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July 2011 news and reviews

July 29
Olympus quietly unveils SZ-11 and VG-145 compact cameras
Olympus has announced the SZ-11 and VG-15 14MP compact cameras. The SZ-11 is a compact superzoom that manages to squeeze a 20X wide-angle zoom (25-500mm equiv.) into a relatively compact body. Despite the numbering, it appears to have more in common with the SZ-30H than the SZ-10, seemingly using a shorter version of the SZ-30's lens. This means a maximum aperture of F3.0-6.9, rather than the SZ-10's rather more impressive F3.3-4.4. The SZ-11 also has 10 Art Filters, rather than the eight offered by existing SZ models. Meanwhile the VG-15 is a budget compact with a 26-130mm equiv. unstabilized zoom lens. It has the same 14MP sensor as the SZ-11 and includes a 3.0" 230k dot LCD, rather than the SZ-11's 460k dot panel.
July 28
Microsoft releases Camera Codec Pack with RAW support
Microsoft has released an updated version of its Camera Codec Pack for Windows Vista and Windows 7 allowing users to view RAW files from more than 120 DSLRs. Using Microsoft's Windows Live Gallery 2011 software, RAW files from compatible cameras can be edited, with adjusted images stored as either JPEG or JPEG-XR files.
Just posted: Printer Primer Part 2: Print workflow
Just Posted: Printer Primer Part 2: Print Workflow. As part of our expansion into providing printing content, we're taking the opportunity to update some of our existing content. Part 2 of our printer primer - print workflow - explains how to get the most out of your printer, whether you're an experienced print maker or you're dipping your toes into home printing for the first time.
Leica releases firmware update for S2 and S2-P
Leica has released a firmware update for its S2 and S2-P medium format DSLRs. Version brings improvements to the auto-bracketing procedure and adds a customization option to the menu control button on both the S2 and S2-P cameras. Registered users can download the latest firmware via the Owner's Area on Leica's website.
July 27
Olympus announces SP-810UZ with the world's longest zoom lens
Olympus has announced the SP-810UZ superzoom with a 36x (24-864mm equiv.) zoom lens - the world's longest optical zoom in a compact camera. Successor to the SP-800UZ, the SP-810UZ also boasts a 14MP CCD sensor, 3.0" LCD and 720p HD video recording. Also included are a 3D capture mode, AF Tracking and Magic Filters including a new 'reflection' effect. Priced at $329.99, the camera will start shipping from September 2011.
Olympus launches VF-3 and announces E-PL3 US pricing
Olympus has announced US pricing and availability for the PEN Lite E-PL3. The E-PL3 will be available from September at a suggested retail price of $699.99. As previously announced, the MSRP in the UK market will be £549.99. The camera will be shipped as a kit with either the M.Zuiko 14-42mm lens or the M. Zuiko 17mm pancake lens. The company has also introduced the VF-3 electronic viewfinder for its PEN series of Micro Four Thirds cameras. This is a smaller, slightly lower resolution (0.97x magnification, 920k dot, rather than 1.15x, 1.44M dot) alternative to the existing VF-2. Compatible with all PEN cameras that have an accessory port, the VF-3 has a street price of $179.99, offers a 100% field of view and can be tilted by up to 90 degrees.
July 25
Just posted: Printer Primer Part 1: Choosing a new printer
Just Posted: Printer Primer Part 1: Choosing a new printer. Over the coming months we will be expanding our printing content to include reviews and technique articles. As part of that process we're also taking the opportunity to update some of our existing content. Part one of our updated printer primer replaces an earlier guide to photo printers and explains the different types of models available, the technologies they use, and how you should determine which is right for you.
Lytro plenoptic camera used for fashion shoot
Following the extensive press coverage of Lytro's 'light field' camera, the company's Director of Photography, Eric Cheng, was invited to photograph a fashion shoot. The results, visible on Canadian model Coco Rocha's website, show a similar level of control over the focus point as exhibited in the sample we posted previously (and, perhaps tellingly, are the same 494 x 494 pixel resolution). They are accompanied by a behind-the-scenes video of the shoot that shows Cheng using the (blurred-out) camera. Despite the blurring, it suggests the camera is around the size of a conventional compact.
Sony announces DSC-WX30 CMOS-based compact camera
Sony has announced the WX30, a 5x zoom camera with 16.2MP backlit CMOS sensor. The lens covers a 25-125mm equivalent zoom and uses the company's 'By Pixel Super Resolution' image processing to provide the 'Clear Image Zoom' feature claimed to double the effective zoom range at full resolution. It also gains the same 'Picture Effect' image filters as the TX55, along with a 3.0" (7.5cm) 920,000 dot, touch-sensitive LCD screen. It uses the CMOS chip's fast read-out to provide 10 fps continuous shooting in a burst of up to 10 shots as well as 1080i50 HD movie shooting (on the European variant).
Sony launches DSC-TX55 touch-screen CMOS compact
Sony has announced the TX55 touch-screen card-style camera. The 16.2MP camera features a backside illuminated CMOS sensor and stabilized 5x zoom lens (which we calculate to offer a range of approximately 26-130mm equivalent). The TX55 can capture 1080i60 movies and store them on the MicroSD/SDHC or Memory Stick Micro cards it uses to keep the body size down to an impressively slim 12.2mm deep. Beyond this it has a 3.3" OLED touch screen, the now-standard Sony features such as 3D Sweep Panorama and gains the 'Picture Effects' image processing filters that debuted in the NEX C3. It also uses a 'By Pixel Super Resolution' digital zoom mode that applies image processing to try enhance the image back up to full pixel-count (more details when we get them).
July 23
Just posted: Our first multifunctional printer group test

Just Posted: Our group test of the Canon Pixma MG8150, Epson Stylus Photo PX720WD and HP Photosmart Premium C310 multifunctional printers. Although we may not be able to publish printer reviews with the same frequency as camera reviews, we will be expanding our printer coverage significantly over the coming months. This group test, which kicks off our newly expanded printing content, was produced in collaboration with Vincent Oliver of Photo-i.

July 22
In with the new: dpreview forums expanded
We've just made the biggest changes to our forums since the site was established, 11 years ago. This includes expanding the scope of dpreview forums to include areas dedicated to discussion of photographic techniques and digital video. We've also introduced totally new Off-Topic and For Sale/ Wanted forums. You'll notice a couple of minor name changes and a shuffling of the order of a few of the existing forums too. Check out the details after the link...
dpreview expands to include printer content
Just added: dpreview printer coverage. Over the past few months we've been expanding our database to include the most popular photo printers. This addition allows you not only to search for printer specifications and information but also to make side-by-side comparisons and contribute your own user reviews. In the coming weeks we'll be adding further printer-related content, including reviews and articles, along with user reviews from Amazon users. The move also sees a rearrangement of the site's top menu to make it easier to find the content you're looking for.
Photographer LaChapelle can sue Rihanna over 'copycat' video

A US court has delivered a pre-trial ruling that photographer David LaChapelle's copyright claims against singer Rihanna can go to court. LaChapelle brought the case over apparent similarities between his photographs and aspects of the music video for Rihanna's single 'S&M.' The ruling from a district court in New York, gives an interesting insight into which elements of an original photograph are protected under US copyright law. Due to the nature of the content, our more squeamish readers (and those with limited interest in pop culture) may wish to look away now. (via PDN)

Olympus UK announces pricing for PEN Lite (E-PL3)
Olympus UK has announced its recommended pricing for the PEN Lite E-PL3. The MSRP will be £549.99. Olympus US has not yet announced pricing but, to put the UK price in context, it is around the same list price as Nikon's D3100 kit or the Panasonic GF3, 14mm lens combination - both of which have recommended selling prices of $699 in the US. Neither territory has yet given details of the even simpler (and less expensive) PEN Mini (E-PM1). Olympus UK says the PEN Lite will be available from 'late summer.'
Samsung launches SDHC and micro SDHC card ranges
Samsung UK has announced a series of fast memory cards in the SDHC and micro SDHC formats. The company is the world's largest producer of the NAND memory on which such cards are based and is one of the few manufacturers to use the miniscule micro SD format in its cameras, so the move would appear to make sense. The company will offer two ranges of cards - the Class 4 and 6 'Essential' range and the faster, Class 10, 'Plus' range, both with rugged construction from what the company describes as: 'Epoxy Moulding Compound.' The Essential range will be available in sizes from 2GB to 16GB sizes, while the Plus cards will range from 8GB to 16GB.
July 21
Street Photographers test freedom to shoot in London
A group of photographers in London have investigated how easy it is to shoot around the city. The six photographers, backed up with six videographer, attempted to take photographs around the City of London (the city's financial district), to see what resistance they encountered. The experiment, conducted as part of the London Street Photography Festival, showed several private security guards trying to impede the photographers (often with vague allusions to 'security and 'terrorism'). The Police were called in three cases, but, in each instance, the Officers were well aware of the laws concerning photography and appear to have resolved the situations amicably. (via PetaPixel)
Panasonic launches FZ47/FZ48 24x superzooms
Panasonic has updated its FZ series of superzooms with the DMC-FZ47. The FZ47 features a 25-600mm 24x image stabilized zoom lens, featuring Nano Surface Coating to minimize internal reflections. The camera was built around a 12.1 megapixel CCD sensor capable of capturing 1080i60 HD movies (50i on the European variant). It also features the Creative Control picture effects first seen on the DMC-G3, as well as the Photo Style color modes. Unusually for its FZ series, Panasonic has not included Raw capability.
Panasonic releases DMC-LS5 budget compact
Panasonic has released the DMC-LS5 budget compact camera. The LS5 takes AA batteries and features a 26-130mm equivalent F2.8-6.5 lens with optical image stabilization. The camera is built around a 14.1 megapixel CCD sensor and can shoot 720p30 HD video in the Motion Jpeg format. We don't, as yet, have details of pricing or availability.
X-Rite launches contest for 'color perfectionists'
Color and calibration specialist X-Rite has announced a series of monthly photography competitions. The contests, which require both 'liking' the company on Facebook and 'following' it on Twitter, will be judged by professional photographers and include various X-Rite products as prizes. The slightly ridiculously-named 'Color Perfectionists Unite' photography contest allows the public to vote for the twenty best images each month, which are then submitted for judging.
July 20
Just posted: Our group test of travel zoom compact cameras

Just Posted: our group test of travel zoom compact cameras. The travel zoom/compact super zoom category is one of the great success stories of recent years, with all the major manufacturers offering at least one small camera with at least a 10x zoom. And that success is understandable - few other camera types offer such a balance between size, price and flexibility. We've looked at fourteen of the latest models and narrowed these down to a shortlist of six for the full review treatment. Our 18-page grouptest shows how these six perform in a variety of situations, but all fourteen have both real-world samples and studio comparisons. Click here to find out what we thought and which cameras prevailed.

July 19
Casio reveals Exilim EX-ZS15 touch-screen compact
Casio Europe has released the Exilim EX-ZS15, a touch-screen compact with a 5x wide-angle zoom. The 14MP CCD-based camera features a 26-130mm equivalent lens and 3" touch-sensitive display. The touch-screen display not only includes a touch-shutter mode but also replaces virtually all the camera's buttons, leaving just a shutter, video record, Best Shot Selector and power buttons. Beyond this the camera can shoot 720p30 video.
July 18
Just Posted: Olympus PEN E-P3 studio raw comparison files

Just Posted: Olympus E-P3 studio Raw files and Raw conversions. We've been given access to an early beta of Adobe Camera Raw 6.5 which will include Raw support for the recently-announced Olympus PEN E-P3. We've used it to process our standard studio samples, allowing direct comparisons between the PEN and its peers. We've also included the original Raw files for download so that you can put them through your own image workflow as Raw processors become available that offer support.

July 15
iPhone video enhanced by rolling shutter effect
A guitarist on YouTube has shot a video on his iPhone that elegantly demonstrates the 'rolling shutter' effect. It occurs because its CMOS sensor captures video one line at a time, so there's an increasing lag as it scans down the frame. This 'rolling shutter' effect of movement being displaced across each frame can also be seen in DSLR-shot movies. In this case the video has been rotated, so the effects of that delay run left-to-right, giving interesting (and pretty) jagged effects, particularly on the bottom 'E' string. (via 9to5Mac)
July 14
Canon announces Japan-only IXY 32S touch-shutter variant
Canon Japan has announced the IXY 32S, a variant of the IXY 31S (IXUS 310 HS/ELPH 500 HS) with touch-shutter control. As with the existing model, it features a 12.1MP back-lit CMOS sensor, 24-105mm equivalent, F2.0-5.8 lens and 3.2" 16:9 touch screen. It's not clear whether there are any hardware differences, preventing touch-shutter being added to existing models by firmware update. Canon's touch-shutter implementation is unusual in that it doesn't fire the shutter until the user's finger is removed - meaning the camera can be pre-focused to avoid focus lag, but at the risk of being focused in the wrong position for a moving subject. For now, it appears to be a Japan-only model.
Just Posted: Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 samples gallery
Just Posted: Our AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 G sample gallery. We've had access to Nikon's latest inexpensive 50mm prime lens for a couple of weeks and have put together a 41-image sample gallery to show some of what it can do. The AF-S G version means there's finally an inexpensive Nikon 50mm lens that will autofocus on the company's entry-level bodies, such as the D40, D60, D3100 and D5100. Here we've shot it using both the DX D7000 and the FX D3S to show how it performs on both formats.
July 13
Leica reported to be planning mirrorless interchangeable lens camera
Leica's CEO is reported to have confirmed the company will introduce a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera system. The British Journal of Photography (BJP) quotes Alfred Schopf as saying: "It's more than an idea. You will see something at the next Photokina [trade show]." He also told them that it will use an: "APS-C sized sensor at least." The move would see the German company (which already makes the fixed-lens APS-C-sensor X1 model, pictured) join Panasonic, Olympus, Sony and Samsung in the large-sensor mirrorless market - the fastest growing camera segment in most countries. (From BJP)
Pentax makes 645D Camera Grand Prix limited edition

Pentax has announced a special edition of its 645D 40MP medium format camera to celebrate being named 'Camera of the Year' at the Camera Grand Prix Japan 2011. The built-to-order special comes with a red lacquer finish and special camera strap, arranged in a paulownia-wood box. The company has not announced how many it will produce. Pentax previously made a special edition of its K10D DSLR when it received the equivalent award in 2007.

Leica creates mount adapters for S2 medium format DSLR
Leica has developed three mount adapters for its S2 medium format DSLR. The S-V, S-P67 and S-M645 allow users to utilize Hasselblad V, Pentax 67 and Mamiya M645 lenses, respectively. The adapters, built from anodized aluminium and chrome-plated brass will retail for around €580 each and will be available from August. (From Photoscala)
July 12
Nikon launches AF-S DX Micro Nikkor 40mm F2.8 macro lens
Nikon has announced an inexpensive macro lens aimed at entry-level DSLR users. The AF-S DX Micro Nikkor 40mm f/2.8G offers true 1:1 macro in a compact, lightweight package. With its inbuilt silent wave motor it will autofocus on all Nikon DSLRs, including those that lack in-body AF motors such as the D3100 and D5100. It uses an internal focus system with close-range correction to attain a minimum focus distance of just 16cm / 6.4", equating to approximately 5cm / 2" from the front of the lens. It will be available from 25th August, at an MSRP $279.95.
Kenko-Tokina buys filter maker Cokin
Kenko-Tokina has bought French filter maker Cokin. Cokin's parent company went into administration in November 2010, with supplies of the company's products becomingly increasingly scarce. The Japanese lens and accessory maker has said it will retain the square filter specialiast as an independent company, rather than simply utilizing the well-recognized brand-name. (via Photography Blog)
AVCHD 2.0 expands to include 1080 50p and 60p
The AVCHD video format specification has been updated to include 1080 60p and 50p video. The AVCHD 2.0 standard has been approved by Sony and Panasonic - the co-promoters of the format. The move also includes additional support for high definition 3D movies in the format. Up until now, both companies have made high-end camcorders that incorporated out-of-specification 60p video in what was otherwise an AVCHD arrangement.
July 11
Just posted: Panasonic DMC G3 in-depth review
Just posted: Our in-depth review of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3. The G3 is Panasonic's smallest EVF-equipped G-series camera so far, and also the second highest-resolution in the range. At the core of the G3 is a brand new 15.8MP sensor, making it the first mass-market model to step away from the ageing 12MP chip. Like the G2, it features an articulated, touch-sensitive LCD screen but inherits its interface from the GF2 to make the camera ever-more accessible to beginners. On paper, the G3 is an appealing combination of enthusiast-oriented specification and beginner-friendly ergonomics - read our in-depth review to find out how it performs.
July 8
DCWatch reports on Pentax's Astro Tracing function using the O-GPS module
Japanese website DCWatch has published a test of the star tracking feature of Pentax's O-GPS module. The Astro Tracer mode uses the GPS coordinates to calculate the camera's movement relative to the stars, then utilizes the camera's image stabilization system to shift the sensor to track that movement. The report, which is a little tricky to follow in its Google-translated form, includes several example images, showing the system's effectiveness. (From DCWatch)
SLR Magic releases 26mm F1.4 Toy Lens for Micro Four Thirds
SLR Magic has launched a 26mm F1.4 manual focus 'toy' lens for Micro Four Thirds. The 52mm equivalent lens comes with replaceable aperture and focus rings, seven colors of which are supplied. Panasonic owners looking longingly at Olympus' Art Filters (or PEN owners wanting to avoid the associated frame lag) might enjoy the toy-lens shooting experience. The lens is available from Japanese website Gizmoshop, which has placed a series of sample images on photo sharing site Flickr. (From DCWatch)
Just posted: Our updated in-depth review of the Fujifilm FinePix X100

Just Posted: our revised Fujifilm X100 review. Amongst the changes listed in Fujifilm's 1.10 firmware update for the FinePix X100 were several that addressed issues raised in our original in-depth review. To reflect this, we have gone back into the studio and re-tested the X100 to see just how much difference the changes make. Does the update allow the X100 to achieve its obvious potential as a high-quality luxury compact camera, or is it still too quirky to earn our outright recommendation? Read our extensively updated review to find out.

July 6
Olympus E-P3 samples gallery updated with revised settings
We've added three additional images to our samples gallery for the Olympus E-P3 with revised processing. Following concerns expressed about the levels of noise reduction and sharpening being applied by the camera's default settings, we have re-processed the images with the sharpening and noise reduction minimized. Having confirmed that re-processing raw files in-camera gave the same results as shooting natively at these settings, we re-processed three of our gallery images to allow side-by-side comparison with the default settings.
July 5
Fujifilm camera chief adds weight to interchangeable lens rumors
The head of Fujifilm's camera division has suggested the company may make a return to interchangeable lens cameras. In an interview with news agency Reuters, Takeshi Higuchi stressed the importance of launching 'luxury' models to help establish the company as a high-profile brand. In addition he discusses the company's reasoning for looking beyond China for manufacturing. However, his comments about having the in-house capabilities to develop its own cameras may reduce the speculation about the company producing models for pre-existing camera systems.
July 1
Ricoh buys Pentax to build interchangeable lens camera business
Hoya has sold the Pentax camera division to Ricoh. The Pentax Imaging Systems Division will be spun-out as a new company and its shares transfered to Ricoh on October 1st. The deal will also include the Pentax camera manufacturing subsidiary in Vietnam. A public announcement from Hoya explains that Ricoh is looking to build a consumer cameras business and wanted Pentax's interchangeable lens camera technology, lens technology and sales channels. Its plans for the business specifically include the interchangeable lens camera market. Hoya will retain the other Pentax businesses, such as medical devices, that it gained in its 2007 takeover. Terms of the deal were not disclosed but Japanese business paper Nikkei Business Daily reports a price of about 10 billion yen ($124.2 million).