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Digital Photography News Archive!
November 1999


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Tuesday, November 30, 1999 to sell SanDisk products!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Tuesday, November 30, 1999 - 17:57 EST)

Online retailer now carries SanDisk Corp.'s CompactFlash, MultiMediaCard, SmartMedia and ImageMate lines of products, according to a SanDisk press release distributed today. Rick Dyer, VP of Retail Sales at SanDisk, had the following to say on the announcement: " is one of the most popular e-commerce web sites because it is on the cutting-edge of e-commerce. We believe that will successfully link SanDisk to the MP3 market as well as increase awareness of SanDisk's wide range of products for the digital imaging and handheld PC markets due to their customer profile of early adopters."

Color inkjet market grows!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Tuesday, November 30, 1999 - 17:31 EST)

Two press releases today announce new reports on the color inkjet printing market... The first, from International Data Corp., notes that sales in Q3 '99 have been strong, with several vendors posting record unit volumes, and predicts a "phenomenal" Q4 '99. US color inkjet shipments exceeded 4.8 million units in Q3, 34% higher than Q3 '98, and 24% higher than Q2 '99. According to the IDC report, HP retained its top position in the color inkjet rankings, whilst Canon retained the second place. Lexmark leapfrogged Epson for the first time to take the third place, and this excludes sales of Lexmark printers rebadged by Compaq - if these were included, Lexmark would actually have surpassed Canon as well to take the number two spot!

DataQuest, meanwhile, published its report - which put things in an altogether different light. The report, on business color inkjet use, also placed HP in the top position, but found Epson (placed 4th in the IDC report) in second place, and Canon third - with no mention of Lexmark at all! The DataQuest report found that HP gained market share slightly, being listed as the primary vendor of 80% of respondants (up from 78% last year). Color inkjets made up about 81% of color printers at the sites surveyed, but the report also found that 62% of respondants were using their color printers differently to the monochrome ones, mostly because of problems with cost of acquisition, print speed, print quality/durability and cost of operation.

Time chooses Canon DV camcorder for award!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Tuesday, November 30, 1999 - 17:05 EST)

Canon's Ultura Digital Video Camcorder has been selected by Time magazine as a winner in the digital camera category of the 1999 Technology Buyer's Guide, according to a press release. Canon's GL1 DV camcorder took a runner-up position in the guide, published in the November 29 issue of the magazine.

National Semiconductor, Xirlink put digicam in WebPAD!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Tuesday, November 30, 1999 - 12:09 EST)

A press release from Xirlink Inc. announces that the company is cooperating with chip manufacturer National Semiconductor to incorporate Xirlink's small factor digital camera into the National Geode WebPAD platform. WebPAD is a hardware and software reference design for a touch-screen 8.5 x 11 inch wireless tablet which allows internet access up to 300 feet away from its base station. The design is based on the Geode GLXV processor, and debuted at Comdex Fall '98. Xirlink's digital camera design is based on a National Semiconductor CMOS chip, supports up to 30 frames per second in resolutions up to VGA (640 x 480 pixels), and debuted at Comdex Fall '99.

Mike Berceanu article on Kodak DCS330!
By David Etchells, The Imaging Resource
(Tuesday, November 30, 1999 - 9:34 EST)

We reported yesterday on Mike Berceanu's article on the Nikon D1. Reader David Morel wrote to point out that Mike also has a brief review of the Kodak DCS330 on his own site. The DCS330 deserves mention as a lower-cost Kodak camera with a full 3 megapixel sensor that competes with the D1 at a slightly lower price point. Check it out... Thanks David (and Mike!)

Monday, November 29, 1999

d-store announces "Photo Of The Millennium" contest!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Monday, November 29, 1999 - 15:35 EST)

IR advertiser d-store has announced in a press release its "Photo Of The Millennium" contest, with prizes including dye sublimation printers from Canon and Olympus, as well as digicam accessories. Each week through the end of the year, ten entries will be selected and posted on d-store's website. Come year end, ten runners up will receive 4 NiMH batteries and a charger, a 5-piece camera care kit and a limited edition d-store mouse pad. The second placed entry will win an Olympus P-300 dye-sub printer, whilst the winner will get a Canon CD200 dye sub printer. All entries published will get a $5 d-store gift certificate...

DCRP Posts CoolPix 800 review!
By David Etchells, The Imaging Resource
(Monday, November 29, 1999 - 12:41 EST)

Jeff Keller at the DC Resource Page posted a review of the Nikon CoolPix 800 just as we were leaving on vacation. Here's a link!

The ultimate digicam accessory?
By David Etchells, The Imaging Resource
(Monday, November 29, 1999 - 12:21 EST)

SR Electronics has just announced a new camera gadget that looks like a real winner to us! Their new PowerGrip Ultra combines several useful functions into one unit. The grip itself is actually a battery pack with 3750 mAh of power(!), and includes a multi-mode slave-flash trigger that lets you use just about any garden-variety auto flash unit with your digicam. SR has been making these slave triggers for a while now, and they apparently work very well. The dual-mode unit lets you trigger external flash units, regardless of whether your on-camera flash is a "single pop" or "double pop" design. - Some digicams use a pre-flash for exposure and white balance setting that tricks standard slave triggers into firing early. The SR triggers can be set to wait for the second, main flash before firing the external strobe. Very slick, and the 3750 mAh battery pack is about 2x the capacity of the best NiMH AA cells. At $189.95, this could be a great gift for that digicam owner who seems to have everything! (SR also has a PowerGrip with half the battery capacity for $149.95 as well.) Check it out!

Quickie Nikon D1 overview!
By David Etchells, The Imaging Resource
(Monday, November 29, 1999 - 11:48 EST)

Steve Sanders of Steves Digicams has just posted an article by Mike Berceneau on the Nikon D1 digital SLR. While not as detailed as a full review, Mike's article is a good, concise overview of the product. Check it out!

New Thumber coming soon! (v3.1)
By David Etchells, The Imaging Resource
(Monday, November 29, 1999 - 11:31 EST)

While we were gone on holiday, Max Lyons of Thumber fame emailed us a "preview" copy of his excellent thumbnail-page building program Thumber. The new 3.1 version should be available on his web site "in the next week or so." We've been using Thumber to build master index pages to our test images on recent reviews. These give extensive information about exposure, focal length, etc, that would be almost impossible to provide otherwise. His new version will provide translation from the teensy actual focal lengths of the digicams to their 35mm equivalents, and also include some editing capabilities, (even) more data reporting, better thumbnail/resized image quality, etc, etc. Don't inundate his site for the new copy just yet, but stay tuned: The $12 registration fee for Thumber was one of the best software investments we ever made! (You may want to check out some of Max's other software though, as he has some handy gadgets as well.)

We're Back! (sort of...)
By David Etchells, The Imaging Resource
(Monday, November 29, 1999 - 11:21 EST)

Well, a few pounds heavier, and not particularly rested, both Mike and Dave are back from the Thanksgiving holiday. Mike managed to come down with a dose of the flu in the midst of the merrymaking, so Dave will be pinch-hitting today on the news front. Hopefully, Mike will be back tomorrow with a more complete update. Meanwhile, webworker Eric has been slaving away on the layout for our Kodak DC215 review, which we should have up later today or early tomorrow. Reviews of the Canon Powershot S10, Kodak DC290, and Sony DSC-F505 are all "on deck." - We hope to have images from the F505 posted as early as tomorrow as well.

Wednesday, November 24, 1999

Some rest for the weary...
By David Etchells, The Imaging Resource
(Wednesday, November 24, 1999 - 3:19 EST)

- And Dave's about to get his. Mike's already off figuratively (maybe literally) girding his loins for a full-contact encounter with the US tradition of Thanksgiving feasting. I'm heading out tomorrow AM (well ok, later *this* AM), and won't be back until late Saturday. (Still, not that much rest though, as the laptop's coming along in the car, and I hope to make some significant progress on editing the review backlog while my long-suffering mate drives.)

On a serious note, the US holiday of Thanksgiving is a good time to contemplate all that we do have to give thanks for: If you're reading this page, you're probably in the top few percent or so of the world's entire population, in terms of creature comforts. (Let's face it, digicams are pretty far down the "essential life needs" priority list.) How about the wealth in your life that has nothing to do with gadgets or money? Why not take a moment and think about Who you might want to thank for all of that? Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Online Photo Sharing Reviewed!
By David Etchells, The Imaging Resource
(Wednesday, November 24, 1999 - 2:20 EST)

The indefatigable Dennis Curtin of fame is turning his considerable review & analysis talents to the area of online photo sharing. He's posted a "photo sharing work in progress" that reviews some of the popular sites and methodologies in this new area. Highly recommended reading, keep checking back as he adds more info over the next days/weeks. (Typically great job, Denny!)

Oh - And while you're there, be sure to check out Dennis' excellent digital photography books! A great gift idea for the new (or even not-so-new) digital photographer! He has a whole set of them, one on "choosing & using a digital camera", several keyed to several of the more popular cameras, one on digital photography in general. All excellent, and fantastic deals at only $20-25 each. Click here for some info we've posted on his CoolPix 950 book (a good example of what the others are like), or here if you're interested in ordering any of the titles!

Something for the real techno-dweebs...
By David Etchells, The Imaging Resource
(Wednesday, November 24, 1999 - 2:10 EST)

(... like Dave ;) - Reader Keith Cremer wrote in with a link to the agenda for a session of the ISSCC conference, scheduled in early February. The session is on "Image Sensors", and has a lot of activity around CMOS sensors, and various high-speed designs. What we found particularly interesting though, was a talk describing a "progressive-scan CCD imager in standard double-layer polysilicon ... designed on a pixel-interleaved-array architecture. The pixel layout increases both saturation voltage and sensitivity by a factor of 1.3. The interleaved array increases resolution by [radical]2x in H & V directions." - Sound familiar? - It's the Fuji SuperCCD sensor we covered in our Comdex report. - Looks like there'll be some *real* details available on it in early February! Simultaneously increasing both saturation voltage and sensitivity means higher ISO and less image noise to worry about, plus the 1.4x increase in V&H resolution (that was much-debated in our news discussion links below.) (Thanks, Keith!)

DCRP Posts Digicam Shopping Guide!
By David Etchells, The Imaging Resource
(Wednesday, November 24, 1999 - 1:30 EST)

Our good friend Jeff, over at the Digital Camera Resource Page (DCRP) has thoughtfully put together a shopping guide for people searching for just the right accessory for the digicam fan who has everything! The DCRP Holiday Buyers Guide is online, with a variety of practical suggestions, ranging from $20 to "under $2000." Nice work, great place to direct your Significant Other for some ideas! ;-)

Tuesday, November 23, 1999

Big things in small packages: Delkin's shipping!
By David Etchells, The Imaging Resource
(Tuesday, November 23, 1999 - 18:09 EST)

We just received an email from Delkin Devices, confirming that they are now shipping 224 megabyte CF Type II cards. These are semiconductor (chip)-based units, not rotating memory as with the IBM MicroDrive. The major differences are that semiconductor devices will (a) be more rugged and less susceptible to damage when you drop them on the floor, and (b) consume less power. Delkin is apparently the only company *actually shipping* CF Type II chip-based cards with this high a capacity. - For the geeks among you (geeks? here? - Nah! ;), click on the smaller photo at right, to see how these cards are made. (Dave, at least, finds this sort of thing interesting.) I spoke with Delkin President Martin Wood at Comdex, who showed me the clever flex-circuit arrangement seen in the photo: A flex-circuit is actually laminated into the circuit boards that carry the chips, exposed in the middle allowing the assembly to be folded onto itself. The whole thing then fits into a molded package that fits your camera. Pretty slick! Oh - price: Well, not cheap, but I guess being able to drop it on concrete and still use it afterward is worth a fair bit: The 244 megabyte unit is $999 list price, the 192 MB $799, and the 160 MB $599.

Monday, November 22, 1999

Comdex Redux: Things we Missed
By David Etchells, The Imaging Resource
(Monday, November 22, 1999 - 16:57 EST)

Given the amount of time we spent shuttling to meetings in off-site hotel rooms, I guess it's no wonder we missed some items: Several readers have written in with comments on things they saw at Comdex that we didn't report on.

Tiny Optical Drive? Reader Brian Keller pointed out a CNN story that mentioned a tiny optical disk drive (apparently) called "ID Photo". I seem to recall seeing something on this in the Olympus booth, but ignored it, thinking it was just their larger optical disk product that's been around for quite a while. According to the CNN story, the new drives use a "tiny" cartridge that holds 730 megabytes (!) and will sell for about $50 each. Jointly developed by Sanyo, Hitachi, Maxell, and Olympus, drives using the new cartridges will supposedly be built into digicams beginning sometime next year! (Now that would be some welcome digicam memory capacity!)

Reader David Kamanski wrote in with several items, which we share below:

Fuji Print Process David was very impressed with Fuji's on-line print services: Send them your digital files, they send back prints. - There are a number of companies beginning to offer this service, and we expect to be announcing a partnership in this area soon as well.

More SuperCCD Raves David dittoed our enthusiasm for the samples he saw from the new Fuji SuperCCD technology.

Canon BJC-8200 Printer - Missed this one entirely, given our digicam-centric focus. Canon announced a new 1200x1200 dpi 6-color inkjet printer, with some very interesting characteristics that promise both very high quality and economical printing. The new BJC-8200 (due to ship in mid-December), the printer uses an exceptionally small 4 picoliter droplet size for very fine gradation and high resolution, and also has individual ink tanks for each of the 6 ink colors. This last feature means that you won't have to throw away the entire ink cartridge just because you (for instance) ran out of light cyan ink. Canon's press release pegged the price of the new printer at $399 list. David felt the prints he saw from the BJC-8200 at the show were a noticeable improvement over even the Epson 750/1200, one of the current "hot" photo printers.

Return of the Digital Wallet? David also found a device called the "Digital Wallet" being exhibited in an obscure corner of the Sands convention center by [email protected] of Irvine, CA. The gadget sounds similar to another that was marketed under the same name by a company called MGVision about 6-12 months ago. (MGVision apparently fell on hard times financially, and we have no idea whether there's any relation between the two companies.) The concept of the Digital Wallet is that of a portable, battery-powered unit with a large hard drive (8 gig?) inside that can store images from your digital camera memory cards. [email protected] apparently pegged the price of their unit at about $299. David reported though, that the company reps there were "very hard to talk with", and that they couldn't demonstrate it working, transferring images from his CF card. We hope it works out: 8 gigabytes of portable storage for remote image offloading sounds good, and the USB host connection would address the huge limitation of the earlier Digital Wallet's slloooww serial port connection...Thanks, David & Brian!

ArcSoft announces PhotoStudio 2000!
By David Etchells, The Imaging Resource
(Monday, November 22, 1999 - 15:44 EST)

ArcSoft has announced a major update to their PhotoStudio digital imaging suite, PhotoStudio 2000. The new program offers a host of high-end features, including multiple levels of "undo", macro processing for repetitive image adjustments, image layers, image management tools, and much more. The new program will apparently be available by the end of this month, and can be ordered today from their PhotoIsland web site, for the (bargain) price of $39.95.

Olympus C-2000 Flash Fix Update!
By David Etchells, The Imaging Resource
(Monday, November 22, 1999 - 9:00 EST)

We've had a *flood* of traffic over the note posted below on the fix for long exposure times with external flash on the Olympus C-2000! It turns out that the main workaround offered only works with recent firmware revisions: It apparently works with firmware version 951-81, but not with -80 or -79. (The alternate workaround using "burst" mode works on all units.) If anybody has information on other firmware versions, let us know. You can check your firmware version on the Mac using Juri Munkki's Cameraid utility, which can be found at, or on Windows systems using Max Lyon's EXIFRead, which can be found at

Saturday, November 20, 1999

Mike & Dave's Excellent (Blimp) Adventure!
By David Etchells, The Imaging Resource
(Saturday, November 20, 1999 - 23:34 EST)

News: Full Comdex report online! - (Blimp pictures, too!) In his earlier Comdex coverage, Mike neglected to mention the absolute coolest, most newsworthy thing that happened the entire week. (Well, at least it *felt* that way, when we were there! ;) - The picture at right is a hint of what I'm talking about. Since the Comdex coverage will soon scroll off the bottom of the "current news" page, I've gone ahead and put it on a page all its own, along with the original of the picture at right (among others).

Oly C-2000 Fast Shutter/Ext Flash Workaround!
By David Etchells, The Imaging Resource
(Saturday, November 20, 1999 - 23:27 EST)

Wow! This is the news of the century for Olympus C-2000 owners. (Well, maybe I've been working at the keyboard a little overlong today... Still it's really tremendous news): Oly C-2000 Zoom users have long lamented that using the camera with an external flash in aperture-priority mode results in longer shutter times than you'd like, as the autoexposure circuitry tries to capture enough ambient light to produce the correct exposure. This often results in way too much ambient light in the image, blurred pictures, etc. While not the ultimate solution provided by the full-manual mode in the forthcoming C-2020 Zoom, the workaround found by IR Reader Airin Sabine Kassmann (from Germany) will come as a huge relief to thousands of C-2000 owners. - It allows you to force a shutter speed of 1/30-1/100 of a second in aperture-priority mode! Here's Airin:

"Playing around with the camera, I found another undocumented feature that solves this problem: Press "OK" and "Arrow down" on the Jog dial simultaneously in Aperture priority mode with flash switched off, and the exposure time will get no longer than 1/30 s (and will be shorter with longer focal lengths). This is what you need to avoid too long exposures with an external flash at low light. (Dave's note: On my camera, it produced shutter speeds ranging from 1/30s at wide angle to 1/100s at telephoto.)

You can leave this special mode by switching the internal flash and the slow flash mode on (and off).

I have just tested it with my camera, which was bought in Germany. (Dave's note: As noted above, it worked on my US-branded C-2000 also, so is likely universal.) (Late-breaking news: See note above, the main fix here apparently only works on the latest-model cameras!)

A similar result can be achieved by setting the camera to sequence shooting mode. Exposure times are then limited to 1/25 second. This does not work with the highest (SHQ) resolution, though. But I find HQ more useful in most cases, anyway."

THANKS, Airin!

Our first still/videocam review!
By David Etchells, The Imaging Resource
(Saturday, November 20, 1999 - 23:08 EST)

Review: User Review of Sony DCR-PC100 still/video digicam! - No doubt about it, still digital and video are "converging", and for evidence, you need look no further than this excellent user review prepared by reader Nicholas Newell. The new Sony PC100 not only (apparently) produces truly excellent video images, but captures digital still images that frankly amazed us, relative to what has thus far been pretty lackluster performance in this area from digital videocams thus far. Nicholas did an excellent job of presenting and discussing the features of the PC100, and we're very grateful for the contribution! Check it out!

Shoot the Moon! (With your digicam!)
By David Etchells, The Imaging Resource
(Saturday, November 20, 1999 - 22:54 EST)

Article: Astrophotography with your Digicam! - Reader Bret McKee shows how easy it can be to get stunning astrophotographs (in this case, pictures of the moon) with an advanced-amateur level telescope and a good-quality digicam. Really interesting - Amaze your friends, start your own space program!

Geek Week at the Sports Shooter! (Nikon D1, Kodak DCS520/560
By David Etchells, The Imaging Resource
(Saturday, November 20, 1999 - 22:50 EST)

John Cowley of the excellent Lonestar Digital site sent us this one, just as we returned from Comdex: The current issue of "The Sportshooter" has posted an interesting user review of the Nikon D1, some explanation of the D1 recall we reported on earlier, as well as information on the latest firmware upgrade (v3.0.4, v5.8 acquire software) to Kodak's DCS520/560 professional cameras. The D1 review is very interesting, as it relates a pro photographer's experience using the D1 in "live" situations. Since the author (Charles Krupa, AP) has extensive experience with the Kodak pro cameras, his impressions are illuminating. Overall, he finds much to like, some to quibble about: The impression we're left with after reading the article is that there are strong and weak points for both Nikon and Kodak's products. As noted, there's a blurb in the article about the recent D1 recall, which was to reload firmware to fix an intermittent frame numbering bug that could have resulted in overwritten files. (Was this an unusual situation, or will the D1 not support field firmware upgrades? - We'll ask Nikon for clarification on this...)

This touches on the current war of words that's floating about the internet, in the form of rumors and counter-rumors surrounding the D1. We haven't chosen to repeat any of them here, as they've so far been just that: Unconfirmed rumors. If anyone has concrete, actual information on how the D1's faring in the marketplace, pass it along to [email protected]. Note that any message that starts out "I've heard..." will be strictly ignored. Only "I've seen..." and "My company did/did not..." are permitted!

Toshiba updates drivers for PDR-M5, PDR-M4, and FlashPath!
By David Etchells, The Imaging Resource
(Saturday, November 20, 1999 - 22:04 EST)

This must be "Firmware Upgrade Week": This came in a couple of days ago from Toshiba - They've announced an upgrade for the PDR-M5 firmware (version 2.07) that's supposed to speed up the autofocus, improve image sharpness, and improve it's handling of red colors. Two versions of the upgrade allow it to be applied either via a FlashPath (or presumably a SmartMedia card reader) or the USB interface. - We were just about to ship back our evaluation unit of the PDR-M5, but will try to hold onto it a little longer, to try out this upgrade: Faster autofocus would be a great addition, given the incredible save-to-memory speed of this camera! They've also announced an upgrade for the PDR-M4 that makes it compatible with the (soon to arrive?) 64-megabyte SmartMedia ('didn't think to mention it, but we actually saw 64MB-labeled SmartMedia at Comdex, with chips supposedly "on the boat" as we write!). Finally, they also have updated FlashPath drivers (for Windows, Mac, and Windows NT) that give the FlashPath 64MB capability.

CoolPix 950 Firmware update V1.2 announced!
By David Etchells, The Imaging Resource
(Saturday, November 20, 1999 - 21:53 EST)

Firmware updates, round 1: This came in from Nikon last week, in the midst of our Comdex frenzy: The version 1.2 firmware update for the CoolPix 950 is available for both Windows and Macintosh users with NTSC-video versions of the camera. European users with the PAL-output version can get their updates from the Nikon-Euro website. NOTE: Be sure you use the correct version for your camera, or you'll well & truly mess up your video output! Also note the other warnings and cautions on their FAQ page!! The Nikon FAQ for the upgrade indicates that it includes the following changes:

Nikon Corporation has indicated the following items have been (A)dded, (C)orrected or (I)mproved in the Coolpix 950 Firmware version 1.2

  • 1-LCD brightness is significantly improved in the "+" and "O" setting mode. This makes outdoor use easier(I)
  • 2-Seqential numbering now operates in M-rec OR A-rec modes(C)
  • 3-Auto sensitivity is active in "P" mode. This will improve the low light shooting.(A)
  • 4-Shutter speed display changes to yellow at speeds of 1/4 second or lower, to indicate need for tripod or a very steady hand.(A)
  • 5-Change in the screen display used when custom folder names are used.(A)
  • 6-AE-lock function now operates in AUTO white balance mode.(I)

DCRP Reviews Casio QV-2000UX!
By David Etchells, The Imaging Resource
(Saturday, November 20, 1999 - 21:41 EST)

Continuing our catch-up now that we're back from Comdex, we're pleased to note that Jeff over at the DCRP has reviewed the new Casio QV-2000UX. (Yet another new digicam that we have "in process" here!) Jeff was quite impressed with the progress Casio seems to be making in their digicams, particularly as evidenced by this, their new 2-megapixel model (with USB, IBM MicroDrive support, and much more). Here's Jeff: "Overall, the 2000UX is an excellent choice, and one that any buyer should consider very seriously. At $799, it offers the same features as the more expensive Coolpix 950 and Olympus C-2000Z, but for less moolah. As always, we encourage you to head out to your local Best Buy or CompUSA and try them out first before making a purchase!" Check out Jeff's review for more details!

Phil reviews the Canon S-10!
By David Etchells, The Imaging Resource
(Saturday, November 20, 1999 - 21:31 EST)

Phil Askey has reviewed the Canon PowerShot S-10 compact digicam, and liked what he saw. Here's Phil: "The Canon S10 certainly sets new ground, and I'm sure it's sent a few manufacturers racing back to the drawing board. The S10 is just so good on so many grounds it goes high on my favourite digicams list. With the addition of USB, CF Type II, Super-Fine JPEG, its small size and value for money, if you can live with the limited zoom ability then the S10 is one camera that ANYONE considering buying a digicam should have somewhere in their list.. (somewhere near the top)" - We're working on a review of the S-10 ourselves, hope to have it posted within the week (would have been up already, but Comdex intervened). Meanwhile, we do have a full set of test shots online, both in the Comparometer, and accessible via a thumbnail page. Until we do get our full review up though, check Phil's typically complete coverage of the new camera!

Friday, November 19, 1999

Comdex Fall '99 Show Report!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Friday, November 19, 1999 - 4:13 EST)

As regular readers will know, Mike and Dave have both been attending the Fall '99 Comdex trade show in Las Vegas this week. This year's show, the 20th anniversary of Comdex, has been particularly busy, despite the fact that, with Christmas on the way, the majority of the major digital camera news for the year has already happened. In between a steady stream of meetings (the latest Comdex vogue being to hold meetings off site, necessitating many hours stuck in traffic jams and some major scheduling headaches), we've seen some pretty cool stuff though! The new JPEG2000 standard is rapidly approaching, as is Fuji's SuperCCD - and noises from CCD manufacturers suggest that the first of the true 3 megapixel consumer digital cameras will shortly be on their way too...
Click here for a larger version!
Click here for a larger version!
Perhaps the most interesting thing we've seen at Comdex, from a digicam point of view, is Fuji's recently announced SuperCCD. Whilst we've yet to see any prototype products based on the new chip, which features octagonal photodiodes in a honeycomb structure, unlike the rectangular photodiode, square structure of a normal CCD, the sample pictures shown by Fuji at the show were very impressive! Below is a small sample of just one of the samples in Fuji's handout (click on the picture for a larger version). Obviously, it is difficult to know how fair a comparison this picture is, since we do not know how the two photos have been handled after they were taken, however there is clearly far more information in the SuperCCD image, particularly in the fine "fuzz" on the peach, and the hairs of the kiwi fruit's skin. Click here for a larger version! Click here for a version with less compression!
According to Fuji, the SuperCCD's layout offers an effective resolution some 60% better than a standard CCD, as well as 130% better sensitivity, dynamic range and signal/noise ratio, 50% better color reproduction and significantly better power consumption (assuming that a SuperCCD with 40% fewer pixels can match the resolution of a standard CCD). The logical question is - how can simply changing the shape and orientation of the photodiodes in a SuperCCD produce such a dramatic improvement in image quality? Borrowing heavily from Fuji's own explanation, here's a quick summary of the reasons:
  • Higher horizontal/vertical resolution: According to Fuji's research, due to gravity the usual characteristics of natural scenes tend towards more spacial frequency power in the horizontal and vertical planes, and analysis shows that the human eye makes use of this tendency, being more sensitive to high frequency information on these axes . A look at the layout of a conventional CCD shows that it has an exactly opposite tendency, offering a higher capture resolution on the 45 degree diagonals. The SuperCCD's layout reverses this, matching the human eye in capturing its highest resolution horizontally and vertically. Click here for a larger version!
  • Increased sensitivity, signal/noise ratio and dynamic range: The SuperCCD does away with the need for a control signal path as required in normal CCDs, allowing the photodiode to increase in size (and hence increasing the area of light that it can capture). At the same time, the shape of the photodiode is changed from rectangular to octagonal, which more closely matches the circular form of the microlens over it, again allowing for an increase in the effectiveness of light capture. This increased light capture allows for the gains in sensitivity (Fuji predicts an ISO rating of 800 in its brochure), signal/noise ratio and dynamic range. Click here for a larger version!
    At the same time, Fuji claims two further enhancements with the SuperCCD - both the video frame rate and the ability to use an electronic shutter (ie. turn the CCD on/off) rather than using a mechanical shutter, much more simply than is possible with a conventional CCD. Since the color layout of the SuperCCD features the R, G and B pixels on every horizontal line, it becomes simple to skip horizontal lines when reading from the CCD for video. With a conventional CCD, each horizontal line contains only the R and G or G and B pixels, necessitating that consecutive lines must be read to recapture the full RGB color information, and slowing down video capture. Fuji's SuperCCD can offer skipped readout at ratios of 1/2, 1/3 and more, offering video frame rates of 30 frames per second at 1/3 of the sensor resolution. The SuperCCD also takes a different approach to how it transfers charge through the transmission path, adding an extra packet to the standard three packets required to eliminate the mechanical shutter with a conventional CCD, at the same time as increasing the width of the transmission path to accomodate this. The result is the ability to control shutter speed completely from the CCD itself.
    Click here for a larger version!
    According to the Future Image Report, the SuperCCD should be scaleable up to a maximum of 10 megapixels, and the first SuperCCD-based cameras will show up in spring of 2000... If the samples we've seen are anything to go by, these cameras could make a big step forward over existing digicam quality. Olympus

Click here for a larger version!
Click here for a larger version!
Two interesting items hit the news from Olympus during Comdex. First of all, as we mentioned previously, Olympus has announced a deal with immersive imaging company Ipix, whereby owners of Olympus' D-450Z, D-400Z, D-340L, D-320L and D-220L digital cameras can now purchase an Ipix upgrade kit for $249. The kit consists of Olympus' fish-eye lens (which offers over a 180-degree viewing angle), two adapters, a tripod rotator, Ipix's IPIX Wizard 2.2 software and a certificate for three Ipix 360x360-degree immersive images. The three images must be used within 60 days, and additonal certificates can be purchased on a $1 per image basis. Secondly, although not really digicam-related, Olympus announced the oh-so-cool EyeTrek personal TV display, essentially a pair of "glasses" that replicate a 62" wide-screen TV seen from 6 1/2 feet. The Eye-Trek, launched in Japan last year and since then having achieved 70% market share, features an plastic prism which features compound aspheric surfaces and achieves an excellent balance of image quality along with very light weight. The Eye-Trek allows the user to still see the outside world in their peripheral vision, and also automatically shuts itself off after a couple of hours usage to ensure that the user rests their eyes occasionally. It features either battery power (optional) or AC power, standard NTSC A/V or S-VHS inputs, built-in stereo earphones, color, contrast, tint, sharpness, brightness and white-balance controls, and 2 240,000 pixel LCD displays - all for a cost of $899.99 in a 3.8 ounce package (separate controller weighs 5.6 ounces). Wow! Olympus Eye-Trek Minolta
The big news from Minolta was its new Dimage Scan Elite film scanner. Essentially an update of the Dimage Scan Speed, the Elite adds Applied Science Fiction's Digital ICE technology, which automatically corrects surface defects on scans. The Scan Speed's 2,820 dpi resolution and 12-bit A/D conversion with a dynamic range of 3.6 are retained. Up until now, the only film scanner with Digital ICE was Nikon's LS-2000, where it really impressed... Click here for a larger version! Sierra Imaging
The folks at Sierra Imaging were showing off their Raptor II chipset at Comdex, and it certainly has some impressive specifications... If you've not already heard of Raptor II, essentially what it consists of is a full digital camera reference design which allows digital camera manufacturers to essentially buy the design "off the shelf", add their own touches to it and bring a digicam to market from the design in a very short space of time. Sierra provides the chips, firmware, software, development kits, and design services, whilst the manufacturer adds its own "value" to the design in terms of color management, user interface, etc. - allowing multiple vendors to brign very different cameras to the market based on the kit. Raptor II adds a new signal processing architecture which "overlaps" or "pipelines" multiple operations, and is capable of processing a whopping 3.3 megapixels per second. With word from the sensor manufacturers suggesting that 3 megapixel consumer cameras are likely to be upon us in the spring of 2000, this would suggest that we could be seeing digital cameras capable not only of these high resolutions, but of providing them with shot-shot cycle times of only 1 second! Click here for a larger version! Kodak
Click here for a larger version! The big news from Kodak at Comdex was a change in its pricing for the Professional digital cameras. A price drop sees the 6 megapixel DCS560 and 660 digital cameras fall from $29,995 to $24,995, whilst the DCS620 comes down from $16,995 to $10,795, and the DCS520 drops similarly from $14,995 to $9,995. Interestingly, from what we heard it would appear that the launch of Nikon's D1 has not had an adverse impact on Kodak's sales - in fact, it appears that the competition may be a good thing, with unit shipments of the DCS620 actually hitting an all-time high in October! JPEG2000
News at the show was that the JPEG2000 standard should soon be with us, and will feature wavelet based compression. In the meantime, we saw a truly impressive demonstration of wavelet compression in LizardTech's MRSID portable image format. Not only is the compression quite stunning, but the output is impressive even at huge sizes. One particular image that we saw printed on a posted measuring a good 4 or 5 feet tall came from an original 16MB image, and was compressed down to a mere 908KB with MrSID - and yet was virtually indistinguishable from the original... The up-sampling capability of MrSID was truly phenomenal, with our reaction to some of the prints we saw being one of disbelief at the amazing image quality... Look for articles on this and Altamira's "Genuine Fractals" on the site, coming soon...! This pretty much wraps up the digital imaging side of Comdex. That said, we did see a few other cool things worth mentioning... The latest thing to hit US shores from Taiwan is CD-R business cards. As the name suggests, these are business cards literally printed onto a mini CD-R disc. The two sides of the disc are cut off, to bring the disc down to the same size as a standard business card, leaving the shorter vertical sides of the card rounded to the same shape as the original CD. The clever thing is that sufficient space is retained to allow about 40MB of data to be stored on the card, offering you the chance to distribute for example, samples of your digital photos with your card. On top of this, the card is probably more likely to be kept and shown to others simply because it is a little unusual, which could help get your name around. From what the manufacturer we spoke to told us, these CD-R cards should work in almost any CD-ROM drive. Standard CDs can also be burned off, which obviously would save you money, but prevent you customising the discs or updating them from time to time... We also saw what could well be a step in the direction of future PCs. The Qbe (pronounced "Cube") Altus is a letter-sized tablet computer that really goes a long way to offering the latest technology in an interesting form factor. With a Pentium-III 450 processor (P-III 600 planned), 8GB hard drive, 128MB RAM, modem, ethernet card, CD-RW or DVD-ROM, microphone, stereo speakers, SmartCard reader/writer, magnetic strip card reader, two type-II PC card slots, USB and Firewire ports, and optional digital camera, barcode reader and scanner attachments as well as a 13.3" screen and a maximum battery life of up to 4 hours (8 with an optional extended-life battery), this thing really is a full-sized desktop PC crammed into a tiny tablet! The unit has handwriting recognition, or alternatively can be used with a keyboard, mouse and monitor through the included "Porticle" docking station. The unit should ship next spring for $4,495 with docking station.
Click here for a larger version!
And finally, we couldn't wrap this up without mentioning the coolest looking booth of them all. The inaugural "Mike's 'Wow, that is an IMPRESSIVE booth' award" goes to Xerox, for their incredible Grecian ruin, complete with a game-show running in the center of it all... The coolest attraction on any of the booths was provided by Computer Associates, who had the McLaren MP4-14 Formula One car of 1999 double world-champion Mika Hakkinen on their stand. Created from a budget in the hundreds of millions of dollars, this hand-made work of art was arguably the most expensive thing at the show...
Click here for a larger version!
Click here for a larger version!

Tuesday, November 16, 1999

UMAX announces Astra 4000U USB scanner!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Tuesday, November 16, 1999 - 3:22 EST)

"UMAX Announces 1200 dpi High-Resolution Astra 4000U USB Scanner
Specially Designed for SOHO and Small Business Applications
New UMAX Astra 4000U Legal-Size Scanner Features 42-Bit Color Output with BET, 1200 x 2400 dpi High-Resolution Scanning Capabilities, and USB Interface for Under $400

FREMONT, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nov. 15, 1999-- UMAX Technologies, Inc. today announced the Astra 4000U, a complete scanner solution for the rapidly growing small office/home office (SOHO) market.

At under $400, the Astra 4000U offers professional level scanning quality and easy connectivity through USB (Universal Serial Bus) ports for small businesses, SOHO users and prosumers at a market-shaking low price. The Astra 4000U scans images as large as legal-sized 8 1/2 x 14 inches at 1200 x 2400 dpi (dots per inch) and crisp 42-bit color with the company's proprietary BET (Bit Enhancement Technology) to enable high-quality scanning options for a variety of documents.

To ensure instant productivity out of the box, the Astra 4000U features a suite of solutions including VistaScan version 3.52 scanning software; MagicMatch -- the Kodak Digital Science Color Management System; and Adobe PhotoShop 5.0 LE, the powerful professional image editing software used by designers. The device also comes with Caere OmniPage LE OCR (optical character recognition), NewSoft Presto! PageManager for managing and distributing images and documents, and NewSoft Presto! PhotoAlbum LE for creating digital photo albums.

In the past, 1200 dpi scanners have typically retailed at around $1,195, including a UMAX Transparency Adapter or UTA. High-resolution scanning is very important for designers who may need to enlarge images or prepare images for printing. At about one-third the typical price, the Astra 4000U makes the same professional-level results available to smaller businesses that are not in the field of professional design. The result will be much sharper, more attractive business cards, brochures, posters and other documents that can now be prepared entirely in-house with no loss of visual quality.

Importing scanned images into graphics programs on either PC or Mac is exceptionally easy, since the Astra 4000U is fully TWAIN compliant. Any TWAIN-capable graphics program can detect and import scanned images directly from the scanner, without user intervention. On a Mac, the device can also interface through a plug-in driver supplied with the device.

``The SOHO market has needed a scanner designed for business use at a consumer-friendly price, and the Astra 4000U fills that need,'' said Lynn Lin, product marketing manager at UMAX Technologies. ``Users who experience the power of our 42-bit color enhancement technology and the clarity of 1200 x 2400 dpi scanning will appreciate the affordable, high quality business graphics the Astra 4000U provides.''

Ron Glaz, senior analyst at International Data Corporation added, ``The scanner market is growing rapidly and consumer needs for higher quality imaging at lower price points is developing just as quickly. The UMAX Astra 4000 delivers 1200 dpi and a broad feature-set at a market-friendly price.''

Pricing, Availability & System Configuration

The Astra 4000U is designed for use on systems running Windows 98 or MAC OS 8.0 or above, connecting to the host machine via the USB 1.1 interface. The scanner will be available before the end of November 1999 for a suggested retail price of $399. For further sales and distribution information, contact UMAX at 800/562-0311 or 510/651-4000 or"

Visioneer announces two new scanners!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Tuesday, November 16, 1999 - 3:20 EST)

"Visioneer Announces Two New High Performance Scanners
OneTouch 8100 and Visioneer 6400 Professional Series Scanners Provide Peak Performance and Highest Scan Accuracy
LAS VEGAS, Nov. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- Visioneer, a leader in personal imaging hardware products, today announced the Visioneer OneTouch(TM) 8100 color flatbed scanner, the newest model in the company's Professional Scanner Series and the next generation of their award-winning OneTouch product line. The company also announced the Visioneer 6400 color flatbed scanner, the company's first offering for desktop publishing professionals. Visioneer scanners ranked #1 in the U.S. retail market in 4 out of the last 5 months according to PC Data's September, 1999, survey. Visioneer scanners have quickly become the industry standard for quality, ease of use and the fastest scan-to-finish times. The Visioneer Professional Series scanners are ideally suited for workers in small and medium sized offices or workgroups, who may also want to scan documents and store them on network accessible drives to share within their department.

The Visioneer OneTouch 8100 scanner has an optical resolution of 600 x 1200 dpi and features 42-bit color and five convenient buttons including Scan, Copy/Print, Email, Custom and Stop/Cancel.

The Visioneer 6400 scanner features Visioneer's JET compression (JPEG Enhancement Technology) and dynamic high-speed autocrop. The Visioneer 6400 scanner features an optical resolution of 600 x 1200 dpi and 36-bit color. Both scanners ship with ScanSoft's ScannerSuite (a $79.99 value), which includes both PaperPort Deluxe 6 and TextBridge Pro 8 OCR, along with MGI PhotoSuite II SE, PictureWork's PhotoEnhancer and a Web Publishing Link. Visioneer will be shipping an optional automatic document feeder (ADF) and transparency adapter in Q1, 2000.

``Visioneer's leadership in technology innovation and ease of use clearly strikes a chord with scanner buyers,'' said John Blair, Visioneer's vice president of marketing. ``The OneTouch 8100 and Visioneer 6400 reflect our commitment to giving customers high-end professional quality products that continue to be the easiest to use.''

Simplicity That's A Cut Above

With just a touch of one button, the OneTouch 8100 completes the most popular scanning tasks including scanning to the PaperPort Desktop, making copies using your printer and e-mailing photos. Visioneer pioneered the multiple button scanner market with the introduction of the original OneTouch scanner in April, 1998, and since then many imitators have appeared on the market. Visioneer is the only company that is dedicated to the innovation and development of button scanners that intelligently complete tasks from start to finish in one easy step. Other flatbed button scanners only launch the software application and then require the user to complete 14 steps just to e-mail a photo. The OneTouch 8100 and other Visioneer OneTouch scanners are designed so that pressing one button takes the user all the way through the task, not just launching the program. OneTouch technology also allows the user to easily set their scanner once to do repetitive tasks.

Lightning Fast Scan Times

The Visioneer 6400 scanner with Visioneer JET compression is perfect for desktop publishing users who want to scan high-resolution images very quickly. Using JET and USB, the Visioneer 6400 can scan a photo at 600 dpi in half the time it takes the leading SCSI based scanners.

The built-in compression engine can easily be tuned to provide smaller files or better image quality. Using a sliding scale, the user can choose a smaller file size to e-mail family photos, and then can quickly change to better image quality for archiving documents on the corporate network. Compression can also be turned off for quality critical documents.

High Performance Combined with Innovative Ease of Use

The Visioneer 6400 includes Dynamic High-Speed Auto-Crop. Many flatbed scanners are pre-programmed to scan the most popular document sizes, i.e. business cards, photos and letter paper. Scanning odd sized images would require the user to go through the time consuming process of pre-scanning, setting the page size and then re-scanning the document. With Visioneer's built-in JET compression engine and dynamic auto-crop capability, this process can be done in a matter of seconds instead of minutes, all with the press of one button.

Scanners That Grow With You

Visioneer scanners are engineered for both first-time and experienced scanner users. All Visioneer OneTouch scanners come pre-configured to scan at the optimal settings for the most common tasks so first-time users can start scanning immediately. Advanced users can quickly learn to customize the scanners for even more power. Simply holding any of the OneTouch 8100 buttons down for a few seconds will bring up the scan setting interface, which the user can easily change to meet the needs of the task at hand.

Both scanners ship with USB and Parallel Port interfaces. This valuable option allows customers who are using Windows 95 or Windows NT the ability to install via Parallel Port today; and later when they upgrade to Windows 98, they can switch to the USB interface. The scanners are cleverly designed with a sliding door so that only one port can be used at a time. This design prevents the novice user from trying to use both connection ports at the same time, which can harm the scanner. By giving customers the choice of USB or Parallel, users are guaranteed an interface that works with their operating system both today and tomorrow.

Price and Availability

The Visioneer OneTouch 8100 and the Visioneer 6400 will be available December 1st through authorized retailers, computer super stores, on-line services, mail order catalogs, and from Visioneer's web site at The OneTouch 8100 has a suggested retail price of $199.99. The Visioneer 6400 also has a suggested retail price of $199.99. The optional ADF (automatic document feeder) and transparency adapter will be available in Q1, 2000. For additional information, customers should visit the Visioneer web site.

Minimum System Requirements

The Visioneer OneTouch 8100 and Visioneer 6400 require a Pentium or equivalent processor or higher and Windows 95, Windows 98 or Windows NT 4.0, 32 MB RAM, 70 MB available hard disk space, a CD-ROM drive, a color monitor and a USB or Parallel Port."

HP uses Inside Out USB NT4.0 stack for PhotoSmart S20 scanners!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Tuesday, November 16, 1999 - 3:18 EST)

"Inside Out Networks' USB NT4.0 Protocol Stack and Software Drivers Used in HP PhotoSmart S20 Photo Scanners
Inside Out Networks Offers Complete USB Support For HP PhotoSmart Scanners Compatible with Microsoft Windows NT 4.0
AUSTIN, Texas--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nov. 15, 1999-- Inside Out Networks, a leading provider of USB connectivity products for PC platforms, today announced that it has signed a worldwide agreement with Hewlett-Packard Company to license its Universal Serial Bus (USB) NT4.0 Protocol Stack and Driver Software for use in the HP PhotoSmart S20 photo scanner.

HP introduced the digital PhotoSmart S20 photo scanner in February 1999. User benefits for the photo scanner include easy installation via a USB ``plug & play'' interface and 36-bit color resolution. The scanner scans 35mm negative and positive strips and slides at 2400 optical dpi (dots per inch) and up to 5`` x 7'' photos at 300 optical dpi.

``Inside Out Networks was able to quickly provide a USB solution to HP that supported use of this new scanner with the Windows NT 4.0 platform,'' said Ken Hall, software product manager for HP's Home Imaging Division. ``By working with Inside Out Networks, we were able to provide our customers with an excellent USB solution and improve our time to market.''

Based in Austin, Texas, Inside Out Networks is the leading provider of simple-to-install, high-performance connectivity products for attaching serial, parallel, and modem devices to PC platforms utilizing Universal Serial Bus (USB) technology. Our comprehensive family of products simplifies connecting both legacy and USB peripherals to today's USB-equipped desktops, laptops, and servers. Since its inception in 1997, the company has sold more than 10,000 units for use in point of sale (POS), remote access, mobile connectivity and industrial control applications."

Canon summarises Comdex showing!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Tuesday, November 16, 1999 - 3:16 EST)

"Canon Exhibits Wide Variety of Award-Winning Digital Imaging Products at DigitalFocus '99 in Las Vegas
LAS VEGAS, Nov. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- DIGITAL FOCUS -- Canon U.S.A., Inc. and Canon Computer Systems, Inc., leaders in optical and digital imaging technology, are showcasing products from their award-winning line of digital camcorders, Bubble Jet printers and flatbed scanners, and digital still cameras at DigitalFocus '99, an exhibit of some of the most innovative digital imaging products and technologies available.

Digital Video Camcorders

Canon's impressive line of DV camcorders will also be featured at the event. The XL1 ($4,699 MSLP), the company's flagship model and the only DV camcorder to incorporate an interchangeable lens mount system, uses 3 CCDs to create broadcast-quality video. The GL1 ($2,699 MSLP), designed for the ``prosumer'' market, comes equipped with Canon's exclusive L-series fluorite 20X optical zoom lens and 3 CCD image sensors. Ideal for multimedia applications, the Optura ($2,699 MSLP) is a hybrid digital video camcorder with design and performance features similar to a 35mm SLR camera. The new, ultra-compact Ultura ($1,199 MSLP) offers many of the popular features of the Optura at a lower price point.

Printers and Scanners

Canon Computer Systems Inc. (CCSI), a subsidiary of Canon U.S.A., will demonstrate its new BJC-8200 Bubble Jet photo printer ($399* estimated street price). The printer provides true 1200 x 1200 dots-per-inch (dpi) and offers the fastest high-resolution output in its class. The new printer also utilizes Canon's Advanced MicroFine Droplet Technology with a four picoliter dropsize for unparalleled print quality.

In addition, CCSI will exhibit two new ultra-compact color flatbed scanners; the CanoScan FB 630U with Universal Serial Bus (USB) connectivity ($99* estimated street price) and the CanoScan FB 630P with convenient parallel connection ($79* estimated street price). Weighing just over 3 pounds and only 1.5 inches in height, both CanoScan models push the imaging technology envelope by offering Canon's proprietary high-precision optics with superior image processing.

Digital Still Cameras

Canon will exhibit and demonstrate several digital still cameras in its line, including the new PowerShot S10 ($699* estimated street price), the world's smallest 2 megapixel digital camera with a zoom lens; the award-winning PowerShot A50 ($399* estimated street price) and the high-performance 1.7 megapixel Canon PowerShot Pro70 ($999* estimated street price). All three cameras feature high-quality all-glass aspherical Canon zoom lens optics and a host of advanced features that offer tremendous flexibility for virtually every photographic need.

For the demanding professional set, Canon is showing the EOS D2000 ($12,000 MSLP), a full-featured camera based on Canon's award-winning EOS-1N SLR model incorporating a 2 million-pixel image sensor to produce extraordinary, film-like quality. The camera accepts more than 56 Canon EF lenses and literally hundreds of accessories, including a variety of flash units.

In addition, Canon's new CD-300 dye-sublimation digital printer ($499* estimated street price) incorporates a number of enhancements that improve speed, performance and image quality, including front loading capabilities for easy insertion of paper and ink cassettes. The printer can be used with or without a personal computer, providing high-resolution, photo-quality borderless 4x6-inch prints at a resolution of 300 dpi (dots-per-inch). Optional paper and ink cassettes can be used to produce labels and borderless 4x10-inch panorama prints."

Sierra Imaging hypes latest Image Expert release!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Tuesday, November 16, 1999 - 3:14 EST)

"Sierra Imaging Announces Revolutionary Image Management Software
Image Expert 2000 To Be Unveiled in the Kodak Solutions Pavilion at Comdex `99, Las Vegas, NV
LAS VEGAS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nov. 15, 1999--In what might be the most significant imaging software development in years, Sierra Imaging Inc., today announced Image Expert(TM) 2000, a major upgrade to its critically acclaimed image management software.

If you can't find them, you can't use them.

Anyone who works with digital images has been faced at one time or another with the task of trying to locate pictures on their computer by manually scouring countless folders on their system. Time wasted searching for a particular image, and the frustration of not finding it, can take all the fun out of digital imaging. Image Expert 2000 solves this problem. Images can instantly be found and grouped based on user definable keywords or text searches. Even more powerful is that images are automatically tagged with attributes such as date, time, and file size, and the ability to search for an image using any single piece of information after download.

``Along with the tremendous increase in the use of digital cameras comes the growing problem of how to organize and manage the large number of digital images they create,'' said John Omvik, Product Manager at Sierra Imaging. ``Unlike most other applications that are used primarily for retouching pictures, Image Expert has traditionally focused on helping users view and organize images based on a visual browser design. Image Expert 2000 goes even one step further. We've improved on the user interface design that Sierra products are known for, and added access to incredibly powerful underlying database technology giving users the ability to access their images the way they want, when they want to.

Now you've found them, what can you do with them?

In addition to the advanced organizational search tools, Image Expert 2000 also has the following new or improved features:

- Support for Kodak's Picture Friendly program and PhotoNet®
online print service
- Extensive web templates that automatically create HTML files and
all links for uploading image albums for sharing on web-sites
- Create, play, and import AVI and QuickTime(TM) movies
- On-screen tabs and scroll bar for quick and easy viewing,
organizing, and managing of all thumbnail image representations
in albums
- Visual cropping tools that make print preparation a snap
- Annotation support for images includes ink, voice and text
- Automatic 2D stitching functionality for stunning panoramic
- Enhanced print templates that optimize use of inkjet paper and
support a variety of custom sizes and pre-perforated paper
- Drag and drop from images to other applications via OLE 2.0
- View album contents in slide show
- Red eye removal
- Single-button "Fix-It" function for automatic color balance and
exposure correction
- Integrated support for cameras from: Agfa, Casio, Epson, Kodak,
Olympus, Nikon, Sanyo, Sony and Toshiba

Reminessence(TM) Design

Image Expert 2000 is the first application based on Sierra Imaging's Reminessence design philosophy. For years, the promise of modern computers and software has been that they will make our lives easier and help us work more efficiently. In reality, most of today's software is increasingly complex and often bloated with extraneous features. Worst of all, it forces users to think and act the way the computer wants. Reminessence design puts the user first, and offers a comfortable, non-intimidating user experience. Image Expert 2000 remembers how you work, and has a smooth flow that isn't constantly interrupted by intrusive dialog boxes. The application is based on visual keys making first time users immediately confident and at ease. It remembers where you put your images so you don't have to.

``Image Expert 2000 is the first consumer based application that incorporates great editing features, unsurpassed image organizational capabilities that allows users to instantly find images based on user selectable criteria and to top it off, the most user friendly print positioning I have seen in a consumer imaging application.'' said Ron Tussy, Principal Analyst at Imerge Consulting Group, an imaging market research and business development firm. ``Sierra Imaging has set the bar very high with this new imaging application.''

``Great software provides us with the information we need, when we need it and stays out of our way the rest of the time,'' said Omvik. ``Image Expert 2000 is such a powerful application due to its simplicity. It is intuitive, so you don't need wizards or annoying animated paper clips that watch your every move.''

Pricing and Availability

Image Expert 2000 is scheduled to ship December 1999, and will be available at for $49.95 (electronic download) or $69.95 for CD-ROM. Existing Image Expert Customers can upgrade to Image Expert 2000 for just $29.95. Visit our web site for the latest list of supported cameras.

Don't miss the unveiling of Image Expert 2000 at Comdex 99 in the Kodak Solutions Pavilion - North Hall of the LVCC, booth L3363."

Sony summarises Comdex showing!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Tuesday, November 16, 1999 - 3:06 EST)

"Create Your Own Digital Lifestyle With Sony at Comdex `99
Sony Style and Innovation Makes AV/IT Convergence Faster and More Fun
LAS VEGAS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nov. 15, 1999--Sony's Comdex showcase (COMDEX Booth L5132) is a ``Manual for Digital Living'' - a practical approach for creating digital lifestyles by linking the worlds of audio, video, computers and communications at work, at home and on-the-go.

The exhibit extends Sony's leadership in AV/IT convergence by demonstrating the benefits of the company's key networking technologies: Memory Stick® - the ultra-compact, removable media designed to easily capture, save and share digital pictures, music and information; and i.LINK® - the high-speed home networking solution that seamlessly connects AV and IT products for digital imaging and entertainment.

``With the explosion of new technologies comes the demand for simpler and better ways to enjoy them,'' explained Teruaki Aoki, president of Sony Electronics Inc. ``More than ever before, Sony is providing consumers with the tools to construct their own digital lifestyle with the bricks of AV and IT and the mortar of networking technologies and services. Through such Sony innovations as Memory Stick media and i.LINK interface, consumers have easy-to-use and fun ways to create and share images, sound, information and entertainment across products, platforms and applications.''

The centerpiece of Sony's exhibit is a special theatre presentation supported by three arenas and stages each dedicated to: Memory Stick media, the i.LINK interface, and VAIO® PCs seamlessly integrated with cutting-edge AV and IT products and applications.

Memory Stick: Personal Networking Made Easy

The Memory Stick arena demonstrates how consumers can share digital pictures, music and information with this ultra-small storage media designed to link a host of different digital products. Visitors will experience a wide variety of AV and IT products available today which take advantage of Memory Stick media for everything from downloading music securely from the Internet to capturing and sharing digital photos from cameras and camcorders.

Memory Stick media is a key building block for personal networking as well as personal storage. In addition to its compact size, Memory Stick media is durable, portable and interchangeable across platforms and devices. It is also designed for capacity expansion with up to 64MB storage available in December, and a near-term roadmap for 128MB, 256MB and even higher capacity.

To underscore the Memory Stick media's power for personal networking, Sony will show how a single Memory Stick can be used to record voice in a personal dictation device and transfer that voice file to a VAIO notebook PC for email. Then, using the same Memory Stick, digital music will be downloaded for playback on the Memory Stick Walkman(TM) Personal Stereo. Digital images will be captured and downloaded from a Sony Cyber-shot® Digital Camera, and then displayed and printed on the CyberFrame(TM) digital photo frame and digital still image color printer.

i.LINK Interface: Home Networking Comes of Age

The i.LINK interface stage showcases the power and potential of high-speed home networking using the IEEE-1394 digital interface. Digital audio and video demand speed and bandwidth to transfer images and sounds between systems, whether for editing digital movies on a PC or creating a home information and entertainment system that connects computers and consumer electronics products. Today, virtually all Sony computers and digital camcorders are i.LINK interface enabled. A growing number of i.LINK compliant AV products are available from Sony and other leading computer and consumer electronics manufacturers.

As visitors to the Sony Comdex exhibit will experience first hand, i.LINK connectivity is about more than bandwidth and speed. i.LINK connection provides flexibility in creating next generation home networking solutions. It takes full advantage of the explosion in audio and video content available to consumers through emerging broadband networks, such as digital cable, satellite and terrestrial broadcast, as well as through packaged media, game consoles, and the Internet.

With the i.LINK interface, you can connect any combination of up to 63 AV and IT systems directly in a peer-to-peer configuration or through a central server platform. The i.LINK interface is designed to support the simultaneous, bi-directional transfer of myriad types of digital content, compression schemes, and control protocols. One key building block in creating AV and IT home networks that tap the larger world of digital content is the i.LINK interface's Digital Transmission Content Protection (DTCP) system, which supports the copy protection needs of the entertainment industry and other content providers.

To illustrate the potential of i.LINK connection as an enabler of advanced home networking, Sony is mounting a series of engaging technology demonstrations. For example, the company is showing a prototype i.LINK Multimedia Hard Disk that can centrally store and serve i.LINK transferred content into and out of the network. Sony will also demonstrate i.LINK flexibility by simultaneously streaming multiple data compression formats. To emphasize the i.LINK interface's potential as a room-to-room home networking solution, i.LINK-long technology will also be shown. Additionally, i.LINK networking will be integrated with wireless technology.

VAIO World: VAIO PCs and Digital Convergence

In the exhibit's VAIO World section, Comdex visitors will see how Memory Stick media and i.LINK technology work hand-in-glove with Sony's newest generation of AV/IT platforms and peripherals. VAIO World is about freedom, flexibility and functionality - the choice to connect powerful, stylish and integrated portable and desktop multimedia computers with state-of-the-art digital audio and video devices.

At the heart of VAIO World are the family of PC platforms and digital imaging solutions known for their quality, performance, style and functionality, including the VAIO Digital Studio(TM) desktop and VAIO Slimtop(TM) LCD computers; 505 SuperSlim family and PictureBook(TM) notebooks; FD Trinitron® monitors and Multiscan® TFT flat panel displays; and digital cameras and camcorders. Joining these products are Sony digital imaging solutions connected within VAIO World by Memory Stick personal networking and i.LINK home networking, such as Cyber-shot digital cameras, DV Handycam® and Digital8(TM) camcorders.

VAIO World is brought to life through Sony-developed software designed to make it easier and more fun for consumers to create and share. Sony VAIO applications include DVGate(TM) professional quality software for digital video editing, PictureGear(TM) software for organizing and transferring digital still images, SmartCapture(TM) software to simply create JPEG images from digital cameras and camcorders for e-mailing and embedding in web pages, and SmartConnect(TM) software that enables consumers to even more easily connect i.LINK devices and share files.

One of the most exciting expressions of the VAIO World concept is the demonstration of cool new AV accessories. The latest to debut is the SDMI-compliant VAIO Music Clip(TM) (MC-P10) personal network player, with its 64MB embedded flash memory and ability to download both ATRAC3 and MP3 audio files.

Product Highlights

Sony's Comdex exhibit is anything but a ``look but don't touch'' way to create a digital lifestyle.

Visitors will have ample opportunity to interact with Sony's newest products and technologies, including:

Memory Stick Walkman(TM) Personal Stereo (NW-MS7) and the VAIO Music Clip(TM) Player (MC-P10)
Next Generation VAIO Digital Studio(TM) PCs (PCV-R536DS with 450 MHz(1) Pentium® III processor and the PCV-R539DS with 550MHz Pentium III processor)
-- Elegant VAIO Slimtop(TM) LCD Computer (PCV-L620)

VAIO 505 family of SuperSlim (N505VX and N505VE) and SuperSlim Pro Notebooks (Z505RX and Z505R), High Performance XG9 and All-in-One VAIO F300 Series Notebooks
Cyber-shot® Digital Camera (DSC-F505 - with 5x optical/10x digital zoom)
Digital Video Handycam® Camcorder with Mega-Pixel Digital Still and Video Imaging (DCR-PC100)
MD Discam(TM) Disc-Based Digital Camcorder (DCM-M1- in camera non-linear editing)
-- Multiscan® TFT Flat Panel Displays (SDM-N50 and CPD-M151)

FD Trinitron® Monitors (CPD-E100, CPD-E200 and CPD-E400 Multiscan Displays with FD Trinitron technology)
-- SuperLite(TM) Ultra Portable LCD Projector (VPL-CSI)"

PepCom summarises Digital Focus '99!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Tuesday, November 16, 1999 - 3:04 EST)

"The Future of Digital Imaging and Mobile Technology Revealed at DigitalFocus '99 & MobileFocus '99
More Than 300 Top-Tier Press and Analysts Attend
LAS VEGAS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nov. 15, 1999--More than 40 of the world's leading digital imaging companies and 44 of the top mobile technology companies showcased their latest innovations at DigitalFocus '99 and MobileFocus '99 last evening. Each event drew a packed house of more than 300 press and analysts at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

The two events were hosted by PepCom Inc., the leading producer of technology showcase events. ``Both of these events were nothing short of spectacular,'' said Chris O'Malley, co-founder of PepCom, Inc. ``DigitalFocus allowed the top digital imaging companies to display their latest products in front of an outstanding group of attendees.''

Added PepCom co-founder Jon Pepper, ``MobileFocus has exceeded all our expectations and is now the number one mobile technology showcase.''

The participants in DigitalFocus '99 @ Las Vegas included: Adobe, Agfa, Antec, Applied Science Fiction, Canon Computer Systems, Canon USA, Casio, Digital Intelligence, Enroute, Epson, EZ Prints, FotoWire, Fuji,, HP ScanJet/DeskJet, HP Home Imaging, Intel, IPIX, Jasc, Kodak, Kodak Online, Largan, Lexar Media, Lexmark, MetaCreations, MGI Software, Microsoft, Microtek, Minolta, Mitsubishi Displays, Mitsubishi Imaging, Nikon, Olympus,, Picture CD, Polaroid, Ricoh, Sharp, Sony, Tektronix, Toshiba, and Xerox.

A Kodak DC280 camera was raffled at the event for attendees (or donated to a charity in their name). High-resolution monitors to participating companies were provided by Sony.

The participants in MobileFocus '99 @ Las Vegas included: 3Com, Aqcess, Bluetooth, Compaq, Corex, Cyrus, Damango, Dell, Dragon Systems, Driveway Corp., Duracell, Epson, Ericsson, Etak, Fujitsu, FusionOne, Gateway, Handspring, Hewlett-Packard, iGo, InFocus, InfoMove,, Intel, Iomega, Lightware, Motorola, NEC, Nokia, Novatel, NuvoMedia, Panasonic, PocketScience, Psion, Qualcomm, RIM, Sharp, Sony, Targus, Vadem, and Xircom.

A Handspring Visor Deluxe was raffled at the event for attendees (or donated to a charity in their name). High-resolution monitors to participating companies were provided by Sony.

PepCom Inc. produces the DigitalFocus and MobileFocus events, which will be held next year the evening before the 2000 PC Expo show in New York and the evening before the 2000 Fall Comdex show. DigitalFocus is also held at the PMA show in February. The company is also introducing a new showcase event called eFocus. The new event, which will highlight the leading e-commerce and e-business companies, will be held at InternetWorld in Los Angeles in April, InternetWorld in New York in October, and N+I in Atlanta in September. For more information, contact either Jon Pepper ([email protected]) or Chris O'Malley ([email protected])."

LivePicture purchase sees MGI lead software market!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Tuesday, November 16, 1999 - 3:02 EST)

"MGI Software Captures Worldwide Digital Imaging Software Lead with Live Picture Purchase
Builds Vision to Facilitate Imaging, Anytime, Anywhere
LAS VEGAS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nov. 15, 1999--(TSE:MGI. - news)

MGI Software Corp. (TSE:MGI - news) the company that pioneered PC photography and Internet imaging, today announced it has captured the worldwide digital imaging software market with 38% installed market share based on unit shipments from 1996 to 1998. MGI's share includes shipments by Live Picture, which was acquired by MGI earlier this year. The finding is based on Dataquest's report published September 13, 1999, ``Photo Editing: One Size Does Not Fit All'' covering professional, prosumer and consumer software for PCs and Macintosh. Adobe Systems followed with 35% and Microsoft with 1% market share.

``These are extraordinary times in imaging,'' said Anthony DeCristofaro, president and CEO, MGI Software. ``Once the realm of professional designers and photographers the imaging market is undergoing dramatic change attracting millions of ordinary users. For many, digital imaging is now a part of everyday life as the Internet intensifies this change. Our integration of Live Picture will help us deliver the solutions users will need to facilitate imaging, anytime, anywhere.''

With hundreds of millions of digital images served daily, the Internet is now having the greatest influence on the shape and future of the photo industry. It is rapidly altering the way we take, view and use pictures and companies are betting this change will spawn new business opportunities and growth.

MGI Software first recognized this trend several years ago when it began developing PhotoSuite II as a Web photo client. It was the first imaging software product built entirely on a browser, which made it easy to search, capture and edit images from the Web and publish images to the Web. Today, millions of users are being attracted to digital imaging on the Internet and MGI Software is making it possible for potentially all of them to organize, edit, upload and share their personal photos using MGI's imaging technology through and Kodak Picture CD. MGI's latest PhotoSuite III, The PC and Internet Photography Power Pack, allows users of any experience level to effortlessly get, prepare, compose, organize, share and print their photos.

With the explosive growth of commerce on the Internet, businesses are advancing digital imaging even more swiftly. By using images to create virtual tours and multimedia content to attract and retain visitors on their Web sites, companies are enhancing their marketing and selling ability. Supporting this e-marketing activity is an emerging crop of immersive digital photographers and imaging webmasters. Through its Live Picture purchase, MGI Software recently entered the E-commerce imaging field with its Zoom image servers and viewers, and photospatial tools. Today, leading web sites are making their photo content ``Zoomable'' so customers can examine goods in detail through pictures as if being in a physical store. The result, increased sales and less returns.

``We believe digital imaging is key to facilitating E-commerce,'' added DeCristofaro. ``With our extensive patent portfolio covering remote image editing, viewing and printing acquired through Live Picture we're once again in a position to influence this new phase of the imaging industry.''"

FlashPath breaks the million-mark!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Tuesday, November 16, 1999 - 3:00 EST)

"SmartDisk Announces One Millionth FlashPath
Company Notes Growing Popularity of Floppy Disk Adapter That Allows Easy Transfer of Digital Images, Data and Audio from Flash Memory Cards to PCs
NAPLES, Fla.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nov. 15, 1999-- SmartDisk Corporation (NASDAQ: SMDK - news), a designer, developer, and provider of products that simplify the digital lifestyle and enable consumers to easily share digital data among advanced consumer electronic products, personal computers and the Internet, today announced that it has now sold over one million units of its FlashPath(TM) floppy disk adapter.

``The sale of our one millionth FlashPath occurred just one and one half years after our company began operations and just 15 months after SmartDisk shipped its first FlashPath,'' said Michael S. Battaglia, president and CEO of SmartDisk. ``We are fortunate to participate in markets that are young and that are growing very rapidly - the markets for advanced digital consumer electronic appliances. We are also happy that we are providing that market with captivating and patented products. But our most important corporate assets are the partnerships that we enjoy and that have been forged with companies such as Toshiba, FujiFilm and Olympus.''

The first version of FlashPath, which SmartDisk introduced in May 1998, allows the easy transfer of digital images, data and audio from SmartMedia flash memory cards to most PCs without the need for special cards, external connections and interfaces. It is used with camera models from well-known digital camera manufacturers such as FujiFilm and Olympus.

SmartDisk recently announced two new FlashPath adapters that herald the product line's compatibility with a growing number of flash memory card formats. The first is the FlashPath for Sony's Memory Stick(TM), which is to be distributed on a worldwide basis by Sony Corporation under its own brand name called Memory Stick/Floppy Disk Adaptor. The second is the FlashPath for MultiMediaCard, which SanDisk co-developed with SmartDisk. SanDisk will distribute this FlashPath globally and has placed an initial order for delivery in the first quarter of 2000."

Kodak DC280 names Consumer's Digest "Best Buy"
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Tuesday, November 16, 1999 - 2:58 EST)

"Two Kodak Cameras Named Consumers Digest Best Buys
Advantix T550 APS Camera Model and Kodak DC280 Zoom Digital Camera Cited
ROCHESTER, N.Y.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nov. 15, 1999--Consumers Digest magazine selected two Kodak camera models as Best Buys in its November/December issue. The magazine, which evaluates hundreds of products each year, cited the Kodak Advantix T550 auto-focus camera (SRP $125), an Advanced Photo System (APS) model, and the Kodak DC280 Zoom camera (SRP $799), a digital camera. The Advantix T550 camera was named in the APS point and shoot category, the Kodak DC 280 camera among digital cameras equipped with zoom lenses.

The ultra-compact T550 is small enough to fit in a shirt pocket and features a 25 mm, f/3.5 lens and a 130-zone automatic focus system. It also employs Kodak-patented Sensalite(TM) flip-up flash technology, which delivers optimal flash pictures by reducing red-eye. Kodak's flip-up flash design provides the best red-eye reduction system currently available by distancing the flash from the lens. Kodak's flip-up flash reduces the incidence of red-eye by up to 30 percent versus other red-eye reduction methods.

Easy to use with the familiar feel of point-and-shoot camera, the DC280 is an auto-focus, auto-exposure camera with a built-in automatic flash. It offers a 2X (30-60 mm equivalent) optical zoom, which can be digitally extended to 6X. And its 2-megapixel resolution captures enough detail for sharp, color-rich 8 x 10-inch prints. The camera's USB connectivity lets the user download digital files in seconds."

Olympus, IPIX announce IPIX Upgrade Kit!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Tuesday, November 16, 1999 - 2:57 EST)

"Olympus and IPIX Revolutionize Internet Imaging
Low Cost IPIX Images and Olympus Partnership Mark First IPIX Consumer Offering
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Nov. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- Interactive Pictures Corporation, a leader in immersive imaging for the Internet (Nasdaq: IPIX - news), and Olympus America Inc., Digital & Imaging Systems Group, the leading consumer digital camera manufacturer, announced today at Comdex a $249 IPIX Upgrade Kit and Personal Edition Software targeted to consumer photography for the Internet. The kit will allow users to easily create IPIX images, which capture a 360-degree view and are fully navigable with a mouse. With IPIX images, viewers can pan up, down and all the way around to see an entire setting. Wide-ranging consumer applications for IPIX images include photos of vacations, birthday parties, homes and weddings where a snapshot only captures part of the picture.

``The Internet has exploded with IPIX virtual tours of real estate, vacation destinations and entertainment sites, and now with Olympus' world leading digital cameras, we are giving consumers the ability to create their own IPIX images,'' said IPIX Chairman & CEO Jim Phillips. ``IPIX will bring a whole new dimension to the family photo album by allowing consumers to step inside their pictures and relive their memories.''

The IPIX Upgrade for Olympus Cameras

For Olympus camera users, the IPIX Upgrade Kit includes a fish-eye lens optimized for filmless digital photography and IPIX(TM) Wizard 2.2 software to create and view 360-degree by 360-degree images on Windows or Macintosh PCs.

The Olympus Fish-Eye lens is a high-performance lens with multiple coating to optimize image quality. The lens also works with the earlier Olympus D-340L and D-400 ZOOM, D-320L and D-220L digital cameras. The fish-eye lens captures images of more than 180-degree in all directions. Two images (in front of and behind the photographer) are merged horizontally and vertically with the IPIX Wizard 2.2 software to create a complete 360-degree spherical image, allowing anyone to look up and down and in every direction within the IPIX image. To prevent visual irregularities, the borders of the images are merged seamlessly. Distortion correction and precise color adjustments are handled automatically through the IPIX Wizard software.

``With the IPIX digital camera kits featuring the D-340R and D-450 ZOOM Olympus digital cameras, users of all levels, from photo hobbyists to consumers can create IPIX digital images in seconds,'' said John Knaur, Olympus America. ``IPIX has established easy-to-use interactive digital photography for the Internet, so Olympus is excited to introduce IPIX to our customers.''

``With over 75 Billion pictures taken each year the consumer imaging market holds great potential for IPIX images. By continuing to build the company's relationships with industry leaders like Olympus and enhancing and expanding its product line, IPIX continues to be a leader in Internet imaging,'' said Kristy Holch, principal analyst at InfoTrends Research in Boston, MA.

Recently, Interactive Pictures and (Nasdaq: BAMB - news) announced a definitive agreement to merge their two companies. The deal positions the integrated company to be the premier provider of interactive imagery for the Internet, serving the real estate, travel and hospitality, e-commerce, electronic publishing, education and entertainment markets.

Pricing and Availability

The IPIX Upgrade kit is available December 1999 for $249.00 and includes a fish-eye lens, IPIX Wizard 2.2 software, a tripod rotator, two adapters for Olympus cameras, and a certificate for three IPIX images. Additional Personal Edition IPIX images are $1 each can be purchased online at"

Minolta, Metacreations anounce MetaFlash!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Tuesday, November 16, 1999 - 2:54 EST)

"Minolta and MetaCreations Introduce Ground-Breaking Instant 3D Image Capture Device
New Minolta 3D 1500 Digital Camera Uses MetaCreations' 3D MetaFlash(TM) Technology to Take Imaging to the Next Dimension
LAS VEGAS, Nev.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nov. 15, 1999-- Minolta Corporation and MetaCreations Corporation (Nasdaq:MCRE - news) today announced the Minolta 3D 1500, a revolutionary instant 3D image capture device, will begin shipping this month. The Minolta 3D 1500 combines the high-performance Minolta Dimage EX digital camera with MetaCreations' innovative MetaFlash(TM) 3D technology to enable the quick and easy creation of photo-realistic 3D images. With easy-to-use operation, high-quality images and an affordable price, the Minolta 3D 1500 represents the ideal tool for developing Web sites, online merchandise catalogs, artifact indexes for museums, computer graphics and much more.

``For years, professionals within the 3D industry have searched for an easy and affordable solution for capturing and creating photo-realistic 3D images,'' said Jon Sienkiewicz, Vice President of Marketing for Minolta Corporation's Consumer Products Group. ``With the introduction of the new 3D 1500 camera, Minolta and MetaCreations have developed a portable image-capture device that dramatically reduces the time and cost of creating 3D images. ''

``The demand for simple, affordable 3D content development technologies is at an all time high, but today's high-quality market offerings are extremely expensive and complex,'' said Scott Krinsky, senior product manager of MetaFlash, MetaCreations Corporation. ``We're very excited to combine our technology with Minolta to fulfill a significant market need with the Minolta 3D 1500. It's a real first, because Minolta and MetaCreations are offering users an easy point-and-click solution with professional results at a price that fits their budget.''

Simple Setup, Easy to Capture

Minolta's 3D 1500 requires no complicated systems or extensive setups like today's 3D content creation devices. By incorporating superior digital imaging technology and MetaCreations' 3D imaging hardware and software, the Minolta 3D 1500 provides the quality necessary for compelling presentations, while ensuring the flexibility necessary for MetaStream transmission over the Internet. Utilizing the detachable lens design of the Minolta Dimage EX camera series, the 3D 1500 integrates MetaCreations' MetaFlash between the camera body and the lens unit to create an easy 3D image capture device.

With the 3D 1500, objects are easily transformed into photo-realistic 3D models. To capture images, users simply aim at the object and push the shutter release button. With the help of FlashPoint Technology's DigitaScript(TM) software and MetaCreations patented MetaFlash technology, the camera automatically does the rest. The 3D 1500 relies on MetaCreations MetaFlash structured-light based triangulation technology to take a series of 2D images and convert them into 3D objects.

Once captured, images can be easily viewed on the 2-inch LCD monitor built into the 3D 1500. The images are also saved onto a removable CompactFlash card and can be downloaded to a computer loaded with the MetaFlash Studio(TM) software.

Easy-to-use Software

MetaCreations' MetaFlash Studio software is a full-scale, natural 3D polygon editing system designed to stitch multiple shots of an object into a single model and edit its shape and textures. The 3D 1500 combined with MetaFlash 3D technology provides high-resolution images, which MetaFlash Studio uses to generate 3D geometry and textures.

Multiple polygon selection and editing tools, 3D model stitching tools, and a smoothing 3D brush are included in MetaFlash Studio making detailed model creation possible. The multiple undo feature allows users to easily trace or erase imaging edits, while the texture editor and the dynamic polygon resolution function enables users to enhance the visual quality of the 3D models and adjust the output file size. The final 3D object can be output into a variety of formats, including MetaStream, for use in displaying objects in 3D for Internet e-commerce.

Versatile MetaStream(TM) File Format

A key benefit of a 3D 1500-created 3D object is the ability to export to MetaStream, MetaCreations' industry-leading 3D-file format for viewing photo-realistic 3D objects over the Web. Jointly developed with Intel Corporation, MetaStream addresses the need for 3D files that stream efficiently over the Internet and automatically scale to the user's display and processing power for optimized viewing. This permits Web developers to generate sites of the highest possible quality for enjoyment by power users, while still assuring satisfactory experiences by users with limited bandwidth and/or computing power. For more information on MetaStream, visit the Web site at

High-Quality Images

The 3D 1500 features the award winning image quality of the Dimage EX digital camera series. A 1.5 million pixel CCD unit with a color filter provides high-quality images and ensures the color and texture of the images are accurately mapped on the polygons that compose the 3D image. The high image quality also enables the 3D 1500 to capture accurate models of naturally shaped surfaces such as human faces, sculptures, clothing and more.

Compatibility and Easy Downloading

The 3D 1500 package includes the Lexar JumpShot(TM) USB Connectivity kit with everything needed for high-speed, easy downloading of images files via Universal Serial Bus port. The kit includes Lexar's USB-enabled 32 MB CompactFlash card, PC Card adapter, USB cable and software drivers for the Microsoft Windows 98®."

This is easily one of the coolest things we've seen thus far at Comdex... It is one thing to read about the technology, but quite another to see how (relatively) effortlessly the booth staff can create a 3D wireframe model of, for example, an attendees face... The system isn't perfect however; it can't for example deal with somebody wearing glasses (simply because it can do little else than merge the glasses into the wearer's face). That said, presumably the glasses could be photographed separately and added to the model... All in all, very cool!

IXLA launches Photo Easy Deluxe for Mac!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Tuesday, November 16, 1999 - 2:40 EST)

"IXLA LTD Launches Breakthrough Mac Digital Imaging Product
ixla Photo Easy Deluxe(TM) for Macintosh(R)
LAS VEGAS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nov. 15, 1999-- Includes the ixla Super Digital Pro(TM) Mac USB digital camera

and IXLA special edition of Corel® Custom Photo software, all

for under $100 USD

IXLA Limited, a leader in Digital photography and Internet software today announced the release of ixla Photo Easy Deluxe(TM) for the Macintosh® operating system.

ixla Photo Easy Deluxe for the Macintosh gives Mac users the ability to capture, create and publish digital photos on the Internet through a single and economical all-in-one solution. The product incorporates the new Mac USB ixla Digital SuperPro(TM) digital camera with IXLA's Special Edition Corel® Custom Photo software. The product is anticipated to have a retail street price of $99.95.

``IXLA is confident the new Mac USB ixla SuperPro(TM) digital camera and the IXLA Special Edition of Corel Custom Photo bundled within the ixla Photo Easy Deluxe for the Macintosh will provide the legions of Macintosh users, with an exciting and economical way to experience the digital photography revolution '' said IXLA's CEO Dr. Soon Teh ``Consumers are eager to experiment with Digital Photography, and offering this powerful and value priced product in time for the holiday season benefits the industry and addresses the market demand''.

``Nine out of every ten iMac users in the U.S. are on the Internet,'' said Clent Richardson, Apple's vice president of Worldwide Developer Relations. ``IXLA is taking advantage of the Mac platform's incredible business proposition, and giving users an innovative solution for communicating over the web.''

``The consumer digital-imaging market is exploding and a ground breaking product such as the ixla Photo Easy Deluxe for the Macintosh (TM) is an excellent example of a complete Mac consumer imaging solution,'' said Kevin McNeil, Corel's vice-president of worldwide OEM Sales. ``Corel is proud to be adding significant value to this integrated solution with our Corel Custom Photo software.''

About ixla Photo Easy Deluxe for the Macintosh:

The ixla Photo Easy Deluxe for the Macintosh(TM) software experience works directly with the Mac USB ixla Digital SuperPro(TM) Camera to quickly and easily download pictures to share with family and friends, minutes after taking them. The software in ixla Photo Easy Deluxe is a special edition of Corel's Custom Photo. This bundled solution offer benefits for both the SOHO and Family markets, including features for retouching and enhancing your photos - such as red-eye removal. Families can have fun creating projects, e-mailing photos or publishing them on the Web."

Xirlink, National Semiconductor, team on digicams!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Tuesday, November 16, 1999 - 2:38 EST)

"National Semiconductor Teams With Xirlink To Create World-Class Digital Camera
National's forthcoming integrated solution brings unique combination of performance and functionality to the digital imaging market
SANTA CLARA, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nov. 15, 1999-- National Semiconductor Corporation (NYSE:NSM - news) and Xirlink Corporation will jointly develop world-class digital imaging products to serve the digital camera market. National is developing integrated CMOS image sensor technology that uniquely combines high image quality, low power, high speed, and high dynamic range all onto a single chip. Xirlink, one of the world's leading manufacturers of PC cameras, plans to use National's forthcoming technology in its next-generation digital cameras.

``National Semiconductor is now bringing superior CMOS image sensor technology to the digital imaging market,'' said Tim Martin, director of marketing at Xirlink. ``National's packaging strategy is a critical component in helping Xirlink to make very low cost, small form factor cameras enabling a variety of consumer applications.''

Advanced analog and mixed signal design skills make possible higher performing sensors, especially in the areas of dynamic range and low noise, which means higher contrast ``film'' in digital cameras. National's image sensor technology will take today's granular digital imaging and replace it with near photographic quality for many imaging applications, such as PC video cameras, digital video cameras, and digital still cameras. Other applications include low-light security cameras and fingerprint scanning systems. High image quality is achieved as a result of high photo conversion gain, high fill factor, and low-noise analog design techniques. An integrated high-speed, low-power ADC will allow portable cameras longer battery life running at real-time video rates.

National continues to integrate more and more functions into single chips while being uniquely positioned to advance in application-specific markets by leveraging its analog expertise in scanner, PC, TV, and networking technology. National's forthcoming grayscale and color CMOS image sensor products will be available in early 2000."

Imation announces Panasonic SuperDisk rebates!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Tuesday, November 16, 1999 - 2:35 EST)

"Imation Announces Money-Saving Offers With Panasonic SuperDisk Digital Camera
Up to $60 in Rebates on SuperDisk Drives and Diskettes with Purchase
LAS VEGAS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nov. 15, 1999-- Officials of Imation Corp. (NYSE:IMN - news) today announced a special offer of up to $60 in rebates on Imation SuperDisk Drives and Diskettes with the purchase of the Panasonic PV-SD4090 PalmCam SuperDisk digital camera, the first in Panasonic's new SuperDisk line.

For a limited time, each Panasonic PalmCam SuperDisk digital camera will include a rebate certificate from Imation good for up to $30 back on Imation SuperDisk diskettes and up to $30 back on an Imation SuperDisk drive.

The new Panasonic PV-SD4090 digital camera features SuperDisk technology, which allows users to save images directly onto a 120MB SuperDisk diskette or a 1.44MB floppy diskette. To download the images into a computer, users can simply remove the SuperDisk diskette or floppy disk from the camera and place it into a SuperDisk or floppy drive connected to a computer. The images can be stored, swapped and saved for printing, e-mailing or posting on a Web site.

The 120MB Imation SuperDisk diskette holds approximately 1,500 digital images in Standard Resolution (640 x 480 pixels). In High Resolution, (1280 x 960 pixels), the SuperDisk diskette will hold approximately 450 Super Fine images or 900 Fine images.

``With the capacity to hold 1,500 photos on just one diskette, SuperDisk diskettes are the perfect solution for organizing your photos - whether you're storing, sharing or archiving precious photos for safekeeping,'' said Debra Rectenwald, SuperDisk business director for Imation. ``This rebate offer from Imation makes it easy and inexpensive for Panasonic PalmCam SuperDisk owners to enjoy the benefits of SuperDisk technology.''

The new PV-SD4090 PalmCam SuperDisk digital camera will be available from Panasonic in November 1999, with a suggested retail price of $999.

Rebate Details

Purchasers of the Panasonic PV-SD4090 PalmCam SuperDisk digital camera receive a certificate that allows them to choose one of three rebate offers on Imation SuperDisk Drives:

$30 rebate with purchase of an Imation SuperDisk Parallel Port Drive - Standard parallel port connection provides the easiest, most cost-effective way to upgrade an older PC with a SuperDisk drive.
$20 rebate with purchase of an Imation SuperDisk USB Drive - Available for Macintosh or PC users, the SuperDisk USB drive offers plug-and-play simple set-up and the ability to hot-swap the drive between multiple computers.
$20 rebate with purchase of an Imation SuperDisk Internal IDE Drive - For PC users who prefer a built-in option that doesn't clutter up the desktop, the SuperDisk internal drive provides read speeds up to 27 times faster than a floppy drive.
Panasonic PalmCam SuperDisk digital camera owners can also choose from one of three rebate offers on Imation SuperDisk Diskettes:

-- $30 rebate with the purchase of a 10-pack,

-- $10 rebate with the purchase of a 5-pack, or

-- $5 rebate with the purchase of a 3-pack.

Both offers expire December 31, 2000 and must be redeemed within 30 days of purchase."

Sunday, November 14, 1999

Mike arrives in Las Vegas, luggage miraculously arrives too!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Sunday, November 14, 1999 - 15:33 EST)

I'm now in Las Vegas, all worn out and ready for Comdex... (The one-hour queue to check into a certain hotel that shall remain nameless didn't help!) Unfortunately, on leaving home, my laptop decided not to go onto standby, but instead, to crash and just look like it was on standby. The batteries ran out, and when I confidently went to type up some outstanding news, I found I had no power. :( Look for a news update later today, time permitting... -- Mike

Saturday, November 13, 1999

QuickStitch 2.0 Review Posted!
By David Etchells, The Imaging Resource
(Saturday, November 13, 1999 - 22:41 EST)

Software Review: Building Panoramas with QuickStitch 2.0 - Enroute Imaging's QuickStitch has been THE program to use for stitching together multiple digicam images to make big panoramas. (Even two-dimensional panoramas, stitched horizontally and vertically!) Software reviewer Bret McKee takes a look at version 2.0 of this program, and has a lot good to say about it: If you're interested in making panoramas with your digicam, this is definitely an article to read!

Olympus C-2500L Full Review posted!
By David Etchells, The Imaging Resource
(Saturday, November 13, 1999 - 18:09 EST)

Olympus C-2500L full review online! - We posted the images from this camera on-line a few days ago, now have the full review posted as well. This is Olympus' new top-of-the-line digicam, a 2.5 megapixel SLR design. Olympus has made very aggressive claims for image quality on this unit, which we feel were largely borne out by our test results: We felt it showed both the best color accuracy and highest resolution of any camera we've tested to date(!). As noted in the review, the only thing that kept us from being wildly over-the-top enthusiastic about the camera was that it offers only two aperture settings. In our own shooting, we didn't find this to be a particular problem, but expected it to be an issue for pros using the camera. (And its image quality certainly puts it into the "pro" category.) In correspondence with professional users of the camera though, we were surprised to find that they didn't really consider the aperture limitation to be an issue. (This apparently is an area where each prospective user will have to make up their own mind.) Aperture issues aside, objective measures of image quality place this camera at the very top of the heap of the current market offerings. We also found the FL-40 dedicated flash unit Oly is selling for the unit to be both powerful and flexible. Very impressive! Check it out!

QImage Pro 7.0 released!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Saturday, November 13, 1999 - 18:09 EST)

We've just received an email from Mike Chaney, author of the popular Qimage Pro, to let us know he's just released a new version. Qimage Pro 7.0 adds the following features:

 - Scrapbook capability: The new capability to apply
cutouts to your images is not limited to the included
shapes. The simplicity of Qimage Pro cutouts and
description of how to create them simply with your own
image editor (see the Qimage Pro help file under
"cutouts") will have you creating you own custom
designs in no time! The new cutouts, when applied,
will display in your slide shows as well as printouts!
To access cutouts, simply click "Queue Actions" and
"Batch Filter". You can then apply the cutouts by
clicking on the "Cutout" button under "Image Effects".

- Empty template: You can now add an empty "space" for
an image anywhere in your document. In every folder
you "visit", you'll notice a new thumbnail at the
bottom called [Template]. Simply select your size and
drag the [Template] to the page as you would any other
image. Templates appear as red rectangles (below).
When included in a document, the templates don't print.
They can, however, be used to set up your own custom
pages that contain only locations (no images). To
create a page template, simply add and arrange the
[Template] thumbnails and "Save Session". When you
"Load Session" later, you can simply drag thumbnails
and drop them onto the template. The thumbnails will
drop into the template exactly where you designed them
to be. Below is a sample template of one 4x6 image and
five 2x3 images that is ready for images to be dropped
onto the appropriate locations.

- Save page: Many users have requested this option since
it is handy for creating images like the one above for
sending to others. You may want to send a page to a
friend or send the image to a professional printer to
create an 8 x 10 photo! With unlimited resolution
selection, you can make sure that your image has enough
resolution for the application! Access this new feature
by entering the page editor (click "Edit" from the main
screen) and clicking the "Save Page" button.

- "Green eye" correction: Qimage Pro red-eye correction
can now remove "green eye", "gold eye", etc. found in
many animal shots as well as just about any other
"abnormal" pupil color."

Friday, November 12, 1999

SmartDisk announces FlashPath for MultiMediaCard!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Friday, November 12, 1999 - 23:52 EST)

SmartDisk Corp. has today announced its latest incarnation of the FlashPath floppy disk adapter, this time for SanDisk's MultiMediaCard flash media. Co-developed with SanDisk, and to be distributed by the company also, the MultiMediaCard FlashPath adapter will ship in the first quarter of 2000. No pricing has been announced as yet; the adapter is to be shown at Comdex.

Enroute prepares for release of PowerStitch!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Friday, November 12, 1999 - 23:39 EST)

Enroute Imaging has announced the imminent release of its PowerStitch professional-quality panorama stitching software, first announced back in February 1999 and originally scheduled for an April release. PowerStitch can create panoramic images of greater than 150 megapixels, stitched both horizontally and vertically, and features the ability to roll, tilt, pan, adjust field of view and compensate for lens distortion. The program will be on display at Comdex, accompanied by a huge 500MB panorama generated with the program, showing the Arches National Park. Here's what photographer Walter Urie of Walter Urie Photography, creator of the panorama, had to say about PowerStitch:

"PowerStitch's capabilities are very impressive. The ability to create a seamless high resolution panorama from seventy to eighty 2.5 megapixel images of this complexity is truly remarkable."

PowerStitch will be available in December, with the price remaining the same as first announced in February, at $399. receives $60m venture capital!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Friday, November 12, 1999 - 22:04 EST)

Online photographic retailer has announced that it has obtained $60 million in private venture capital funding from a consortium of vendors including Greylock, Technology Crossover Ventures, August Capital, Accel Partners, Norwest Venture Partners, and Bain Capital. CameraWorld intends to use the funding to expand its inventory and enhance its infrastructure to meet customer demand. Simultaneously, the company has announced two new appointments, in the positions of Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board. Aneel Busri, general partner of Greylock, has been appointed to the Chairman position whilst the CEO position is taken up by Terry Strom. Strom was most recently senior vice president of marketing at Digital River, and previous positions include president and CEO of Egghead Software, Inc., and senior vice president of marketing at Best Buy.

Fuji announces Comdex plans!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Friday, November 12, 1999 - 21:37 EST)

Fuji Photo Film USA Inc. has announced its plans for the Comdex Fall '99 Show in Las Vegas, running November 15 - 19, in two press releases (1,2). The company will be showing its MX-1700 ZOOM, MX-1200, and DS-260 HD digital cameras, as well as its recently announced Super CCD. Accompanying this, world-renowned artist Hani Shihada will be recreating Michelangelo's "The Creation of Adam" on a 12 x 24-foot, stretch- fabric circular canvas. After the show, Fujifilm will donate Shihada's painting to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Southern Nevada, which in turn will auction the piece for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Nikon online charity effort "record-breaking"!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Friday, November 12, 1999 - 18:53 EST)

A press release today from Nikon announces that its on-line sale of a limited edition Nikon Coolpix950 digital camera raised a record-breaking $55,000 in on-line donations in its first day on Monday. $500 from the sale of each of the cameras, which are priced at $2000 in a limited edition run of 2000 cameras, is earmarked for the Imus Ranch, an authentic working cattle ranch in New Mexico where children with cancer or serious blood disorders, as well as those who have lost brothers and sisters to sudden infant death syndrome can experience the life of an American cowboy. Children spend 10 days at the Imus Ranch, working side by side with range wranglers, tending sheep and rounding up cattle, as well as meeting local craftsmen and artists.

UMC helps SanDisk develop Double Density technology!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Friday, November 12, 1999 - 18:41 EST)

A press release today from United Microelectronics Corp. Group announces that the company has assisted SanDisk Corp. in developing and manufcaturing its new range of Flash media cards based on 256 Megabit Double Density technology. SanDisk Senior Vice President of operations, Ralph Hudson, had the following to say:

"UMC Group continues to prove to be an excellent foundry partner for SanDisk as its management and technology teams have a thorough understanding of our needs. This understanding linked with manufacturing expertise, an aggressive time-to-market mentality, and a continuous drive for process improvements makes UMC Group our number one choice in the fab business. Due to joint efforts, we are already shipping our 256 megabit D2 chips in volume. Beyond this, UMC Group is assisting us with a migration path for next-generation products. This means more shippable megabytes per wafer, and more value to our customers."

Picture CD Review Online!
By David Etchells, The Imaging Resource
(Friday, November 12, 1999 - 11:19 EST)

PictureCD review online! - People tend to view us as a "digital camera" site, but we're really a digital photography site! Our mission is to help people get into digital photography, and have a successful experience once they get there. In that vein, we see Kodak's recently-announced Picture CD service as incredibly significant to the growth of digital photography: For less than $10, people can experience digital photography with their film camera, getting high-quality digital pictures (you'll be surprised at how well the images do against even 2 megapixel digicams!), and all the basic software they need to use them. We've done a full review of Picture CD, including many of the same test shots we use for our digicam testing. We were very pleasantly surprised and impressed by the quality of the pictures that came back, and think you will be too. Important note: Before you flame us for abandoning the digicam faith, read our comments in the article about how we see Picture CD positioning relative to digicams! Overall, a very impressive service offering, and one that we think will have a huge impact on consumer digital photography! Check it out!

Axis announces Linux-based network camera!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Friday, November 12, 1999 - 10:57 EST)

Network peripherals manufacturer Axis Communications has today announced its new AXIS 2100 Network Camera, a Linux based internet camera capable of up to 10 frames per second. Available immediately at a suggested price of $499, the 2100 can be connected directly to an Ethernet network or via its RS-232 port to a modem or ISDN TA for remote image monitoring and archiving, process control and alarm verification. The unit has its own IP address, supports TCP/IP, HTTP, FTP and SMTP protocols as well as automation allowing it to send images at specified times or by triggered events, and can be controlled, accessed and managed over the Internet from any other computer. The AXIS 2100 is billed as the first ever network-attached camera based on the Linux operating system.

DCRP posts Kodak DC280 review!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Friday, November 12, 1999 - 10:42 EST)

The fine folks over at the Digital Camera Resource Page have today posted a review of Kodak's DC280 digital camera. In the review, the DCRP's first look at a Kodak camera, Jeff had the following to say:

"Overall, the Kodak DC280 is a winner. Everything you need to get into serious digital photography is in the box, and the camera has all the features that most everyone will need. However, enthusiasts may be scared off by the lack of manual controls, and the lousy low-light shots."

Check the full review out here!

Thursday, November 11, 1999

FlashPoint receives $27.5m private equity financing!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Thursday, November 11, 1999 - 14:45 EST)

FlashPoint Technology Inc., the company behind the Digita operating system used in some digital cameras, has announced the closing of a $27.5 million round of private equity financing. Through its financial advisor Prudential Securities, FlashPoint received the investment from America Online, Hewlett-Packard Co., Wind River Systems, J. & W. Seligman, Brentwood Venture Capital, Oak Investment Partners, Roman Arch Funds, Chelsey Capital and General Investment & Development Co. The company intends to use the investment to "capture market share in the growing digital imaging industry and to expand third-party applications with solutions based on the company's award-winning Digita operating environment."

MemoryStick gathers momentum - 19 companies offer support!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Thursday, November 11, 1999 - 13:53 EST)

Sony's MemoryStick media format has gathered further support today with the announcement that 19 companies in Japan, the US and Europe are working on agreements to license the specification, adding to the six companies who signed on in September. The planned licensees include:

 - Adobe Systems Inc.
- Apline Electronics Inc.
- Alps Electric Co. Ltd.
- Audi AG
- Casio Computer Co. Ltd.
- Clarion Co. Ltd.
- DataFab Systems Inc.
- France Telecom
- I-O Data Device Inc.
- Koninklijke Philips Electronics N.V.
- LG Electronics Inc.
- Mitsumi Electric Co. Ltd.
- Oki Electric Industry Co. Ltd.
- Olympus Optical Co. Ltd.
- Ricoh Co. Ltd.
- Seiko Epson Corp.
- Teac Corp.
- Volkswagen AG
- Western Digital Corp.
The announcement is particularly interesting in that, whilst the majority of the new signings appear to be looking to MemoryStick as a portable audio storage medium on the back of Sony's MemoryStick Walkman product, several noteable digital camera manufacturers are looking to sign on also. Casio, Olympus, Ricoh, and Epson make quite a large number of digital cameras between them, so if these agreements come through, there is the potential for a significant number of digital cameras to use MemoryStick storage, something that until now has only been available for Sony's own models. The existing six licensees are:

 - Aiwa Co. Ltd.
- Fujitsu Ltd.
- Kenwood Corp.
- Pioneer Corp.
- Sanyo Electric Co. Ltd.
- Sharp Corp.

Backbone link down - Server Slow!
By David Etchells, The Imaging Resource
(Thursday, November 11, 1999 - 12:58 EST)

Our apologies for the inconvenience: One of our ISP's main links to the internet backbone is down (it was also down a good part of yesterday, too), meaning that connections to our server are much slower than usual! - This unfortunately coincides with a glut of traffic (nearly 8 gigabytes yesterday alone) as thousands of you check out the latest batch of 2 megapixel digicam test images we've posted. The net result is that most of you are going to see maximum transfer rates on the order of a couple of Kbytes/second, WAY below normal performance levels. The ISP and backbone provider are working on the problem, and a resolution is hoped for soon, but we don't have any ETA as of yet.

DCRP posts Olympus D-450 Zoom review!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Thursday, November 11, 1999 - 12:12 EST)

The excellent Digital Camera Resource Page has posted a review of Olympus' D-450 Zoom digital camera. Here's what Jeff had to say:

"The D-450Z is definitely a mixed bag. For one, it's a camera I cannot ecstatically recommend. On the other hand, it isn't a camera to be ignored. For under $600, it has quite a few nice features in a snazzy case, with good photo quality, and point and shoot ease-of-use. If you can live with the issues I raised (many of which are minor), then it's a good choice."

Check the full review out here!

Wednesday, November 10, 1999

Steve's Digicams posts DSC-F55, PhotoPC 850Z reviews!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Wednesday, November 10, 1999 - 14:46 EST)

The fine folks over at Steve's Digicams have now completed their reviews of Sony's Cybershot DSC-F55 and Epson's PhotoPC 850Z digital cameras.

For the Sony, Steve had the following to say:
"I think this camera will serve you well if you take most of your pictures indoors. It fails in the role of an outdoor camera due to the lack of a zoom lens and an optical viewfinder. You can't follow rapid-moving subjects with a camera that's held out in front of you, it just isn't natural. The F55 is highly portable due to its small size and the metal case makes it very durable. Of course the bottom line is always image quality and Sony's DSC-F55 delivers a high quality image that's easily capable of being printed up to 8x10". Exposure was nearly perfect everytime whether it was flash or available light and the macro mode lets you grab shots of things as close as an inch or two away."

and for the Epson:
"If you can live with the somewhat poor LCD then this camera will serve you well - it does take great pictures. There's many thousands of us that put up with all sorts of things that the Nikon 950 does badly but we still love the pictures it makes. People have been griping about its LCD since day one! If at all possible, see the Epson PhotoPC 850Z in the store, pick it up, fire off some shots and then make the purchase decision. Too many consumers make the mistake of buying a camera sight unseen just because it got glowing reviews or a friend recommended it. You wouldn't buy a car this way so why should the purchase of an expensive camera be any different?"

You can find the full review of Sony's DSC-F55 here, and the Epson PhotoPC 850Z review here.

Nikon D1 wins Popular Science "Best of What's New" award!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Wednesday, November 10, 1999 - 14:28 EST)

A press release today from Nikon Inc. announces that the company's D1 digital camera has won one of a ten "Best of What's New" awards given out by Popular Science Magazine in the category of Photography. The grand prize in the Photography category went to Kodak's PictureCD. Other awards of note in the field of digital imaging include:

 - Fuji MX-1700 Zoom digital camera
- Olympus C-2500L digital camera
- Sony Digital Picture Frame
- Lexar Jumpshot Kit USB-enabled CompactFlash
- Canon PowerShot S10 Digital Camera
- Sony PictureBook micro-notebook with built-in
digital camera
- MetaStream streaming 3D technology
- Epson Stylus Color 900 inkjet printer
- Hewlett Packard Deskjet 970 inkjet printer

IXLA announces new SuperPro digital camera!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Wednesday, November 10, 1999 - 13:42 EST)

IXLA Ltd. has today announced its new SuperPro digital camera, produced in cooperation with Xirlink Inc. and Agilent Technologies Inc. The SuperPro features a 640 x 480 pixel Agilent CMOS sensor, built-in flash, USB and serial connectivity, and "internal storage for a maximum of 30-image capacity". The camera is priced at under $100, and comes bundled with ixla Photo Easy Deluxe and Web Easy Deluxe software. Exact pricing, availability, and full specifications have not been provided at this time.

Seattle FilmWorks hosts over 60 million images!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Wednesday, November 10, 1999 - 13:36 EST)

A press release today from Seattle FilmWorks Inc. announces that the company is now hosting over 60 million images in its online archive, all scanned free of charge as part of its PhotoWorks service. The PhotoWorks service includes free scanning of every photograph, Web posting to a private site and lifetime archiving, as long as the consumer remains an active customer of Seattle FilmWorks (with normal film processing fees). To get started, customers can request a free starter kit, including two free rolls of film, at Seattle FilmWorks' website.

Tuesday, November 9, 1999

Megabytes of Megapixels!
By David Etchells, The Imaging Resource
(Tuesday, November 9, 1999 - 14:42 EST)

We've just posted a bunch of images to the Comparometer(tm), including not only the recently-reviewed Fuji MX-1200 and Toshiba PDR-M5, but also the Canon PowerShot S10, the Kodak DC290, the Olympus C-2500L, and the Olympus D-340R.(!) (Our site just grew by about 400 megabytes!) Reviews for all of these are in various stages of progress, and should be up relatively soon, but we wanted our readers to be able to have a look at the pictures without waiting for the full reviews. To faciliate this, we've also posted thumbnail index pages for the unreviewed cameras in this list. NOTE though, that these thumbnail pages can take a looonng time to load, as in some cases they have over a hundred thumbnails on each! Follow these links to find thumbnail indexes for the following cameras: Canon PowerShot S10, Kodak DC290, Olympus C-2500L, Olympus D-340R.

SanDisk responds to Lexar triumph claims!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Tuesday, November 9, 1999 - 12:24 EST)

A press release today from SanDisk Corp. responds to claims by Lexar Media Inc. that it has triumphed in a patent dispute with its rival flash manufacturer. According to SanDisk, the U.S. Patent Office limited the scope of Lexar's claims in Patent No. 5,388,083 so as to prevent conflict between these claims and those of an earlier SanDisk patent. SanDisk continues to note that, contrary to Lexar's PR statements, this decision was not a court decision, and is completely unrelated to the patent infringement lawsuit filed against Lexar in early 1998, relating to patent 5,602,987.

Eli Harari, president and CEO of SanDisk, had the following to say: "Lexar is engaging in misleading public relations statements. The decision of the U.S. Patent Office is completely unrelated and irrelevant to the patent infringement lawsuit that SanDisk filed against Lexar in March, 1998, relating to SanDisk's U.S. patent 5,602,987. SanDisk continues to vigorously enforce its patent rights in federal court, in the Northern District of California. SanDisk remains confident that its patent rights will be validated in this case. The decision cited by Lexar in its press release was not a court decision. There has never been any litigation between SanDisk and Lexar regarding the Lexar `083 patent."

Monday, November 8, 1999

Corbis integrates Picture IQ technology!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Monday, November 8, 1999 - 21:25 EST)

Digital Intelligence Inc. has today announced in a press release that stock photo service Corbis has licensed Picture IQ technology from the company for its website. Picture IQ will allow Corbis users "a variety of fun and creative activities for use with Corbis' vast selection of high-quality digital pictures", such as as photo fixing, enhancement, application of artistic special effects, sharing, printing, and organization to web sites and consumer electronics devices.

Lexar triumphs in patent case!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Monday, November 8, 1999 - 20:48 EST)

A press release today from Lexar Media announces that the company has won a patent interference case filed by SanDisk Corp. with the US Patent and Trademark Office. According to the release, two of three motions to dismiss SanDisk's claims in the case (in regards to US Patent 5,388,083, "Flash Memory Mass Storage Architecture") were granted on October 6th, 1999. SanDisk withdrew its final motion for judgement against the patentability of Lexar's patent claim on October 25.

Lexar President and CEO John Reimer had the following to say: "There has never been any doubt in our mind about the validity of our patents. As the court has agreed, we were the first to invent this ground-breaking technology that is protected by one of our many patents. Throughout the years we have dedicated a tremendous amount of resources and effort to develop a substantial body of intellectual property that is now a valuable part of our business."

Toshiba PDR-M5 review posted!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Monday, November 8, 1999 - 20:22 EST)

When we reported on Toshiba's PDR-M4 2-megapixel digicam, we were really impressed with its speed. (A shot to shot speed of 2 seconds(!), with no waiting after a few shots for the buffer to empty out.) It also boasted excellent low-light capability, taking advantage of the super-powered processor to digitally "subtract" the sensor noise in long time exposures. We wished for an optical zoom lens though. (We think an optical zoom lens is almost a necessity on digicams.) Now comes the PDR-M5, with all the speed and low-light ability of the PDR-M4, a 3x optical zoom lens, and even a very cool "movie" mode that can capture minutes-long (depending on memory card capacity) silent movies in AVI/QuickTime format! A lot of capability in an aggressively priced camera. (List price is $799, but we've heard reports of prices under $650 already!) Check out the review for the full story!
(Apologies, the images aren't *quite* in the Comparometer(tm) yet, but should be there soon... Along with a bunch of others! ;)

Kaidan and Panoscan announce alliance!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Monday, November 8, 1999 - 20:14 EST)

Kaidan Inc., manufacturer of a range of hardware and software for panoramic and object VR, has today announced a new alliance with panoramic digital camera maker Panoscan. From December 1999, Kaidan, its resellers and distributors will offer the Panoscan camera for sale (and soon also for rent). Pricing has not yet been announced.

US D1 ships in volume, first shipment recalled, and more!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Monday, November 8, 1999 - 12:30 EST)

We just received an email from Rob Galbraith, the man behind the excellent Rob's DigiNews page, to let us know of the following stories he's picked up in the last few days:

"Some of your readers may be interested in recent postings at my site:


***DOS Mounter 98 (and its variants) incompatible with OS 9***
If you own an internal or external SCSI-connected PC Card reader and depend on non-Apple card mounting software, you may wish to avoid upgrading to Mac OS 9 for now. That's because Software Architect's popular card mounting control panel DOS Mounter 98 (and its variants DOS Mounter 98 SE, Mac-PC Manager and Mac-PC Manager Lite) seriously conflicts with Apple's latest operating system. Specifically, inserting a card into the reader causes the Finder to crash. Software Architects is working on a fix.

For those that have already upgraded, I've identified two workarounds for my Microtech Digital Photo Album *p which should work with other readers as well, including the Minolta CD-10 and SCM Micro PCD-10, and probably readers from MPL and Adtron too. See the Rob's DigiNews website for more.


***Nikon shipping "hundreds of D1's per week" in the USA***
Nikon tech rep Bill Pekala indicates that volume shipping of the D1 in the U.S. commenced this past week, with dealers expected to receive their first allotment Friday. See the Rob's DigiNews website for more.

***First volume shipment of D1 cameras recalled***
The Internet scuttlebutt is true: all the D1 cameras that were shipped from Nikon USA to dealers late last week had to be returned to Nikon because the loading of firmware into the cameras had not been properly completed.

***Danish photojournalist posts D1-DCS 620 comparison***
Kristian Linnemann has posted noise, colour and sharpness comparison images shot with a production D1 and DCS 620. See the Rob's DigiNews website for more."
Thanks to Rob for the note!

SiliconTech announces 320MB CompactFlash card!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Monday, November 8, 1999 - 11:45 EST)

SiliconTech Inc., which we last reported on back in June when it announced a 224MB Type-I PC Card, has truly outdone itself today with the announcement of a Type-II CompactFlash card with a whopping 320MB capacity! Following hot on the heels of SanDisk's announcement of a 300MB Type-II CF card on November 01, the card is currently the highest-capacity Type-II CF card we're aware of. It uses 256Mbit technology, the same as SanDisk's card, and can accept either 3.3V or 5V power supply. A non-operating shock resistance of 2000G (equivalent to a 10-foot drop) is quoted, along with a Write speed of 3MB/s, and a read speed of 1.5MB/s. The card is priced at $795 in OEM quantities of 1000; this is somewhat higher than SanDisk's quote of $598 for its 300MB card, but the SanDisk price does not reveal what purchase quantity is required, noting only that it is "sample, high-volume OEM pricing". Either way, the new SiliconTech card can only help spur competition and yet bigger flash cards!

Agfa to show ePhoto CL30 Clik! and SnapScan Touch at Comdex!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Monday, November 8, 1999 - 11:24 EST)

A press release today from the Desktop Products Group of Agfa Corp. announces that the company will be showing two new products at Comdex. The Agfa ePhoto CL30 Clik!, which we first mentioned in July and Agfa officially announced September 23, has the following features:

 - 1 Megapixel CCD, 30 bit color depth
- Resolutions of 1440x1080 (interpolated), 1152x864
1024x768 and 640x480; also a 1152x864 black and
white mode. 24-bit color JPEG files.
- 1.8" LCD
- Clik! card slot; 40MB disk bundled
- 2X digital zoom
- 6 to 11 seconds between pictures dependant on
- Focus free, all glass lens; equivalent to 43 mm
on a 35mm camera; macro capability
- Aperture f/2.8 (wide)/ 8.0 (tele)
- Built-in flash (auto,fill,variable energy,red-eye
reduction,external flash trigger,off)
- 10 second self timer
- NTSC and PAL video out connectivity
- USB connectivity
- 5" x 3 1/4" x 1 1/2" dimensions
- Weighs 265g / 9.33 oz (without batteries)
The press release also notes that the SnapScan Touch will be shown at Comdex, although why Agfa are calling this a new product, we do not know - we first reported on the SnapScan Touch back in May, at which time it was expected to ship in June... The SnapScan Touch features a USB interface, and one-touch buttons for scanning directly to email, fax or printer, which can also be reconfigured as the user desires. Optical resolution in 36-bit color is 600 x 1200 dots per inch (dpi), and can be interpolated up to 9600 dpi, while the scanner can scan documents up to a maximum of 8.5 x 11.7 inches in size. Also bundled is Agfa's ScanWise software as well as MicroFrontier Color it! and Caere OmniPage LE 5.1 for the Mac. PC versions will be bundled with ScanWise, Corel PrintHouse Magic, Caere OmniPage LE 5.1 and Caere PageKeeper.

Sunday, November 7, 1999

Finally - photo printers compared in-depth!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Sunday, November 7, 1999 - 23:34 EST)

We received an email a few days back from Qimage Pro author Mike Chaney, with news of a great project that he's been working on with Don Cohen... The results of this effort, in the form of an in-depth comparison of the results to be expected from numerous photo-printers, are now available - and should go a long way to helping you decide which printer is right for you! Here's what Mike had to say:

"Don Cohen and I have been working on a printer review project for the last month or so. The results of our efforts (admittedly more Don's than mine) can be seen in "Don & Mike's Mega Photo Printer Review". We have everything from analytical results to holistic rankings and even micro scans of printouts from the top ranking printers in the test. Although my participation in this project was limited to review of the print scans and web sponsorship, Don performed a very detailed analysis of the originals and conducted a limited survey where people ranked the output from today's top photo printers. I believe that the information available at this site will provide valuable information to others who are wondering the same thing we were: how do the best consumer photo printers stack up?"

Leica rebadges MX-1700 Zoom!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Sunday, November 7, 1999 - 23:26 EST)

We received an email from IR reader Iain Bryson, who's spotted a new digital camera from Leica. It appears that the new Leica Digilux Zoom is a rebadged Fuji MX-1700, however Leica also have a slide copying attachment for the camera which mounts on the tripod socket. The Leica Digicopy attachment might be just as useful for Fuji MX-1700 owners looking for a way to digitize their slide collection...
Thanks to Iain Bryson for this item!

Fuji offers mail-in for free FlashPath adapters!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Sunday, November 7, 1999 - 23:21 EST)

Fuji is currently including a mail-in coupon for a free FlashPath floppy disk adapter with its MX-1200, -1700, -2700 and -2900 digital cameras, according to emails we've received from several readers. From what we hear, the deal isn't necessarily even mentioned on the packaging, but it certainly makes for a nice bonus and increases the value of these cameras somewhat! If you've not got a rebate coupon in the box, though, you can get one by phoning Fuji's support folks at 1-800-659-3854 and asking them to mail you the coupon...
Thanks to IR readers Josh Wardell, Steve Webster and Michael Orenstein for this item!

Steve's Digicams posts Epson PhotoPC 850Z first look!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Sunday, November 7, 1999 - 22:29 EST)

The folks over at the Steve's Digicams website have now posted a first-look review of the Epson PhotoPC 850Z digital camera. Steve has only had the camera for a brief time, but has posted plenty of info and images of the unit, as well as some sample pictures... Here's his initial feelings:

"So far I am very impressed with its capabilities and the image quality. It will take me another 4-5 days of using it before I am ready to form any concrete conclusions but so far it seems to be another winner!"

Coolpix950 Millennium goes on sale tomorrow!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Sunday, November 7, 1999 - 15:49 EST)

A reminder to our readers - Nikon's Coolpix950 Millennium Edition camera will go on sale at 9am EST tomorrow... 25% of proceeds from the 2000 limited edition cameras sold will go to charity - this is your chance to support a worthy cause!

Here's our original coverage of the Millennium Edition, from Octboer 25:

"Nikon has today announced that it will be selling a special Millennium edition of its popular Coolpix950 digital camera, with 25% of the proceeds going to charity. The Coolpix950 Millennium bundle will feature a special silver-blue brushed metal Coolpix950 with a grey handgrip and an individually numbered plate (0001 to 2000) on the front of it, as well as a black Millennium camera bag, Energizer® NiMH battery and charger, Lexar 64MB CompactFlash(TM) Card, USB card reader and four filters with a filter wallet. The bundle will sell only on Nikon's online outlet store ( at a price of US$2000. Of this price, $500 will go to charity, and the customer will be issued with a tax deduction letter. The press release notes that the cameras should net about $1 million for charity, which is earmarked for the Imus Ranch, an authentic working cattle ranch in New Mexico where children with cancer or serious blood disorders, as well as those who have lost brothers and sisters to sudden infant death syndrome can experience the life of an American cowboy. Children spend 10 days at the Imus Ranch, working side by side with range wranglers, tending sheep and rounding up cattle, as well as meeting local craftsmen and artists.

The Coolpix950 bundle will be on sale Monday, November 8, from 9:00 am (EST), exclusively through the online Nikon Outlet Store ("

Saturday, November 6, 1999 November issue online!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Saturday, November 6, 1999 - 20:59 EST)

We received an email today from the folks over at to let us know that their November issue has now gone online... Reviewed this month are the following cameras:

- Toshiba PDR-M5
- Sony DSC-F505
- Ricoh RDC-5300
- Agfa ePhoto CL30
Also in this month's issue is an overview of the new features in Adobe PhotoShop 5.5, a look at the wide-angle adapter for Fuji's MX-2900 and more... Check it out!

Friday, November 5, 1999

PhotoLoft continues to grow...
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Friday, November 5, 1999 - 17:50 EST)

A press release today from the website announces that it has continued to grow strongly, posting a 51% increase in average daily impressions in Q3 '99 over the previous quarter. The site currently gets about 210,000 hits per day... Over the same period, the number of registered users grew 59% to 60,000. The press release notes that PCData Online ranks PhotoLoft in the top 80 percentile of most visited websites (our own check of PCData confirms that PhotoLoft is ranked 3,826th overall). The release notes the following highlights for PhotoLoft in Q3 '99:

 - Announcing a partnership with Pakon, the industry
-leading supplier of innovative digital imaging and
slide mounting products, which allows Pakon photo-
finishers to upload consumer photos directly to; or create digitized images on CD or
floppy; and/or get traditional photo prints in one
easy step.
- Launching a sophisticated e-commerce program that
offers consumers a wide array of photo-personalized
gift items as well as customized, photo-personalized
greeting cards. As the e-commerce program has evolved, also gives members the option of
uploading their personal address books, making
addressing and sending cards easier than ever.
- Receiving preliminary comments from the Securities and
Exchange Commission (SEC) on the company's Form 10SB.
Responses to those comments have been submitted and the
company is waiting final approval of its request to
become a fully reporting company. This is an important
first step in moving from the Over-the-Counter
Bulletin Board to NASDAQ SmallCap.
- Finalizing an agreement with Yashica to offer free
premium accounts to all purchasers of the Samurai
2100DG digital camera, the first high-quality 2
million pixel class digital camera in the world to
feature a 4x optical zoom lens.
- Offering all purchasers of the EPSON Stylus Photo 750,
the EPSON Stylus Photo 1200 and the EPSON Stylus Color
740i ink jet printers a free premium
- Being named one of the top three new companies in
Silicon Valley.

PhotoNet, AOL and BrandMania announce photo contest!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Friday, November 5, 1999 - 17:00 EST)

Kodak's PhotoNet Online and AOL's "You've Got Pictures" (both run by PictureVision Inc.) have today announced a new photo contest in conjunction with The three companies are seeking pictures of the worst-dressed online consumer through each of their websites. The winner of the Online Fashion Disaster Photo Contest will receive a $2,500 designer wardrobe from BrandMania, whilst three second-placed winners will receive Kodak DC215 Zoom digital cameras, and 10 third-placed winners will receive one year's free photo digitizing through either Kodak PhotoNet or AOL's "You've Got Pictures" service. Entries must be received by December 28th, along with a 30-word or less description of why the person photographed needs a new wardrobe.

Agilent ships 1 millionth CMOS sensor!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Friday, November 5, 1999 - 16:49 EST)

Agilent Technologies Inc., the company recently formed from Hewlett-Packard's reorganisation to focus on its key businesses, has announced the shipment of its 1 millionth CMOS sensor. The company announced its HDCS-1000 and 2000 sensors (in CIF and VGA resolutions respectively) back in October 1998, and over 1 million of the sensors have been shipped in a little over a year since then... Products using the sensors include KB's [email protected] Version 2.0, Logitech's QuickCam Express and Xirlink's IBM PC cameras.

RealNetworks gives away printers, scanners, and digicams!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Friday, November 5, 1999 - 14:36 EST)

A press release today from RealNetworks Inc. announces that it will be hosting the RealSlideshow festival in two weeks time, during which 5 submitted RealSlideshows will win their creators a Kodak digital camera, an HP color photo scanner, HP color printer, Adobe software and Sonic Foundry software. Entries must be submitted by 17 November, and awards will be given in the following categories:

 - Most Hilarious Award: Most humorous entry
- Heartstrings Award:Most touching or emotional
- Did Not Know That Award: Most interesting or
educational entry
- You Inspire Me Award: Most inspirational entry
- That's Uncanny! Award: Most oddball or off the
wall entry

Steve's Digicams posts Sony DSC-F55 first look!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Friday, November 5, 1999 - 12:12 EST)

The fine folks over at the Steve's Digicams website have now posted a first-look review of Sony's DSC-F55. No conclusions drawn as yet, but plenty of info on this diminutive 2.1 megapixel unit, which features a 180-degree swivelling Carl Zeiss lens and a 2-inch sunlight-assisted LCD display... Check it out!

Nikon posts details of Coolpix950 Firmware 1.2!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Friday, November 5, 1999 - 0:03 EST)

Nikon has now posted a PDF file containing details of changes in its upcoming version 1.2 firmware upgrade for the Coolpix950 digital camera, according to the Digital Photography Review website. Changes are as follows:

"What’s New with the COOLPIX 950 Firmware Version 1.2

About This Guide
This electronic guide details improvements to the COOLPIX 950 with the release of firmware Version 1.2. The information in this guide supplements and corrects the COOLPIX 950 Reference Manual, Pocket Guide, and Fast Track Guide. While you will still need to refer to these manuals for complete instructions on using your camera, be aware that they are written for firmware version 1. If you are using firmware Version 1.2, some of the instructions and illustrations in the documentation provided with your camera will no longer reflect how your camera actually works. Where indicated, the information in this guide replaces relevant sections of the above manuals.

“Firmware” is a built-in program that determines how your camera will run. For information on firmware updates, contact the Nikon service representative for your area or visit the Nikon website at any of the following URLS:

The principle changes in firmware Version 1.2 are as follows:
- When sensitivity is set to dEF, the camera will automatically increase sensitivity to a maximum of +2.0 when lighting is poor. At other settings, the current sensitivity adjustment will be shown in the LCD monitor.
- File-numbering (SEQ.XFER) settings now apply in both A-REC and M-REC modes. A SEQ.XFER option has been added to the A-REC menu to allow you to change these settings while the camera is in A-REC mode.
- The brightness of the LCD backlight has been increased. Choosing a setting of “+” in the LCD BRIGHT menu not only increases the brightness of the backlight but also raises the overall brightness of image displayed on the monitor.

Tip - How to tell what firmware version you have
To determine the version of the firmware currently installed in your camera, turn the camera on while holding down the MENU button. The firmware version will be displayed in the LCD monitor. Turn the mode dial to another setting to clear the firmware version from the display.

In earlier versions of the COOLPIX 950 firmware, the default sensitivity setting (dEF) was fixed at a standard value. With Version 1.2, the default value for sensitivity varies with lighting conditions. Under normal lighting conditions, sensitivity remains at the standard value. When lighting is poor, the camera will automatically raise sensitivity to compensate, to a maximum roughly equivalent to a setting of +2.0.
Note that at sensitivities above the standard value, a slight amount of noise may appear in the final photograph. The “S” icon is displayed in the LCD monitor whenever sensitivity is higher than the standard value. At settings of 100, +1.0, or +2.0, the current sensitivity setting is displayed next to the “S” icon.

Sensitivity is automatically set to dEF when the camera is in A-REC mode. In M-REC mode, sensitivity can be set by holding the button down while turning the command dial. The sensitivity setting will be
displayed in the control panel while the button is held down. For more information on available settings, see the “Sensitivity” in the COOLPIX 950 Reference Manual.
Sensitivity can not be increased automatically when the exposure mode is set to shutter-priority or aperture-priority auto. In these modes, default sensitivity is fixed at the standard value, regardless of lighting conditions.

In earlier versions of the COOLPIX 950 firmware, sequential file numbering was automatically set to OFF in A-REC mode. In Version 1.2, a new item, SEQ.XFER, has been added to the A-REC setup menu, making it possible to turn sequential file numbering on and off while the camera is in A-REC mode. These settings are the same as those described for M-REC mode in “The Camera Menus: The M-REC Menu”
on page 35 of the COOLPIX 950 Reference Manual. The SEQ.XFER setting selected in A-REC mode remains in effect when the mode dial is turned to M-REC; similarly, if the setting is changed when the camera is in M-REC mode, the change remains in effect when the mode dial is turned to A-REC.

LCD Brightness
The brightness of the LCD monitor is controlled by means of the LCD BRIGHT option in the setup menu for each mode. With firmware Version 1.2, setting LCD BRIGHT to “+” not only increases the brightness of the backlight, but also increases the overall brightness of the monitor. In another change from earlier versions, the brightness of the LCD backlight at a setting of “0” has been increased.
Note that setting LCD BRIGHT to “+” also increases the brightness of images output on a television set when the camera is connected to a television or VCR. Under normal viewing conditions, this may make the image on the television appear slightly “washed out.”

See also
For more information on the options available in the LCD BRIGHT menu, see “The Camera Menus: The A-REC Menu” in the COOLPIX 950 Reference Manual. Information on connecting your camera to a television or VCR can be found in the COOLPIX 950 Reference Manual, “Connections: Connecting
to a Television or VCR”

Other Changes
Shutter Speed Display
At shutter speeds of 1/4 sec. or slower, noise in the form of colored dots may appear in the final photograph. At speeds of 1/4 sec., this noise is almost imperceptible, but the amount of noise increases as shutter speed slows. When the shutter speed is set to 1/4 sec. or slower, shutter speed will be displayed in the LCD monitor in yellow. Noise can be avoided by using the flash or, in M-REC mode, setting the exposure mode to aperture-priority auto and choosing a larger aperture.
System Error
The message displayed when a system error occurs (see the COOLPIX 950 Reference Manual, “Troubleshooting: Error Messages”) is now the English “SYSTEM ERROR,” regardless of the language currently chosen in the M-REC or playback setup menus.
CompactFlash Memory Cards
In addition to the memory cards mentioned in the Reference Manual, the following CompactFlash memory cards have been tested and approved for use in the COOLPIX 950 digital camera:
• SanDisk SDCFB-4, SDCFB-8, SDCFB-15, SDCFB-30, SDCFB-40, SDCFB-48, SDCFB-64, and SDCFB-96 CompactFlash memory cards
Contact the manufacturer for more information on the above memory cards."

Thanks to the Digital Photography Review for this item!

Thursday, November 4, 1999

Ulead PhotoImpact wins Maximum PC award!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Thursday, November 4, 1999 - 23:54 EST)

Software company Ulead Systems Inc. has today announced its receipt of an award from Maximum PC magazine. Ulead's PhotoImpact 5 was pronounced "Best Image Editor" in the November issue of the magazine, the third version in a row of the software to do so. Jon Phillips, editor-in-chief of Maximum PC had the following to say:

"To win the Kick-Ass award three versions in a row is outstanding, especially because we tend to ding applications that don't mature -- you have to give the user a compelling reason to upgrade. The Kick-Ass award is only given to products that receive a 9 or 10 verdict on our 1 to 10 scale. We don't hand them out lightly. A product must withstand our brutal testing regimen before it's even considered."

ScanSoft announces PhotoFactory digital imaging suite!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Thursday, November 4, 1999 - 22:08 EST)

ScanSoft Inc., the company behind the popular "Kai's" range of software, has today announced its new PhotoFactory software suite. Consisting of Kai's Super Goo, Photo Soap 2 and Power Show programs for both Mac and Windows, PhotoFactory retails for $49.95 and is available immediately...

Kodak releases internal hot mirror, firmware update soon!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Thursday, November 4, 1999 - 13:02 EST)

We received today the following email from John Cowley of the website with some very interesting news on Kodak's Pro digital cameras:

"Kodak Pro information FYI -

Part One: Kodak has just released an internal hot mirror (infrared blocking) filter that "can" take the place of the Anti-Aliasing filter on the DCS 520,620,560,660, and the Canon D2000. Although the Anti-Aliasing filters also have an infrared blocking coating, the Anti-Aliasing factor can "soften" the focus a bit, as you know, while the simple hot-mirror infrared blocking coating won't affect sharpness.

Additionally, the Anti-Aliasing filters in all the pro cameras will cause a "focus shift" in a zoom lens, where the camera will require refocusing if the zoom changes. Without the Anti-Aliasing filter, the pro cameras behave like the 35mm film counterparts - the focus remains constant throughout the zoom range.

The new internal infrared blocking filter is available through Kodak Professional dealers. It includes a special screwdriver to remove the original Anti-Aliasing filter, new screws, and a special case to keep it in after it has been replaced by the infrared blocking filter.

Some users will want to keep the existing setup, some will gleefully change to the straight hot mirror (like me).

Note: The Nikon D1 also uses an internal Anti-Aliasing / Infrared blocking combination filter, but has it permanently mounted. (Advantage: Kodak)

MSRP is $115, about the same cost as a large diameter conventional front mounted hot-mirror. Of course the good news here is that "you'll only need one" for all your lenses, because it becomes part of the camera.

December shipping to dealers.

Part Numbers - DCS 520 & 560 (and the Canon D2000) take a catalog number 8407009, the DCS 620 & 660 take a catalog number 1185180. No listing for the DCS 330 at this time.

Part Two: The pending firmware update for the pro cameras (originally planned for October) should be out in the next few weeks. Best feature (to me) is the dual PCMCIA slot activation. Previously, the number two slot was good as a spare card holder only."
Thanks to John Cowley for this *great* info!

Olympus cuts price on C-2000 Zoom!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Thursday, November 4, 1999 - 0:03 EST)

Olympus has dropped the price of its C-2000 Zoom digital camera to $799, according to our sources. This is an excellent price for a very popular camera, and should keep it selling well alongside the freshly announced C-2020 Zoom... From what we've heard, the C-2000 Zoom will continue to sell for the foreseeable future, and the lower price could make this camera a great bargain if you don't need the extra manual features of the C-2020 Zoom...

Wednesday, November 3, 1999

Hard-to-find digicam gear in stock!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Wednesday, November 3, 1999 - 23:55 EST)

We received an email a few days ago from IR advertiser State Street Direct to let us know that, after a little overtime work, they've gotten the following hard to find items in stock:

 -  IBM Microdrive 340MB by Microtech
- USB Microtech Card Reader
- Kodak DC-290 Digital Camera
- Olympus C-2500L Digital SLR
- Fuji MX-1200
- Fuji MX-1700
- Nikon Coolpix 950

Kodak DC265 - digicam, or portable arcade machine? ;)
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Wednesday, November 3, 1999 - 23:44 EST)

Thanks to IR reader John O'Halloran, who wrote in a few days back to point out a rather amusing use for the Kodak DC265 digital camera - this one is sure to impress folks, if they're not already impressed by your camera itself! The M.A.M.E. "Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator" has now been ported to FlashPoint's Digita OS by James Surine, and is now running on the Kodak DC265 digital camera. At the moment, other Digita cameras aren't supported due to memory problems, small variations in the API or different processors, however expect to see M.A.M.E. for Digita bringing arcade games to the Kodak DC220, DC260, DC290 and Minolta Dimage 1500EX in the not-too-distant future...
Thanks to IR reader John O'Halloran for this item!

Olympus USA announces C-2020 Zoom digital camera!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Wednesday, November 3, 1999 - 23:32 EST)

Olympus has today announced its new C-2020 Zoom digital camera in the USA. The C-2020, first covered at its Japanese launch in our news item of October 20 entitled "Olympus announces upgrade to C-2000 Zoom!", is an evolutionary upgrade of the popular C-2000 Zoom with the following new features:

 - Case is identical in shape, but has a new titanium
colored metallic finish and a redesigned power-on dial
- new wide-view TFT LCD display has greater viewing angle
than on the C-2000 Zoom
- Fully manual exposure capability added (1/800 to 16
seconds, F2.0 to F11 (F2.8 to F11 at telephoto)
- Automatic Exposure Bracketing capability added
- Manual focus down to 0.2 meters
- QuickTime Motion JPEG capability; 15 frames per second
in either 160 x 120 pixels (up to 60 seconds) or 320
x 240 pixels (up to 15 seconds)
- New iESP auto white balance - more accurate, and
better flesh tones
- Black & White and Sepia modes
- Improved flash to avoid camera shake
- PC Sync now has an external flash mode
- Improved battery life
- New menu structure
- Supports 64MB SmartMedia
- Available this month at an expected street price of

Image courtesy of Olympus

Full Fuji MX-1200 review is online!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Wednesday, November 3, 1999 - 22:40 EST)

Fuji seems to be mounting a major assault on the digicam business these days, with model after model hitting the market. The latest (that we've tested, anyway) is the MX-1200. The big news with this unit is that it's a 1.3 megapixel digicam for less than $300 list price, with decent features, and excellent image quality. We confess that when we set out to test the MX-1200, we weren't expecting much: After all, how much camera could they give you at $299, with a 1.3 megapixel CCD inside? As it turns out, quite a bit. - We were consistently impressed by the MX-1200's image quality, especially given its selling price. This looks like a great entry-level camera, or a "second camera" for someone not wanting to lug their $900 behemoth to every soccer game, or trip to the park. Check it out! (Apologies, the images aren't *quite* in the Comparometer(tm) yet, but should be there by tomorrow...)

Digital Photography World Photo Contest results!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Wednesday, November 3, 1999 - 22:26 EST)

We just received an email from our friends over at Digital Photography World to let us know that they've now posted the results for their first monthly photo contest. Here's what Danny had to say:

""Digital Photography World", Israel's on line magazine for digital
cameras, has just posted its first "Photo of the Month" contest results. Also, we now display all former elected "Photo of the Day" pictures on a special page entitled: "Digital photos" which will build up, in the coming months, to a digital gallery."

If you don't speak the lingo, you can find the link for the contest results on the top of the right hand frame... ;)

NikonView and MacOS 9 problems...
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Wednesday, November 3, 1999 - 21:07 EST)

We received an email from Juri Munkki, author of the popular Mac program "Cameraid" over the weekend with the following news:

"According to the Nikon Tech forum, the current version of Nikon View
doesn't work with Apple's latest MacOS 9. Both serial port and card
reader downloads are affected.

Cameraid is fully compatible with MacOS 9. Cameraid is shareware ($15),
but the downloadable version is fully functional even without
registration, so it provides a good alternative solution while Nikon is
working on an update to their software."

Cameraid is available from
Thanks to Juri Munkki for this item! promotes software for digicam use!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Wednesday, November 3, 1999 - 20:53 EST)

A press release today from software company promotes its ClearFax software for use with digital cameras. ClearFax claims its software gives "clear, black and white, photo-like quality images on any laser or thermal-paper fax machine"; the software simply uses half-toning or dithering to give the illusion of shades of grey. If you need to fax your digital images, this approach will give the best results, but simultaneously it is much less compressible than areas of solid color, and hence will take significantly longer to send/receive. ClearFax mentions Sony's Mavica cameras in particular for use with the software, although obviously any printeable image is fine...

Ritz Camera to sell ePhoto CL30, CL50, Smile.
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Wednesday, November 3, 1999 - 12:07 EST)

A press release today from Agfa Corp.'s Desktop Products Group announces that the company's ePhoto CL30, ePhoto CL50 and ePhoto Smile cameras are to be carried by Ritz Camera, the largest full-service photographic chain in the USA. The ePhoto CL30 is a 1 megapixel camera with 2x digital zoom, CompactFlash storage, and a price-tag of $349. The CL50 meanwhile has a 1.2 megapixel CCD, sunlight-assisted LCD backlight, voice annotation and a price of $549. The ePhoto Smile, finally, has an interpolated resolution of 640 x 480 (optical resolution unknown), 2MB of non-removeable memory, and a price of $129. The ePhoto CL30 and CL50 also have an additional $50 mail-in rebate program currently; this is not available on the ePhoto Smile.

Tuesday, November 2, 1999

Sony officially announces MD Discam!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Tuesday, November 2, 1999 - 23:27 EST)

Sony has today officially announced its new MD Discam, a MiniDisc-based digital video camera which we first covered in our news item of September 1, "PC Watch posts IFA '99 day one and two reports!". The unit will ship in January at a price of $2,299, and features in-camera editing capabilities. Here's what our previous article had to say about the camera:

"Sony announced its MiniDisc Discam camcorder today, and Yamada concentrated on this. The DCM-M1 Discam uses MD Data2 discs, which overcome problems with the initial MD Data discs. MD Data discs had a low capacity of 140MB, and didn't catch on due to low speed and high price. MD Data2 discs increase capacity to a much more respectable 650MB, and have write speeds of 4.7MB/sec and read speeds of 9.6MB/sec... Yamada feels that the Discam is the first practical example of MD Data2 media in the world...

The concept of the Discam is that it doesn't require a PC to be used effectively; editing video is easy due to the near-instant speed of the media when compared to tapes. It is possible to retouch pictures in-camera with a simple "paint" program, as well as playing multiple videos alongside each other for comparison purposes (in the example, playing two golf swings alongside each other to compare form). It is also possible to apply effects like fades and transitions, and Yamada felt that the ability to do all of this in the camera without needing a PC was truly groundbreaking.

The camera records in MPEG-2 format, and whilst Yamada felt this was fine for video he did think that the picture quality for stills wasn't as good as in JPEG still images. The camera can only record 20 minutes of video per MiniDisc (only 10 minutes if the camera is set for highest picture quality), nowhere near as long as for tape media. Yamada felt though that this was acceptable, as you are unlikely to need to record one continuous shot longer than 20 minutes in length, and it is always possible to just pop in a new Data2 disc.

Interestingly, the PC connectivity of the camera wasn't an i.LINK interface as might be expected, but rather unexpectedly the camera had an Ethernet interface. Apparently the decision was made that Ethernet cards are far more commonplace, and easy to obtain. The camera communicates with the PC via TCP/IP, allowing you to operate it from a standard web browser. Yamada pointed out that this raised the possibility of connecting the camera to the Internet, to show images to somebody on the other side of the world, although the booth staff didn't mention this possibility themselves...

Sony gave no indication as to when they intend this product to reach the marketplace, nor at what price, and whilst Yamada felt that he understood the reasoning behind this, he hoped that it would be as soon as possible..."

Epson announces Stylus Color 1160 printer!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Tuesday, November 2, 1999 - 23:04 EST)

Epson America Inc. yesterday announced its new Stylus Color 1160 inkjet printer. The 1160 is a wide format printer, capable of creating prints up to 13" x 44" at a resolution of 1,440 dpi (dots per inch) using four ink colors for photo quality output. A minimum droplet size of 4 picoliters is quoted, and the printer, which features both parallel and USB interfaces, is rated at 9.5 ppm (pages per minute) in black, or 7 ppm in color. Ink levels can be confirmed on the printer's screen before starting print job, to eliminate wasted paper and ink on partial prints, and the printer also offers 2 or 4-pages per sheet, watermark and print preview features in its driver. The Stylus Color 1160 is available immediately at a price of $449, with a $50 mail-in rebate available.

Steve's Digicams post Kodak DC280 review!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Tuesday, November 2, 1999 - 22:55 EST)

The fine folks over at the Steve's Digicams website have now posted a review of Kodak's DC280 digital camera. Here's what Steve had to say about the DC280:

"In its resolution class and price point I think the DC280 will sell well. There's no denying that the Kodak brand gives it a certain edge over the "other digicams" as Kodak is synonymous with photography here in the U.S. Ease of use, speed of processing and image quality considered, the DC280 represents a good value for the consumer."

Check out the full review here!

SmartDisk ships FlashPath for MemoryStick!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Tuesday, November 2, 1999 - 22:46 EST)

SmartDisk Corp. has today announced that it has provided the first volume hipments of its FlashPath floppy disk adapter for MemoryStick media to Sony Corp. The FlashPath MemoryStick adapter was first announced August 23 in our news item "A big news day at Sony!", and Sony's intention at that time was for the adapter to ship in November at a price of $99.95. Today's announcement suggests that Sony should have no difficulties meeting this target... The FlashPath MemoryStick adapter is model number MSAC-FD1A.

DuncanTech announces DT1100 digital camera!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Tuesday, November 2, 1999 - 12:04 EST)

DuncanTech Inc., a Californian company involved in manufacture of digital cameras for industrial, agricultural and medical use, has today announced its new DT1100 digital camera, available immediately. The DT1100 uses a 1392 x 1040 pixel (effective) CCD, and captures images at 7.5 frames per second. The unit is controlled via an RS-232 serial interface, and is capable of customizeable real-time image processing, for use in applications such as vision systems etc. The camera can be set to synchronize itself with an external signal, and is available in both monochrome and color versions.

Digital Camera Resource Page reviews Ricoh RDC-5300!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Tuesday, November 2, 1999 - 11:16 EST)

As promised in our news item yesterday entitled "DCRP posts D-450Z samples, slide copier review", the fine folks over at the Digital Camera Resource Page have now posted a review of Ricoh's RDC-5300 digital camera. Alex Dunne, who reviewed the unit, had the following to say:

"As an update to the RDC-5000, the 5300 has some nice new features which keep it in the running with the other 2Mpixel cameras in its class. Yes, there are some design flaws with it, but I don’t think they’re significant enough to prevent a recommendation for this camera. It’s a well-rounded camera in terms of features and functionality, and at $699 like its predecessor, it’s an excellent value."

Check the full review out here!

Monday, November 1, 1999

Epson announces rebate on Stylus Color 660 printer!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Monday, November 1, 1999 - 23:36 EST)

Epson has today announced a rebate on its Stylus Color 660 inkjet printer, a 1440x720 dpi (dots per inch) photo quality printer with parallel and USB connectivity. The unit features print speeds of 5PPM (pages per minute) in black and white, and 3.5PPM in color. Whilst the unit is not USB-capable out of the box, a mail-in coupon is provided for a free USB Adapter Kit, usually $39. Also in the box is a $30 rebate coupon, bringing the unit's street price of $129 down to a final price of $99 including the USB kit.

A similar press release notes that a new $30 mail-in rebate brings Epson's Stylus Color 440 down from $99 to $69. The Stylus Color 440 features 720 x 720 dpi resolution.

MGI leads in photo editing retail market!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Monday, November 1, 1999 - 21:53 EST)

A press release today from MGI Software Corp. announces that the company is currently leading the worldwide market for photo editing software in terms of unit shipments. The release, pointing to a report titled "Photo Editing: One Size Does Not Fit All" by market research company Dataquest, reveals that the company had a 38.3% share of the worldwide market in terms of unit shipments, and 28.3% in terms of revenue. The company also had the highest revenue and shipment figures in the individual markets for the US, Canada, Europe and Asia Pacific. Adding to this was a note that the second placed company worldwide (with 12.8% of shipments and 20.1% of revenues) was Live Picture, recently purchased by MGI...

DCRP posts D-450Z samples, slide copier review!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Monday, November 1, 1999 - 15:50 EST)

Showing themselves to be hard at work as ever, we see that our friends over at the Digital Camera Resource Page have posted sample pictures from Olympus' D-450 Zoom digital camera, and a review of the Happenstance slide copier. Planned for tomorrow is a review of Ricoh's RDC-5300... Jeff also picked up word of a 5x zoom attachment, the DigiZoom, for most digital cameras which works with any camera with at least 2x digital zoom and a threaded lens. The sample pictures from manufacturer Eagle Eye are impressive, to say the least!

SanDisk increases flash capacity with 256Mbit technology!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Monday, November 1, 1999 - 15:42 EST)

A press release today from SanDisk Corp. announces the imminent debut of its new line of flash products based on 256 Megabit D2 (Double Density) technology. The new technology sees increases to a maximum of 64MB in MultiMediaCards and SD Memory Cards, 192MB for Type-I CompactFlash cards, 300MB for Type-II CF cards, and a whopping 1.2 gigabytes for Type II PC cards. A new Type III PC Card will go even further, topping out at 1.6 GB.

From the press release, here's a little more info:

""Sampling of the new SanDisk flash memory cards, drives and chipsets, with the exception of the MultiMediaCard and SD Memory Card started in October, 1999, with production shipments starting in November - December, 1999. The new MultiMediaCards and SD Memory Card will range in capacity between 32 and 64 MB while Type I CompactFlash cards will range between 24 and 192 MB capacities. Type II PC Card and FlashDrive capacities will range between 32 MB and 1.2 GB.

Some sample, high volume OEM pricing: CF card, 192 MB -- $382; CF card, Type II, 300 MB -- $598; PC card, Type II, 1.2 GB -- $2400; Flashdrives, 1.2 GB -- $2400; PC card, Type III, 1.6 GB -- $3200."

Steve's Digicams posts review of Sony Mavica FD-91!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Monday, November 1, 1999 - 15:31 EST)

The fine folks over at Steve's Digicams have posted a review of Sony's Mavica FD-91 digital camera, which features a truly incredible 14x optical zoom lens with image stabilisation. Here's how Steve sums things up:

"Overall I like this camera but its image size and quality isn't quite up to par with its peers. For bird watchers or action freaks this camera will more than fill the bill as the 14X zoom makes up for a lot of things. Some of the newer MAVICA cameras have broken the megapixel barrier and I expect we'll be seeing future models using the Sony MemoryStick, either by itself or in the floppy disk adapter. The 1.44MB diskettes may be highly portable but they are severely limited as an image storage medium. Sony uses a little too much JPEG compression on its images to get more images stored per diskette."

Check the full review out here!

Nogatech announces WinCE digital videocam reference design!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Monday, November 1, 1999 - 15:09 EST)

Integrated circuit developer Nogatech Inc. has created a reference design for a WindowsCE digital video camera in cooperation with JVC, according to a press release today. The USBvision NT1003 chip, evaluation board, and reference design kits, now available, can be used to add a digital video camera capable of 640 x 480 still images, audio, and video at 15 frames per second (fps) in VGA or 30fps in CIF resolution.

Calluna brings 260MB PC Card drive to retail!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Monday, November 1, 1999 - 13:46 EST)

Calluna Technology Ltd. has announced in a press release today that it is bringing its 260MB Type-II PC Card hard disk drive to the retail channel, where it has "identified a substantial growth opportunity". The announcement comes alongside a new name for the drive, aimed at "allowing the brand name to clearly communicate the benefits and essence of the product". The drive, to be sold under the moveIT brand, is now available from a variety of retail and mail-order outlets at a price of $299.

HP Cartogra goes live with F5 Networks!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Monday, November 1, 1999 - 13:40 EST)

Hewlett-Packard Co.'s Cartogra photo-sharing website has gone live today, according to a press release from F5 Networks. F5 has provided its BIG/ip controller for the site, to ensure "high reliability, manageability, scalability, and speed". HP Inkjet Imaging Solutions President, Antonio Perez, had the following to say on the announcement: "We are committed to providing our customers with the richest photo imaging experience possible. By partnering with F5 Networks, we can provide a higher degree of performance to our photo Web site."

Umax announces AstraCam digital camera!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Monday, November 1, 1999 - 13:34 EST)

Umax has today announced its low cost AstraCam digital camera, a $199 unit available immediately which features USB connectivity and audio capability. The AstraCam has an optical resolution of 640 x 480, interpolated up to a maximum of 1280 x 960 pixels. Here's the full specs:

 - Umax AstraCam
- 640 x 480 pixel optical resolution, interpolated to a
maximum of 1280 x 960 pixels
- USB connectivity via a USB docking cradle
- Audio capability, able to store up to 20 seconds of
audio with each picture
- 4MB of internal, non-removeable memory offers up to
46 pictures, or 31 pictures with audio enabled
- Built-in rechargeable batteries charge when the unit
is in its docking station
- "After Shot Recovery" allows for image data direct
from the camera's DSP (Digital Signal Processor) to be
used to recalculate the white balance of an image in
the PC
- Bundled with Adobe PhotoDeluxe (Home Edition) and Umax
PhotoCabinet (archiving software with ability to
annotate photos with audio or text messages, and search
- Dimensions of 4.3" x 3.2" x 1.3"

Club Photo announces i.Share Plug-In!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Monday, November 1, 1999 - 13:13 EST)

Online photo-sharing and finishing service Club Photo has today announced a new way for users of Adobe's PhotoShop, PhotoShop LE and PhotoDeluxe products to share their photos through the site. Using the i.Share plugin, users can add their edited image to their Club Photo album of choice, with just a single mouse-click, without having to leave PhotoShop or PhotoDeluxe. The plugin can be downloaded free of charge from Club Photo's website, and is available immediately.

Canon announces CanoScan FB630 series scanners!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Monday, November 1, 1999 - 12:35 EST)

Canon Computer Systems Inc. has today announced two new flatbed scanners, the CanoScan FB 630U and FB 630P. The FB630 series scanners, identical except for their interface (USB for the 630U and parallel for the 630P), feature an optical resolution of 600 x 1200 dpi (dots per inch) in 36-bit color, and a low weight of three pounds in a 1.5-inch tall package. The 630P (now available) costs $99 and the 630U will cost about $129, when it ships in January 2000. The 630P also currently has a $20 mail-in rebate available, bringing the final price down to about $79.

UMAX announces Astra MX3 scanner!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Monday, November 1, 1999 - 12:23 EST)

UMAX Technologies Inc. has today announced its new Astra MX3 scanner, a SCSI/USB unit designed specifically for Apple's iMac and G3/G4 systems, which features one touch scanning buttons. The MX3, estimated to sell for $179 and available immediately, has a translucent blue lid to mimic the iMac's styling, copy and scan buttons (plus a third, user-defineable button), an optical resolution of 600 x 1200 dpi (dots per inch), in 36-bit color, and a software bundle including Adobe PhotoDeluxe Home Edition, Caere OmniPage LE OCR, Presto! PageManager and Presto! PhotoAlbum LE.



AOL Alert: Several readers connecting via AOL have complained of poor image quality when using the AOL web browser. This is caused by a setting called "compress images" in the browser that causes it to completely mangle images in the interest of faster transmission. You should turn this setting OFF before viewing any of the comparison images on this site.

  • FLASH: Thanks to reader Lynn Mannan, here's an explanation of how to make the correct settings adjustments (at least in AOL 4.0 for PCs):
    • I opened the "My AOL" preferences screen in the toolbar across the top. Then I clicked on WWW icon and selected the "web graphics" tab where I unchecked the "compressed graphics" choice and clicked on the Apply button at the bottom. Now the scanner test pictures are gorgeous. The pictures take a long time to load. But they are worth waiting for. Thank you, Lynn!