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March 2010 news and reviews

March 31
Sony updates Image Data Converter software
Sony has released the latest version of its Image Data Converter camera software. Version 3.2 is based around new image processing algorithms and features additional noise reduction at ISO 800 and above, with minimised color noise up to ISO 12800. Registered Alpha DSLR users can download the latest version from Sony's website.
Leaf releases Aptus-II 10R with rotating sensor

Leaf has announced the availability of its latest Aptus II 10R digital back equipped with an internal rotating sensor. Previously available in its AFi-II cameras, the system can change from portrait to landscape orientation without removing the back. Priced at €24,995, the back includes a 56 x 33mm sensor (with 56MP on an area over twice the dimensions of a 'full-frame' sensor), 3.5" touch screen LCD, 80-800 ISO range and is compatible with most medium and large format cameras.

March 29
Blurb announces Photography Book Now competition

Print-on demand book publisher Blurb has announced its third annual international Photography Book Now competition with a chance to win a US $25,000 cash prize. Participants must design a photo book in one of three categories, using the company's software. A soft copy or three hard copies must then be submitted with an entry fee of US $35 per category. Category winners will receive a Sony DSLR-A850 plus 28-75mm f/2.8 lens amongst other goodies, with the top prize awarded to the best of those three winners. Entries need to be submitted before July 15, 2010.

Sony 70-200mm F2.8 G lens review

Just posted! Our Sony 70-200mm F2.8 G lens review. Sony's fast telephoto zoom is the reincarnation of a Minolta design which first appeared in 2003, and features goodies such as professional-level build and quiet ultrasonic autofocusing. But like many camera makers' own-brand lenses, it costs much more than third-party alternatives from the likes of Sigma and Tamron, without (on paper at least) offering a huge deal more. So does it justify this premium, and how does it measure up to the standard set by Nikon's latest 70-200mm F2.8 VR II we reviewed last month?

March 26
Sigma releases Photo Pro 4.0
Sigma has released the latest version of its Photo Pro RAW conversion software for its DP and SD camera series. The latest version is based around new image processing algorithms and features additional noise reduction at ISO 400 and above, amongst other enhancements. It is available for immediate download via Sigma's website. In addition, as previously announced, firmware v1.04 for the DP2 compact that adds the non-hardware aspects of the DP2s' faster AF is now available for download.
Phase One, DxO Labs & Apple update RAW converters
Phase One, DxO Labs and Apple have released updates to their RAW workflow software. Phase One has updated its Capture One 5, PRO and DB programs to version 5.1.1, bringing in improvements for Sony cameras and extending tethered shooting and RAW support to the Canon EOS 550D, Mamiya DM40 and Leaf Aptus II 8 digital cameras. DXO Labs has added 70 lens and cameras combinations to its Optics Pro software. And finally, version 3.0.2 of Apple's Aperture brings in several improvements and bug fixes. All updates are available for immediate download.
March 24
Adobe discusses latest Lightroom 3 Beta
The start of the second public beta of Lightroom 3 gives the first glimpses at a new raw processing engine from Adobe. While at PMA 2010, we got a chance to speak to senior product manager and writer of Adobe’s Lightroom blog, Tom Hogarty about the Lightroom 3 public beta program and he told us about some of the changes that had been made. We also did some processing to see how it compares to the current version of Adobe Camera Raw.
Adobe announces release date of Creative Suite 5
Adobe has put up an online teaser for the forthcoming versions of its Creative Suite design and production software packages. To be unveiled on April 12, photographers are likely to be particularly interested to see what the CS5 version of Photoshop has to offer.
March 23
Eye-Fi introduces Connect X2 & Explore X2
Eye-Fi has announced the addition of two wireless SD cards in to its X2 line-up of memory cards. The 4GB Connect X2 and 8GB Explore X2 both feature the Endless Memory Mode first seen in the RAW-compatible Pro X2 card. They also share its class 6 (6MB/s ) transfer speeds and high-speed 802.11n Wi-Fi. In addition, the Explore card uses location data from nearby WiFi points to geotag images. Both cards are now available in the US at a retail price of $49.99 and $99.99 respectively.
Carl Zeiss celebrates 120 years of lens production

Carl Zeiss is celebrating 120 years of camera lens production this month. The German company started off in 1846 manufacturing microscopes before moving onto lenses in 1890. A press release from the company stresses milestones in its history, including its lenses being used in man's first lunar expedition and Hollywood movies such as Barry Lyndon (which famously used an f/0.7 Zeiss lens to shoot scenes by candlelight). Along the way, Carl Zeiss's notable technical achievements have included the Planar and Tessar lens designs, its T* anti-reflective coatings and the development of MTF testing to measure lens quality.

Adobe releases Lightroom 3 Beta update
Adobe has opened the second public beta of its Photoshop Lightoom 3 software for immediate download from its Adobe Labs site. Lightroom 3 will be based around a new processing engine and the second iteration adds luminance noise reduction to the color noise reduction options that appeared in the initial beta. The latest beta also supports tethered shooting for a number of Nikon and Canon DSLRs, enables importing and management of video files and improves overall functioning of the software.
March 22
Quantum dots promise more sensitive sensors

Technology developer InVisage Technologies has announced sensors it says can offer four times better performance than conventional CCD and CMOS sensors. The company's 'QuantumFilm' technology uses the unique electronic behavior of quantum dots (precisely-sized nano-scale crystals trapped in a polymer film) to replace conventional silicon photodiodes. The company says the quantum dots themselves are twice as sensitive to light as conventional photodiodes and that their placement on the sensor surface offers a further doubling of sensitivity over front-illuminated CMOS designs. The film can be positioned on conventional circuitry, allowing the chips to be produced more cheaply than CMOS or CCD designs. The first application will be in mobile phones sensors later this year.

March 19
Canon faces shortage of 70-200mm f/2.8 lens
Canon Japan has announced a shortage of its recently released EF 70-200 f/2.8 L IS II USM lens because of higher than expected demand. The company says it is attempting to boost supply to meet demand across all markets.
Fujifilm & Ricoh announce firmware updates
Fujifilm and Ricoh have announced firmware updates for their long zoom cameras. Fujifilm has updated a number of cameras from its S series of digital superzooms including the S2500HD. The latest versions for all the cameras bring improvements to the HD and live view settings. Ricoh's firmware update for its CX3 compact superzoom fixes a minor image preview bug.
Sigma releases 150-500mm f/5-6.3 for Sony & Pentax
Sigma Japan has announced its APO 150-500mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM lens will be available soon in Sony and Pentax mounts. Currently available in Canon, Nikon and Sigma mounts, the Sony version will start shipping from March 27, 2010 followed by the Pentax version from April 23, 2010. As previously announced, the 17-70mm f/2.8-4 DC Macro OS HSM lens has started shipping in Sony and Pentax mounts at a retail price of ¥56,200 (~US $620).
Sigma announces firmware update for DP2
Sigma has announced a firmware update for its DP2 digital compact. Version 1.04 adds faster auto focusing speed to the camera. The firmware will be available for download from March 26, 2010.
March 18
Canon corrects problem with 5D Mark II firmware
Canon has released firmware v2.0.4 for its 5D Mark II DSLR that corrects the bug found in the previous version. With v2.0.3, sound recording would not work if a manual record volume was used in the C1/C2/C3 custom settings modes. The revised firmware update addresses the issue and is now available for download from Canon's website. (Updated)
Ricoh posts firmware update for GXR system
Ricoh has posted the first firmware update for its GXR system, covering the A12 50mm equiv. macro and S10 24-72mm equiv. zoom lens units. Version 1.07 fixes minor bugs and brings in a few improvements, including additional AF modes for the A12 module that offer faster autofocus. The single firmware file will make appropriate changes for each unit and is available for immediate download from Ricoh's website.
March 17
Samsung issues firmware v1.05 for NX10
Samsung has released a firmware update for its NX10 mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The firmware, available from the company's website doesn't acknowledge any additional changes beyond those made in version 1.04. These include getting long-exposure noise reduction to engage for exposures longer than 1 sec (rather than 4sec), and changing the default focus point selection method in P,A,S and M modes.
Just posted - Ricoh GXR S10 24-72mm in-depth review
Just posted! Our in-depth review of the Ricoh GXR with the S10 24-72mm F2.5-4.4 VC lens module. After we reviewed Ricoh's A12 50mm APS-C module a couple of weeks ago it's now the more compact S10's turn. It's got a smaller 1/1.7 sensor and comes with a 3x zoom wide angle lens. Find out how the A12's sidekick performed in our comprehensive review after the link...
dpreview galleries plug-in beta for Lightroom
We've been impressed with the take-up of our galleries system, with over 120,000 images uploaded so far, but have been looking for ways to make it even more accessible to photographers. To this end, we have created an uploader plug-in for Adobe's Lightroom 2 raw processing and workflow tool. The plug-in adds to Lightroom's 'export' tab, letting you set your output specifications and configure the permissions for the images once on the site. The plug-in is a beta at present, with more functions to come.
March 16
GigaPan announces Epic Pro motorized panorama head
GigaPan has released a new version of its motorized panorama tripod mount that is designed for DSLRs. Like the company's Epic models, the Epic Pro is capable of shooting vertical and 360° horizontal panoramic images and can take camera-lens combinations weighing up to 4.5kgs. The mount will ship with the the company's image stitching software and will be available from April 2010 at a retail price of $895.
Wearable Inc. releases AirStash wireless card reader
Device maker Wearable Inc. has released the AirStash wireless card reader to share images from SD/SDHC cards to Wi-Fi devices. The battery-powered device acts as a wireless media server, allows secure sharing and previewing of images. Battery life for the $99.99 reader provides up to five hours of continuous data streaming.
Canon 5D Mark II firmware v2.0.3 now available
Canon has finally released the video-related firmware for its 5D Mark II DSLR. Firmware v2.0.3 adds more video options and is now available for immediate download via Canon's website.
March 15
Leica releases firmware update for M9 rangefinder
Leica has released a firmware update for its M9 digital rangefinder. Version 1.116 brings in a host of improvements including enchanced magenta color shift correction for listed wide-angle lenses and a new, ISO setting-related, vignetting correction. The firmware is available for immediate download from Leica's website.
Bibble Labs updates Bibble 5 Pro software
Bibble Labs has added support for the Canon EOS 550D and Olympus E-PL1 cameras to Bibble 5 Pro. Version 5.0.3 of the Raw processing software is available for immediate download via the Bibble Labs website.
March 12
Ricoh exhibits GXR modules at CP+
CP+ 2010: Ricoh has exhibited prototypes of its A12 28mm equiv. prime and P10 28-300mm equiv. lens modules for the GXR system at the CP+ photographic trade show. The show report by Japanese website DC Watch includes camera writer Fumio Nakamura's mock-ups showing the potential of the system including remote modules and modules with conventional lens mounts. Ricoh has confirmed that it does not currently have any plans to make such modules.
PocketWizard tests FlexTT5 for Nikon
PocketWizard has tested a prototype of its radio controlled flash triggers for Nikon flashguns. The hot-shoe mounted FlexTT5 transceiver is currently available only for Canon flash systems and allows photographers to wirelessly control flashguns. The company plans to release a beta version to the public once it completes initial testing and fixes bugs of the early prototype.
March 10
UK minister aims to reassure photographers
The UK Policing and Crime Minister has reasserted that anti-terrorism should not be used to stop photographers and photojournalists. In a meeting with a Parliamentary photography group and journalists, David Hanson MP said the Sections 44 and 58A of the 2000 Terrorist Act should not be 'used to stop ordinary people taking photos or to curtail legitimate journalistic activity'. He also said guidance to that effect has been provided to the UK police forces, advising that these powers should not be used to stop innocent members of the public, tourists and journalists.
Pentax unveils 40MP 645D medium format DSLR

Five years after announcing its development, and following a month-long online campaign trailing the launch, Pentax has finally unveiled its much anticipated 645D medium format digital camera. The first digital version of the company's 645 medium format camera system, it features a 40MP, 44 x 33mm CCD sensor, 921k dot 3.0" LCD and is compatible with the existing 645 system lenses. The camera will initially be available only in the Japanese market at a suggested retail price of ¥850,000 (~ US $9,400) from May 2010.

Pentax announces D FA 645 55mm F2.8 lens
In conjunction with its announcement of the 645D medium format camera, Pentax has announced the smc D FA 645 55mm F2.8 AL[IF] SDM AW lens. First in the D FA 645 lens series, this weather-resistant prime lens features a Supersonic Direct-drive Motor (SDM) autofocus drive and Quick-Shift for instant AF/MF switching. It is also the company's first 645 system lens to incorporates a rounded diaphragm.The 55mm lens will be available alongside the 645D camera at a suggested retail price of ¥100,000 (~ US $1,100).
March 9
Tamron develops SP 70-300mm F4-5.6 Di VC USD lens
Tamron has announced the development of a 70-300mm f/4-5.6 zoom lens featuring image stabilization and an ultrasonic auto-focus drive. The SP 70-300mm F4-5.6 Di VC USD is the company's first lens to feature its latest Ultrasonic Silent Drive (USD) autofocus motor, with full-time manual focus override. The optical design includes an element made from Extra-Low Dispersion (XLD) glass, said to have optical properties similar to fluorite. Designed for both full-frame and APS-C digital SLRs, the lens will be initially available in Nikon mount followed by Canon and Sony versions.
March 8
Mamiya announces DM40 medium format camera
Mamiya has announced the price and availability of its new DM40 medium format camera and a digital back of the same name. Priced at $21,990 for the camera and 80mm f/2.8 lens D series lens, and $19,990 for the digital back, they will start shipping from this month onwards. Both incorporate 40MP, 44 x 33 mm sensors and feature true 16 bit/channel RAW capture, ISO range of 80-800 and capture images at 0.8 seconds per frame. The DM40 digital back can be used with compatible medium or large format cameras via an adapter.
March 7
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G2 announced and previewed
Focus on Imaging 2010: Eighteen months after unveiling the worlds first Micro Four Thirds camera, Panasonic has introduced its successor- the Lumix DMC-G2, with touch control shooting. Built around the same body design as the G1, it records 720p HD videos in AVCHD Lite format and features a touch sensitive 460K dot 3.0" LCD. Its advanced touch features allows shooting by just tapping the subject on the LCD. Other features include AF tracking, a dedicated movie mode and a faster Venus Engine HD II processor. We've had a pre-production example in the office and have put together a hands-on preview.
Panasonic unveils DMC-G10 Micro Four Thirds camera
Focus on Imaging 2010: Panasonic has released what it calls 'the world's lightest interchangeable lens camera with a viewfinder' in the shape of Lumix DMC-G10. It features the same 12.1MP Live MOS sensor and Venus Engine HD II as the DMC-G2, also announced today. It also comes with a 460K dot 3" LCD but without the tilt/swivel and touch options of the G2 and gets a lower resolution viewfinder. The G10 can record 720p HD movie in Motion JPEG format. Both cameras can accept the high-capacity SDXC format cards and are offered with a new 14-42mm kit lens.
Panasonic releases 14-42mm lens for G Micro system
Focus on Imaging 2010: Alongside the Lumix DMC-G2 and G10 Micro Four Thirds cameras, Panasonic has also released the Lumix G Vario 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 ASPH Mega O.I.S. image stabilized lens. Offering an equivalent zoom range of 28-84mm, the lens is a new optical design but offers a similar specification to the original 14-45mm G System zoom. The new lens, known as the H-FS014042, loses the image stabilization on/off switch and metal mount of its predecessor and comes in a slightly larger body.
March 4
UK embraces Micro Four Thirds cameras
The UK has embraced the Micro Four Thirds camera format, making up over 10% of interchangeable lens camera sales (by volume) in December 2009. According to figures from market research company GfK Retail and Technology, around 6,600 Micro Four Thirds cameras were sold in the UK, accounting for more than half of the system's sales volumes in 11 major Western European countries.
March 3
Olympus posts firmware update for E-P1
Olympus has released a firmware update for its E-P1 Micro Four Thirds camera. Version 1.3 resolves the issue where the camera's Level Gauge display did not move when focusing manually. The firmware update can be downloaded via the Olympus Master or Studio software.
March 2
Just posted - Ricoh GXR A12 50mm F2.5 in-depth review
Just posted! Our in-depth review of the Ricoh GXR with the A12 50mm F2.5 lens module. The GXR's concept of interchangeable lens modules is unique in today's digital camera world and generated a lot of interest when it was first announced four months ago. This review covers the GXR with the A12 50mm f2.5 equiv (12MP APS-C sensor) module (the S10 24-70mm module will follow soon). Find out how Ricoh's new flagship performed in our comprehensive review after the link...
Wacom unveils Cintiq 21UX interactive pen display
Wacom has released the Cintiq 21UX, an interactive pen display that combines with the company's pressure sensitive Grip Pen to offer 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity. The 21UX comes with a tilting, rotating stand that lets users to view it from varied angles and features customizable menu options. It comes along with basic image editing software and also supports advanced programs such as Adobe Photoshop. Priced at $1999 USD, the Cintiq 21UX will start shipping from late March 2010.
Topaz releases Adjust 4 plug-in for Photoshop
Software maker Topaz Labs has released version 4 of its color management plug-in for Adobe Photoshop. The latest version features a redesigned interface, new presets and upgraded image processing algorithms. It is available as a free upgrade for existing users or $49.99 for first-time buyers.
Canon announces firmware update for EOS 5D Mark II
Canon has announced that the long awaited, video-related firmware for its EOS 5D Mark II will be available from mid-March. Firmware version 2.0.3 enables full 1080p HD video recording at 24, 25 and 29.97fps to match the PAL and NTSC broadcast standards. It also adds a new histogram display while shooting movies and allows users to manually control sound recording levels. Audio sampling frequency has also been increased to match broadcast material standards.
March 1
Sony sheds light on recent sensors
Sony Semiconductor's latest online newsletter gives an in-depth explanation of its 10.34MP 1/2.3" type back-illuminated Exmor R CMOS sensor. The IMX050CQK is designed for low-light photography and has been incorporated in many of the company's recent CMOS sensor equipped cameras including the Cyber-shot TX5, HX5 and the Ricoh CX3 compacts. Another paper in the issue talks about how its supporting processor can offer high speed videos, full HD video recording and decreased power consumption.
Noktor introduces HyperPrime 50mm f/0.95 lens
After a brief online campaign, US-based company Noktor has announced its first product: the HyperPrime 50mm f/0.95 lens for Micro Four Thirds cameras. This ultra-fast manual focus lens with manual aperture control bears an uncanny resemblance to the Senko 50mm f/0.95 C-mount CCTV lens and shares almost all of its vital specifications. The company, that appears to be registered to a residential property in Canton, Georgia will start shipping the lens from April 15, 2010 at a retail price of $750.
Canon updates DPP & other camera software
Canon has posted updates for several camera software programs including the 'Digital Photo Professional' Raw conversion software. The latest version of DPP extends support to the recently released EOS T2i/550D DSLR and comes with a new image rotation tool. The updated versions of the other pieces of software including EOS Utility and Picture Style Editor also extend support to the EOS 550D DSLR. The updates can be downloaded from the DSLR support pages of individual cameras from Canon's website.

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