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March 2005 news and reviews

March 31
Just posted! Pentax *ist DS review
Just posted! Our full in-depth review of the latest digital SLR from Pentax, the budget priced *ist DS. The DS is quite similar to its bigger brother the original *ist D, both in size and design, however the DS does give up a few features and a little performance. Interestingly though the extra development time has afforded the DS some advantages over the *ist D and over some of its competition. See how the DS performed and how it compares in our review.
Nikon confirms D50 and D70s are real
News of Nikon's next digital SLRs leaked after Nikon Asia and Nikon Germany 'accidentally' dropped the user manuals onto their websites. This quickly spread and appeared on our forums within minutes. Nikon asked us to remove the primary leak thread (we don't normally do this but agreed to in this case, although it was pointless). After this we were a little surprised to then read an article on Macworld that Mr 'Susumu Enomoto', a spokesman for Nikon Corp, has now confirmed that the D50 is real, a further story on Rob Galbraith's site adds credence to the D70s.
Just posted! Canon PowerShot A520 review
We have just posted our review of the four megapixel Canon PowerShot A520, which was launched just before PMA along with its almost identical brother the A510. The A520 replaces the popular A85 the differences being a longer zoom lens (4x) and a smaller and lighter body design. Also Canon has chosen to use SD storage rather than CompactFlash and two batteries to power it, which assist in making the whole package that bit smaller than its predecessor. We will be publishing a review of the almost identical A510 (3MP) in a few days.
Pentax offers £100 cash back
As several other manufacturers are tempting consumers with money back offers on D-SLR purchases, Pentax UK doesn't want to be left out and is offering up to £100 cash back on its entry level SLR the *istDS. The promotion includes £50 for the *istDS body and the same amount for the smc Pentax DA 18-55mm lens. The *istDS is currently selling for £700 (RRP) body only or £799 with a 18-55mm lens. The offer is valid until May 31.
Anyone who buys a Canon EOS 20D or EOS 350D between now and December 31 will receive a voucher booklet with £600 off lenses and accessories. Cash back offers are between £35 and £100 and are redeemable on a selection of products from EF and EF-S lenses, extenders, EX Speedlite flash systems and an inkjet printer. Customers must redeem their vouchers by sending them to the Canon Promotion Centre. This offer is only available in selected European countries and only one cash back is available per person, per coupon, name or address.
Olympus Evolt E-300 underwater housing
Olympus has announced an underwater housing for the Evolt E-300. The PT-E01 Underwater Case will protect the eight megapixel D-SLR down to a depth of 60 meters. There are also three underwater lens ports available which are compatible with four Zuiko Digital lenses as well as the PFL-E01, an underwater case for use with the FL-36 external flash unit. All underwater housings will be available in June.
March 30
Adobe to launch Photographers Directory
Adobe has announced the launch of a Photographers Directory, which will list professional photographers accessible from with Adobe's creative professional products. It will initially be available in North America, but over time will be extended to other countries. Adobe is working closely with the America Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) to produce the directory, which will be searchable by geographic location or by photographic specialty and will include portfolio imagery. Photographers who want to be a part of the directory should visit the ASMP website.
Casio posts EXILIM Pro EX-P505 firmware v1.0.1
Casio has today posted firmware version 1.0.1 for the five megapixel SLR- like EXILIM Pro EX-P505 camera. The new update increases USB communication speed, adds 'autumn leaves' scene to BESTSHOT modes and provides support for SD cards with a greater capacity than 1GB. The EX-P505 boasts a rotating 2-inch LCD display, 5x optical zoom and super macro mode of 1cm.
March 29
Toshiba launches fast-charging lithium ion battery
Toshiba has today announced a new lithium ion battery, which, it claims, can recharge 80% of the battery's energy capacity in just one minute, 60 times faster than the other lithium ion cells. It takes an unspecified 'few' more minutes for a complete recharge. The battery has a long life cycle, losing only 1% of its capacity after 1,000 cycles of discharging and recharging. Due to be launched next year, it will initially be used to power hybrid electric vehicles but could be used for smaller devices in future, such as mobile phones and digital cameras.
Rebates for the DiMAGE Z2, DiMAGE Z3 and Maxxum 7D
Konica Minolta is offering mail-in rebates on the DiMAGE Z2, DiMAGE Z3 and Maxxum 7D bought between now and June 30. Consumers can claim a $50 rebate for the DiMAGE Z2 (available now for around £360) and DiMAGE Z3 (approx. $400), and, if purchased with a qualifying Epson printer, are eligible for a further $50 rebate from Epson. Konica Minolta is also offering a $200 mail-in rebate for its digital SLR, the Maxxum 7D, which currently retails for around $1,599. The offer is only open to consumers in the US.
Canon posts EOS-1D Mark II and EOS-1Ds Mark II firmware updates
Canon has today posted firmware for two of its digital SLRs, the EOS-1D Mark II and the EOS-1Ds Mark II. Both the updates add Russian, Traditional Chinese and Korean languages to the menu systems, plus an improvement in communication reliability when using some CF cards. Firmware version 1.2.1 for the EOS-1D Mark II also addresses the issue of communication failure between the camera and some personal computers.
March 28
Olympus E-300 firmware version 1.2
Olympus has today posted a new firmware update for its E-300 digital SLR. Coming just over a month since the last update version 1.2 adds four new 'professional like' features to the E-300, some of which existed on our pre-production E-300 but were removed in the final production model, now they're back! Features added: Shading compensation (lens shading / vignette correction), Anti-Shock (mirror-lock up to avoid vibration), Release Priority S (shutter priority over focus in S-AF mode), Release Priority C (shutter priority over focus in C-AF mode).
March 26
dpreview forums: Ten million posts
Over the last six years the dpreview.com discussion forums have grown to become the largest photographic community on the Internet and one of the largest forums of any subject. Today we crossed a pretty amazing milestone, the ten millionth message posted. We are fortunate to have a very high ratio of helpful and knowledgeable posts and regular posters who make our forums the place to learn and develop your digital photography. The dpreview.com forums average over 11,000 new message posts every single day and we have just over a quarter of a million subscribed forum members. Our thanks to each and every one of you.
March 25
Lexar wins $465.4 million against Toshiba
On Wednesday a Californian jury found Toshiba guilty of theft of trade secrets from Lexar and issued damages of $381.4 million dollars, a day after they awarded an additional $84 million in punitive damages. The total awarded to Lexar in this case is some $465.4 million which is apparently the largest IP verdict in California history and the third largest IP verdict in the United States. This case relates to the use of Lexar trade secrets in Toshiba's NAND flash chips, CompactFlash cards, Secure Digital and xD-Picture Cards. Toshiba said that it 'believes that the verdict rendered by the jury was in error, and we plan to pursue all available legal avenues to correct it'.
March 24
Just posted! Konica Minolta DiMAGE Z5 review
Just posted! Our review of the big hitting 12x zoom Konica Minolta DiMAGE Z5. It is the latest in the range to feature Konica Minolta's unique CCD-shifting Anti-Shake system seen in the A2/A200 and Maxxum 7D digital SLR. The five megapixel has a love-it-or-hate-it design like the rest of the Z series. Find out if we think you should pack the DiMAGE Z5 in your suitcase for your summer vacation.
Wacom Volito2 and FAVO Bluetooth tablets
Wacom Europe has today announced a new consumer new A6-sized pen tablet called the Volito2 (pictured). The dark gray, metallic-colored tablet has improved ergonomics, an updated design and now comes with an interactive tutorial which fires up when the tablet is first used. It will be available at the end of March priced £35.99 (approx €51.84). Meanwhile Wacom Japan has announced the A5-sized FAVO, a Bluetooth pen tablet, which has a 10m range. It can be recharged and used for up to 25 hours. The Wacom FAVO will be available in Japan from March 25 priced ¥19,824 (approx $186). There are currently no plans to launch the product in Europe.
iPod Photo Camera Connector available
Apple's iPod Camera Connector is now available from its online store for $29. It will ship in 1- 3 weeks. The connector allows you to transfer images from your digital camera via the USB cable to your iPod Photo for instant viewing slideshow playback. It supports any camera which has PTP, Normal (Type 4) or Mass Storage USB compatibility.
March 23
Two photo sharing websites have been snapped up by major corporations. Internet portal Yahoo! was the first to announce that it had acquired Canadian company Ludicorp Research & Development Ltd, which operates year-old photo sharing website Flickr. While HP has just announced that it has agreed to buy Snapfish, which has 13 million registered members. Snapfish offers free photo sharing, editing tools and software as well as online print ordering. In 2001 Canon bought photo sharing site Fotango and Eastman Kodak acquired Ofoto.
March 22
After floating on the stock market just five months ago UK camera retailer Jessops has announced that its shares fell 30% yesterday due to a decline in digital camera sales. Trading has slowed considerably in February and March and shares fell 47.5p to 107p. The shares cost 155p when they were first issued. The competition on the high street and the internet is fierce and Jessops has had to slash the prices of digital cameras to entice sales and compete with other retailers. Despite the drop in sales in the last two months, Jessops says that overall sales were up by 1% in the first half.
Lensbaby 2.0
Are you bored of your lenses? Do you want to get a bit creative? Then check out what the stork delivered from lensbabies.com. Lensbaby 2.0, an attachment for digital SLRs, offers a greater aperture range than The Original Lensbaby and a much sharper 'sweet spot' of focus, the size of which can be controlled by changing the apertures. Lensbaby 2.0 also features a coated, high refractive index, low dispersion optical glass doublet instead of the singled uncoated optical glass element in The Original Lensbaby. Apertures snap into place using the magnetic aperture system and can be lifted out with the complimentary Cell-Klear Lenspen. Suggested retail price is around $150.
March 18
Panasonic SD CardBus adapter tested
We've just received a production sample of the recently announced Panasonic SD CardBus PC Card adapter (BN-SDPC3E). This works in the same manner as the 32-bit CardBus CF adapters we've seen in the past. With more and more devices using SD cards and now even some digital SLR's faster access to SD cards will become more important. If you use a laptop or notebook the Panasonic SD CardBus adapter is now the fastest method for reading (and writing to) SD cards. (Windows only at the moment).
Konica Minolta cuts financial year forecast
Konica Minolta lowered its forecast for the financial year ending March 2005 due to strong price competition in the digital camera market and delays in introducing new products in its information equipment business. Konica Minolta, which announced its merger in January 2003, foresees a 72% drop in net income from ¥25 bn ($240 m) to ¥7 bn ($67 m) on net sales of ¥1.06 trillion ($10.1 bn), down 3.6% from the previously forecast ¥1.1tr ($10.5 bn). The camera manufacturer will also accept an extraordinary write-off of ¥5.4 bn ($51.2 m). Konica Minolta stocks are currently trading below their issuing price, with total stock capital ¥30 bn ($287.5 m) below full value.
March 17
Nikon D2Hs launch date and price
Nikon has announced that its 4.1 megapixel professional D-SLR, the D2Hs, will be on sale worldwide from March 25. It will retail for around £2,499.99 ($3,733). The D2Hs, which was announced just before PMA, offers a range of improvements over the D2H, including a burst rate of 8 fps up to 50 JPEG frames or 40 NEF shots. It has also borrowed some features from the D2X, including sYCC color space support, 3D Matrix Metering II and a higher resolution 2.5-inch LCD.
March 16
More on Kodak's 18.6 megapixel CCD
Kodak has today issued a press release which reveals a little more information about the sensor used in Pentax's yet to be fully revealed 645 medium-format digital camera. The sensor is named the KAF-18000CE, it has 18.6 million total pixels producing an 18 million pixel final image. Pixel pitch is 9 x 9 µm, no other specs are currently available but if we assume a 4:3 aspect ratio we can guess the total pixel size to be something like 4992 x 3744 which would make the active sensor area approximately 45 x 34 mm (a 1.3x FOV crop for a 645 medium format camera).
Just posted! Fujifilm FinePix S3 Pro review
Just posted! Our full in-depth review of Fujifilm's latest digital SLR, the FinePix S3 Pro. The S3 Pro is unique among digital SLRs in that it has a sensor designed specifically to capture more dynamic range. The SuperCCD SR II has two photodiodes at each photosite, the 'S-pixel' captures normal dynamic range, the 'R-pixel' is smaller, has a lower sensitivity and hence can capture additional highlight detail. Read our review to see how the S3 Pro performed and how it compares to the competition.
Nikon Coolpix S1, ultra-slim
Nikon has today announced its first ultra-slim digital camera, the Coolpix S1. The S1 has a five megapixel CCD, a three times folded-optics zoom lens (a first in a Coolpix) and a 2.5" LCD monitor (another Coolpix first). The S1 also features some Coolpix technology such as Face Priority AF, in-camera red-eye fix and D-Lighting. The (admittedly pretty stylish) Coolpix S1 will be available in three colors; black, silver and white, it will be out in April at about US$ 380. Additionaly there will also be a waterproof case available.
March 15
Pentax 645 Digital, 18.6 megapixel

Pentax has today announced the development of an 18.6 megapixel 645 Digital medium-format camera which will be revealed at the Photo Imaging Expo in Tokyo from March 17th 2005. Details are thin on the ground at the moment but the current press release reveals that the camera will use a large format Kodak CCD with 18.6 million total pixels.

Pentax DA 12-24 mm F4 lens

Pentax has today announced a new 'digital only' DA-series lens, the 12-24 mm F4 ED AL, this is the sixth Pentax DA lens. Mounted on the *ist D or *ist DS digital SLRs this lens would provide an equivalent field of view of as a 18-36 mm lens.

March 10
Konica Minolta announces digital lenses
CeBit 2005: Konica Minolta has announced three digital lenses designed specifically for use with digital cameras that use an APS-C size sensor such as its Maxxum series of digital SLRs, the first of which is the Maxxum 7D. All three Digital Technology (DT) lenses are wideangle optics and will be available in the summer/fall. The first is the AF DT Zoom 18-70mm f3.5 - 5.6(D) (which on the 7D would provide an equivalent field of view as a 27 - 105 mm lens), secondly there's the AF DT Zoom 11-18mm f4.5 - 5.6(D) (16.5 - 27 mm equiv) and lastly the AF DT Zoom 18-200mm f3.5 -6.3(D) (27 - 300 mm equiv).
March 9
Samsung launches first 7 megapixel phone
CeBIT 2005: While it took the photographic industry several years before it produced the first 7 megapixel compact digital camera, the mobile phone industry is wasting no such time. Samsung has today announced a world first with the 7 million pixel SCH-V770 which, it has been reported, boasts manual focus, shutter priority, AE lock and an optical zoom as well as MP3 functionality and a business card reader. The SCH-V770, which can also take telephoto and wideangle converter lenses, is due to make its debut at CeBIT, Germany tomorrow.
March 8
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T7, ultra-slim
Sony has today announced the ultra-slim Cyber-shot DSC-T7. This camera is the latest in the T line of ultra-compact digital cameras, the unique feature of this amazing little digital camera is that it is only 14.8 mm / 0.6 in 'thin' (9.8 mm / 0.4 in at the thinnest part). It feels about half the thickness of the recently announced DSC-T33 and is approximately the same size from the front. Sony has achieved this by placing the LCD monitor to the side of the lens assembly (yes, this camera still has a three times optical zoom folded lens). Unlike the recent T models the DSC-T7 has has sliding cover / power switch just like the original DSC-T1. We have some exclusive hands-on images of a darker colored DSC-T7.
Nikon Capture software update v4.2.1
Nikon has today posted another update for Nikon Capture, which adds support for the newly-announced Nikon D2Hs plus a host of other new features. Version 4.2.1 supports RAW images captured with the D2Hs and opens them faster. The shooting data area can now display extra information if required. Automatic rotation is now achievable when using the Draw Level line or manually typing a degree of rotation. For a full list of changes, see the release notes.
Sony launches MiniDisc with built-in camera
Sony's latest MiniDisc incarnation has a 1.3 megapixel built-in digital camera with a 1.5-inch color screen and MP3 playback. The MZ-DH10P Hi-MD can capture 1.3MP and VGA-quality images which can be stored on MiniDisc media. Captured shots can be displayed as a slideshow with music, individually or as thumbnails. Camera controls are on the same side as the LCD and the shutter button is on top of the device. The lens cover of the camera controls the mode; when it's open the Walkman is in camera mode, and when it's closed it changes to audio mode. It will be available in May for around $500 and comes supplied with a charging cradle.
Fujifilm posts FinePix S3 Pro firmware v2.12
Fujifilm has today posted firmware version 2.12 for the FinePix S3 Pro and a new plug-in for Hyper Utility Software HS-V2. The new firmware updates the auto rotate function as well as adding support for the AF-S Nikon and AF-VR Nikon lenses and the use of higher capacity storage media. Version 3.1 of the Hyper Utility software enables remote camera operation via FireWire connection between the camera and the computer.
March 3
Kyocera to end camera production
Sources at Kyocera have confirmed that the company is to cease production of film and digital cameras, putting a huge question mark over the future of one of the oldest brands in photography, Contax. Contax cameras have been produced since the early 1930's, when the brand was launched by German optical legend Zeiss Ikon. Contax joined forces with Japanese manufacturer Yashica in the 1960's, becoming part of electronics giant Kyocera in the mid-1990's. UPDATE: Kyocera Japan has officially confirmed that it is to quit production of digital cameras.

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