|Volume 9, Number 8||13 April 2007|
Welcome to the 199th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. Digital photo frames are the gift of the year and we take a look at one of the better yet affordable models. Then Shawn admires the unique features of the Pentax K10D (and there are quite a few). Finally, our News Editor Michael Tomkins reports on the latest camera sales figures, in which Samsung makes a strong move. So it goes <g>.
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(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/PDGTL/PD8.HTM on the Web site.)
Seems like a no-brainer. Frame an LCD with a card reader slapped on the back and -- presto! -- you've got a digital photo frame. The idea isn't new. Early attempts like those from Ceiva Logic in 1999 even featured a built-in modem to dial into online accounts and refresh the subject matter nightly.
But it's harder than it looks.
For one thing, these things just don't show 24-bit (full) color for some reason. They're all 16-bit. Thousands, not millions, of colors. And you can't calibrate those colors, either (except manually, which we'll explain below).
Then there's the problem of framed art in general. You have a print you love, you frame it and hang it. And it sits unaltered on the wall ready to engage your interest whenever you look its way. It's passive but constant.
A digital frame, however, has an On/Off switch. But why would you leave it on?
And that switch, of course, leads to a power supply, which is actually a power brick plugged into a wall socket. So you have this ugly cord to conceal. And why are they all black when so many walls are white?
A digital frame also has a number of viewing modes. It can certainly display a single image just like your framed print. But will that burn that image into the LCD?
And it can run a slide show of whatever images it finds either in its internal memory, an inserted memory card or even some online gallery. But how do you know what you've missed? Do you have to watch it like a television?
In fact, it's easier to think of a digital frame as a television than a frame. You'd never frame a portrait in a horizontal frame with big black bars inside the mat on the left and right sides. But you'd put up with that on a television.
But that's all theory and highly refined anxiety. Just the quibbles of a weary reviewer who has spent years staring down one LCD or another, expecting some spark of life to flicker before him.
What's it like to actually have one of these things?
With the house quiet, we made a little space on the dresser topped with family photos and slipped Pandigital's 8-inch frame amongst them. We had a few recent pictures from the snow country on an SD card, so we put that in, fired it up and let the slide show run.
Then, noticing the time, we rattled some almonds into a dish, made a drink and turned on the television to catch the evening news.
"What's this?" we heard in a few minutes from a voice near the dresser. "Hey, that's Tahoe! Cool!" A breath or two later, "How did you do that?"
It is a little exciting to see your pictures flash by on what looks like an ordinary frame. No matter what quibbles weary reviewers have.
Several companies are offering affordable digital frames now, among them Digital Foci, Digital Spectrum, Fidelity Electronics, Kodak, Pandigital, Smartparts and Westinghouse, all of which showed their wares at PMA 2007. Pandigital sent us a review unit before the show (where we met with them), on which this report is based. Smartparts, for its part, has developed simplified transfer software to copy images into its frame's internal memory. The company also offers telephone support.
While the hardware used by each of these companies seems to come from just a few sources, the software is home grown. Westinghouse, for example, can simultaneously display two images and, with its MosaicView technology, show three images on the screen at the same time. Fidelity is developing small format LCD frames to replace those family photos on your office credenza as well as larger ones designed to be used in store windows. And Digital Spectrum has a Vista-ready wireless frame that can display images in your My Pictures directory. Kodak's EasyShare digital picture frames also have wireless support and add PictBridge printing capability as well.
The Pandigital frames are based on a "personal media" (MP3 player) chipset rather than the DVD chipset designed for portable DVD players that is commonly used in other frames. The company says that provides faster image loading, music playback during a slide show, faster copying to internal memory and an easy-to-use menu interface. The frames are also quite affordable.
The frame can play JPEG stills and MPEG1 and MPEG4 movies shot by digicams. It can also play MP3s.
In Las Vegas, Pandigital President Dean Finnegan told us the company sold 520,000 frames in the last quarter of 2006. Seventy percent of the buyers were female and they bought an average of 1.8 frames, coming back for a second frame after the delight of experiencing the first. The frames are in 6,000 retail outlets including Macy's, Mervyn's, Office Depot, JC Penney, Linens 'N Things and more.
The small remote (whose battery lasts forever, Finnegan promised us) is shaped like a CompactFlash card so it can be stored in the CompactFlash slot, a neat idea.
We asked why the 8-inch frame we're reviewing is so bright compared to the LCD monitors connected to our computers (the nice LCD monitors, we should say). Finnegan explained that particular model (which can display millions of colors, we were told, but see below) doesn't use fluorescent lamps to illuminate the screen but backlit LEDs. And newer Pandigital frames will all use that technology.
In fact, the company is looking forward to updating the chipset in June with some exciting new options, which (as options) also keep the base price low. One is Wireless B/G connectivity. Another is a lithium-ion battery (so you can hang the thing on the wall and forego the power brick, except to recharge it). The chipset also supports a timer for turning the frame on and off at regular intervals. And supports more document formats so you can store recipes in the internal memory, bring it into the kitchen and cook with it. And it will allow the housing to be thinner.
We asked Finnegan how people use the things. Do they leave them on or only turn them on when they want to look at them? Do they use them like a real framed photo or more like a television?
Finnegan said you can really just leave them on. They use very little power, the LED backlight version consuming 25 percent less than conventional LCDs.
The company uses only A grade panels, he said, from the same source as Sony's LCD TVs. They have almost no returns.
Which surprised us because when we were researching the review, we Googled Pandigital and found some nasty comments on amazon.com. Finnegan knew all about that. He even knows who one of the posters is. But there's nothing he can do about, he said. Amazon told him to write his own reviews for it.
Even better, however, would be an independent review, we thought.
So Pandigital sent us their 8-inch LCD digital photo frame with 800x600 pixels resolution and 128-MB internal memory retailing for under $200. A 6-inch model is available for $114.99. All Pandigital frames include a 90-day parts and labor warranty.
Installation was simple. Pandigital recommends you first plug in the sideways power brick (which doesn't block access to adjacent plugs).
Then insert a memory card in one of the four slots of the built-in card reader which supports Secure Digital, Multi Media Card, CompactFlash, xD Picture Card, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, Memory Stick Pro Duo, Memory Stick Duo and USB flash drives.
There are three ways to mount the frame:
You should also remove the plastic tab that protects the battery from the remote control.
- You can stand it up like an easel using the adjustable stand in the back. Unlike ordinary stands, however, this one can be pulled out past the corner of the LCD panel, to the corner of the actual frame, so the frame can be tilted back at the same angle as other frames.
- You can hang it on the wall from the slot on the back.
- You can screw it onto a tripod using the brass tripod mount on the bottom of the LCD.
That's all there is to it.
TURN IT ON
Just turn on the Power switch to enter Slide Show mode automatically. The frame will find the images on your card and display them at random with a variety of transitions, all of which you can configure from the Setup menu.
Meanwhile, you can see what's on the card by pressing Exit button on the little remote control. That shows you thumbnails you can navigate with the arrow keys. The Enter key will display the selected image.
The 8-inch frame displays an image in a 6.25x4.75-inch area. The LCD is mounted behind a normal (but rather poorly cut) single off-white mat board which is mounted under glass. A small hole in the middle of the bottom edge of the mat exposes the remote receiver. The black molded wood frame is beaded like traditional framing material while the clear acrylic frame is flat.
Landscape images fill the frame but portraits have black bars on the side. The remote does provide a Zoom function to enlarge the images.
Pandigital told us the LCD was "capable" of showing 16 million colors (24-bit color), but our experience suggests it is only showing thousands of colors (16-bit), like every other digital frame out there.
You may not notice the difference -- and you may not care if you do. It isn't a deal breaker. But here's how we could tell. We had a shot of two of our nephews at the top of one of the highest hills in San Francisco and we'd framed it to include a lot of sky because the moon was just overhead. On our computer LCD monitor, the blue of the sky was smoothly graduated into darker tones as it climbed toward the moon. But on the frame that same blue was posterized into steps. The frame simply couldn't display as many colors as the LCD on our computer.
You can't eliminate this problem, but you can minimize it if you spend a little time with the frame's setup options. In fact, we recommend you do this anyway to get the best possible display you can.
The last two commands on the Setup menu are the important ones. You can run them at any time. So if a particular image looks off to you, just call up the Setup menu and select one of these commands to improve the display.
Brightness/Contrast displays two sliders in the lower right corner. You use the four arrow keys to make adjustments (up and down for one slider, left and right for the other).
On the left, running up and down, is the Contrast slider. Moving it up (in discrete steps) increases contrast and moving it down decreases contrast. We decreased contrast on the review unit.
On the right, running left to right, is the Brightness slider. There is a Brightness dial on the back of the unit, and we had it all the way up. But still there was more brightness hidden in the slider. We cranked it all the way up.
That helped the posterization in our sky, but it didn't eliminate it.
The next trick was to adjust the color using the Color/Tint option. Again, two sliders were displayed in the lower left corner.
Color, running up and down, changes the saturation. Even all the way down, there's still some color (not a black and white image).
Tint let us adjust the color temperature, either cooler or warmer. We adjusted it so our skin tones (particularly faces) looked more natural.
Those two steps will "calibrate" your LCD, showing as much detail in the shadows as possible with the most natural skin tones.
The frame can display images stored in its internal memory, from a card inserted in its 6-in-1 card reader, from a device (like a USB thumbdrive) attached to one USB port or even a camera attached to the other USB port. We loaded a set of images onto a USB thumbdrive's root directory and they displayed just fine from the frame's USB port.
You can move images into the frame's internal memory from any of those sources, as well as directly from your computer. But before you do, you might take the trouble to resize them on your computer to no more than 800x600 pixels, which is all the frame displays. If you do that, you'll be able to fit more images in the frame's 128-MB of internal memory.
You can move images from your cards or USB thumbdrive to the frame's internal memory using the Setup menu's Copy command. You can also delete files from internal memory that way.
But it's a lot easier to plug the frame into your computer, using the supplied USB cable and copy or delete images that way. Make sure both devices are on before connecting the cable, forcing the computer to recognize the frame as a removable drive. The frame's screen will highlight Internal Memory among the sources.
The frame ships with 12 default images that play if nothing's in the card reader. The first thing we did was copy them to a folder on our hard drive and delete them from internal memory.
The second thing we did was resize a folder of images to no more than 800x600 (taking our own advice) and copying them to internal memory using nothing more than drag-and-drop simplicity. The resized images took about a second each to move over. We used about 5.3-MB of the 124-MB total to store 28 images that ranged in size from 90K to 225K. Your mileage should not vary.
When the copy had completed, we unmounted the removable device.
While our Kodak movies couldn't be played (because only Kodak devices play Kodak movies, folks), we had more success with movies captured with a Sony DSC-T100.
We switched into Video mode on the frame and ran several movies captured at 640x480 and 320x240 directly off a Memory Stick Duo. None ran well, so we copied a standard quality 640x480 movie to internal memory. There it ran better, but still skipped frames. Sound wasn't broken up, however.
In short, not a great way to watch your digicam movies. They seem to play more as slide shows.
The device does function as a card reader. Considering the wide array of formats it supports (SD/MMC, CompactFlash, Memory Stick/PRO, Memory Stick/PRO Duo, xD Picture Card), that's good news. It was a little difficult getting it to sync with an Apple PowerBook until we removed the USB hub, though.
We followed protocol by inserting a Memory Stick Duo in the frame with power off but the USB cable connected. When we turned on the frame, it appeared on the Mac desktop as two volumes, one representing internal memory and the other representing the Memory Stick Duo.
We unmounted the card, removed it from the frame, and then popped it back in again. And it mounted as we would have expected. So, yes, the frame does function as a card reader, too.
With 2006 sales exploding 300 to 400 percent over 2005 for some manufacturers, digital picture frames are one hot ticket. But a lot of these sales were driven by holiday gift giving. And who looks a gift horse in the mouth?
Well, we do.
We looked at so many of them at PMA recently that we began to wonder if there was really any difference between them. While they are all easy to use if you pop a card into them, things get a little stickier if you want to copy the images or use the frame as a card reader. The firmware just isn't very sophisticated.
Even as frames we find them a bit difficult to place. No, we don't like leaving electronic devices on when we leave the house. But we don't like looking at black screens in frames either. A timer sounds like a good idea, but it all reminds us of the early days of word processing on personal computers when we wished someone had invented the pencil.
Still, after we calibrated the display by eye and copied some images from 2005 to it, we enjoyed the show. And we were a bit surprised to see the images rendered better than some of our prints. These frames may only display 16-bit color, but that can be good enough most of the time.
Pandigital's 8.0-inch frame is a bargain that can perform a lot of useful tricks, too. And the choice of frames is quite versatile, fitting into a more traditional room design with its black wood frame or a trendy loft with its clear acrylic frame. By June (another holiday season), the company promises even more tricks (like timers, battery power and WiFi) -- all of which strike us as good ideas. Pandigital is keen on keeping the price down and getting the product on the shelves we all walk by, too. What else could you possibly ask for?
By SHAWN BARNETT(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/K10D/K10DA.HTM on the Web site.)
A series of interruptions, not the least of which was PMA 2007, kept me from quickly reviewing the Pentax K10D. It turns out that was good, because reviewing the K10D quickly would be a mistake. It is not like other dSLRs on the market. There are foibles, to be sure, but some things I thought were foibles are actually features only a photographer could love.
Traditional Build. At first glance, the Pentax K10D is a handsome, larger, professional-grade dSLR. It's about the same size as a Canon 30D and looks all business. The grip is solid and comfortable, bolstered by a rubbery, comfortable thumbrest that is positioned just right. Its tapers and contours look good. I came to find that at least one of them served a purpose.
The right grip, though I say it's comfortable, is a little short for me, leaving my pinkie half on and half off. It becomes quite a bit more comfortable with the optional battery grip, which I'll get to later. I'm more impressed with the grip on the left side of the Pentax K10D. That's right, both the front and back of the K10D have a groove that gives your fingers a secure hold on the left of the camera body and the thumb can ride in the matching groove on the back, easily selecting the four control buttons to the left of the 2.5 inch LCD.
Though it's a little high for my taste, I otherwise like the shutter button and power button arrangement, including the digital depth-of-field preview mode. Just twist the power switch past On and the K10D will capture an image at the current settings and display it onscreen. It's borrowed from the K100D, but it's just one of the ways Pentax is thinking digital, even as they try to emulate film.
Smart choices. I could go into the control layout, how I like the position of the AF button or the e-dials. They're good, but fairly generic. Where the K10D shines is in its unique features, like the dual IR remote sensor/self timer lamps. Like many digital cameras, there's a little red window on the front of the K10D's grip where these two items live. What's particularly thoughtful -- and so painfully obvious everyone else should be ashamed for not doing it already -- is that there's one on the back as well. How many times have I held my little IR remote out in front of my camera to take a picture while I'm standing behind my camera? Too often. On an intermediate camera like this, both the infrared remote and self-timer light are going to be used more often from behind the camera than from the front, so this is absolutely brilliant and long overdue.
OK, that's one. Want another? How about the Raw mode button on the left of the K10D's lens mount? Press it and your next frame will be captured in Raw+JPEG. By default, the camera then reverts to JPEG only. Change the custom setting and the Raw button becomes a toggle, turning Raw off and on at will. Beats looking at the back of the camera and operating a menu. Pentax is a camera company that thinks about how its target customer shoots and builds accordingly.
Revolutionary modes. Capture modes are another area where Pentax has innovated, building in a quick-exposure button and creating two entirely new modes. First is the Green button. As with Program mode on most dSLRs, you can either accept what the camera decides or turn one of the dials to adjust it. With the K10D, you turn the back dial to change the aperture and the front dial to change the shutter speed and the Hyper-program mode will adjust the other to keep the exposure correct. But if you can't remember what the camera initially selected, you can just press the Green button just behind the shutter button to return to the K10D's original choice. Not a big deal, but an interesting idea.
I prefer using the Green button in Manual mode, though. Again, like most dSLRs, the Pentax K10D remembers what your manual settings were last time you turned the camera off. With the Green button on the K10D, just one press turns the meter on and sets the exposure, taking me from 30 seconds to 1/125 in an instant. From there, I can make my adjustments and fire. It's another smart application of digital technology. After all, why should I have to turn a pseudo-analog dial past 30 settings when the actual computerized value can be set more quickly with the press of a button?
Further proof can be found in the K10D's two entirely unique modes. Marked by Sv on the dial, Sensor priority mode allows you to quickly select an ISO and the camera will pick an exposure. That's not much different from leaving it in Program mode and changing the ISO via the Function button, but it is a little faster. If you think you'll be changing ISO frequently, it allows you to decide when you want to and make the change with a glance at the top status display.
I can see myself using the next mode a little more. Rather a cross between Program and Manual mode with an ISO twist is TAv or Shutter/Aperture Priority mode. TAv mode allows you to set a particular aperture and shutter speed that you want to maintain and the camera will adjust ISO to make it happen. Shooting an indoor wrestling match with a 100mm lens? Say you want to maintain f2.8 to blur the background and 1/125 second shutter speed to freeze most of the action while helping the Shake Reduction keep images sharp. Just set TAv mode and let the camera compensate for any minor changes in the exposure as the players move in and out of the light.
SLRgear mode (almost). Shortly after we created SLRgear.com (http://www.slrgear.com), I began to wish. Our blur plots show where a lens's best aperture settings lie and where the undesirable settings are, where the lens goes soft in the corners, for example. Wouldn't it be great if I could tell my camera to lock out those undesirable settings?
Well, with the Pentax K10D, you can set Program mode to do just that via a Custom function. The function is "Program line," and you set it to MTF to enable this mode. Unfortunately you can't select which apertures to lock out, but certain lenses apparently know and transfer this information to the camera. It even changes the bias as you zoom the lens, according to John Carlson, product manager for Pentax Imaging, which is important given what we've seen on SLRgear.com. That might be why this particular Program line is called MTF, which stands for Modulation Transfer Function. What that means, I don't know. But enable it and your camera will automatically set for the sweet spots with DA, D, D FA, FA and FA J lenses. It's just another example to show that Pentax has realized the possibilities that digital has to offer and is already building them into its cameras and lenses. In fact, Carlson tells me they've had this function in various film and digital cameras for about 12 years.
Shake Reduction. The K10D's Shake Reduction seems to work as well as the K100D's does. I call it the best body-based image stabilization I've used to date. Its bearing-mounted sensor can not only move in four directions, it can even rotate to compensate for excited shutter mashers. The more ways a camera can compensate, the better, because only a robot can limit their shaking to just four directions.
The K10D also has a Dust Removal mode. It's off by default, but you can either activate it or enable it with every startup cycle in another Custom Function. If you enable the startup function, the camera rattles noisily for about a second every time you turn it on.
Foibles. While the Pentax K10D's photographer-centric design is truly excellent, it's unfortunate that its Auto White balance isn't biased more to act like other digital cameras than like film. Too often when taking shots of my kids indoors with both the K10D and K100D, the Auto white balance was just plain wrong. Sometimes it was actual tungsten light, sometimes just window light filtered through almond-colored blinds. I agree with Tatamiya's desire to make the K10D work more like film when I'm setting the mode myself, but I really want to be able to switch into Auto mode when I don't have time to check the lighting and get a reasonably good result. Don't count on that with the K10D's current firmware.
Figments of pixelation. More unsettling, though probably of little consequence to most shooters, is the phenomenon we're calling "Phantom pixels." Frequent Imaging Resource readers know we take a lot of pictures with the cameras we review. We also make the full versions available for download so you can inspect them yourselves. Well, a few of the 214 shots we've posted with this K10D review have densely packed horizontal lines that reveal a peculiar error in the K10D's pixel mapping software and also illustrates just how many pixels are marked bad on the typical high megapixel sensor. After a good deal of testing, we're pretty sure there's nothing unusual about the number of affected pixels on the Pentax sensor vs. other sensors, it's more about how Pentax's software replaces a bad pixel when faced with horizontal lines of the right frequency.
I first noticed it when looking at our resolution target: strange color pixels appeared between the lines designed to measure horizontal resolution. Dave thought to look in our Far shots to see if they appeared there, in a more real-world shot and lo, there they were in the mini-blinds and attic vent louvers. On the worst unit we tested, they even appeared in the horizontal lines that define the rain gutters on our test house, just above the mini-blinds.
Two more cameras were sent for our testing and these latter two were not as bad, but they still had the problem. Ever the curious one, I printed a test target with dozens of black lines on a white paper, with a cross in the middle to help the K10D focus. I found hundreds of little off-color pixels and white pixels in the middle of dark lines, as well as dark pixels in the middle of white lines. These don't appear unless there are horizontal lines of the right frequency or width in the shot. If I turn the camera or paper, the dots go away. When I shoot the same target with the Samsung GX-10, the phenomenon doesn't appear. When I shoot it with a Canon Rebel XTi, it doesn't appear. Curiously, I do see unmapped dead pixels occasionally, but only one or two, compared to hundreds and the effect is not the same.
Strengths. With that out of the way, I can get back to the positive aspects of the Pentax K10D, as there are many. First, there's the price. It's astonishing that you can get a 10-Mp SLR with the build of a Canon 30D for under $900. That you can get it with a lens is even better -- and the bundled 18-55mm lens is built very nicely, made of metal and quite handsome. Its performance is decent, just a little above most kit lenses, but serious photographers will want to check out Pentax's tough-to-find prime lenses.
And don't forget that it's really easy to buy old manual Pentax K-mount lenses and stick them right onto the K10D for a nostalgic trip to true manual photography. On the K10D's focusing screen you can actually see the focus change and it pops when you reach it.
Pentax is proud of their 22-bit Analog to Digital conversion designed to maintain a good deal more nuance in the color mapping. Our tests show color with greater hue accuracy, but more plugged shadows overall. Use that Raw button more liberally and you can get a lot out of the K10D's files.
The printed results tell more of that story. The K10D's images really impressed us. We noticed the detail holds together far better, especially in the reds of our test target. Reds are almost always pumped excessively, but the K10D's more conservative approach preserves detail like few we've seen. And that holds true even at ISO 1600. The ISO 1600 Still Life shot looked amazing at 11x14. ISO 100 images from the K10D looked great at 16x20.
The Pentax K10D is unique. It's easily Pentax's most capable SLR yet. But it's not for everyone. Tuned for the advanced photographer or anyone wanting to discover Photography's basics, the K10D has no true "easy" mode. You have to understand white balance to use the K10D well, even in Green mode, especially indoors. So I don't recommend this camera to novices.
The K10D was thoughtfully designed with the photographer in mind and it uses the advantages of digital technology to reach beyond the boundaries of conventional dSLR design. ISO sensitivity is no longer locked to a roll of film, so Pentax decided to build two exposure modes around that fact. Most lenses have aperture settings that should be avoided, so they built the ability to avoid those settings into custom functions. Brilliant!
Some of these exclusive features are good enough that K10D users might get forever locked into the Pentax system and that certainly wouldn't be bad. Their impressive and broadening array of lenses will meet any need and the K10D's backward compatibility goes back over 50 years with the use of adapters.
At less than $1,000 with a lens, the Pentax K10D is a lot of camera. Its body-based Shake Reduction is best-of-breed and the kit lens is well-built. Smart design features, like an IR sensor on both the front and back of the K10D and a left-side grip surface, make the camera easier to use. All of these smart, thoughtful features combine with a sturdy water-resistant body to create a fine SLR. Despite the caveats about white balance and phantom pixels, the K10D is a solid photographic tool, designed for the photographer and worthy of a Dave's Pick.
By MICHAEL R. TOMKINS, News Editor
Canon, Sony and Samsung all increased their overall digital camera marketshare in 2006 at the expense of rivals, while Canon and Nikon lost some dSLR marketshare to other competitors in that portion of the market, says a new report from research firm IDC.
According to the report, "2006 Worldwide Digital Camera Market Share," the overall market for digital cameras worldwide grew by some 14.5 percent to 106 million units. As expected, dSLRs showed robust growth with a total market for 5.2 million units -- 39 percent up on 2005 figures.
Japan's Canon Inc. dominated, solidifying its first-place position in overall digicam sales and retaining a solid lead in dSLR sales. The company shipped an impressive 19.7 million digital cameras worldwide in 2006, a 23.3 percent increase in shipments that saw its marketshare rise 1.3 percent to 18.7 percent overall. In the dSLR marketplace, Canon increased shipments by 30.7 percent to almost 2.5 million units. The company's global dSLR marketshare fell by 2.8 percent to 46.7 percent, still a fairly commanding 13.7 percent lead over nearest dSLR competitor Nikon Inc.
Sony Corp. consolidated its second place in overall digicam sales, increasing its marketshare by 0.6 percent to 15.8 percent of the global market. Sony shipped a total of 16.7 million digital cameras in 2006, a 19.2 percent increase on 2005 figures. Meanwhile the company's entry into the dSLR market saw Sony debut in third place with a 6.2 percent marketshare, after its purchase of Konica Minolta's dSLR unit. Sony shipped a total of 326,240 dSLRs in 2006.
In third place in the global digital camera market was Eastman Kodak Co., the only company in the top six to record a decrease in overall shipments. Kodak's unit sales fell 24.4 percent as unprofitable sales were purged and the company's marketshare fell 4.2 percent to 10.0 percent worldwide. None of Kodak's 10.6 million units shipped in 2006 were dSLR models, after the company discontinued its dSLR line having recorded just 0.5 percent marketshare in 2005.
Fourth place overall went to Olympus Corp. with 8.6 percent marketshare, a drop of 1.2 percent from a year previously. The company shipped 9.1 million digital still cameras -- just 0.3 percent above 2005 figures. In the dSLR market, Olympus gained 0.2 percent marketshare to 5.9 percent, increasing shipments by an impressive 43.3 percent to 311,116 units.
Undoubtedly the big winner in the 2006 ranking was Korea's Samsung, more than doubling its shipments and jumping four places to fifth overall. Samsung's marketshare soared 4 percent to 7.8 percent, with the company shipping 8.3 million digital cameras -- a whopping 133.5 percent increase on 2005 shipments. While Samsung didn't make the top five in dSLR sales, the company's partner in dSLR development did. Pentax Corp. shipped 285,932 dSLRs in 2006, achieving fifth place with a marketshare of 5.4 percent -- a gain of 0.8 percent on the previous year.
Nikon Inc. was the only company in the top six to be surpassed by a rival in terms of marketshare, courtesy of Samsung's remarkable climb. Falling from fifth to sixth place, Nikon lost 0.3 percent marketshare to 7.6 percent overall, despite an 11.2 percent increase in total digital camera shipments worldwide. Of 8.1 million units shipped, Nikon sold 1.7 million dSLRs -- achieving second place overall in this high-growth category. This equates to a 35.9 percent increase in dSLR shipments for the company, but also to a 0.7 percent drop in dSLR marketshare.
At http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEW1.HTM you can keep track of what's new on our main site. Among the highlights since the last issue:
- Reviewed: Pandigital Photo Frames (http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/PDGTL/PD8.HTM)
- Reviewed: Sony DSC-W55 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/W55/W55A.HTM)
- Reviewed: Olympus Stylus 760 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/OS760/OS760A.HTM)
- Reviewed: Pentax K10D (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/K10D/K10DA.HTM)
Visit the Imaging Resource discussion forums at http://www.photo-forums.com to find out what people are saying about the latest digicams, hard-to-find accessories, friendly suppliers, clever techniques, you name it! Recent hot topics include:
Read about the Pentax K10D at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?13@@.eea528b
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RE: Old Olympus Glass
You told Al Glanzberg that his old glass from his ON2N would not work on the new Olympus dSLR cameras. I own some ON2Ns and OM2S models with many lenses and was looking into the new E-410 or E510 dSLR. I callled Olympus and was told they make an adapter MF-1 OM adapter that will allow you to use old OM lenses on the new dSLR.
If you go to the Olympus Web site you will see it there under accessories I'm looking forward to a full review on the 410 or 510 but was in Best Buy and saw the new 550 with 18x zoom and was tempted. I have an old 770 UZ with 10x zoom and the only bad things are shutter lag, no image stabilizer and battery life. The new 550 seems to address these problems.
-- Ralph Chichester(Thanks for pointing out that adapter, Ralph! It sounds like just the ticket. And yes, the 550 is pretty exciting. We first saw a prototype at CES in January and got to play with it a bit more at PMA earlier this month. We have it here now and we'll have a full report shortly on it.... Meanwhile, we contacted Al about the adapter and he wrote right back (below). -- Editor)
I am forwarding you an email I just got from Michael Much at Olympus:
"OM Series lenses can be used on any Olympus E-System dSLR when using the MF-1 OM to Four Thirds Adapter. The OM lenses can only be used in the Manual shooting mode. The OM lenses will work but will not perform as well as the Zuiko Digital lenses that are designed specifically for use with digital sensors. Specifically, you may see some fall-off on the edges of images shot with very wide-angle OM lenses. Also, the camera is unaware that an OM lens is mounted on it, so you will not have many of the auto functions. Information on the E-System can be found at http://www.olympusamerica.com. I would recommend buying a body and one lens kit or body and two lens kit of any model, especially the two lens kit because of the savings on the second lens."
-- Al Glanzberg(Thanks, Al. Olympus is a bit different from Canon, Nikon and Pentax, at least, in requiring an adapter. But the Manual mode restriction is not uncommon. Older lenses don't have the electronics of modern ones. A digital lens can tell the camera just how far away it has focused, for example, whereas a mechanical lens has no way of communicating that to a dSLR. While Olympus with its E-System has been among the most strident in advocating for digital lens design, all of the major manufacturers now have specific digital lens lines for one or another reason. -- Editor)
I recently bought a memory card for my Casio EXILIM EX-Z1000 digicam but I'm not sure it's compatible with my camera. The card I bought is a SanDisk SDHC Memory Card with a bonus MicroMate Reader. I didn't open the package because I wanted to check with you first. Do you know what the SDHC stands for? Is my Casio compatible?
-- Diane, MollyB, Max & Bailey(Yes, it's compatible. According to the Casio Z1000 FAQ (http://www.casio.com/support), "SD memory cards, SDHC memory cards and multimedia cards only can be used to expand camera memory." SDHC (Secure Digital High Capacity) offers storage capacities from 4-GB to 32-GB in the same sized package as lower capacity SD cards. And while your new SDHC reader can read older SD cards, older readers can't read SDHC cards unless they support the SD2.0/SDHC specification. SD capacities above 2-GB were always problematic, hence the SDHC standard. -- Editor)
For years I used Microsoft PhotoDraw2000 to do photo collage and all kinds of photo works. Someone walked away with Disk 1 of 3 disks. After losing a hard drive I lost the program. Where can I find replacement disks or is there another inexpensive program making photo collage easy and fast?
-- John Manners(Contact Microsoft's Customer Service for software replacements (http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?kbid=326246) and explain the situation. They should be able to get you up and running again. Arcsoft's PhotoMontage (http://www.arcsoft.com/products/photomontage) is popular but why don't we see if any of our subscribers has a suggestion. -- Editor)
Your review of Lightroom was interesting. I have been using iView for years and would like to see a comparative review. Unlike iView, there is no one click convenient way to email images.
-- Archie Granot(Oh, one-click email can be done from Lightroom. You use the Export function, according to Adobe (http://www.adobe.com/cfusion/knowledgebase/index.cfm?id=333743). MediaPro and Lightroom really aren't equivalents. That's our comparison review <g>. We use them both and appreciate that there are quite a few functions that overlap. But the kind of metadata editing that Lightroom does sets it quite apart from MediaPro. And somehow, we can never remember how to do simple things in MediaPro that are obvious in Lightroom (like view just in the images we've flagged). -- Editor)
LaserSoft Imaging (http://www.silverfast.com) had released SilverFast 6.5 [MW] with Photoshop CS3 compatibility, AutoFrame Alignment and Free Rotation. The new release also supports the European Color Initiative's eciRGBv2 color space.
Houdah (http://www.houdah.com/houdahGeo) has released HoudahGeo 1.0b7 [M], a one-stop geocoding application to "pin" photos to the locations where they were taken.
HP (http://www.hp.com) has announced it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Tabblo (http://www.tabblo.com) to make printing from the Web easier and more convenient. Tabblo's technology allows people to simply and efficiently arrange and print text, graphics and photos from the Web using an AJAX-enriched interface.
Camera Bits (http://www.camerabits.com) has released Photo Mechanic 4.5 [MW], its $150 image browser. The new version is optimized for OS X and Windows XP/2000 (and includes preliminary Vista support), features smart color management to apple camera profiles, creates thumbnails in the background and supports dual processors.
Kodak has released v6.0.2 of the Macintosh version of its free EasyShare Software nearly seven weeks after releasing v6.2 for Windows. According to the ReadMe, "The One Touch to Better Pictures feature is no longer available."
Paravue (http://paravue.com) has released its $249 Turbo Mask [MW], an image masking tool that works like human eyes to pick out the important subject in an image. Features include automated subject detection, procedurally generated results, jigsaw cut, real-time mask previews, precise edges, anti-aliased results and flexible output.
Copper Hill (http://www.copperhillimages.com) now offers Photosol's Eclipse E2, formulated for sensors with tin oxide coatings like those on the he Canon 5D, XTi and 1D Mark III.
Hamrick Software (http://www.hamrick.com) has released VueScan 8.4.18, with a new option for DNG files, improved Kodachrome infrared cleaning, better text scanning and more.
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