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December 2008 news and reviews

December 29
Challenges Beta - now available
Labs beta: As revealed last Thursday (our tenth anniversary) today we are flicking the switch on our latest (and potentially biggest) new site feature. Our Challenges system provides a mechanism by which photographic challenges can be both created and entered by any member of our community. The initial beta has a few limitations (see inside for details). That said we're excited to make this new feature available today and hope you will enjoy testing it, we would actively encourage feedback using the special link available at the bottom of all challenges pages.
December 25
Happy Holidays, dpreview turns ten
The entire team at dpreview would like to wish all our readers a very Happy Holidays (whichever you're observing). As always Christmas Day marks another anniversary for the site, this time it's a big one, ten years. To celebrate we have opened our new labs section as well as revealing our first public beta feature; Challenges. As a bit of a retrospective on the last ten years we've also produced two short blog entries looking back and taking stock. Whatever you're doing today, enjoy yourselves and thank you for being a part of dpreview.com!
Labs beta: Challenges
Labs beta: As part of our ten years celebration we've been working hard to bring you a beta of our next big site feature; Challenges. Anyone who has been on the dpreview forums will be more than aware of the popularity of photographic challenges. Until now these have been created primarily by a single challenge host creating a new thread in the forums to promote their challenge idea and others following up with entries. We decided to take this concept and develop a fully integrated challenge system for dpreview which will allow series of challenges to run, with a flexible range of rule sets, voting options and winner concepts. The public beta of our Challenges system will begin this coming Monday 29th December with the opening of five initial challenges created by ourselves which any registered dpreview member can enter. After this we'll be looking for challenge hosts to continue the next phase of the beta.
December 19
Enthusiast Compact Camera Group Test

Just posted! The fourth (and penultimate) installment of our compact camera roundup looks at the top-end cameras aimed at the experienced photographer. These enthusiast cameras offer a bit more flexibility than the cameras we've looked at so far, whether that's the inclusion of a large zoom range or a greater degree of manual control. Follow the link to find what we made of them.

Canon responds to black dot and banding concerns
Canon has published a statement in response to concerns raised about the EOS 5D Mk II. The announcement addresses the widely discussed 'Black Dot' and 'Vertical Banding' issues being reported by owners and potential owners who have been scrutinizing the camera's output. The company says it is investigating both issues and will work on 'measures to reduce or eliminate these phenomena.'
Breeze Systems release D90 & D300 Remote software
Software maker Breeze Systems has launched remote capture software for the Nikon D90 and Nikon D300 DSLRs. Both enable users to control focus from a PC, shoot time-lapse sequences and display live images. They incorporate the company’s Photobooth shoot and print feature designed for event photographers. The packages are the first time Breeze Systems has supported remote capture for Nikon cameras, having covered Canon DSLRs since 2001, and trial versions are now available.
December 18
Just posted! Sony 50mm F1.4 lens review
Just posted! Our latest lens review featuring the Sony 50mm F1.4. Rounding off lens reviews for the year (and completing for the moment our mini-series of 50mm F1.4 lenses), we find out how this fast prime matches up to the exacting demands of Sony's 24 Mp A900 full-frame DSLR, as well as how it performs on the more popular APS-C sensor format.
December 16
Pentax announces K2000 in white
Pentax has announced a limited edition of the K2000 (K-m in Europe) in white, bundled as a double zoom kit with the camera body and two kit lenses. Both Pentax DA L 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 AL and Pentax DA L 50-200mm F4-5.6 AL lenses and the K2000 body sport a white finish with black trim. The kit will be made available on a limited basis in February 2009. UK MSRP is £50 above the recommended selling price of the standard K-m. In addition, Pentax has also released an online game for prospective K2000/K-m users to learn more about the camera and have a little fun.
Adobe releases Photoshop Lightroom 2.2
Adobe has updated Photoshop Lightroom to Version 2.2. The latest version extends RAW support to the cameras included in the recent Camera RAW 5.2 release. The latest update also builds-in the camera profiles, previously available from Adobe Labs, that attempt to mimic the camera manufacturers' intended output.
Panasonic updates DMC-G1 firmware
Panasonic has posted the first firmware update for its DMC-G1 Micro Four-Thirds camera. The update is said to improve the AE Lock and MF Assist features, along with the overall performance. It also lets the user make color adjustments to the camera's LCD and EVF.
December 12
Premium Compact Camera Group Test

Just posted! The third of our group tests covers the premium 'point and shoot' compacts that sit at or near the top of their respective ranges. With wide lenses, up to 14.7 million pixels and stuffed to the gills with features these cameras command top dollar, but are they all worth it? Follow the link, delve into the reviews and see what we've found...

December 11
Olympus rebrands Stylus SW to Stylus TOUGH
Olympus is rebranding its Stylus SW series of digital compacts as the Stylus TOUGH series to better promote its range of rugged cameras in a more defined category. Now to be known as Stylus TOUGH in the United States and µ TOUGH in the European Union, this new name will be introduced in early January 2009.
December 9
Nikon updates Capture NX & Camera Control Pro
Nikon has announced updates to its Capture NX and Camera Control Pro software. The latest version of both extend support to the D3X. Version 2.1.1 of Capture NX also includes a number of fixes and improvements, including issues with non-display of GPS information and error messages while setting grey point on multiple images. Camera Control Pro 2.4.0 resolves minor issues pertaining to both Windows and Mac users.
December 5
Ultra Compact Camera Group Test

Just posted! The second of our group tests covers the ultra compact, style cameras. They fit well in a pocket or handbag, they offer interesting design and a choice of colors; but is there a price to be paid for that compactness? Can the substance match the style? Follow the link, delve into the reviews and see what we've found...

Leica & Fujifilm Firmware updates
Leica and Fujifilm have announced firmware updates. Leica’s update for the M8 and M8.2 rangefinders recognizes and incorporates profiles for 4 new M lenses into the camera. It also fixes a problem in discreet mode on the M8.2 and corrects issues with the auto ISO mode, image numbering and displayed sync speed. The firmware update for Fujifilm S5 Pro prevents the camera from freezing while operating it from a computer. Fujifilm has also released updates for its Finepix J Series compacts that fixes minor printing issues.
December 2
Just posted! Tamron 18-270mm VC lens review
Just posted! Our new lens review of the Tamron AF 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC LD Aspherical (IF) MACRO.  It may have a name straight out of the web-pages of Acrophobia, but it also features a mind-blowing 15 times zoom ratio that leaves its competitors trailing in its wake. This is coupled with Tamron's own optical image stabilization system to reduce the effects of camera shake. But is longer necessarily better? Read on to find out.
December 1
Nikon unveils 24.5MP D3X digital SLR

Nikon has announced the D3X, its latest high-resultion professional DSLR. Sporting an imaging sensor with double the number of photosites of the popular D3, the 24.5 megapixel D3x includes similar features such as a 3.0", 920,000 dot LCD monitor with Live View, 51-point autofocus, EXPEED image processing and HDMI output. To keep up with the demands of stock photography the camera produces 50MB 14-bit RAW files that can be processed to produce 140MB TIFFs. It also supports Nikon’s wireless system and is compatible with Nikon’s new GP-1 GPS unit.