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October 2004 news and reviews

October 29
Get the most from your digital camera
Published today is the latest book from dpreview's own Simon Joinson: Get the most from your digital camera (David & Charles). The book is aimed at beginners and intermediate users, explaining how digital cameras work, understanding image files, how to take better pictures and how to manipulate them. There is also detailed information on how best to print digital images, arrange them into electronic albums, send them by email, post them on a website and much more.
Konica Minolta 7D on sale November 19
Konica Minolta Japan has today announced that the Maxxum / Dynax / Alpha 7D digital SLR will go on sale there on November 19th. On the same day Konica Minolta will also put up the two new lenses; 17 - 35 mm F2.8 - F4 (D) and 28 - 75 F2.8 (D) and the DiMAGE A200. Although Konica Minolta has put a price on the other items they have not explicity set an RRP on the 7D itself, industry experts in Japan expect it to sell for 200,000 YEN (US$ 1,888) or less. Sources elsewhere put the 7D at US$ 1,599 body only in the US.
October 28
While Sanyo has reported that it will lower its digital camera production target following 'weaker than expected demand', Canon has announced a 40% profit on last year due to 'robust sales of digital cameras' and other equipment. Canon, which has been number one digital camera manufacturer for the fourth month running (in the US), has also lowered its forecast by 500,000 units to 14.7 million units, which is still 70% more than last year (8.6 million units). Sanyo is one of the world's largest digital camera manufacturers, producing OEM products for Olympus and Nikon. It plans to cut production by 5 million units to 15 million. A Sanyo spokesperson says this is due to the popularity of digital cameras slowing in Japan and competitive pricing among manufacturers, which is affecting profit margins.
October 27
SanDisk doubles capacity of memory cards
SanDisk has announced it is doubling the current maximum capacities of a range of its cards. SanDisk's Memory Stick PRO, Memory Stick PRO Duo and SD cards are now available in 4GB, 1GB and 2GB capacities ranging in price from $199 - $799. The minuscule miniSD and RS-MMC cards, used in mobile phones with camera, video and MP3 capabilities, will now be available in 512MB capacities priced $69.99. All cards will be available by November.
Just posted! Canon PowerShot S70 review
Just posted! Our review of Canon's addition to the S series, the wideangle PowerShot S70. It's identical to its predecessor apart from a black paint job and 7.1 megapixel CCD. The sleek new S70 retains the 28 - 100mm wideangle lens and offers 13 shooting modes including enhanced VGA movie mode found on the S60. Check out our concise review to see if it lives up to expectations.
October 26
iPod Photo, doesn't rock?
Apple has announced the iPod Photo, essentially the same as the latest edition of the iPod but with a 2.0" 116,000 pixel 65K color LCD monitor and the software capability to display images as well as play music. The iPod Photo can also be attached to a TV for on-screen display via a special cable or the new dock. The iPod Photo will be available in 40 and 60 GB capacities ($500 or $600 respectively), the biggest nonsense? No built-in Card slot! iTunes is be used to sync photos but appears to downsample them for display on the iPod Photo.
Mitsubishi's SuperCCD camera module

Mitsubishi Electric Corp has announced the CMO51 camera module for mobile phones. This module appears to feature a 2 megapixel Fujifilm SuperCCD sensor. Mitsubishi are calling this module '4 megapixel' although of course we know it's 2 million effective. However because of the honeycomb layout of SuperCCD the output image size will be twice that of the effective resolution. UPDATE: Not SuperCCD SR, but normal SuperCCD.

SanDisk 256MB TransFlash card
SanDisk has announced the largest capacity for the world's smallest flash memory card currently available, the 256MB TransFlash. It is one fourth the size of an SD card, measuring 15 x 11 x 1mm, roughly the size of a fingernail. It can be inserted in SD-enabled devices when using an adaptor. It has primarily been developed for mobile camera phones that are taking increasingly larger still images and are capable of downloading video clips.
Sharp's eight megapixel 1/1.8" CCD
Sharp Japan today announced a new CCD which we will probably see in a new wave of compact digital cameras. The RJ21V3BA0ET (just rolls off the tongue) is a 1/1.8" Type CCD (7.2 x 5.3 mm) which packs 8.5 million total pixels (8.3 million effective). This sensor can also deliver 640 x 480 (VGA) at 30 fps for both high resolution live preview and video capture. Just when we thought seven million in the 1/1.8" Type package was enough. This CCD has a pixel pitch of just 2.2 µm (approx. 23% smaller than 8 million pixels on a 2/3" type CCD).
October 25
Sony Photo Vault
Sony has announced the Photo Vault, a portable CD burner for photographers on the move. Users can burn images onto an 8cm disc in approximately nine minutes as well as view shots as a slideshow on a TV using the video out connection. The Mini CD-R Station accepts images from Memory Stick (using the built-in slot), USB devices and digital cameras with their own storage media. It takes four AA batteries, which can burn up to 10 8cm discs and is available now for around £199 ($300).
October 22
Just posted! Fuji FinePix E550 review
Just posted! Our review of Fujifilm's FinePix E550 Zoom, which is very similar in spec to the FinePix F810 Zoom but housed in a completely different body. The FinePix E550 is the flagship model in Fuji's new E series, which is characterised by wideangle lenses and large LCD screens. Take a look our concise review to see how it compares.
Epson announces R-D1 availability
Epson has announced that the world's first digital rangefinder camera, the R-D1 is to begin shipping in the US on November 1 and is expected to cost around $2,999. The Epson R-D1, which is the first digital camera to use L- and M-mount lenses, conveys the classic feel of a rangefinder and offers 6.1 megapixelsm and an APS C-sized sensor.
Fujifilm S3 Pro, $2499 in the US
As reported on several other websites Fujifilm US has set the 'minimum advertised price' of its new S3 Pro digital SLR at $2499. That's some $1000 more than the Canon EOS 20D and $1500 more than Nikon's D70. Clearly Fujifilm see the S3 Pro fitting in between those models and the high-end professional targetted units like the EOS-1D Mark II or D2H/D2X. No other region has yet announced pricing.
October 20
Samsung announces 5 MP camera phone
Samsung has today unveiled the world's first 5MP camera phone with a CCD, the SCH-S250. A spokesman for the company said "the picture quality is good enough to compare with five megapixel digital cameras", but we'll reserve judgement on that one. It has a 92MB internal memory as well as an MP3 player. Samsung, the world's third largest handset maker, said the camera module was jointly developed with Japanese company Asahi Pentax.
October 18
Canon posts PowerShot S70 firmware
Canon has today posted firmware version for the PowerShot S70. The firmware prevents E51 errors from occurring when making specific print settings. If you have a black dot on the inside of the battery cover it is not necessary to download the firmware, as the camera already has it. Look out for our review of the PowerShot S70 coming soon.
October 15
Corel Corporation acquires Jasc Software
Corel Corporation has expanded its software portfolio with the acquisition of Jasc Software, which produces the Paint Shop family of image editing and digital photography programs. Corel will continue to sell Paint Shop Pro, Paint Shop Pro Studio and Paint Shop Photo Album as standalone products. The company says it will 'continue to support new R&D iniatives for the Jasc products, ensuring that they will continue to flourish'. Corel itself was acquired by a San Francisco-based company in August last year and is going from strength to strength having shown profits for four consecutive quarters.
October 14
No Sony DSC-T3 for the US
We've received an official note from Sony US that the slimline succesor to the DSC-T1, the T3 will not be destined for the US. This came as a slight surprise as it was officially announced by Sony US at the end of August. Sony stated the reason behind this decision was that the DSC-T1 was selling well and would have "a longer life than anticipated".
Bibble Labs announce Bibble 4.0
It's been a while since we had an announcement from Bibble Labs but I'm glad to see that the independent RAW conversion software is back and apparently stronger than ever. Bibble 4.0 has been re-written from the ground up and features better workflow and RAW conversion features including wider camera support, new work queues, automated renaming, web galleries and ICC profiling. Overall performance and more importantly RAW conversion speed is also said tobe improved. Bibble 4.0 is available for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux.
October 13
Just posted! Fuji FinePix F810 Zoom review
Just posted! Our review of Fujifilm's FinePix F810 Zoom, which uses the same 4th Generation Super CCD sensor as the S7000 zoom to produce 12 megapixel files from 6.3 million effective pixels. With a 4x (32.5 - 130mm equiv.) zoom and full photographic control in a slim, stylish, all-metal body it certainly looks good on paper, but will the output live up to Fujifilm's claims for its Super CCD technology? See how it shaped up in our concise review.
Olympus i:robe Easy Imaging System
Olympus has today announced a portable 'digital photography lab' incorporating a digital camera, home printer, hard disk drive and, in the future, a DVD burner. The i:robe Easy Imaging System components dock together and the 4 megapixel IR-500 camera and P-S100 printer are PictBridge-compatible. The IR-500 also boasts swing-out 2.5-inch LCD screen, 17 scene modes, and camera shake protection in movie mode. The 40GB S-HD-100 hard disk drive can hold up to 40,000 images. The Easy Imaging System will be out next year, with prices to be confirmed later this year.
Olympus m:robe
Olympus has today released more information surrounding its new concept camera, image viewer and music player, the 'm:robe'. Planned for release early next year, the m:robe MR-500i has a 20GB capacity, an integrated 1.2 megapixel digital camera and touch-screen control. It can store up to 5,000 songs and 20,000 images. A 'Remix Play' mode allows you to combine images, sounds and special effects to view on the LCD or on a television screen. Olympus has also announced the m:robe MR-100, a 5GB digital music player without a digital camera.
October 12
Epson P-2000 Multimedia Storage Viewer
Post Photokina: Epson has launched the P-2000 Multimedia Storage Viewer which can store your images (it has a 40GB capacity), create slideshows and connect to a photo printer. The device has a large 3.8-inch Photo Fine LCD, which Epson says ‘ensures a sharp lifelike preview of recorded images unsurpassed by any other manufacturer’ and offers a resolution of 212 ppi. It can also playback movies, MP3 files and supports CompactFlash and SD memory cards.
Canon posts EOS-1D Mark II firmware 1.0.3
Canon has today posted firmware version 1.0.3 for the EOS-1D Mark II digital SLR. The firmware adds new functions for communicating with Speedlite 580EX, reduces noise when shooting bulb exposures and fixes sensor cleaning operation.
Nikon D70 eBook
Peter iNova, with Uwe Steinmueller, has announced the availability of his latest eBook uncovering secrets and workarounds for the Nikon D70. Its 14 chapters cover RAW image conversion, operation, a self-guided digital photography course as well as advanced problem solving. Over 140 new Actions have also been made to the exclusive requirement of D70 images for colorimetry, noise control, printing setup and barrel distortion elimination. UPDATE: Special discount for dpreview readers.
October 7
Canon posts EOS 20D firmware 1.0.5
Following several incidents of 'dead cameras' Canon pulled its 1.0.4 firmware update for the EOS 20D shortly after it was published. Today Canon has posted version 1.0.5 which includes all of 1.0.4's updates and should (hopefully) not cause any further update problems. On the update page there are no less than two 'apologies' to customers who may have had their cameras killed by the previous update. It's also worth noting the specific recommended procedure of update.
October 6
Kodak job losses and restructuring
Following Kodak's announcement in January to halt production of film cameras it is cutting jobs at manufacturing sites in France, the UK and Australia resulting in the loss of nearly 1500 jobs. Around 600 people are expected to lose their jobs in both the UK and Australia. The decline of film will see the closure of a facility in Harrow, UK that sensitizes film for the graphics industry, a plant in Nottingham, UK, which primarily produces consumer film, and a factory in Melbourne, Australia. Job losses in France will amount to around 270 following the closure of a site in Chalon, France which produces films and photographic paper. It also plans to restructure its sites in both countries which will reduce the company's square footage by one third.
October 4
ACDSee 7
ACD Systems has announced the latest version of its image management software, ACDSee 7. New features include a Device Synchronization function that automates the downloading process of images and media, a Context Sensitive Toolbar, as well as support for RAW files. Advanced search capabilities allow users to view their entire collection in one window using the new Image Well. It is available now priced $49.99.
Canon posts EOS 20D firmware 1.0.4
Canon has today posted firmware version 1.0.4 for the EOS 20D digital SLR. This firmware fixes the problem of the shutter release not working when a lens is removed or a lens is attached when the camera is in auto power off mode, and improves the reliability when using some CF cards. This update applies to camera with firmware version 1.0.2. The firmware can be loaded via a CompactFlash card. Note: Canon has now pulled this update from the site with a brief note saying the Firmware update service is not available temporarily.
Sharp develops 2MP sensor for camera phones

Sharp has developed a two megapixel sensor with a 2x optical zoom to be used in camera phones. The first model will be the high end LZ0P3738 phone, which is launching this month. However, Sharp is still some way behind Samsung which launched a 3MP 3x zoom camera phone in July.

Photokina 2004 - 270 images, 3000 words
Photokina 2004 is now over and we can look back on one of the busiest and most successful weeks of the year for us. Just like PMA earlier in the year we posted live stand reports from the show floor, in the first three days of the show we posted 270 images and 3,000 words describing the 21 stands (and 108 products) which make up our Photokina 2004 show report. During the Photokina week we had 3.2 million visitors to the site who read 17.6 million pages (not including the forums).
October 1
Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D gallery
As promised we have today been out shooting with our pre-production Maxxum 7D and have put together a samples gallery of twenty one images including daylight low ISO and indoor high ISO shots. So far the results are impressive, especially low noise at high sensitivities and the very capable Anti-Shake system which allowed us to shoot as slow as 1/2 or 1/4 sec without a tripod (slower speeds do also seem possible but we can't be 100% confident without proper testing). Otherwise the images have good tonal balance, color response and a conservative approach to image sharpening (perhaps considered soft in appearance).