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July 2006 news and reviews

July 31
Just posted! Sony Alpha DSLR-A100 review
Just posted! Our mammoth in-depth review of the Sony Alpha DSLR-A100, Sony's first digital SLR and first of their newly created Alpha line. The A100 represents the coupling of Konica Minolta SLR and photographic know-how with Sony's electronics and engineering experience. The A100 is fitted out with a ten megapixel CCD sensor mounted on a CCD-shift 'Super SteadyShot' platform which provides in-camera Anti-Shake capability, it also has other unique features such as in-hardware Dynamic Range Optimization and Eye-Start AF. So dive into one of our longest reviews to date and see how the A100 shaped up.
July 26
Casio Exilim Zoom EX-Z700
Casio has announced today the new 7.2 megapixel Exilim Zoom EX-Z700. With a 3x zoom, Casio's Anti-Shake DSP and new BEST SHOT modes including an auto framing mode and a layout shot mode. The EX-Z700 also features a large 2.7-inch LCD with 1200cd/m2 brightness which is claimed to be visible on bright sunny days.
July 25
Just Posted! Fujifilm FinePix F30 Review
Just Posted! Our Review of the Fujifilm FinePix F30 Zoom, successor to the highly acclaimed FinePix F10. As well as Fuji's new Super CCD sensor that promises sensitivity of up to ISO 3200, the F30 features several important enhancements over the original model, including extra scene and manual modes and a higher resolution screen. Find out what we thought after the link... (Even if you're not interested in this type of camera we recommend you check this review)
July 24
Pentax Optio S7
Pentax has announced the new ultra-compact Optio S7, almost a year since the Optio S6. This new camera features a seven megapixel sensor with high sensitivity up to ISO 1600 (at 4 mp). In addition it also features Face Recognition AF & AE, a 2.5" LCD monitor, DivX Movie Mode and support for the new SDHC card format. The S7 will be available in September for under US$300.
July 20
Nikon 10.2 mp DSLR on August 9th
Nikon Japan has today started a teaser campaign promoting a new compact 10.2 megapixel digital SLR which will be announced on August 9th, we can only guess that this would be the natural successor to the D70/D70s. The teaser gives away few details other than the fact that the camera will have 10.2 megapixels (just in case you were thinking of buying a Sony Alpha). If any other significant details come out over the next 20 days we'll cover them. UPDATE: An English version has now been added to the Nikon Imaging Global website, details inside.
July 19
SanDisk Extreme IV CompactFlash cards
SanDisk has today announced its new Extreme IV CompactFlash cards and the Extreme Firewire 800/400 reader. These new cards will be available in 2, 4 and 8 GB capacities and are rated as delivering 'minimum read and write speeds' of 40 MB/sec. They are also designed to be able to withstand extremes of temperature from -25°C (-13°F) to 85°C (185°F), which will be good news for anyone in the UK at the moment.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50
Panasonic has announced the latest in the FZ 'double digit' series of prosumer digital cameras (a replacement for the FZ30). The Lumix DMC-FZ50 features a twelve times optical zoom lens, optical image stabilization, a ten megapixel sensor, up to ISO 1600 sensitivity and something Panasonic call IIC (Intelligent ISO control). This new feature monitors the amount of movement in the frame and adjusts the ISO sensitivity automatically at the time of exposure (higher for more movement).
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX2
The second big announcement from Panasonic today is the successor to the unique DMC-LX1, the world's first compact with a 16:9 widescreen sensor. The DMC-LX2 increases the pixel count to 10.2 million and adds a larger widescreen 2.8-inch LCD. Despite the increase in resolution Panasonic claims that noise has been significantly reduced (compared to the LX1) thanks to Venus III engine. Other new features include sensitivity up to ISO 3200 (though not at full resolution), Intelligent ISO Control (a mode that increases ISO if the camera detects subject motion) and a refined control interface.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX50 & DMC-FX07
Panasonic has also announced a pair of successors to the popular FX01 in the shape of the DMC-FX50 and DMC-FX07. Both cameras feature 7.2 megapixel sensor, image stabilized 28-102mm equiv. wide angle 3.6x zoom (F2.8-5.6) and Venus III processor. The FX50 sports a 3-inch screen, the FX07 sticks with the 2.5-inch screen of its predecessor. Other new features include 'Intelligent ISO Control', which increases the ISO if necessary to increase the shutter speed if the camera detects motion in the frame.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX3
Panasonic has announced a further addition to its compact Lumix range in the form of the DMC-FX3, a budget 6 megapixel model with a 3x (35-105mm) optically-stabilized zoom and high sensitivity (ISO 1600) mode - albeit one that works at a significantly reduced resolution. The FX3 also sports a 2.5-inch screen (with a slightly lower resolution than the more expensive models) and wide VGA movie mode.
Adobe LightRoom Beta for Windows
Up until today the Beta of Adobe's new digital photography application, Lightroom, was Mac only. Adobe has now posted the Windows beta of Lightroom free for anyone to download and test (note that if you haven't previously you will need to set up a userid at Adobe). Lightroom is a workflow and editting application which takes all of the useful photography related stuff from Photoshop and combines this with a sophisticated importation, browsing and organizational front-end.
July 18
Lexar Pro 8 GB 133x Compact Flash card
Lexar has today announced that it has increased the capacity of its Professional 133x Compact Flash line to 8 GB. The new 8 GB 133x Type I Compact Flash card has a maximum sustained write speed of 20 MB/sec and will be available in August with a suggested price of $424.99 (US).
July 17
SanDisk announce 4.0 GB SDHC card
SanDisk has today announced its entrance into the SDHC market with a 4.0 GB SDHC card with a rated 'Class 2' which refers to a minimum sustained write speed of 2.0 MB/sec, slightly slower than other recently announced SDHC cards. So far very few products can actually take advantage of these new SDHC cards although we expect to see more news on this front at Photokina in September.
July 16
Just posted! Canon SD 700 IS Review
Just posted! Our Concise Review of the PowerShot SD 700 IS (IXUS 800 IS), Canon's first ultra-compact model to feature optical image stabilization. The 6 megapixel SD700 IS is the new flagship model in the long-running and very successful IXUS / Digital ELPH range, and the first to sport a 4x zoom lens, though in most other respects it is very similar to the previous 'top of the range' SD550. Find out what we thought after the link...
July 13
Fujifilm FinePix S6500fd
Fujifilm has today announced the new FinePix S6500fd, the suffix stands for one of the S6500's new technologies, Fujifilm's "face detection". This appears to be designed to locate faces in the frame (up to ten faces) for auto focus, metering and subject tracking. According to the press release Fujifilm's hardware implemented Face Detection technology needs just 40ms to locate a face in the frame. In addition the S6500 sports a six megapixel SuperCCD sensor which provides it with up to ISO 3200 at full resolution as well as a wide-angle 10.7x lens with a mechanically linked zoom ring. It's not the first time we've talked about face detection, Nikon has had it in a handful of models since early 2005.
Fujifilm Finepix F20, up to ISO 2000
Fujifilm has today announced its 'little brother' to the popular and impressive FinePix F30 Zoom. The new FinePix F20 carries the same six megapixel SuperCCD chip found in the F30 providing it with impressive an high sensitivity of up to ISO 2000 at full resolution. Design wise the F20 is clearly based around the F30's body with a few design tweaks. The only specification differences we could make out are that the F20 is slightly slimmer and lighter, has different long exposure times, a lower resolution LCD monitor and a different battery.
Please note updated spec change; the F20 does not have aperture and shutter priority modes.
July 12
Fujifilm reveal new logo
Fujifilm has today revealed its new corporate brand logo which will be used as of 1st October 2006. According to the press release Fujifilm is currently undergoing company-wide 'structural reforms' and that this new logo represents that change. Personally my favourite 'Fuji' logo of the last few years was the original 'Fuji' logo, after all is there any need for them to have the word 'Film' in their name anymore?
July 7
Nikon Capture NX trial available
Nikon has today made available a trial version of its all new image workflow, editing and conversion software Capture NX. Announced back in February this year NX is a result of collaboration between Nik software and Nikon, and is widely anticipated by Nikon owners (as its speciality will be Nikon raw, NEF, conversion). Capture NX will cost $149.95 for the full package or $89.95 as an upgrade when it goes on sale later this month. The 30-day trial is availlable for download at the nikonusa.com website.
July 5
Canon EOS 5D + EOS-1D II N firmware 1.1.0
Canon has today released new firmware for the EOS 5D and EOS-1D Mark II N digital SLRs. The EOS 5D firmware addresses three issues; Correction of communication errors between the 5D and EOS Capture after a certain number of shots, Use of E-TTL flash metering mode using the ST-E2 Speedlite Transmitter in conjunction with the 580EX Speedlite and finally the 'enhancement' of direct printing to two Canon PIXMA Pro printers. The EOS-1D Mark II N firmware update includes only the direct printing improvement with no other bug fixes.
July 4
Just posted! Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H5 Review
Just posted! Our Review of the Sony DSC-H5, the second replacement for the popular DSC-H1 and 'big brother' to the DSC-H2. The H5 takes the resolution up to 7 megapixels and adds a huge 3.0-inch screen, in addition to all the refinements and improvements we saw on the H2. Find out if the H5 can steal the pole position in the super zoom stakes after the link...
July 3
Samsung NV Series: NV3
Samsung has revealed a new series of interesting-looking premium cameras under the 'NV' (New Vision) banner. The all-black cameras are the result of two years of consumer research and feature a new user interface and several unique features. We've had our hands on pre-production versions of all three cameras for the last day or two and so far have been impressed with the build and design. First up is the NV3 - a 7.2MP ultra compact with multimedia capabilities and - unusually - stereo speakers built-in.
Samsung NV Series: NV10
The second camera in the new NV range is the NV10; a very attractive, ultra-slim model with 10.2 million pixels, 3x (35-105mm) zoom, manual exposure option and - as with all the NV cameras - MPEG-4 movie capabilities.
Samsung NV Series: NV7 OPS
The final new model in the NV range is perhaps the most interesting; the NV7 OPS ('Optical Picture Stabilzation'). This slim-bodied model boasts a CCD-shift stabiization system, 7x optical zoom and an innovative new 'Smart Touch' user interface. It also has a 2.5-inch screen, full photographic control and MPEG-4 movie capability.
July 2
BreezeBrowser Pro v1.5
Breeze Systems has announced the latest version of its image browsing and RAW conversion software in the shape of BreezeBrowser Pro v1.5. This update allows XMP support for maximum compatibility with Photoshop.