The PMA 2000 report
Return to:
Current News

Photo Marketing Association Show 2000
Pre-Show Announcements

Tuesday, February 1, 2000

Advanced Lumitech to show Luminescent Photo Paper! - (18:15 EST)
A press release from Swiss company Advanced Lumitech Inc. today announces that it will be showing its Luminescent Printeable Photo Paper at the PMA show. Sold under the name "Brightec", this intriguing sounding paper was "developed and patented as an exclusive process to create luminescent color pictures of photographic quality which can be applied to a variety of substrates in numerous applications"... This one, I have to see! :)
Source: Yahoo! BizWire

Digital Intelligence changes name, receives funding! - (15:38 EST)
It must be the day to change your company name today; following on from Seattle FilmWorks changing their name to PhotoWorks, the very next press release we read finds Digital Intelligence, creator of the PictureIQ technology which brings PhotoShop imaging to consumer electronics, doing exactly the same thing! Effective immediately, Digital Intelligence is now PictureIQ Corp., reflecting the name of its flagship technology, which has been licensed to Sega, Lexmark, Sony and Corbis. The company will be present at PMA, where it will be demonstrating PictureIQ on the Sega Dreamcast games console.

A second press release announces that the company has secured $16 million in funding from Digital Partners, LLC, Hikari Tsushin, Inc.,, Inc., Intel Capital, Intel Corporation's strategic investment program, and Naveen Jain, founder and CEO of

Seattle Filmworks changes name, embraces digital! - (15:18 EST)
A press release from Seattle FilmWorks today announces that the company is changing its name to PhotoWorks, Inc., effective immediately. The company will retains its existing Nasdaq NM symbol, FOTO. At the same time, PhotoWorks has announced its initial launch of the PhotoWorks Uploader service for digital cameras, which allows users to extract images from their cameras and upload them to their password-protected PhotoWorks archive, where they will remain for as long as the user is an active PhotoWorks customer.

The press release also announces that a $15 million investment will come to PhotoWorks from Orca Bay Partners and Madrona Venture Group, which will be used to to expand the Company's marketing presence, enhance its branding campaign, leverage its Internet presence through additional strategic alliances and add senior management resources. PhotoWorks will host a reception February 02 for all Photo Marketing Association Conference attendees to showcase the Company's expanded digital services...
Source: Yahoo! BizWire

Monday, January 31, 2000

MGI to sponsor DIG reception, participate in panel discussion! - (23:37 EST)
Two press releases today (1,2) from MGI Software announce that it will be sponsoring the Digital Imaging Group reception to be
held at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas on February 2nd from 4:30PM to 7:00PM before the Photo Marketing Awards dinner, as well as participating in a panel discussion earlier in the day... MGI Director of E-Services Marsha Scharf will be participating in the "Sharing Photos the Digital Way: Digital Imaging and the Internet" panel discussion, February 2nd, 2000, at 2:30p.m. at the Las Vegas Convention Center, after which MGI will be showing its products, and in particular its ZOOM Server product line at the DIG reception.

Interpolation is our friend ;-) - (20:34 EST)
After posting our information on the new Fuji cameras below, we've received a large number of emails, in addition to the reader comments that were left on the comments page for that article. Fuji's failure to specify the number of pixels in the sensors on the new cameras has led to a lot of speculation about the extent to which Fuji is using interpolation in the new camera designs. Previous abuse of interpolation by various manufacturers has left rather a bad taste in everyone's mouths, so there's no shortage of speculation and controversy over published specs for Fuji's SuperCCD-based cameras. Given the level of interest and attention this is receiving, I wanted to chip in my 2 cent's worth (well, maybe more like 50 cents or so), to explain what is probably going on, and also to clear up the common assumption that typical digicams don't interpolate. (They all do.)

We covered the SuperCCD design extensively 'way back last November, in our Comdex coverage. Fuji's claim is that the unique pixel structure of the SuperCCD design improves spatial frequency response along the X/Y axes relative to conventional designs. There was a lot of back and forth on the news comments page for that article over whether or not the staggered octagonal layout really made a difference or was just smoke & mirrors. Speaking personally (but not wanting to open that whole discussion again), I believe that it in fact does produce higher resolution in the X/Y directions than conventional CCDs, although it is probably weaker on image structures oriented at a 45 degree angle. At some point, pixels are pixels, and each one gathers one pixel's worth of data. Favoring the X/Y axes over the 45 degree diagonal though did seem to show some benefits in the sample images we saw earlier. See the Comdex comments page for more background on this.

I want to say at the outset that all the theoretical discussions that have taken place to date are fine, but the ultimate issue of whether the SuperCCDs show higher resolution or not will be determined by objective tests, as in our own resolution test using the ISO-12233 standard test target. It's also important to point out, as frequent IR reader "benoit" did in a comment on the Fuji story below, that resolution is only part of the story with SuperCCD. A possibly much more significant factor will be increased light capture ability and lower noise, as a result of more-efficient utilization of the silicon surface area. (Thanks Benoit, for that piece of clear thinking!)

We don't know what the actual pixel dimensions of the sensors in the new Fuji SuperCCD cameras are, but it seems likely that there may be some higher level of interpolation happening than is the case with digicams using conventionally- constructed "striped" sensor arrays. As noted, there's a lot of foment over this apparent fact, but I think the level of fervor may be a bit overblown: Many people don't realize that all digicam images are actually "interpolated" to a significant degree...

How's that you say? Isn't it true that most cameras make files with the same number of pixels in them as on their sensors? Well yes, but... Consider that digicam CCDs are "striped" with red, green, and blue filters to extract the color information from the light falling on their surfaces. It thus actually takes the light from three pixels to make one pixel's worth of full-color information in the final image. - By some measures, this could be considered to be a 3:1 interpolation! Obviously, the image-processing tricks played by the back-room boffins (Brit term, there) at the digicam companies are quite successful in pulling out roughly the original level of detail, but there is still something lost when compared to "true" co-sampled RGB pixels, as from a scanner. (Check out the reference images in our Comparometer(tm) from the combination of film/scanner used in Kodak's PictureCD product, to see what I'm talking about: You'll notice that, even though the PictureCD files are only 1.5 megapixels in dimension, their resolution is at least on a par with that of 2 megapixel cameras.)

The "canned" test images we've seen from Fuji comparing resolution of equivalently-sized SuperCCD and conventional CCD sensors showed the SuperCCD to be dramatically superior in this regard. (Again, see our coverage from Fall '99 Comdex.) The greater areal efficiency and unique pixel layout of the SuperCCD suggests that Fuji may be able to go beyond the nominal 3:1 interpolation we've seen with conventional sensors to some higher ratio, while retaining the same level of sharpness in the final files. Our guess is that this is why they're focusing on the file dimensions rather than the CCD pixel count in their product announcements thus far.

How will this play in the market? Hard to say, and it will ultimately depend on the resolution actually shown in the final image files. "Interpolation" has gotten a bad name in the industry due to early abuses, and many highly-touted technologies for doing it ultimately came up short. What Fuji will have to fight is the widespread belief that an ordinary "2 megapixel" digicam built around a CCD with 2 million pixels on it isn't interpolating, when in fact (as we just discussed) there's something more like 3:1 interpolation going on that nobody ever talks about. People tend to simplistically assume that just because the pixel counts are the same on the raw sensor surface and in the final file, everything's "on the level." - And it is, as long as everyone's on the same playing field. It may be though, that Fuji has found a new field to play on, which changes the rules a bit. Based on what we've seen so far, we suspect that Fuji will indeed be able to wring out more usable information per sensor pixel from the SuperCCD than from conventional designs. If the added information is actually there (as demonstrated by resolution tests), then what they're doing is entirely legitimate. How to communicate this rather technical detail to the average consumer is another matter entirely though...

Keep a watch on this whole SuperCCD story: We're admittedly operating on rather scanty information, but what we saw at Comdex looked very strong. If the results seen in Fuji's early comparison samples are confirmed by our own laboratory tests, SuperCCD could be one of the most significant developments in the digicam field this year. It's important to note in all this that we're not at all taking a position of advocacy with respect to the SuperCCD. (!) We do feel though that there are some things that are different about it, and that it's important to keep in mind that all digicams interpolate their image data to one degree or another. What's at issue is what level of interpolation is justified/acceptable with various sensor layouts. You can bet we'll be moving heaven and earth to get our hands on a SuperCCD camera as soon as possible to run it through its paces in our lab. Stay tuned, it's going to be an interesting year!

Fuji announces 3 new digicams, including 6 megapixel SLR! - (1:23 EST)
Fuji Photo Film USA Inc. has this morning announced three new digital cameras, including the first two cameras we've seen based on Fuji's revolutionary SuperCCD sensor, which we first discussed back in October! (For more details on the SuperCCD and how it works, see our Comdex report from November, 1999).

Fuji FinePix S1 Pro Front View - click for a bigger picture!
Click for a bigger picture!

Perhaps the most exciting of the three cameras is Fuji's new SLR-format professional digital camera, the FinePix S1 Pro. The S1 has an extremely impressive feature set including a 1.1-inch SuperCCD which gives a 6 megapixel file, a Nikon F lens mount, ISO ratings from a low of 320 to a high of 1600 (!), and a pairing of SmartMedia or Type-II CompactFlash storage. Here's the full specs for the S1 from Fuji:

Fuji FinePix S1 Pro Rear View - click for a bigger picture!
Click for a bigger picture!

 - Fuji FinePix S1 Pro Digital Camera
- Interchangeable lens SLR-type camera
- 1.1 inch (23.3mm x 15.6mm SuperCCD sensor gives image
files at 6 megapixel (3040 x 2016), as well as 2304 x
1536 and 1440 x 960 pixels; TIFF-RGB, TIFF-YC and Exif
2.1 compliant JPEG file formats (fine, normal and
basic compression)
- Accepts AF and AI-P Nikkor lenses using Nikon F mount
(not compatible with IX- Nikkor lenses); focal length
multiplier of 1.5x over 35mm equivalent
- Both SmartMedia and CompactFlash slots (SmartMedia is
3.3V 2MB to 64MB compatible; CompactFlash is a Type-II
slot which is MicroDrive compatible)
- Optical viewfinder is fixed-eye level penta-prism
high-eye-point type with 90% frame coverage; LCD
viewfinder is 2-inch low temperature polysilicon TFT
with approx 200,000 pixels, frame coverage not quoted
- USB and video out connectivity (NTSC for USA/Canada,
PAL for Europe)
- Four shooting modes; single-frame, continuous (burst
mode of 1.5 frames per second for up to 5 frames),
preview mode and multiple exposure mode
- Five exposure modes; general purpose program,
auto-multi program (flexible program possible),
shutter-priority auto, aperture priority auto, or
fully manual exposure control
- 5 variable program modes; portrait, landscape,
close-up, sport and night scene
- Exposure metering is 3D Matrix with D-type AF Nikkor
lenses, 6-segment Matrix with non-D type AF Nikkor or
AI-P Nikkor lenses, and center-weighted in Manual
exposure mode or with Auto Exposure lock
- Exposure compensation (3EV range in 1/3EV steps)
- Autofocusing is by TL phase detection (range:
equivalent to EV -1 to EV 19 at ISO 100 and normal
- White balance: Auto, Fine, Shade (Fine weather),
Incandescent light, 3 modes for fluorescent light,
and manual
- Shutter: Electronically controlled vertical travel
focal plane shutter; shutter speeds 30 to 1/2000
- ISO ratings of 320, 400, 800 and 1600
- Mechanical remote release
- Built-in flash with a guide number of 15 at ISO100,
effective for 28mm lens coverage, TTL -BL flash
operations: Normal, slow-synchro, red-eye reduction,
red-eye reduction with slow-synchro; External flash
accessory shoe, Standard ISO-type with hot-shoe
contact, ready-light contact, TTL flash contact,
monitor contact; mount receptacle for Posi-Mount
system provided
- Playback mode offers single frame, four thumbnails,
nine thumbnails, playback zoom, histogram indication,
standard chart
- Self timer (2 seconds or 10 seconds)
- Power source is 4 Alkaline, Ni-MH or Nicad AA
batteries (manganese batteries can't be used). Also
2 type CR123A lithium batteries for controlling camera
system. AC power adapter available.
- Dimensions 5.8"W x 4.9"H x 3.1"D, weighs 29 oz.
without batteries or lens
- Bundled with a CD-ROM with camera shooting software,
USB and video cables, 16MB SmartMedia card, 4 AA
batteries and 2 lithium batteries
- Available in the first half of 2000 at a suggested
retail price of US$4,000
Also announced was Fuji's first consumer SuperCCD-based camera, the FinePix 4700 Zoom. The 4700 features a 4.3 megapixel file size, 3x optical zoom lens, USB connectivity and SmartMedia storage. Here's the full story:

Fuji FinePix 4700 Zoom Front View - click for a bigger picture!
Click for a bigger picture!

Fuji FinePix 4700 Zoom Rear View - click for a bigger picture!
Click for a bigger picture!

 - Fuji FinePix 4700 Zoom digital camera
- 0.58 inch SuperCCD gives image files at 4 megapixel
(2400 x 1800), as well as 1280 x 960 and 640 x 480
pixels; JPEG images at fine, normal or basic
- 3X Super EBC Fujinon aspherical optical zoom lens,
f/2.8, equivalent to a 38-114mm zoom lens on a 35mm
camera; macro focusing down to 11.8 inches; digital
zoom (power unspecified) zooms in 0.2x steps
- SmartMedia storage (16MB card bundled)
- USB connectivity
- Built-in popup flash, effective to 11.5 feet, with
automatic, red-eye reduction, flash-on-demand, flash
cancel and slow synch modes
- Five programmed exposure modes; auto, portrait,
scenic, night scene, and full manual
- Three metering modes; multi, center or spot; 64-zone
TTL metering with programmed auto-exposure and
exposure compensation
- Shutter speeds from 1/2000 to 3 seconds
- ISO ratings of 200, 400 and 800
- Video mode allows up to 80 seconds of video in AVI
format with sound
- Improved electronics save power; camera boots and
cycles images in less than two seconds
- Power from two AA alkaline batteries
- Bundled with two rechargeable NiMH batteries and
charger, as well as Adobe PhotoDeluxe 3.0 Home
- Available in April 2000 at a suggested price of $999
Finally, Fuji announced the entry-level FinePix 1400 Zoom, a 1.3 megapixel camera with a 3x optical zoom lens and a familiar point-and-shoot design:

Fuji FinePix 1400 Zoom Front View - click for a bigger picture!
Click for a bigger picture!

Fuji FinePix 1400 Zoom Rear View - click for a bigger picture!
Click for a bigger picture!

 - Fuji FinePix 1400 Zoom digital camera
- 1.3 megapixel CCD gives images of 1280 x 960 pixels;
JPEG files with fine, normal or basic compression
- Fujinon 3x optical zoom lens equivalent to 39-117mm
on a 35mm camera; focuses to 2.6 feet or 3.5 inches
in macro mode
- 1.6 inch LCD viewfinder and optical viewfinder
- SmartMedia storage (4MB card bundled)
- USB connectivity
- Built-in automatic flash with red-eye reduction,
slow synch flash, flash-on-demand and flash cancel
- Programmed exposure modes with exposure compensation
- Automatic and manual white balance
- Multi-frame playback mode shows nine thumbnails at
once on the LCD display
- Power from 4 AA batteries
- Bundled with Adobe PhotoDeluxe(r) Home Edition 3.0
- Available in April 2000 at a suggested price of
below $399

Thanks to Jeff Keller at the Digital Camera Resource Page for sharing several pictures we'd not received from Fuji with us!

Sunday, January 30, 2000

JVC to show 3 megapixel camera at PMA? - (18:43 EST)
A news item on the TWICE ("This Week in Consumer Electronics) website previews the PMA show to be held next week in Las Vegas. According to the article, some 80 companies should show consumer or professional digital cameras, including JVC. TWICE expects JVC to show a 3.3 megapixel camera, the QC-GX3, which should ship in February at a price of below $1000, making it possibly one of the first 3.3 megapixel cameras to ship based on announced dates we've heard thus far...

The QC-GX3 should feature SmartMedia storage, and a professional still mode which apparently double-exposes a photo to produce a 6 megapixel final image. The camera will offer the ability to capture 20-second, 200KB video clips, which use a proprietary compression algorithm. A decoder can be emailed with the clip to allow others to view the video.
Source: This Week in Consumer Electronics website
Thanks to Danny Brenner / Digital Photography World for this item!

Thursday, January 27, 2000

Olympus USA announces C-3030 Zoom! - (17:42 EST)
C-3030 Zoom Front View - click for a larger picture!

Olympus USA has now officially announced the C-3030 Zoom digital camera in the USA (as well as having provided us with some nice pictures of the camera, front and back - click for larger versions!) When does the camera ship in the US, and for how much? According to the release, May 2000, with a street price of about $999...

C-3030 Zoom Rear View - click for a larger picture!

Nikon USA releases Coolpix 990 details! - (15:42 EST)
Nikon USA has now released its specifications for the Coolpix 990 digital camera to the public as promised. A section of its website is devoted to the new camera, and includes a two-page PDF brochure for the 990... No sample pictures as yet from either the US or Japanese sites, nor have PC Watch got any samples up yet (although given their usual speed, expect them soon! :)

Watch this space...

Nikon has now also officially distributed a press release announcing the Coolpix950...

Wednesday, January 26, 2000

Olympus announces C-3030 Zoom digital camera! - (23:33 EST)
C-3030Z Olympus Japan has now released details of its upcoming C-3030 Zoom digital camera, which we first told you about in our previous news item, thanks to the website in Germany...

Here's the full details as announced by Olympus:

 - Olympus C-3030 Zoom digital camera
- 1/1.8 inch, 3.34 megapixel CCD
- 6.5mm - 19.5mm 3x optical zoom lens equivalent
to 32-96mm on a 35mm camera, F2.8, eight elements
in six groups, 1 - 2.5x digital zoom
- All-black chassis similar to previous C-2020 Zoom
- Five pictures sizes and three quality settings, as
follows: 2048 x 1536 (TIFF, SHQ and HQ), 1600 x
1200 (TIFF and SQ1), 1280 x 960 (TIFF and SQ1),
1024 x 768 (TIFF and SQ2), 640 x 480 (TIFF and SQ2)
- SmartMedia storage up to 64MB compatible (3.3V,
- Optical viewfinder with diopter adjustment and
90% view, 1.8" low temperature polysilicon TFT
LCD display with high viewing angles
- Flash mode: Red eye reduction, off, auto, on, and
slow-sync; external flash sync for FL-40 flash
- Remote control (allows shutter release and zoom)
- Serial, USB and video-out connectivity
- iESP Auto TTL Focusing system provides more
accurate focusing, traditional digicam focusing is
by detecting contrast shift near the center of the
picture when changing focus - iESP breaks down the
central detection area into pieces and then
analyses them to ensure that the focus is not
confused by the picture; manual focus 0.2 meters to
infinity with 160 steps
- iESP Auto TTL White Balance system, also preset
white balance (Sunny, Cloudy, Incandescent,
- 32MB Internal RAM buffers gives burst mode of at
least 3.3 frames per second in all modes except
for TIFF, for minimum of 5 frames.
- Exposure control: Full auto with exposure
compensation +/- 2.0EV in 1/3EV steps, Aperture
priority F2.8-F11, Shutter priority 1 - 1/800
second (Auto ISO and ISO 400) , 4 - 1/800 second
(ISO 100), 2 - 1/800 second (ISO 200), and full
manual up to 16 seconds
- Auto bracketing feature with either three or five
stages, 0.3/0.6/1EV either side, doesn't work in
TIFF mode
- User-selecteable sharpness (two settings)
- ISO rating: 100, 200, 400 or auto
- Spot and TTL digital ESP exposure detection
- Focus from 0.8m to infinity (normal), 0.2m to
0.8m (macro)
- Movie mode allows animations up to 88 seconds in
SQ mode or 360 seconds in HQ mode, with audio.
15 frames per second, times are for a 32MB flash
- Audio capability to record attached sounds for
still images (wave format)
- Black and White and Sepia modes
- 109.5 x 76.4 x 66.4 millimeters, 300 grams
- Available in Japan at the end of March for about
125,000 yen (US$1183)
There is also a button for a page with sample images from the camera. At the time of this writing, the button is not yet linked to anything, but keep checking it! (We'd be grateful if readers could email us when the pics go up, if we've not already announced it)...

French website breaks news on Coolpix 990! - (18:31 EST)
An email from IR reader David L. Morel tells us that a website called "Les Infos de Chasseur d'Images", based in Senille, France, has today broken news of Nikon's upcoming Coolpix 990 digital camera - a day ahead of Nikon's schedule! The page, available here, is in French only, but we've done a rough translation of the page, which reveals the following:

The Coolpix 950's successor, the Coolpix 990, is very familiar in form, but adds a number of new innovations. The camera will be unveiled at the PMA Show in Las Vegas, but Chasseur d'Images brings this news to you in advance of Nikon's release.

The Coolpix 990 breaks the two megapixel barrier with a new 3.34 megapixel CCD. The CP990 is equipped with a new 8-24mm (38-115mm equivalent) aspheric 3x optical zoom lens which boasts little distortion. The camera features a 5 point AF system, with 4896 step focusing. The user can select which of the AF focusing points is required with the joypad on the back of the camera, and the camera can simultaneously focus and spot-measure from this spot for exposure calculation. The camera also offers a 256 zone matrix exposure, center-weighted or traditional spot metering.

The Coolpix 990 handles all types of subjects equally well, near or far, still or moving. The camera can focus in macro mode as close as 2 centimetres. The Coolpix 990 uses the same method of determining white point as the professional D1, using either automatic (exclusive matrix system), preset (5 settings on 7 intensity levels), or manual with measurement from a white card.

For greater image control, the CP990 offers exposure bracketing, histogram and also the ability to show over-exposed portions of a picture on playback. The camera offers easier connection to a PC with a choice of either serial or 12Mbs plug'n'play USB connectivity.

The camera is designed to allow for longer periods of usage away from a power source, with up to 90 minutes of use with the LCD display turned on. It is also very fast - only 0.1 seconds to power up, and image capture rates of up to 30 images per second! Image capture and zoom were also modified to ensure that there is no latency (delay when pressing the button).

As a prosumer camera, the Coolpix 990 offers a range of attachments including telephoto, wide-angle and fisheye lenses, as well as an attachment for studio flashes. The CP990 will be available in May 2000 at a price of 9,990 francs, equivalent to US$1525 including all taxes.

There then follows specifications for the camera, as below:

Sensor: 1/1.8 inch 3.34 megapixel CCD sensor
Image size: 2048 x 1536, 2048 x 1360 (3:2), 1024 x 768, 640 x 480, 320 x 240 pixels
Lens: Nikkor 3x optical zoom lens, 8-24mm (equivalent to 38-115mm on a 35mm camera), f2.5-4, macro capability, 9 aspheric glass elements in 8 groups
Sensitivity: ISO100, 200, 400
Focusing: Autofocus - TTL, contrast detection, 4896 steps. Three modes, AF-C (continuous focusing), AF-S (focus once and leave focus for next picture) and manual (50 steps from 2cm to infinity). Focusing from 30 centimeters to infinity, or 2 centimeters to infinity in macro mode.
Optical viewfinder: Real image type, magnification from 0.4x to 1.1x. Focus and flash indication. Dioptric correction -2 to +1 diopter.
LCD display: 1.8 inches diagonal, 110,000 pixels, low temperature polysilicon active matrix TFT type. Brightness and contrast adjustable (3 settings). 97% of full image. Display of histogram and over-exposed areas of the image.
Automatic shutoff: 30 seconds default. Adjustable to 1, 5 or 30 minutes.
Image type: Uncompressed TIFF or compressed JPEG. Records to CompactFlash Type-I cards. Full automatic or manual exposure, 3 preset setups can be stored in camera.
Capture modes: 1) Frame by frame, 2) Continuous 3) 16 images in a row 4) Rafale VGA (? sorry can't translate this :), 5) High speed, approx. 30 frames per second in QVGA resolution, 6) Movie (40 seconds (?) maximum)
Exposure method: 256 segment matrix, center-weighted, spot or spot in conjuction with 5-point AF focusing spot.
Exposure time: Mechanical and electronic shutter, 8 seconds to 1/1000 second.
Aperture: Iris with 7 plates, electromagnetic control
Exposure control: 4 modes - P (automatic), A (aperture priority), S (shutter priority), M (manual). Exposure correction +/- 2.0EV in 1/3EV steps. Automatic bracketing (5 steps in 2/3EV steps). Exposure range: wide-angle -2 to +15.5EV, Tele: 0.8 to 16.5EV (ISO100)
White balance: TTL system, 3 modes - matrix, adjustable preset (daylight, incandescent, fluorencent, cloudy or flash), or white balance hold.
Timer: 10 seconds or 3 seconds
Integrated flash: Guide number 9 at ISO100, dedicated sensor control, flash modes: on, off, auto, slow-sync, red-eye reduction)
Flash sync connector for Nikon SB-28DX, 28, 26, 25, 24, 22s (via accessory SK-E900); Studio flash adapter available
OS: Requires Windows 95 or MacOS 8.1 and later
Interface: 12Mbs USB, serial (Windows 115Kbps, Mac 230Kbps), PC Card (with optional PC card adapter), video out (NTSC for US).
Power: 4 1,5V LR6 batteries, 4 1.5V lithium rechargeable, 1.2V NiMH or 1.2V NiCad.
Dimensions: 149 x 79 x 38mm, weight 370 grams.

Thanks to IR reader David L. Morel for this item!

We got the scoop on this one, just - shortly after we posted the first news in English of the Coolpix 990, Steve's Digicams has also posted the same information as well as several nice pictures of the new camera, and a few details the French site didn't have. You can find Steve's info here!

Thursday, January 20, 2000

Fuji to show SuperCCD-based cameras at PMA! - (19:36 EST)
Fuji Photo Film USA Inc. has today distributed a press release noting its plans for the PMA show in Las Vegas, which Dave and myself will be attending and reporting on. Of particular interest is the following paragraph:

"Fujifilm's leadership in digital camera technology is once again demonstrated with the introduction of Fujifilm's proprietary Super CCD image sensor technology, in which the unique placement of sensors results in images rich in detail and alive with vibrant colors. The company plans to make several product announcements regarding the Super CCD technology during the PMA show."

For more news on what Fuji plans to announce, stay tuned - as soon as we have something to share, you'll see it here! It sounds like this could be a very interesting PMA...

Q-Research to launch VideoGenetics at PMA! - (17:34 EST)
Q-Research Inc., the company behind the PhotoGenetics software that we've mentioned several times in the past on this news page, has announced that its version for improving video quality will be available at the start of the PMA show in Las Vegas. VideoGenetics uses a process similar to that in PhotoGenetics to let the user decide what looks best, and intuitively change the video based on this. The software is to be launched February 3rd, first in a Macintosh version ($249, or $199 before April 3rd), with a PC version to follow later.

Thursday, January 13, 2000

Dave prognosticates (PMA prediction) - (18:16 EST)
I had an interesting conversation with a pro photo dealer today who's been very active in the digital marketplace. Combining some of his observations about what's happening in the pro channel (vs what various manufacturers are *saying* is happening) with some things I know but can't talk about led me to a clear conclusion: The upcoming PMA show (Feb 3-6 in Las Vegas) is going to be very interesting in the pro-camera realm! I think there's going to be a real shakeup in the >$3,000 digicam market, and we should see a lot of it happen (or at least start to happen) at that show.

The Nikon D1 has set a price point for digital SLRs that Kodak hasn't fully answered yet. (No, I don't know anything about Kodak's plans, or I wouldn't be free to speculate like this.) But, looking at the price differential between the D1 and Kodak's equivalent Pro units, you'd have to think that there's going to be some further price adjustment. I'm of course completely ignoring feature sets, functionality, etc, here. This in part because my conversation with the dealer today left me convinced that at least the commercial pros (perhaps as opposed to photojournalism people) buying digital SLRs are looking mainly at the price tags in making decisions about which camera to buy.

You also have to wonder what Canon's next move will be: Their arch-enemy in the pro camera marketplace (Nikon) has made an incredibly strong play that they haven't as yet answered. Again, I know *nothing* about Canon's pro plans, but can't imagine that they'll be content to resell Kodak hardware into the indefinite future. The more time that goes by without even a pre-announcement of a new pro digital SLR solution, the more turf they concede to Nikon. If I were them, I'd be working like the dickens to come up with something I could announce at this PMA, as it's the most significant imaging event happening any time within at least the next six months. (And we all know what an eternity six months is in the digicam world.) And (being as deliberately cryptic as possible), the above-mentioned people aren't the only potential players we could hear from at PMA...

I couldn't begin to make any specific predictions, but think we could reach a real watershed in the pro camera market in just another few weeks. Stay tuned! Mike Tomkins and I will both be going to PMA, and IR newsletter editor Mike Pasini will doubtless be chipping in from "base camp" as well: We should have a lot to report!

Thursday, January 6, 2000

Canon announces PowerShot S20; samples online! - (15:25 EST)
A press release a little over an hour ago from Canon USA Inc. announces its much rumoured PowerShot S20 digital camera. The S20 is the second 3 megapixel camera to be announced thus far, and is based on the same 3.34 megapixel chip being used by the Casio camera announced earlier this week. Here's the specs:

 - Canon PowerShot S20
- 3.34 megapixel 1/1.8 inch CCD, 2048 x 1536, 1024 x 768
or 640 x 480 pixel image sizes in Super-Fine, Fine or
Normal compression modes; JPEG file storage,
and DPOF compliant
- 2x optical zoom lens; 6.5 - 13mm (equivalent to 32 -
64mm on a 35mm camera), f2.9 - 4; all glass aspheric
design; 2 and 4x digital zoom
- Mechanical and electronic shutter, 2 - 1/1000

- TTL Autofocus (Macro: 12 - 66cm, Standard:
66cm - infinity)

- Built-in LCD monitor (1.8" low temperature
and optical viewfinder
- CompactFlash Type-I and Type-II storage; compatible
with the IBM MicroDrive
- Built-in four mode flash (off, on, red-eye,
auto), range 0.17 - 2.3m (tele) or 3.3m (wide)

- USB, RS-232C, Mac serial, and Video out connectivity
- Center weighted or Spot metering
- TTL Program AE, AE lock, exposure compensation
+/- 2EV in 1/3EV increments
- Manual or Auto white balance
- Adjustable contrast and sharpness
- Adjustable ISO (100, 200, 400)
- Burst mode of up to 0.8 frames per second (number of
frames unspecified, LCD display off)
- Scrollable image zoom during playback
- Full auto, manual, stitch assist, slow-speed shutter,
high speed shutter, night scene, landscape and black
and white modes
- Dimensions: 4.1 x 2.7 x 1.3 inches
- Metallic champagne colored chassis
- Weight 270g without batteries and CF card
- Bundled with Adobe PhotoDeluxe, Canon PhotoStitch for
Mac and Windows, Canon ZoomBrowser EX for Windows and
Canon PowerShot Browser for the Mac
- Supplied accessories: USB, Serial, Mac Serial and Video
cables, wrist strap, 2CR5 lithium battery, 16MB CF card
- Optional accessories: Power Supply Kit DK110, soft case
- Availability set for second quarter, 2000. Pricing to
be determined.
We also noticed whilst browsing over at Steve's Digicams that Canon's BeBit website has posted info on the camera. We found 4 sample images from a beta version of the PowerShot S20 there, along with the details in italic in the specifications above, filling in gaps from the US press release...
Thanks to Steve's Digicams for pointing us to the Canon BeBit site!

Tuesday, January 4, 2000

Casio first to announce 3 megapixel digital camera! - (12:58 EST)
Dover, NJ-based Casio Inc. has today announced its first entry into the 3 megapixel digital camera marketplace, in the form of the new Casio QV-3000EX. The camera has the following features:

 - Casio QV-3000EX
- 3.34 megapixel 1/1.8 inch square pixel CCD, effective
pixels 3.24 megapixel, 2048 x 1536 or 1024 x 768 pixel
image size in fine, normal and economy modes; JPEG
(EXIF Ver 2.1), DCF standard, DPOF compliant
- 3x optical zoom lens; 7 - 21mm (equivalent to 33 -
100mm on a 35mm camera), F2.0 - 2.5;
8 elements in
7 groups; 2x digital zoom
- 1.8" low glare color hyper-amorphous TFT LCD display,
555 x 220 = 122,100 pixels
- Optical zoom viewfinder (with LCD monitor screen?)
- CompactFlash Type-II storage, IBM microdrive compatible
- 4-mode flash (Auto, on, off, red-eye reduction); range
0.5 to 4 meters
- USB, Digital In/Out, NTSC/PAL Video Out, AC adapter

- Exposure control: CCD light metering - multi-pattern,
spot, center weighted; Program AE, aperture priority
AE or shutter priority AE modes; +/- 2EV exposure
compensation in 1/3EV steps

- Shutter speed: 2 to 1/1000 second (both electronic
and mechanical shutters)
- Aperture: F2.0 / 2.3 / 2.8 / 4.0 / 5.6 / 8.0
- White balance: Auto, 4-mode fixed or manual
- Burst mode: Up to three images at 0.5 second intervals;
2 seconds between full-resolution shots afterwards
- Casio proprietary noise reduction system
- Image scroll speed of 0.5 seconds/image in playback
- Delete single images, folders of images, selected
images, or all images (with image protection)
- Built-in quartz digital clock; date and time recorded
with image; auto calendar up to 2049
- 320 x 240 pixel movie mode; 30 second maximum length
or 10 seconds in "past" mode (records the last 10
seconds before the shutter release was pressed);
AVI (OpenDML Motion JPEG confirming)
- Self-timer: 2 seconds or 10 seconds
- Power from 4 AA lithium, alkaline, or NiMH rechargeable
batteries, two Panasonic CR-V3P lithium batteries;
optional AC adapter
- Dimensions 134.5 x 80.5 x 57.5mm, excluding projections,
lens facing upwards; Weight 320 grams excluding
- Supplied with USB cable, CD-ROM with PhotoLoader
software, 8MB CompactFlash card, video cable, soft case,
neck strap, lens cap
- Available March 2000 at a price of less than $999.