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February 2005 news and reviews

February 28
Gizmodo have what appears to be a picture of the (long awaited) USB connector which will enable an iPod (just iPod Photo?) to transfer images directly from a digital camera. Apparently this little connector will cost around $30. The source appears to be an Apple Japan ad for the device with the tagline "iPod, Meet Camera". We don't yet know if it will be USB 2.0 (Hi-Speed) or USB 1.1, but in most cases the camera will be USB 1.1. I still think it's a pity Apple didn't provide SD / CF slots in the original iPod Photo (think, killer app), but I guess this is at least a step forward.
Ricoh Caplio R2
Ricoh Japan has today announced the new Caplio R2, almost the same as the recently announced R1V this interesting looking camera has a five megapixel CCD and wide-angle 4.8x zoom (28 - 135 mm equiv.). The R2 does away with the R1V's optical viewfinder and instead has a much larger 2.5" LCD monitor (which is cool these days, apparently) and 28 MB of built-in memory. The R2 will be available in both silver and black. Once more there's no news about distribution, thin on the ground in Europe and nonexistent in the US.
February 27
Konica Minolta 7D review updated
Just before PMA Konica Minolta announced a firmware update for the Maxxum 7D digital SLR. This firmware update was of special interest to us because (a) it appeared not long after we had posted our review and (b) it addresses several performance issues raised in our review. Hence we have now updated our 7D review with results from our 7D with the new firmware. The main highlights are improved USB 2.0 transfer (3.4x faster) and much faster CF throughput (between 3.2x and 6.8x faster).
February 26
Europe becomes largest digital camera market
According to a press release issued by Lyra Research, Europe took the top spot for digital camera shipments from the United States which is now second in terms of shipments. Total shipments in 2004 exceeded 60 million units, up 35% compared to 2003, Lyra forecast that shipments will surpass 100 million units in 2008.
February 25
Pentax *istD firmware v1.12
Pentax has today announced an upgrade to the firmware for the *istD digital SLR which adds one minor change to the previous update. Version 1.12 now allows users to use media cards that are 4GB or higher. The Pentax *istD offers 6.1 megapixels and was the smallest and lightest digital SLR on the market when it was launched in June 2003.
February 24
Just posted! Olympus Stylus Verve review
The Olympus Stylus Verve Digital (also known as the Mju mini) is an affordable compact 2x zoom, four megaxpixel camera with unique styling and a 'weatherproof' exterior that's available in six colors. Find out how it did in our concise review.
iView MediaPro update v2.6.3

iView Multimedia has released a free update to image management program iView MediaPro, which now adds support for Adobe DNG files made with DNG converter v2.4. Version 2.6.3 of the cataloging program also includes improved support for Minolta RAW files, plus preliminary support for Sigma's RAW format and Microsoft Office programs such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

Mamiya ZD launch date and pricing
The world's first medium format digital camera and digital back, the Mamiya ZD first previewed at Photokina last year, is expected to start shipping in the summer. The camera is currently being tested in Japan and results show that initial production tests have been successful. No official pricing has been announced but it is expected that the ZD body will be no more than £8,000 (approx $12,600) and the Mamiya ZD Back £7,500 (approx $11,800).
Apacer launches 2GB MultiMedia Card
Apacer has launched the world's highest capacity MultiMedia Card at 2GB. It can store up to 3000 images at 1024 x 768 pixels and supports plug and play. Apacer is also introducing a 1GB MMC. The range is available in capacities starting at 32MB. The 2GB card will be available from next month.
Hitachi 6GB Microdrive sells for just $299
Hitachi Global Storage Technologies is offering a 6GB Microdrive for $299. The Microdrive 3K6 can hold up to 6000 one megabyte images and is available in CompactFlash Type II and embedded versions. A 4GB Microdrive 3K6 will be offered at $199. Hitachi is planning to develop a 'baby Microdrive' later this year, named Mikey. The one-inch hard drive will be 20% smaller and have a capacity of 8 - 10GB.
February 23
Apple introduces 30GB iPod Photo and announces pricing
Apple has introduced a new slim 30GB version of the iPod Photo, priced $349, which is now available with the 60GB model, priced $449. Both will both hold up to 25,000 photos and 7500 songs (30GB) / 15,000 (60GB). A new iPod Camera connector for importing images and slideshow playback will be available at the end of March for $29. The iPod Photo is bundled with earbud headphones, a USB 2.0 cable, a USB power adapter and a CD with iTunes 4.7.1 for Mac and Windows computers.
February 22
Leica in financial crisis
German website, Spiegel Online, has reported that Leica is in financial crisis after many banks cut its credit lines following an announcement last week, which said it stood to lose half its operating capital. The company, which introduced the first 35mm still camera in 1924, is also expected to close the financial year with an operating loss of €10 million (approx $13 million). Last year it reported a loss of €1.6 million (approx $2.1 million). Shareholders will hold a meeting on May 31 to discuss the future of the company. Spiegel Online says that Leica has missed the boat where digital photography is concerned and it is also suffering due to the low rate of the US dollar versus the Euro.
Polaroid announces x530 availability
PMA 2005: Eight months after its original shipping date Polaroid has finally announced that the Foveon-sensored x530, which was previewed at PMA last year, is now available in the US. Interested parties in Canada, Japan, Germany and the UK will have to wait until the end of March. The 4.5 million-pixel Polaroid x530 is the first point and shoot camera to house the 1/1.8" X3 Direct Image sensor, which captures light on three layers; red, green and blue. Other features include JPEG and RAW capture, plus a 3x optical zoom. It is expected to retail at $299 (£299).
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-S80
PMA 2005: Sony has announced the Cyber-shot S80, which will be sold in Europe along with the S40 and S90. It has the same 4.1 megapixel resolution, 3x optical zoom lens and 2.0-inch LCD as the Cyber-shot S60, which isn't available in Europe. Sony is also marketing these new models as 'stamina' cameras as the user can take around 440 shots from one charge of the supplied rechargable batteries. The S80 will be available in April priced between £180-£200 (approx €215 - €238).
February 21
Tamron AF 18-200 mm F3.5 - F6.3 Di-II
PMA 2005: Tamron's AF 18-200 mm F/3.5-6.3 XR Di-II LD Aspherical (IF) Macro lens, designed exclusively for digital cameras with small sensors, will ship in the spring. The wide to tele capabilities of this lens, which is equivalent to 28 - 300 mm in 35 mm terms, means that you should seldom need to change lenses. The lens, which is just 84mm long, features enhanced peripheral illumination, minimizes peripheral light fall-off and its internal surface coating reduces ghosting and flare. It is compatible with Canon AF, Konica Minolta AF-D, Nikon AF-D and Pentax AF mounts.
PNY high speed Optima CompactFlash and SD cards
PMA 2005: PNY Technologies has announced new Optima CompactFlash and Optima Secure Digital (SD) cards that can read/write digital data at speeds of 12MB/10MB per sec (80X/66X) and 10MB/8MB per sec (60X/58X), respectively. Optima CompactFlash cards are available in capacities up to 4GB priced $499.99; the largest Optima SD card available is 1GB which will cost $99.99. The Optima range will be available in the second quarter.
Nikon posts D2H firmware v2.01 and WT-1 firmware v1.10
Nikon has today posted firmware version 2.01 for its D2H SLR which fixes a number of problems. The problem of the D2H freezing with uninterrupted navigation between a number of photographs while playback zoom was activated has been corrected. Other bugs that have been rectified include saving the WT-1 settings when it was connected to the camera, plus incorrect character displays in Spanish, Chinese and German menus. There is also an new update for the WT-1 wireless transmitter which adds support for the D2X and D2Hs. See release notes for a full list of changes.
PMA 2005: Kodak has announced a new website for the ImageLink Print system, which is designed to simplify at-home printing. The system is supported by Kodak, Konica Minolta, Nikon, Olympus, Pentax, Ricoh and Sanyo and will mean that images taken with these manufacturers' cameras can be printed just by pressing one button when the devices are docked in compatible 'snapshot' printers. www.imagelinkprintsystem.com, which will go live in March, will have links to compatible cameras and printers, a frequently asked questions section and news related to the specification.
Lexar Platinum Series new speed rating
PMA 2005: Lexar has expanded its Platinum Series cards to include Memory Stick Pro and Secure Digital flash media. The full range of cards, which Lexar says is ideal for digital cameras that capture video and stills, are also now speed rated at 40X, equivalent to a sustained read/write speed of 6MB per second. Lexar Platinum cards are available in capacities of 256 MB, 512MB and 1GB.
February 20
Corel RawShooter essentials 2005
PMA 2005: Corel has announced a 30-day free trial of its new software RawShooter essentials 2005, which allows users to automatically import and batch process RAW files. Raw Shooter works with Paint Shop Pro, Paint Shop Pro Studio, Paint Shop Photo Album, and Photo-Paint. During the RAW conversion process image adjustments such as color and exposure correction, sharpening and noise suppression can be made. The result is TIFF or JPEG files which can be opened in Corel software.
Sony 1GB and 2GB Memory Stick PRO Duo
PMA 2005: Sony has today announced Memory Stick PRO Duo (High Speed) in 1GB and 2GB capacities. They are one third the size and half the weight of full-size Memory Stick media, and all MS Duo media ship with an adapter that is compatible with devices that have Memory Stick slots. The 2GB Memory Stick Pro Duo media is designed to support transfer speeds of up to 80 Mbps which varies with supporting hardware.
Lexar launches website for digital photographers
PMA 2005: Lexar Media has launched a new website aimed at digital photographers. www.lexar.com/dp has tutorials on how to get the best from Lexar products, information on photography techniques, product and services. It also will also feature professional who use Lexar products.
Lexar announces Professional Memory Stick PRO and SD card
PMA 2005: Lexar Media has today announced that it is expanding its line up of Professional cards to include Memory Stick PRO, speed rated at 80X and and SD, speed rated at 60X. The speed of the Professional Memory Stick PRO is the equivalents to a minimum sustained read and write speeds of 12MB per second. It will ship later this month in capacities of 512MB and 1GB.
Kodak EasyShare Z7590 and Easyshare Z730

PMA 2005: Kodak has today announced two new five megapixel additions to the Z-series, which include the 10x zoom EasyShare Z7590 and EasyShare Z730. The SLR-like Z7590 offers manual and automatic exposure and features a Schneider-Kreuznach Variogon 10x optical zoom lens (38 – 380 mm equiv). The second zoom lens compact offers a 4x optical zoom (33-132 mm equiv), a 2.2-inch LCD and is powered by a lithium battery. Both available in May, the Z7590 will cost £349.99 (approx $546) and Z730 will cost £199.99 (approx $312).

Kodak EasyShare C300 and C340
PMA 2005: Kodak has today announced two new C-series cameras; the EasyShare C340, which has a five megapixel resolution, and the EasyShare C300, which boasts 3 million pixels. The C340 sports a 3x optical zoom and features a new on-camera cropping function plus automatic picture orientation. It will be priced £179.99 ($250) and will ship in May. The fixed focus C300 is an affordable model for those wanting 'to explore digital photography'. It will cost £79.99 ($100) and will also ship in May.
PMA 2005: The specification for the Picture Archiving and Sharing Standard (PASS), first announced at Photokina last year by Kodak, Fujifilm and Konica Minolta, has now been finalized. PASS is designed to allow users to share digital files saved onto CD or DVD in years to come without incompatibility issues. The three manufacturers will first implement the new standards, utilizing them on their existing photo CD products beginning this year.
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H1
PMA 2005: Sony has today announced the SLR-like Cyber-shot DSC-H1, which offers a massive 12x zoom and image stabilization to cope with camera shake at the long end. The manual H1 offers a 5.1 million pixels, a 2.5-inch LCD, 640 x 480 @ 30 fps movie mode limited only by the capacity of the Memory Stick (PRO) in use. It will ship in June and will cost around $500 (£400).
Canon EOS 350D samples gallery
Yesterday we ran out and briefly snapped a few shots with our pre-production Canon EOS 350D (Digital Rebel XT). I've now managed to put these together into a samples gallery of twenty images from this camera. Apologies that they don't have our normal variety but we only had a limited amount of time and have been extremely busy preparing for the PMA 2005 show which starts today.
February 19
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W5 and DSC-W7
PMA 2005: Sony has today announced both the DSC-W5 and new seven megapixel DSC-W7. We heard about the DSC-W5 a few weeks ago but has been confirmed in this announcement alongside the seven megapixel version of the camera. Both offer a standard 3x optical zoom (38 -114 mm), 6cm macro mode and are compatible with conversion lenses. Storage media is Memory Stick / Memory Stick PRO and both come with a 32 MB internal memory which will allow you to store all of nine fine quality images on the W7. The Cyber-shot W7 will ship throughout Europe at the end of March and will cost around £330 (approx $515).
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-S60 and DSC-S90
Pre-PMA 2005: In Sony's second announcement of the day comes two near-identical four million pixel cameras. The only difference between the Cyber-shot DSC-S60 and the Cyber-shot DSC-S90 (pictured) appears to be that the latter has a 2.5-inch LCD, while the S60 has a 2.0-inch LCD and is very slightly lighter. Other than that there is little to distinguish between the pair. They both sport 3x zoom lenses (39 - 117 mm equiv), offer seven scene modes, are PictBridge-compatible and have a 32 MB internal memory. The S60 and S90 will be available in mid March priced $250 and $300 respectively.
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-S40
PMA 2005: Sony has today announced the first of three four million pixel cameras in the shape of the Cyber-shot DSC-S40. Design-wise the S40 takes on the long lines seen in the U-series cameras but is offering more functionality and a slightly larger 1.5-inch LCD. The S40 is aimed clearly at the entry level user and features include MPEG movie mode, a top shutter speed of 1/2000 sec, down to 30 seconds in manual mode, as well as a quite generous (for most manufacturers) 32 MB internal memory.
SanDisk Ultra II SD PLUS
PMA 2005: SanDisk has today previewed the Ultra II SD PLUS card, which converts into a USB 2.0 flash drive. The product, which was first announced at CES in January, does away with the need for card readers; the bottom half of the card flips back using hinges and you can simply plug it in your USB port and download your images. There is also an LED that blinks when data transfer is taking place. The card will start shipping in April and will be available in capacities of 512MB and 1GB, with suggested retail prices of $109.99 and $149.99 respectively.
dpreview at PMA 2005
PMA 2005: It's the day before the 2005 Photo Marketing Association Show opens, the dpreview team arrived last night and we're now ready to bring you our live 'from the show floor' reporting as we did at PMA and Photokina 2004. Live updates will appear both on the front page and the Show Report page. There are going to be several more product announcements today and tomorrow so stay tuned for all that's new from PMA 2005.
February 18
HP Photosmart R607 BMW Williams F1 edition
Pre-PMA 2005: HP has today announced a BMW Williams F1 Team version of the four megapixel R607. The metal bodied-camera boasts a 3x zoom, eight shooting modes, a 6cm macro function and HP Adaptive Lighting technology plus in-camera red-eye removal. The special edition camera also features HP image advice for instant analysis and ideas on how you can take better photos. It comes with a customized BMW camera case and is expected to ship in May priced $349.
Pentax 50 - 200 mm F4 - 5.6  lens
Pentax has today announced a new digital camera zoom lens designed for use with K-AF-mount cameras such as the *istD and *istDS. The smc Pentax-DA 50 - 200 mm F4 - 5.6 ED is constructed of 11 elements in 10 groups including ED elements (Extra-low Dispersion). It has a filter diameter of 52mm and weight just 260g. It is expected to be available in July.
HP Photosmart R717
Pre-PMA 2005: HP has today announced a replacement for the dpreview highly recommended R707. The 6.2 megapixel Photosmart R717 is the new range topper and features HP's wave-shaped indent signature styling designed to improve grip. The R717 has a brushed stainless steel front with a rubberized back. It features 12 shooting modes, a 1.8-inch LCD (compared to 1.5-inch on the R707) and manual controls, which can be saved as custom settings. The Photosmart R717 is available in the spring priced £199.99 ($299) or as a bundle version which includes the R-Series camera docking station, as well as a second HP R07 rechargeable battery (price to be confirmed).
HP Photosmart M417
Pre-PMA 2005: The third addition to the M range is the elongated HP Photosmart M417 which boasts 5.2 megapixels, 1.8-inch LCD, 3x optical zoom, adaptive lighting technology and in-camera red-eye removal. Images are stored on to SD/MMC cards or there is a 16 MB internal memory. The M417 can be easily recharged and images can be viewed on a TV screen by using the optional docking station.The Photosmart M417 will be available in the spring priced $199.
HP Photosmart M22 and M23

Pre-PMA 2005: HP has today announced two M series cameras, the Photosmart M22 and M23. The sliding lens weather-resistant pair are available in silver (M22) and bronze (M23) and both have four megapixels. Also on offer is in-camera red-eye removal, adaptive lighting technology and in-camera panorama assist, all technologies found in the R707. They are expected to be available in Spring priced £99.99 ($149) for the Photosmart M22 and $169 (no UK price as yet) for the Photosmart M23.

Lexar previews secure technology for CompactFlash cards
Pre-PMA 2005: Storage solutions manafacturer Lexar will preview new technology at PMA that offers more security for CompactFlash cards. The Nikon D2X is the first camera to incorporate LockTight technology. Central to the system is software that will allow the user to establish security settings on the memory card and digital camera. Digital content can only be accesed by the digital camera with the corresponding encryption key or via a PC with a valid username and password. It is expected to be available in April.
February 17
Exclusive Canon EOS 350D / Digital Rebel XT Preview
Just posted! Our exclusive detailed hands-on preview of the brand new Canon EOS 350D (Digital Rebel XT). First impressions are good, the smaller bodied 350D is solidly built and has a much broader range of features and options than the original 300D. Performance has been increased significantly, the camera starts up (and wakes up) almost instantly and continuous shooting capability has been transformed. Come inside for an exclusive look at what will probably be Canon's most important digital SLR of 2005.
Olympus announces three 4/3 lenses
Pre-PMA 2005: Olympus has today announced the development of three new Zuiko Digital Four Thirds lenses compatible with the E-system. The first two are the wideangle Zuiko Digital ED 14 - 35 mm and telephoto zoom Zuiko Digital ED 35 - 100 mm lens, which are said to be the only interchangeable lenses to offer the world's first fixed aperture of F2.0 across the entire zoom range. The third new lens designed to appeal to sports and nature photographers is the Zuiko Digital ED 90 - 250 mm. All lenses are dust and splash proof and use Super ED or ED glass elements to minimize chromatic aberration.
Olympus Stylus Verve S / µ-mini Digital S
Pre-PMA 2005: Olympus has announced a new addition to the sleek Stylus Verve range with the addition of the Stylus Verve S, available in four colours; black, blue, champagne gold and pink. The main differences, aside from a more limited choice of colours, is the 5.0 megapixel resolution, the addition of night scene with portrait mode and a new metal strip on the front of the camera bearing the Olympus name. Like its little brother, the Verve S has no viewfinder but a 1.8-inch LCD, a movie mode limited only by the memory card and an 8cm macro function. The Stylus Verve S will be available in April priced £259.99 ($349.99).
Olympus D-595 Zoom / C-500 Zoom
Pre-PMA 2005: The third five million pixel camera announced by Olympus today is the D-595 Zoom. Design-wise the D-595 Zoom sports a blocky handgrip, thumb indent and, unusually for the current crop of Olympus compacts, an optical viewfinder, despite the 1.8-inch LCD. The D-595 Zoom has a 38 - 114mm 3x zoom lens and offers full manual control. For close-ups the camera boasts an impressive super macro mode of 2 cm and for the complete beginner there are 15 scene modes available to choose from. It will be available next month priced $279.99.
Olympus D-630 Zoom / FE-5500
Pre-PMA 2005: Heralding a new design for Olympus, it has today announced the D-630 Zoom. The slim (24mm) five million pixel camera has a unique 'twisting lens' offering a 3x optical zoom (35 - 105 mm), movie function with sound and a 2.0-inch LCD. Other features include a 14MB internal memory, PictBridge compatibility and a panorama function. The D-630 Zoom will be in the shops by May, priced around £230 ($299.99).
Olympus IR-300 Total Imaging System camera
Pre-PMA 2005: After previewing the Total Imaging System (TIS) last October, Olympus has announced a second compatible camera, the five million pixel IR-300, and a DVD recorder. The Total Imaging System is designed to be a portable 'digital photography lab', which allows users to share, shoot, print and archive digital images without using a PC. The IR-300 is quite different from the first TIS camera (IR-500), with long sleek lines and a non movable 2.0-inch LCD. Integral to the TIS, the IR-300 comes supplied with a dock, which when connected to the S-DVD-100 DVD recorder allows the user to burn images to DVD or CD. Both products will be available in May priced £299.99 ($349) (IR-300) and £289.99 ($399) (S-DVD-100).
Olympus D-545 Zoom / C-480 Zoom
Pre-PMA 2005: Olympus has announced a new entry level camera with the four million pixel D-545 Zoom, which seems like a cut-price version of the D-595, also announced today. It sports a 3x zoom lens (38 - 114 mm), 2 cm super macro mode, has 15 scene modes and a 1.8-inch LCD, all features found on the D-595 Zoom. Images can be stored on xD-Picture Cards or the 14MB internal memory. The D-545 Zoom will be available in March priced £159.99 ($199).
Canon EOS 350D / Digital Rebel XT
Pre-PMA 2005: Canon has today announced the sucessor to the EOS 300D / Digital Rebel, the new smaller, lighter, eight megapixel EOS 350D / Digital Rebel XT. This new camera incorporates many new features introduced with the EOS 20D and also enables control of settings as requested by EOS 300D owners. The default body color is now black, although a silver body will be available. Key points: 8mp CMOS, 3fps 14 frames, DIGIC II, smaller, lighter, custom functions, selectable metering & AF mode, USB 2.0 Hi-speed, lower introductory list price (US: $899 body only, Europe: €899 body only).
Canon EF-S 60 mm F2.8 macro lens
Pre-PMA 2005: Canon has today announced a very interesting EF-S lens to complement its announcement of the EOS 350D. The EF-S 60 mm F2.8 Macro is designed specifically for Digital SLR's with its EF-S lens mount and provides and equivelant field of view of approximately 96 mm and a true 1:1 macro magnification ratio. The lens also features a ring-type Ultra Sonic Motor and has a maximum aperture of F2.8.
Canon PowerShot SD500
Pre-PMA 2005: The second Canon announcement of the day is the curvier, range-topping seven megapixel PowerShot SD500 (IXUS 700). The 'perpertual curve' is apparently designed to push compact camera design into new territories, Canon says. The SD500 is 8% lighter than its predecessor and features a new mode dial on the back of the camera rather than a switch. While the size of the viewfinder has been decreased there's a 2-inch LCD with QuickBright function, which maximises the brightness of the LCD for improved visibility outdoors. Other new features include the ability to zoom during movie capture and a new 'hold' function, which allows you to view images for longer immediately after they have been shot (also seen on the SD400). The SD500 is expected to be realeased next month, priced around 499 Euros ($650).
Canon PowerShot SD400
Pre-PMA 2005: Canon has today announced its smallest 5 megapixel camera yet in the shape of the PowerShot SD400 (IXUS 50). It features the DIGIC II processeor found in Canon's pro digital SLRs and sports a large 2.0-inch LCD which has a QuickBright function that temoporarily brightens the LCD so it should be easier to view in bright conditions. The PowerShot SD400 also has a 'hold' function which displays newly capture images for longer and then allows them to be deleted without switching to playback mode. Other features inlcude a 640 x 480 at 30 fps and a 3cm macro mode.
February 16
Nikon D2Hs

Pre-PMA 2005: Nikon has today announced an upgraded version of their high speed shooting D2H professional digital SLR. The new D2Hs features a range of improvements which have come out of the development of the D2X as well as specific improvements to the D2H design. Highlights; 8 frames per second shooting for up to 50 JPEG or 40 RAW images, 12 bit ASIC processing, WT-2 wireless support (802.11b/g, PTP/IP), improved AWB, 3D Matrix Metering II, higher resolution 'flicker free' LCD monitor, modified vertical shooting buttons, sYCC color space support and more. The D2Hs will be available in March with an MSRP of $3499. We have a five page preview article available.

Nikon Face-Priority AF
Pre-PMA 2005: Nikon has today announced a unique new feature which is available in their new Coolpix 7900, 5900 and 7600 compact digital cameras. Face-Priority AF is available in Portrait Mode and when active can identify facial features in the live view and activate auto-focus on these areas. This new feature was developed in conjunction with Identix and their FaceIt technology.
Nikon Coolpix 5900 and Coolpix 7900
Pre-PMA 2005: Nikon has today announced its second seven million pixel camera the Coolpix 7900 and an almost identical 5.1 million pixel twin, the Coolpix 5900. Both cameras have a large 2.0-inch LCD and feature a Help button for explanation of menu functions, plus a 3x optical zoom offering a focal length equivalent of 38 - 114 mm. The pair also feature Face AF, like the Coolpix 7600, for focusing when using portrait mode. The 7900 is available in black and silver while the 5900 is available in silver. The Coolpix 5900 is due for release this month, and the Coolpix 7900 is scheduled for release in March. An underwater housing, WP-CP 4, is also available in Europe.
Nikon Coolpix 7600
Pre-PMA 2005: In the first of two 7 million pixel camera announcements from Nikon today comes the Coolpix 7600. Nikon has included D-Lighting technology which corrects exposure problems in playback and in-camera red-eye removal. Face-priority AF is a new features which finds and focuses on people's faces in Portrait mode. The Coolpix 7600 also boasts a 3x optical zoom (38-114mm), 1.8-inch LCD, five movie modes and take SD storage. It will be available in Europe in Springtime in black and silver. The Coolpix 7600 will only be available in black in the US.
Nikon Coolpix 5600 and 4600
Pre-PMA 2005: Nikon is hoping to woo consumers who have never considered buying a digital camera before with two new entry level cameras, the Coolpix 4600 and Coolpix 5600 (4.0 and 5.1 million pixels respectively). Both have enhanced in-camera features such as Nikon's D-Lighting function, which, when selected in playback mode, can compensate for insufficient flash or excessive backlighting as well as In-Camera Red-Eye Fix and Blur Warning. They also have a newly designed GUI and help buttons that explain menu functions. Menus can be displayed in 11 different languages too. Spec-wise the pair have 1.8-inch color LCDs, 4cm macro function and a 3x zoom. Both cameras will be available this month. An underwater housing, WP-CP 3, is also available in Europe.
February 15
Casio Exilim Zoom EX-Z750 & EX-Z57
Pre-PMA 2005: Casio has today announced to new additions to its Exilim range with the 7.2 megapixel Exilim EX-Z750 and the 5 megapixel Exilim EX-Z57, which boasts Casio's biggest LCD yet at 2.7 inches. The Z750 offers a wide shutter speed range of 60 - 1/6000 sec and MPEG-4 movie capture, which has a Past Movie function enabling video recording to begin from five seconds before the shutter is pressed. The Z57 does away with a viewfinder altogether as it's replaced by that large LCD, and a proprietary Super Life battery is said to give 400 shots per charge. Both cameras come with an AC adapter cradle for recharging batteries and viewing stills and movie footage on a television via AV out. The Exilim EX-Z750 and Exilim EX-Z57 will be available in April.
February 14
Olympus posts E300 and E1 firmware update version 1.1 and 1.4
Olympus has today posted firmware updates for its D-SLRs the E-300 (v1.1) and the E-1 (v1.4). The E-300 upgrade addresses problems with auto white balance as well as battery consumption issues during sleep mode. The version 1.4 update for the E-1 improves S-AF speed in low light, AF accuracy under fluorescent lighting and it now supports high speed CompactFlash cards.
Konica Minolta 7D firmware 1.10
Konica Minolta has today posted firmware version 1.10 for the 7D digital SLR. This update addresses several issues, some of which we raised in our recent review of the camera. Primary improvements appear to be Compact Flash interface speed improvements (up to 3x faster) and USB transfer rates. In addition the new firmware also enables blinking highlights in instant playback mode. This update is now available for download from Konica Minolta USA.
Canon EOS 20Da, Japan Only
Canon Japan has this morning sprung a surprise on everyone with the announcement (in Japan only so far) of the EOS 20Da. This specialized version of the EOS 20D appears to be identical except for the removal of the 'hot mirror', the filter in most digital cameras which removes the InfraRed part of the spectrum. This camera would be especially suited to astrophotography as well as InfraRed photography, in use as a 'normal camera' it would probably require an external IR cut filter on the lens. In addition the camera has a partially transmissive mirror which enables live focusing on the LCD monitor (this can only be done for short times and requires the mirror to be locked up).
Sigma 30 mm F1.4 DC lens
Pre-PMA 2005: The last of three DC (digital SLR only) lenses announced by Sigma today is the 30 mm F1.4 EX DC HSM, a lens which sounds extremely interesting on paper and will offer photographers an almost 'normal' 45 mm equiv. (on a 1.5x FOV crop digital SLR) with a super-fast F1.4 maximum aperture (great low-light focusing, lots of depth-of-field control). This lens also features Sigma's HSM (HyperSonic Motor) and will be available with Canon, Sigma and Nikon lens mounts.
Sigma 10 - 20 mm DC lens
Pre-PMA 2005: The second of three DC (digital SLR only) lenses announced by Sigma today is the 10 - 20 mm F4.0 - F5.6 EX DC HSM, an interesting super wide-angle lens which would provide 15 - 30 mm equiv. on a 1.5 FOV crop camera (such as the Nikon D70). This lens also features Sigma's HSM (HyperSonic Motor) for high speed silent focusing with manual focus override.
Sigma 18 - 200 mm DC lens
Pre-PMA 2005: Sigma has today announced the new 18 - 200 mm F3.5 - F6.3 DC lens, this lens along with the two other new lenses announced today is designed specifically for digital SLR's with APS-C sized sensors (1.5x FOV crop or more), these are smaller and lighter than the equivalent 35 mm lens as they don't need to produce such as large an imaging circle. This new eleven times zoom lens although a little slow at telephoto (F6.3) would offer an impressive 27 - 300 mm equiv. on a 1.5x FOV crop camera (such as the Nikon D70).
Pre-PMA 2005: Sigma today announced that they will be releasing DG ('digitally optimized') versions of ten of their telephoto lenses (six zooms, four primes). DG lenses provide full compatibility with film and digital SLR's but have been 'optimized' (there's no detail on exactly what this means) for use with digital SLR's.
February 13
Pentax *istDS silver
Pre-PMA 2005: Pentax has announced a silver-colored version of its second generation D-SLR, the 6.1 megapixel *istDS, although the majority of the body is still black. It features the same specification as the black-colored version ncluding a 2.0-inch LCD, top shutter speed of 1/4000th sec and RAW image capture. Pricing and availability is to be confirmed.
Pentax Optio S5n
Pre-PMA 2005: Pentax has utilised its proprietary Sliding Lens System to create the 3x zoom lens Optio S5n, which is just 20.5 mm wide. The addition to the S-series has been designed to fit in with Pentax's concept of 'being stylish and ultra-compact enough to be worn like an accessory'. Spec wise it can capture VGA-quality movie clips which can be played back on the 2.0-inch LCD. The Optio S5n comes with a stand which charges spare batteries and those in the camera. The Optio S5n will be in the shops in March and will set you back £249.99 (approx $386).
Pentax Optio 50
Pre-PMA 2005: Pentax has announced a 5.0 million pixel camera for £149.99 (approx $229). The Optio 50 has a 3x optical zoom (32 - 96 mm) and offers a 320 x 240-pixel movie mode. Clearly aimed at beginners, or digital ditherers who haven't yet taken the plunge, the Optio 50 has seven subject modes including a 'simple' function which selects the best settings for the scene at hand. The Pentax Optio 50 will be available in April priced £149.99.
February 11
Nikon Capture v4.2 now supports D2X
Nikon has posted an update to Nikon Capture with version 4.2, which adds support for the D2X. Other improvements include replacing the Digital DEE function with the D-Lighting function, which corrects exposure problems and additions to the menu options with a new find tool and straighten tool. Color Noise Reduction has also been improved.
February 8
Pentax software v2.1 for Photo Browser and Photo Laboratory Updater
Pentax has launched version 2.1 of Pentax Photo Browser and Photo Laboratory Updater software which improves usability for *istD and *istDS owners. New and improved points in the Photo Browser software for the *istD include changes to print function, the ability to view next and previous images in the main image window as well as a search function. Photo Laboratory 2.1 allows you to change the size of the preview window, something which was criticized in our review of the *istD software. For *istDS users the software allows thumbnails to be displayed quicker and improves the image quality of RAW-processed files, amongst other changes.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ4 / DMC-FZ5
Pre-PMA 2005: Panasonic has today added two new cameras to its 12x zoom compact FZ line, the silver-bodied four megapixel DMC-FZ4 and the black-bodied five megapixel DMC-FZ5. Other improvements include a subtly redesigned body, a new version of Panasonic's Venus image processing engine and a larger 1.8-inch LCD monitor (FZ5 only).
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ1 / DMC-LZ2
Pre-PMA 2005: The new LZ series from Panasonic offer a compact body, four or five megapixels connected to an all-new 6x optical stabilized zoom lens. The LZ's new lens provides 37 - 222 mm equivalent with a maximum aperture of F2.8 to F4.5. The LZ1 has a four megapixel CCD and a silver body, the LZ2 a five megapixel CCD and black body. If these two cameras can live up to their spec then they should offer a killer combination of compactness, resolution, zoom and stabilization.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS1
Pre-PMA 2005: Panasonic has today announced the new Lumix DMC-LS1 digital camera which features an optically stabilized three times optical zoom lens and four megapixel CCD. This camera is a follow-up to the budget-priced DMC-LC70, the biggest change being the introduction of Panasonic's OIS (Optical Image Stabilization), a first for a low- priced compact digital camera. Other improvements include a new version of Panasonic's Venus image processing engine, a 2.0-inch transmissive and reflective LCD monitor and 14 MB of built-in memory.
Fujifilm FinePix Z1
Pre-PMA 2005: Fujifilm has today announced the 5.1 million pixel FinePix Z1, their first camera to use folded optical lens technology first used by Pentax and Konica Minolta. The super slim aluminum-cased Z1 is powered up by a sliding lens cover that is the size of the camera. It also boasts a 2.5-inch LCD with toughened glass, ISO up to 800 and VGA-quality movies. The FinePix Z1 will be available worldwide in June.
Fujifilm FinePix F10 Zoom
Pre-PMA 2005: Fujifilm has today announced a camera that is designed to last longer than you do during a day's shooting with the 6.3 megapixel FinePix F10. With the supplied NP-120 lithium ion battery, the F10 is supposed to allow you to take 500 shots. The F10 has no viewfinder but does have an impressive 2.5-inch LCD as well as a high sensitivity of ISO 1600. It also boasts 3:2 image format option, VGA movie capture at 30 fps and PictBridge compatibility. It will be available worldwide around April at a price yet to be set.
Fujifilm FinePix A345 and A350
Pre-PMA 2005: Fujifilm has today announced replacements for the A330 and A340 Zoom with the four and five megapixel FinePix A345 Zoom and FinePix A350 Zoom. The cameras are identical in almost everyway except for image sizes, resolution and digital zoom; they boast a 1.7-inch LCD and a 3x optical zoom (35 - 105 mm). The entry-level pair store images on an xD-Picture Card and are powered by two AA-type batteries. They will be available in the UK in March.
February 7
Just posted! Sony Cyber-shot DSC-L1 review
Just posted! Our review of Sony Cyber-shot DSC-L1. The ultra-compact camera could be described as a zoom version of the Cyber-shot U series, though it sports a larger 1.5-inch LCD. It also boasts 4.1 megapixels and VGA quality movie mode at 30 fps. Its new 3x optical zoom is considerably more compact than any Sony lens before it and provide a wide-ish angle lens at 32mm. See what we made of the Cyber-shot DSC-L1 in our review.
PMA 2005 Show Report - Preview
Pre-PMA 2005: The annual PMA trade show is looming large on the horizon and as ever will paint the landscape for the digital photography market for the next twelve months. We have already activated our PMA 2005 show report which will enable you to stay informed of all the latest product announcements as well as live reports from the show floor. We are expecting several important announcements in the next few weeks which will be posted both on the front page of the site as well as the 'New Product Index' in the show report. I recommend bookmarking our show report so that you can keep up to date with all the news.
February 6
Adobe post Elements 3.0.1 update
Adobe has posted a minor update to Photoshop Elements for Windows (the Mac version does not need updating). Version 3.0.1 includes two changes; easier to download new creation templates for PhotoBooks, Calendars etc. and the ability to change the format of dates in the Photo Well from U.S. to European.
February 3
Adobe has posted the final version of Camera Raw 2.4 for Photoshop CS available on both Windows and Mac platforms. The free download now adds support for raw files from Canon EOS 20D, PowerShot S70, PowerShot G6, EOS-1Ds Mark II and Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D / Dynax 7D and DiMAGE A200.
February 2
Just posted! Konica Minolta DiMAGE A200 review
Just posted! our review of the latest Konica Minolta 'prosumer' digital camera, the DiMAGE A200. Based on the DiMAGE A2, the A200 features a new, smaller and more rounded body design, simplified control layout and a new flip-out and twist LCD monitor. Looking a little more closely the specifications reveal a slightly cut-back unit which loses some A2 features but improves on others, a mechanically operated 28-200mm equivalent zoom lens and Konica Minolta's proprietary Anti-Shake technology that employs a unique CCD-shift mechanism (also seen in the recent Maxxum 7D digital SLR). Check out our concise review to find out how it fared, and how it compares with the DiMAGE A2.
Pentax posts *ist DS firmware 1.01
Pentax has today posted firmware version 1.01 for its digital SLR the *ist DS which addresses the problem of green noise which occurs when shooting night photography and when noise reduction is turned on. Pentax says the new firmware will 'minimize the phenomenon'.
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W5
Pre-PMA 2005: The five megapixel, three times zoom DSC-W5 is a follow-up to the popular DSC-W1, main differences are some subtle design changes, a lower resolution LCD monitor and 32 MB of onboard flash storage. The DSC-W5 was priced at $350 on SonyStyle. (This news was posted last week but we took it down at Sony's request because it had been accidentally posted on SonyStyle).
February 1
Canon PowerShot A520
Pre-PMA 2005: Hot on the heels of the A75's replacement, the A510 is the A85's replacement announced today, the new A520. The changes are essentially identical; its size and weight (it's 13% smaller and 20% lighter), the inclusion of a new four times optical zoom lens (the A75 had a three times), zoom linked flash, a shift from CompactFlash to SD card for storage and a drop to two AA batteries from four.