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October 2005 news and reviews

October 31
Just Posted! Fujifilm FinePix S9000  Review
Just posted! The FinePix S9000 (S9500 in Europe and Asia) is the latest in a long line of Fujifilm 'prosumer' camera designed to bridge the gap between fixed lens compacts and interchangeable lens SLRs, and effectively the replacement for the popular S7000. With each generation that gap has been closed a little bit more, and with the arrival of the S9000 Fujifilm's marketeers have taken the brave step of openly positioning it as a true alternative to a digital SLR... even going as far as to say in many ways it's actually better... Find out if it lives up to the hype in our review after the link.
October 28
Canon to repair some 24-105 mm F4L lenses
Canon USA has today posted a service notice relating to the new EF 24-105 mm F4L IS USM lens. The notice describes a problem which affects some early production samples of this lens where 'unacceptable levels of flare' can occur, mostly at wide angle and maximum aperture. Those lenses with a control number (a serial number beginning with UT) of 999 or less are affected. The notice goes on to offer a free repair service (including shipping) which will commence on November 14th. We haven't seen any other such notices from any other regions.
October 27
Phil ramble: I honestly can't count the number of times I've seen a manufacturer 'accidentally' place embargoed material on a webserver. It happens before almost every major announcement, this year it has happened with such predictability that you begin to question whether it's just deliberate, designed simply to create hype. Such leaks have occurred in the last 48 hours (twice) and were located by users keen for information who simply used (a) a site based search engine (in the first instance) and (b) changed a single character in a URL (in the second instance). Please manufacturers get a grip on your webserver security, don't upload embargoed material until the minute of announcement and if you must make sure that it is in a password protected area of the site and isn't indexed by your search engine.
Pixmantec RawShooter premium 2006
Pixmantec has today announced a new version of its RawShooter application, RawShooter premium 2006. RawShooter premium is an advanced RAW workflow, conversion and manipulation application which is designed to provide a single solution for those who prefer to work in RAW. This latest version sports lots of advanced features such as 'Scene Adaptive Technology', RAW vs RAW comparison, ISO range specific settings and per-camera color profiles. This latest version of RawShooter now supports a wider range of SLR's including the Canon EOS 5D and EOS 1D Mark II n.
Canon EOS 20D/20Da firmware update v2.0.3
The second firmware update from Canon today relates to the EOS 20D and the astrophotography version of the same camera, the EOS 20Da. Firmware version 2.0.3 fixes the same two problems; one with the color temperature transmission that occurred when using the Speedlite 430EX and improves reliability when using CompactFlash cards.
Canon Rebel XT firmware update v1.0.3
Canon has today announced a firmware update for its affordable DSLR, the Rebel XT. Version 1.0.3 fixes a problem relating to the remote release cable where users were unable to take any shots. There was also a problem with the camera continuing to scroll through images in playback, this has been fixed, and reliability in communication with CompactFlash cards has been improved.
October 25
Canon PowerShot SD430 Wireless
Canon has today announced a new compact PowerShot model, the SD430, which becomes the first Canon model to feature build-in WiFi (802.11b). This model will be known simply as the Digital IXUS Wireless in Europe. This model is essentially identical as the SD450 but with the WiFi added (5 mp, 3x zoom). The camera kit also includes the 'WA-1N Wireless Print Adapter' which provides WiFi printing to PictBridge compatible printers. Options include the NB-4L battery (you may need a few of those).
October 24
PictureProject v1.6.1
Nikon has announced an update for its image management, editing and design program, PictureProject. Version 1.6.1 is two different upgrades for the Mac and Windows platforms and you must have installed all update up to v1.6.0 before installing this update. A problem that caused an error to occur when viewing images in a slideshow on the Windows platform has now been rectified. This new version now adds support for Mac OS X and changes to portions of the Color Management panel in the preferences dialog have also been made.
Casio Exilim Card EX-S600
Casio has today announced its latest slimline addition to the Exilm Card range in the form of the EX-S600, which boasts Anti-shake DSP mode to reduce blurring in moving subjects. Other novel features of this six megapixel camera include a new Best Shot mode called Revive Shot, which refreshes faded colors of old album photos. Aside from the resolution, a not-so-impressive 15cm macro mode, longer battery life and the extra scene mode, specification is pretty similar to the S500 launched in Europe in July this year. The EX-S600 is currently only available in Japan and other Asian markets. In comes in four colors: 'sparkle' silver, 'fiesta' orange, 'mistral' blue and 'luminous' gold.
October 21
Just posted! Olympus E-500 EVOLT review
Just posted! Our full in-depth review of the new Olympus E-500 EVOLT digital SLR. Announced just three weeks ago the E-500 is Olympus's latest Four Thirds system digital SLR, unlike the E-300 it has a more traditional top mounted pentaprism viewfinder and body design. The E-500 is the lightest digital SLR on the market yet has a robust feel and comfortable grip, it also offers a wide range of manual controls and custom features. The E-500's eight megapixel Kodak CCD is essentially the same as that found in the E-300 but Olympus has made some improvements to noise reduction. Come in to see how the E-500 performed and how it compares to the competition.
Extensis Portfolio 8
Extensis has announce Portfolio 8, its digital asset management system, which it say now offers 'industrial strength' workflow features. Portfolio 8 allows you to instantly view, sort and manage all your photos, including RAW files, access your files directly from Photoshop, as well as publish images to the web. Pictures can be organized using visual catalogs and embedded metadata. The new 'galleries' feature allows you to organize your images, fast cataloging adds files to a catalog and allows you to start working on while allowing you to start working with them straight away, while other cataloging tasks occur in the background. Portfolio 8 will be available for download and purchase in December priced $199.95.
Agfa near the end
Germany photographic company AgfaPhoto is likely to close down by the end of the year, making around 1700 of its workforce redundant, reports DW-World.de. Talks with UK company Photo-Me International about a possible takeover were rejected by the creditors because the offer "contained too many points that were unacceptable". AgfaPhoto has been operating under bankruptcy protection since May, when it filed for insolvency. The company will end operations at the end of the year, after all its stock has been used.
Kodak launches high resolution CCDs
Kodak has announced the world's highest resolution sensors for medium format cameras with the KAF-39000, 39 megapixels, and the KAF-31600 (pictured), which offers 31.6 megapixels. The CCD sensors will be used in Phase One's upcoming P45 and P30 digital backs.The KAF-3900 covers an area of 36x48mm, while the KAF-31600 offers high performance in a 33x44mm imaging area. These two new sensors join three other CCDs in Kodak's line up, including the KAF-22000, which used to be the company's highest resolution CCD at 22MP.
October 20
iView MediaPro 3
iView Multimedia has announced version 3 of its professional digital asset management software MediaPro. The pro package allows you to create customized and searchable catalogs and includes new features such as pro lightbox, added support for WMV, WMA RTF and web page files, XML import and export plus an enhanced interface. iView Media Pro 3 is available from November 1 for $199 (approx. €166).
October 19
Apple Aperture for Pro Photographers
Apple has today announced Aperture, a new digital photography workflow, organization and manipulation application aimed specifically at professional photographers. Aperture includes advanced RAW workflow, a unique user interface and an interesting feature called Stacks, which groups images together based on the time differential between shots. In addition Apple has also announced new Powerbook models, a new quad processor Power Mac and lower prices on its Cinema HD displays.
Just Posted! Olympus Stylus 800 Digital Review
Just posted! The first of a new generation of affordable 8MP compacts, the Olympus µ Digital 800/Stylus 800 Digital is a well-designed 'weatherproof' model that uses 'Bright Capture' technology to boost sensitivity immensely (up to ISO 2500 in some modes), ensuring a bright screen image and blur-free non-flash photography in very low light. Find out what we thought in our concise review.
October 18
The Panorama Factory is now available in version 4 and can be downloaded as a trial version for 30 days. The panoramic stitching software guides you through the process with a few mouse clicks, it also detects the focal length automatically as well as correct rotation and tilt. The Panorama Factory version 4 accepts 24-bit and 45-bit color images, allows you to create web pages using templates or your own designs and create 360 degree virtual tours. If you like what you see after 30 days then buy it for $59.95 until November 30, after which it will be $69.95
ACDSee systems has launched a professional version of its image management software program ACDSee call Pro Photo Manager. The advanced version allows multi-step batch processing, offers DNG and RAW support, color management functionality and professional publishing options as will as the ability to customize workspace layouts, toolbars and tabs. ACDSee Pro will be showcased at the PhotoPlus Expo in New York (October 20-22) and will be available from January 2006 priced $129.99 and €119.99 (including VAT).
October 17
Bibble Labs 4.4

Bibble Labs has today announced version 4.4 of its RAW workflow software, which adds support for the Canon 5D and 1D Mark II N cameras, as well as the Konica Minolta 5D, A200 and Pentax *ist DL. Bibble's integrated Photoshop plug-in allows users to open RAW files from the latest cameras in Photoshop 7 or CS. The update provides another new feature called Full Light that brightens deep shadows and recovers detail in dark areas of high contrast photos. Bibble 4.4 is available as a free upgrade to Bibble 4 or you can download a 14-day trial version from Bibble Labs' website.

Nikon service advisory for compacts
Nikon has announced that three of its compacts are also affected by the CCDs that cause images to appear to have a strong color tint or completely black. Some Coolpix 3100, 5700 and SQ cameras are affected and Nikon will repair these cameras free of charge once it's been confirmed the problem relates to this advisory. To obtain a free repair you will need to fill in a Service Return Form, which provides detailed instructions.
October 14
Exclusive new dpreview resolution chart
Today we're proud to reveal our new and exclusive resolution chart. The old ISO standard resolution chart we have been using for the last six years has served us well but met its limit at around ten megapixels. With the advent of 10+ megapixel digital SLRs and maybe next year even consumer cameras it's clear the time is right for an updated chart. The new chart is based on the ISO chart but has double resolution bars, which provide resolution measurement up to 4000 LPH (which should be good for up to 35 megapixels).
Olympus service advisory
Olympus has now announced that the C-5050 Zoom and the C-730 Ultra Zoom are affected by defective CCDs, which have been plaguing several other manufacturers. The press release, from Olympus's Japanese website, says that pictures may have a purple and gray color and that Olympus will repair the cameras affected from 13 October (C-5050 Zoom) and the middle of November (C-730 Ultra Zoom). For information regarding repairs outside of Japan, please contact Olympus support in your country.
Ricoh issues service advisory
Ricoh has now issued a service advisory notice regarding faulty CCDs used in its cameras, following on from announcements by Konica Minolta, Canon, Fuji, Nikon and Sony, which supplies the CCDs for these manufacturers. The problem is the same, and relates to images not being displayed correctly on the LCD. The cameras affected are the Caplio RR30, 300G, G3/G3 model M/G3 model S/ProG3, G4/G4 wide, 400G wide and RX.
Picasa 2.1
Google's free software program Picasa is now available in version 2.1, which adds support for RAW files from a number of manufacturers including Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Pentax, Kodak, Sony, Minolta and Fuji. The new version also supports the Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT (350D), Pentax *istDS and Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D (Dynax 7). The update also offers several new language options including Chinese, Russian, Korean and Dutch. Other new features allow you to publish an image to your photo Blog, print CD covers and find photos on external hard drives.
October 13
Canon Digital Photo Professional v2.0.3
Canon has announced an update for its professional editing and RAW converter software Digital Photo Professional. Version 2.0.3 fixes a problem of missing color tones in images taken with the EOS-1D or the EOS-5D and also changes a setting name in Picture Styles from B&W to Monochrome.
October 12
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-P200 review

Just posted! The second of today's reviews of upgrades to popular compact cameras; Sony's P200. This one's been sitting around half-finished for months now, so we thought we'd better stop bumping it and finish the update. The changes over the P150 (the first 7 megapixel compact to hit the market) are minimal; a slight redesign, a new, larger screen, an additional metering mode and the addition of custom white balance, though pricing is inevitably a lot keener after a year in this fast-moving market.

Canon PowerShot SD550 review

Just posted! Announced only 6 months after its predecessor, the SD550 (Digital Ixus 750) is the latest in a long line of ultra-compact 'ELPH' or 'IXUS' cameras stretching back to early 2000, and is a fairly minor upgrade to the SD500 (Ixus 700). Aside from a larger screen (2.5 inch as opposed to 2.0 inch) and a slight redesign of the body and controls, the majority of the changes consist of tweaks to the user interface. Find out how it fared in our concise test after the link.

Canon EOS-1D Mark II and EOS-1Ds Mark II firmware
Canon has today posted firmware updates for the EOS-1DS Mark II and the EOS-1D Mark II. Both updates fix problems with file numbering that occurred when shooting bulb exposures and also improves communication when using some CompactFlash cards. Version 1.1.4 for the EOS-1Ds Mark II also addresses a problem of horizontal line noise appearing when P.Fn-21 is set to ON.
Samsung has entered a partnership with Pentax to co-develop digital SLRs. Pentax has already launched four digital SLRs, while the Samsung's 8MP 15x zoom Pro815 is the closest its got to a high end camera, with a price tag to match. The two companies will share 'their respective competencies to enhance competitiveness in digital cameras'. Samsung will bring digital image processing technologies, brand recognition and digital convergence technologies to the table, while Pentax, whose SLRs use Penta Prism technology, possesses a wide range of interchangeable lenses.
October 11
Just posted! Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II review
Just posted! Our full in-depth review of the sixteen megapixel, full frame, Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II. This is one of those epic reviews which has shifted its way up and down our priorities list for the last six months or so, but I'm glad to say it's now complete. Despite stiff competition from the Nikon D2X it's hard not to be drawn in by the amazing amount of detail produced by Canon's flagship professional digital SLR.
Fujifilm FinePix S3 reduced
Fujifilm is offering its professional digital SLR the FinePix S3 Pro at a reduced priced of $1,999. And anyone who purchases the camera between now and 30 November will receive a FinePix S3 Pro Power Promotion package worth $400. The package includes RealViz's Stitcher 4.0, for creating panoramas, an extra S3 Pro battery tray, travel charger with car and wall AC adapter, and flexible white balance card. To qualify for the promotion you have to pre-register your USA product serial number online.
Konica Minolta issues CCD alert
Konica Minolta has now issued a 'product alert' for several of its cameras that were manufactured between October 2002 and March 2004. The problem is the same one affecting all cameras that use Sony CCDs. A manufacturing error with the CCD affects the live and recorded image causing blurry and unnaturally-colored images. The affected models include the Dimage 7i, 7Hi (pictured), A1, Xi, Xt, X20, S414 and F300. Konica Minolta will repair all models with the defective CCD free of charge.
October 10
Fujifilm FinePix Z2
Fujifilm has announced a new member of the Z-series which boasts sensitivity up to ISO 1600. The FinePix Z also offers a few other changes over its predecessor, the Z1; a wider aperture range up to F8.0, longer shutter speed of four seconds plus 256-zone metering compared with 64-zone. The Z2 forgoes a viewfinder for a whopping 2.5-inch reinforced glass LCD, which has a high resolution of 232,000 pixels. The FinePix Z2 will be available in November.
October 7
Sony issues advisory notice
Sony UK has finally issued an advisory notice about a problem with the CCDs used in its digital cameras, camcorders and PDA Clies. Sony supplies CCDs for many other major manufacturers who have already issued announcements about their cameras, but despite the date on this notice, it has only come to light today. The affected Sony cameras were manufactured between October 2002 and March 2004 and will experience problems displaying the image, where it may appear distorted or not at all. Digital cameras affected include the F717, 11 P-series cameras, the U10, U20, U30 and waterproof U60, as well as the five megapixel DSC-V1. Sony will, of course, repair all cameras experiencing this problem free of charge.
October 6
Canon issues advisory notice
Canon has announced a problem with some of the CCDs used in its digital cameras and camcorders which causes images not to appear or appear distorted. This is due to a malfunction that means the wiring in the CCDs may come undone if exposed to high temperature or high humidity. The affected cameras are the PowerShot A60, PowerShot A70, PowerShot A75, PowerShot A300, PowerShot A310, Digital IXUS V3, Digital IXUS II, Digital IXUS IIs. Canon advises anyone experiencing these problems to contact them to arrange free repairs.
Leaf America has announced two new digital backs, the Leaf Aptus 75 and Leaf Aptus 65, which offer resolutions of 6726x5040 pixels and 6144x4622 pixels respectively. Both backs have a 6x7cm LCD touch screen and offer uncompressed RAW files or a new lossless compression which reduces the RAW file size by half. The Leaf Aptus backs have an extended ISO range from 50-800. The Leaf Aptus 75 will be showcased at PhotoPlus Expo on 20 October in New York and will be available next month. The Leaf Aptus 65 will be available in the first quarter of next year.
October 5
Sigma DG tele-converters

Sigma has today announced two tele-converter lenses the APO tele converter 1.4x EX DG and APO tele converter 2x EX DG. The tele converters are mounted between the camera body and the lens to increase the focal length by 1.4x or 2x. Both have a multi-layer lens coating to reduce flare and ghosting, won't compromise the quality of the other lens in use and high speed auto focus is retained when the converters are used.

October 4
Fuji USA issues service advisory notice
Fuji Photo Film USA has announced a service advisory notice for four of its digital cameras. The FinePix S2 Pro Digital, FinePix A303, F410 and F700 may all develop a problem with the CCD sensor, which leads to captured images that appear completely black, have a purplish cast or multi-colored distortions. Fuji USA will repair all affected cameras (serial numbers are listed below) free of charge, even if the one-year warranty has expired.
Nikon Capture v4.3.2
Nikon has today posted a software update to its image management software Nikon Capture. Version 4.3.2 address an issue which caused the Capture Editor to quit unexpectedly with some computer systems when images were adjusted using the Color Boost slider displayed by selecting Better Quality (HQ) in the D-Lighting palette. The update is available for Windows and Mac platforms and can be downloaded by clicking on the links .
Olympus SP-700
Olympus has today announced a 6.0 megapixel addition to its new SP series of cameras. The SP-700 squeezes all the controls on the back of the camera to one side to make way for a huge 3-inch LCD, the biggest yet on an Olympus camera. The company is hoping the 'design-led' SP-700 will be the camera to be seen with. The SP-700 has a special guide function for beginners, which explains the different menu options and scene modes and will be available in time for Christmas 2005.
October 3
Just posted! Olympus E-500 EVOLT Preview with samples
Just posted! Our detailed preview of the Olympus E-500 EVOLT. Announced just last week the E-500 is the latest Four Thirds System digital SLR from Olympus, it sports an eight megapixel CCD sensor, 4/3 lens mount and large 2.5" LCD monitor. At first glance the differences between the E-300 and E-500 appear mostly cosmetic, but beneath the surface there have been a lot of changes. The more you use the E-500 the more you appreciate how much thought has gone into the flexibility and functionality of this camera. This preview is based on a full production model and includes a small (20 image) samples gallery.
No Konica Minolta DCs for Canada
Konica Minolta has announced that it will stop selling digital cameras in Canada and cease operations in that market with immediate effect. The company will only continue to provide film, single use cameras and inkjet paper in Canada, which will be available from new distributor Phototrader Inc. Konica Minolta is considering selling cameras through Phototrader's website, but nothing has been confirmed. The company announced plans to liquidate a wholly-owned Canadian unit at the beginning of last month and said it would not affect its financial forecast.
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-N1
Sony has today announced the compact and rather unique DSC-N1. This new model features a wide viewing angle three inch touch screen LCD designed to act as both camera control and display. The DSC-N1 records a VGA (640x480) copy of every image you take (up to 500) and stores it internally, these images remain even after the full resolution images have been transferred. This provides a long term 'pocket album' feature which can be browsed in a variety of ways. On the photographic front it features Sony's own eight megapixel 1/1.8" CCD sensor with sensitivity up to ISO 800, this is coupled to a three times optical zoom lens. The DSC-N1 should cost around $499 when it hits the shelves.
October 1
Leica D-LUX 2
Leica has today announced the D-LUX 2, which appears to be a re-skinned Panasonic DMC-LX1 (review available today). So this camera will not be much of a surprise, it's got the same 4.0x zoom, 28 - 112 mm equiv. lens with built-in image stabilization and (sadly) the same 16:9 ratio eight megapixel CCD as the DMC-LX1. For your extra dollars you'll get a cleaner case design without a hand grip and with that all important red logo. Leica will be making available the 'Digital Adapter 2' which will enable you to shoot through a spotting scope.