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June 2006 news and reviews

June 28
Just posted! Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H2 Review
Just posted! Our Review of the Sony DSC-H2, replacement for the popular DSC-H1. The H2 isn't a major upgrade - a bit of a re-style, a few new features and an extra megapixel - but some of the refinements, though small, are significant. Find out if the H2 has what it takes to compete with the likes of Canon's PowerShot S3 IS after the link.
Toshiba 4 GB SDHC card
Toshiba has today announced its new 4 GB SDHC card. This card, based newly defined SDHC format has a minimum write speed of 4 MB/sec (known as 'Class 4') and will be available in September. This card also supports the 'CPRM3' copy protection function which we assume to only be used for DRM controlled media such as music and video.
June 27
Microsoft acquires iView
It appears to be acquisition season. Today iView Multimedia, who brought us MediaPro, has announced that it has 'joined' Microsoft. MediaPro is a fairly well known digital imaging workflow and management application which was originally created for Mac and later evolved to Windows. In the announcement on the iView website today Yan Calotychos, founder of iView, stated quite clearly that Mac support would continue and that the iView product range will continue to be available (and supported).
June 26
Adobe buys RawShooter engine
In a brief statement Adobe has announced that it has purchased the 'technology assets' of Pixmantec, the Danish company behind the RawShooter raw workflow and conversion application. Adobe states that this acquisition "strengthens Adobe's leadership position in raw processing" and that that Pixmantec's raw processing technology will be integrated into Lightroom and other Adobe products. RawShooter Premium will be discontinued although the Essential edition will continue to be available and support for existing RawShooter customers will be available from Adobe.
Casio Exilim Card EX-S600D
Casio today announced the Exilim Card EX-S600D, an ultra slim 6.0 megapixel camera offering Casio's Anti-Shake DSP, a 3x zoom and a 2.2-inch screen. The EX-S600D is the same model as the EX-S600 (announced in October last year) but adds high quality DivX movie capability. The EX-S600D will only be available to the European market.
June 23
Bibble Labs updated to 4.8
Bilbble Labs has just announced the availability of Bibble Labs Pro / Lite 4.8 RAW converter / workflow application, available free to existing Bibble 4 owners. This major release includes advanced lens correction (distortion, chromatic aberrations and vignetting) as well as B&W and spot color filters. This update also adds support for the Fujifilm S3 Pro and Mac Universal Binary.
ExpoDisc to be available at Ritz Camera
ExpoImaging today let us know that their very useful ExpoDisc Digital White Balance Filters will soon be available in Ritz Camera and Image stores nationwide as well the rest of the Ritz Camera family and online. "The ExpoDisc design enables it to receive, scramble and transmit light from a wide angle in front of the disc through to the camera’s image sensor for a faster, easier and more accurate white balance correction. This produces excellent results, even in mixed light."
June 22
Olympus E-330 / E-300 firmware updates
Olympus has today announced firmware updates for the E-330 and E-300 digital SLR's. The most interesting of the two must be the E-330 update which enables Auto Focus in Live View B Mode (via the AEL/AFL button) this appears to operate in the same way as the Panasonic DMC-L1, by dropping the mirror (blanking the Live View), focusing and then returning the Live View afterwards. The E-300 update is said to improve exposure accuracy for pictures taken in Macro mode with Spot metering. These updates can be downloaded and installed automatically via Olympus Studio or Olympus Master.
Casio Exilim Zoom EX-Z70
Fresh from Casio is this super slim 7.2MP camera, the Exilim Zoom EX-Z70. Featuring Casio's 'Anti-Shake' DSP, a large 2.5-inch LCD and 3x zoom, the EX-Z70 will be available in black and silver finishes.
June 21
Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1 finalized, exclusive preview
Four months after revealing the fact that they were working on their first interchangeable lens Digital SLR Panasonic has today published the final details of the Lumix DMC-L1. This includes full specifications and the firming up of some as yet unannounced details such as the selectable 'film modes' (similar to PictureStyles as seen on Canon cameras) and some other subtle changes to the functionality and design of the camera made since February. We've been lucky enough to get our hands on a pre-production DMC-L1 and now have an exclusive hands-on preview available for your reading pleasure.
June 20
Just Posted! Nikon Coolpix P3 Review
Just Posted! Our Concise Review of the Nikon Coolpix P3, one of the few cameras on the market today to offer wireless (Wi-Fi) connectivity. The 8 megapixel P3 also boasts a 3.5x optically stabilized zoom and a wealth of features. Find out what we thought after the link...
Panasonic SDHC compatible card readers
Panasonic Japan has today announced two new card readers which are compatible with the SDHC card format. SDHC is an update to the SD card format which allows for cards with a capacity over 2 GB (typically 4 GB or more) and also classes of minimum btransfer rate (primarily for solid state video recorders). One of the first cameras to support SDHC is the Panasonic DMC-L1 (which may get more of a mention tomorrow). Back to todays news, there's the BN-SDDBP3 which is a SDHC CardBus reader and the BN-SDCJP3 USB 2.0 SDHC reader.
Kodak EasyShare P712
Kodak has announced a promising looking new EasyShare camera to replace the P850 at the top of its 'Pro' range. The P712 features a 7.1MP resolution, 12x stabilized Schneider lens, high resolution electronic viewfinder and 2.5-inch screen. It is also claimed to have 'best-in-class' shutter lag and a new high speed focus system.
June 19
Google launches Picasa Web Albums
In a not-that-surprising move Google today announced a new web albums feature for their acquired photo management application, Picasa. The new feature, available currently only by invitation, enables quick and easy uploading of images from Picasa to a Google hosted gallery system, you get just 250 MB of storage free and for $25 a year can get an additional 6 GB of storage (ad free). Picasa Web Albums will no doubt be of interest to existing Picasa users but probably won't be that attractive to new entrants or existing users of web sync'd software such as Phanfare.
DALSA develops 100+ megapixel CCD
DALSA Semiconductor has today announced that it has developed the worlds first sensor with a total resolution of over 100 million pixels. To be more specific this single sensor, developed for astronomy, has 10,560 x 10,560 pixels, 111 million in total. The active area of the sensor measures approximately four by four inches and has a 9 µm pixel pitch. This sensor has been developed in conjunction with Semiconductor Technology Associates for the US Naval Observatory.
June 11
Sony Alpha DSLR-A100 Samples Gallery
We have just updated our Sony Alpha DSLR-A100 preview to include a gallery of sample images from the camera. This brief gallery is intended to give prospective buyers a taste of the image quality they should expect before we complete our review. Note that we will of course add a second more comprehensive gallery in our final review.
June 10
Leica M lenses coding for digital
Leica has announced that all new M system lenses will carry a new 6-bit code (painted in black/white dots) which will allow the upcoming digital M camera to identify which len is being used (up to 64 in 6-bit coding) and also to store this information in image metadata. As well as applying this coding to new lenses Leica has announced an upgrade service which allows owners of existing M series lenses to have the coding written onto each lens at a cost of 95 EUROs. The press release also hints that the new M series digital will appear in the second half of 2006 (at Photokina no doubt).
June 9
Batteries of the future to charge in seconds?
According to a story over at ScienCentralNews researchers at MIT are working on a new type of battery which is more like a capacitor than todays 'chemical reaction' battery. Typically a capacitor has a far lower capacity (by size) than a battery but researchers are using tiny nanotube filaments to increase the surface area within the capacitor to increase storage. These new 'batteries' could in theory charge in just a few seconds yet be the same size and capacity as todays rechargeable batteries, they may also never need replacing as they wouldn't degrade in the way current batteries do.
June 7
HP R707 extinguished by firmware
We've seen this story reported in many forms on many sites but only truly accurately on Imaging-Resource. The reality is that HP are not recalling the R707 but have instead issued firmware which can prevent a fire hazard. If the camera was used with a non-rechargeable battery (such as a Lithium Duracell CP-1) and then connected to the AC adapter or docking station there was a potential for the battery to overheat and even catch fire. This new firmware resolves this issue.
June 5
Sony Alpha DSLR-A100, hands-on preview
Sony has today officially revealed the new Alpha DSLR-A100, a ten megapixel Digital SLR, the first to come out of the Sony and Konica Minolta marriage, with many similarities to the Konica Minolta 5D. The A100's ten megapixel CCD is mounted on a CCD-shift Anti-Shake platform (now named Super SteadyShot) which delivers both image stabilization and Sony's own form of dust reduction (by shaking the sensor at power off). There's also a new image processor called 'Bionz' (hmmm) which delivers hardware based dynamic range optimization (with only a slight impact on performance). We have a full hands-on preview of the Sony Alpha DSLR-A100 available now.
June 1
Nikon D2Xs
Nikon has today announced the D2Xs, a subtly upgraded D2X. The key points of improvement are a larger 2.5" LCD monitor, electronic masking of the focusing screen in high-speed crop mode, modified metering in high-speed crop mode, a longer lasting battery, black and white mode, Adobe RGB in all color modes, up to 3 custom tone curves, 1/3 step ISO boost options, in-camera trim function, image authentication system compatible and save/load settings between cameras.
Nikon Camera Control and Authentication
As well as the D2Xs Nikon are also announcing two new software packages. The first is Nikon Camera Control Pro which is a development of Nikon Capture Camera Control, this new 'Pro' version compatible with Nikon Capture NX, other differences aren't made clear by the press release. The second is Nikon Image Authentication (Windows only) which enables the verification of the authenticity of images captured with the D2Xs, it can report if the image information (metadata) or image data itself has been modified since the image was taken and is clearly aimed at the law enforcment, government, media and insurance markets.

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