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July 2007 news and reviews

July 31
Just posted! Leica M8 review
Just posted! Our detailed in-depth review of Leica's first digital rangefinder, the M8. Fifty-two years after the first M series camera (the M3) Leica bring their classic rangefinder design into the digital age with a ten megapixel CCD (with specially designed offset microlenses) and a full range of digital controls. From the front you'd probably not guess this was a digital and in use Leica have done as much as they can to maintain the advantages of rangefinder photography. See how the M8 performed and learn about some of its quirks in our review.
Canon EOS-1D Mark III firmware 1.1.0 now available
Ten days ago Canon announced that they would make new EOS-1D Mark III firmware available at the end of this month. Today, true to their word they have announced what is now being called version 1.1.0 which has the following changes; improves the look of images when played on the LCD monitor; fixes a problem in the operation of the dials; reduces the tendency to autofocus on the background when using AI Servo AF in certain conditions; corrects errors in the Italian and Simplified Chinese menus; fixes a rare phenomenon where the camera will not start after the battery is inserted.
July 30
Samsung NV range updated
Samsung has announced a trio of new compacts in its NV (New Vision) series, upping the resolution in the range-topping NV20 to 12 megapixels with 8 and 10 MP sensors available in the NV8 and NV15. All three feature the same attractive styling and innovative 'Smart Touch' interface as before - albeit with tweaks. The NV20 is the first camera from Samsung to feature a new and improved image processing system - it will be interesting to see how that performs when the cameras arrive at the end of August.
Samsung i85
Samsung today announced its latest multimedia camera - the i85. Following on from previous i-series devices by combining music and video playback alongside its photographic abilities, the i85 has a few new tricks up its sleeve such as an inbuilt travel guide which may be updated online and a generous 450MB of internal storage.
July 27
Just Posted: Canon PowerShot S5 IS review
Just posted! Our review of the PowerShot S5 IS, the latest in Canon's enduringly popular 12X 'super zoom' digital camera range. The new model ups the resolution and top ISO and adds face detection (of course), but also sports a swathe of feature enhancements including a larger screen and - for the first time - a flash hot shoe. But is it any good, and can it still compete with the 15x and 18x zoom models from Sony, Panasonic, Olympus et al? Find out in our full review after the link...
July 26
Kodak Sues Panasonic Over Patents
Kodak today filed a suit against Panasonic (and JVC) claiming that they are infringing Kodak patents which cover image compression, storage, color image sensors, selectable image size and preview. Apparently Kodak is seeking damages and an injunction against Matushita (Panasonic) and its subsidiaries. An interesting suffix to this story is that apparently Sony already settled a similar case with Kodak in January which requires them to pay Kodak royalties (something Olympus and Sanyo already do).
Fujifilm FinePix S5800: Small camera - Big pictures
Also announced today was Fujifilm's successor to its S5700 compact superzoom. Packing a 10x zoom and 8 megapixels, the S5800 also boasts ISO1600 capability and a 1cm Super Macro mode. Budding film-makers are well catered for with 640x480, 30fps movie capture featuring Electronic image stabilization and smooth 60fps LCD monitor and EVF. The S5800 will be available in Europe and Asia only from September 2007.
Fujifilm FinePix Z100fd
In addition to the Z10fd, Fujifilm has announced another slim and stylish yet feature-packed digicam. Shoehorned into the 19.8mm (0.8 in) shell of the 8 megapixel Z100fd we find a 5x zoom, Face Detection, intelligent red-eye removal and CCD-shift stabilization. This frankly gorgeous little camera is also available in four two-tone color schemes including 'Tuxedo Black' as pictured here - just the ticket for a night on the town.
Fujifilm FinePix S8000fd - 18x zoom
Fujiflm has joined the 'big zoom' brigade with a camera designed to go head-to-head with the Olympus SP-550UZ and the new Pansaonic FZ18. Sporting an 18x (27-486mm equiv.) zoom, 8MP sensor and - for the first time in a Fujifilm 'bridge' camera - image stabilization (CCD-shift), the new FinePix S8000fd is Fujifilm's most ambitious S series to date. Other features of note include face detection, 15fps shooting (at reduced resolution) and sensitivity settings of up to ISO 6400 (again, at reduced resolution). Like most recent FinePix digital cameras the new S8000fd accepts both xD and SD/SDHC media.
Fujifilm FinePix F50fd, Image Stabilized
The Fujifilm F50fd has a lot to live up to, its the model to replace the F31fd, a camera we have raved about ever since we reviewed it as about the only compact camera you can use confidently at high sensitivities. The F50fd takes quite a jump from the F31fd's six megapixels, it now has twelve megapixels and that only makes us wonder if it will be able to match the F31fd's high ISO performance. The F50fd also features a mechanical CCD-shift image stabilization system, improved face detection, ISO 1600 at full image size and a 2.7" LCD monitor. The F50fd should be available in September at around $300.
Fujifilm FinePix Z10fd; Face it, Beam it, Blog it
Carrying the slightly odd 'Face it, Beam it, Blog it' tagline the new seven megapixel three times zoom ultra-compact Z10fd digital camera from Fujifilm looks very cool, especially in black (it is available in four more neon-like colors). Face it refers to face detection technology, which is kind of expected in a compact camera these days. Beam it indicates support for IrSimple InfraRed communication and Blog it, well pretty much goes without saying, it allows you, "the bloggers of the world", to produce 640x480 or 320x240 images straight in the camera (this used to be called email mode). The Z10fd should be available in September at around $200.
Fujifilm FinePix F480, wide-angle zoom
Fujifilm adds to its F-series line with the new all-black F480, a wide-angle zoom (28 - 112 mm equiv.) eight megapixel digital camera with a 2.7" LCD monitor, an easy-access mode / scene dial and internal memory as well as support for xD or SD card storage. One noteworthy item on this camera must be the direct access to 'Baby mode' from the mode dial which hints at the target market for this camera. The F480 should be available in September at around $180.
Fujifilm FinePix A920
Fujifilm's latest entry level digital camera is the A920, it features a nine megapixel SuperCCD sensor, up to ISO 800 sensitivity, a four times optical zoom lens and 2.7" LCD monitor. In addition it doubles up on storage (as we have seen from most recent Fujifilm announcements) by providing a dual xD / SD card slot. The A920 should be available in September at around $200.
July 25
Sigma HSM lenses for Nikon mount
Sigma has today announced that it is to release updated HSM motor driven versions of the DC 17-70 mm and DC 18-50 mm lenses on the Nikon lens mount. For those unfamiliar with the numerous lens acronyms, HSM stands for Hyper Sonic Motor, (also known as Ultrasonic motor, Silent Wave Motor or even Sonic Direct-drive Motor) and is a faster, quieter and often more compact motor system for lenses. Essentially this should mean quieter and faster focusing.
Kodak's first CMOS compact
Kodak yesterday quietly announced the EASYSHARE C513 - its first digital camera based on CMOS sensor technology (well aside from 2001's mc3). Kodak say the CMOS sensor is capable of providing "excellent color reproduction and dynamic range with low electronic noise" but have - for this model at least - limited sensitivity to ISO160 (enabling the 'Digital IS' mode yields a dizzying ISO200!). The main specs are nothing to write home about with a 5MP resolution and the obligatory 36-108mm equivalent lens typical of low-end compacts backed up with the usual EASYSHARE bells and whistles. However as a glimpse at the future of sensor technology this humble little digicam may prove to be very important indeed. The C513 ships in August 2007 with an MSRP of $99.
July 24
Panasonic DMC-FZ18
In addition to two new 'pocketable' compacts Panasonic has revealed the latest FZ series 'super zoom' model, the eighteen times optical zoom FZ18. This camera mates its (tiny) eight megapixel CCD to a lens which provides the equivalent of 28 to 504 mm on a 35 mm camera, plus it's optical image stabilization. Just like the compacts the FZ18 gets 'Intelligent Auto Mode', Face detection and automatic LCD backlight control. The FZ18 is (on paper) a compelling option considering how much glass you'd have to carry around to match it with a digital SLR (ignoring other factors such as high ISO performance, lens quality and focusing speed).
Panasonic DMC-FX55 and FX33
Panasonic has today launched two new eight megapixel FX series digital cameras, the DMC-FX55 and FX33. These two cameras are essentially the same albeit for the FX55's little front grip and larger three inch LCD monitor. Both cameras feature a 3.6x wide angle (28 - 100 mm) zoom lens with optical image stabilization and ISO sensitivity of 100 to 1600 at full image size (or for the very brave ISO 6400 'binned'). New features include an auto-brightness LCD (although it judges this from scene brightness, not a secondary sensor), face detection and 'Intelligent Auto Mode' which does almost everything (automatically selecting the correct scene mode, sensitivity, face detection etc.) except say 'cheese'.
July 21
Canon EOS-1D Mark III firmware 1.0.9, soon
Recently the EOS-1D Mark III has been the buzz of various Internet discussion forums, but not for the right reasons. Over the last few months a problem with Auto Focus has come to light which causes it to either mis-focus or slightly front or back focus, especially noticeable when tracking a moving subject in Ai Servo mode. Canon has announced that it will make a new firmware release (version 1.0.9) available for download at the end of this month (or if you prefer you can have your camera serviced right now) which is supposed to address at least part of the problem. However some detailed analysis by Rob Galbraith indicates that this firmware isn't the panacea many Mark III owners will be hoping for.
July 19
Sandisk opens the throttle on its fastest cards yet
Sandisk has introduced its new 'Ducati Edition' range of high speed flash memory cards, inspired by its sponsorship of the Ducati Corse MotoGP team. Available in CompactFlash and SDHC formats with capacities of 4 and 8 GB for the CF and 4GB for the SDHC, the new media are Sandisk's fastest yet - claimed to reach speeds of 45 and 20 MB per second respectively. The SDHC card is of Sandisk's 'Plus' design incorporating a USB plug into the body of the card which is protected by a hinged section of the shell - until now this feature has been limited to the Ultra II range.
July 18
Olympus releases Studio 2.0
Olympus has a major update of its Olympus Studio RAW conversion and camera-control software for photographers using its E-System DSLRs. Version 2.0 features a new user interface and is finally compatible with Intel Macs and Windows Vista as well as supporting the latest E-410 and E-510 cameras. Olympus has also added CD sleeve design and printing functionality along with a file backup system to make Studio close to a 'one stop shop' workflow solution. Olympus Studio 2.0 is available now as a 30 day trial from the Olympus site - link after the jump.
July 17
Canon CMOS for compact cameras
Thanks to Jeff for the heads up on this, according to an article posted yesterday by Reuters, Canon is to invest 55 billion Yen ($451 million) in a new CMOS production factory at its existing site in the Kanagawa Prefecture near Tokyo. The interesting snippet in this news article comes from the following statement: "The CMOS chips will be used in both single lens reflex (SLR) models as well as in some compact models. Canon's compact cameras have to date used a different type of image sensor called a charge-coupled device (CCD)." This is interesting from an image quality point of view but will also be big news for Canon's existing sensor suppliers such as Sony.
Sony CMOS investment
Sony has revealed it is to invest 60 billion Yen (5 billion Yen more than Canon) over the next three years in its Kumamoto Technology Center (image sensor production). From the announcement: "Over the next three years, Sony will continue to strengthen its CMOS sensor manufacturing operations to provide growth markets such as mobile phones and digital still cameras with CMOS sensors that combine high image quality with advanced processing speeds." UPDATE: Although this story only showed up on Sony's semiconductor page today it was on their press release page some time ago, so it looks like Canon were chasing Sony's tail on this one.
July 13
Fujifilm IS Pro, third UV & IR camera
Fujifilm today announced the launch of the IS Pro - its third camera designed to record non-visible light and aimed at the law enforcement, scientific, medical and fine art communities. The camera - we assume it to be based on the S5 Pro - has a modified CCD filter pack and is sensitive to Ultraviolet and Infrared light between 380nm and 1000nm. Fujifilm are offering the IS Pro in four kits ranging from $2599 for the body only to $4999 with a Zeiss 50mm Macro 1:2 F2.0 Lens, suitable filters, HyperUtility processing software and even protective armour for the camera body. This comprehensive package represents a 'turn-key' solution to Infrared photography and requires only the addition of a Quartz UV lens for optimum Ultraviolet sensitivity. As was the case with its predecessors the IS Pro appears to be available - officially at least - in the US market only.
Sony Cyber-shot H7 review

Just posted! Our review of the Sony DSC-H7, the lower cost version of the Cyber-shot H9 (reviewed at the end of May). There's not a lot of difference between the models (aside from LCD size), so there's not a lot new in this quick update, though it does feature comparisons with Canon's new PowerShot S5 IS, which arrived after the H9 was reviewed and is next in the queue...

Sigma SD14 firmware 1.04
Sigma has released version 1.04 firmware for its SD14 DSLR. The update corrects an intermittent camera freeze, improves video output and fixes the remaining-shot counter. For users of Intel-powered Macs running OS 10.4.9, the camera will now be recognized as a removable disk when connected via USB. The update is available now via the sigma-sd14.com site - link after the click.
Canon Digital Photo Professional 3.0.2
Canon also has an update for users of its Digital Photo Professional Raw-conversion software. As well as enhancing on-screen rendering and allowing Picture Style settings to be applied, version 3.0.2 also improves compatibility with Microsoft Windows Vista. Download link after the jump.
Canon EOS Utility 2.0.2
Canon has made available version 2.0.2 of its EOS Utility downloading and camera-control software. The changes include support for Windows Vista and the new EOS-1D Mark III. Download instructions and link after the jump.
July 12
Samsung announces S85
Samsung has today announced its S85 compact digital camera. This economically-priced digicam packs an 8.2MP sensor and 5x optical zoom (38 - 190mm equivalent) alongside the latest technologies including Face Recognition AF & AE and ASR (Advanced Shake Reduction). The S85 will hit the shelves in the UK from the end of August with a recommended price of £119.
July 11
Pentax announces Optio E40 & M40
Pentax has a couple of new digital camera upgrades to announce today. The Optio E40 is an entry-level model with 8.1MP, 3x zoom (37.5 - 112.5 equiv) and clearly geared toward ease-of-use. Face Recognition is here along with Auto Picture mode, Digital Shake Reduction (increases ISO to achieve higher shutter speeds) and Pentax's fully-automatic 'Green Mode'. The Optio M40 meanwhile piles on the style with a slim alloy body measuring a mere 18mm (0.7") deep and is available in a variety of colors.
Samsung introduces new L-series cameras
Samsung has today announced three new L-series digital cameras. The 7MP L730 and 8MP L830 both feature a 3x optical zoom and 2.5" LCD alongside Samsung's Intelligent Face Recognition Technology and ISO1600 capability. The L83T meanwhile adds ASR (Advanced Shake Reduction) - Samsung's pseudo-stabilization system which detects camera movement and applies an inverse correction during image processing. All three are due to arrive in the UK in August with price tags between £119 and £179.
July 10
Casio Exilim EX-Z77 and EX-S880
Casio has today announced two new digital cameras whose USP (Unique Selling Point) is a YouTube optimized video capture mode. Thankfully this promises to be more than just marketing fluff as the EX-77 and EX-S880 record video using the MPEG-4 H.264 video codec, something we've been asking manufacturers to implement for some time. You can record almost 19 minutes of 640x480 video (with audio) at 30 fps on a 1 GB SD card, and of course both cameras support SDHC cards so that's an hour and 10 minutes of high quality video on a 4 GB card. Moving back to still capture capabilities for a second, both cameras have a three times optical zoom lens, the EX-S880 has an eight megapixel sensor, the EX-S77 a seven megapixel sensor.
July 5
Just Posted! Fujifilm S5 Pro Review
Just Posted! It's taken a while, but we've just posted our in-depth review of Fujifilm's S5 Pro. The S5 Pro may have the same sensor (well, almost) as the S3 Pro, but as a camera it is a quantum leap forward over the models that preceded it, being based on the highly-regarded Nikon D200 (all the previous models were based on consumer level Nikon film cameras). On paper the S5 Pro seems to address most of the issues we - and many potential purchasers - had with the S3 Pro; find out if it delivers on its promise of hugely expanded dynamic range after the link...
Pentax K10D firmware 1.30
Pentax has today released the latest firmware update for its K10D DSLR. Following the lead set by its recently announced K100D Super, the release adds support for SDM (Supersonic Drive Motor) lenses with built-in motors - Pentax's equivalent to Canon's USM and Nikon's AF-S technology and offering smoother quieter focusing. This update also incorporates previous fixes from releases 1.10 through 1.20. The update is available now for Windows and Mac OS systems via the Pentax K10D firmware download page - link after the click.
July 3
Adobe ships CS3 'Production Premium' and 'Master Collection' editions
Adobe has announced shipping of the English-language editions of Adobe Creative Suite 3 'Production Premium' and 'Master Collection', finalizing availability of the CS3 range. Customers requiring other translations have a little longer to wait however - German, French and Japanese releases are due to appear by mid-July. Comprising of six distinct editions aimed at different sectors of the imaging and production sectors, the Adobe Creative Suite 3 family is the most comprehensive package yet offered by the company.
July 2
Fujifilm S5 Pro firmware Ver 1.08
Fujifilm has made available firmware version 1.08 for its Finepix S5 Pro digital SLR. This latest release is aimed at fixing connection issues with Nikon's MB-D200 battery grip and is available now via Fujifilm's software update page - link after the jump.

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