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April 2011 news and reviews

April 29
Silkypix releases Developer Studio Pro 5 beta
Japanese software developer Ichikawa Soft Laboratory has released a limited beta version of its Silkypix Developer Studio Pro 5 raw conversion software. This provides an opportunity for users to test and provide feedback for the forthcoming final version. The beta version supports a wide range of cameras including the recently released Nikon D5100 and Fujifilm X100.
April 28
Blurb announces Blurb Mobile app for iPhone
Print-on-demand publisher Blurb has launched a free app for Apple's iPhone that allows users to compile photos, videos and audio to create visual stories. The launch marks the company's first foray into non-printed media collections and away from its exiting print-on-demand business. The company has announced its fourth annual international Photography Book Now competition with a chance to win a US $25,000 cash prize. Category winners will receive $5000 from Adobe amongst other goodies. Entries need to be submitted before July 14, 2011.
Getty Images acquires PicScout
Getty Images has acquired image copyright identification company PicScout. PicScout has a series of image identifying and copyright association technologies. These allow photographers and copyright holders to find unlicensed image use and to make associations back from an image to the copyright holder, to make it easy for would-be users to legitimately licence an image. Getty Images explains the acquisition will provide its contributors with more tools for protecting the copyright of their images and provide licensing information for their content.
Phase One releases Capture One 6.2
Phase One has updated its Capture One PRO 6 and Express 6 Raw workflow software. Version 6.2 brings additional features and extends RAW support to cameras including the Nikon D7000, Canon EOS 600D/Rebel T3i and 1100D/Rebel T3, Fujifilm X100 and Samsung NX series cameras. The update is available for immediate download from the company's website.
April 27
Adobe releases Lightroom 3.4 and ACR 6.4
Adobe has released Photoshop Lightroom 3.4 and Camera Raw 6.4. These are final versions of updates that were originally posted as 'release candidates' on the Adobe Labs site, and are available for immediate download. The latest versions provide final RAW support for thirteen additional cameras including the Canon EOS 600D/T3i and 1100D/T3, Nikon D5100 and Fujifilm X100, alongside profiles for over 25 more lenses. The updates also address a number of issues reported via customer feedback.
Nikon formally announces AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G lens
Nikon has formally announced the AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G lens for both DX and FX DSLRs. The lens, whose details had previously been revealed by the company, features a totally new optical formula featuring an aspherical element - an unusual feature for this type of optic. The 50mm F1.8G features a built-in AF-S focus motor to allow autofocus with all Nikon DSLRs. The company says it expects the lens to retail for around $219.95/£199/€229 including a lens hood, pitching it around the same level as the Nikkor AF-S 35mm F1.8G and making it an accessible (if slightly short) portrait lens for owners of Nikon's APS-C DSLRs.
Product page improvements and additional features
Since we released the major upgrade of our product database pages four weeks ago, we have been hard at work fixing bugs, refining details and addressing your feedback. We’ve reached the point where all the major issues have been addressed and everything is running along smoothly. Our development team will be moving on to work on other new features, but first we wanted to give you an update on what’s been done over the past few weeks.
April 26
Canon updates DPP camera software
Canon has released an updated version of its Digital Photo Professional raw conversion software. Version 3.10.1 extends support to the EOS Rebel T3i / 600D and EOS Rebel T3/1100D DSLRs. The update also fixes a number of bugs and offers lens abberation correction support to additional Canon lenses.The update can be downloaded from the DSLR support pages of individual cameras from Canon's website.
Canon posts firmware update v1.2.5 for EOS 7D digital SLR
Canon has posted a firmware update for its EOS 7D digital SLR. Firmware v1.2.5 fixes bugs relating to stills and video recording with specific CF cards and image stabilization with specific lenses in custom setting mode. The latest version also improves read/write speeds when using UDMA 7 compatible CF cards. The firmware is available for immediate download from Canon's website.
Just posted: Nikon D5100 in-depth review
Just posted: Our in-depth review of the Nikon D5100. Sitting between the entry-level D3100 and the upper mid-level D7000, the D5100 is a hard camera to categorise. It combines the user-friendly ergonomics of the D3100 with the impressive 16MP CMOS sensor of the D7000, but throws in a couple of neat tricks of its own, including an articulated LCD screen, and a set of all-new 'Effects' modes. So is the Nikon D5100 just an entry-level camera with delusions of grandeur, or is it a wolf in sheep's clothing? Read our 23-page in-depth review to find out.
April 25
Panasonic releases TS3, TZ20 and TZ22 firmware updates
Panasonic has released firmware updates for its Lumix DMC-TS3/FT3, DMC-TZ20/ZS10 and DMC-TZ22 GPS-enabled digital compact cameras. The latest version for all cameras improves location tagging accuracy of European landmarks. The updates are available for immediate download from Panasonic's website.
Nikon posts firmware v1.02 for D7000
Nikon has posted a firmware update for its D7000 digital SLR. Firmware v1.02 brings a host of bug fixes and improvements relating to noise reduction, movie playback and editing, and RAW processing with Capture NX 2 or ViewNX 2. The firmware is available for immediate download from the company's website.
April 22
Ricoh posts firmware update v1.36 for GXR system
Ricoh has posted a firmware update for its GXR system, covering the A12 28mm, 50mm macro, P10 28-300mm and S10 24-72mm equiv. zoom lens units. Version 1.36 rectifies a minor bug related to the Cross Process scene mode in all units. The update also rectifies additional minor bugs for the A12 28mm and 50mm equiv. units. The single firmware file will make appropriate changes for each unit and is available for immediate download from Ricoh's website.
April 21
Fujifilm updates X100 firmware to v1.01
Fujifilm has issued a firmware update for its X100 larger sensor compact. The update, to firmware v1.01, corrects a glitch by which the camera wouldn't turn back on if shut down while ISO bracketing in Quick Start mode. No other corrections are mentioned by the manufacturer. The update is available from the Fujifilm website.
Olympus updates firmware for XZ-1 compact camera
Olympus has released a firmware update for its XZ-1 enthusiast compact. Version 1.2 adds the ability to manually change orientation of images during playback.
April 20
Sigma USA celebrates 50th anniversary
Sigma Corporation of America has launched a website to celebrate its 50th anniversary. In addition to videos detailing the company's history and technologies, the site offers the chance for US residents to sign up for a chance to win various prizes, including the as-yet-unreleased SD1 DSLR. The site also provides the chance for Sigma owners and users to learn, interact and share their photos. The familiy-owned photography company, best known for its lenses, was founded by optical engineer Michihiro Yamaki, who remains the company's CEO.
Fujifilm posts firmware update for Finepix HS20EXR
Fujifilm has released a firmware update for its Finepix HS20EXR advanced superzoom. Version 1.02 rectifies a bug related to display of temperature warning.
Pentax Japan offers colorful grip options for K-r
Pentax has released a series of multi-colored variants of its K-r DSLR for the Japanese market. A collaboration with music store Tower Records results in a rainbow-themed version, including colorful Pentax logo and candy-colored handgrip. Meanwhile the company has also introduced a series of camouflaged grips for Japanese customers. These range from the traditional militaristic khaki through to a red and white mélange that will presumably blend in perfectly with the strawberries and cream at Wimbledon. The grips can be ordered with new camera or retro-fitted to existing purchases.
Oloneo to ship PhotoEngine v1.0 from May 2011
Paris-based software maker Oloneo has launched the final version of its image processing suite, PhotoEngine. The Windows-based software includes RAW processing, HDR merging and a method for combining images shot under different lighting conditions to give control over the individual light sources. The software is based around a 32-bit per channel wide color gamut that allows users to edit tonal range and color with minimum data loss. Priced at $149 / €125, the software wil be available from May 31, 2011, with 25% discount for those who register before that date.
Samsung announces W200 rugged pocket camcorder
Samsung has announced the W200 rugged pocket camcorder, capable of recording full 1080p30 HD videos. Built around a 5MP back-illuminated CMOS sensor, a 2.3" LCD and a F2.2 lens with anti-fog coating, the camcorder is shockproof to 2m/6.5 ft and waterproof to 3m/10 ft. It will be available from May 2011 at a suggested retail price of $159.
Samsung releases ST93 compact camera
Samsung has announced the ST93 compact camera. The 16MP CCD-based camera offers a 5x optical zoom lens starting at a useful 26mm equivalent. Its features include 720p HD video recording, a Panorama mode, the company's latest Smart filters and Magic Frame templates. Further specifications are not currently available.
April 19
Nikon updates Capture NX and Camera Control Pro software
Nikon has announced version 2.2.7 of its Capture NX and version 2.9.0 of the Camera Control Pro software. The latest versions extend RAW support to the D5100 digital SLR.
Samsung updates firmware for NX10 & NX100
Samsung has released firmware updates for its NX10 and NX100 interchangeable lens cameras. The latest firmware for both cameras improves auto-focusing while recording movies and when shooting in low contrast and low light conditions. The firmware also adds Panorama Shot to the available scene modes and an 'i-Function setting help' guide in the menu. In addition, image stabilization (OIS) can now be enabled from the menu for i-Fn lenses that have no OIS switch. The updates are available for immediate download from Samsung's website.
Sigma announces scholarship contest winner
Sigma has announced the winner of its second annual scholarship contest. 17-year-old Andrew Lu from Yorktown Heights, New York has been awarded cash prize of $5,000 and a $1,000 gift card toward Sigma products for his sequence of black and white images.
April 18
Fujifilm posts firmware updates for F550EXR & F500EXR
Fujifilm has released firmware updates for the recently released F550EXR and F500EXR digital compacts.The updates for both cameras fix occasional LCD display issues while connecting the cameras to PCs via USB cables. Version 1.10 for the GPS-enabled F550EXR also reduces power consumption. The latest versions are available for immediate donwload from the company's website.
April 15
Ichikawa Soft Laboratory updates Silkypix Developer Studio
Ichikawa Soft Laboratory has released updated versions of its Silkypix Developer Studio Pro and Basic raw conversion software. The latest versions extend RAW support to several recently released cameras including Canon's 600D/T3i and 1100D/T3, Olympus's XZ-1 and Fujifilm's HS20EXR and F500EXR cameras.
What should mirrorless cameras be called?

Just what should we call mirrorless cameras? Ever since the launch of the Micro Four Thirds system, the photographic world has struggled to find a satisfactory generic term to describe similar systems. The current front-runners appear to be 'mirrorless' or 'compact system camera' but there's nothing like consensus yet. We've put some of the more common options and some alternatives we've had suggested to us, in a poll to see how you think of these cameras. It's a chance to have your voice heard, since we've had more than one camera maker ask us which name is most widely recognized. So have a look to the right of this story and register your vote.

April 14
RCP-Technik releases Rollei 8x zoom lens for iPhone 4
Building on the brand's illustrious heritage in the medium format sector, RCP-Technik has applied the Rollei name to a clip-on 8x F1.1 telephoto zoom lens for the iPhone 4. Priced at €34.95, the manual focus lens will be available by the end of this month including a hard case, a mini tripod and tripod mount.
Just Posted: Canon EOS Rebel T3 / 1100D in-depth review
Just Posted: Our full, in-depth review of the Canon Rebel T3 / EOS 1100D. The 1100D is the second camera in the budget-focused sub-range of Canon's mainstream Rebel lineup. It's made up of a selection of components we've seen before, including a 12MP CMOS sensor and 9-point AF system that suggest competence at a tempting price. The DSLR market doesn't sit still, though, so can tried-and-tested keep up with more contemporary competitors? And have too many corners been cut in an attempt to make the Rebel T3's price more compelling? Find out in our full review.
April 13
Nikon reveals AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G lens
Nikon has published details of an AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G lens on its US website. With a built-in Silent Wave focusing motor, this not-yet-formally-announced design should autofocus on all entry-level Nikon DSLR bodies, including the recently-released D5100. It uses an all-new optical design with 7 elements in 6 groups, including one aspherical element. The lens can be used on both FX and DX format DSLRs, with a short-telephoto 75mm-equivalent angle of view on the latter. The web page has now been removed from the Nikon site.
Sony announces HVL-F43AM flash for Alpha DSLR and SLT
Sony has announced the HVL-F43AM external flash for its range of Alpha SLT and SLR cameras. It has a guide number of 43 (at 105mm, ISO 100) and features the same Quick Bounce System as the HVL-F58AM. This allows the position of the flash head to be adjusted quickly for landscape and portrait-format compositions. The HVL-F43AM can be used with Sony's Wireless Ratio Control and is dust and moisture resistant. Also announced is the VCT-55LH Bracket, which can be used to attach various accessories to the Alpha and NEX range cameras, a soft carrying case (the LCS-AMB) designed to protect A-series cameras, and a lens hood (the ALC-SH111) which is designed to fit the DT 35mm f/1.8 and 85mm f/2.8 SAM lenses. 
The art of HDR photography - part 2
We've just published the second in a series of articles by Uwe Steinmueller of Digital Outback Photo on the art of HDR photography. The second chapter (of what will eventually become Uwe's next E-book) covers the challenges faced by HDR photographers. Future chapters will cover capture, workflow and advanced HDR techniques. For now, enjoy this exclusive second part of what we hope will develop into a useful manual for anyone interested in getting more of the dynamic range they see in the scenes they photograph into the images and prints they produce.
April 12
Eye-Fi announces Mobile X2 wireless SD card
Eye-Fi has announced the Mobile X2 SD card that allows users to wirelessly connect cameras to their smartphones and tablets. The card's Direct Mode technology enables instant uploads via Android and Apple mobile devices running the soon-to-be available free apps. The Mobile X2 is effectively an 8GB version of the company's Connect X2 card - the Direct Mode function will be available for current X2 card users as a free upgrade. Priced at $79.99, it the Mobile X2 card will be available from April 17.
Cisco shuts down Flip pocket camcorder unit
Cisco has announced it is closing down its Flip pocket camcorder business, two years after acquiring it. According the company, the move is a part of a restructuring of its consumer business as it looks to focus on its core internet equipment activities. The announcement comes as market research company GFK revealed the pocket camcorders, which Flip helped popularize, have been driving camcorder growth and now account for over 50% of total UK sales.
April 11
Adobe launches Creative Suite 5.5 with subscription option
Adobe has unveiled what it describes as a 'significant mid-cycle product release' with the update of its Creative Suite product family to version 5.5. The update extends to all five Creative Suite packages: the Master Collection, Design Premium, Web Premium, Production Premium and Design Standard, each of which is made up of a series of titles aimed at different industry needs. Along with the update comes the option to buy annual or monthly subscriptions to use the software, rather than buying a license outright.
Adobe creates Photoshop SDK for tablet and mobile apps
Adobe has announced a software development kit (SDK) to allow the creators of mobile and tablet apps to interact with Photoshop CS5. Along with the SDK, the company has also released three apps for the iPad that allow users to engage with Photoshop in a variety of ways, such as tablet-based a file viewer or a color mixer. Although these apps are written for Apple iOS, the SDK also allows development for devices including Android and BlackBerry. Photoshop CS5 users will need to download a free software patch if they wish to make use of external apps.
April 9
Nikon D5100 updated samples gallery
Just posted: Updated Nikon D5100 samples gallery. Following publication of our 9-page hands-on preview of the D5100 earlier this week, we've taken advantage of a trip to Los Angeles (and some correspondingly nice weather) to expand the samples gallery. We've added nine images to the gallery, taken at a range of different settings and we're currently working hard to turn our preview into a full in-depth review as soon as possible.
April 8
Technicolor & Canon collaborate on color science
Technicolor has announced it is collaborating with Canon to develop a suite of creative tools for Canon's video enabled DSLRs. Technicolor says this will: 'facilitate greater usability and integration of Canon EOS DSLR cameras into the motion picture and television production pipeline.' The first result of this tie-up is CineStyle, a profile for Canon DSLRs that provides greater flexibility when using EOS footage in the the professional video workflow.
Canon updates EOS E1 video plug-in
Canon has announced an updated version of its EOS E1 plug-in for Apple's Final Cut Pro video-editing software. To be available for download from April 25, v1.2 makes it easier and faster to transfer videos from Canon DSLRs eliminating some steps that were required in the previous version.
April 7
Pentax offers DC Super Heroes RS1500 pack
Pentax has partnered with Warner Bros. Consumer Products (WBCP) to offer the limited edition DC Super Heroes-inspired RS1500 compact camera. Priced at £119.99, the special edition pack will include seven DC Super Hero skins, a 4GB SD card and a protective case based on the forthcoming Green Lantern movie. The 14MP compact features a 27.5-110mm equivalent lens and 720p HD movie recording capabilities.
April 6
Panasonic UK offers Adobe Elements with Lumix G cameras
Panasonic UK has announced it is offering customers Adobe's Photoshop Elements 9 and Premier Elements 9 software with purchase of select Lumix G Micro Four Thirds cameras. The offer that covers the DMC-GF2, DMC-GH2, DMC-G2, DMC-G10 is available from April 7th through May 3rd 2011. Buyers will also get a £35 Going Digital photography workshop gift voucher.
April 5
Zeiss announces video lens-set in a suitcase
Carl Zeiss has announced a bundled lens-set for Canon and Nikon video-enabled DSLRs. Comprising the Distagon T* 2,8/21, 2/28, 2/35, Planar T* 1,4/50 and Planar T* 1,4/85 lenses, the set comes in a custom-designed waterproof suitcase.
Nikon marks production of 60 millionth Nikkor lens
Nikon is celebrating the production of its 60 millionth Nikkor lens for its SLR cameras. The lens series was introduced in 1959 with the launch of the Nikkor S Auto 5cm f/2, while SWM was first incorporated in the Ai AF-S Nikkor 300mm f/2.8D IF-ED in 1996. This closely follows a similar announcement marking its 55th million lens in September 2010.
Fujifilm unveils Finepix Z900EXR with EXR CMOS sensor
Fujifilm has unveiled the FinePix Z900EXR premium ultra-compact incorporating the company's latest 16MP EXR CMOS sensor. Featuring the same the 460K dot 3.5" LCD of the Z8000EXR, it offers a more useful image-stabilized 28-140m equivalent lens and full 1080p HD movie capture in the H.264 (MOV) format. The camera will be available from May 2011, at a price of $279.95 / £219, in Brilliant Black, Gloss Red, Hot Pink and Royal Blue
Nikon D5100 announced and previewed
Nikon has unveiled the D5100 upper-entry-level DSLR and we've prepared a full preview of the camera, detailing its features. Sitting above the D3100, it includes a 16.2 MP CMOS sensor much like that in the D7000, 1080p movie capability and a side-articulated 921K dot 3.0" tilt/swivel LCD. The D5100 also becomes the first Nikon DSLR to be able to apply special processing filters to stills and video. The company has also introduced the ME-1 external microphone. The camera will be available from this month as a kit with the 18-55mm VR lens for $899.95 while the microphone will retail at $179.99. We've had a production-spec sample of the camera, so have shot our standard test scene and some real-world samples to accompany our preview.
April 4
Lensbaby unveils Composer Pro
Lensbaby has announced the Composer Pro version of its selective focus lens. Available for Canon, Nikon, Sony Alpha, Pentax and Olympus DSLR mounts, the 'Pro' version uses a metal ball-and-socket assembly with refined focus mechanism for smoother operation. The manual focus lens with tilt control is currently available with either the company's Sweet 35 or Double Glass optics for $400 and $300 respectively.

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