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December 2004 news and reviews

December 25
Merry Christmas on our sixth anniversary
I would like to wish all of our readers, supporters, sponsors and fellow webmasters a very Merry Christmas and express my gratitude for your continued patronage of the site. Christmas Day always marks our anniversary, on this day six years ago I posted our first version of the site along with our first articles. This year has seen some of the biggest changes here, not least of which the expansion of our team to include Simon and Stephanie, both of whom are doing an excellent job and we're looking forward to bringing you even more reviews next year. Now pick up your cameras and take some Christmas pictures!
December 23
Just posted! Epson P-2000 review
Just posted - our review of the Epson P-2000 Multimedia Storage Viewer, the successor - and huge upgrade to - the P-1000. With 40GB of storage, extended battery life, raw file and movie compatibility and a stunning, crystal-clear 212ppi screen, the P-2000 looks like the ultimate digital camera accessory. but is it? Read our full review to find out for yourself.
Kodak to build $45 million plant
The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle has reported that Kodak is to spend around $45 million building a new plant, which will produce supplies for creating prints from digital cameras. The new factory in Kodak Park, Monroe County will create around 50 jobs, which it will fill with existing personnel. It is expected to open in mid-2006. The creation of the new digital media plant is as a result of dramatic growth in the use of Kodak PictureMaker digital kiosks and the home PrinterDock. Around 40 buildings are being demolished and others are being put up for sale at Kodak Park as part of its three-year program to reduce its facilities' square footage by a third, and employment by 12,000-15,000.
December 22
Asia Times has reported that Sony plans to invest around ¥50 billion ($480 million) to build a new center, which will accommodate new machinery designed for the production of CMOS image sensors for camera phones. The new facility, at the Kumamoto Technology Center, is expected to be operational by spring 2006. Sony already leads the world in CCD production and this investment suggests it wants a large share of the low power CMOS sensor market.
Canon posts EOS-1Ds Mark II firmware 1.0.3
Canon BeBit has posted firmware version 1.0.3 for the EOS-1Ds Mark II which improves AF tracking in AI Servo AF and reduces noise when shooting bulb exposures as well as color differences between RAW and JPEG thumbnail images. This firmware applies to cameras which already have the 1.0.2 update installed.
December 20
Adobe has made the Camera Raw 2.4 beta available for Photoshop CS on both Windows and Mac platforms. The new plug in, which is free to download, adds support for raw files from several digital cameras including the Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II, Konica Minolta Dimage A200 and the Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D, as well as preliminary support for many others.
Just posted! Pentax S5i review
Just posted - our review of the Pentax Optio S5i! We give the five megapixel replacement for the S4i more than just a quick once over. Find out whether the ultra-compact, pocketable camera is as good as it looks, with it's new coarse handgrip and textured body. The S5i has the same 1.8-inch LCD as its predecessor and incorporates Pentax's sliding lens mechanism, which enables the manufacture of considerably small cameras with zoom lenses.
Kodak posts Pro 14n/nx firmware 5.3.0
Kodak has posted firmware update 5.3.0 for the Pro14n/nx digital SLRs. The new firmware fixes the problem that occasionally caused some Windows systems to restart while the camera was connected to the computer via FireWire during continous mode. The firmware also addresses the fact that some files couldn't be opened by PhotoDisk, eradicates green and magenta blocking and adds a Manual Mirror Prerelease option that uses the shutter button to raise the mirror and the OK button to open the shutter and capture the exposure.
December 16
The International Imaging Industry Association (i3a) has issued a press release which details tests it carried out in conjunction with SanDisk and the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to discover the effect of airport X-ray scanners on digital film (flash storage). The results showed that none of these such scanners, nor walk-through or hand-held metal detectors had any effect on the content of flash storage.
A study by InfoTrends/CAP Ventures predicts that worldwide digital camera revenue will reach $24 billion by the end of 2004, and will exceed $30 billion by 2009. Europe, the United States and Japan top the table for digital camera sales this year while it is expected that Asia and Rest of World (ROW) regions, which currently has a combined share of 10%, will share 33% of the revenue by 2009.
December 15
Fujifilm announces UK pricing for S3 Pro
Nearly three months after Fujifilm UK announced the FinePix S3 Pro, it has now announced its SRP as £1599 ($2499). The S3 Pro has a Super CCD SR sensor that gives a 12 megapixel output. The SR chip features two photodiodes at the same photosite which enables an extended dynamic range. Other features include film simulation modes, equivalent to changing film type to suit shooting conditions, the ability to adjust the dynamic range and color space selection. The FinePix S3 Pro will be available in January next year.
Pentax smc 40mm F2.8 Limited lens
A new 40mm pancake-style lens has been announced by Pentax which has been designed exclusively for use with its digital SLRs, the *istD and the *ist DS. The smc Pentax-DA 40mm F2.8 Limited lens (equivalent to 61mm) measures just 15mm long and weighs 90g. It also features Quick-Shift Focus System for instant switching to manual-focus operation, a nine-blade diaphragm to assure true to life reproduction of out of focus areas, a minimum focus distance of 40cm and the ability to attach filters. The lens is due to ship in February 2005.
December 14
Reuters has reported that Sony and Samsung have struck a deal that allows the two electronics giants to share basic patents to speed up product development. Sony has agreed to share 94% of its 13,000 US-registered patents and Samsung, which has 11,000 US-registered patents, will share a similar amount. The deal will eradicate the potential for legal action over patent infringement which many Japanese, South Korean and Taiwanese manufacturers have experienced recently. The agreement excludes 'differentiation technology patents' such as TFT LCD and OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode), Sony's Play Station architecture and Samsung's home networking technology.
Samsung launches MMCmicro
Samsung has launched a new multimedia card for camera phones that is one third the size of RS-MMC. The MMCmicro has been designed as a response to the decreasing size of mobile phone cameras. The card has exceptionally good read and write speeds for such a small device at 10MB and 7MB per second respectively. Production of the MMCmicro will begin early next year with 32MB, 64MB and 128MB capacities.
December 13
Closure of Kodak's Ontario operation results in 360 job losses
The Globe and Mail has reported that Kodak Canada is to close its Ontario manufacturing operation resulting in a loss of 360 jobs by the middle of next year. Kodak Canada president Michael Ducey said: "Kodak Canada remains committed to the Canadian market and will continue to offer the full array of leading traditional and digital imaging products and services." As with other closures around the world, employees are expected to receive severance packages and access to counseling support services. The decision to close the Toronto plant is part of Kodak's aim to reduce employment by 12,000-15,000 and facilities by a third.
Casio QV-R62
Casio Europe has announced another version of the QV-R61 and renamed it the QV-R62. The difference? The new model doesn't come with a power adapter and is thought to be a Europe-only launch. Like its twin it has 6.0 megapixels, a 3x zoom and a 2-inch LCD. The QV-R62 will hit the shelves in January.
December 9
ACDSee 7 update
ACD Systems has announced a free update to its image management software program ACDSee 7. The 'build 61' update uses cameras' EXIF data to determine the orientation of the picture when it was shot and automatically rotates the image (JPEGs and TIFFs) when displayed in ACDSee. This only works with cameras that have an orientation sensor. Another new feature that has been added is the Create Slide Show Wizard, which allows you to save and edit slide shows and screen saver projects.
Panasonic has developed a three megapixel camera module for mobile phones with image stabilization and auto focus capabilities. Advanced mounting and image processing technologies, plus an ultra-mini focus actuator and thinner lenses have allowed Panasonic to develop the v Maicovicon image sensor and have contributed to reducing its size. The module has a focus range of approximately 8cm to infinity. Panasonic has also announced a two megapixel module with auto focusing and a 1.3 megapixel module with a built-in macro zooming function. Production of the these two modules will start in January, with the three megapixel module following in March. Panasonic has also launched the only compact cameras to include optical image stabilization in the FX2 and FX7.
Just posted! Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX7 review
Just posted - our review of the sleek and sexy Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX7, bigger brother to the FX2 announced at the same time. The diminutive 5 megapixel FX7 is the only compact camera on the market to feature a stabilized 3x zoom lens, using Panasonic's proprietary MEGA O.I.S (optical image stabilization) technology. It has a large 2.5-inch LCD and, according to Panasonic, has improved responsiveness and performance. Check out our concise review to see if the FX7 will be going on your Christmas list this year.
December 8
The 123 of digital imaging 3.0
Site contributor Vincent Bockaert has today announced an all new version of his excellent 'The 123 of digital imaging Interactive Learning Suite'. This new revision moves 123di on to a new level with many more interactive tools such as calculators and visualisation tools, increased product coverage and better separation of learning levels; 'starter', 'essential' and 'advanced'. 123di is hugely comprehensive and covers almost every detail of digital cameras and digital imaging. I have no hesitiation in recommending it. At the same time as producing this new version of 123di Vincent has also been responsible for a complete re-write of our glossary.
December 7
Canon posts EOS 20D firmware 1.1.0
Canon has today posted firmware version 1.1.0 for its EOS 20D which adds three new languages to the camera menus: traditional Chinese, Korean and Russian. The new firmware also fixes the problem of horizontal line noise in images shot at high ISO settings while using the built-in flash.
December 2
Just posted! Sony DSC-V3 review

Just posted! Our full in-depth review of the new seven megapixel Sony Cyber-shot DSC-V3. Following on from the DSC-V1 Sony decided a chunky black body and large hand grip better suited the prosumer end of the market, and to some degree they were right. The V3 also has the largest LCD of our 'group test', a huge 2.5" monitor with a good anti-reflective coating. See how the DSC-V3 performed in our tests and how it compares to the other four seven megapixel digital cameras we tested together.

Just posted! Canon PowerShot G6 review

Just posted! Our full in-depth review of the new seven megapixel Canon PowerShot G6. Canon's latest G series prosumer digital camera looks considerably different to the camera it replaces, silver body, chunky hand grip and a almost square profile it looks a more like a compact SLR than ever before. It features a four times F2.0 - F3.0 lens which is inherited from the G5 but now features new lens coatings. See how the G6 performed in our tests and how it compares to the other four seven megapixel digital cameras we tested together.

Just posted! Casio EX-P700 review

Just posted! Our full in-depth review of the new seven megapixel Casio EXILIM Pro EX-P700. With its compact body design this Casio could be mistaken for a pocketable point-and-shoot but its feature set and functionality prove that it's much more than that. The metal bodied P700 has a four times optical zoom lens, big 2.0" LCD monitor and a hybrid AF system. It's also got no less than 27 scene modes built in to the camera. See how the EX-P700 performed in our tests and how it compares to the other four seven megapixel digital cameras we tested together.

Just posted! Olympus C-7000 Zoom review

Just posted! Our full in-depth review of the new seven megapixel Olympus C-7000 Zoom (AKA. C-70 Zoom). This Olympus is considerably smaller and lighter than previous C series digital cameras but still packs an impressive array of controls and features as well as a five times optical zoom lens (which extends in under a second). See how the C-7000 performed in our tests and how it compares to the other four seven megapixel digital cameras we tested together.

Just posted! Pentax Optio 750Z review

Just posted! Our full in-depth review of the new seven megapixel Pentax Optio 750Z. This camera has a retro styled appearance, a five times optical zoom lens, a wide range of features and a flip-out and twist LCD monitor. See how the 750Z performed in our tests and how it compares to the other four seven megapixel digital cameras we tested together.

December 1
Phase One has announced Capture One version 3.6 for Mac which converts raw files from the following cameras: Canon 1Ds MKII, 20D, Pro 1, G5, G3, G2, Fuji S3, Olympus C-8080WZ, Konica Minolta A1, A2 and Maxxum 7D (Alpha 7). Users of C1 LE, SE or PRO can get an upgrade for free or you can get a free 30-day trial. C1 for Windows is expected around December 20.
Canon has today posted firmware version for the PowerShot Pro 1. The new firmware improves the AF speed, incorporates a specification change for the way the images are displayed in continuous AF mode and improves the responsiveness of the zoom ring. Continuous AF is around 30% faster while single AF is twice as fast.