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November 2006 news and reviews

November 24
Leica announce fixes for M8
The introduction of Leica's first digital M series hasn't gone quite as smoothly as they will have hoped, before the camera even reached owners some reviewers spotted some issues with the imaging side of the camera (Banding, Mirror/Ghost effect and IR sensitivity). Leica issued a statement two weeks ago that they were aware and were working on a solution. Today they have announced the 'action plan', firstly that the Banding and Mirror/Ghost images issue can be rectified by returning your camera to LEICA for repair (and that all new M8's leaving Solms will not suffer from this problem). Secondly the solution for 'above average' IR sensitivity are IR filters which attach to the front of the lens, Leica will be offering two free filters to all M8 owners.
Sony discovers defect in some models
Sony Corp has today announced that it has discovered a defect in eight of its Cyber-shot models. The cameras affected were sold between September 2003 and January 2005, they are the DSC-F88, DSC-M1, DSC-T1, DSC-T11, DSC-T3, DSC-T33, DSC-U40 and DSC-U50. The problem is said to be related to the use of these cameras in hot and/or humid environments and can lead to a loss of image on the LCD (we assume this vague description to mean that live view fails due to overheating of the CCD). Sony has said it will repair any camera (of the above) which show signs of this problem.
November 21
Toshiba announce 8GB SDHC memory
Toshiba has announced the introduction of the first 8GB SDHC Memory Card which it says will be available early in the new year. The new cards will be capable of a write speed in excess of 4MB per second up to 6MB per second and useable with all devices compatible with the SDHC specification. With some compact cameras now topping 10 Megapixels and entry-level DSLRs increasingly using SD format, the arrival of higher capacity cards is sure to be welcomed by many.
Ricoh GR Digital Firmware update
Ricoh has released an updated V2.20 firmware for it's GR Digital camera, bringing changes to the file storage and exposure bracketing options available. There is now a choice of JPEG sizes when recording RAW and JPEG simultaneously, the 3:2 image size can now be combined with a 'Normal' compression ratio and exposure bracketing may be performed in 0.3 EV steps as well as the 0.5 EV available previously.
November 17
Just posted! Canon PowerShot G7 review
Just posted! Our Review of the Canon PowerShot G7. The G7 came as something of a surprise to many who had written off the G series of high end PowerShots. The G series has a long and distinguished history at the top of Canon's PowerShot range, and the G7 continues the tradition, adding all Canon's latest gizmos (including the new Digic III processor, face detection and image stabilization). Since its announcement there has been heated discussion about some of Canon's decisions - particularly the loss of raw mode and the slower lens. Find out what we thought in the review after the link...
November 16
Nikon D40, hands-on preview
As we knew all along the leaks were fairly accurate, Nikon has today announced the six megapixel, compact, 'entry level' D40 digital SLR. This new digital SLR loses some of the D50's features but gains some new ones from the D80. Headline details are a new Multi-CAM530 three area AF sensor, 3D Color Matrix Metering II, custom Auto ISO (same as D80), 2.5 fps continuous shooting, no status LCD and in-camera retouching. The D40 also has lots of nice user interface touches designed to make using the camera an easier experience for first time users. We have a production D40 and have produced a detailed hands-on preview in anticipation of a full review in the next few weeks.
Nikon SB-400 Speedlight
The second 'designed for the D40' accessory today is the SB-400 Speedlight, a compact yet powerful external flash with a tilting front (horizontal, 60, 75 and 90 degrees). This unit has a guide number of 21 (m at ISO 100 at 18mm) and has a shooting distance of 60 cm to 20 m (2 to 66 ft).
Nikkor AF-S DX 18-55 mm F3.5-5.6G ED II lens
As part of its introduction of the new budget, compact digital SLR the D40, Nikon has updated its DX 18-55 mm lens, now carrying the 'II' suffix. This lens will of course become part of the D40 kit and features a Silent Wave Motor (SWM) and smoother zoom operation, other updates aren't stated by Nikon.
November 13
Ricoh Caplio RR730
Ricoh has announced the Caplio RR730, the upgrade to the entry level Caplio RR660. The 7.16 megapixel RR730 features a larger 2.5-inch LCD than the RR660 but it is slightly smaller and lighter than its predecessor. The RR730 also sports a 3x optical zoom and 32MB internal memory.
November 10
Leica statement on M8 issues
Leica has today issued a statement on some of the issues experienced by early M8 owners including IR color casts on certain fabrics and occasional banding. The statement states that "Our technical and engineering teams have isolated the source of these concerns and have identified definitive solutions. Over the next two weeks we will communicate our plan to further assure you of your investment in the Leica M8".
November 9
Fujifilm FinePix Z5fd
Fujifilm has quietly added a new model to its ultra-slim 'Z' range. The FinePix Z5fd features a new 1/2.5" 6MP Super CCD sensor and sports Fuji's new face detection technology as well as a 'jump on the bandwagon' MySpace / blogging mode. The Z5fd will be available early next year in a range of colors.
November 8
Compacts megapixel race not over
Just when we had hoped that the megapixel race was over for compact cameras Sharp has gone and announced a twelve megapixel 1/1.7" sensor. Lets face it the latest batch of ten megapixel compacts are nothing to get excited about, seven was enough in any compact, it's pretty sad to see another two million photosites crammed into the same space. A smaller photosite (in this case just 1.88 microns) means less sensitivity, higher noise (generally) and an even higher requirement on the lens optics (virtually no current compact has what we'd call a great lens). So expect to see this sensor in a new PMA compact camera with the same 3x zoom lens and ISO 3200.
November 7
PNY xD-Picture Card 2GB
Today PNY announces the launch of it's highest capacity xD-Picture Card™ to date. Weighing in at 2GB and of Type M specification, it is compatible with Olympus' exclusive panorama function which requires specific support from the media card.
November 6
Spreading around the web like wildfire is rumored information on an upcoming compact digital SLR from Nikon called the D40. With four fairly well known digital photography / technology 'blogs' already reporting this news it seems ridiculous for us to ignore it. Frankly we've had enough of sitting back each time 'leaks' occur and watching a camera become old news before it's even announced. UPDATE: The camera has now been announced and we have a hands-on preview.
November 2
Canon issue new EOS 30D firmware
Canon has announced new firmware for the EOS 30D. Version 1.0.5 fixes a bug which mis-reports the number of continuous shots which can be taken and also adds a 'semi-gloss paper' option for direct printing. This firmware can be installed by simply copying the update file to the Compact Flash card and is available as a self-extracting archive for Windows or Macintosh.
November 1
Adobe Camera Raw 3.6, DNG converter
Adobe has today removed the Beta suffix from Camera Raw and DNG converter version 3.6 and posted an update as just '3.6'. As previously reported (when 3.6 Beta was released) this new version of Adobe Camera Raw and DNG converter now support an additional 13 cameras including the Canon EOS 400D (Rebel XTi) and Nikon D80 as well as now the Olympus E-400 and SP-510 UZ. A full list of newly supported models can be found after the link.