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August 2005 news and reviews

August 31
Pentax Optio WPi
If you're looking for a camera that can withstand the elements then the second incarnation of Pentax's waterproof camera might be worth a look. The six megapixel WPi ('i' for improved maybe?) can withstand submersion to a depth of 1.5m for 30 minutes (JIS class 8) and is also dust proof (class 5). It also offers a Recovery function for retrieving accidentally deleted images - as long as you don't overwrite the data or turn the camera off. Other features include a 2-inch LCD, 3x optical zoom, in-camera movie editing and a 1cm macro mode. The Pentax Optio WPi is available this month and will be priced £269.99 (approx €394).
Pentax Optio S6
Pentax has today announced a new addition to the S series with the six megapixel Optio S6. The aluminum alloy-bodied compact is even slimmer than its siblings at just 19 mm wide and sports a 2.5-inch Beau-Reflective monitor, which means it can be viewed outdoors in bright light. It also offers simultaneous display of mode icons, a 640x480-pixel movie function with anti-shake (although the format DivX MPEG-4 is not supported by Macs) plus tracking AF. It is available this month.
Just posted! Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W7 review
Just posted! Our review of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W7. Announced at the beginning of the year, the seven megapixel W7 is part of the second generation of Sony's 'traditionally-styled' compacts designed to appeal to the first-time user moving from a film camera to digital. It builds on the success of the W1, which was something of a surprise hit last year. But does the W7 have what it takes to compete in the increasingly crowded 7 megapixel compact market?
August 29
Olympus SP-350 & SP-310
Olympus has added two more cameras to go with the SP-500 ultra-zoom model; the SP-350 and SP-310. The near identical cameras offer 8.0 and 7.1 million pixels respectively, full manual control, 2.5-inch LCD (and viewfinder) plus RAW image capture. The black-bodied SP-350 offers slightly different sensitivity to the SP-310 and additionally has a hotshoe for attaching an external flash. A histogram is available in shooting and playback modes on both models. The SP-350 and SP-310 will be available in October priced $399.99 (£310) (SP-350) and $349.99 (£270).
Olympus SP-500 Ultra-Zoom
Olympus has today announced a new range in its lineup with the six megapixel, 10x zoom SP-500 Ultra-Zoom. The solid looking camera offers full manual control as well as RAW capture, an electronic viewfinder, 21 scene modes and 143-area AF. It also borrows the predictive AF function found on the C-7070 WZ, which predicts the location of a moving subject at the moment the shutter closes. It also boasts a 2.5-inch LCD and 3cm macro mode. The SP-500 Ultra-Zoom will be available from October priced $399.99 (£300).
Olympus Stylus 600
Olympus has today announced the six megapixel Stylus 600 with BrightCapture technology, which enables photographers to frame live pictures more easily in low light conditions as the monitor offers three times the contrast of normal LCDs. The Stylus 600 is one of Olympus's weatherproof models and is available in range of colors to match your outfit - navy blue, ruby red or arctic silver. It also boasts a real time histogram plus special editing functions such as red-eye-fix, adjust brightness and insert frame and/or title. The Stylus 600 will be available from late September at a price around $299.99 (£220).
Olympus FE-120
Olympus has announced a third camera into the FE range. The FE-120 is a six megapixel beginner camera that is easy to use and offer 16 scene modes, a 1.8-inch LCD screen, 2 cm macro mode for super close ups and movie function. Images are recorded on to Olympus's proprietary xD-Picure Card and powered by two AA batteries. The Olympus FE-120 will be priced $249.99 (€203).
Olympus FE-100 and FE-110
If you're looking for something simple and easy to use then consider Olympus's new additions to the FE range. The five megapixel FE-110 and the four megapixel FE-100 (pictured) are 'ideal starter cameras' and each button delivers one function and doesn't open up a whole host of menu options to confuse the uninitiated. They also feature the obligatory movie mode, macro function and have a 1.5-inch LCD screen. The Olympus FE-100 is priced around $149.99 (£120) and will be available in September and the FE-110 is priced around $199.99 (£150) and will be available in October.
August 26
Just posted! Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX9 review
Just posted! Our review of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX9. Following on from the FX7, which was one of the best-selling cameras of last year, Panasonic launched the 5.4 million-pixel FX8 and two months later, the 6.4 million-pixel FX9. The FX8 was a fairly disappointing upgrade which did little but address the appalling battery life of the original. As well as incorporating the improvements in the FX8, the FX9 increases the pixel count, improves the screen and adds a couple of new scene modes. Check our our concise review and see how it fared.
August 25
Canon EOS 5D Hands-on preview with samples
Just posted! Our detailed hands-on preview of Canon's new EOS 5D digital SLR. This new model is designed to slot in between the EOS 20D and the EOS-1D series of digital SLR's, it provides high resolution and full-frame at a lower price point and in a lighter and smaller body. We have now put together a detailed hands-on preview of the EOS 5D including a full samples gallery, images are from a pre-production EOS 5D and a production quality EF 24 - 105 mm F4L IS lens.
August 24
Hasselblad launches four new products

Medium format specialist Hasselblad has announced two new cameras and two digital backs based on a new digital platform that build on the success of the H1. The flagship H2 cross-platform and H2D fully integrated digital cameras and offer improved mobility, quality and workflow. They feature a highly advanced image approval and selection tool which provides a swift and easy way to select and classify images. New products in the Ixpress digital back line are the Ixpress CF and Ixpress CFH. All products will become available in the third quarter.

August 23
Nikon Capture v4.3.1
Nikon has today posted a software update for its image management program which offers some impressive performance improvements. Nikon Capture version 4.3.1 realizes faster processing and handling of image data for compatible MS Windows and Mac OS computers and supports Mac OS X 10.4. Faster processing now occurs when optimizing RAW (NEF) files, more efficient memory use for image data processing and the program for creating histograms has been improved.
Pentax OptioS60
Pentax has today announced a new addition to its Optio range of cameras with the six megapixel S60. The aluminum alloy-bodied camera offers a 3x optical zoom range (35 - 106mm), movie mode, 12 picture modes and an Auto Select mode for the inexperienced user. One feature not usually found on a compact camera is customization of the four-way controller buttons; frequently used functions can be assigned to the left and right positions as shortcuts. It also has a large 2.5-inch LCD and 6cm macro mode.
HP Photosmart E317
HP has announced a five megapixel entry-level camera for just €129 ($157). The sliding lens camera offers a 1.5" LCD and its one and only connection is USB, there's no AV out for viewing on the television. Other features of this starter camera include five subject modes, QVGA movies with sound, PictBridge capability and, well, that's pretty much it. The Photosmart E317 will be available from September 1.
August 22
Canon EOS 5D, full-frame 12.8 megapixel
The biggest surprise of the day (not) will be Canon's much-leaked EOS 5D. Yes, the specifications floating around for the last two weeks were accurate, this camera slots in above the EOS 20D but below the EOS-1D series with its full-frame (35 mm negative size) 12.8 megapixel CMOS sensor. Other key specifications; 3.0 fps continuous shooting, spot metering, custom settings mode, Picture Style parameters, 2.5" wide viewing angle LCD monitor, marginally larger than the EOS 20D, USB 2.0 High-speed, compatible with WFT-E1 wireless transmitter. The EOS 5D is certainly unique and will no doubt be of great interest to a great variety of photographers. The EOS 5D will be available in October priced at $3299 (US) / €3459 (EU). We have a detailed preview of the EOS 5D now available.
Canon EOS-1D Mark II N
Canon has today announced the successor to the EOS-1D Mark II, this updated camera carries the N suffix to indicate its moderate range of updates. The EOS-1D Mark II N has the same 8.2 megapixel CMOS sensor, the same DIGIC II image processor and 8.5 fps shooting speed. The primary changes are a new 2.5" wide viewing angle LCD monitor, improved buffering characteristics, new 'Picture Style' image parameters and the ability to write different formats simultaneously to SD and CF cards. The EOS-1D Mark II N is priced at $3999 and will be available in September.
Canon EF 24 - 105 mm F4.0L and 70 - 300 mm
Canon has today announced two new EF lenses; the 24 - 105 mm F4.0L IS USM and the 70 - 300 mm F4.0 - F5.6 IS USM. Of these two lenses the former will perhaps be the most interesting, promising a high quality wide zoom range in a relatively lightweight package and image stabilization it clearly lends it self to be the perfect partner lens for the new EOS 5D. Indeed in their press release Canon state that this new lens 'offers a lightweight alternative to the renowned EF 24-70 mm F2.8L USM'.
Canon Speedlite 430EX flash
Canon has today announced a new 'digital compatible' flash, the Speedlite 430EX. This new flash unit is clearly aimed at buyers of the EOS 5D digital SLR which doesn't have a built-in flash unit. Compared to the 420EX which it replaces the 430EX has an increased guide number (range) and is approximately 40% faster at recycling. When attached to a camera with a smaller than full-frame sensor it detects this and adjusts its angle of coverage.
Canon PowerShot S80
Just over a year since the PowerShot S70 Canon has revealed its replacement, the new S80, an eight megapixel compact camera with a wide range of manual controls and prosumer appeal. The S80 is smaller and lighter than the S70 yet it packs a much larger (2.5") wide viewing angle LCD monitor, a control wheel / 4-way controller, XGA video capture (15 fps), USB 2.0 High-speed and SD/MMC storage. Some may however be a little disappointed to hear that RAW capture has been dropped. The S80 should cost around $549 when it hits the stores.
Canon PowerShot SD450 & SD550
Two more additions to the Canon ultra-compact line are the new five megapixel SD450 (IXUS 55) and seven megapixel SD550 (IXUS 750). Both cameras feature a new wide viewing angle 2.5" LCD monitor, DIGIC II image processor, Lithium-Ion rechargeable batteries and SD card storage. They also have a surprisingly useful new feature which rotates the image in display mode depending on which orientation you are holding the camera. These models will be priced at $399 and $499 respectively.
Canon PowerShot SD30 / IXUS i Zoom
The PowerShot SD30 / IXUS i Zoom is an continuation of the ultra-compact line of Canon digital cameras. The main difference compared to the SD20 apart from styling is the fact that this is the first SDxx series to feature a zoom lens, a 2.4x (38 - 90 mm equiv.) unit. The SD30 / IXUS i Zoom will be available in three colors; black, gold, red and purple ('ultra-violet'). When it hits the shelves the SD30 should cost $399. (Known as the IXY Digital L3 in Japan.)
Canon PowerShot A610 & A620
Canon has today introduced two new A series digital cameras, the five megapixel A610 and seven megapixel A620 actually replace the A95 and offer a pretty impressive range of features at an affordable price. Both feature a new 4x optical zoom lens which is based on the design of the lens found in the G6, they both also feature flip-out and twist 2.0" LCD monitors, VGA 30 fps video and USB 2.0 Hi-speed. These models will be priced at $299 and $399 respectively.
Canon PowerShot A410
The first of no less than nine new Canon digital cameras announced today is the entry level PowerShot A410. Clear successor to the A400 the A410 now joins the rest of the new PowerShot line in having Canon's DIGIC II processor it also features a longer zoom reach (3.2x vs. 2.2x), a smaller case and five point AF. Just like the A400 the A410 uses SD card for storage, has a 1.5" LCD monitor and is powered by two AA batteries. Price should be around $150.
August 21
Pentax *ist DS2
It's early morning in Tokyo where Pentax has just announced the new *ist DS2, a subtly updated *ist DS. The only differences we could establish between the *ist DS and the DS2 are a larger LCD monitor (now 2.5" 210,000 pixels), this kind of 'upgrade' seems to becoming a trend. Interestingly it appears that this camera will not be available in Europe but should be available elsewhere in the world.
August 19
Konica Minolta DiMAGE Z6
Konica Minolta has today announced its latest Z series digital camera, the new DiMAGE Z6. The Z6 follows on from the Z5, it features a six megapixel CCD sensor (on Konica Minolta's unique Anti-Shake platform), twelve times optical zoom lens and a two inch LCD monitor. Other than a slight increase to six megapixels the Z6 also features improved battery life. This expands the choice in the ever growing compact-long-zoom segment of the market, buyers can now choose from five, six or eight megapixel, twelve times optical zoom digital cameras all with image stabilization. The Z6 should be available in mid-September with a street price of around $399.
Konica Minolta AF 35 mm F1.4G (D) lens
Konica Minolta has today announced the development of a new prime lens; the AF 35 mm F1.4G (D). Despite being announced today this lens won't be released until 'Spring 2006' which we read to mean sometime after PMA. Note that this lens is the sucessor to the current AF 35 mm F1.4G. On a Maxxum 5D / 7D digital SLR this lens would produce an equivelant field of view of a 52.5 mm lens on a 35 mm film camera. Konica Minolta also note that this lens can still be used on 35 mm film SLR cameras.
August 12

Bibble Labs has announced version 4.3 of its RAW workflow software, which now adds support for Nikon's newest DSLRs, the D70s and the D50, as well as Epson's R-D1 digital rangefinder camera. Other new features include an arbitrary rotation tool, plug-in interface, a plug-in to remove lens distortion plus new EXIF Makernotes and faster RAW file processing. Bibble 4.3 is a free update to all owners of any prior version of Bibble 4.

August 11
Just posted! Canon SD400 review
Just posted! The Canon PowerShot SD400 Digital ELPH (also known as the Ixus 50 and Ixy Digital 55) is essentially a 5MP version of the popular SD300, with a couple of new features and a higher resolution sensor. This one's been sitting around the dpreview office since its launch back in February, during which time it seems to have become as popular as its predecessor. So is the extra megapixel worth the extra money? Read the full review after the click to find out!
Sanyo to open plant in Vietnam

Japanese electronics manufacturer Sanyo Group is to open a $13m digital camera plant in Vietnam's Bien Hoa I Industrial Zone in the southern Dong Nai Province, reports VietNamNet. The factory will be capable of producing 100,000 units a month, which will all be for export, and has been chosen as a 'strategic investment site'. The plant is due to open on September 13.

August 9
Canon posts EOS 20D firmware v2.0.2
Canon has today posted firmware version 2.0.2 for the EOS 20D, which fixes a bug that occurred when using the EOS Capture application. The 8 megapixel camera, announced a year ago this month, experienced problems that prevented EOS Capture from operating correctly when shooting using the RAW+JPEG setting. The problem only occurred in version 2.0.0 of the firmware.
August 8
Nikon profit soars

Among the doom and gloom stories of the last few months, today we get some good news from Nikon that its first quarter profit has soared, Yahoo! News reports. Following several manufacturers reporting profit losses and job cuts, the world's second largest DSLR manufacturer announced an operating profit of ¥13.94 bn ($124.8 m), over four times the ¥3.13bn profit it made in the same period last year. Nikon attributes its success to a shift in focus to the digital SLR market as the low end of the market has become increasingly competitive and often non profitable.

Dixons to stop selling film cameras

UK high street retailer Dixons has announced today that it plans to stop selling 35mm cameras, following the huge surge in popularity of their digital equivalents. Dixons reports that sales of digital cameras are now outstripping sales of 35mm cameras by 15 to 1 and it says that it will not stock any more 35mm cameras once the current stock runs out. The company says film is now an 'increasingly niche market' and Bryan Magrath, marketing director at Dixons, says that "digital cameras are now the rule, rather than the exception".

August 4
Casio Exilim EX-Z10, EX-Z110, EX-Z120
Casio has today announced three new cameras into its Exilim line up that are designed to be 'user-friendly, fun and convenient'. The 7.2 megapixel EX-Z120 (pictured), 6.0 megapixel EX-Z110 and 5.0 megapixel black EX-Z10. The all feature the Exilim Engine with Anti Shake DSP, plus High Sensitivity modes. Other features include full manual control, 2-inch LCD, 10cm (Z120 only), 640 x 480-pixel movie mode and 6cm macro facility. The Casio EXILIM Zoom EX-Z110 will be available next month, while the Casio EXILIM Zoom EX-Z10 and EX-Z120 will be available in October. No price has been set for any of the new models.
Casio Exilim EX-Z500

Casio has today announced a new five million-pixel model to add to the Exilim range which overcomes the problem that has blighted digital cameras since they were launched. The Exilim EX-Z500 houses a proprietary SUPER LIFE lithium-ion rechargeable battery that can take up to 500 shots on a single charge (a claim also made by Fuji's FinePix F10 Zoom). It boasts a huge 2.7-inch LCD (but no viewfinder) as well as Casio's ubiquitous BESTSHOT modes - a handy 31 of them. The Casio EXILIM Zoom EX-Z500 will be available next month priced £279.99 and comes with a USB cradle for charging the battery, transferring your images or connecting it to a television.

Just posted! Kodak Easyshare Z740 review
Just posted! The Easyshare Z740 is one of three new big zoom digital cameras introduced at the beginning of the year. It provides ten times optical zoom, a five megapixel sensor and a range of manual control. From a price point of view the Z740 slots in at the more 'affordable' end of the increasingly crowded compact super zoom digital camera sector. Read our review to see how the Z740 performed and how it compared.
August 3
HP quits selling digital cameras in Asia

HP has announced plans to stop selling digital cameras in the Asian market. An HP spokesman told dpreview, the company wants to "increase focus on opportunities that offer the highest possible return and where the company can deliver greatest customer value." It will instead turn its attention to home printing in the region, reports ZDNet. The move is thought to be as a result of stiff competition from other manufacturers and follows the news that HP could make up to 25,000 of its workforce redundant. Digital camera sales for the region were not encouraging and research analysts IDC, showed that the company was selling so few cameras last year that it fell into the 'other' category. Outside of Asia however the company performed better, ranking no.5 in the United States and no.7 in Europe and Latin America.

Casio posts Exilim EX-S500 firmware v1.01
Casio has today posted firmware version 1.0.1 for the slim five megapixel card camera the Exilim EX-S500. The new update fixes a problem which caused the wrong white balance setting to be registered when saving a user setup and a problem with distortion during movie recording.
August 2
Kodak EasyShare P880 and P850
Kodak has announced a new class of 'advanced digital cameras' today with the introduction of the P series, which it hopes will provide an alternative to DSLRs. The flagship of the range is the 24 mm wide angle lens EasyShare P880, which offers 8 megapixels, manual zoom ring and full manual control. The second camera in the range is the EasyShare P850, which has an image stabilized 12x zoom Schneider-Kreuznach lens, 36-432mm (35mm equiv). Both cameras can record RAW files and include a hot shoe. The EasyShare P880 wil be available beginning this September priced $599, while the EasyShare P850 is available at the beginning of this month, priced $499.
Olympus profit falls 62%

Olympus has reported a 62% drop in profits in the first quarter compared to the same period last year, reports the PMA daily news. In the period April-June 2004, the Japanese company made a net profit of ¥1.06 billion ($9.5 m) compared to ¥403 million ($3.6 m) in the fiscal first quarter of this year. Despite disappointing figures the company still hopes to make a net profit of ¥23 billion ($206 m) in the year to March following its first ever consolidated net loss of ¥11.8 billion ($105 m) in 2004-2005.

August 1
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T5
Sony has today announced the latest evolution of its ultra-slim DSC-T series of digital cameras. The DSC-T5 has an internal folded-optics three times zoom lens, a five megapixel CCD sensor, a 2.5" Hybrid LCD monitor and 32 MB of internal memory (as well as a Memory Stick Duo slot). The DSC-T5 has a sliding cover/power switch just like the DSC-T1 but has a body design more like the DSC-T33. You will I'm sure be very pleased to hear that the DSC-T5 will be available in a range of four autumnal colors - red, champagne gold, silver and black. Lovely.

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