August 2005 news and reviews
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.
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.
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.
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.
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".
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.
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.
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.