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September 2005 news and reviews

September 30
Just posted! Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX1 review
Just posted! The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX1 is the world's first compact camera with a 'widescreen' 16:9 ratio CCD sensor, combined with a 28-112mm (equiv.) wideangle 4x Leica-branded zoom lens. The LX1 also boasts a two-mode Optical Image Stabilization system, plus a wealth of real 'photographic' features, including fully manual exposure and focus options. Obviously designed to appeal to serious photographers, the LX1 also features more external controls than any previous Lumix compact, has both RAW and TIFF capture modes and a high quality all-metal, traditionally-styled body. But is it any good? Read the in-depth review after the link to find out...
Memory Stick Micro
Sony and SanDisk have announced a new memory format that is one quarter the size of Memory Stick PRO Duo. The Memory Stick Micro is only 1.2mm thin and has been developed for use in mobile phones. We're not sure at this stage whether the format will make its way into digital cameras, but we thought the same about Duo when that was first announced. The Memory Stick Micro will be compatible with Memory Stick PRO products when used with an adapter.
September 29
Fujifilm FinePix F11 Zoom
Fujifilm has today announced an addition to the FinePix range which will sit alongside the F10, with the identical looking FinePix F11 Zoom. There F11 is more or less a premium version of the F10 and offers shutter priority and aperture priority as well as few minor improvements; it has a higher resolution LCD screen at 153,000 pixels and it also allows you to shoot closer with a 5cm macro mode. Aside from these features and a very slight color change its practically the same! It will be available in November and pricing, as usual, will be announced nearer the time.
September 28
BenQ DC X600, C500 and C800
BenQ has announced three new additions to its digital camera range with the X600, C500 and C800, all of which bear a striking resemblance to other cameras. The first up is the X600, which sports a 3x SMC Pentax zoom lens, 2.5-inch LCD and claims to be the world's smallest 6 megapixel camera 19mm, the Pentax Optio S6, which is imitates, is also 19mm. Next up is the sleek looking 8 megapixel 3x zoom C800, which also does a good impersonation of an Optio. Nikon S2 lookalike, the BenQ DC C500 is a lightweight five megapixel fixed focus camera with PictBridge compatibility. It will be available in October, while the DC X600 and the DC C800 will ship in November.
Adobe Photoshop Camera Raw 3.2
Adobe has today announced version 3.2 of its Camera Raw plug-in for Photoshop CS2, which extends support to the RAW file formats of 13 digital cameras and backs. The plug-in is available as a free download from the Adobe website or comes with Photoshop CS2 and now supports DNG files. The new plug-in adds support for Panasonic, Hasselblad, Konica Minolta (Maxxum 5D), Leaf (digital backs), Leica and Nikon cameras including the D2Hs, D70s and D50. Click here to see a full list of cameras.
Nikon issues service advisory for D2H, D70
Nikon has issued a service advisory for the D2H, D70 and N55 (F55) SLRs, which relates to the potential failure of certain components within the camera. In the case of the D2H this can lead to exposure and auto focus errors, in the case of the D70 the camera can completely lock up. The advisory makes it clear that this problem only affects a small number of cameras. Nikon is offering to repair any camera which is experiencing these problems at no charge.
September 27
Adobe Photoshop Elements 4.0

Adobe Systems has today announced Photoshop Elements 4.0. The lite version of Adobe's professional image editing program Photoshop, offers a new automatic red-eye removal function, which detects face shapes in images and removes red-eye as photos are downloaded from the camera. It also features a new Magic Selection brush for adjustments to specific parts of an image as well as Magic Extractor and new Skin Tone Adjustment. Adobe has developed the tagging feature found in Elements 3.0 with the new Face Tagging, which automatically detects faces in a photo so they can be easily tagged and quickly found later. Photoshop Elements 4.0 is currently only available for Windows, priced £69.99. A spokesman for Adobe said that the program will be supported on the Mac in the 'near future'.

September 26
Olympus E-500 (EVOLT)
Olympus has today announced a new Four Thirds System digital SLR, the E-500 (to be know in North America as the 'Olympus EVOLT E-500'). The E-500 has a much more traditional SLR appearance than the E-300, it features the same eight megapixel 4/3 size CCD but has a range of improvements and new features including a new metering sensor, new high ISO noise filter, a 2.5" LCD monitor and better control system. From a features and flexibility point of view the E-500 is clearly a step above the competition. Better news still is that the E-500 appears to breaks new ground in terms of value, the E-500 + 14-45 mm lens kit has an estimated street price of just US$799.
Three new Olympus Four Thirds System lenses
In addition to its announcement of the new E-500 digital SLR Olympus has also today revealed three new lenses. The ED 17.5 - 45 mm F3.5 - F5.6 (35 - 90 mm equiv. FOV, 2.6x) and 18 - 180 mm F3.5 - F6.3 (36 - 360 mm equiv. FOV, 10x) will be included in the two different E-500 kits. Also announced today is the 35 mm F3.5 Macro lense (70 mm equiv. FOV).
September 23
Ulead PhotoImpact 11
Ulead has announced the availability of its image editing program PhotoImpact 11. The new version allows you to choose one of five 'My Workspace' modes, with a basic mode for beginners and advanced mode for high end users. Every Workspace can be customized to configure the workspace to your individual needs. Other features include 16-bit editing, RAW/DNG support, editable alpha-channel masks for objects and in a nod to Photoshop, PhotoImpact 11 now offers non-destructive Layer Masks. PhotoImpact 11 will be available from October priced £49.99. Owners of previous editions will be able to upgrade for £29.99 via the website.
September 22
Sigma 28 - 105mm f2.8-4 DG
Sigma has today announced the launch of the wideangle, wide aperture 28 - 105mm f2.8-4 DG lens. The new optic features a multi-layer lens coating, which combined with the design reduces flare and ghosting. The 405g lens has a minimum focusing distance of 50cm and aspherical lenses will reduce aberrations and improve optical performance. The lens is compatible with Sigma, Canon, Nikon, Pentax and Konica Minolta AF mounts. It will be priced £189.99.
Fujifilm posts FinePix S3 Pro firmware v2.18
Fujifilm has today posted firmware version 2.18 for the FinePix S3 Pro which updates the setting for the sharpness of JPEGs on the PC control mode. A previous update (v2.16) that allows the use of Nikon flash units with the S3 Pro and updates the custom white balance and exposure control functions on the PC control mode, will also have effect.
Epson P-4000 Multimedia Storage Viewer
Epson Japan has today announced an upgrade to the image viewer P-2000 which doubles the capacity. The P-4000, features a larger 80GB hard disk, 3.5-inch LCD and new higher powered 2600mAh battery, compared to the 2300mAh battery in the P-2000. The device can display JPEG files as well as RAW images from the Epson RD-1 and also play MPEG-4 movies at 640 x 480 pixels. The P-4000 also has slots for CompactFlash Type 2 and SD cards. The expected retail price in Japan is around ¥70,000 (approx $629). More information as we receive it.
Sony announces 10,000 job cuts
Sony is to cut 10,000 jobs worldwide by 2008, according to a BBC report today. Japan will suffer the biggest loss with 4,000 cuts, while the remaining 6,000 cuts will affect overseas operations. The electronics giant is forecasting group net losses of ¥10 bn ($90 m) in the current fiscal year. The redundancies amount to 7% of Sony's total workforce and are thought to be caused by the company's late entry into the market for digital music players.
September 21
Western Europe is the largest digital camera market in the world, according to a study by InfoTrends/CAP Ventures. Good sales of Nikon and Canon consumer D-SLRs have helped this market to become the fastest growth area and is set to grow by 234% in 2005. Around 22.5 million digital cameras were sold last year in Western Europe and that figure is expected to increase by 32% in 2005. Digital camera revenue will rise by 29% to an expected €10 billion. The study shows that the majority of people purchasing cameras are first-time buyers, but this is expected to change in 2007 when the market will shift more to replacement buyers.
September 20
Fujifilm Japan announce S3 Pro buffer upgrade
Fujifilm Japan has today announced that it will make available an upgrade for the S3 Pro digital SLR which will increase the camera's internal buffer from 128 MB to 256 MB. This increase in buffer space means up to 8/16 RAW/JPEG frames (Wide dynamic range) or 17/33 RAW/JPEG frames (Standard dynamic range) in a single burst. This addresses at least one of our complaints about the S3 Pro. This upgrade will initially cost ¥21,000 ($190) in Japan. This increase in buffer will also make its way into the normal retail camera (Japan only). UPDATE: This upgrade will initially be made available in Japan but will be rolled out across the world (no date yet), the 'already upgraded' version won't be available in the US or the UK.
September 19
Fotki updates site, announces new pricing
Our official affiliated photo sharing site, Fotki.com has recently announced a wide ranging update to its website which introduces a range of new features including support for RSS feeds, improved address book, linking and GPS location information. dpreview.com has used Fotki to host its galleries for several years, we selected them because of their solid hosting reliability and wide ranging photo sharing features. Fotki is also having a special offer on their Premium membership, just $35 for an entire year, but act fast as this offer will expire on 21st September.
September 16
Ricoh Caplio RR530
Ricoh has today announced another new camera, the entry-level point-and-shoot Caplio RR530. The five megapixel compact will go on sale in October for £129.99. The silver-colored compact offers a 3x optical zoom (32 - 96 mm), four scene modes and a 1.8-inch LCD screen. There's also the ubiquitous movie function and a 6cm macro mode. It takes standard double A batteries and images are stored on to SD card. Ricoh points out that the RR530 has a 'handy' 12MB (woo hoo!) so you can shoot out of the box, but we suggest budgeting for a spare memory card.
Just Posted! Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ30 review
Just posted! The Panasonic DMC-FZ30 is the latest flagship model in an ever-growing range of 'super zoom' cameras from electronics giant Panasonic and the direct replacement for the popular FZ20. Like its predecessors the 8 megapixel FZ30 sports an image-stabilized Leica-branded zoom with a whopping 12x optical range (35-420mm equiv), though this time without the constant F2.8 aperture. It also boasts some significant handling and control improvements and a range of new features, including RAW capture and boosted movie mode. But is it a worthy successor the FZ20 or not? Read our comprehensive review to find out...
September 15
Wacom Graphire4 pen tablets
Wacom has announced two different sized Graphire4 pen tablets which include a wireless pen and mouse and five software programs, including Adobe Photoshop Elements 3*. The tablet connects to your PC via USB and is available in 4x5 inches or 6x8 inches and three different colors; blue, silver or white (pictured). The tablet features a new transparent photo frame, which can be personalized with photos or artwork as well as scroll wheel and two programmable Express Keys. The battery-free pen offers 512 levels of pressure sensitivity and two programmable side buttons, plus a pressure-sensitive eraser. The ball-free mouse has up to four times the resolution of an optical mouse. The smaller tablet is priced $99 while the 6x8-inch Graphire4 is $199.
September 14
Delkin has announced support for its CardBus 32 CompactFlash adapter for Tiger (Mac OS 10.4.x). The eFilm PRO adapter takes CompactFlash type I and II cards and offers laptop and notebook users image transfer that surpasses a FireWire reader on a desktop PC. In fact, it's almost four times faster than standard PCMCIA cards.
Windows Vista with improved color management
Microsoft has linked up with Canon to provide color management capabilities in the forthcoming version of its software, Windows Vista, due out next year. The Windows Color System (WCS) is being designed to enhance the graphics user's experience and ensure consistent screen-to-print matching. Microsoft also plans to include native support for Canon RAW images. In related news Microsoft's Rich Media Group (RMG) is planning to launch an applet called Color Control Panel PowerToy, that will simplify the management of ICC profiles in Windows XP.
September 13
Sony Cyber-shot M2
Sony has today announced a unique-looking digital camera and video camera that offers 5.1 megapixel stills capture and MPEG-4 movies. The aluminum-bodied Cyber-shot M2 features a Pocket Album mode which allows you to store 1,100 VGA-quality stills on the internal memory. Users can also view a slideshow with music on the 2.5-inch screen. The M2 has been ergonomically designed to be used with one hand and has a slightly tilted lens axis which allows shooting in a more natural wrist position. Users can switch between the modes with the press of a button, while the camera automatically switches to photo mode when you flip up the LCD screen. The Sony Cyber-shot M2 will be available throughout Europe in November priced around €599 ($735).
Ricoh GR Digital
Ricoh has finally announced the 8 million-pixel GR Digital that echoes the styling of the popular 35mm analogue GR series, which was popular with professionals and enthusiasts. The GR Digital is said to inherit the 'superb image quality' from its analog brother and Ricoh engineers have managed to incorporate a fixed F2.4 focal length for the newly-developed GR 28mm wideangle lens. There is a 2.5-inch LCD and Ricoh didn't make a viewfinder as standard but instead offers an externally attached optional viewfinder. RAW capture is also possible and Ricoh has decided to adopt the DNG format for these files. The Ricoh GR will be available in October priced £399.99 (€593).
September 12
Sony DSC-R1 preview update, samples and more
We've just posted an update to our preview of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-R1. This update includes preliminary tests of ISO noise and resolution as well as a twenty-four image samples gallery. Please note that this update was prepared using a pre-production DSC-R1 and that results from the final camera may differ significantly.
Samsung Electronics is planning to produce a new memory chip that will double the storage capacity of digital cameras, reports Reuters. It is expected that Samsung, which holds a 60% share of the NAND flash memory market, will launch a 16-gigabit chip late next year. NAND flash memory chips are built into memory cards or USB memory products.
September 10
Canon launch CMOS sensor technology site
Canon has launched a site promoting its CMOS sensor technology. This site is broken into four sections; Image capture, Technology, Full-frame appeal and Shooting options. It's an interesting insight into why Canon believes it has the edge in sensor technology and also exactly what goes on inside the sensor at the time of capture.
September 9
ACDSee 8 Photo Manager
ACD Systems has announced version 8 of its photo management software ACDSee. New features include a Quick Search bar, Photo Repair Tool, full IPTC metadata support, photo captioning and the ability to create VCD slideshows. IPTC metadata support allows photographers to add or edit caption, keyword, category and credit fields and the Photo Repair function will allow you to remove flares, lens scratches and fix red-eye. ACDSee 8 is available for $49.99 (approx. €40) or $39.99 (approx. €32) as an upgrade from ACDSee 7.
Corel announces Paint Shop Pro X
Corel has today announced a new version of Paint Shop Pro, the first since its acquisition of Jasc in October 2004. Image editing suite Paint Shop Pro X and image mangement program Corel Photo Album 6, also launched today, will be the first silmutaneous worldwide shipment in the product line's history. PSP has a revamped user interface featuring a new, and integrated Learning Center and Browser palette. Photo Album allows you to download, organize, edit, share, and protect photos and a 'zero click download' means that your images are automatically downloaded, rotated and saved (when preferences have been set once). Corel Paint Shop Pro X including Corel Photo Album 6 – Standard Edition, will be available for $129. The Deluxe edition of Photo Album 6 is available for purchase separately priced $49.
Casio posts EX-S500 firmware v1.02
Casio has announced another firmware update for its Exilim EX-S500, a month after the last one. Version 1.02 fixes just one bug, which sometimes made it impossible to achieve the desired results at shutter speeds lower than one second. The super slim camera is just 13.7mm wide and boasts a 3x optical lens and 5.3 MP CCD.
September 8
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-R1 with APS-C size CMOS
Sony has today announced the groundbreaking Cyber-shot DSC-R1, this camera is unique in that it features an APS-C size 10.8 million pixel CMOS sensor coupled with a non-removable 24-120 mm equivelant lens. The R1's APS-C size sensor is also unique in providing full-time live view video for the camera's EVF (electronic viewfinder) and LCD monitor. This means that the R1 can do away with the mirror box and prism arrangement of a a traditional digital SLR and hence have a more compact integrated lens / body design. The Cyber-shot DSC-R1 will be priced at $999 when it goes on sale. We have an exclusive hands-on preview available.
September 7
Ricoh Caplio R3
Ricoh has today announced a wide angle slimline 5.1 megapixel camera that also boasts a 7.1x optical zoom. The Ricoh Caplio R3 has a 28 - 200 mm 'double retracting' lens, which means it protrudes from the body when switched off, allowing the actual body to measure just 26mm in width. Other features of note include a vibration reduction function which moves the CCD in the opposite direction to counterbalance camera shake, 1cm macro mode and skew correction function which automatically detects trapezoids in images and corrects them as if they were shot from the front.
Konica Minolta to liquidate Canadian unit
Konica Minolta has decided to liquidate a wholly-owned Canadian unit that sells digital cameras because of stiffer competition. The Japanese company says the closure will not affect its forecast for the financial year end in March 2006. The Canadian unit is valued at around CA$5.66m (US$4.76m). Konica Minolta said that it will seek partners who can distribute its cameras in Canada.
China sales to double by 2007
Japan Canon Inc says that it plans to more than double annual sales in China to $1 billion by 2007, following government approval last year allowing Canon to sell directly into the country, according to a report in the China Daily. Purchasing power in China is rapidly increasing and around 2.6 million units were sold last year, a year-on-year increase of 85.3%. China currently accounts for a quarter of Canon's sales in Asia, excluding Japan and Korea and last year amounted to $460 million.
September 6
Adobe and Nikon, friends again
Following news earlier in the year that Nikon was trying to lock out third party RAW file converters, including Adobe, the two companies have now decided to work together for the common good. Adobe has announced that it is 'committed to working with Nikon to ensure that our common customers have an excellent experience when using Nikon cameras with Adobe software.' And Nikon, for its part, says it 'intends to co-operate with Adobe and other industry members in order to pursue its objective of providing images with better quality, convenience and usefulness to end users.'
September 5
Nikon posts Coolpix 7900 and 5900 firmware v1.2
Nikon has posted a firmware update for its Coolpix 7900 and 5900 compact cameras. Version 1.2, for both Windows and Mac, corrects an error that led to pictures taking a considerable amount of time to record when the option for date imprint was set to 'Off'. An error in the Korean menu plus text errors in Spanish, French and Italian menus has also been corrected.
September 1
Nikon Coolpix P1 & P2, with WiFi
In a first for compact digital cameras Nikon has today announced two models which feature built-in WiFi communication. The Coolpix P1 and P2 (eight and five megapixels respectively) have a built-in 802.11b/g WiFi module which enables them to communicate directly with the new version of PictureProject. This wireless connection can be used to transfer all images on the cameras storage card or in a 'live' situation where each image is sent back to PictureProject on the fly. The only limitation at the moment appears to be that the P1 and P2 will only send to PictureProject and not to standard FTP servers or across the Internet. Both cameras will be available at the end of the month priced €429 (P1) and €329 (P2).
Nikon Coolpix S4
Nikon has today announced its first swivel lens cameras since the Coolpix SQ in February 2003, in the shape of the Coolpix S4 which is reminiscent of the legendary E9xx series. Looking slightly more stylish in silver than its ancestors, the six million-pixel S4 boasts a 10x optical Zoom-Nikkor lens as well as the D-Lighting function, a 2.5-inch LCD, in-camera red-eye removal and face-priority AF. Other features of note include AE-BSS, which selects the best relative exposure from a series of shots, plus a 4cm macro mode. The Coolpix S4 will be available at the end of this month priced €399.
Nikon Coolpix L1
Nikon has today announced a chunky looking beast in the shape of the Coolpix L1. The 'versatile' L1 boasts 6.2 effective megapixels and forfeits a viewfinder for a large 2.5-inch LCD screen. Other Nikon functions include in-camera red-eye removal, D-Lighting which can compensate for badly lit images and Face-priority AF. The L1 boasts a 5x optical zoom lens and also has a HELP button which displays explanations for functions on the main menu. The Coolpix L1 is available at the end of the month priced €299.
Nikon Coolpix S3
Nikon has today announced the latest in its S series of ultra-compact digital cameras. The new Coolpix S3 appears to be identical to the S2 apart from the increase in resolution, this camera now sports a six megapixel 1/2.5" CCD sensor. The S3 will be available in a range of colors; white, matt black and silver, priced at €359 and available at the end of this month.

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