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February 2006 news and reviews

February 28
Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1 Hands-on
PMA 2006: Yesterday we got our hands on the Lumix DMC-L1 and had a detailed discussion with Panasonic executives and product planners about their exciting new digital SLR. The DMC-L1 is Panasonic's first digital SLR, its design ethos is clearly clean, simple, functional and very 'Leica like'. There are lots of touches in the design of this camera which make it more appealing that most other digital SLRs, these include the shutter speed dial and aperture ring (on the lens) which give very quick access to manual exposure creativity and encourage the photographer to experiment more. We also got the low down on just how much of this camera is shared with the Olympus E-330.
February 27
HP Photosmart Pro B9180
PMA 2006: Today HP announced its new A3+ Photo Printer, the Photosmart Pro B9180. With eight individual high capacity pigment ink cartridges that can print up to 80 A3+ prints, or 840 10x15cm photos. The B9180 is said to produce instantly dry, waterproof prints that resist fading for up to 200 years.
February 26
SanDisk higher capacity Extreme III cards
PMA 2006: SanDisk today announced some new higher capacity cards to add to its Extreme III line of flash cards. They include an 8GB CompactFlash, 2GB SD card and a 2GB Memory Stick PRO Duo. The CF and SD cards have a minimum read/write speed of 20MB/sec and the Memory Stick PRO Duo 18MB/sec.
SanDisk doubles capacity of Ultra II SD Plus
PMA 2006: Doubling the capacity of the Ultra II SD Plus card, SanDisk introduces today its 2GB version. The Ultra II SD Plus folds in half to reveal a high-speed USB 2.0 connector. The new 2GB card will be available from June.
SanDisk 4GB Memory Stick PRO Duo
PMA 2006: Today SanDisk announced the 4GB Ultra II Memory Stick PRO Duo card. The Ultra II card features a minimum write speed of 9MB/sec and a minimum read speed of 10MB/sec, available from March 2006.
Sigma launches 5 Four Thirds lenses
PMA 2006: Sigma has announced five new EX lenses with Four-Thirds mounts for users of Olympus' E-system SLRs. The lenses include three primes (30mm F1.4, 105mm F2.8 Macro, 150mm F2.8 Macro), a fast standard zoom (18-50mm F2.8) and a long telephoto zoom (50-500mm F4-6.3).
Sigma APO 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG Macro HSM
PMA 2006: Sigma has introduced its new APO 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG Macro HSM lens. The lens offers a minimum focusing distance of 100cm and HSM (Hyper Sonic Motor) for fast, quiet AF. It also contains two ELD (Extraordinary Low Dispersion) glasses and two SLD (Special Low Dispersion) glasses for better correction against chromatic aberrations. The multi layer lens coating also reduces flare and ghost.
Panasonic DMC-L1
PMA 2006: Panasonic has today announced the fruits of its new relationship with Olympus, the DMC-L1 Four Thirds System Digital SLR. Todays news is really just a 'development announcement' so doesn't have any detailed specifications, however reading through what has been revealed so far this camera does appear to share quite a bit with the Olympus E-330 EVOLT. Another interesting revelation in this release is the confirmation that Panasonic developed the 7.5 MP Live MOS sensor (the same we assume as in the E-330). Other features include a shutter speed dial on the top of the camera, full-time live view (same as E-330), Secure Digital storage and a 2.5" LCD monitor.
Leica D 14-50 mm F2.8-F3.5 lens (4/3 System)
PMA 2006: Leica and Panasonic have today announced the first Leica Four Thirds System lens, which also becomes the first Leica Interchangeable Lens with Optical Image Stabilization. The Leica D Vario-Elmarit 14-50 mm F2.8-F3.5 ASPH lens provides an equivelant field of view of 28-100 mm on a 35 mm camera with a maximum aperture of F2.8 at wide angle and F3.5 at telephoto. It also features Optical Image Stabilization (a first on a Four Thirds System lens) and a mechanical aperture ring (another first). Overall this looks to be a very impressive high quality lens which will match the newly announced Panasonic DMC-L1 digital SLR very nicely.
Olympus and Panasonic announce Four Thirds System DSLR
PMA 2006: Olympus and Panasonic have been working together on the development of cameras utilising the Four Thirds System standard for interchangeable-lens DSLRs, and are showcasing the first fruits of the joint venture today at PMA. Olympus will show the recently announced E-330 camera which incorporates the jointly developed technology and Panasonic will show a prototype of the DMC-L1, its first DSLR camera. UPDATED: Press conference images added.
Sony 80GB Digital Photo Album
PMA 2006: Sony has announced a new photo storage hard drive unit that can store up to a whopping 80GB of images. The HDPS-L1 is about half the size of a regular DVD player and supports seven types of flash media cards.
TI announces DaVinci Technology for digital still cameras
PMA 2006: Texas Instruments has introduced DaVinci Technology, optimized for digital still cameras offering the benefits of full software programmability with the performance of hard-wired solutions. It includes a new highly flexible processor and a software suite which simulates a full dsc system.
February 25
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H5 and DSC-H2
Pre-PMA 2006: Sony announce today not one, but two new H-series cameras to replace the popular Cyber-shot H1. Like the H1, both feature an image stabilized 12x optical zoom, manual, aperture and shutter priority modes and electronic viewfinders. New for the 7.2MP H5 and 6.0MP H2 are boosted sensitivity up to ISO 1000 (with Sony’s Clear RAW™ noise reduction technology) and - for the H5 - a large 3-inch screen.
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W70 and DSC-W100
Pre-PMA 2006: Sony is also adding a couple more models to the top of its W-series line with the Cyber-shot DSC-W100 and DSC-W70 featuring 8.1 and 7.2 million pixels, respectively. Both offer a 3x zoom, eye-level viewfinder and a 2.5-inch screen and the DSC-W100 also has a sensitivity up to ISO 1250. Both will be available in black or silver finishes.
February 24
dpreview at PMA 2006
Fresh (or rather not) off a flight from London the dpreview team are here in Orlando for the 2006 Photo Marketing Association Show. Tomorrow is 'Press Day', although the majority of the product news has already been revealed, and the show proper will open on Sunday morning. We're now ready to bring you our live 'from the show floor' reporting as we do for all shows. Live updates will appear both on the front page and the Show Report page. So stay tuned for all that's new from PMA 2006.
New Canon professional quality inkjet printers
Pre-PMA 2006: Canon has announced a new series of A3+ professional-quality inkjet printers, comprising the PIXMA Pro9500 and Pro9000, aimed at professional photographers. The Pro 9000 features an 8-colour ink system and has a max colour print speed up to 15ppm. The Pro 9500 uses a 10-colour pigment ink system and a colour print speed of up to 8ppm. Both printers have a 4800x2400 dpi resolution.
Canon imagePROGRAF IPF5000 large format printer
Pre-PMA 2006: Canon has annouced the latest addition to its large format printer range, the imagePROGRAF IPF5000. This A2 (17-inch) desktop printer combines a high-density twin print head and FINE (Full Photolithography Inkjet Nozzle Engineering) technology to produce 'industry best image quality'.
Samsung GX-1L
Pre-PMA 2006: Samsung sneaks in a few new announcements before PMA opens its doors. Firstly we have the GX-1L, the second DSLR announcement from Samsung this year. The entry-level 6-megapixel GX-1L features a 2.5-inch LCD monitor, a pentaprism viewfinder and RAW mode.
Samsung Digimax L85
Pre-PMA 2006: Samsung introduce its latest additions to the Digimax range today. The 8 million pixel Digimax L85 features a 5x optical zoom, a large 2.5-inch LCD, aperture and shutter priority modes and High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) that allows sharing of photos on HDTV.
Samsung Digimax L60
Pre-PMA 2006: The Samsung Digimax L60 is a 6-megapixel addition to its Prestige line. Offering a 3x optical zoom, 2.4-inch screen, MPEG-4 video and built-in movie stabilization.
February 23
Pentax announcements for PMA 2006
Pre-PMA 2006: Pentax today have said that they will be exhibiting three upcoming digital SLR products at PMA 2006. Although currently under development there will be a 10 megapixel interchangeable lens DSLR, an interchangeable lens medium-format DSLR and a 21mm wide angle lens. All three will be showcased at PMA, but it is not expected to be a final product. Updated: images added
Ricoh Caplio R4
Pre-PMA 2006: Ricoh has announced today the new 6 million pixel Caplio R4. It sports a 7.1x (28-200mm equiv.) optical wide zoom, a vibration correction function (based on a CCD shift method) and a 2.5-inch LCD screen packed into a slim 26mm thick body.
Ricoh Caplio RR630
Pre-PMA 2006: Ricoh has also introduced today the Caplio RR630, a pocket-sized, pocket-priced 6.1 million pixel camera featuring a 3x zoom and a large bright 2.0-inch LCD screen.
Just posted! Nikon D200 review
Just posted! Our in-depth review of the new Nikon D200 digital SLR. The D200 officially replaces the four year old D100 however it's a completely different animal, far more professional orientated with a significant range of new features, a very impressive and robust body and superb performance. See how the D200 did in our raft of in-depth tests and how it compares to those cameras around it in the marketplace.
February 22
Nikon announces Capture NX
Nikon has announced Capture NX, a significantly enhanced and redesigned version of its digital image editing software. Designed to offer a powerful and easy to use alternative to established image editing applications such as Adobe Photoshop, Capture NX has been developed in association with partners Nik Software, and offers non-destructive editing of NEF raw files.
Panansonic launches world's smallest LCD projector
Panasonic has introduced the world's smallest and, weighing in at 2.9lbs, lightest LCD projector with a built-in SD memory card slot. Aimed at enthusiast photographers, the PT-P1SD projects both still and moving (Panasonic DSC movie clips only) images directly from an SD card, and features built-in slide show functions making it perfect for viewing your digital photos.
Konica Minolta, Fujifilm and Kodak announce EVERPLAY
Pre-PMA 2006: We have to admit we were a little surprised to see a new announcement appearing on the Konica Minolta Photo website, however here it is. Today Konica Minolta, Fujifilm and Kodak have jointly announced the 'EVERPLAY' standard for the compatibility of images and video across numerous product platforms. This new standard replaces the previously announced PASS (Picture Archiving and Sharing Standard) system. EVERPLAY defines the format and specification of media files and is held together with an open XML file format.
February 21
Canon EOS 30D
Pre-PMA 2006: Canon has today announced the EOS 30D, a mild evolution of the EOS 20D. Headline changes are a subtly redesigned body, spot metering, selectable continuous shooting speed, 100,000 shutter cycle life, a larger LCD monitor and the expected switch from simple image parameters to Canon's preferred PictureStyles. From an imaging pipeline point of view this camera has the same sensor and image processor and the default PictureStyle matches the EOS 20D's default image parameters (hence expect exactly the same imaging performance). Good news also comes in the form of a slightly lower price than the EOS 20D. We're just waiting for the name confusion to begin, it's not the six year old Canon EOS D30.
Canon EF-S 17 - 55 mm F2.8 IS lens
Pre-PMA 2006: Canon has today announced an interesting new constant aperture 'digital' (EF-S) lens. The new EF-S 17 - 55 mm F2.8 IS is designed specifically for the dimensions of a 'cropped sensor' (1.6x crop) and hence can be made smaller than a 35 mm equivelant lens. It features a maximum aperture of F2.8 throughout the zoom range which means it's a faster alternative to other EF-S lenses. On an EOS 30D this lens would provide a 27.2 - 88 mm equivelant field of view. This lens should be available in May for approx. $1150.
Canon EF 85 mm F1.2 L II lens (Mark II)
Pre-PMA 2006: Canon has today announced the 'Mark II' version of its (monster) professional EF 85 mm F1.2 L II lens. This new version includes improvements to auto focus speed and communication of distance information for use with the E-TTL II flash metering algorithm. This lens should be available in March for approx. $2100.
Canon PowerShot S3 IS
Pre-PMA 2006: Canon today announce the third generation of its 'super zoom' compact with the release of the PowerShot S3 IS, the successor to the popular S2 IS. The 6-megapixel camera features the same 12x optical zoom but boosts the sensitivity range up to ISO 800, has a larger 2.0-inch vari-angle screen and boasts several new features. It's also a serious looking gunmetal gray.
Canon PowerShot SD700 IS Digital ELPH
Pre-PMA 2006: The first of today's announced Digital ELPH / Digital IXUS cameras is the new flagship of the range, the 6 million pixel Canon PowerShot SD700 IS. Featuring Canon's optical Image Stabilizer, a 4x optical zoom, an ISO of up to 800 and a large 2.5-inch LCD. This is the first ever ultra-compact from Canon with built-in image stabilization (but probably not the last).
Canon PowerShot SD600 and SD630
Pre-PMA 2006: Canon has also announced a further two additions to its Digital ELPH / Digital IXUS range in the shape of the PowerShot SD600 and SD630 cameras. These 6-megapixel cameras feature a 3x optical zoom and High ISO Auto and ISO 800 settings. The only difference between them we can find is the LCD screens; 2.5-inch on the SD600 and 3.0-inch on the SD630 (which is also the first IXUS without an optical viewfinder).
Canon Powershots A700 and A540
Pre-PMA 2006: Canon has announced a significant enlargement of the 'A' series range of compacts, with five new models. Of most interest to serious photographers are the PowerShot A700 and A540. The range-topping 6 million pixel A700 offers a 6x optical zoom, real-image optical viewfinder and ISO sensitivity up to ISO 800. The A540 features 6 million pixels, a 4x optical zoom, viewfinder and up to ISO 800. Both feature full photographic control, 2.5-inch screens and the option to add conversion lenses.
Canon PowerShots A420, A430 and A530
Pre-PMA 2006: Last up are three entry-level priced A-series cameras, the PowerShot A420, A430 and A530. The 4-megapixel A420 has a 3.2 zoom and 5-point AiAF auto focus. The 4-megapixel A430 features a 4x optical zoom and 9-point AiAF auto focus while the A530 has a 5 million pixel CCD, a 4x zoom and ISO 800. All cameras have a 1.8-inch screen and viewfinder.
Nikon Coolpix P3 and P4
Pre-PMA 2006: Nikon has also announced today two new 'P' series cameras, the Coolpix P3 and P4. Offering 8.1 million pixels, Nikon’s VR (Vibration Reduction) capability (originally developed for Nikon SLRs), 3.5x Zoom-Nikkor lens and a large 2.5-inch screen. The P3 also features built-in Wi-Fi capability.
Casio Exilim Zoom EX-Z850
Pre-PMA 2006: Casio announce today two additions to its Exilim range of cameras, starting here with the Exilim Zoom EX-Z850, which replaces the well-respected EX-Z750 at the top of the range. The 8.1 megapixel Z850 offers both manual aperture and shutter speed priority AE, an optical viewfinder, 3x zoom, a large 2.5-inch screen and 'Anti Shake' DSP.
Casio Exilim Zoom EX-Z60
Pre-PMA 2006: Casio has also launched today the Exilim Zoom EX-Z60. This 6 million pixel camera features 'Anti Shake' DSP, 3x zoom, a large 2.5-inch screen and has 33 BEST SHOT scene modes wrapped up in a slimline all-metal casing.
Nikon Coolpix S5 and S6
Pre-PMA 2006: Today sees the announcement from Nikon of seven new digital compacts. We start here with the ultra-slim Coolpix S5 and S6 cameras, both offering 6 million pixels, large LCD screens (2.5" and 3.0" respectively) and a new PictMotion function that allows users to select favourite images, movie files and music files to create slideshows with a difference. The COOLPIX S6 also features built-in Wi-Fi capability.
AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm F2.8G IF-ED
Pre-PMA 2006: Amongst the flood of new digicams Nikon has announced this, the world’s first macro lens (offering reproduction ratios of up to 1:1) equipped with Nikon Silent Wave Motor (SWM) and Vibration Reduction (VR) systems. The AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED lens offers advanced optical features and technologies such as Nano Crystal Coat, Extra Low Dispersion (ED) glass and Internal Focusing. For use with both Nikon DX format digital and 35mm film SLR cameras.
Nikon Coolpix L2, L3 and L4
Pre-PMA 2006: Lastly we see the introduction of three new L series models; the Coopix L2, L3 and L4. This trio of entry-level cameras offer 6, 5 and 4 million pixels, respectively and all of them feature a 3x zoom and a 2.0-inch screen.
February 20
Just posted! Panasonic FZ7 Review
Just posted! Almost a year to the day after the introduction of the hugely popular FZ5 Panasonic announced its successor, the 6 megapixel DMC-FZ7. As well as a design facelift and an extra megapixel, the FZ7 introduces several handling and performance improvements over the FZ5, not least of which is the inclusion of manual focusing and significantly easier control over exposure settings via a new joystick. So is the FZ7 a worthy successor to the FZ5? Find out after the link...
February 17
Bibble Pro to include Noise Ninja NR
Pre-PMA 2006: Bibble Labs has today announced it has reached an agreement with PictureCode to integrate Noise Ninja noise reduction technology into Bibble Pro. "As pioneers of DSLR RAW software we have led the way in speed, feature set, and cross platform support. With the inclusion of PictureCode’s Noise Ninja technology, we are again raising the bar for integrated, fast workflow," says Eric Hyman, President & CEO of Bibble Labs.
Kodak EasyShare Z612
Pre-PMA 2006: News arrived earlier than we had expected of the new Kodak EasyShare cameras. First up is the EasyShare Z612 which features a 12x optical zoom lens with image stabilization technology. The 6-megapixel camera also has a large 2.5-inch screen, aperture priority, shutter priority and full manual modes.
Kodak EasyShare V603
Pre-PMA 2006: Kodak are also introducing the EasyShare V603 camera. Available in black and silver, this pocket-sized 6.1-megapixel camera features a 3x zoom and a 2.5-inch LCD.
Kodak EasyShare C643 and C533
Pre-PMA 2006: Two new entry-level cameras also make an appearance from Kodak in the shape of the EasyShare C643 and C533. The 6-megapixel C643 camera offers a 3x optical zoom and a large 2.4-inch display. The 5-megapixel C533 features a 3x zoom and a 1.8-inch screen. Both cameras use the Kodak EasyShare Printer Dock for quick and easy printing.
Kodak and Bibble join forces
Pre-PMA 2006: Kodak and Bibble Labs today announced an agreement which covers both an exchange of technology and cross-licensing / co-marketing opportunities. Out of this agreement Bibble will get access to Kodak's ColorFlow Color Management Module (CMM) and ColorFlow ICC Input API in exchange Bibble are licensing to Kodak their RAW format and conversion engine which will enable Kodak to provide direct printing from RAW files for their labs (including any adjustments made by Bibble Pro).
February 15
Pentax Optio W10
Pre-PMA 2006: Pentax has revealed the newest addition to its 'W' range of waterproof compacts, the Optio W10. The W10 is a 6 million pixel model (waterproof to 1.5m), featuring a 3x zoom, 2.5-inch LCD screen and a new Face Recognition AF/AE function which detects people’s faces and adjusts the focus / exposure to suit.
Pentax Optio T10
Pre-PMA 2006: Pentax has today also announced the Optio T10, which features a large 3-inch LCD with a touch display control system and a Drawing mode that allows you to customize your shots and create your own illustrations. This 6 megapixel camera also has a 3x optical zoom lens, all wrapped up in a slim 19.5mm high grade aluminium alloy body.
Pentax Optio M10
Pre-PMA 2006: Last but not least Pentax has introduced the Optio M10, the successor to the Optio S. This 6 megapixel camera offers a 3x optical zoom, large (2.5-inch) LCD and a long battery life - approx 220 images with alkaline AA batteries or 900 images with lithium AA's.
Nikon invest in Nik
Nik Software has announced that it has reached an agreement with Nikon to develop and distribute software (and technology), the agreement also includes an investment in Nik by Nikon (you have to love the name coincidence).
February 14
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ1
Pre-PMA 2006: Panasonic launches today the world's smallest 10x optical zoom digital compact. The DMC-TZ1 is also the first Lumix model to adopt a Linear AF system which, combined with the high speed AF function, achieves an industry-leading high speed AF response time among high zoom digital cameras. The TZ1 also features the Optical Image Stabiiliser which has become a Panasonic standard.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX01
Pre-PMA 2006: Panasonic has today announced the successor to the DMC-FX9, the Lumix DMC-FX01, which boasts a 28mm wide angle Leica DC zoom lens. The new High Sensitivity mode means that the DMC-FX01 can shoot up to a maximum sensitivity setting of ISO 1600. The FX01 also incorporates Panasonic's Optical Image Stabiliser which should help keep those shaky images to a minimum.
Fujifilm FinePix F30 sports ISO 3200
Pre-PMA 2006: Fujifilm has unveiled the successor to the award-winning FinePix F10/F11, with the world's first digital compact camera to feature an ISO 3200 sensitivity at full resolution. The 6.3 megapixel FinePix F30 features the newly developed sixth generation Super CCD and Fujifilm’s groundbreaking Real Photo Processor II. The F30 also features a new ‘intelligent flash’ system which uses the camera’s sensitivity to combine natural foreground illumination with balanced exposure in the background.
Fujifilm FinePix F650 Zoom
Pre-PMA 2006: Fujifilm today announces another addition to the 'F' series, the FinePix F650 Zoom, with 6 million pixels, a 5x zoom and large 3-inch LCD screen. What it doesn't have is the high ISO capabilities of the F10 / F11, though it does at least offer some photographic control (aperture and shutter priority).
Fujifilm FinePix A600 Zoom
Pre-PMA 2006: Fujifilm has announced a new entry-level 'A' series camera in the shape of the FinePix A600 Zoom. Featuring 6.3 million pixels, Fujifilm’s proprietary Super CCD, 3x zoom and a large 2.4-inch LCD screen.
February 13
Sony DSC-W30 and DSC-W50
Pre-PMA 2006: Sony announced today a new range of 'W' series ultra-compacts that mark the end of the popular 'P' series (and the original 'chunky' W series), and bear more than a passing resemblance to the Canon Ixus / Elph range. The range launches with two new 6-megapixel models, the W30 and W50. Both feature eye level viewfinders, Sony’s Clear RAW ™ imaging technology (claimed to offer low noise at up to ISO 1000), a 3x zoom and 2.0-inch and 2.5-inch screens, respectively.
February 11
Storing Your Digital Images
Site contributor and author of The 123 of Digital Imaging Interactive Learning Suite, Vincent Bockaert has written a very interesting article on one of the most important issues facing the digital photographer, how to store your digital images for now and for the future. His article covers the different storage media available and the relative costs and merits of each. This article is the first in a series on a range of digital photography subjects by Vincent.
Nikon confirm D200 banding, fix available
Nikon USA (and Europe) have both added knowedge base entries which confirm the existence of the so called 'banding issue'. According to the USA entry this affects only "a limited number of early-production D200 cameras" and that if you have a D200 which exhibits such banding "Nikon will, without charge, evaluate your camera to determine if adjustment to the camera's image output level is required. Adjustment, if required, will optimize the camera's image output level, thereby reducing visible banding to a minimal level."
February 8
Just posted! Canon PowerShot SD450 Review

Just posted! the Canon SD450 (IXUS 55 in Europe) is the latest in a long line of ultra-compact 'ELPH' or 'IXUS' cameras stretching back to early 2000 (and a lot farther back than that in the film camera world). Essentially a fairly minor upgrade to the popular SD400 (IXUS 50), new features include a larger 'wide viewing angle' 2.5-inch monitor, a direct access ISO button, a nifty orientation sensor that rotates the display of images as you turn the camera round in playback mode and some fancy playback effects. Find out what we thought after the link...

February 6
Just posted! Olympus SP-500UZ Review
Just posted! The six megapixel Olympus SP-500UZ offers a 10x zoom, full manual control, RAW capture and a wealth of photographic and digital features. With a feature list as long as your arm, lots of beginner-friendly scene modes, a predictive AF function, a nice 2.5-inch screen and a 3cm macro mode, the SP-500UZ certainly seems to offer an excellent 'bang for your buck', but is it good enough to compete in such a crowded area of the market? Find out after the link...