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December 2007 news and reviews

December 31
Olympus releases Vista-compatible RAW codec
Olympus has made available a RAW codec compatible with Windows Vista. The software is compatible with a wide range of RAW-capable Olympus cameras stretching back to 2000's E-10 and obviously including the latest E-System and SP models. Download link after the jump.
US Department of Transport announces restrictions for Li-Ion batteries
The US Department of Transportation has announced new safety rules relating to the storage of rechargeable Lithium batteries when flying to, from and within the USA. The new restrictions, effective from January 1st 2008, dictate that loose Lithium cells may not be packed in checked baggage under any circumstances - batteries installed in equipment are unaffected. Carry-on baggage may contain up to two loose batteries but only if there is no possibility of short-circuit, containing them individually within simple plastic bags or their original packaging is sufficient to prevent this and will satisfy inspectors. Click through for the DOT press release.
December 28
Sony α700 firmware v3
Sony's α700 DSLR recently received its second firmware update, version 3. This release fixes a couple of bugs - the camera was occasionally prone to locking up when shooting a burst of images and would sometimes carry over settings made in Memory Recall (MR) mode when shutting down the camera. Any users who missed firmware 2 may install this update directly as it includes the earlier fixes. Download link after the jump.
Sony DSC-S730
Sony has announced the imminent availability of its Cyber-Shot DSC-S730, a 7.2 MP entry-level digicam with 3x optical zoom and 2.4" LCD. The emphasis here is firmly on value and ease of use though, in the best Sony tradition, style and quality of construction also play a major part. This particular model looks to be a europe-only release although it is entirely possible it will be launched in other markets under a different model designation. The DSC-S730 will be available from January 2008 for the altogether reasonable sum of €139/£99.
December 21
Just posted! Olympus SP-560 UZ review
Just Posted! Our review of the Olympus SP-560UZ, update to the SP-550UZ (the world's first 18x zoom digital compact camera). The SP-560 UZ ups the pixel count and adds a few new features, but is a fairly minor upgrade to what was a promising, but ultimately rather disappointing 'ultra zoom'. As we polish off the last of the mince pies and prepare to pack up for the festive season, was the SP-560UZ enough of an improvement to bring out our festive cheer or not? Find out after the link...
Ricoh GR Digital II firmware v1.12
Ricoh's firmware development team has been busy as ever fettling its GR Digital II premium compact and has today released the fruits of its labor - v1.12. This update improves image quality at lower resolutions in addition to fixing a couple of issues regarding the ADJ lever. Also, the lens will now initialize when exiting macro mode to improve focus accuracy. Download link coming up after the click.
December 20
Capture One 4 released
Phase One's Capture One RAW conversion software has reached version 4, and arrives sporting a new underlying architecture and interface - so a major upgrade by all accounts. The new interface places the point of focus on the the image - or indeed images as one may now open up to 12 simultaneously at full resolution. Multiple versions of a RAW file may also be created with 'virtually no disk and performance overhead'. The shortcut system has been upgraded too, making accessing frequently-used functions a breeze. Capture One 4 is available now as a free upgrade for existing users or $129 / €99 for first-time purchasers, more after the click.
Just posted! Canon SX100 IS review
Just Posted! Our review of the Canon Powershot SX100 IS, the first model in Canon's brand new line of 'budget' superzoom digital cameras. The SX100 IS comes with a 8MP sensor, 10x zoom and a number of manual controls, occupying the gap between Canon's tried and tested A-series and the more upmarket Powershot S5. In its press material Canon claims the SX series offers exceptional performance in the hands of any member of the family; to find out how it performed in our capable hands check out the review after the link ...
Fujifilm  S8000fd firmware v1.01
Another firmware release, this time from Fujifilm for its FinePix S8000fd superzoom. Version 1.01 firstly fixes issues relating to 4GB memory cards - namely the inability to transfer data from FinePixViewer to the camera when connected. The release also corrects bugs present in high speed continuous shooting mode when using Auto ISO. Previously the camera would occasionally record low light scenes as the proverbial 'black cat in a coal mine' and rather confusingly reported ISO 640 as 64. Click through for the links.
Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III Firmware v1.0.6
Canon has released firmware v1.0.6 for the 1Ds Mark III. This update improves communication between the camera and certain CF cards as well as preventing color casts and vertical lines from appearing on images. The update is available now via Canon, link after the jump.
December 19
Just posted! Sony Alpha DSLR-A700 review
Just posted! Our detailed, in-depth (33 page) review of the Sony DSLR-A700. The A700 is aimed at the serious amateur / semi-professional market with its sensor-shift stabilized twelve megapixel CMOS chip, high resolution three inch LCD monitor, five frames per second shooting and Konica Minolta heritage such as Eye-start auto-focus. The A700 needs to compete with the Canon EOS 40D, Nikon D300 and Olympus E-3, and those are the exact cameras we have used for our comparison (hence the delay in this review, they arrived during the review process).
Tokina postpones Canon-mount 35mm macro
Canon users interested in the recently announced AT-X M35 PRO DX will have to wait a little longer to sample this unusual lens. Tokina has put back the release of the EOS-mount variant from December 21st to 'late January' due to development difficulties relating to the focus system. Copies with Nikon mount are unaffected and will be released on schedule.
Ricoh 500G Wide firmware v1.10
Ricoh's 500G Wide ruggedized compact has received a firmware upgrade to 1.10. This is to rectify an issue with image playback whereby images are occasionally shown out of sequence. Hardly the end of the world then but as ever Ricoh is right there with a fix, good on them we say. Download link after the click.
Sigma updates 18-200 to 'D40-friendly' status
Sigma has announced that it is to make its unstabilized 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 DC lens compatible with Nikon's D40 and D40x SLRs which lack an in-body focus motor. Previously 'screwdriver' driven, the new lens will sport an integral motor to shift the glass around and will sit aside the 18-200 OS in Sigma's 2008 range. Making up for the lack of stabilization is the reduction in size and weight - over 24 mm (0.9 in) of length and a handy 215g (7.6 oz) of weight have been lost compared to its big brother which wasn't exactly obese to begin with. Pricing and availability are yet to be announced.
December 18
Bibble 4.9.9: Greater functionality with more cameras
Bibble labs today announced the latest update to its RAW workflow software, with many recent cameras now supported. Also added was the ability to tether Nikon DSLRs to the latest Intel-based Macs - a feature hitherto reserved for those running Windows or an earlier PowerPC machine. The update is free to licensees of Bibble 4.x but anyone purchasing for the first time ($129.95 for Pro, $69.95 for Lite) will receive version 5 free of charge when it is released - a 14 day trial is also up for grabs from the Bibble site.
December 17
Panasonic DMC-L10 firmware v1.1
Hot on the heels of our review, Panasonic has released version 1.1 firmware for its DMC-L10 DSLR. This update is said to improve AF, exposure and white balance as well as allowing shorter time between frames in single shot mode. The interface has also been tweaked with the front and rear command dials now able to fine tune the white balance and the position of the magnified area in live view. Click through for the download link.
December 14
Just posted! Panasonic DMC-L10 review
Just Posted! Our review of the Lumix DMC-L10, Panasonic's second Four Thirds digital SLR. The L10 joins the increasingly crowded 10 megapixel mid-range DSLR pack with a few unique features, including a fully articulated swing/tilt screen, full-time live view AF (contrast detect) and a high quality 28-100mm equiv. optically stabilized Leica kit lens. Designed as the ultimate 'step up' camera for compact users looking to move to the next level the L10 brings Panasonic's friendly user interface and familiar features (such as face detection and scene modes) to the SLR space. So is it worth the $1299? Check out our in-depth review after the link...
December 11
Rob Galbraith's EOS-1D Mark III update
Rob Galbraith has posted his latest installment of the issues and fixes around the much publicized Canon EOS-1D Mark III continuous auto-focus issues. This story has been running since around June time when Rob first posted his relatively poor experience of shooting the EOS-1D Mark III in a working sports environment. Rob identified a number of issues including jumpy auto-focus and inconsistency in AI Servo sequences especially when the camera was warm while shooting in bright light. Canon has recently spoken of a fix which replaces the the AF sub-mirror assembly in the camera, there also appears to be yet another firmware update on the horizon. However it's clear from Rob's very extensive analysis (a good portion of which appears to have been carried out in conjunction with Canon) this isn't the end of the story.
December 6
Olympus SP-560UZ gains wireless flash through firmware 3.1
Olympus has released firmware version 3.1 for its SP-560UZ superzoom, allowing the camera to wirelessly control multiple Olympus flash units such as the FL-50R and FL-36R. the update is available to download now via Olympus Master 2 software, update instructions and a guide to using the wireless system follows after the jump.
Adobe Camera Raw 4.3.1

Following its comprehensive update release last month, Adobe today announced availability of Camera Raw 4.3.1 which now allows compressed NEFs shot with the Nikon D100 to be opened, fixing a bug introduced in 4.3. The release also improves the quality of Olympus E3 conversions. Both Mac OS and Windows versions are available with or without DNG Converter included. Click through for the download links.

December 5
Just posted! Fujifilm F50fd review
Just Posted! Our review of the Fujifilm FinePix F50fd, successor to the F31fd and flagship of Fujifilm's Compact range. The F50fd has some massive shoes to fill. Its predecessor, the F31fd, was widely regarded as the best performing compact camera at high ISO sensitivities. The F50fd is a complete redesign, sports some new features such as image stabilization and Face Detection 2.0, and has doubled the pixel count to an impressive 12MP. Will it be able to match or even surpass its predecessor’s image quality? See how it performed in the review after the link ...
Nikon ViewNX 1.0.3
Nikon has released version 1.0.3 of ViewNX with a raft of improvements and bug fixes. Highlights of the upgrade include thumbnails of movie files created by Nikon cameras or software, compatibility with externally-added IPTC information and automatic falloff-compensation to images taken with 70-200 and 80-200 Nikkors on the new FX-sensored D3. The update is available now for Windows and Mac OS via Nikon's download area, links after the jump.
December 4
Tamron builds 'D40-friendly' 18-250
Tamron has announced a new version of its popular 18-250 superzoom with an in-built focus motor evidently aimed at users of Nikon's D40 and D40x DSLRs. These two cameras lack legacy lens support in the form of a mechanical focus coupling - an omission widely criticized due to the reduced range of available lenses. Other specs appear to be unchanged from the existing version. Due to go on sale in Japan on December 13th, pricing and worldwide availability are yet to be announced.
Samsung S760 & S860
Samsung today announced two economical digicams with solid specs for their price-point. The S760 and S860 are virtual twins with only the pixel count - 7 and 8 MP respectively - to distinguish them. 3x optical zoom, Face Recognition and 2.4" LCDs round off the specs. Both cameras are due to arrive in January priced at $169 and $179. Oh and there'll be Pink and Blue finishes available besides the more usual Silver and Black.
December 3
New Sigma 50-150 & 70-200
Sigma today announced two new telephoto zooms - one for APS-C cameras and one for full-frame. The APO 50-150mm F2.8 II EX DC HSM uses no less than four SLD elements in its design to minimize aberrations and HSM focusing to keep the noise down. Internal focus and zoom ensure there is no change to the size of the lens during use. The APO 70-200mm F2.8 II EX DG MACRO HSM has a modified layout to improve close-up performance to make better use of the maximum 1:3.5 subject magnification ratio. Pricing and availability are to be announced but click though for specifications.