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June 2011 news and reviews

June 30
Olympus PEN E-P3 announced and previewed
Olympus has launched the E-P3, its fifth generation Micro Four Thirds camera. The P3 features a familiar-looking PEN body and revised 12MP sensor but almost every other aspect of the camera has changed. The latest flagship PEN features what the company claims to be the world's fastest AF-S performance, as well as a 614,000 dot VGA-equivalent OLED touch-sensitive screen and built-in flash. In addition it can shoot 1080i60 HD movies in the AVCHD format. We've been using the E-P3 for a while now and have prepared a full preview with studio and real-world sample images.
Olympus PEN Lite and PEN Mini announced and previewed
Alongside the PEN E-P3, Olympus has announced the PEN Lite and PEN Mini. These closely-related sister models (formally called E-PL3 and E-PM1) feature similar specifications but smaller bodies that borrow heavily from the styling of the company's XZ-1 enthusiast compact. Both cameras are aimed at the point-and-shoot upgrader and feature 460,000 dot LCDs, rather than the E-P3's OLED display but otherwise retain much of that camera's capability, including what's claimed to be the world's fastest AF. We've been using a PEN Lite for a while and have prepared a brief hands-on preview.
Olympus unveils 12mm F2.0 and 45mm F1.8 fast primes for Micro Four Thirds

Alongside its three PEN bodies, Olympus has announced the M. Zuiko Digital ED 12mm F2.0 and M. Zuiko Digital ED 45mm F1.8 prime lenses for Micro Four Thirds. The 12mm F2.0 is a metal-bodied 24mm equivalent featuring a unique snap-focus manual focus mode. A snap-back focus ring reveals a traditional depth-of-field scale for 'zone' focusing and offers improved focus 'feel.' Later in the year it will be accompanied by the 45mm F1.8 portrait lens, making Olympus one of the only manufacturers to offer a fast prime at a roughly 100mm equivalent focal length, ideally suited to portraiture. There is also a relatively compact, bouncable and remotely commandable flash, the FL-300R, helping the PEN range look more like a complete system. More details of the 12mm F2.0 are included in our E-P3 preview, along with a gallery of sample images.

June 29
Leica posts firmware update for M8 rangefinder
Leica has released a firmware update for its M8 rangefinder camera. Version 2.014 adds support to the recently released Super-Elmar-M 21 mm f/3.4 ASPH. wide-angle lens amongst other improvements. The firmware is available for immediate download from the company's website.
June 28
Sigma 105mm F2.8 EX DG Macro now available
Sigma has announced pricing and availability for its 105mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro lens. The optically stabilized version of the lens, originally announced back in February, is available now with a recommended selling price of $1,400. The 105mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM offers true 1:1 macro reproduction, and uses a floating focus system to maintain high optical performance at all distances.
June 27
Kenko-Tokina launches Tokina SD 17-35mm F4 AT-X PRO FX
Newly merged Kenko-Tokina has quietly launched the Tokina SD 17-35mm F4 AT-X PRO FX, a semi-fast wideangle zoom for full frame cameras. The company says the F4 maximum aperture makes it easier to produce a smaller lens with fewer aberrations, to sit alongside its 16-28mm F2.8 PRO. The lens features 'SD' glass that the company says offers similar properties to fluorite elements as well as its 'silent drive module' AF motor and high-precision AF position sensor for fast, accurate focusing. No details of pricing or availability are yet available from the company's distributors outside Japan.
June 24
Fujifilm updates X100 firmware to v1.10
Fujifilm has released the promised fimware update for its X100 large sensor compact. Firmware v1.10 includes 22 feature modifications and additions, including correction of several issues highlighted in our review of the camera. The company has detailed the changes and revised the user manual to reflect additional features added as part of the update. Both the firmware update and the updated user manual can be downloaded from the company's website immediately.
June 23
Pentax Q small-sensor mirrorless camera announced and previewed
Pentax has announced the 'Q' mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The camera is the first to use the company's Q mount and features a compact-camera-sized 1/2.3" image stabilized CMOS sensor. This is wrapped in a magnesium alloy body with a distinctly rangefinder-esque design but distinctly compact sizing. Its feature set ranges from the 1080p30 movie shooting (with H.264 compression), to a series of fun filters that can be applied to the Quick Dial on its front plate. We've had a chance to play with a pre-production Pentax Q and have prepared a quick preview.
Pentax announces four additional Q mount lenses
Pentax has announced four additional lenses for its new Q mount. As well as the kit 47mm equivalent F1.9 '01 Standard Prime' lens that will come with the camera, the company has also announced the '02 Standard Zoom' that will offer 28-83mm equivalent focal lengths. Alongside these will be three more affordable, fun lenses. The 03 Fisheye, 04 Toy Lens Wide and 05 Toy Lens Telephoto are designed to make accessible the creativity that interchangeable lenses can bring. The latter three lenses are all manual focus and fixed aperture to keep costs down.
June 22
Photos you can refocus: Lytro promises camera within a year

Startup company Lytro is claiming to be close to launching a camera that allows any point of focus to be specified after the shot is taken. The concept behind the device, called a light-field, or plenoptic camera has surfaced regularly over the past few years, but now Lytro, founded by Stanford PhD Ren Ng, says it will have a product ready within a year. The concept uses a series of microlenses to split the incoming light rays across multiple sensor pixels, depending on the angle from which it arrived. This additional information about the angle of the arriving light makes it possible to recalculate different focus points after the image has been shot, but at the cost of lower image resolution. The company hasn't, as yet, provided details such as its system's output resolution. (From the New York Times)

Fujifilm Canada offers sneak peek at X100 firmware
Fujifilm Canada has released details of the forthcoming X100 firmware update on its '@fujiguys' Twitter feed. A series of updates detail ten significant changes to the X100's firmware, designed to address some of the criticisms of the camera's behavior. Changes include more responsive 'wake from sleep' behavior without a long press of the shutter button, clear indication of the eye sensor being engaged and the maintaining of ISO/Self-Timer/DR/Flash/Macro settings when exposure mode, review mode or power state is changed. The original messages can be found at http://twitter.com/#!/fujiguys but, as yet, no official announcement of when the updated firmware will become available has been made.
Content commenting system launched
We've just launched a simple commenting system for our news items, previews and galleries, with more sections to follow. At the moment you can only comment if you're a logged-in registered dpreview.com user, but this may change in future versions of the new feature. Feel free to try it out and add your comments to this story!
June 21
Pentax, Sony, Leica and Ricoh update firmware
Pentax, Sony, Leica and Ricoh have released firmware updates for several of their cameras. Pentax has updated the firmware for its K-r, K-5 and 645D. Firmware v1.10 for all three cameras brings compatibility with the recently-announced 0-GPS module. Sony, meanwhile, has created updates for its NEX-3 and NEX-5, and SLT A33 and A55 models, adding many of the features of its forthcoming NEX-C3 and SLT A35 cameras. Leica has updated the firmware for its M9 digital rangefinder to improve color consistency across the frame when used with wide-angle lenses. Finally, Ricoh has updated its G700 and G700SE rugged industrial cameras. Click here for links to the updates.
Apple releases Final Cut Pro X video editing software
Apple has announced Final Cut Pro X, the latest version of its popular high-end video editing software. Final Cut Pro X features a trackless canvas, that Apple is calling a 'Magnetic Timeline' for flexible arranging and editing of clips. It's also possible to 'audition' different combinations of clips to make it easier to choose between multiple takes. The software also features improved tagging (including auto-analysis of clips) to make it easier to manage and locate the clips you want to use. Final Cut Pro X is available from the Mac App Store for $299/£179.
Leica announces Super-Elmar-M 21mm f/3.4 ASPH
Leica has announced the Super-Elmar-M 21mm f/3.4, a wideangle prime for its M-series rangefinder cameras. Weighing in at less than 10 ounces, it's extremely compact at just under 2 inches in length. It has a minimum focus distance of 0.7m, and uses a dual-sided aspheric element and 4 anomalous partial dispersion elements in its optical construction. On the M8 camera it offers an angle of view equivalent to a 28mm lens. It will be available from June 2011 at a price of £2025.
Leica launches M9-P professionally targeted rangefinder
Leica has announced the M9-P, a variant of its 18MP full-frame M9 rangefinder camera. The P version gains the sapphire crystal LCD glass previously seen on the Leica M8.2 but now featuring improved anti-reflective coatings for improved visibility in difficult lighting conditions. In order to give an understated appearance, the M9-P omits the traditional Leica red dot and M9 designation from the front of the camera, instead the Leica name is engaved in the metal top-plate in the company's traditional script.
June 20
Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 25mm F1.4 sample gallery
Just Posted: Our samples gallery from the Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 25mm F1.4 ASPH. We've had the chance to borrow a production example of this fast 50mm-equivalent lens and have prepared a samples gallery to show some of what it can do. We've also shot a couple of comparisons against the popular Lumix G 20mm F1.7 ASPH to see how the two lenses compare when used wide open, and give some idea of what the slightly longer focal length and wider aperture mean in terms of background defocus and subject isolation. Updated with additional comparison shots.
June 15
Lensrentals blog looks into the effects of filters

Lens rental company Lensrentals has posted an interesting blog post on the subject of filters. Ostensibly side-stepping the issue of whether UV filters are actually beneficial, it illustrates the effect of stacks of UV filters of different qualities. Acknowledging this isn't a real-world application, it does show that, if you are going to use filters, you probably shouldn't try to skimp on them. The post also shows exactly why you should never be tempted to stack more than 49 filters on the front of your lens.

Casio, Fujifilm and Panasonic issue compact firmware updates
Panasonic, FujiFilm and Casio have all released firmware updates for compact camera models. Casio has updated firmware for its ZR100, ZR10, H20G and TRYX models, mainly improving compatibility with the long obsolete Mac OS 9. Panasonic meanwhile has improved the 'menu indications' for the FP3 and FH22/FS33 models. Finally, Fujifilm has adjusted the image sharpness and saturation of its XP20/XP22, XP30 and Z90/Z91 models, as well as making improvements to playback mode.
DxO Labs develops FilmPack 3 film simulation software
DxO Labs has launched FilmPack 3, the latest version of its silver halide film simulation software. The software now includes the ability to mimic up to 60 famous black and white, and color films, based on calibration from professional prints, giving what the company claims is the most precise film simulation on the market. Version 3 adds new film looks and color filters. It also brings a greater degree of control, including HSL sliders, a channel mixer for optimizing Black and White conversions and, at customer request, the ability to add vignetting. Custom film styles can also be created by mixing the color response of one film with the grain pattern of another. The software is available as standalone software or plugins for DxO Optics Pros, Photoshop, Lightroom or Aperture.
DxO Labs launches Optics Pro v6.6
DxO Labs has launched Optics Pro v6.6, an updated version of its raw processing and correction software. Version 6.6 adds more noise control options along with a color control slider and support for extra cameras, including Panasonic's GF1 and GF2. The update means all the JPEG corrections available for fully-supported cameras can now be manually applied to images from unsupported cameras. It also provides compatibility with the simultaenously-released FilmPack 3. Users who've purchased DxO Optics Pro since 1 June 2009 get the upgrade for free while a 30% discount is available at launch.
Just posted: Nik Snapseed quick review
Just posted: Our quick review of Nik's Snapseed app for the Apple iPad. Nik is one of the better-known names in photographic software, and at the heart of its various plugins is U Point - an automatic masking tool that allows you to pinpoint specific areas of an image for manipulation. Snapseed is an app for the Apple iPad that brings this U Point technology to the touchscreen iOS platform. It features a wide range of effects filters, as well as more conventional adjustments like crop, rotate and 'organic frames'. At $4.99/£2.99/€3.99, Snapseed is considerably cheaper than Nik's desktop software, but can it even approach the same versatility? Read our quick review to find out.
June 14
Dpreview: Email notifications of new content and forum activity
Just launched: Email notification of new content. We've been doing some behind-the-scenes work on the site and can now offer the first of a series of additional features: email updates. Visiting the 'Notifications' tab of the 'Edit my settings' option in your profile will allow you to specify which emails you wish to receive, and how often. You can receive messages every time a news story is posted or opt for either hourly or daily summaries. You can also choose to receive similar updates and summaries about responses to posts you've made in the forums, or to forum threads that you've bookmarked.
Adobe updates Touch Apps for Photoshop CS5
Adobe has issued updates for its recently released apps for iPad that integrate with Photoshop. All three apps, originally launched in May 2011, have been revised and have had features added to them. Adobe Nav, the remote file browser and tool selector, for instance now has the ability to transfer images from an iPad photo library into Photoshop CS5 for editing. The updated apps are available for download from Apple's App Store now.
June 13
Canon creates EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II updated tele zoom
Canon has announced an updated version of its 55-250mm image stabilized telephoto zoom. The EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II is a cosmetically refreshed version of the existing 55-250mm IS, launched in 2008. A consumer-grade tele zoom, it will be available on its own or alongside the recently updated 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II as a two lens kit with the EOS 550D (Rebel T2i), EOS 600D (Rebel T3i) or EOS 60D.
Panasonic DMC GF3 announced and previewed
Panasonic has announced the much-leaked DMC GF3 compact mirrorless camera. The latest Micro Four Thirds model continues the company's move towards smaller, easier-to-use cameras. The GF3 has the same 12MP sensor as its predecessor but with a faster processor enabling rapid 120Hz autofocusing. The camera gains the Photo Styles and Creative Controls color and processing options from the G3 but loses several physical features from the GF2. We've had a GF3 in the office and have prepared a preview that looks at what these changes mean in terms of actually using the camera.
Panasonic unveils Leica Summilux DG 25mm F1.4 lens
Panasonic has announced its long-anticipated Leica Summilux DG 25mm F1.4 lens for the Lumix G system. Also known as the H-X025, it's the company's second premium Leica-branded lens for Micro Four Thirds, and the first to employ Nano Surface Coating for more efficient reduction of flare. It employs nine elements in seven groups, including two aspherical elements and one UHR (Ultra High Refractive) glass element, and a rounded 7-bladed aperture diaphragm designed to render pleasingly-blurred backgrounds. It will be available from August 2011, at a price to be announced.
June 10
Just posted: Lensbaby Composer Pro/Sweet 35 quick review
Just posted: our quick review of the Lensbaby Composer Pro and Sweet 35 optic. Lensbaby has never played by conventional photographic rules. Long a manufacturer of quirky, low cost (and distinctly 'lo-fi') optical accessories, its product line has evolved to include more 'serious' products. The recently launched Lensbaby Composer Pro and Sweet 35 optic promise better build-quality, better exposure control and better glass than previous offerings, and as such, we were keen to try them out. So has Lensbaby lost sight of its grungy, lo-fi beginnings, or can these new products breathe new life into the concept and introduce Lensbaby to a more 'serious' audience? Read our quick review to find out.
June 9
Ricoh PX rugged compact announced and previewed
Ricoh has announced the PX rugged, waterproof compact. It combines a 16MP stabilized CCD sensor and 2.7" LCD with conventional camera styling. Despite its appearance, it can withstand a drop from up to 1.5m and being submerged to a depth of 3m for 60 minutes. Along with the camera, Ricoh has launched a range of silicone covers that help make the camera still-more durable. We've had access to a pre-production PX and have prepared a brief preview and 20-image samples gallery.
June 8
Sony gives details of SLT and NEX firmware updates
Sony has given more details of the forthcoming firmware updates for A33, A55 Nex-3 and NEX-5 owners. The updates, which will be available from June 20th, include many of the features built into the newly-announced SLT-A35 and NEX-C3. These include the Picture Effects processing modes and many of the small handling improvements incorporated into the newer models.
Sony SLT-A35 announced and previewed
Sony has announced the SLT A35, the latest addition to its innovative range of fixed-mirror DSLRs. The A35 replaces the A33 and features a new 16.2MP EXMOR APS-C CMOS sensor. The chip has been redesigned to improve power consumption, promising improved battery and thermal performance. The A35 can shoot 1080i60 video and shoot 7 frames per second at 8.4MP (a 1.4x crop from the middle of the sensor that Sony is calling Tele-zoom High Speed Shooting). The camera also gains 'Picture Effects' processing filters that will be offered to existing A33 and A55 owners in a forthcoming firmware update. We've been using a pre-production version of this latest SLT and have prepared a hands-on preview and samples gallery.
Sony NEX-C3 announced and previewed
Sony has added the NEX-C3 to its range of mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras. The C3 features the same 16.2MP seen in the SLT A35, again promising improved battery life. The latest model is directly aimed at offering a compact-camera-like experience to users looking to upgrade to a large-sensor camera. It also features the 'Picture Effects' processing filters that will be available to NEX-3 and NEX-5 owners as a firmware update. The NEX-C3 will be available as a kit with the 18-55mm E-mount lens for around $649 or $599 with the 16mm F2.8 lens. A more powerful external flashgun for the NEX system is also being announced. The HVL-F20S has a guide number of 20 (m, 50mm/ISO 100) and will be available from October at around $150. We've had the chance to prepare a hands-on preview of the NEX-C3, including a samples gallery.
Sony announces E-mount 30mm F3.5 Macro
Sony has announced its fourth lens for NEX cameras, in the shape of the E 30mm F3.5 macro (or SEL30M35). Billed as the world's lightest macro for interchangeable lens cameras capable of life-size 1:1 magnification, it uses internal focusing to achieve a minimum working distance of less than an inch from the front of the lens. It also promises quiet autofocus for both stills and video use. The lens will be available in October at a suggested retail price of around $250. We've had a pre-production example that we've used to prepare a samples gallery.
June 7
Apple adds photographic features for iOS5
Apple has announced details of the forthcoming versions of its iOS operating system for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. With these devices ranking among the most used on popular photo-sharing sites, it comes as no surprise that several new features in iOS5 are specifically aimed at photographers. These including additional camera features for the iPhone/iPod Touch and iPad2, such as the ability to overlay thirds gridlines, and wireless syncing of photographs between iOS devices using Apple's new iCloud service.
June 3
Pentax launches O-GPS1 geotagging module
Pentax has launched an add-on GPS module for its recent DSLRs that allows simple geotagging of images. The O-GPS1 unit attaches to the camera's hotshoe, allowing the camera to add latitude, longitude, altitude, UTC capture time and direction as image metadata. This data can be used to place images in mapping software such as Google Earth or as a means of file organization and retrieval. K-5 and K-r users also gain access to the 'Astrotracer' feature that predicts the movement of celestial objects and uses the sensor shift mechanism to track this movement to give astrophotographs with single points, rather than star-trails. The O-GPS1 unit will be available from mid June at a recommended price of $249.95/£229.99.
June 1
Sony World Photography Awards 2012 opens for entries
The Sony World Photography Awards have started accepting entries for the 2012 competition. The award categories have been revised for the latest competition and are split between 'professional' and 'open' categories. Submitted photos must be taken during 2011 and can be submitted at any point between now and Jan 4th 2012. Enthusiast photographers are welcome to enter either the professional or open competitions but not both. 2012 sees the introduction of a youth competition in which photographers under the age of 20 can submit images that suit the themes: 'environment,' 'portrait' or 'culture.' The latest competition also sees the addition of six moving image categories.
Nikon films latest D5100 advert using D5100 DSLR
Nikon is promoting its latest US TV advert starring Ashton Kutcher, pointing out that the spot was filmed using the D5100 it promotes. This isn't the first time such a claim has been made, of course - Olympus promoted its PEN series of mirrorless cameras with adverts shot using its product. Still, it makes clear what's possible with the latest generation of 1080p-shooting DSLRs, if you're an award-winning director of photography with access to professional actors.
Sigma announces 120-300mm OS price and availability
Sigma has announced the pricing and availability of the stabilized versions of its 120-300mm F2.8 telezoom lens. The 120-300mm F2.8 EX DG OS APO HSM will have an MSRP of $4,700. The lens, which features Sigma's latest FLD low-dispersion glass is available now in Canon, Nikon and Sigma mounts.