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March 2009 news and reviews

March 31
Olympus launches E-450 compact DSLR
Olympus has announced the E-450, an upgraded version of the E-420 compact DSLR. The new E-450 is essentially identical to the E-420 apart from the addition of 3 Art Filters, a new processor and an improved LCD display. Priced at £450 for the standard lens kit, it will start shipping from May 2009.
March 27
Zeiss to make 18mm F3.5 for Canon
Carl Zeiss has said it will produce a Canon-mount version of its 18mm F3.5 lens. The Distagon T* 3.5/18 super-wide angle lens has previously only been available in the ZF and ZK mounts for Nikon and Pentax cameras, respectively. A Canon-mount version of the lens is being shown at the Photo Imaging Expo 2009 show in Tokyo and will be available 'towards the end of the year,' the company said.
Just Posted: Canon PowerShot SX1 IS  Review
Just Posted: Our review of the Canon PowerShot SX1 IS. The SX1 IS is an update to the popular S5 IS, and is the first in a new wave of compact cameras that sport CMOS sensors with fast shooting times and HD video recording. Like its CCD-based sibling (the SX10), the SX1 offers a 28-560mm equiv. stabilized lens. But does the introduction of CMOS to compacts add enough to justify such a price premium over the CCD version? Follow the link to find out...
March 25
Just posted: Preview of the Canon EOS 500D / T1i
Just posted: our hands-on preview of the Canon 500D / T1i. We've managed to get our hands on Canon's latest consumer-grade DSLR and have been delving through the menus and scrutinizing its new features. We've also gone out and shot a handful of real-world sample images to show what it's capable of. So come in and meet the new Rebel.
Canon unveils EOS 500D / Rebel T1i DSLR
Canon has unveiled the EOS 500D (Digital Rebel T1i), the latest addition to its compact DSLR series. The upper-entry-level camera features a 15.1 MP APS-C CMOS sensor with 1080p HD video recording at 20fps. It also offers a 3.0 inch LCD with 920,000 dot resolution and an ISO sensitivity range expandable up to 12800 equivalent. It includes a faster Digic 4 processor offering better noise reduction at higher ISO's and continuous shooting speeds of up to 3.4 fps delivering 170 large JPEG images in a single burst.
Canon introduces Speedlite 270EX compact flashgun
Canon has also introduced the Speedlite 270EX entry-level flashgun, replacing the Speedlite 220EX with a smaller but more powerful unit. Unlike the 220EX, the new model features a 90 degrees tilting zoom head. It also offers a near-silent recycling in a time of just 3.9 seconds and a guide number of 27 meters. Powered by two AA batteries, this flashgun is compatible with all recent Canon cameras.
Canon releases PIXMA Pro9500 Mark II printer
Canon has released the PIXMA Pro9500 Mark II 14 inch A3+ professional inkjet printer. With a resolution of 4800 x 2400 dpi, the printer uses a 10-colour pigment ink system, including both matte and photo blacks. This allows photographers to print on both gloss and matte media without changing ink tanks. It offers 16 bits per channel printing and dedicated monochrome printing. It also offers the Ambient Light Correction option that adjusts the final print according to type of lighting under which the print will be displayed. The Pro9500 Mark II is priced at $849 USD (£729).
Canon announces PIXMA Pro9000 Mark II  printer
Canon has also announced the PIXMA Pro9000 Mark II 14 inch professional inkjet printer. Compared to the previous model, the Mark II offers three times faster black and white printing, supports third-party media and includes a new Ambient Light Correction feature. The addition of 16 bits per channel printing offers a wider color gamut (with 276 trillion colors). In addition, a plug-in for Adobe Photoshop is provided that enables Canon EOS users to directly print RAW files without converting to a compressed format. The Pro9000 Mark II is priced at $499 USD (£499).
March 24
Just Posted: Olympus E-30 Review
Just Posted: Our full review of the Olympus E-30. The E-30 is the long-awaited 'tweener' model that fills the gap in the E-system range between the entry-level models and the flagship E-3. With a new 12 megapixel sensor, a selection of unique in-camera creative options and a wealth of features, the E-30 looks very promising on paper, but does it deliver in use? Find out in our in-depth review after the link.
Hartblei Tilt-Shift lenses receive Carl Zeiss certification
Germano-Ukranian specialist lens maker Hartblei has announced that its range of Superrotator tilt-shift lenses have now been approved to carry the Carl Zeiss name. The 'Hartblei-Optics by Carl Zeiss' range of Tilt-Shift lenses includes a 40mm F4, 80mm F2.8 and 120mm F4 Macro. All three lenses are available in a variety of mounts, including Canon EF, Nikon F, Sony A and Pentax K.
Leica updates firmware for D-Lux 4 digital camera
Leica has released a firmware update for the the D-Lux 4 digital compact camera. Version 1.20 improves performance of the auto white balance and auto focus functions of the camera. The latest firmware is available for immediate download from Leica's website.
Tamron announces 60mm F2 Macro
Tamron has announced the development of a 60mm F2 macro lens that provides 1:1 magnification for APS-C sensors. The lens, called the SP AF60mm F/2.0 Di II Macro 1:1, will be available in Canon, Sony and Nikon mounts (with a built-in autofocus motor to allow AF to operate on the D40, D40X and D60). Its design, which incorporates two low dispersion elements to to compensate for various aberrations, lets you achieve 1:1 magnification at a working distance of 100mm. The F2 maximum aperture makes it a whole stop faster than other lenses in the same class. Price and availability will be announced later.
March 23
Tokina 16.5-135mm F3.5-5.6 DX coming soon?
Tokina's US distributor, THK, has announced the long-awaited AT-X 16.5-135mm DX F3.5-5.6 will be available in the summer for Canon and Nikon mounts. The lens, which gives an unusually wide angle of view for its class, has regularly appeared at trade shows as far back as the P.I.E 2007 show in Japan. It gives a field of view roughly equivalent to 25-200mm in 35mm terms (dependant on system), and will be available in Nikon mount from June this year, with the Canon variant following a month later, according to THK.
March 20
PMA Interview: Olympus
Back at PMA we sat down with a handful of senior Olympus executives from Europe, the USA and Japan for our usual show briefing and, as promised, we dedicated a section of the meeting to an 'on the record' interview for publication here. Unfortunately, much of what we discussed can't be talked about just yet, and perhaps inevitably we failed to get through the huge list of questions generated by our active Olympus users community. Check out the interview after the link...
Just Posted: Nikon AF-S DX 35mm F1.8 review
Just Posted: our review of the AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm F1.8 G. Nikon caught everyone a little off-guard with the introduction of exactly the sort of cheap, fast standard prime lens for APS-C that most people had given up asking for. We've subjected it to our extensive tests to see whether it deserves a place in every Nikon-owning enthusiast's bag or if the attraction ends at the price tag.
March 19
PMA Interview: Panasonic
We caught up with a team of executives from Panasonic Japan at PMA for a chat about the new GH1 and their plans for the DSC market. As part of our meeting Mr Ichiro Kitao, General Manager of the DSC Product Planning Group agreed to answer some of our questions - and some of those posed by our forum members - in an 'on the record' interview. Check it out after the link...
March 18
Pentax may halve Japan camera workforce

Pentax's parent company, Hoya, is to reduce its digital camera staffing levels in Japan to around half their current levels, according to the respected Japanese business paper, Nikkei. The report says jobs will be lost in sales, production management and development. Up to 300 sales-related jobs outside Japan may also go. The company has not discussed precise details but says the Nikkei story restates the company's restructuring plans announced with its third-quarter financial results in February.

Feature: Apical dynamic range interview

Dynamic range and the various ways of trying to capture and represent it are the topic of many a heated discussion on the forums. We spoke to Apical, a company working on this challenge whose technologies are incorporated in cameras from the biggest brands, to find out what it is doing to address the matter. We think this interview with managing director Michael Tusch will help shine a little light on this shadowy corner of image processing.

March 13
Canon TS-E 24mm F3.5 L II hands-on preview

Just posted! Our hands-on preview of Canon's new perspective control lens, the TS-E 24mm F3.5 L II. As one of the more interesting announcements of a somewhat uninspiring PMA 2009, Canon's new TS-E design allows independent rotation of the tilt and shift axes relative to each other and the camera, answering the prayers of many an architecture and landscape photographer. We've had a pre-production model in the dpreview offices for just enough time to bring you a description of how the new mechanism works; click through to find out.

PMA Interview: Samsung
Soon after the announcement of Samsung's 'NX' hybrid interchangeable lens system at PMA 2009 we met up with Mr Seung Soo Park, Vice President of the Strategic Marketing Team and Mr Choong-Hyun Hwang, Vice President of the Strategic Marketing Team's Product Planning Group from Samsung Digital Imaging Company to see if we could find out any more about their plans for the system. Check out the interview after the link...
March 12
Olympus E-620 preview samples gallery
Just Posted: Our preview sample gallery from the Olympus E-620. London can be quite gray at this time of year, so we thought we'd capitalize on our time in the US by putting together a sample gallery with a final production version of the new upper entry-level DSLR from Olympus. We've included a mixture of ISO settings and a couple of shots using the camera's Pin Hole art filter.
March 11
Just posted! Sigma 10-20mm lens review
Just posted! Our latest lens review focusing on Sigma's 10-20mm F4-5.6 EX DC HSM ultra-wideangle zoom. A firm favourite with the more budget-conscious APS-C user since its introduction four years ago, this lens is now challenged by some new young pretenders intent on stealing its market share. So can this old warrior still fight off its challengers, or is age beginning to take its toll?
Olympus updates firmware for ED 9-18mm lens
Olympus has announced a firmware update for the Zuiko Digital ED 9-18mm F4.0-5.6 super wide-angle lens. Version 1.1 improves the auto-focusing ability of this E-system lens in certain conditions. Olympus DSLR owners can update the firmware using the software supplied with their cameras, whereas Panasonic users can download a firmware update program from Olympus’s website.
March 10
PMA 2009 Wrap up
PMA 2009 is over, and as we return to some semblance of normality it's time to reflect on what this year's show tells us about the state of the industry and to look at some of the emerging trends in digital cameras and digital imaging in general. We've updated our show report to include not only our thoughts on the exhibition itself but also our usual pick of the products on show. We'll be adding a few interviews over the next week or so.
March 6
Pretec unveils 666x Compact Flash Cards
Pretec has unveiled the world's first 666x Compact Flash cards with a read/write speed of 100MB/s. According to the company, this is approaching the format's maximum theoretical speed of 133MB/s, and the end of ever-increasing CF card speeds is now in sight. Sporting a rugged body and resistant to shock and impact, they promise to be ten times more durable that other CF cards. The 666x CF cards will start shipping from April, with capacities ranging from 4GB to 64GB.
Pretec introduces world's first SDXC card
Two months after the SD Association announced the new SDXC (extended capacity) format , Pretec has unveiled the world's first SDXC card with  a capacity of 32 GB and read/write speed of 50MB/s. Future generations of these cards promise up to 2 Terabytes (2048 GB) of storage capacity and speeds of up to 300MB/s. Currently there are no products compatible with these memory cards.
March 5
Leica ceases R-series production
Leica has announced it is discontinuing its R-Series manual focus SLR. In a letter sent to dealers, the company said the R9 and R-series lenses would no longer be produced. The camera, which was compatible with Leica's DMR digital back, still featured on the company's stand at PMA in Las Vegas, despite the move. The company said that insights gained during the development of the S2 (its first autofocus camera), will feed into the development of a future generation of the R-system.
March 4
General Imaging launches nine compact cameras
PMA 2009: General Imaging has introduced nine new cameras at PMA. Top of the line is the 12.2 megapixels X3 with 12x optical zoom (33-396mm equiv), 2.7" LCD and Image stabilization. Next we have the waterproof G3WP with a 12.2Mp sensor and 2.7” LCD. Then come the E1255W, E1250TW and image stabilized E1276W; all with 28mm lenses, 12.2 Mp sensors and 3 inch LCDs (touch screen in the E1250TW). Lastly, we have the A950, A1050, A1035 and A1250 budget cameras with 9.1, 10.1, 10.1 and 12.2Mp sensors respectively and 2.5" LCDs. The cameras include new features including Blink, Smile and Face detection, Scene Recognition and In-camera red-eye removal.
Nikon posts Coolpix P6000 firmware update
Nikon has posted a firmware update for its 13.5 megapixel Coolpix P6000. The revised firmware v1.2 resolves an occasional file corruption problem when shooting in RAW + JPEG with distortion correction enabled, and promises to lower the power consumption of the camera. It also addresses a few other minor issues.
March 3
Pentax releases X70 superzoom digital camera
PMA 2009: Pentax has released the X70 superzoom with 24x optical zoom. With a 26mm - 624mm (35mm equiv.) zoom range this superzoom camera sports a 12 MP sensor, 2.7 inch LCD and includes manual and auto features such as Image Stabilization, Auto Picture Mode, HD video recording and P/A/S/M exposure modes. In addition, it can deliver 11 fps of continuous shooting, and its fast Face Detection can detect up to 32 faces in 0.03 seconds.
Panasonic DMC-GH1 brief hands-on
PMA 2009: We've been lucky enough to get a brief look at Panasonic's new HD video-capable DMC-GH1 Micro Four Thirds camera, and have put together a short hands-on report detailing the changes from the DMC-G1, and specifically how the camera's new video functionality is supported.
Panasonic premieres DMC-GH1 with HD video recording
PMA 2009: Five months after the launch of the Lumix DMC-G1 Micro Four Thirds camera, Panasonic has unveiled an HD version of the same in the shape of the Lumix DMC-GH1. The 12.1 megapixel camera’s Live MOS sensor can record up to 1080/24p or 720/60p high definition videos, with continuous AF and a built-in Dolby Digital Stereo Creator for quality sound recording. This is further supported by Panasonic’s designed-for-video Lumix G Vario HD 14-140mm lens, which is also announced today. The camera includes a new Face Recognition feature that remembers individual faces, and offers four different aspect ratios with the same angle of view using a system similar to that in the company's DMC-LX3 compact.
Panasonic launches Lumix G Vario HD 14-140mm lens
PMA 2009: Panasonic has today announced a new image-stabilized Micro Four Thirds superzoom lens to accompany the DMC-GH1 body. Designed specifically for video as well as photo use, the Lumix G Vario HD 14-140mm F4.0-5.8 ASPH Mega OIS incorporates a new silent focusing system which allows continuous AF during movie recording and a stepless aperture control. The 28-280mm equivalent focal length range is achieved in a body that is about 10% smaller and lighter than the company's previous equivalent for Four Thirds. Distortion and chromatic aberration are minimised using four aspherical and two Extraordinary Dispersion glass elements, and the aperture uses 7 rounded blades for smoothly blurred backgrounds.
Panasonic releases Lumix G Vario 7-14mm lens
PMA 2009: Panasonic has today broadened the perspective of the Micro Four Thirds system with the announcement of the Lumix G Vario 7-14mm F4 ASPH ultra wide-angle zoom. This new lens takes full advantage of the short  back focus distance of Micro Four Thirds to reduce the size and weight dramatically compared to similar  lenses, to just 70mm x 83mm and a mere 300g. Two Aspherical elements and four Extraordinary Dispersion glass elements are used to reduce distortion and chromatic aberration, and a built-in petal-shaped lens hood protects against flare from stray light.
Casio introduces Exilim EX-Z29 compact camera
PMA 2009: Casio has introduced the Exilim EX-Z29 entry level compact camera. Sporting a 10.1 Mp sensor, 2.7 inch LCD and 3x optical zoom (37.5 to 112.5mm equiv), it includes an Easy Mode, widescreen video recording and customizable focusing frames and menu screens. Priced at $149.99, the camera will be available in black, pink, blue, silver and purple.
AF fix and firmware update for Canon EOS-1D cameras
PMA 2009: Canon has announced a new AF fix for the EOS-1D Mark III and EOS-1Ds Mark III. This is in addition to the sub mirror fix issued earlier by Canon, and requires returning the camera to Canon for service. New firmware for the 1D Mark III and 1Ds Mark III has also been released to fix issues with live view, USB communication, and to update camera error codes. This brings the versions up to 1.2.5 and 1.1.4 respectively, and is available for download now.
Kodak launches EasyShare Z915
PMA 2009: Kodak has announced the EasyShare Z915 digital compact camera. This 10 Mp camera offers a 10x image stabilized optical zoom lens and a 2.5 inch LCD. It also includes a Smart Capture mode that automatically analyses scenes and adjusts the camera settings accordingly. Priced at £179.99, the Z915 will be available from May 2009 in red, blue, black and gray.
Adobe releases Lightroom 2.3 & Camera Raw 5.3
PMA 2009: Adobe has released Photoshop Lightroom 2.3 and Camera Raw 5.3. These are final versions of updates which were originally posted as release candidates on the Adobe Labs site, and are now available for immediate download. Both provide additional Raw support for Nikon D3X and Olympus E-30 DSLR’s. Lightroom is also now available in 8 new languages.
A Sneak Peek at what PMA holds
PMA 2009: As always, the PMA show started with a Sneak Peek event at which many of the manufacturers gave the press a chance to see and talk about the products they're showing at the event. Follow the link to see what we saw in a pre-show report.
Sony introduces DSC-HX1 with Exmor CMOS sensor
PMA 2009: Sony has today announced a superzoom compact featuring the company's newly-developed high-speed 9 Mp Exmor CMOS sensor. Sporting a 28-560mm (35mm-equivalent) 20x zoom lens, the DSC-HX1 is capable of up to 10 frames per second in burst mode using a high-speed mechanical shutter. The new sensor also enables high definition movie capture up to 1080/30p, with sound captured by a built-in stereo microphone. The specification is rounded off by 'Optical Steady Shot' image stabilization, a 3" LCD, an ISO range up to 3200 and a wide array of scene modes and face detection options. There's also an interesting 'sweep panorama' mode that automatically stitches multiple frames in-camera to give one ultra-wide view.
Sigma announces 10-20mm f3.5 EX DC HSM lens
PMA 2009: Sigma has announced an ultra-wide angle zoom, the 10-20mm F3.5 EX DC HSM. This new design squeezes a relatively fast F3.5 constant maximum aperture into a body about 10% larger in each dimension than the company's popular 10-20mm F4-5.6 EX DC HSM. The lens has a minimum focus distance of 24 cm (9.4 inches) throughout the zoom range, and features two Super-Low Dispersion glass and two Extraordinary-Low Dispersion glass elements for the correction of chromatic aberrations. It is designed for cameras with APS-C/DX sensors, and will be available in mounts for Sigma, Canon, Nikon, Sony and Pentax DSLRs.
Sigma unveils 18-50mm f2.8-4.5 DC OS HSM lens
PMA 2009: Sigma has unveiled a new large aperture image-stabilized standard zoom, in the shape of the 18-50mm F2.8-4.5 DC OS HSM. This lens features a new Optical Stabilization unit which Sigma claims will work on Sony and Pentax bodies with in-body stabilization systems. It also boasts a larger maximum aperture than the kit zooms typically supplied with most DSLRs, and incorporates Sigma's Hypersonic motor for fast silent autofocus. Designed for DSLRs with APS-C/DX sized image sensors, it will be available in Sigma, Canon, Nikon, Sony and Pentax mounts.
Sigma releases 50-200mm f4-5.6 DC OS HSM lens
PMA 2009: Sigma has released an image-stabilized version of its budget telezoom lens, the 50-200mm F4-5.6 DC OS HSM. This  features the same new optical stabilization unit as seen on the 18-50mm F2.8-4.5 EX DC HSM also announced today, which is compatible with Pentax and Sony bodies with in-body anti-shake systems. The new lens also includes a number of user-friendly features rarely seen at this level, including a  hypersonic motor for fast, silent autofocus, and an internal-focusing design with a non-rotating front  element. It will be available in mounts for Sigma, Canon, Nikon, Sony and Pentax DSLRs, and is designed for cameras with APS-C/DX sized sensors only.
Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 and 18-250mm OS lenses
PMA 2009: Sigma has also announced the availability of the 18-250mm F3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM and 24-70mm F2.8 IF EX DG HSM lenses. Announced during Photokina 2008, both lenses will start shipping now and will be available in Sigma, Canon, Nikon, Pentax and Sony mounts.
March 2
Pentax releases X70 superzoom digital camera
PMA 2009: Pentax has released the X70 superzoom with 24x optical zoom. With a 26mm - 624mm (35mm equiv.) zoom range the camera also sports a 12 MP sensor, 2.7 inch LCD and includes features such as Image Stabilization, Auto Picture Mode, HD video recording and P/A/S/M shooting modes. In addition, it can deliver 11 fps of continuous shooting, and its fast Face Detection can detect up to 32 faces in 0.03 seconds.
Pentax announces 15mm DA lens
PMA 2009: Pentax has announced the availability of the DA 15mm F4 ED AL Limited ultra wide-angle lens. Incorporating most of the DA* series lens features, it offers a 23mm (35mm equiv.) angle of view and includes a Hybrid Aspherical lens and an Extra-Low-Dispersion glass optical element to minimize distortion and chromatic aberration. With a light aluminum body and a compact design, this lens will start shipping in April 2009 for $649.95 USD.
PMA 2009 live show reports
PMA 2009: Welcome from Las Vegas, where the dpreview.com team is preparing for the start of PMA 2009. Despite the economic situation casting a pall over the show, this morning's announcement from Samsung suggests there's still plenty to get excited about. We'll be delivering our usual live-from-the-stands show reports, so stay posted and we'll bring you the latest info from the show floor.
Samsung unveils new NX series camera system
PMA 2009: Samsung has today officially unveiled its new 'hybrid digital camera' system, in the shape of the NX series. Similar in concept to Micro Four Thirds but using a larger APS-C sensor, this new system is designed to combine the performance and quality of an SLR with the convenience and portability of a point and shoot. By replacing the mirror box and optical viewfinder of an SLR with an electronic viewfinder, the NX series is designed to allow smaller and lighter bodies and lenses. The first model of the NX series will be available in the second half of 2009.