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September 2006 news and reviews

September 30
Sigma 18-200 mm F3.5-6.3 DC OS
Photokina 2006: Sigma has announced another digital-only lens, the new 18-200 mm F3.5-6.3 DC OS lens. This compact lens offers a big 11x zoom range in combination with Sigma's own Optical Stabilizer. Just like the 18-50 mm DC lens this one features aspherical and low dispersion elements as well as multi-layer coating to reduce flare and ghosting. On the downside it is slow (F6.3) at telephoto (you can't have everything at this price). On a digital SLR with a 1.5x FOV multiplier this lens provides an equivalent field of view of 27-300 mm on a 35 mm camera.
Sigma 18-50 mm F2.8 EX DC Macro lens
Photokina 2006: Sigma has announced the interesting 18-50 mm F2.8 EX DC Macro lens. Like all other DC lenses this is designed specifically for digital SLR's with APS sized sensors. It offers a maximum aperture of F2.8 throughout the zoom range and a minimum focus distance of 20 cm (7.9 in). In addition the lens features aspherical and low dispersion elements. This should be an interesting alternative to the often poor kit lenses bundled with sub-$1000 digital SLRs. On a digital SLR with a 1.5x FOV multiplier this lens provides an equivalent field of view of 27-75 mm on a 35 mm camera.
Pretec 16 GB Compact Flash card
Photokina 2006: Pretec has announced its 16 GB Compact Flash card. This announcement clearly aimed to compete with SanDisk who also recently announced a 16 GB Card. Pretec are proud to be the first with high capacities cards such as 3 GB in November 2002 and 6 GB in March 2003.
Kingston 4 GB SDHC card
Photokina 2006: Kingston Technoilogy announced their first SDHC card, the 4 GB Secure Digital High-Capacity Class 2. This devices has a minimum sustained throughput of 2 MB/sec (hence the classification). In addition they have also announced SDHC compatibility for their 15-in-1 high-speed USB 2.0 reader. The 4 GB SDHC will be priced around $200, the 15-in-1 reader at $20.
Delkin ExpressCard 34 CF adapter
Photokina 2006: Delkin Devices has announced the first ever ExpressCard 34 Compact Flash adapter which enables high speed transfer of files to and from Compact Flash cards, up to 20 MB/sec. The new adapter is compatible with both PC and Mac computers fitted with an ExpressCard slot (34 or 54 mm) and requires no drivers (Windows XP / Mac OS 10.4.x or higher). The ExpressCard 34 is priced at $60 and should be available in mid-October.
Panasonic Four Thirds lenses
Photokina 2006: Panasonic has announced that the DMC-L1's kit lens, the Leica D 14-50 mm F2.8-F3.5 (with OIS) Four Thirds lens can now be purchased separately and is compatible with other Four Thirds cameras. In addition they have also announced the Leica D 25 mm F1.4 Four Thirds lens. Because of the Four Thirds sensor size these two lenses produce a field of view equivalent to 28-100 mm and 50 mm on a 35 mm camera. No pricing information is currently available.
Seitz for 160 megapixels
Photokina 2006: Seitz has announced its D3 scan back which when implemented in its new 6x17 Digital camera produces a 160 megapixel image in around one second, or on its new Roundshot D3 camera produces a 470 megapixel image in two seconds. The new back and cameras will be available in January priced at around $36,000.
Leica acquires control of Sinar
Photokina 2006: In a relatively unexpected industry twist Leica revealed that it had acquired a controlling share (51%) in the Swiss digital medium format camera company Sinar, this purchased from Jenoptik. Leica has stated that it fully intends to continue development of Sinar products under the Sinar brand. We can only assume that Leica will lean on the knowledge and expertise of Sinar in the digital arena to help develop its ever expanding digital line.
Apple Aperture 1.5
Photokina 2006: Apple has announced the latest release of its Aperture photographic workflow application. Major improvements include a much improved RAW conversion engine, better performance and compatibility, image manipulation and adjustment, improved IPTC metadata handling as well as scripting either as AppleScript or Automator.
Epson P-3000 and P-5000
Photokina 2006: Epson has announced the P-3000 and P-5000 Multimedia Storage Viewers. Compared to previous models these new units feature better color response (thanks to a four color filter), Adobe RGB support, faster performance thanks to a new CPU, a modified control layout and a larger 4.0" LCD screen. The 40 GB P-3000 model should cost around $500, the 80 GB P-5000 model at $700.
Hasselblad H3D
Photokina 2006: Hasselblad has announced the new H3D medium format camera system which Hasselblad is confusingly describing as 'the World's first 48 mm full-frame DSLR camera system'. The digital back part of the camera features a 48 x 36 mm sensor (which sounds to us like two full-frame 35 mm sensors stitched together) and will be available in either 22 or 39 megapixel flavors. The big controversy surrounding the H3D is that it no longer supports third party backs, only Hasselblad's own backs.
Canon Media Storage M30 and M80
Photokina 2006: Canon has announced the Media Storage M30 and M80 devices which feature a high resolution 3.7" TFT LCD screen, CF and SD reader, USB 2.0 connection and either a 30 or 80 GB hard disk. These devices are similar to the Epson P series Photo Viewer devices enabling you to backup and store images directly from storage card or camera and display them on the built-in screen. The M30 and M80 also support direct printing via USB and are powered by the now 'Canon standard' BP-511A Lithium-Ion battery. Canon are keen to stress that these products are not OEM but have been developed in-house.
Tamron AF 18-250 mm Di-II lens
Photokina 2006: Tamron has announced the new 18-250 Di-II LD Aspherical (IF) Macro lens designed specifically for digital SLR's with APS-C sized sensors. This lightweight lens is an improvement on the existing 18 to 200 mm lens, adding further telephoto range. It provides a zoom range of 18 to 250 mm (13.8x), producing an equivalent field of view of approximately 27 to 375 mm on a digital SLR with a 1.5x FOV crop. This is said to be the highest power zoom lens designed specifically for digital SLRs.
September 26
Sigma SD14
Photokina 2006: Sigma has today announced the long awaited successor to the SD10, the new SD14. The SD14 features a Foveon X3 sensor with '14 megapixels', those being delivered over three separate color sensitive layers, in a 2652 x 1769 x 3 configuration. In its optimum native output size (2652 x 1769) the SD14 offers approximately 35% more resolution. The sensor size remains the same meaning a 1.7x field-of-view crop. Headline improvements include in-camera JPEG, a larger, brighter viewfinder, a larger 2.5" LCD monitor, Lithium-Ion battery, improved auto focus and continuous shooting and a built-in flash.
Sigma DP1
Photokina 2006: Sigma has today announced the interesting, unique DP1 digital camera which features the same Foveon 14M X3 sensor (2652 x 1768 x 3 layers) as the SD14 and a fixed 16.6 mm F4.0 lens (providing a 28 mm equiv. FOV). As a development announcement there isn't a lot more detail than this, a quick look over the body images reveals a large LCD monitor, pop-up flash and the expected range of manual controls.
SanDisk Extreme III 12 & 16GB CompactFlash
Photokina 2006: SanDisk has today announced the 12GB and 16GB Extreme III CompactFlash cards. With a minimum read/write speed of 20MB/sec, the new high capacity cards are ideal for those shooting in RAW mode or high-res JPG files.
SanDisk 4GB Ultra II SDHC card
Photokina 2006: SanDisk also announced today the 4GB Ultra II SD High Capacity card that is capable of storing more than 2000 high-res images or up to 8 hours of MPEG 4 video. The 4GB Ultra II SDHC features write speeds of 9MB/sec and read speeds of 10MB/sec and will be sold with SanDisk's MicroMate USB 2.0 reader.
Lensbaby 3G, now with lens locks
Photokina 2006: Lensbabies has today revealed their Lensbaby 3G (third generation). These 'selective focus' lenses allow you to produce unique focusing and depth of field effects, the latest generation providing even more control thanks to lockable thread adjustments and additional fine-tuning adjustment on the front dial.
September 25
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom beta 4.0
Pre-Photokina 2006: Adobe Systems Inc today announced an update to Photoshop Lightroom beta with version 4.0. Available immediately for free download, version 4.0 unites product feature set for Windows and Mac platforms allowing a new way to import, manage and showcase large volumes of digital photos. Version 4.0 also adds improved workflow tools including a precision white balance option, new filters and search presets, and a new tone curve adjustment feature.
Ulead PhotoImpact 12
Pre-Photokina 2006: Ulead Systems Inc. has announced the latest version of its flagship image editing software, PhotoImpact 12. The new version features ExpressFix mode - a simplified interface that allows users to adjust color, exposure and focus with one-click presets and a SmartGuide 'How-to' panel. Version 12 also adds a new white-balance correction tool, an enhanced Reduce Noise feature and the RAW file format has been extended to cover more camera models.
dpreview at Photokina 2006
Pre-Photokina 2006: We've arrived to a rather dull and cloudy Cologne, Germany for the Photokina 'World of Imaging' Trade Show. Today is Press Day, the show proper starts tomorrow so keep an eye on our show report page for regular updates live from the floor during show hours. We'll also be posting any further news on the front page as it breaks.
Kodak EasyShare Z710 Zoom
Pre-Photokina 2006: Kodak has announced another big zoom camera, the budget-priced 7.1-megapixel EasyShare Z710 Zoom. It sports a non-stabilized 10x optical zoom, 2-inch LCD, 19 pre-programmed scene and color modes and full manual mode control.
Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro
Pre-Photokina 2006: Fujifilm has today announced the Fujifilm FinePix S5 Pro, or at least the development of it, due to be available in 'early 2007'. The S5 Pro features the same SuperCCD SR design sensor although now called 'SR Pro', it features 6.17 million 'S photodiodes' (normal DR) and 6.17 million 'R photodiodes' (highlight DR) for a total photodiode count of 12.34 million. Other headline improvements are the new body (which is obviously based on the Nikon D200) and all that includes; better AF, i-TTL flash, metering, Lithium-Ion battery. Other improvements include better DR control, up to ISO 3200 sensitivity and LAN / WiFi accessories.
Fujifilm FinePix F31fd
Pre-Photokina 2006: Just seven months after the launch of the FinePix F30, Fujifilm has given it a minor upgrade in the shape of the FinePix F31fd, which adds the hardware-based face recognition technology debuted on the S6500fd (using the Real Photo Processor II). The only other change we could find was the addition of IR communication capabilitles. It is not known at this time if the new model replaces the FinePix F30.
September 23
Just posted! Nikon D80 Review
Just posted! Our in-depth review of Nikon's sub-$1000 ten megapixel D80 digital SLR. Announced and previewed just last month this is the second of our 'Photokina reviews' (the first being the Panasonic DMC-FZ50). The D80 takes the D70 to the next level with a smaller body which doesn't compromise on comfort or ergonomics, a wide ranging feature set and range of customization options, fast performance and above all great image quality. As you can probably tell we liked the D80, so dive in to our 30 page review for all the detail and how it shaped up to the competition.
September 21
Three new Pentax DA star lenses
Pre-Photokina 2006: Pentax has posted some very brief information about three new digital-only DA* (star) lenses which utilize built-in Supersonic motors for focusing and are likely to be environmentally sealed to match the recently announced K10D. The lenses are the DA* 16-50 mm F2.8 ED AL [IF], DA* 50-135 mm F2.8 ED [IF] and the DA* 60-250 mm F4 ED [IF]. On a digital SLR with a 1.5x FOV crop (such as the K10D) these lenses will provide an equivalent field-of-view of 24 - 75 mm, 75 - 202.5 mm and 90 - 375 mm. According to available information these lenses should be available in March 2007.
Samsung GX-10
Pre-Photokina 2006: Samsung has apparently 'announced' the GX-10 digital SLR. This camera, rather unsurprisingly is in reality the Pentax K10D with its logos replaced. Hence a ten megapixel digital SLR with built-in shake reduction, dust 'shake' removal, weather sealing and unique exposure modes. We received no information on this camera from Samsung, all we have at this point is a press release which popped up two hours after news first broke, which is amazing considering how Samsung keep telling us they want to be taken more seriously on dpreview.
September 19
Adobe Camera Raw 3.5, DNG Converter
Adobe has today announced the latest version of the Adobe Camera Raw plug-in for Photoshop CS2 or Photoshop Elements 3.0 - 5.0. In addition they have also announced an update to their DNG Converter utility, designed to convert manufacturer specific Raw formats into the 'universal' DNG format. New cameras supported by Adobe Camera Raw 3.5 plug-in and DNG Converter include Nikon D2Xs, Kodak EasyShare P712, Panasonic DMC-FZ50 and DMC-L1, and Sony A100. The DNG Converter is now available as a Mac OS X Universal Binary which means it will run natively on Macintosh Intel-based computers.
September 17
Just posted! Casio EX-Z1000 review
Just posted! The EX-Z1000 was the first compact to break the 10 megapixel barrier, and we've been meaning to have a look at it for a while - as a taste of what we can expect from the flood of 10MP models that followed it. As well as a headline-grabbing pixel count, the EX-Z1000 has an unusual 2.8-inch 16:9 aspect ratio wide screen and all the signature Exilim ease of use and styling. So is the 10MP EX-Z1000 a giant leap forward or a simple case of a megapixel too far? Find out what we thought in our concise review, after the link...
September 15
Kodak sensor in Leica M8
Kodak today issued a press release stating that the new Leica M8 features their new KAF-10500 CCD. This was developed specifically for the M8 with offset microlenses to help reduce the effect of vignetting due to severely off-perpendicular light towards the corners of the frame (especially when using wide angle lenses). The KAF-10500 has an active area of 27 x 18 mm, a 6.8 µm pixel pitch and two channel output.
September 14
Leica M8, Exclusive Preview
Pre-Photokina 2006: Leica has today unveiled its long awaited M8 Digital Rangefinder camera. Some fifty-two years since Leica introduced the first M series camera (the M3) they have introduced what is without doubt a milestone model, the first digital M series. The M8 has a ten megapixel CCD (with special offset microlenses to reduce vignetting) which produces a 1.3x FOV crop, it is built around the same sold metal design which has become the M series trademark with a solid brass top and base and a magnesium alloy cast main section. This camera has been built from the ground up as a digital rangefinder but without compromising the size, quality or usability of the M series design. We have been lucky enough to have an M8 in order to produce a detailed hands-on preview (read on for the link).
Two Leica lenses and a finder
Pre-Photokina 2006: To complement the new M8 Digital Rangefinder camera Leica has also today announced two new lenses and a new wide angle finder. New M series lenses are the Tri-Elmar-M 16-18-21 mm F4 ASPH and the Elmarit-M 28 mm F2.8 ASPH. The new Universal Wide Angle Finder M provides frames for 16, 18, 21, 24 and 28 mm and has a 0.28x magnification.
Pre-Photokina 2006: The third new camera from Leica is the the DIGILUX 3 (essentially a Panasonic DMC-L1). The company's first integrated digital SLR represents something of a departure as it uses the Four Thirds system rather than Leica's own reflex lens mount. This camera obviously comes as a kit with the LEICA D 14 - 50 mm ASPH (F2.8 - F3.5) lens with built-in optical image stabilization. (While this camera is based on the DMC-L1 it has had image processing adjustments as defined by Leica).
Leica V-LUX 1
Pre-Photokina 2006: The second new Leica digital camera is the V-LUX 1, clearly based on Panasonic's DMC-FZ50 this camera has virtually identical specifications; a ten megapixel CCD, a 12x optically image stabilized lens (with mechanically linked zoom), a tilting 2.0" LCD monitor, electronic viewfinder, flash hot-shoe and full manual controls. The V-LUX 1 is supplied with a 512 MB SD card. (While this camera is based on the DMC-FZ50 it has had image processing adjustments as defined by Leica).
Leica D-LUX 3
Pre-Photokina 2006: Leica has today announced the ultra-compact D-LUX 3. This new camera (based on the Panasonic LX-2) has a ten megapixel 16:9 ratio CCD, Leica 4x wide angle optical zoom lens (28 to 112 mm equiv.) with optical image stabilization and a 2.8" 16:9 ratio LCD monitor. (While this camera is based on the LX-2 it has had image processing adjustments as defined by Leica).
Canon PowerShot G7
Pre-Photokina 2006: Canon has finally announced the long-awaited new G series compact to replace the G6 (launched August 2004). The $550 PowerShot G7 features a new Digic III processor, 10 megapixel (1/1.8-inch) CCD and a 6x (35-200mm equiv.) image stabilized zoom lens. The G7 also sports a hot shoe, face detection software and ISO settings up to 1600. Disappointingly what it doesn't have is a raw mode, which appears to have been completely dropped by Canon for its compact models - presumably to protect the sales of entry-level digital SLRs.
Canon PowerShot SD900
Pre-Photokina 2006: Next up from Canon today is the PowerShot SD 900 Digital ELPH (Ixus 900 Ti in Europe), a titanium-bodied compact with a close family resemblance to the SD550 and SD700IS. Aside from the solid titanium body the SD900 sports Canon's new Digic III processor (with face detection), a 10MP CCD and ISO 1600 top sensitivity setting. Pricing is around $450 / €450.
Canon PowerShot SD800 IS
Pre-Photokina 2006: Canon's third new compact today is another image stabilized Ixus/ELPH, this time with a useful (and still fairly rare) 28-105mm wideangle zoom. The $449 / €449 SD800 IS Digital ELPH also features Digic III processor, large 2.5-inch screen, face detection technology and 7.1MP sensor.
Canon PowerShot SD40
Pre-Photokina 2006: Last but not least is the fourth new Canon for today, the PowerShot SD40 Digital ELPH (Ixus i7). The upgrade to the SD30 features the new Digic III processor, ISO 1600, face detection and a 7.2 megapixel CCD. The SD40 will be offered in four 'chic' new colors.
Olympus E-400
Pre-Photokina 2006: Olympus has today announced a new ten megapixel compact digital SLR with the retro-good-looks of past Olympus film SLR's. Other headline features are the Supersonic Wave Filter for dust reduction, a 2.5" LCD monitor, three frames per second continuous shooting and an easier to use interface. In addition there's also a new Zuiko Digital lens, the 14-42 mm F3.5-F5.6 which is set to become the E-400's kit lens. The slightly odd, sad news, for many of our readers is that this camera will not be available in North America (news I'm sure that will go down like a lead balloon on our forums). That makes it the first digital SLR not to have a worldwide release, so get ready for the grey imports. UPDATE 15/09/2006: Olympus US has provided an official statement on their reasons for not taking the E-400.
September 13
Pentax Optio T20
Pre-Photokina 2006: Pentax has announced upgrades to two of its compact digicams. First up is the Optio T20, the successor to the T10 announced back in February. The T20 ups the resolution to 7 million pixels and increases maximum ISO to 800. As with the T10 the T20 features a large 3.0-inch LCD with touch display control, 3x zoom and a super slim 19.5mm body.
Pentax Optio E20
Pre-Photokina 2006: This is Pentax's new entry level compact, the Optio E20, superceding the E10 announced in January 2006. The 6-megapixel Optio E20 features a 2.4-inch LCD, 3x zoom and operates with just two AA batteries.
Pentax K10D, Exclusive Preview

Pre-Photokina 2006: Pentax has announced its new ten megapixel K10D digital SLR. A long list of features include a '22 bit' analog to digital converter, CCD-shift type Shake Reduction, dust reduction, environment sealing, eleven point auto focus, sixteen segment metering, selectable program lines and some unique exposure modes including Sensitivity and combined Shutter/Aperture priority. The K10D also provides both Pentax PEF and DNG RAW format options. We have had our hands on a pre-production K10D and have produced a detailed hands-on preview of this interesting new camera (read on for the link).

Pentax DA 70 mm F2.4 Limited
Pre-Photokina 2006: Pentax has today announced the DA 70 mm F2.4 Limited 'pancake design' lens. This new lens measures just 26 mm (1 inch) in length and weighs 130 g (4.6 oz). Its DA prefix indicating this is a digital-only lens and on a Pentax Digital SLR would produce an equivalent field of view of approximately 107 mm (in 35 mm format).
September 12
Adobe Photoshop Elements 5.0
Pre-Photokina 2006: Adobe has announced Photoshop Elements 5.0, the latest upgrade to its popular consumer photo editing software. As well as lots of new ways to share your photos, Elements 5.0 adds serveral new tools including Black and White conversion, Curves (at last!) and lens distortion correction.
Fujifilm A700
Pre Photokina 2006: Fujifilm has quietly slipped out a new flagship model in its entry-level 'A' series range. The $200 FinePix A700 features a new 1/1.6-inch 7.3 MP Super CCD sensor, 3x optical zoom and large 2.4-inch LCD screen. Interestingly the A700 has no high ISO settings at all, topping out at ISO 400.
September 11
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T50 and DSC-N2
Pre-Photokina 2006: Sony has today announced two new Cyber-shot digital cameras. The DSC-T50 is another ultra-compact from the 'T series', just like previous T cameras this one has a 3x folded optics lens with optical image stabilization and a seven megapixel sensor. The DSC-N2 is a natural progression of the DSC-N1, the first Sony digital camera to feature a large (3.0") touch-screen LCD and built-in RAM for a carry-around mini-gallery. The N2 sounds fairly similar albeit for a ten megapixel (yipee) 1/1.8" CCD and shooting up to ISO 1600 (compared to 800 on the N1). Both cameras should be available in October, the DSC-T50 for $500, the DSC-N2 for $450.
September 8
Just posted! Panasonic DMC-FZ50 review
Just posted! Our Review of the Panasonic DMC-FZ50. Announced bang on schedule exactly a year after the camera it replaces, the FZ50 is the new flagship in Panasonic's big-zoom Lumix range, upping the image size to a class-leading 10.2 megapixels and adding a couple of welcome new features. To find out if the FZ50 is a worthy successor, and if it can overcome the few complaints we had, check out our review after the link...
Update: Samples gallery updated to reduce the number of shots taken with Noise Reduction set to High, and expanded to include a good selection of Low NR shots.
September 7
SDHC update for Pentax *ist digital SLR's
Pentax Japan has released firmware updates for the Pentax *ist DL, *ist DL2, *ist DS and *ist DS2 which allow these cameras to use the new high capacity SDHC cards. SDHC cards have the same form factor as SD cards but allow for capacities of 4 GB or greater (by using sector addressing rather than byte addressing). Having recently introduced this feature via firmware for the K100D Pentax has also announced that they are 'preparing' a similar update for the K110D which will be released on September 14.
September 4
Canon EOS 400D / Digital Rebel XTi hands-on preview
Just posted! Our hands-on preview of a production Canon EOS 400D / Digital Rebel XTi. Canon's latest in their 'affordable' series of digital SLRs addresses several issues raised by EOS 350D owners as well as adding several new features, and two more megapixels. Our detailed preview will hopefully give you a good insight into the camera while we continue work on the final review.
September 1
Pretec 8 GB SD-HC, largest yet
Pretec has today announced the highest capacity SD card to date, their new 8 GB SD-HC. This new card is twice the capacity of cards announced by Panasonic, Toshiba and SanDisk and means that SD cards will soon be available in capacities as high as the largest CompactFlash cards. Pretec's press release doesn't reveal very many details other than compliance with the SD-HC specification (which has a maximum throughput of up to 20 MB/sec; we expect the throughput of this card to be significantly lower). The Pretec 8 GB SD-HC card has a 'sampling price' of $299 and should be in mass production in the last quarter of this year.

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