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DigitalFocus Celebrates 10 Years of New & Improved

pma08.jpg By MIKE PASINI
The Imaging Resource Digital Photography Newsletter

LAS VEGAS -- Pepcom celebrated the 10th anniversary of DigitalFocus, its pre-PMA demo event. Held in the Grand Ballroom of the Mirage hotel, the press-only event provided an opportunity for companies not exhibiting at PMA to discuss their products. But there were plenty of PMA companies at the event, too.








List of Exhibitors


Seems like everybody had something to show us that was new and improved.

CANON | Back to Contents

We started the evening at the Canon booth, getting our hands on the recently announced XSi. Chuck Westfall gave us the short, sweet story:

In the new and improved category, the XSi has 1) the new DIGIC III chip, 2) a larger 12.2-Mp sensor, 3) the 18-55mm IS kit lens (which our tests found a significant upgrade from the prior 18-55mm kit lens) and 4) Live View. It's also got a new lithium-ion battery with more capacity.

The move to an SD card format may trouble some, but with devices like the Eye-Fi SD card (, which provides 2-GB storage plus WiFi capability, that's not looking like quite the disadvantage it used to be. We'll have more to say about the Eye-Fi in our Thursday report.

Canon dSLRs. The XSi is on the far right.

Available in early April, it felt very comfortable in the hand and that 3.0-inch LCD was certainly pleasing to the eye.

NIKON | Back to Contents

At the Nikon table we took at look at the new 10-Mp D60, which updates the D40/D40x line that will now sell out. It sports an 18-55mm VR kit lens and new sensor cleaning technology.

But one of the most compelling features about it is Nikon's inclusion of its Active D-Lighting. D-Lighting is nothing new on a digicam, but on a dSLR it's just beginning to make its mark. The new D300 has it (and we're glad it does, saving a lot of work in post-processing for us).

The advantage of Active D-Lighting on a dSLR is that the linear capture that tends to result in dark captures can be adjusted on the fly to resemble a more normal tonal distribution. It saves highlight and massages detail out of the shadows as you shoot. So your dSLR shots don't look dark any more. They look, well, perfect.

OLYMPUS | Back to Contents

At the Olympus table, we got a peek at two new shockproof and waterproof Stylus models, the Stylus 1030 SW and the Stylus 850 SW. Perfect for the dust in Iraq, our video editor Mike Deuel confirmed. His brother, serving there, bought one after another brand failed.

Tanking Again. Shawn and Sally about to subject another Olympus digicam to the tank.

Once again, Sally Smith Clemens dumped an Olympus Stylus into a fish tank, this time taking a flash shot without electrocuting herself. It's really a shame Houdini isn't around to see her in action.

MICROTEK | Back to Contents

After our video crew finished shooting a segment with Microtek's Parker Plaisted, we grabbed him to discuss our experience with the Artixscan M1, the first autofocus flatbed film scanner.

"Your diary is the first comprehensive review of the M1," Parker acknowledged when we brought him up to date on our tests.

Parker and the M1. Autofocus in a flatbed with Microtek's famed dual-bed design.

Our last installment discussed problems we had with film scanning using SilverFast's multiexposure feature, which we really like -- when it works. But the horizontal misregistration of the two scans really was prompting us to work the Microtek software instead. There's no multiexposure, but there's no problems either.

But just prior to our departure from PMA, Parker had alerted us to a new version of SilverFast that corrects the problem. We told him we had downloaded and installed the update, but didn't have time for tests before the show.

So he pulled out his large portfolio and showed us some scans he had done. Great color, great sharpness, detail in the shadows and highlights -- everything you want in a scan. And all of that in a large print.

Sharpening is an essential part of the scanning workflow when working with film, Parker said. It's one thing we really have to explain more, we agreed.

INOVA | Back to Contents

We ran into noted eBook author Peter iNova between bites of tortellini. Peter has an intriguing new interactive eBook with over 600 of his iNovaFX automated transformations for your six to 12 megapixel images -- no matter which camera they came from.

Peter in Action. An eBook with actions that work on 6 to 12-Mp images from any camera.

Just one of the intriguing aspects of the new release is that you can order it as either a $64 CD or a $69 thumbdrive (and even slightly less if you take advantage of the Dave's Deal provided our newsletter subscribers).

Peter told us it will be available in two weeks. He brought four copies to the show and gave us one for review. Then he hustled back to work on his D300 eBook.

The Real Story. HP's SimpleSave DVDs.

HP | Back to Contents

While we were watching Dave do a video segment on HP's new B8850 13x19 printer based on its workhorse B9180, an HP boother pulled us aside to tell us the "real story."

We'd reported this in our CES wrap up report actually (, but it doesn't hurt to repeat it, even if HP is taking the credit this time for the write-once DVDs with backup software on them.

At 45 minutes a DVD and five to a package, you could kill an afternoon backing up your images. But if you've never backed them up, kill the afternoon. The DVDs do make it simple since they don't require you to make any decisions.

The HP version only backs up images, but check the CES report for the whole story. If not the real one.

LIST OF EXHIBITORS | Back to Contents

The complete list of exhibitors, whose booths we documented in our DigitalFocus gallery ( included:

ArcSoft showed their creative photo projects and advanced embedded imaging technologies.

Canon showed its current lineup of digital cameras, camcorders and printer products at two tables.

fotocommunity is Europe's largest online community with plans to target U.S. photo-philes at PMA.

Fujifilm showcased the latest FinePix digital cameras, as well as select photo printing products.

HP demoed a sampling of imaging and printing solutions including its latest professional photo printer for advanced amateur photographers, a newly announced media portfolio for large format printing and a host of innovative consumer printers that help consumers create and share customized content from home.

ImageSpan showed LicenseStream, its simple-to-use digital content licensing service.

Kingston Technology showed its line of flash memory products.

Microtek showed the ArtixScan M1 Pro scanner, the new film scanner for professional photographers.

Nikon displayed its most recently announced Coolpix and dSLR cameras.

Olympus showed its Spring 2008 line-up of compact digicams including a 20x optical zoom, two shockproof, waterproof cameras, slim shooters with 7x optical zoom power and pocket-sized, point-and-shoots.

Panasonic showed its 2008 line-up of Lumix digital still cameras and camcorders.

Pentax brought along its K20D and K200D dSLRs, five new digital lenses and five compact digicams.

PhotoWorks, an American Greetings company, showed off its services including photo storage and sharing, personalized Web pages, photo books, prints and unique photo gifts, social networking with Photo Communities, and user-generated e-commerce with My Storefront.

Shutterfly showcased its Children's Adventure books, expanded Designer Stationery and new platform for easily creating customized, personal and group websites.

Western Digital showed the new My Passport Essential 320 GB portable hard drive, redesigned with a more sleek and simple enclosure, as well as its My Book family of external storage appliances.

Once again we're pressed for time to get back to the show so we'll update this report with images when we get a chance.