with add-on tools and higher-function products to come, PictureProject is about to change the digital photography experience."

January 27
Breeze DSLR Remote Pro for Canon DSLRs

Software: Breeze Systems has today announced DSLR Remote Pro for users of Canon’s Digital SLR cameras (EOS-1DS, EOS-1D, 10D, Digital REBEL, 300D). Professionals can now use DSLR Remote Pro to control the EOS-1DS and EOS-1D as well as Canon’s midrange DSLR cameras. DSLR Remote Pro runs on Windows and is available now at an introductory price of US$129 and also on a 15 day free trial.

January 26
50 million digital cameras sold in 2003

PMA Data Watch has today released a report showing projected sales figures of digital cameras for 2003. The volume of cameras sold was projected to increase by 64 percent to 50 million units. Europe has led this growth, roughly doubling its sales volume each year. In fact, Europe overtook the Americas during 2003 as the world's largest market for digital cameras, accounting for 36 percent of units sold. Growth in the Americas has been strong nonetheless, rising by 48 percent in 2003, while digital camera sales increased by 34 percent in Japan.

January 22
Kodak cuts 15,000 jobs & buys Chinon

Kodak has today said it would cut as many as 15,000 jobs and take charges of up to $1.7 billion over the next three years as it works through a painful shift toward digital products and away from the waning film market. Kodak has shed some 22,000 jobs in the last five years, cutting its work force to about 64,000 in 2003 from 86,000 in 1998. Another story from Kodak today is that that are buying the remaining 41% of Chinon Industries to take full control. Chinon Industries, established in 1948, is engaged in research, development, and manufacturing of digital cameras.

Casio EX-Z4 Firmware 1.0.2

Casio today posted firmware Version 1.0.2 for the Exilim EX-Z4. This firmware fixes a problem that occurs in the Voice Recoding Mode when the memory becomes full, and also improves white balance performance. As usual please read carefully the firmware installation information before installing the Casio Exilim EX-Z4 firmware!

January 20
Fujifilm UK confirms continued commitment to film

Pre-PMA 2004: In our first official press release timed for the run-up to PMA Fujifilm UK has confirmed its commitment to the film market. While we don't normally publish news about film cameras it does seem to be the flavour of the moment to speculate on who will be next to "dump film" after Kodak's recent announcements. Fujifilm UK has today announced four new film models initially with more to come in 2004 (including APS).

Olympus E System automatic firmware updates

Olympus today announced that the latest version of its Olympus Viewer or Olympus Studio (1.1) can automatically check for new firmwrare updates for E System digital cameras over the Internet (starts 28th Jan). "Once they have the latest version of the software, updating the firmware is incredibly easy. After connecting the camera to a Mac or Windows computer* and logging onto the internet, the user just needs to start the ‘Firmware Update’ function in the ‘Help’ menu in Olympus Viewer or Olympus Studio. This initiates a check of the firmware in the camera body and any connected lens and flash. If necessary, the latest version can be automatically downloaded and installed."

Canon EOS 10D Firmware 2.0.1

Canon today posted firmware Version 2.0.1 for the EOS 10D digital SLR. This firmware fixes the display of color temperature in playback mode after pressing the INFO button, this is clearly a small step update from version 2.0.0. Updating is very easy, simply drop the firmware update file onto a Compact Flash card, insert it into the camera, power on and select 'OK'.

Warning of potential site disruption

It's that time of year again where we've more than reached the limits of our current hardware and are ready to switch to new servers. They're already up and running and most of the 'background' transfer work has already been done, the new servers are now handling dns, mail and basic web service. At some stage in the next fourty eight hours we will need to shut down the main site to transfer the forums database to the new database server, during this time the site will not be available and this may take up to six hours (we will also be re-arranging the database files). See inside for more detail.

January 18
Just posted! Fujifilm FinePix S7000 Zoom review

Just posted! Our full in-depth review of the Fujifilm FinePix S7000 Zoom. When it was announced in July this year the S7000 held a claim to be the only prosumer digital camera to have a sensor with more than five million pixels, it features Fujfilm's latest six million pixel SuperCCD HR sensor. Because of the pixel layout of SuperCCD the S7000 by default outputs a twelve million pixel image, although you can select smaller image sizes, including six million pixels. See how the S7000 perfomed in our tests, read the review.

January 14
Kodak to stop making APS, some film cameras

In a major announcement today Kodak has stated that it will stop selling its APS and reloadable 35 mm film cameras in the United States, Canada and Western Europe. It will continue to make disposable 'single use' film cameras for all markets and will continue to sell reloadable 35 mm film cameras into 'emerging markets' such as China, India, Eastern Europe and Latin America. This effectively means the end of all APS cameras from Kodak, worldwide. Kodak is shifting more of its efforts towards the ever more popular digital camera products.

January 12
Fujifilm UK recall problem S7000's

Fujifilm UK has today announced that a number of early FinePix S7000 Zoom digital cameras may experience battery power depletion when used with some CompactFlash™ memory cards. Fujifilm has already made the required internal modifications to cameras manufactured after 15 December 2003, and is no longer supplying affected units. However, the company advises that a limited number of cameras produced prior to this date were released to the UK market and may encounter this problem. Fujifilm is offering a priority replacement of the part / camera on affected units. Naturally, this service is free and prioritised, and the camera will be picked up and returned by Fujifilm.

January 10
Just posted! Sony DSC-F828 Review

Just posted! Our full in-depth review of Sony's eight megapixel DSC-F828. This camera created a storm when it was first announced, the successor to the highly praised and much appreciated DSC-F717 added another three million pixels to the sensor and a big mechanical zoom 28 - 200 mm lens with an impressive F2.0 to F2.8 maximum aperture. The F828 also carries many more improvements and new features over the F717. See how the DSC-F828 perfomed in our tests.

January 9
Pentax *ist D Firwmare 1.10

Pentax has today released firmware version 1.10 for the *ist D digital SLR. This is the first firmware update for this camera, it adds / fixes the following: you can use the hyper manual function with the aperture ring set to a position other than A, the use of exposure compensation in Manual mode, prevent Auto Bracketing from being cancelled when the camera auto powered off and an update to EXIF 2.2 file format and the change of prefix for Adobe RGB colorspace images.This firmware update is available on both the Pentax Japan and Pentax USA websites. The update is available for Windows and Mac.

Panasonic announce two new digital cameras

CES 2004: Panasonic has today announced two new digital cameras. The Lumix DMC-LC50 and DMC-L70 appear to have either the same or a very similar body to the DMC-LC33 and DMC-LC43. The only visual difference being that the entire case is silver. The DMC-LC50 has a three megapixel sensor, the DMC-LC70 has a four megapixel sensor. Included in the press release for these two new cameras is the compact four megapixel, three times optical zoom DMC-FX5 which we revealed in October last year.

SanDisk 2 GB Memory Stick Pro

CES 2004: SanDisk has today announced the largest capacity Memory Stick to date, the new 2 GB Memory Stick Pro. This new capacity joins SanDisk's existing line of Memory Stick Pro cards which range from 256 MB to the new 2 GB and with the addition of a new range of Memory Stick Pro DUO cards are now available in a rather fetching semi-transparent blue color. "SanDisk Memory Stick PRO cards are expected to be available in February 2004 with capacities that range from 256MB to 2GB and suggested list prices from $100 to $1,000."

January 8
DiMAGE Messenger Plug-in for ACDSee

CES 2004: Konica Minolta has today announced that they have developed a DiMAGE Messenger 2.0 Plug-in for ACDSee(TM) digital imaging software. The DiMAGE Messenger 2.0 Plug-in serves as a multimedia communications tool to link images, audio and text. Jon Sienkiewicz, vice president of marketing for the Camera Division of Konica Minolta Photo Imaging U.S.A., Inc. "The combination of these two software programs enables savvy digital photographers to really get creative and have fun with their digital images."

Kodak Easyshare LS743 and LS753

CES 2004: Kodak has today announced two additions to its EASYSHARE digital photography system, the KODAK EASYSHARE LS743 and LS753 zoom digital cameras. Both the LS743 and LS753 cameras feature a new SCHNEIDER-KREUZNACH C-VARIOGON 2.8X compact optical zoom lens and the new KODAK Color Science image processing chip. The LS743 camera boasts 4 megapixel resolution and 16 megabytes of internal memory. The LS753 camera goes one step further with 5 MP resolution and 32 MB of internal memory. The LS743 camera (US$349 MSRP) will be available worldwide beginning in April 2004 and the LS753 camera (pricing to be determined) will be available beginning in June 2004.

Concord Eye-Q 4360z

CES 2004: Concord Camera, a leader in high-quality low-priced digital cameras, today announced at CES shipment of their new 4 Megapixel 3x optical zoom point & shoot digital camera, the Concord Eye-Q 4360z. With a suggested retail price of $199, the Concord Eye-Q 4360z delivers exceptional price/performance.

Toshiba's 0.85 inch Hard Disk Drive

CES 2004: In a feat of miniturization Toshiba has today revealed it is working on the worlds first sub 1 inch Hard Disk Drive. The new 0.85 inch HDD will have a capacity between 2 and 4 GB. This new device is clearly aimed at the portable music / multimedia players, PDA's and pocket notebook PC's. However it's not a far stretch to imagine these HDD's in use in digital cameras and 'cross over' products which also shoot digital video.

Olympus CAMEDIA C-760 Ultra Zoom

Olympus Europe has today announced the new CAMEDIA C-760 Ultra Zoom. The 3.2 megapixel C-760 is the smallest/lightest, at just 280 grams, digital camera in the world featuring an optical 10x zoom (equiv. 42 – 420mm on 35mm). The new Olympus Ultra Zoom will be available from February 2004. Note that this product has not been announced in the US.

Casio QV-R51

CES 2004: Casio has today announced the five megapixel, three times optical zoom QV-R51. This compact five megapixel digital camera is based on the body as the QV-R40 but this time is made from magnesium alloy. Casio claim an 'industry leading' startup time of 1 second and shutter release lag of 0.01 seconds. The QV-R51 has a large 2.0" LCD monitor (bigger than the QV-R40 but the same resolution), has 9.7 MB of internal flash memory, has an SD/MMC slot and is powered by two AA batteries. The QV-R51 should be available from March 2004.

Nikon Coolpix 3200 and 2200

CES 2004: Nikon has today announced the new Coolpix 3200 and 2200. These two cameras are based around the same body (which is similar to the Coolpix 3100) and have a three and two megapixel CCD sensor respectively. Both have a three times optical zoom lens. This pair of entry level Coolpix digital cameras also feature 14.5 MB of built-in flash memory for storage without the optional SD card or for instance in an emergency when the SD card is full. They are powered by two EN-MH1 NiMH batteries which are included along with the charger. Nikon has also introduced a waterproof case for these cameras (although this won't be available in the US).

January 6
Epson Photo On Demand Televisions

CES 2004: This is definitely a first for DPReview, a TV!! Epson America has launched two new rear projection HDTV LCD televisions that allow users to print out digital photographs without the use of a PC. The Livingstation televisions enable users to view, print and store digital photos through the use of a universal remote control. Epson's LCD technology and Photo On Demand capability, along with slots for memory cards and a built-in dye sublimation printer, mean that users do not need a PC to make the most of their digital photos. Available from March 2004, the 47-inch model will retail for $3,499, and the 57-inch model for $3,999.

January 5
Epson P-1000 Photo Viewer

CES 2004: Epson has today announced the P-1000 Photo Viewer, a 10 GB storage unit with a large 3.8" VGA LCD display designed as an advanced portable digital photoframe. The P-1000 has a Compact Flash slot (other media supported via adapters) and TV out as well as connectivity to Epson Printers for direct print. But the features keep coming, the P-1000 can also be connected directly to a computer via USB for transfer or a USB CD writer for archival. This product has been available in Europe for some time.