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July 2005 news and reviews

July 29
Sony slashes forecast earnings by 87%

Sony has been forced to slash its earnings forecast following a first quarter operating loss that has created 'almighty problems' for the electronics giant, reports The Times. First quarter net losses amount to around ¥7.3 billion ($69.4 m) forcing the company to dramatically cut its forecast earnings from ¥80 billion ($712 m) to ¥10 billion ($89 m). The problems are as a result of poor performance in its TV division as well as falling retail prices of digital cameras. Recently appointed chief executive Howard Stringer and president Ryoji Chubachi are expected to unveil a new strategy in September.

Fujifilm FinePix S5200 / S5600 Zoom
Fujifilm has today announced the third incarnation of its S series, the FinePix S5200 Zoom (US) S5600 Zoom (Europe). The 5.1 megapixel mini SLR-style camera boasts a 10x optical zoom and Anti Blur mode which is, Fujifilm says, more effective than image stabilization, ISO up to 1600 and a 5th generation of Super CCD HR sensor. It also offers full manual control, VGA movie mode and RAW image capture. The FinePix S5200 will be available in September.
Fujifilm FinePix S9000 / S9500 Zoom
Fujifilm has today announced what it sees as competition to entry level DSLRs with the 9 million pixel FinePix S9000 Zoom (US) S9500 Zoom (Europe). It features a 10.7x optical zoom (28-300mm) (with no image stabilization), ISO from 80 to 1600, twist-barrel zoom control, a tiltable 1.8-inch LCD, plus a 640 x 480 movie mode. Fujifilm sees the S9000 Zoom as the point where compact and DSLRs meet as it offers the resolution and control of an SLR, while at the same time offering functions associated with a compact camera. Other features include a real time histogram, xD-Picture Card, CompactFlash and Microdrive compatibility, hotshoe and RAW format. The S9000 Zoom will be available in August at a priced to be confirmed.
The 123 of digital imaging 3.5
Site contributor Vincent Bockaert has today announced the latest version of his excellent 'The 123 of digital imaging Interactive Learning Suite'. Version 3.5 features a wide range of updates and revisions including extensive coverage of Adobe Photoshop CS2 (including Adobe Bridge and Camera RAW 3.1), numerous new tutorials (high dynamic range images, sharpening, distortion correction etc.) In total 3.5 includes several hundred more pages than 3.0. As well as this new version Vincent has also carried out an extensive update of our glossary section with more new sections coming soon. Version 3.5 is free to owners of 3.0 (registered after 7/Apr/05) otherwise the upgrade costs just $9.99.
July 28
Pretec 4GB 133x SD card

Pretec has announced the first 4GB SD in the world. The card is the newest addition of its high speed line of 133X SD cards, which are available in capacities ranging from 256MB to 4GB. It is also the fastest card, with access speeds of up to 20MB/s. It will be available next month priced $699 (approx. €578). The company also announces the availability of 2GB MMC 4.x card (MMC Plus) today. Pretec has slashed the price of its 12GB CompactFlash card by half price, from $9999 to $4999 (approx. €4136).

Fujifilm FinePix E900 Zoom

Fujifilm has today announced a new E series compact that offers 9 million effective pixels. The matt black FinePix E900, Fujifilm's 'power-packed compact', houses a 5th generation Super CCD HR, Real Photo Technology which is supposed to reduce noise at high sensitivity settings, ISO 80 - 800, 4x optical zoom (32 - 128mm equiv.) and boasts a 2-inch LCD. It also offers full manual control and RAW capture. Pricing and availability is yet to be announced.

July 27
Panasonic LX1 Preview Sample Gallery posted

Update: We have now added a gallery of sample shots taken with the new Panasonic DMC-LX1, the world's first wide angle compact camera with a 16:9 ratio CCD.

July 25
Pentax launches DSLR website
Pentax has launched a website aimed at DSLR users called 'digiichi', just three weeks after Canon announced its site. 'Digiichi' advises prospective DSLR users which technical aspects to consider when buying an SLR, the main parts and functions of SLRs and a look back at the cameras that Pentax has been making for more than half a century. The Pentax website, which is more adult looking and sophisticated than the Canon one, is also going to feature a virtual showroom, photo technique workshop and a photo gallery.
July 23
Just posted! Nikon D50 review
Just posted! Our full in-depth review of Nikon's most affordable digital SLR, the six megapixel D50. The D50 is Nikon's answer to the recent spate of affordable digital SLR's like the Canon EOS 300D/350D (Digital Rebel/XT) and Pentax *ist DS. The D50's appearance is so similar to the D70 it would be easy to mistake the two, and indeed in use the D50 sacrificies little feeling just as snappy as its elder sibling. See how the D50 performed and how it compared to the competition, read our detailed review!
July 22
Pentax Optio 60

Pentax has announced a new camera into the Optio range. The six million pixel Optio 60 will go on sale next month and is priced $200. The new compact offers full manual control, plus a 2.0-inch LCD screen. The Optio 60 is said to 'lower the learning curve' with a Simple Mode on the mode dial which automatically selects the best focus and settings for the scene. It also offers a 3x zoom (36- 108mm lens), which is pretty much standard on compact cameras.

Adobe Photoshop Album Starter Edition v3.0

Adobe has released a new 'lite' version of image management software program Photoshop Album Starter Edition. Version 3.0 is free to download an offers some of the features of Photoshop Album such as basic image editing, organization tools, and the ability to share your images in a slideshow or email them to family and friends.

Epson posts P-2000 firmware v2.04
Epson has today posted firmware version 2.04 for the P-2000 image viewer. The firmware update adds RAW file support for the Canon Digital Rebel XT (350D) and fixes a bug associated with the Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D (Dynax 7D). It also increases the processing time taken to identify SD cards.
July 21
X'S-Drive 2 XL VP2260

Cardmedia Europe has announced a new addition to its portable storage range with the 30GB X'S-Drive 2 XL VP2260, which is priced £140. The device has a new long life built-in rechargeable battery for up to two hours use and the LCD shows file transfer status, battery power level and capacity left on the hard drive. It has three card slots which can transfer data from Compactflash, IBM Microdrive, SmartMedia, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, SD/MMC and xD-Picture Card media without adapters. A high speed transfer rate can copy data from a 1GB card in eight minutes. The X'S-Drive 2 XL VP2260 is available in 20GB to 80GB capacities.

Kodak to cut 10,000 more jobs

Kodak is to cut up to 10,000 more jobs, while the company makes the tough transition from film to digital, reports the Altus Times. The announcement coincided with reports of a second quarter loss and shares dropped by more than 2%. The new cuts are expected to affect around 7,000 manufacturing jobs, many in Kodak's home town. Eighteen months ago Kodak announced that it would cut around 15,000 jobs over the next three years. Despite the fact that Kodak will add around 8,000 employees, the workforce will eventually number under 50,000 compared to 86,000 people it employed in 1998.

July 20
All new dpreview.com merchandise
We're proud to announce that we have just refreshed and expanded our ever popular merchandise store. Our official store now has new caps, bags, shirts, mugs, a coaster, mousepad and even stickers! Show your support for dpreview, spread the word to your fellow digital photographers and make it easier to spot each other at the next photo meet, there's something for everyone in the Digital Photography Review Merchandise Store.
BenQ E510 and E520

Electronics manufacturer BenQ has added some credence to its cameras by attaching a Pentax Super Multi-Coated (SMC) lens to them. The first two cameras to benefit from the partnership with Pentax are the E510 and E520, both five megapixels. The SMC system, which was developed in 1971, is suppoed to effectively eliminate surface reflection and flares and deliver sharper and clearer images. Both cameras feature BenQ's proprietary Senseye Technology which is supposed to greatly enhance color performance while significantly reducing image noise.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ30, preview and samples
Panasonic has today revealed the new eight megapixel 12x optical zoom DMC-FZ30. The FZ30 follows on from the remarkably popular FZ20, it continues that camera's standard of providing SLR-like features and body design with a big zoom and image stabilization. Primary changes are more megapixels, a mechanically linked zoom ring, a higher resolution flip-down and twist LCD monitor, RAW capture, longer exposures, improved control layout and faster operation (especially startup). This new camera won't be that much of a surprise to many of our readers, thanks to several leaks in the last week. We have a preview and gallery of sample images from a pre-production camera online now.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX1
Panasonic has today announced the world's first wide angle compact camera with a 16:9 ratio CCD. The fully manual Lumix DMC-LX1 offers a 8.6 megapixel 1 /1.65" CCD and is the first camera in the LUMIX 16:9 wide LX series. The aspect ratio is easily selectable between 3:2 and the conventional 4:3 by using a slider switch located on the lens barrel. As with all Panasonic cameras, the LX1 features two-mode MEGA OIS (Optical Image Stabilization) for its 4x optical Leica DC zoom lens. It also boasts a 28 - 112 mm focal length, Venus Engine II, five AF modes and a 16:9 wide VGA movie mode at 30 fps.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX9
Panasonic has announced an addition to the FX range with the sleek and sexy Lumix DMC-FX9. Available in three colors, red, silver and black, the FX9 ups the pixel count to 6 million. It forfeits an optical viewfinder in favor of a 2.5-inch LCD with 180% more pixels than the FX8 at 207,000 and maintains that effective Optical Image Stabilization system, despite only having a 3x zoom. It also boasts the Venus Engine Plus LSI for high performance processing in speed and image quality and offers a 3 frames per second burst mode. The DMC-FX9 also adds two new scene modes to those found on the FX8, which are Starry Sky and Candle.
Panasonic announces three new SD cards

Panasonic has added three high capacity SD cards to its Pro High Speed, High Speed and miniSD ranges. First up is the flagship 2GB card introduced to the Pro High Speed range. It offers a data transfer rate of 20MB/s and will hit the shops in August with a price tag of €249.99 (US$299). The new addition to the High Speed range is the 1GB SD card available in August for €99.99 (US$119). And for mobile phones with built-in cameras there is a 512MB miniSD memory card, which can store music and images and will be priced €49.99 (US$59) when it hits the shops next month.

July 19
Pentax profits fall by 42%

Pentax has announced that its profits fell by 42% in the fiscal first quarter, compared to the previous year, reports the International Herald Tribune. Net income fell to ¥261m (US$2.32) from ¥448m (US$3.97m) the previous year. The loss is blamed on ever decreasing profit margins on compact digital cameras and the company says it plans to focus on the "more profitable single-lens reflex digital camera to offset price declines in compact types" as well as "raise the pace of new model introductions to three per year from two, starting this year," says Fumio Urano, Pentax president. Urano said that the company will also cut 300 jobs in the next two years.

Konica Minolta and Sony make D-SLR announcement
Konica Minolta and Sony have today announced an agreement to jointly develop digital SLR cameras. This agreement appears to mean that both Konica Minolta and Sony will develop D-SLR cameras with Konica Minolta lens mounts. It also covers technology sharing between the two, including Sony's CMOS sensors and Info-Lithium batteries and Konica Minolta's AF, metering and Anti-Shake system. The release doesn't state whether each company will be able to use any of these techologies in products other than DSLRs. I suppose this means Sony aren't going the Four Thirds route...
Olympus posts E-300 firmware v1.3

Olympus has today posted firmware version 1.3 for the FourThirds DSLR the E-300. The update provideds enhanced exposure metering stability, adds a button timer, two new underwater scene programmes and changes the start-up process for future lenses.

July 18
Adobe Bridge software update v1.02
Adobe has today posted a software update for its file browsing program in Photoshop CS2. Adobe Bridge version 1.02 update delivers overall improved stability and performance and is recommended for all Adobe Bridge customers. Adobe Bridge was based on the file browser introduced in Photoshop 7.0 and allows you to organize, browse, locate and view the assets you need with visual previews and scalable thumbnails.

Industry analysts InfoTrends/CAP Ventures has reported that unit sales of digital cameras in North America hit a high of 22.2 million in 2004, and the number is continuing to rise. Although the pace at which the market is growing has slowed to 16% from 27%, the market is expected to reach 26 million units this year. Household penetration is also set to rise above half for the first time, at 55%. One of the biggest growth sectors is DSLRs. InfoTrends/CAP Ventures expects the consumer DSLR market to grow 81% in 2005. Research also shows that the market has matured greatly since the introduction of digital cameras nearly 10 years ago, and that by the end of this decade nine out of 10 buyers will be previous owners.

HP restructure and job cuts
HP is expecting to announce a huge restructuring that could mean between 5,000 - 25,000 redundancies, reports the Wall Street Journal. HP's new Chief Executive Officer Mark Hurd, who was appointed in late March, plans to make significant cost cuts at the technology company which he said "has a cost structure that is off benchmark in many areas". The restructure is likely to be announced at the end of the fiscal third quarter on July 29. The layoffs could bring around $100 million in headcount-related savings in the period.
Phase One ships three new digital backs
Phase One plans to introduce three new digital backs - two by the end of the year and one at the beginning of next year. The P45 is a full format digital back with a 39MP sensor, which produces files of 117 MB, while the 31MP P30 is designed for the fashion shooter who is looking to switch to digital photography. Finally there is the 18MP P21 digital back, which features 60fpm capture rate. These announcements coincide with the company's decision to offer complete openness into its 18-month product roadmap, which it hopes will offer a certain level of investment protection to its customers.

Canon USA has announced that customers with the Battery Grip BG-E2 used with the EOS 20D and 20Da, and a certain serial number range can return their grip/magazine for a free repair/replacement. This is due to a cases where even with fully charged batteries (exclusive battery pack or NiMH battery) or unused AA size batteries, only a few shots can be taken or 'bc' is displayed immediately.

July 15
Three new Konica Minolta DT lenses
In addition to the announcement of the Maxxum 5D Konica Minolta has also announced three new DT (designed for digital SLR) lenses; the AF DT 18 - 70 mm F3.5 - F5.6 (D), the AF DT 11 - 18 mm F4.5 - F5.6 (D) and the AF DT 18 - 200 mm F3.5 - F6.3 (D).
Konica Minolta Maxxum 5D
Konica Minolta has today announced the Dynax / Maxxum 5D digital SLR. This new digital SLR is Konica Minolta's answer to the Nikon D50 and Canon EOS 350D (Rebel XT), a more affordable digital SLR aimed more at the beginner market. It's both smaller and lighter than the Maxxum 7D and has fewer external controls (although those which are left are the most useful; WB, ISO, etc.). The 5D of course still features Konica Minolta's unique in-camera Anti-Shake system which stabilizes the sensor rather than a lens element.
Konica Minolta AF 35 mm F1.4G D lens
Konica Minolta has today announced the development of a new lens. The AF 35 mm F1.4G D is designed for the Dynax/Maxxum series of SLRs and features distance encoding which enables the more advanced ADI flash metering, it is also claimed to have a rounder aperture for an improved bokeh (defocused area) appearance. This lens is due to be launched in 'Spring 2006' (read PMA).
Konica Minolta DiMAGE X1
Konica Minolta has today announced the ultra-slim DiMAGE X1, an eight megapixel three times optical zoom ultra-compact digital camera with Anti-Shake and a large 2.5-inch LCD monitor. From a design point of view the X1 is much more rounded in appearance compared to its siblings, indeed it looks more like a rounded-off Sony DSC-T3. At the time of publication the X1 appears to be the ultra-compact that pack the most: eight megapixels, Anti Shake as well as an internal zoom lens.
July 14
Rollei dp8300

German manufacturer Rollei has announced its offering for the 8 megapixel market with the dp8300. The metal-bodied compact offers a 36 - 108 mm 3x zoom lens, large 2.5-inch LCD, 5cm macro function plus 640 x 480-pixel movie mode which is limited only by the size of the memory card. The Rollei dp8300 will be on sale at the end of the month for around €349 ($422).

July 13
Casio posts EX-Z750 firmware v1.0.1
Casio has today posted firmware version 1.0.1 for the 7.2 megapixel, 3x zoom Exilim Z750, announced at PMA. The new firmware allows you to zoom into portrait-oriented images in playback without changing to landscape orientation.
July 12

Sales of digital SLRs continue to rise and nearly doubled in the period 2003-2004, according to industry analyst NPD Techworld. PMA Sales of DSLRs rose from 277,796 in 2003 to 578,000 in 2004 and are on track to break records this year as 200,000 units had already been sold by April 2005. The 2005 PMA US Consumer Photo Buying report also reveals that 60% of DSLR owners are male, who are slightly older than compact digital camera users at around 48 years old, but younger than 35mm SLR users at 52

Kodak accelerates move into image sensor market

In further evidence of its commitment to digital, Eastman Kodak has announced plans to accelerate moves into the CMOS image sensor market after news of a manufacturing alliance with IBM. The recently available three and five megapixel CIS devices are intended for mass market products such as camera phones and digital cameras. The KODAK KAC-3100 and KAC-5000 Image Sensors incorporate Kodak PIXELUX technology, which is designed to improve image quality and performance, and offer more features than other CMOS-based image sensors on the market.

July 6
Extensis Portfolio Raw Filter 2 and update v7.0.6

Extensis has released a free update for Portfolio 7 that adds support for several digital SLRs and compact cameras. The Portfolio Raw Filter 2 update adds support for 14 new cameras including the Nikon D2x, D2H, Olympus E-300, Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II, Digital Rebel XT, Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D and the Pentax *ist DS. Additionally, update version 7.0.6 also provides compatibility updates for Adobe CS2 and Apple Mac OS 10.4 (Tiger).

July 5
Just posted! Sony DSC-H1 review
Just posted! The Cyber-shot DSC-H1 is Sony's attempt to win a share of one of the fastest growing digital camera market sectors, the 5 megapixel 'super zoom'. As well as a huge 12x optical zoom the H1 is a real treasure chest of photographic control, offering a wealth of automatic, semi automatic and manual exposure modes, a big 2.5" screen and VGA/30fps movies in space-efficient MPEG format. But is it enough to see off stiff competition from the likes of Canon and Panasonic? Read the review after the link to find out....
Canon launch beginner SLR site
Canon has today launched a new educational website called 'Enjoy! Digital SLR Cameras'. Split into five sections it contains a large range of tutorials covering everything from the familiarising yourself with the camera to selecting the right exposure, how to frame subjects more creatively and even printing. While the site is clearly aimed at users of Canon digital SLRs much of the material applies equally to all SLR users.
July 1
Olympus C-315 Zoom

Olympus has announced the successor to the TIPA-winning C-310, which was only announced at PMA in February. The Olympus C-315 Zoom boasts a higher resolution at 5.1 megapixel but a slightly shorter 2.8x zoom. Looks-wise the C-315 is practically the same; 1.8-inch LCD and basic controls. Like its predecessor it's aimed at the 'ambitious' beginners. It will be available at the end of July.