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May 2009 news and reviews

May 29
Panasonic announces firmware update for DMC-LX3
Panasonic has announced a firmware update for its Lumix DMC-LX3 digital compact camera. Version 1.3 improves auto white balance and general performance of the camera. It also rectifies minor operational issues. The latest version will be made available for download on the 1 June, 2009.
May 28
PercepTool plugin for Adobe Photoshop
Atlantic Light Works has released PercepTool, a tone mapping plugin for Photoshop CS3 and CS4 that attempts to mimic the brain's interpretation of light and shade. Developed with photographer George DeWolfe, it takes either mono or color images and re-maps the tone response to offer a more 'realistic' rendition with greater depth. It is available priced at $89.95 or for trial download, for both Windows and Mac platforms.
May 27
Sigma issues DP2 firmware update
Sigma has posted a firmware update for its DP2 large-sensor digital compact camera. Version 1.01 improves auto focus and reduces the intermittent freezing of the camera that can occur under certain conditions. The update is available for immediate download from Sigma's website.
Just posted! Hartblei 120mm F4 Macro TS lens review
Just posted! Our lens review of the Hartblei Superrotator 120mm F4 TS Macro. In this latest review we deviate from the beaten track and delve into the slightly esoteric world of tilt and shift optics, taking a look at the longest lens of its type currently available. Like the rest of Hartblei's lenses, the 120mm F4 sports an 'Optics by Carl Zeiss' tag and is available in mounts for most DSLRs, but does it offer enough to justify the price tag?
Canon announces update for EOS 5D Mark II
Canon has announced a firmware update for its EOS 5D Mark II digital SLR enabling manual exposure when shooting videos. With the updated version, users will be able to manually adjust the shutter speed, aperture and ISO settings in the video mode. The new firmware will be available for download on 2 June 2009 from Canon's website.
May 26
Panasonic updates firmware for Lumix 14-45mm lens
Panasonic has released a firmware update for its Lumix G Vario 14-45mm F3.5-5.6 lens. Version 1.1 improves auto-focusing ability of the lens in Continuous AF mode. It also improves auto-focus and image stabilization performance in movie mode on the GH1 and makes the aperture quieter.
May 22
Adobe offers ACR 5.4 Release Candidate
Adobe has released a release candidate of Photoshop Camera Raw 5.4 for immediate download from its Adobe Labs site. The latest version extends RAW support for 26 additional cameras and camera backs including the Canon EOS 500D, Nikon D5000, Olympus E-620 and 18 Hasselblad models. The 'Release Candidate' label indicates the update is tested, but not yet the finalized version.
May 21
Panasonic launches worlds first Class 10 SDHC cards
Panasonic has launched the worlds first 'Class 10' series of SDHC cards. Class 10 is a new speed specification developed by the SD Card Association, it inherits the attributes of the current 'Class 6' line with further enhanced speed performance of up to 22MB/s. In addition to its Gold series Class 10 cards, it has announced a Silver series of Class 4 cards with a maximum speed of up to 20MB/s. The Gold series will start shipping by the end of this month in 4, 8, 16 and 32 GB capacities.
Panasonic offers Leica M and R mount adapters
Panasonic has announced the DMW-MA2M M-mount adaptor and the DMW-MA3R R-mount adaptor for its Lumix G Micro System. Both Panasonic adaptors allow the use of movable MF assist function, which enlarges a selected area when focusing manually. The new adapters add to the list of third-party adapters designed to attach Leica M or R lenses to the DMC-G1 and DMC-GH1.
May 20
Pentax K-7 digital SLR announced and previewed
Pentax has announced the K-7 mid-level DSLR, based around an updated version of the Pentax/Samsung 14.6 MP CMOS sensor. The specifications - magnesium alloy body, 5.2 fps shooting, 720p HD video, 920,000 dot LCD - will not come as a surprise to the Pentax faithful, following comprehensive leaking of its details. However, we've been lucky enough to get hold of a pre-production camera to bring you a detailed hands-on preview of the K-7.
Pentax launches two weather resistant lenses
Along with the K-7 DSLR, Pentax has launched the smc PENTAX-DA 18-55mm F3.5-5.6AL WR and smc PENTAX-DA 50-200mm F4-5.6ED WR weather-resistant lenses. Treated with Super-Protect (SP) coating for dust resistance and designed with environmental sealing, both the lenses complement the latest Pentax weather-resistant DSLRs. Priced at $199.95 USD for the DA 18-55mm and $249.95 USD for the DA 50-200mm, the lenses will start shipping in July 2009.
May 19
Olympus updates firmware for four Zuiko lenses
Olympus has announced firmware updates for four of its lenses. The Zuiko Digital ED 8mm F3.5 Fisheye, ED 18-180mm F3.5-6.3, ED 70-300mm F4.0-5.6 and ED 90-250mm F2.8 are all modified to improve peformance when sequential shooting on the E-3 and E-30 DSLRs in Continous AF mode.
Canon Powershot SD970 IS gallery

Just Posted! We've had a Canon Powershot SD970 IS (IXUS 990 IS) in the office for a few weeks and - since we had the opportunity to use it extensively over the May Bank Holiday weekend - we thought we'd produce a quick gallery to give you an idea of what the camera, one of the latest additions to Canon's Powershot SD/IXUS range, is capable of.

May 18
Sony launches Alpha 230, Alpha 330 and Alpha 380
Sony has announced three new entry-level DSLRs. The A230, A330 and A380 replace the Alpha 200, 300 and 350. The restyled cameras offer new ergonomics and easy-to-use interfaces, but retain the underlying specification of the predecessor models. As before, the basic model is a 10MP DSLR, the intermediate model adds Sony's fast live view system and the range-topping model gets a 14.2MP sensor. The new Alpha DSLRs are better differentiated from one another, with individual color schemes and grip finishes helping to distingush between the models.
Sony unveils four new lenses
Sony has announced four new lenses to accompany its new Alpha models. Aimed squarely at the first-time DSLR owners it's done so much to attract, all feature inexpensive construction (including plastic mounts) and a new in-lens autofocus system designated SAM (which stands for Smooth Autofocus Motor). First up is a pair of new kit zooms (standard and telephoto), in the shape of the DT 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 SAM and the DT 55-200mm F4-5.6 SAM. These are accompanied by a pair of primes; the DT 50mm F1.8 SAM and the DT 30mm F2.8 macro SAM. Prototypes of all four lenses were first shown at PMA earlier this year.
May 15
Panasonic GH1 gallery and movie samples
Just Posted! We've had a Panasonic GH1 to play with for a couple of weeks and - since it's going to be a while until we can publish a full review - we thought we'd produce a quick gallery of stills and a handful of HD quality movies to give you an idea of what the camera (and the new 14-140mm zoom lens) are capable of. Updated 19/5/2009 - a few higher ISO samples included.
Ricoh CX-1 sample gallery
Just Posted! We've just added a quick gallery of shots taken with one of the more interesting compact digital cameras launched recently, the CMOS-sensored Ricoh CX-1. Click through to see how well this compact superzoom camera performs in our preview gallery.
Canon issues service notice for 1D/1Ds Mark III
Canon has released a service notice for its EOS-1D Mark III and EOS-1Ds Mark III DSLRs. It addresses the issue of ring-shaped spots appearing in the images of some cameras - caused by lubricant from the mirror box getting onto the Low Pass Filter. Owners of affected cameras can contact Canon's customer support centre for for a free cleaning of the mirror box.
May 14
Just Posted: Compact Superzoom Group Test

Just Posted: Our Compact 'Superzoom' Group Test. We continue our series of group tests with six cameras that all combine a compact 'take-anywhere' body with the versatility of a 10x or 12x zoom lens. Throw in some extras such as HD video, super wide-angle lenses and image stabilization and you've got yourself a very tempting recipe. But which one is the most tasty dish? Find out in our review.

Sigma UK: DP2 now available
Sigma UK has announced the price and availability of the DP2 digital compact camera. Announced at the Photokina 2008 exhibition, this 14MP camera (4.7 million pixel images with three pieces of color data recorded at each location) with a large FOVEON X3 sensor has started shipping in the UK at a suggested retail price of £599.99. The optional VF-21 Viewfinder and HA-21 Hood adapter are available for £114.99 and £19.99 respectively.
May 12
Canon launches Live Learning program
Canon U.S.A. has announced a series of tuition sessions around the US, under the 'Live Learning' education program banner. Live Learning is split into two levels with the 'EOS Essentials' events being held in eight US cities and including sessions with Canon-sponsored professional photographers.
May 11
Sigma DP2 preview samples
Just Posted! Our preview sample gallery from the Sigma DP2. We were lucky enough to be loaned a full production version of Sigma's latest camera on a recent trip to Japan for just long enough to put together a quick gallery of sample images. We used a variety of subjects and color modes, and ISOs from 100 to 800. Click through to get an idea of the image quality this new large sensor compact can deliver.
May 8
Nik Software releases Sharpener Pro 3.0 for Lightroom
Nik Software has announced a version of its Sharpener Pro 3.0 sharpening plug-in for Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. The plug-in is compatible with Lightroom v2.3 and higher and is available for immediate download for $199.95 or free to existing users.
May 6
Panasonic announces prices for DMC-GH1

Panasonic has announced recommended prices and availability for the Lumix DMC-GH1 Micro Four Thirds camera. The camera as a kit with the Lumix G VARIO HD 14-140mm/F4.0-5.8 ASPH/O.I.S. lens will sell for a suggested retail price of $1499.95 in the US. Panasonic Germany reports a recommended price of €1550 though it doesn't specify that includes the lens. It will be made available in both markets from June 2009. The US will only receive the camera in black, while different European countries will have varying options that can include red or and interesting Champagne gold color.

May 1
Ricoh updates firmware for CX1 compact camera
Ricoh has posted a firmware update for the CMOS-based CX1 digital compact camera. Firmware Version 1.19 rectifies the problem where the camera would shut down without retracting the lens when the battery is depleted. The update closely follows the recent CX1 firmware update (v1.16) which rectified minor operational issues.