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February 2009 news and reviews

February 27
Epson releases R-D1x rangefinder
Pre-PMA 2009: Epson has announced a new version of the R-D1 rangefinder on its Japanese website. The new R-D1x model maintains most of the features of the previous camera including a 6Mp APS-C sensor, but adds a larger 2.5" LCD screen, support for the higher-capacity SD-HC card format and a removable handgrip. Epson will start shipping the new rangefinder from April 2009, at a price to be confirmed.
February 24
Corel releases Painter 11
Pre-PMA2009: Corel has announced a new version of Painter, its painting and illustration software aimed at artists, photographers and illustrators. According to Corel, Painter 11 has been optimized for professional users, rather than Paint Shop Pro, which is primarily aimed at enthusiasts. It incorporates more than 40 new and enhanced features including an expandable Color Palette, new Selection Tools, enhanced Brushes Palette and improved Colour Management. The brushes palette also includes new pressure-sensitive brushes and promises to work 30% faster than the previous versions. Priced at £263.35, it is available for download through the company's website.
Largest US camera store seeks bankruptcy protection
Ritz Camera, the largest dedicated camera retailer in the US has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The company, which owns over 800 stores across the country, under a series of names, including Wolf Camera, has proposed a restructuring plan that will aim to see the chain continue in some form. As part of this, the company has applied to the bankruptcy court for permission to continue to honor its customer loyalty and rebate schemes.
Olympus E-620 announced and previewed
Pre-PMA 2009: Olympus has announced the E-620 upper entry-level DSLR. The 12.3MP camera is packed with features from the recently introduced E-30 in a body nearer the size of the the E-420. It incorporates image stabilization, a 2.7" tilt and swivel LCD and features such as Shadow Adjustment Technology. From the E-30 come a selection of Art Filters, a Multiple Exposure mode, a choice of 4 aspect ratios. A range of optional accessories will be available, including a vertical grip and an underwater housing. We've borrowed a near-production version of the camera and have prepared a detailed hand-on preview to show you what to expect.
February 23
Fujifilm F200EXR Beta Gallery
We've just posted a quick gallery of samples taken with a pre-production Fujifilm FinePix F200EXR (there are also a few shots from a production camera that arrived yesterday). The FinePix F200EXR is the first digital camera to feature Fuji's innovative new switchable Super CCD EXR sensor, and we've included examples (including some direct comparisons) of the HR (high resolution), DR (dynamic range) and S/N (signal to noise) priority modes.
Samsung releases TL320 & HZ15W wide-angle compacts
Pre-PMA 2009: Samsung has announced the TL320 and HZ15W premium image-stabilized compact cameras (WB100 and WB550 in Europe). The TL320 has a 3.0” hVGA active matrix organic LED screen. It also offers a 24-120mm lens and full manual control. The OLED display is designed to perform better than conventional LCDs under extreme lighting. The HZ15W which, along with the recently announced HZ10W, is the world’s first 10x zoom compact to start at 24mm equiv. Both new cameras can record (and pause and re-record) HD videos. Samsung has revised several specifications since this story was first posted. Screen and lens specifications have been revised.
Samsung launches CL5 camera with MP3 player
Pre-PMA 2009: Samsung has released the CL5 compact camera (PL10 in Europe) with a built-in MP3 player.  With the camera’s multimedia player, one can listen or create slideshows with music files and watch videos on the LCD screen. The 9MP camera incorporates a 2.7” LCD, 3x Optical zoom (38-114mm equiv) and offers features such as Smart Auto, Face Detection with Recognition and Frame guide.
February 20
Ricoh looks to increase dynamic range with CX1
Following the release of its CX1, CMOS-based, zoom-compact, we asked Ricoh about some of the technologies included in the camera. As well as using a CMOS sensor that allows rapid continuous shooting (a rate of four frames per second at full resolution puts the CX1 well into entry-level DSLR territory), Ricoh has built-in a couple of features that aren't commonplace. Takashi Hongoh, General Manager of the company's Research and Development department, explains some of them.
Just posted! Olympus 9-18mm lens review
Just posted! Our lens review of the Olympus Zuiko Digital ED 9-18mm F4-5.6. This compact, lightweight ultra-wideangle zoom is aimed at the more budget-conscious Four Thirds user, belonging as it does to the company's 'Standard' line of lenses. In the second part of our latest series of lens reviews featuring wideangle zooms, we see whether the 9-18mm maintains Olympus's reputation for producing excellent optics even in its least expensive lenses.
February 19
Just posted! Nikon D3X review
Just posted! Our in-depth review of the Nikon D3X, Nikon's new 24.5 megapixel flagship DSLR. After the launch of the 12 megapixel D3 in 2007 the question wasn't if but when Nikon would present a high resolution counterpart. It took the japanese manufacturer a little while but in December of last year the D3X eventually saw the light of day. We managed to get one of the early production models and have already put it through the rigorous dpreview testing procedures. Click on the link and see if the camera can justify its $8000 price tag in our in-depth review.
Ricoh unveils CX1 CMOS-sensor zoom compact
Pre-PMA 2009: Ricoh has launched the CX1, a CMOS-based zoom compact camera. The CX1 puts a 9 megapixel CMOS sensor in a R10-like body offering a 28-200mm equivalent zoom range but increasing the screen resolution to 920,000 dots (unusually good for a compact camera). The new sensor allows high-speed continuous shooting (up to 120 frames per second at 640x480 pixel resolution), and has a series of additional technologies to boost dynamic range. The first is a multiple exposure mode that effectively produces in-camera HDR images, the second is a system that uses red and blue data to calculate a green value when the green channel over-exposes.
February 18
Canon brings SX1 IS to US and adds RAW
Canon has launched the Powershot SX1 IS in the US market and has also announced a firmware update enabling RAW capture. Existing SX1 IS owners will also be able to download the Digital Photo Professional software to edit white balance, exposure compensation and sharpness of their RAW files before converting them to JPEG. The firmware will be available for download from mid-March 2009 while US users should be able to buy cameras from April at an MSRP of $599.
Canon introduces 17mm & 24mm TS-E lenses
Pre-PMA 2009: Canon has today announced a pair of new tilt and shift lenses, in the shape of the TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II and the ultra-wide TS-E 17mm f/4L. These two optics share a brand new barrel design that allows the directions of the tilt and shift to be rotated independently of each other, offering a high degree of control over the positioning of the focal plane. They also feature Canon's latest sub-wavelength structure coating (SWC) for the minimization of flare and ghosting, high-precision aspherical front elements to keep distortion to a minimum and multiple UD elements to reduce chromatic aberration. When used on the 35mm full-frame format, the TS-E 17mm f/4L offers the widest angle of view of any similar lens currently available.
Canon PowerShot D10 waterproof camera emerges
Pre-PMA 2009: Canon has launched the PowerShot D10, its first waterproof digital compact. It is claimed to be waterproof up to 10 meters, freeze proof up to -10 degrees, shockproof when dropped from a height of 1.22 meters and dust proof. In addition, there are a range of optional protective accessories available. The camera has a 12.1MP sensor, 3x optical zoom and a 2.5" LCD, and includes Smart Auto Mode, Face Select & Track, Blink Detection and Face Self-timer.
Canon unveils PowerShot SX200 IS zoom compact
Pre-PMA 2009: Canon has jumped into the small-body, moderate zoom market (think Panasonic TZ5) with the PowerShot SX200 IS zoom compact. Sporting a 12.1 MP sensor, image-stabilized lens with 12x Optical zoom (28 - 336mm equiv) and a 3.0" LCD, it includes a host of features including the Smart Auto mode and enhanced Easy mode, Enhanced Face Detection with Face Select & Track, Face Self-Timer, Auto Red-Eye Correction and HD video recording.
Canon releases PowerShot SD960 IS & SSD970 IS
Pre-PMA 2009: Canon has released two new premium Digital ELPH models, the SD960 IS (Digital IXUS 110 IS in Europe) and SD970 IS (Digital IXUS 990 IS in Europe). The SD960 offers a 4x wide-angle lens starting at 28mm equiv. in front of a 12.1 megapixel sensor. The SD970 contains the same sensor but with a 5x zoom lens, this time starting at the slightly less handy 38mm equiv. The 960 has a wide-aspect ratio 2.8" screen for shooting HD movies while the 970 IS has a 3" 4:3 LCD.
Canon announces PowerShot SD780 IS & SD1200 IS
Pre-PMA 2009: Canon has announced its slimmest compacts, the PowerShot SD780 IS (Digital IXUS 100 IS in Europe) and PowerShot SD1200 IS (Digital IXUS 95 IS in Europe), replacing the SD770 IS and SD1100 IS respectively. Both the 12.1 megapixel SD780 IS and 10 megapixel SD1200 IS offer similar features including 3x optical zoom, optical viewfinders, 2.5" LCDs, Optical Image Stabilization, Smart Auto mode with Scene Detection and i-Contrast. Furthermore, the SD780 IS can also record High Definition movies.
Canon releases PowerShot A2100 IS & A1100 IS
Pre-PMA 2009: Canon has also released two new PowerShot A series compacts: the 12.1 Megapixel PowerShot A1100 IS and PowerShot A2100 IS. The A1100 IS features 4x optical zoom, a 2.5" LCD and an optical viewfinder, while the A2100 comes with 6x optical zoom and a 3.0" LCD with brightness adjustment. Both cameras include the new Smart Auto mode (an improved Easy mode), Motion Detection and Face Detection that can detect up to 35 faces.
February 17
Leica launches Super-Elmar-M 18 mm lens
Pre-PMA 2009: Leica has launched the Super-Elmar-M 18 mm f/ 3.8 ASPH compact wide angle lens. With an equivalent focal length of 24mm this lens can be used on both the digital M series as well as analog cameras. It is constructed with eight elements in seven groups, including one aspherical element. In addition, Leica has also extended its rangefinder system accessories with the new Bright Line Finder M 18mm which can be used with the new lens for effective framing.
Leica announces SF 58 flash unit
Pre-PMA 2009: Leica has announced the SF 58 flash unit. With a maximum guide number of 58, it offers a zoom range of 24–105 mm and an integrated wide-angle diffuser. It includes functions such as TTL or automatic flash mode and automatic fill-in flash. It also includes Standard and Soft lighting profiles and can be used on all Leica cameras including the S-system.
Sony unleashes five new Cyber-shots
Pre-PMA 2009: Sony has decided today would be a good day to unleash five new Cyber-shot digital cameras on the world. From the top we have the ten times optical zoom, image stabilized DSC-H20 which has a ten megapixel CCD. Next we have two twelve megapixel W-series models, the four times zoom W230 and the five times zoom W290. Then come two new slim, twelve megapixel, touch-screen T-models, the T90 and T900, the latter of which demands an $80 premium for its 0.5" larger higher-resolution LCD. All of the models announced today, with one exception (the W230), shoot 720p HD video and have an "Intelligent Auto" mode (where have we seen that before?).
Samsung releases SL820 with HD recording
Pre-PMA 2009: Samsung has released the SL820 (IT100 in Europe) digital compact with HD video recording. It sports a 12 megapixel sensor, 28mm wide angle lens with 5x optical zoom and a 3.0" LCD. It contains all of this season's key new features, such as an automatic scene selection mode and blink detection but also has the ability to pause and re-record 1280x720 HD video, a feature Samsung says it has patented.
Samsung unveils SL202 and SL620 compact cameras
Pre-PMA 2009: Samsung has released the SL202 (PL50 in Europe) and SL620 (PL65 in Europe) digital compact cameras. The 10 megapixel SL202 and 12 megapixel SL620 include features such as Smart Auto mode, Face Detection, Blink Detection, Smart Album and a new Frame Guide feature that takes a template shot of your desired photograph and displays it as a guide to shoot the same frame again with different subjects. The SL620 also features Dual Image Stabilization and will be available from March 2009 in black, pink, silver and dark gray and the SL202 in Candy Pink, Black and Silver.
Samsung announces SL30 budget compact camera
Pre-PMA 2009: Samsung has announced the SL30 (ES15 in Europe) budget compact camera. The camera is designed with a 10 megapixel sensor, 3x optical zoom and includes Face Detection and a Beauty mode that retouches faces for a smoother skin tone. Priced at £79, the camera will be available from April 2009 in candy pink, silver, white and dark gray.
Fujifilm develops FinePix Z33 waterproof camera
Pre-PMA 2009: Fujifilm has unveiled the FinePix Z33WP rugged digital camera. Its weatherproof design (waterproof to three metes for two hours, the company says) is a feature we'd expect of Fujifilm's Big Job industrial range but its smooth styling and slim, 20mm-thick body are more consumer focused. It's got a 10MP sensor, 3x optical zoom and a 2.7" LCD, includes all the latest easy-to-use features and is available in a range of striking colors.
Fujifilm introduces Finepix S1500 super-zoom
Pre-PMA 2009: Fujifilm has introduced the Finepix S1500 super-zoom compact with wide-angle 12x optical zoom (33mm-396mm equiv.). The 10MP camera incorporates Dual Image Stabilisation alonsgside features such as AF tracking, Panorama Shooting mode, Face Detection technology and Instant Zoom. It is also designed for lower power consumption with a 300 shot battery life using AA Batteries and up to 700 shot battery life with AA Lithium batteries.
Fujifilm announces Finepix Z30 digital compact camera
Pre-PMA 2009: Fujifilm has announced the FinePix Z30 digital compact. With a curvy and compact design, this 10MP camera features a Dual Blog Mode for uploading both images and movies. It also includes a new Couple and Group Self-timer Mode that guides the camera to shoot only when the faces are fully within the frame. Other features include a 2.7" LCD, 3x Optical zoom, Face Detection and Auto Scene Recognition. It will be available in Fuchsia Pink, Jet Black, Pure White or Tangy Orange.
Fujifilm launches FinePix J250
Pre-PMA 2009: Fujifilm has released the FinePix J250 digital compact. This J series budget camera is based around a 10MP sensor, wide-angle 5x Optical zoom (28-140mm equiv) and 3.0" LCD. It incorporates features such as Dual Image Stabalisation and Auto Scene Recognition. The J250 will be available in a choice Silver or Black.
Fujifilm releases FinePix J20 entry-level compact camera
Pre-PMA 2009: Fujifilm has released the FinePix J20 entry-level digital compact camera. This 10 megapixel camera with a 2.7 inch LCD and 3x Optical zoom has a compact 17.4mm body and includes features such as Auto Scene Recognition, Face Detection and 15 Scene Modes.
February 16
PMA 2009 show report preview and predictions
Pre-PMA 2009: In two weeks the Photo Marketing Association tradeshow will open its doors. The flow of new product announcements began at CES last month and promises to pick up its pace this week and next. Despite the global economic situation we are still expecting a number of announcements from all manufacturers, just perhaps with a balance toward the more affordable models. So that you can keep up to date with his growing list of new products we have enabled our show report and new product index which will also provide direct access to our live 'from the show floor' reports as they happen. We've also added a little preview / predictions list. Bookmark our show report page or subscribe to our PMA 2009 RSS feeds.
Sony Alpha 700 review updated
Firmly in the 'better late than never' camp we've updated our review of Sony's Alpha 700 digital SLR to incorporate changes made to the firmware. We've re-shot, re-processed and re-analysed our noise comparisons using the latest (V4) firmware (which allows users to turn noise reduction off for raw files). Since this issue - the application of noise reduction to raw files - was one of the few major issues we found with the Alpha 700 we felt it worthwhile re-testing and updating the review.
February 13
Just posted! Canon EOS 5D Mark II review
Just posted! Our in-depth review of the Canon EOS 5D Mark II, long-awaited successor to the popular EOS 5D, the first 'compact' full frame digital SLR. The Mark II ups the pixel count to 21 million and comes complete with a long list of upgrades, enhancements and new features - including live view and HD video capture. Unlike the original 5D the new model faces some stiff competition from the likes of Nikon and Sony - and the 5D is quite a tough act to follow... so find out how it fared in our full test after the link.
Nikon DX 35mm F1.8 G sample photos
Following its announcement earlier this week, we have prepared a sample gallery from the new AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm F1.8 G. Nikon has made clear that this lens is aimed squarely at entry-level users and its low price seems to have generated a lot of interest, so we rushed out the moment it arrived in the office. We've included a couple of shots with the lens wide-open and in a variety of conditions to give a little taste of what you can expect. It's also joined our lens review queue, so we're aiming to provide more in-depth analysis in the coming months.
February 11
Just posted! Tamron 10-24mm lens review
Just posted! Our new lens review featuring Tamron's latest exercise in nominative brevity, the SP AF 10-24mm F3.5-4.5 Di II LD Aspherical (IF). With the widest zoom range in its class (and joint widest-angle view), this lens certainly looks like a tempting prospect for photographers in search of sweeping vistas. So to kick off a new series of wide-angle zoom reviews, we test this brand-new design to see if all those letters equate to top-notch optical performance.
February 10
35mm F1.8 for DX? What is Nikon up to?
Following the launch of its 35mm F1.8 lens, we spoke to Nikon to discuss why it has chosen this particular lens to address the commonly-cited lack of cheap, fast primes for owners of its D40, D40X and D60 DSLRs. Robert Cristina, Manager of professional products, Europe and Ludovic Drean, Product Manager for lenses, Europe, offered to explain.
Canon releases firmware update for PowerShot G10
Canon has released a firmware update for the PowerShot G10 compact camera. Version rectifies the occurrence of a magenta cast when RAW images are captured at ISO 1600 in continuous shooting mode or in single shooting mode with the monitor switched off. The fix only affects cameras with a serial number within a range specified by Canon.
February 9
Panasonic updates firmware for DMC-G1
Panasonic has released a firmware update for the DMC-G1 digital camera. Version 1.2 promises to improve color reproduction and the performance of Auto White Balance. It also enables writing files from PCs to the camera for models shipped in Europe. Furthermore, with the latest update, the built-in flash operates better in low temperatures.
Nikon launches AF-S 35mm F1.8 DX prime
Pre-PMA 2009: Nikon has announced the launch of a 35mm F1.8 prime lens with autofocus compatible with the D40, D40X and D60. The AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm F1.8 G is a completely new design for Nikon-mount DSLRs with APS-C sized sensors (or the ability to work in crop mode). The manufacturer suggested retail price is just €199/£199/$199, making it a modern alternative to the traditional 50mm lenses as used on 35mm film bodies.
February 4
Fujifilm introduces F200EXR with Super CCD EXR
Fujifilm has unveiled the FinePix F200EXR digital compact, incorporating its new 1/1.6” Super CCD EXR sensor. The camera is the first to use the company's EXR technology that can use the sensor in three different ways to optimize resolution, dynamic range or low-light performance. The F200EXR has a 3.0" LCD, 5x optical zoom, dual image stabilization and HD (stills) output. An EXR Auto mode lets the camera select which of the three sensor modes is used or the user can make that decision themselves.
Fujifilm releases A150 & A100 budget cameras
Fujifilm has announced the A150 and A100 budget compact cameras. The near-identical features of both the cameras include 10MP sensors, 3x optical zoom (35.5 - 106.5mm equiv), Face Detection with red-eye removal and 14 scene modes, including a movie mode. The A150 has a slightly bigger 3.0 inch LCD, while the A100 makes do with a 2.7 inch LCD unit.
February 3
Nikon unveils Coolpix P90 24X superzoom
Pre-PMA 2009: Nikon has unveiled the Coolpix P90 superzoom with 24x optical zoom. With 26mm - 624mm (35mm equiv.) zoom range this superzoom camera sports a 12.1 MP sensor, 3.0 inch tilting LCD and includes manual and auto features such as Scene Auto Selector, Smile Mode, Blink warning and P/A/S/M exposure modes. In addition, continuous shooting mode can deliver 45 images at 15 fps, with images being recorded before pressing the shutter button.
Nikon announces four Coolpix S-series compacts
Pre-PMA 2009: Nikon has introduces four new S-series Coolpix ultra-compact cameras, the S630, S620, S230 and S220. The S630 has a 7x zoom and 12MP sensor, the S620 also offers 12MP with only a 4x zoom (but starting at 28mm equiv). The S230 and S220 are both 10MP models with 3x optical zooms. S230 has a 3.0" touch-screen while the S200 makes do with a conventional 2.5" affair.
Nikon releases three L-series budget cameras
Pre-PMA 2009: Nikon has announced the L100, L20 and L19 budget cameras. The L100 is a superzoom with 15x optical zoom (28-420mm equiv) and 10MP sensor. It includes features such as Image Stabilization, D-lighting and a Sports Continuous mode that allows shooting at up to 13 frames per second. The L19 and L20 are more conventional comapcts with 8MP and a 2.7" LCD and 10MP and a 3.0" LCD respectively.