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June 2010 news and reviews

June 30
Nikon announces submission dates for international photo contest
Nikon has announced its 33rd annual international digital photo competition will be open for entries from September 1, 2010. Participants can submit up to two images to either of the two categories - one with the theme 'Energy' and the other an un-themed, open category. The overall winner will be awarded the company's D3S digital SLR with two lenses, with category winners receiving a D300S with flashgun and lenses. The contest runs until November 30th 2010.
June 29
DxO Optics Pro adds more than 60 lens correction modules
DxO Labs has updated its DxO Optics Pro raw converter software with more than 60 lens and cameras combinations for Canon, Nikon, Olympus and Sony users. These new lens correction modules join the existing list of over 2000 combinations. The modules are available for immediate download from the company's website.
June 28
Samyang to offer 8mm, 14mm & 85mm lenses in Samsung NX mount
Samyang Optics has announced it will be making its 8mm f/3.5 fisheye, 14mm f/2.8 and 85mm f/1.4 manual focus lenses in the Samsung NX mount. Currently available in Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sony and Olympus four-thirds mount, the NX mount version of the lenses will start shipping from September 2010.
Panasonic releases TZ10, TZ9, TZ8 and FT2 firmware updates
Panasonic has released firmware updates for its Lumix DMC-TZ10, DMC-TZ9, DMC-TZ8 and DMC-FT2 digital compacts. Version 1.1 for all the cameras improves improves flash exposure with the Inon S-2000, D-2000, Z-240 third-party underwater strobes. The TZ10's latest firmware also improves the overall stabilty of the camera. The firmware updates are available for download from Panasonic's website.
Sigma updates Photo Pro software for SD15
Sigma has released an updated version of its Photo Pro image-editing software for immediate dowload. Version 4.1 extends RAW support to the SD15 digital SLR and adds compatibilty with 64-bit Windows OS. The latest versions available for download - (3591) for Windows and 4.1 (1044) for Mac - also add bug fixes compared to previous versions shipped with the SD15 DSLR.
June 24
Hitachi G-Technology announces Driven Creativity competition
Hitachi has announced a competition for photographers, musicians & filmmakers in the UK, France or Germany, with a chance to win €5,000 cash prize. As a promotion for G-Technology storage device brand, participants can submit one of their creative projects from 2009 or 2010 in any of the three categories with a chance to win either the cash prize or the company's 4TB G-Raid dual-drive dependable storage system. In addition, all winning entries will be exhibited at the Brick Lane Gallery in London. The competition runs until September 30 2010.
Olympus M Zuiko Digital 14-150mm F4-5.6 lens review

Just posted! Our lens review featuring Olympus's Micro Four Thirds superzoom, the M Zuiko Digital 14-150mm F4-5.6. This latest addition to the company's Pen range continues with its downsizing theme, and is dramatically smaller and lighter than most similar SLR lenses. It also promises fast and silent focusing optimized for video shooting. So is this mini-marvel the ultimate general-purpose travel zoom?

SD Association defines new standards for SDXC & SDHC cards

The SD Association has introduced symbols to denote the latest high-speed SDXC and SDHC cards and to help consumers identify ideal cards for their devices. A UHS-I specification indicates a card has an interface capable of transferring data at up to 104 MB/s, four times faster than the current limit of 25 MB/s. UHS-I cards will be compatible with existing devices but can only make use of their extra speed capabilities when used with a UHS-I reader or cameras. An additional 'Class 1' symbol on these cards promises real time recording of HD videos. This symbol differs from the Class 2, 4, 6 and 10 logos used for non-UHS-I cards that defined minimum write speed.

June 23
Sandisk ships tamper-proof single write 1GB SD cards
SanDisk has announced it is shipping its 1 GB Write Once Read Many (WORM) SD memory cards in volume to the Japanese police force. Introduced in 2008 in 128MB capacity, files recorded onto the WORM cards can be stored up to 100 years, and cannot be altered or deleted. The card is aimed at industries where unaltered content is vital such as police investigations, court testimony, electronic voting etc. The SD WORM card is available worldwide, with 'pricing dependent upon the quantity ordered.'
June 22
Toshiba develops wireless SDHC memory cards
Toshiba has announced the development of its first wireless SDHC memory card in conjunction with Singapore based Trek 2000. In addition, the two companies will invite digital camera makers and other interested parties to join an industry forum to promote and share the technology with the aim of creating a standard for WiFi cards. The WiFi enabled 8GB SDHC card will feature 802.11 wireless transfer rates and support RAW file transfer. The cards will have to compete with Eye-Fi cards, first launched in 2007, that have seen increasing in-camera support from camera makers.
June 21
Panasonic reveals more details of AG-AF100 Micro Four Thirds camcorder
Panasonic has released more details of its AG-AF100 professional Micro Four Thirds HD camcorder. It is capable of recording up to 12 hours of video using its two SDXC compatible slots. It offers 1080 and 720 video recording in frame rates of 59.94, 50, 29.97, 25 or 23.98p with the top two rates interlaced in 1080 mode. The camcorder also features industry-standard HD SDI and XLR connectors and is compatible with the company's line up of Lumix G lenses, filters and adapters for using 35mm lenses.
June 18
Olympus dust reduction system wins Japanese invention award
Olympus's dust reduction system, incorporated both in its E-series DSLRs and Micro Four Thirds cameras has won an award in Japan's National Invention Awards 2010. The awards are organized by the Japan Institute of Invention and Innovation (JIII) every June to honor the most significant patents of awarded in the previous year. Olympus Development Division manager Kawai Sumio will receive the award sponsored by national newspaper Asahi Shimbun, for the dust reduction system. The original patent application was made in December 2000, with the technology first appearing in the company's E-1 DSLR in 2003.
June 16
Pentax announces Optio W90 in orange
Pentax has announced the addition of an orange color variant of its Optio W90 rugged compact camera. It joins the exisiting color choices of Pistachio Green and black. The Shiny Orange version will be available from August 2010 at a suggested retail price of US $329.95 and £269.99 GBP.
Samsung releases RAW Converter 3.2
Samsung has released an updated version of its RAW converter software. Version 3.2 extends support to the company's recently released TL500/EX1 premium compact. The latest version is compatible with both Mac and Windows OS, except Windows 7.
Just posted: 2010 Travel Zoom Group Test

Just Posted: Our group test of the latest travel zooms. The pocketable long zoom camera has been one of the great growth sectors in recent years, packing immense flexibility into small, easy-to-use cameras. We've taken 13 compact superzoom cameras from the leading manufacturers and subjected them to a selection of our usual tests to help you decide which deserves a place in your luggage this summer. So which do we think makes the best travel companion?

Sigma releases service notice for latest telephoto lenses
Sigma has issued a notice warning customers of a 'potential autofocus defect' in some of its recently released telephoto lenses. The problem affects a some examples of the APO 50-500mm F4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM, APO 120-400mm F4.5-5.6 DG OS HSM and APO 150-500mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM lenses. The company has listed the serial numbers of lenses that could be affected - owners experiencing problems with any of these lenses are being offered a free collection, inspection and service.
June 15
Manfrotto revamps its tutorial website

Manfrotto has updated its tutorial website with additional features and improvements. 'The Manfrotto School of Excellence' now includes features such as live chat, news updates and photo-features in addition to free tutorials from established photographers, most of which have an understandable three-legged slant to them. The website also promotes products from other brands from the Vitec Group including Gitzo, Lastolite, Elinchrom and Kata.

Rayqual announces lens adapters for Sony NEX-5 & NEX-3
Japanese manufacturer Rayqual has announced adapters for the Sony NEX-5 and NEX-3 interchangeable lens cameras to mount Nikon, Canon FD, Pentax and Leica lenses. Priced between ¥19,950 - ¥25,200 (~ US $210 -$275), the adapters will start shipping next month. The company already makes a selection of adapters for different systems including a range for Micro Four Thirds cameras.
June 14
Sony NEX reviews updated with new camera
Sony has helped us confirm that the cameras supplied to us for review do not match the performance of the models on sale. Following the publication of our review we became aware of reports of starting up significantly faster than any of the cameras we’d been using (despite repeated assurances that they were production standard). Having discussed this with Sony, we have now been supplied with a camera that reflects the behaviour buyers will experience and have updated the relevant sections of our review accordingly.
Latest Nikon gear to land up in space

Nikon has announced a number of its products including the Nikon D3S, D3X DSLRs and telephoto lenses will be used in the Russian segment of the International Space Station. The company says that no modifications will be made to any of the products and they will join the existing Nikon film and digital cameras/lenses used by the astronauts working in the segment. In a press release the company also mentions the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) had ordered 11 D3S bodies and 7 AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G ED lenses for use in the Space Shuttle and ISS in 2009.

Adobe issues Lens Profile Creator update
Adobe has issued the second prerelease version of the Lens Profile Creator utility for immediate download from its Adobe Labs site. The upgraded version fixes 'several reported issues in the initial build.' The utility enables users to create custom lens profiles for Photoshop CS5, ACR 6.1 and Lightroom 3.
June 11
Sigma UK to start shipping SD15 digital camera
Sigma UK has announced the price and availability of the SD15 digital SLR. 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 will start shipping in the UK from July at a suggested retail price of £899.99. The company has also announced its 17-50mm f/2.8 EX DC OS HSM lens is now available in Canon EF-S mount at a suggested retail price of £649.99. Sigma, Nikon, Sony and Pentax fit will follow shortly.
Bibble Labs releases Bibble 5.1
Bibble Labs has announced version 5.1 of its RAW workflow software, extending support to ten additional cameras including Sony NEX-5, NEX-3 and Panasonic DMC-G2. Both the Pro and Lite versions of Bibble 5.1 also gain features such as Perfectly Clear one-touch auto image correction tool, and Heal and Clone tools for removal of unwanted elements in images. The latest version is currently available as a free upgrade for existing Bibble 5 customers.
June 10
Eye-Fi releases update for X2 Hotspot service
Eye-Fi has released an update for its X2 series of wireless memory cards allowing access to hotspots that require login credentials. The change means users with personal subscriptions to Wi-Fi providers such as Orange, Vodaphone, BT Openzone etc., can add their credentials to their Eye-Fi accounts, allowing their card to connect to those networks. The update, a result of the company's partnership with software maker Devicescape, can be used to access other networks that would usually require logging-on via a browser. The update is available to users paying for Eye-Fi's Hotspot Access service.
Phase One releases Capture One 5.1.2
Phase One has released an updated version of its Capture One 5, PRO and DB RAW workflow software. Following the acquisition of Microsoft's Expression Media digital asset management software, version 5.1.2 improves compatibility between the two applications allowing users to create albums, transfer ratings and preview Capture One files using Expression Media. Version 5.1.2 also enhances support for Leaf digital backs and extends RAW support for additional cameras including Leaf Aptus-II 10R and Olympus E-PL1. The update can be accessed via Capture One's update feature for existing users or is available as a free 30 day trial.
June 9
Sony launches DSLR-A390 & DSLR-A290 revised entry-level DSLRs
Sony has released the DSLR-A390 and DSLR-A290, its latest entry level digital SLRs. As suggested by the images leaked on the internet, the cameras essentially add a new grip design to the existing A230 and A380 models. The other major change is that both now get the image-stabilized 14.2MP CCD sensor seen in the A380. As with the previous models, the higher-priced A390 features the company's fast liveview system and a 2.7 tilting LCD, while the A290 has a fixed LCD, no liveview and larger viewfinder. The rest of the features are shared by both cameras including on-screen camera guides and HD outputs. The A390 and A290 will start shipping next month at a retail price of $600 and $500 in the US market and €500 and €450 in the European market.
June 8
Carl Zeiss announces Distagon T* 2,8/25 ZF.2 lens for Nikon
Carl Zeiss has announced the ZF.2 version of its 25mm f/2.8 wide angle prime lens for Nikon F mount. The company's ZF.2 series of manual focus lenses comes with an electronic interface (CPU), allowing full support of automatic exposure modes and the inclusion of lens-related data to the EXIF. The Distagon T* 2,8/25 ZF.2 lens is now available at a retail price of €755.46.
Olympus releases service notice for Tough 6010
Olympus Japan has released a statement explaining that a specific batch of its Stylus Tough 6010 rugged compacts have been shipped infected with a PC virus. Affected cameras can be identified by their serial numbers and users of these cameras need to follow instructions from the website for virus removal. The company stresses that 'this is only affecting a very small number of Japanese market-only cameras.'
Fujifilm, Samsung & Nikon announce firmware updates
Fujifilm, Samsung and Nikon have announced firmware updates for some of their compact cameras. Fujifilm has updated a number of cameras from its S series to version 1.04. The latest versions for all the superzooms fixes minor bugs. Samsung has updated the firmware for its TL500 premium compact, improving the camera's low chroma effect and overall stability. Nikon's firmware update for both its Coolpix S4000 and S3000 compacts fixes a minor battery-related issue.
Adobe unveils Photoshop Lightroom 3
Adobe has launched version 3 of its Photoshop Lightroom RAW processing and workflow tool. The result of feedback from professionals and an eight month public beta process, the latest version is based around a new RAW processing engine (same as Photoshop CS5) and comes with a host of new features. Key additions include native 64-bit support, profile based Lens Correction, tethered shooting for a number of Nikon and Canon DSLRs and importing and management of video files. Lightroom 3 is available now at US $299 for first time buyers and $99 as an upgrade to existing users.
June 7
Just posted! Samsung TL500 Sample Gallery
Just posted! Our preview samples gallery from the Samsung TL500/EX1. We just received a production sample of the TL500 and have put together a quick gallery of sample shots to give you an initial impression of the image quality from this new premium enthusiast compact. The gallery includes a mix of shots using various aperture settings, ISOs and under different lighting conditions.
Sony NEX-5 and NEX-3 review posted

Just posted: Our review of the all-new mirrorless system cameras from Sony, the NEX-5 and NEX-3. Offering an appealing combination of a large APS-C sensor in an incredibly compact body, the NEX cameras go head to head with Oympus and Panasonic's Micro Four Thirds system. Do they have enough to take pole position in the 'micro system camera' race? Check out our review - including the first outing of our new interactive studio comparison tool - after the link.

Adobe adds GPS data panel to Creative Suite 5
Adobe has released a GPS data panel for its Creative Suite 5 software applications including Photoshop CS5. Once downloaded, the panel sits under File Info dialog and provides basic location information such as latitude, longitude, and altitude of both the camera and subject. The installation files for the GPS panel are available for immediate download for both Mac and Windows platforms from Adobe's website.
June 3
Exclusive! Production-spec Sony 16mm F2.8 samples gallery
Exclusive! Our samples gallery from a production version of Sony's E-mount 16mm F2.8 lens. Sony has made changes to the manufacturing process which it says will improve the quality and consistency of the lens. The company has allowed us to shoot with one of the first examples so we've gone out and shot a range of subjects at a range of apertures (including F2.8). As a prelude to our forthcoming review of the Sony NEX cameras and lenses, here is our review sample gallery for the 16mm F2.8 pancake lens.
Mamiya announces RZ33 medium format camera

Mamiya has announced the RZ33 digital medium format camera featuring a 33MP, 48 x 36mm CCD sensor. It is the first RZ series camera to feature fully integrated electronics for direct communication with the digital back. Other features include true 16 bit/channel RAW capture, built-in rotating sensor, ISO range of 50-800 and image capture rate of 1.1 seconds per frame. The RZ33 is compatible with all RZ system lenses and most accessories. It will be available from July 2010 at a retail price of $17,990.

June 2
Casio releases Exilim EX-H5 compact superzoom
Casio Europe has released the Exilim EX-H5 compact superzoom with 10x (24-240mm equiv.) zoom lens. The 12.1MP image stabilized camera comes with a 2.7 inch LCD, faster Exilim Engine 5.0 processor and features 720p HD video recording. The camera will be available from the end of this month at a suggested retail price of £149.99. The company has also announced the Exilim EX-FH25 superzoom, previously available in other markets, is now available in the Europe at an SRP of £399.99.
PocketWizard ships AC3 Zone Controller

PocketWizard has announced its AC3 Zone Controller multiple light controller will be available from the end of this month. Priced at US $69.95 and £59.99 GBP, it offers independent control over three lighting zones. Each zone can be adjusted to ±3EV in 1/3EV steps and switched to manual, TTL auto or turned off. AC3 Zone Controller is only available for Canon cameras, with Nikon versions to be made available soon.

Adobe releases Camera Raw 6.1 for Photoshop CS5
Adobe has released Camera Raw 6.1, its raw processing software plug-in for Photoshop CS5. The final version of the update, originally posted as a 'release candidate' on the Adobe Labs site, is available for immediate download. The latest version is based around a revised processing engine and includes the Lens Correction feature that applies profile-based corrections. It also extends RAW support to the same cameras that were supported in v5.7, with additional support for the Olympus E-600.
June 1
PMA 2011 opens doors and falls into step with holiday season
Trade body PMA has announced its show will move to September in 2011 and be open to the public for the first time. Traditionally held in the first quarter of the year, the show is being moved to fit with product release and buying periods, following a quiet 2010 show. Its spring scheduling brought it into competition with the CES electronics show (which Canon chose to attend in preference in 2010), which will be avoided with its September 8-10 2011 slot. A September date in 2012 would risk overlapping with the larger Photokina show in Europe, however. For the first time, the show will officially open its doors to members of the public, with enthusiasts able to attend on Saturday September 10th.
X-Rite launches DNG Profile Manager

Swiss color management and measurement specialist X-Rite has announced the ColorChecker Passport DNG Profile Manager. The DNG Profile Manager provides a single list of all installed DNG profiles and can filter, rename and export from this list to help manage them all. The software is available to download free of charge for registered users of ColorChecker Passport, X-Rite's portable profiling product.

Exclusive! Panasonic Lumix G Fisheye 8mm F3.5 preview and samples

Just posted: Our exclusive preview of the Panasonic Lumix G 8mm F3.5 Fisheye. We've had the chance to play around with the latest addition to the Micro Four Thirds lens range and have prepared a preview, detailing its warped wide-angle capabilities. We've also been able to prepare a small samples gallery, using a pre-production lens which we've been told is representative of final image quality.

Panasonic announces DMC-FX75/FX70 with F2.2-5.9 lens
Panasonic has announced the DMC-FX75 (FX70 in Europe), a 14 megapixel touch-screen compact camera with 5x zoom lens. The 24-120mm image stabilized, Leica-branded lens offers a maximum aperture of F2.2 at the wide-angle end but only F5.9 at the long end. It also features AVCHD Lite 720p video with the ability to split video clips in the camera. The camera is available in Black in Europe and both Black and Silver in the US.
Panasonic unveils 8mm fisheye for Micro Four Thirds
Panasonic has announced an 8mm fisheye lens for the Micro Four Thirds system. Equivalent to 16mm on a full-frame camera, the Lumix G Fisheye 8mm F3.5 offers a diagonal angle of view of 180 degrees, and an ED glass element is designed to minimise chromatic aberration. Panasonic says the lens is the world's smallest and lightest of its type. It features a metal mount and (unlike the recently reviewed 7-14mm) can be used with gelatine filters. It will be available from July 2010, at a cost of around £729.99.