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Friday, April 30, 1999
April 30 - Epson bundles Polaroid software, and more!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Friday, April 30, 1999 - 0:00 EDT)
- Epson bundles Polaroid PhotoMAX Pro! A press release today from Polaroid announces that Epson has agreed to bundle Polaroid's PhotoMAX Pro image editor with its new Epson Stylus Photo 750 inkjet printer. The Stylus Photo 750 is available now at a price of $299 (street), and offers an amazing 6-picoliter inkdrop-size (very small, allowing for finer detail in prints), a resolution of 1440 x 720dpi, 6-color photo inks and USB connectivity.
- Not really digital imaging related...yet, but interesting nonetheless was a press release from Luxell Technologies Inc., announcing its new sunlight-legible flat panel display. The unit is designed in a "3ATI" package, which is one commonly used for aircraft avionics displays, with a diagonal of a little over 3". The display offers the industry's highest contrast-ratio coupled with patented "Black Layer" technology, which is where this display gets interesting. Black Layer apparently works by absorbing a range of light frequencies that would normally be reflected, cutting down reflection from 75% to only 2%. The principle, as I understand it, is that without all the reflected light, you need a lot less backlighting to make a visible picture, as it is not being drowned out by the reflected light... Why is this of interest, you ask? Only in idle speculation of this sort of technology making it into our digital
cameras - I could see a combination of the "sun-assisted" backlights, a normal backlight for at night and something similar to Black Layer technology making for a display that uses vastly less power than our battery-hungry digicam LCDs today... Less power consumption means either a dramatic increase in battery life, or a dramatic decrease in battery size and weight. Either way round, the future's looking bright, if you'll pardon my pun!
- A victim of our own success? Well, we'd like to think so... You may have noticed that the Imaging Resource has been a little slow to load over the last few days, and there's a combination of reasons for this... Lots of you were busying reading our Olympus C-2000ZOOM review and downloading all the sample pictures to judge for yourselves, at the same time as our ISP (internet provider)'s own provider was having problems with data being lost on one of their links. Add to this that we managed to exceed our ISP's total bandwidth at times, and the net result has been that things have gotten a little slow, particularly around our peak periods (weekday afternoons, US EST)... Good news though, is that as a result of this, our ISP is more than doubling their bandwidth, and so by the start of next week once the new lines go in, things should be back up to full speed again!
Thursday, April 29, 1999
April 29 - Coolpix700 reviewed, Coolpix950 vs. C-2000ZOOM, and lots more!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Thursday, April 29, 1999 - 0:00 EDT)
- It's been a long day... and Mike must sincerely apologize to Phil Askey over at the excellent Digital Photography Review website (http://photo.askey.net) for overlooking making a link to him in our news article two items below. I guess I just got a little too busy for my own good, as I've just noticed I also missed putting in today's news title!Apologies, Phil, and thanks for pointing out my error!
- PC Watch reviews Coolpix700, compares Coolpix950 with C-2000ZOOM! The PC Watch website has reviewed Nikon's Coolpix700 digital camera, which as just started shipping in Japan. The Coolpix700 is essentially a Coolpix950 without the zoom lens or manual capabilities, in a more conventional "instamatic"-type casing. There are a lot of pictures both of and from the camera, as well as an absolutely vast review that we've not as yet had time to translate from its original Japanese. Also posted is a shoot-off between Nikon's Coolpix950 and Olympus' C-200ZOOM. There's a lot of pictures of both cameras, as well as sample images (Olympus first, then Nikon, if you don't read Japanese ;) and again, another vast comparison in Japanese. Once we have some free time, we'll translate it for you, but to summarise, PC Watch
felt the C-2000ZOOM the easier camera to use, but the Coolpix950 to yield better final results. Watch this space for more later!
- Thanks to the Digital Photography Review... for these two items! Canon has released new TWAIN drivers for the Powershot Pro70, A5, A5Zoom, A50 and 350 digital cameras on their website. The new drivers, according to Canon, are supposed to improve white balance correction between CCD-RAW and JPEG modes. Also from the same site is news of a comparison of Canon's PowerShot A5 Zoom and A50 digital cameras, by reader Joseph Luk... Joseph rushed out to buy a PowerShot A50 (from Japan, where it is now shipping) and has put his findings online on his website!
- Lexmark announces $89 inkjet printer! Lexmark has announced in a press release today its new Z11 inkjet printer, a replacement for the 1100 printer. According to the release, the printer is the fastest sub-$100 unit on the market, capable of 4ppm (pages per minute) in black, and 2.5ppm in color. The press release doesn't detail specifics of the printer beyond noting that all Lexmark "Z" printers have the same resolution as each other, and all but one use identical print cartridges. Looking at the specs for Lexmark's Z51, I see that the resolution is 1200 x 1200dpi, and the printer can take photo ink-cartridges - this presumably also goes for the $89 inkjet printer, but until Lexmark post specs on their website I cannot confirm this... The printer will retail at $89 (including a $30 mail-in rebate). naturalsizeflag="0">
- Sandisk spreads its wings still further! We noted in a news item on April 23 that SanDisk had announced the opening of a new production line in China for its flash memory products, and see that they have now also announced manufacturing capabilities in Taiwan. A press release announces that their MultiMediaCard product is being manufactured by Taiwanese companies Siliconware Precision Industries Co. Ltd. and Siliconware Corp., and that the new Taiwanese plant will be ready for volume shipments by May. MultiMediaCards are currently made in capacities of 4, 8 or 16MB, while 30 and 32MB cards will begin shipping in May (coinciding presumably with the commencement of European retail sales of the cards, with worldwide sales coming later this summer...)
- Sound Vision announces new digital camera design! Sound Vision of Framingham, MA, has announced a new digital camera design (SV1301) with a targetted street price of $150, now ready for production. The design is based on Sound Vision's Clarity 2.0 ASIC chip, Kopin CyberDisplay, HP VGA CMOS, USB connectivity, audio capture and playback, and customisable firmware.
- MGI bundles software! MGI has announced that it has successfully secured bundling agreements that should see MGI software ship with about 2 million scanners this year. Agreements have been signed with Avigramm Technologies Corp., Ultima Electronics Corp. and Kye Systems Corp., covering both scanners sold under their own brandnames and rebadged units.
- Widecom announces fastest large-document scanner! Widecom Group Inc. has announced a new large-format E-sized (36" x 48") color scanner (SLC1036C), capable of scanning in 400dpi at 4ips (inches per second) in monochrome, resulting in a total of 12 seconds to scan an E-sized document. Color scans are also double the speed of Widecom's entry-level SLC936 scanner, and the new unit is priced at $12,900. As a comparison, Widecom quotes a speed of 3ips and a cost of $25,000 for the next fastest competitor's scanner. The SLC1036C can scan up to resolutions of 1,000dpi, 24-bit color, and uses a SCSI interface. A monochrome-only version, the SLC1036+, is priced at $9,995.
Wednesday, April 28, 1999
April 28 - A slow news day...
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Wednesday, April 28, 1999 - 0:00 EDT)
- Cyclovision exhibits ParaShot! Cyclovision has announced that its ParaShot technology was exhibited at the Interactive Sports '99 West conference held April 26 & 27 in Santa Monica, CA. ParaShot is a combination of hardware and software which allows digicam owners to take a full panoramic image in one shot, which is processed with the ParaShot software, and requires no stitching.
- CrystalGraphics and JVC announce PhotoActive FX! Although only partially digital imaging related, we felt this might be of interest to those of you who use your digicams for business presentations (and let's face it, there's just not been much digicam news the last couple of days!). CrystalGraphics and JVC have announced a plugin for Microsoft PowerPoint 97 and 2000 which allows users to apply a variety of still and animated effects to their photos. Still photo effects include Coloring, Cookie Cutters, Edges, Frames, Fine Arts, Lights & Shadows, Rotations, Text, Texture Art and Transformations, whilst animated photo effects include Full-Image Effects, Animated Text, Transitions In and Transitions Out. PhotoActive FX 1 should cost $79, and extra effects will be sold separately. A trial version can be downloaded from CrystalGraphics' website.
Monday, April 26, 1999
April 26 - Olympus C-2000 review, Coolpix900 upgrades, and more!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Monday, April 26, 1999 - 0:00 EDT)
- Olympus C-2000 Zoom review is up! The full review is now up for the Olympus C-2000 Zoom, including the picture index page, a condensed "Executive Overview", and all the relevant images stitched into the Comparometer(tm). Because we didn't duplicate some of the product shots from our original "First Look" review in the new piece, we've also left the "First Look" article up.
We found the C-2000 Zoom to be an impressive 2-megapixel digicam, with the best exposure control of any camera we've tested to date (True 1/3 f-stop resolution in both aperture and shutter-priority modes), and excellent image quality, particularly the color rendition. When used with a garden-variety external flash unit, the range of creative control is phenomenal! Check out the review for the full story.
- Nikon commences Coolpix900 upgrades! Thanks to Steve's Digicams for noting that Nikon has now commenced its upgrade program for the Coolpix900 digital camera. The upgrade, available for $85 + $10 shipping/handling charges, is being performed at the Melville, N.Y. Authorised Service Center, and introduces the following changes, according to Nikon's webpage:
"1-Sleep mode setting in rec. mode 30 secs to 30 minutes, play mode sleep settings remain the same(m)
2-Exposure compensation in .5 ev steps(m)
3-Format CF command from play mode(a)
4-Flash mode setting retained after power-off(a)
The External flash sync connection is not part of this update.
Power up and down time improvement is not part of this update."
Payment is accepted by Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Optima, as well as by check. An updated PDF version of the manual is posted online, and full details are available here.
- Agfa announces ScanWise software! Agfa has announced its new ScanWise scanner software, due to ship with the Agfa SnapScan 1212 series scanners in mid-May, and a downloadable version to be placed on Agfa's website for current 1212 users at the same time. A SnapScan 1236s version will ship in June, and a downloadable version will likewise be released at the same time. The new software incorporates Agfa's ColorTune and PhotoGenie technology, and has been designed for maximum ease of use. It can automatically detect the type of document being scanned, as well as the capabilities of the program it is communicating with, to ensure an optimum scan, and also provides manual control over color and size settings.
- HP announces HP2500CM InkJet Printer! HP has today announced its new 2500CM small-workgroup color inkjet printer. The 2500CM comes with a 10/100Base-T MIO card, Adobe PostScript 3 capability, black print-speeds up to 11 ppm (pages per minute) and color speeds up to 9ppm. It can handle media up to 13 x 19 inches, has two paper trays for up to 400 sheets in total, and comes with 20MB of RAM (expandable to 76MB). No mention is made of resolution, but the printer does incorporate HP's PhotoRetII technology for photo-quality output. The HP2500CM should retail at about US$1,499.
- Nikon Coolpix950 user reviews online! The Digital Camera Resource Page has posted three user reviews of the new Coolpix950 digital camera, as well as sample images... All three users loved their cameras - in fact, I'm amazed any of them found time in their photo-taking to write their reviews!
Friday, April 23, 1999
April 23 - SanDisk goes overseas, Rollei postpones digicams, and more!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Friday, April 23, 1999 - 0:00 EDT)
- SanDisk expands to China! SanDisk Corp. has announced the opening of a new high-tech production plant in Changping, China (about 100 miles northwest of Hong Kong), and a new strategy based on off-shore manufacturing. Until recently, all of SanDisk's products were manufactured in Sunnyvale, CA., but under the new strategy 75% of products will be made in China with the remaining 25% of high-end or customer-specific products being made in Sunnyvale. The Chinese operation has been contracted to $3.3 billion high-volume contract manufacturer Celestica, which also works with Compaq, IBM, Dell and HP. SanDisk sees the move as readying it for the extremely high sales volumes that are likely, given the flash market's current growth.
- Rollei postpones digicams for upgrade! Rollei has decided to postpone the launch of its 1.4 megapixel "d 24 flex", "d 30 flex", "d 7 flex" and "d 7 metric" digital cameras, according to the digitalkamera.de website. The cameras, originally announced at the Photokina show last year, were planned to have been launched last month but put back to a Summer '99 launch. The digitalkamera.de article now reveals that the launch has again been rescheduled, with the intention now being for the cameras to be launched with a higher-resolution CCD and updated electronics!Thanks to digitalkamera.de for this item!
- ZDTV reveals details of ixla Digicam Suite Plus! ZDTV has revealed details of the digital camera bundled with ixla's Digital Camera Suite Plus in a brief review, before I could manage to get details from Tekom (manufacturer of the camera) themselves. According to ZDTV, the bundled Tekom 320 Minipix camera has a resolution of 320 x 240 - not ideal, but for a package that including software comes to $99, you do get what you pay for... The package should hopefully introduce plenty of new users to digital photography - let's just hope they aren't put off by the resolution from staying with digital photography...Thanks to the Digital Camera Resource Page for catching this!
- Joseph Bollentini heads to ArcSoft, Inc.! We revealed in an item on April 19th the departure of Ricoh Consumer Products Group's Senior Vice President Joseph Bollentini, to the Silicon Valley Software Group. Well, it appears that whoever drafted Ricoh's press release got it a little wrong, in that it should probably have read "a Silicon Valley software group"... Mr. Bollentini has actually taken up the position of Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President of digital imaging software firm ArcSoft Inc. ArcSoft makes OEM software for the likes of Adaptec, Creative Labs, IBM, Epson, Lexmark, Polaroid, Ricoh, Sony and Xerox, as well as running its PhotoIsland.com website which retails ArcSoft's software and provides digital imaging news and services.
- DreamArts' Digicam Comparisons updated! The Japanese DreamArts website has published two new digicam comparisons. The first is their usual "Japanese skyline" sample images, from the following cameras (telephoto and wideangle shots, where applicable):
Leica Digilux, equivalent to FinePix 700 (FINE)
Canon PowerShot A50 (Large, FINE)
Kodak DC240 Zoom (BEST)
Olympus C-1400XL (SHQ)
Sony Cybershot Pro DSC-D700 (new firmware, HIGH)
Kodak DC260 Zoom (BEST)
Olympus C-2000 Zoom (SHQ)
Nikon Coolpix 950 (FINE)
Fuji FinePix 2700 (FINE)
Second is the color comparison, which is DreamArts' picture of a color chart, stuffed animal and some soft-drinks cans:
Fuji DS-30 (FINE)
Sanyo DSC-X110 (Hi1)
Canon PowerShot A50 (Large, FINE)
Kodak DC240 Zoom (BEST)
Kodak DC260 Zoom (BEST)
Olympus C-900 Zoom (SHQ)
Leica Digilux (FINE)
Olympus C-1400XL (SHQ, 5500K)
Canon PowerShot Pro70 (Large, FINE)
Sony CyberShot Pro DSC-D700 (HI, AWB & outdoor)
Epson CP-800 (Beta version, AWB & daylight)
Olympus C-2000 Zoom (SHQ, AWB & daylight)
Nikon Coolpix 950 (FINE, AWB & daylight)
Fuji FinePix 2700 (FINE)
Thursday, April 22, 1999
April 22 - Hitachi makes 16MB MMC card, a fix for the Rio SmartMedia problem, and more!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Thursday, April 22, 1999 - 0:00 EDT)
- Hitachi produces first 16MB MultiMediaCard! Hitachi has announced sample availability of the first 16MB MultiMediaCard, the 1.5 gram postage-stamp sized flash card. The new capacity is achieved through the use of Hitachi's Multi Level Cell (MLC) technology, which was also used to develop the world's first 256 Mbit flash component, and the largest available PC Card and CompactFlash cards, at 640MB and 192MB respectively. The card is based on Hitachi's AND-type flash memory and a SuperH RISC CPU core, and samples will ship in May at a price of US$65 each.
Dimensions - 32 x 24 x 1.4 mm
Weight - 1.5g
Operating Temperature - -20 - 85C
Voltage - 2.7 - 3.6 V
Write Current - 35 mA
Read Current - 33 mA
Write Speed - 7.7 Mbits/s
Read Speed - 17 Mbits/s
- Fix those Rio-ized SmartMedia cards! At long last, there's a solution for readers who've lost SmartMedia cards to the Diamond Rio MP3 player! More than a few of you have found that when you put your digicam's SmartMedia card into a Rio, it ceases to work anywhere other than the Rio - its down to copyright issues which basically forced Diamond's hand in making the Rio incompatible with other SmartMedia devices so that nobody could use the Rio for illegally pirating CDs. Well, unfortunately nobody considered the problem this would cause users who made the mistake of putting their SmartMedia card into the Rio, as there was no way to undo this process - until now... Steve's Digicams received an email from reader Matt Chroust to let him know of a piece of software called "Dreaming of Brazil". The program, coded by Harald Niesche, restores the card to its default formatted state ready for use in your digicam again. While we still wouldn't recommend using your
SmartMedia cards in a Rio (the digicam manufacturers are getting very unhappy about this), if you've already "broken" one, you can now restore it... "Dreaming of Brazil" can be downloaded here.
- QImage Pro v4.0 available! Thanks also to Steve's Digicams for this item - Steve received an email from Mike Chaney, author of QImage Pro to let him know that the new version 4.0 is now released! New features include Freehand placement of images on the page, visual resizing of images, and the ability to remember the last printer setup used, amongst others... Thanks to Mike Chaney and Steve's Digicams!
- PhotoLoft.com colocates at AboveNet! Image Hosting website PhotoLoft.com has announced that it will be colocating its web servers at the facility of AboveNet Communications Inc. AboveNet is an ISO9002 certified network provider offering extremely high-bandwidth low-downtime facilities for hosting critical websites, mostly those of major Corporations and Internet Service Providers. PhotoLoft.com's image hosting service is unique in allowing users to print images directly from the web photo album in their web browser at above the 72 dpi (dots per inch) limit normally imposed by the browser.
- ixla Explorer 3.0 awarded Best of Comdex! ixla has announced in a press release that its ixla Explorer 3.0 product has been selected to receive the "Best of Comdex - Desktop Utility" award. The award was given by Eric Lundquist, editor-in-chief of PC Week magazine at the Comdex/Spring and Windows World '99 show. Lundquist noted:
"ixla Explorer allows users to easily create thumbnail catalogs of their digital images and convert those images to different formats on the fly. Simplification of digital camera management as well as a built-in Web page creator make ixla Explorer a must-have utility for desktop users."
Wednesday, April 21, 1999
April 21 - HP sued over ink cartridges, Nikon awards prize, and much more!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Wednesday, April 21, 1999 - 0:00 EDT)
- HP faces class action suit! Hewlett Packard yesterday was accused of anti-competitive tactics in the sale of its inkjet printer cartridges by entrepreneur Ron. L. Jones, who simultaneously filed a class action lawsuit through international law firm Coudert Brothers against HP over the matter. Purchasers of HPs 51608A, 51625A, 51626A, 51633A and 51633M cartridges for the HP 500, 600, 700 and 2000 printers are covered in this suit, which Coudert Brothers says involves a market in excess of $1 billion per year. According to Coudert Brothers, HP has been reported in the financial press as receiving 67% profit margins on its ink cartridges, and uses what HP supposedly refers to as "FUD" (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) tactics to ensure that consumers do not purchase competitors' cartridges. The suit also claims that HPs practice of integrating the printhead with the cartridge is an illegal tying arrangement
akin to requiring customers to buy a new gas tank every time they refill their car with gasoline. Ron L. Jones' company Colossal Graphics previously won a US$363,000 judgement from HP on claims of fraud and breach of contract - HP is currently contesting the breach of contract claim, but not the fraud claim.
- Nikon awards $10,000 to sales rep! Nikon has published a press release announcing the winner of its "Get Digital with Duke Days" dealer promotion, which ran from 11/01/98 to 02/28/99. Albert San Miguel of retailer PC Connection was lucky enough to have his winning card drawn, and had his choice of the $10,000 prize (which he chose) or a one-year lease of a Hummer all-terrain vehicle. The prize was presented April 20 at the headquarters of PC Connection in Merrimack, New Hampshire by Nikon Imaging Division Northeast Region Sales Representative Jay Siegel.
- photohighway.com provides news, statistics and more! Three press releases were issued by photohighway.com, the web subsidiary of IXLA Limited. First off, it announced a new weekly digital imaging newsletter, to be edited by Lawrence White. Lawrence founded the HyperZine website, and was previously Technical Director of Popular Photography Magazine and Modern Photography. He has also written for numerous magazines including Video, Video Pro, Amazing Amiga Computing, Wired and Compute!, as well as having contributed to both the World Book Encyclopaedia and the McGraw-Hill Science Encyclopaedia. Other writers for the first issue due to be emailed this week are Jack Neubart, Mason Resnick, Tim Liebe, Joe Marvullo, Elinor Stecker-Orel, Alexis Gerard and Ron Tussy. The first issue will include press releases from manufacturers, a price-watch of selected products, and items on a number of topics such as Using
Software to Create the Better Image,'' ``Plug-in- Of -the week,'' ``Digital Stills from Video,'' ``Travel Photography,'' and reviews of the Kodak DC265 camera and the Polaroid PhotoMax Printer.
Next up is a release noting that the photohighway.com website will offer IXLA's Digital Camera Interface Internet (DCII) technology, which will allow users to upload images directly from their camera to the Internet, freeing up space on memory cards and allowing friends and family to view the images immediately. DCII works with over 125 cameras, and is compatible with the latest Microsoft and Netscape web browsers.
Finally, there was a note that photohighway.com has agreed to link up with Imerge Consulting Group to provide consumer surveys and reports to vendors who sign up as sponsors of the site. Three levels of service will be offered as follows:
Platinum - long-term primary research with 6 surveys per year, 30 questions per survey, based on a minimum one-year subscription.
Gold - 30-question quarterly surveys, based on a one-year subscription.
Silver - For one-time customised surveys of varying lengths.
- Sears to carry Agfa SnapScan! Thanks to the PMAI Newsline for this item - they're currently carrying a news story noting that Agfa has signed a deal with Sears Roebuck & Co., who will now carry the Agfa SnapScan 1212u in all stores nationwide!
- Photo critic has concerns about digital photography! Also from PMAI Newsline is an item concerning a recent panel discussion regarding digital photography in the media, held in Shizuoka, Japan. According to PMAI's write-up, the common concern that digital images can easily be altered was raised, and the Associated Press is now looking into digital watermarking technologies, to ensure this doesn't happen. Photography critic Osam Hiraki, who was also concerned by the easy-to-alter nature of digital images, pointed out however that altering images is not a new thing, and we can change the entire meaning of a picture with just the caption. Not content with this wise gem alone, Mr. Hiraki also cautioned that perhaps the main problem to Photo Editors from digital imaging is not images which have been retouched, but instead the sheer speed with which images can come in. He asks whether we even have time to consider an image and what it shows, before we are forced to make a
decision...? Wise words indeed!Thanks to the PMAI Newsline!
Tuesday, April 20, 1999
April 20 - Epson CP-800 preview, and lots more!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Tuesday, April 20, 1999 - 0:00 EDT)
- PC Watch previews Epson CP-800! PC Watch has previewed the upcoming 2.14 megapixel CP-800 digital camera from Epson. 11 sample images are online, although the reviewer cautions that the images are from a Beta version of the camera and may not accurately represent those from the final release version. The reviewer liked the high-quality, slim aluminum alloy body, commenting that the camera is really small enough to slip in a shirt pocket, and also was pleased by the user interface and in particular the lockeable mode dial, which prevents the camera being accidentally turned on. The camera offers full auto (including white balance), program and manual modes, and the reviewer comments that the full auto mode is good for inexperienced users and with digital cameras eventually being used by the whole family, will be an important feature. In program mode, the user has control over white balance
and exposure correction, while manual mode allows control over shutter speed and aperture (although only F2.4 and F8). Althought it is a little difficult to translate, the reviewer also appears to note that the camera has some manual focus capability, with three near-focus settings and an infinity setting. The camera also seems to have a mode which allows for rapid bursts of photos (up to 9) to be selected, and then the user can select which of these to erase from the buffer and which to write to flash. The camera takes about 2 seconds to boot up, however the reviewer seemed annoyed that the camera took about 7 seconds until it was ready to take a photo if he wanted to use the LCD display for framing. The camera has a shot-shot time in fine mode of about 2 seconds. The reviewer liked the ability to vary the ISO rating of the camera, noting that whilst this does also increase noise in the picture, it allows photos to be taken in conditions where otherwise it would be
impossible, and the noise is still at a practical enough level. The camera was found to be very easy to use, and similar enough to a standard "instamatic" camera that you were not really aware of the digital nature of the unit when using it, with a nice bright viewfinder and also a bright 1.8-inch polysilicon TFT screen, although the reviewer did note that the picture was not very good on the LCD if there was a large range of brightness in the image. One problem which the reviewer had was a short battery life, with a set of NiMH batteries yielding about 80 photos with average LCD use - he found that if you don't use the LCD much you're probably safe, but if you use the LCD a lot for framing and aren't quick to frame your photos, you'll need extra batteries to carry with you... The camera has a bright F2.4 7mm lens (equivalent to 38mm on a 35mm camera) which the reviewer found to yield good resolution in combination with the 2.14 megapixel 1/2" CCD. The only other real issues
the reviewer found were an overabundance of noise in dark shadow areas of pictures, and perhaps a little over-zealous compression in higher compression modes degrading the picture quality. The HyPict interpolation function of the camera wasn't tested, but PC Watch do intend to deomsontrate this in a later review.
- Hagiwara to show FlashGate at Comdex Spring! Hagiwara Sys-Com, a Japanese PC peripherals company, has announced that it is showing its USB-based "FlashGate" SmartMedia reader at the Comdex Spring "Windows World" show (April 19-22, Chicago). The device supports 3.3V or 5V SmartMedia up to 128MB, and requires no external power supply. According to Hagiwara, the device transfers data at up to 130 times faster than serial devices, and is available now at a price of US$99.
- Flashpoint exhibits Digita apps in Japan! The PC Watch website is currently carrying a news item about a recent conference by FlashPoint in Japan. FlashPoint CEO David Platt attended, and outlined FlashPoint's development plans including plans for a linkup with an Internet company to allow Digita-OS cameras to connect to the internet, email images to a processor, and receive prints back - all without the need for a PC. FlashPoint announced the opening of a Japanese office, and showed a number of Digita applications.
DigitaFX, the in-camera image editor which we covered in a mini-review accompaying our DC265 review yesterday was first to be shown - it is due to be released in Japan at the end of May, at a price of 1,980 yen.
Next up was Digita Post, an in-camera email application allowing you to mail images directly from the camera as attachments. The camera can be connected directly to a modem (and it is hoped with the Japanese release that this will also be extended to allow direct connection to mobile phones or ISDN terminal adapters) and emails and addresses entered from a "software keyboard" or from the built-in address book. A nice touch is the ability to store small photos of people alongside their entry in the address book. Pricing and release date are as yet undecided, and Digita Post is still under development.
A Japanese website was announced, with Jigsaw 1.0 (a jigsaw-puzzle generator using your own images) and SlideShow 1.0 (a slide-show making application) available for download currently to registered users.
Finally, FlashPoint's tentatively-titled GPS Fun application, which allows connection of a GPS to your camera to add a stamp to the image recording location details was shown, although it could not be demonstrated since the conference was indoors and hence the GPS was not able to see any satellites to ascertain its position.
- New Japanese digicam sales rankings! PC Watch has released its sales rankings covering April 5 -18, with considerable changes from the previous period. Olympus' C-2000Zoom debuted in first place, and Canon's PowerShot A50 debuted in 10th place despiteonly having been on sale for the last 2 days of the two week ranking period. Notably, Nikon's CoolPix 950 didn't even show up due to a severe shortage of stock... Results for the top 10 are below (last fortnight's results in parentheses):
1 (-) - Olympus C-2000 Zoom
2 (5) - Sony DSC-F55K
3 (1) - Fuji FinePix 2700
4 (2) - Olympus C-900 Zoom
5 (6) - Fuji FinePix 700
6 (4) - Olympus D-340L
7 (7) - Sanyo DSC-X110
8 (8) - Fuji FinePix 500
9 (outside) - Kodak DC210A Zoom
10 (-) - Canon PowerShot A50
- SanDisk to supply CF cards for PowerShot A50! A press release from SanDisk Corp. today announces that it has agreed to supply Canon Inc. with 8MB CompactFlash cards for the new PowerShot A50 digital camera. According to SanDisk, the PowerShot A50 is the 76th digital camera to be designed with a specific slot for CompactFlash cards.
- PNI announces web-based multimedia management! Kodak subsidiary PNI (Picture Network International) has announced today at the National Association of Broadcasters show its new MediaQuest product. MediaQuest is a web-based multimedia management system, allowing digital images, artwork and video clips to be controlled from a central location, with access available to users worldwide and tight control of usage rights. MediaQuest is based on the same software that PNI uses for online stock photo services Publishers Depot and PictureQuest. MediaQuest has a sophisticated natural language search-engine, and requires a hefty dual Pentium-II 400MHz system with 256MB of RAM to run. It is due to ship in May, and pricing varies depending on the number of user licenses required.
Monday, April 19, 1999
April 19 (late PM) - Full DC265 review is now online!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Monday, April 19, 1999 - 0:00 EDT)
- We thought we'd never get done writing! Although its operation is essentially identical to that of the DC260 that we reviewed earlier, we wrote a completely newreview for Kodak's DC265, bringing it up to our current standards. While we liked the DC260 well enough, we were surprised to find how much more we liked the DC265: It seemed to be a case where the whole added up to more than the sum of the parts. Probably the biggest difference with the DC265 is that it has both a bigger buffer memory and a faster processor, so you can shoot up to 6 full-resolution images without pausing, vs just two with the DC260. This may not sound like that significant an issue, but we found it made a huge impact on how the camera felt to work with. Kodak apparently has also improved the color somewhat (and the DC260 did pretty well in the color department to begin with!), and added a "Super" resolution mode with less image
compression. We exercised the camera in all its image sizes and compression modes, and posted piles of images (over 150) for our readers to peruse. We also did a mini-review on FlashPoint's new Digita F/X in-camera image-editing program, and played with Phil William's excellent Xtend-A-Lens unit that gives the DC260 and DC265 accessory threads(!). Check it out!
April 19 - Konica announces delay, CoolPix950 production review, and more!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Monday, April 19, 1999 - 0:00 EDT)
- Konica delays Japanese launch of Q-M200! An article on the Japanese PC Watch website today notes that Konica has officially announced that the launch of its Q-M200 2-megapixel digital camera has been put back to mid-June. According to Konica, the reason for the delay is a problem with procurement of parts for the camera, and to make up for the later than expected launch, Konica has also announced its intention to add 4 AA NiMH batteries and a charger (previously an extra option) into the standard camera bundle for the same previously announced price of 89,800 yen. The camera had been due to ship at the end of this month.Thanks to PC Watch for this item!
- photo.askey.net posts CoolPix950 review! Phil Askey's photo.askey.net website has posted a full review of Nikon's CoolPix950. The review is based on a production model, and Phil gives it a thorough workout! There's numerous sample images, and even if you're not considering the camera, they're great to browse through... (Congrats to Phil on an excellent job on this review! - Dave)
- Joseph Bollentini leaves Ricoh! Ricoh Consumer Products Group announced today the departure of Joseph Bollentini, the Consumer Products Group's Senior Vice President, to take up a new position at the Silicon Valley Software Group. Mr. Bollentini will be replaced by Don Watson, currently of the Corporate Marketing Group where he heads Ricoh's SOHO (small office/home office) team. During his seven years at Ricoh CPG, Bollentini oversaw the design and bulding of Rioch's consumer products channel, which deals with 35mm and digital cameras, as well as CD-RW drives and media. The press release intriguingly notes that "future decisions regarding expansion of operations will be made after planned new product announcements are made nationally"...
- HP announces Color is a Kick contest! HP has announced its new Color is a Kick contest, open to children aged 12 to 15. Entrants must take a soccer photo with either a conventional or digital camera, illustrating "speed, accuracy and no compromises". The photo must be accompanied by an essay up to 50 words explaining how the photograph qualifies. The contest runs until May 31, and is open only to US residents with one winner and runner up each being chosen for Northeast, Southeast, Midwest and West USA. Prizes include amongst others HPs C30 digital cameras, with first-place winners being flown to California to watch a Women's World Cup soccer match.
- Iomega Clik! review online! Thanks to Steve's Digicams for pointing out a review of the Iomega Clik!drive on their reader Matt Chroust's website. Matt finds the unit to be well-built, competitively priced ($0.40 per megabyte excluding the cost of the reader), but a little slow to transfer data in the current parallel port version and limited by its inability to read flash cards over 40MB. He also found it somewhat annoying that to recharge the unit you need not just the charger but the PC docking station as well, which could be problematic on longer trips.
Thursday, April 15, 1999
April 15 - New Epson digicam, and lots more news besides!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Thursday, April 15, 1999 - 0:00 EDT)
(Note - updated late PM with 2 new articles at top and 5 at the bottom of today's news)
- Epson announces new CP-800 digital camera! Seiko Epson Ltd. in Japan has announced today its new 2.14 megapixel CP-800 digital camera, according to the Japanese PC Watch website. The CP-800 has a 1/2" 2,140,000 pixel CCD (2,060,000 effective pixels), aluminum alloy casing, fixed-focus 7mm F2.4 lens (equivalent to 38mm lens on a 35mm camera),1.8 inch polysilicon TFT LCD display, and a digital zoom (no information as to what range). The camera uses CompactFlash media, 2 NiMH AA batteries (4 are bundled with the unit, as well as a charger), and takes pictures in 1600 x 1200 pixel mode or 640 x 480 pixel mode. Also available is an interpolated 1,984 x 1,488 pixel mode using Epson's Hypict technology, manual focusing, manual white balance, +/-2.0EV exposure correction in 0.2EV steps, manual shutter speeds in 64 steps from 1/2 - 1/750 second, ISO
100/200/400, full auto mode as well as three preprogrammed modes (sport, portrait, and one other). The camera has a special attachment to which either a USB connector (provided) or serial connector (3,000 yen) can be attached. It is due to ship at the end of May in Japan, at a price of 99,800 yen.Thanks to PC Watch for this item!
- Nikon CoolPix 950 in short supply in Japan! Also from Japan's PC Watch website is an article noting that Nikon's new CoolPix 950 (entering the ratings for the first time) is, thanks to its popularity, in extremely short supply in Japan currently - as are 32MB SmartMedia cards... Also entering the list for the first time is the 89,800 yen Olympus C-2000ZOOM, and Sony's digital photo frame and 16MB MemoryStick have also started shipping. The article also gives the latest price changes in Japan, with the only changes being that the Nikon CoolPix910 has dropped 10,000 yen to 59,800 yen, and Konica's DG-1 has dropped 20,000 yen to 79,800 yen.Thanks again, PC Watch!
- Addonics announces mobile CD-RW drives! Addonics Technologies, part of the Acer Group, has announced two new portable CD-RW drives, which might just be perfect for those users looking for a way to store their digital images in the field, and provide customers with a hard copy on the spot. First is the "Addonics Mobile! 4x4x16", with a 2MB buffer, data transfer rates from 600-2400KB/second, 4x write speed, and 16x maximum playback speed, priced at US$459. Next up is the "Addonics Mobile! 2x2x6", with a 1MB buffer, transfer rates from 352-1146KB/second, 2x write speed, and 6x maximum playback speed, priced at US$349. Both drives feature PC-Card and USB connectivity, allowing connection to most modern laptops and PCs, as well as USB-capable Macs and iMacs. The drives are compatible with CD-ROM, CD-ROM XA, CD-I, CD-DA, CD-Bridge, CD-Extra and Video CD, and can record in Track at Once, Multisession,
Disc at Once, Session at Once and Packet Writing modes. One downside to the drives, which can store up to 650MB of data or 73 minutes of audio, is the fact that they require an external power supply (110-240V AC, 50-69Hz auto detecting). I've seen a lot of debate about the merits of various storage media, and two of CD-RWs benefits are that its easily accessible (almost all modern PCs and Macs have a CD-Rom drive, so your customers don't need to buy expensive proprietary hardware they won't use), and that its cheap (with media like Zip and Jaz! your customer either has to pay you for the disks, or you have to persuade the customer to give them back - with CD-RW, your customer has a cheap, long-lasting copy of their data) - Mike.
- Pixel Translations announces PixTools/Image Processing! Input Software's Pixel Translations division has announced the shipping of its new Image Processing toolkit. Designed for programmers using C, C++, Visual Basic or Pixel Translations' ISIS technology on Windows 95/98/NT, the toolkit offers several features to reduce the image size (including deskew, margin removal and border removal) as well as to clean the image up for better OCR accuracy (such as noise and line removal, smoothing and character processing). The toolkit also offers barcode reading capabilities, using one of 9 common barcode types, with up to 30 barcodes on one page supported. To speed processing, search "zones" can be defined to indicate where on the page barcodes may be located. The toolkit is available immediately at a price of $2,495 plus quantity-based distribution licensing fees. height="35" naturalsizeflag="0">
- Agfa sponsors GIA digital printing seminars! A press release from Agfa's Desktop Products Group announces its intent to sponsor the Graphics Intelligence Agency's upcoming "Digital Printing 101" seminars, designed to educate all levels of digital printing and scanning users on the large-format digital printing industry.Attendees will be shown the entire process from scanning and RIPs, thru printers, finishing and marketing, as well as techniques for growing a large-format business. Agfa's FotoLook and ColorTune software will be demonstrated, and tips and tricks on how to achieve the highest quality prints given. The seminars are $199 per person, including beverages, lunch and a personal copy of the reference manual. Seminars are scheduled for:
April 22 - The Evergreen House, Baltimore MD
May 6 - Sci-Trek Museum, Atlanta GA
May 14 - New Yorker Hotel, New York NY
May 25 - California Science Center, Los Angeles CA
June 4 - The Marines Memorial, San Francisco CA
June 10 - The Houstonian Club, Houston TX
June 17 - Swissotel Boston, Boston MA
- Corel, Lexmark announce bundling deal! Corel Corp. today announced a worldwide bundling agreement with printer manufacturer Lexmark International. Under terms of the agreement, Lexmark will bundle Corel Print House Magic 4 with select Lexmark inkjet printers including the Lexmark Z51 Color Jetprinter, until July 31, 2000. The software bundle will include US English, International English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, Japanese, Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese versions of the program. Lexmark's Z51 Color Jetprinter retails for US$279, and has a 1200 x 1200 dpi (dots per inch) resolution, print speeds up to 10 ppm (pages per minute) in black and white, or 5 ppm in color, as well as photo-quality output and Lexmark's Accu-Feed print handling system.
- Ixla sells entry-level digicam solution! Ixla has today announced its upcoming ixla Digital Camera Suite Plus. The US$99 bundle includes an entry-level camera, Kodak photographic inkjet paper including stickers and business-card formats, ixla Digital Camera Suite presentation software, ixla Web Easy website creation software, ixla Explorer image cataloguing software and ixla Artist image editing software. The included digital camera is a Taiwanese Tekom 320 MiniPix unit, which unfortunately neither the press release, Tekom's website or ixla's website contain any details on - nor could I find anything anywhere about this camera, thus far!
- DIG gets busy with the press releases! It's definitely been a busy day for the Digital Imaging Group (DIG), a non-profit consortium designed to steer the digital imaging industry, with four seperate press releases out today!
First off, they've announced the founding of DIG Europe, with 11 members including NETIMAGE (Gargilesse, France), Elysium (Crowborough, UK), AGFA (Antwerpen, Belgium), SACD (Paris, France), NTNU (Trondheim, Norway), Alinari (Florence, Italy), Octalis (Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium), Algovision (Berlin, Germany), ADETTI (Lisboa, Portugal), EPFL (Lausanne, Switzerland), and LuraTech (Berlin, Germany). This follows on from last year's creation of DIG Japan, in line with DIG's strategy of ensuring that all local markets are represented and participate in creation of new standards and technologies.
As if this wasn't enough to keep them busy, they then announced the DIG2000 initiative, with the goal of working with the ISO JPEG committee on forming the new JPEG 2000 standard. Earmarked for the standard is a new file format that "actively manages both image data and metadata, as opposed to other formats that purely work as a transmission container". The file format will include ICC, XML, JPEG 2000 compression, and image metadata, and allow for both lossy and lossless compression. JPEG 2000 should also provide "pixels on demand" capability, in which only necessary information will be transported when zooming in on an image, as well as the ability to stream image data.
Next up, DIG announced cooperation of Canon, Eastman Kodak, Live Picture, NETIMAGE and Digital Intelligence on the DIG35 initiative. DIG35 looks at ways to make digital imaging "as easy, convenient, and as flexible as the traditional photographic methods while also allowing benefits that are possible only with a digital format", according to chairperson Kats Ishii of Canon Inc. In main, the initiative seems to be working on tyeing metadata to images, based in part on the W3C's XML and ISO's MPEG-7 standards, allowing users to be confident that image information such as subject, time, date location, exposure information, etc. will remain attached to the image, allowing for better indexing and control of images that at present.
Finally (and presumably making sure everybody was busy), DIG announced a drive from HP, Live Picture and TrueSpectra to update and enhance the Internet Imaging Protocol specification. The DIG IIP initiative has the goal of "[expanding] the use of high-resolution photo images on the Internet by enabling Web sites to offer universally compatible, high-quality and bandwidth-effective delivery of resolution-on-demand images". Once the protocol is refined, DIG intends to present it to W3C or IETF (Internet standards bodies) to initiate takeup of this protocol by the Internet community. All in a day's work, really! ;)
- Kodak blasts off on IKONOS! Kodak has distributed a press release previewing the launch of Space Imaging's IKONOS 1 commercial satellite, which amongst much else contains a Kodak designed and built digital camera system, able to distinguis ground objects as small as one meter from 400 miles above the earth. This project will, according to Kodak, "reveal aspects of the Earth's surface previously invisible to the human eye via satellite photo ... [offering] stunning new information to those involved in agriculture and commodities, oil and gas exploration, telecommunications, insurance and risk management, disaster relief, mapping and urban planning, media, real estate, national security, and any other market that requires accurate and timely spatial information"!
- TrueSpectra announced Iris Image server! TrueSpectra Inc. today announced the release of its new Iris Accelerate and Iris Transactive image servers for Windows 95, 98 and NT server. According to TrueSpectra, "Web servers [currently] do not provide an efficient method of authoring and managing image content to a Web page. As a result, much of today's Web environment is restricted to static, low resolution images". This is where Iris Accelerate and Transactive come in... Iris Accelerate allows web developers to create multiple versions of an image at different resolutions and sizes, with the user able to (as TrueSpectra put it) "interactively explore" these versions. Iris Transactive allows developers to create customised images made up from a combination of bitmaps, vector graphics and text, assembled in real-time and served up to the user. Both servers support formats including JPEG, TIFF, GIF, BMP, PCX,
PPM, Photoshop, PNG, MacPaint, Targa and Flashpix.
- Kodak PictureCD uses Microtech hardware! A press release today from Microtech Systems' PR folks mentions that a customised version of Microtech's ImageAutomator CD-R production system is used by Kodak in producing its PictureCD product. According to the release, the CDs have software pre-written onto them with ImageAutomator before the CDs are shipped into the field, and then the customer's images are added to the CD by the photofinisher. This enables all PictureCDs to contain software for viewing and enhancing their images without adding any delay to the photofinishing process whilst the software is written to disk.
- Kodak to bundle ISIS driver with scanner! According to a press release today from Pixel Translations and Kodak's Document Imaging Division, Kodak will distribute an ISIS driver (currently in Beta testing) with its new Kodak Digital Science Color Scanner 3590C. The current beta driver supports black and white scanning at 200 or 300dpi, 24-bit color scanning at 100 or 150 dpi, JPEG compressed and uncompressed color, single-sided and duplex scanning, and peak speeds of up to 85 pages per minute in color or black and white. The scanner will ship in August at a US list price of $29,990. A related press release from Pixel Translations' parent company Input Software notes that it has announced support today for the 3590C color scanner, and that Paravision's PageGenie OCR module is now Input-certified and able to provide accuracy rates as high as 99%
for OCR, as well as abilities such as PDF publishing/archiving, web page creation and word processing in cooperation with the 3590C scanner.
- FotoWire comes to the USA! Switzerland-based FotoWire Development SA has announced it is moving its global marketing and business development operations to Palo Alto, CA., as well as commencing its Internet-based digital photo printing service in the USA. Customers can download the FotoWire client software for Windows or Macintosh, and upload their digital images to be professionally printed on real photographic paper. FotoWire's photofinisher partners (Mystic Color and Signature Color in the USA) process the order and mail prints to the consumer, or alternatively the consumer can choose a lab with retail stores or a minilab from which they will collect their images. FotoWire already operates in France, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, the United Kingdom and Switzerland.
- MetaCreations announces Canoma 3D modeler! MetaCreations Corp. has announced a revolutionary new 3D modeler program called Canoma, which allows users to create a 3D texture-mapped model from a number of 2D photographs or scanned images. Canoma is based on "image-assisted modeling", and works by users identifying identical elements on multiple images using what metaCreations calls "push-pins". Images can be edited with existing image-editors, retouched, have plugins applied to them and even text added before the modeling procedure. 3D models can also be altered after creation to add extra geometry details, and then output to MetaStream format, suitable for real-time streaming over the Internet, or fly-thrus created and output to QuickTime movie files. MetaStream has been included by Microsoft as part of Windows98, and will also ship in Windows 2000, ensuring a large user-base able to handle MetaStream
files, and a Macintosh plugin is also under development. Canoma will be available this month for Windows95, 98 and NT as well as Power Macintosh at a suggested price of $499.
- Further MetaCreations info... Also from MetaCreations today were two other press releases. The first merely mentions existing MetaCreations items we've covered before, but does add one interesting tidbit that we'd not heard - it seems that as well as Minolta having agreed to make a camera based on MetaCreations' MetaFlash technology (which allows a PC to build a 3D model of an object from a number of special 2D images from a MetaFlash camera), Kodak has apparently also got a MetaFlash-capable camera in design at the moment! Also of interest is another press release that notes the departure of MetaCreations' Chief Design Officer Kai Krause, and the arrival of John A. Racioppi as Senior Vice President of Global Sales. Racioppi was previously Vice President and General Manager of North American Sales at Inprise Corp., and previously held
management positions at DASCOM Corp., Transarc Corp., Network Systems Integrators Inc., and Liberty Management Systems. Previous to this, Racioppi commenced a sales and marketing career at AT&T after receiving an MBA from the University of Pittsburgh.
- SanDisk announces record revenue! A press release today from SanDisk Corp. announces that its total first quarter revenues were $44.1 million, a 15% increase over the prior quarter attributed mostly to increased sales of CompactFlash. Net income was $4.3 million, up 21% from $3.6 million over the previous quarter. SanDisk quoted shipments of 62,000 MultiMediaCards, up from 18,000 in the previous quarter, and total flash unit shipments up 57% with flash megabytes shipped up 35% while the price per megabyte slipped 13% in the quarter.
- Amitech demonstrates Siemens Color Page Scanner! Lason Inc.'s GA Amitech division today demonstrated Siemens/CGK's ScanStar duplex color page scanner at the AIIM show in Atlanta, with a 24-bit color output and the capability to scan 50 ppm (pages per minute). Thanks to the color capabilities, Amitech President Wayne Sandberg pointed out, the scanner/OCR combo is capable of reading previously problematic documents like blue NCR copies.
- Canon shows DR-5020 & DR-5080C Document Scanners! Also at the AIIM'99 show in Atlanta today was Canon U.S.A. Inc., showing their new DR-5020 and DR-5080C document scanners,which Canon boasts have "the most powerful feature set of any scanner series in the marketplace today." Both scanners should ship within 45 days, at prices between $7,000 and $10,000. They feature automatic paper size and position adjustment, imprinting, document endorsement, scanning of documents up to 11" x 17", high-speed color scanning and output in the DR-5080C, scan speeds of up to 75 ppm (pages per minute), the ability to read "function sheets" positioned in the scan queue that change settings like simplex or duplex mode to save time, and more!
Wednesday, April 14, 1999
April 14 - New scanners from Canon and Visioneer, new Epson printer, new Hitachi "digicam", and lots, LOTS more!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Wednesday, April 14, 1999 - 0:00 EDT)
- Canon announces two new scanners! Canon Computer Systems Inc. has issued a press release announcing the debut of two new color flatbed scanners, the CanoScan FB 620U and 1200S.
The FB 620U is a consumer unit with USB connectivity, 600 x 600dpi optical resolution, 36-bit internal and 24-bit external color depth, and a software package including Adobe PhotoDeluxe Home Edition 3.0 and ScanSoft TextBridge Plus OCR software. The CanoScan FB 620U will be available this month at a price of $129 approx.
The 1200S scanner, meanwhile, is a professional unit costing about $499 (street), with 1200 x 1200 dpi optical resolution, using two-pass color CCD scanning and Canon's VAROS (Variable Refraction Optical System) technology. The scanner has a color depth of 36-bit both internally and externally, and a SCSI interface. The software bundle includes Adobe PhotoShop 5.0 LE for Windows and Mac, and the scanner will ship in late June.
- Hitachi announces 3-in-1 digital multimedia recorder! Hitachi has today announced its new M2L multimedia recorder, the MP-EG10W. The new recorder comes with a 16MB PC Card at a price of $999, and can record audio, MPEG-1 video and still images onto it. A 390,000 pixel 1/4" CCD is used, of which effectively 360,000 pixels are available, and a monaural microphone is used for audio. The camera also has a 1.8" 61,380 pixel LCD display, a 3x optical zoom lens coupled with a 2x digital zoom, and a rechargeable Li-Ion battery provides 40 minutes of recording time per 100-minute charge. The unit weighs 385 grams, or 540 grams with battery pack and PC card. Also available is a package with a 260MB PC card hard-drive for US$1299, and the press release mentions that the unit can also accept a 1GB PC Card, capable of recording up to two hours of video, 12,000 still images and 16 hours of audio. "/ART/SPACE.GIF" align="TOP" width="1" height="35" naturalsizeflag="0">
- Epson announces Stylus Photo 750! Epson has announced its new Stylus Photo 750 inkjet printer, with dramatically increased speed and a class-leading droplet size. The new printer has a resolution of 1440 x 720 dpi (dots per inch), and produces "photo-lab quality" output at speeds up to 150% faster than its predecessor, the Epson Stylus Photo 700. With a droplet size of only 6 picoliters, the Stylus Photo 750 leads its class, and the addition of Epson's Advanced AcuPhoto Halftoning and PRQ (Photo Reproduction Quality), as well as six ink colors, Epson claims the new printer offers "amazing results, even on plain paper". Adding a little creativity to your desk, the printer is wrapped up in an unusual black case, and a USB connection caters for the latest PCs. The printer can also be connected to Epson's PhotoPC 750Z digital camera directly, to print photos without the need for a PC! The Epson Stylus Photo 750
is now shipping at an estimated price of US$299.
- QMS updates magicolor 2 DeskLaser laser printer! QMS Inc. has today announced it has revised the user interface for its popular magicolor 2 DeskLaser printer, which now offers automated print and quality settings, one-button color matching and performance improvements. Existing users who purchased their printer after March 1, 1999 can get a free upgrade kit by calling 1-877-778-2687, while other owners can get the upgrade for $99 by calling the same number. The printer can be purchased new for $1,299 list.
- Visioneer announces StrobePro sheetfed color scanner! Visioneer, a subsidiary of Primax Electronics Ltd., has announced the debut of its new StrobePro sheetfed color scanner, shipping immediately at an RRP of $199. The new scanner has an optical resolution of 300 x 600 dpi (dots per inch) in 30-bit color, and measures 2" x 2.5" x 11". The new unit replaces Visioneer's Strobe scanner, which currently has 85% of the sheetfed scanner market, and can be connected to PC via USB, serial or parallel port, and to Macintosh by USB or SCSI. The Macintosh version will ship June 1, 1999, and cost $249.99, as will the Windows NT 4.0 version due to ship May 1.
- A correction... to our April 10 item "New prices from Olympus!" - we have received an email from Olympus to let us know of a number of errors in the email we received from Olympus' PR people... Corrected prices are below:
Olympus D-600L - $799.
2MB SmartMedia - no longer available
4MB SmartMedia - no longer available
8MB SmartMedia - $29.95
16MB SmartMedia $59.95
32MB SmartMedia $99.95 (product is not yet available)
D-500L/D-600L Accessory Kit - $199.
D-220L/D-320L Accessory Kit - $99.
Thanks to Olympus for the corrections!
- Pretec offers access to ClubPhoto! ClubPhoto Inc. has issued a press release noting that digital camera manufacturer Pretec Electronics Corp. are now bundling Living Album '99 software from ClubPhoto with all of their digital cameras, as well as linking to ClubPhoto's website from the Pretec website. ClubPhoto offers users a way to share their photos online, and also to obtain photo-finishing services and receive prints of their photos, or personalised items made from them. Through the Living Album software, users can easily organize a "story board" of their photos, and then upload them to their own personal ClubPhoto web page with one click of the mouse...
- Seattle Filmworks offers FREE scanning and image hosting! According to a news item on the PMAI Daily International Newsline, Seattle Filmworks has relaunched their website, and announced that from today, any customer providing an email address will receive free scanning of every photograph the company processes, and that customers will also receive free storage of their images on a private website for as long as they maintain an active account! Order forms are on Seattle Filmworks' website, or you can call 1-800-FILMWORKS.
- Steve's Digicams reports CoolPix 950s on the way! Steve's Digicams has reported that the first Nikon CoolPix 950s have arrived at Nikon USA, and should start reaching customers within the next week or so! Cross your fingers, and hope you're in the first batch if you've placed that order - and if you have any CoolPix950 images or reviews online, drop us a note and we'll spread the word!Steve himself has been out of action for an operation recently - get well soon, Steve, and thanks for the story!
- Feith announced DjVuer Pro! Feith Systems has announced its new DjVuer Pro product, which allows users to convert images to AT&T's DjVu format. DjVu files are extremely highly compressed, and according to Feith can be 5 to 10 times smaller than equivalent JPEG files. Feith has had its DjVu program available for some time now, which allows users to convert up to 50 files to DjVu format free of charge, and the Pro version adds to this the ability to do batch image processing (selected files, or all files), add captions to images, view slide shows, and view thumbnails. The catch? You're paying a per-image cost to use DjVu files, with DjVuer Pro limited to 15,000 images at a price of $750 (5 cents per image you convert). DjVu images can be viewed free of charge in the standard DjVuer application, and plugins to view DjVu images in web browsers can be downloaded from
- cameraworld.com provides free classifieds! cameraworld.com, previously Camera World Co., has announced a new Classifieds section of its website, in which users can sell their used photography, video, digital imaging and audio equipment free of charge. (Quick tip - when conducting "second-hand" transactions online, you will want to protect yourself, whether you're the seller [is that check or money order real?] or the buyer [does the seller actually have what they're advertising?]. While not perfect, Online Escrow services can help protect both the buyer and seller - you can find some examples of these services here.)
- PictureBay.com gives away free digicams! PictureWorks, manufacturer of OEM digital imaging software for numerous companies, has announced a new competition on its PictureBay website, announced today in a separate release. Over a period of 30 days, 30 digital cameras will be given away to random PictureBay users - all you have to do is sign up for the service, and you're entered to win! PictureBay is an image hosting site for Ebay auctions, and offers users the ability to resize images in their web browser before uploading them to be hosted for 30 days. The competition will run from April 15 to May 15, and PictureBay is free of charges for a limited time.
- Eastman launches new imaging software! Two press releases today from Eastman Software Inc. announce new digital imaging software it is soon to release. First is Imaging Scan Station for Windows, which is designed for bulk-scanning with low or medium speed TWAIN-compliant color or greyscale scanners, and supports bar or patch codes for image indexing, as well as allowing data to be stored along with the images. Also announced were the latest version of Imaging and Workflow for Microsoft Windows NT and Workflow Desktop for Microsoft Windows NT. Imaging Scan Station should ship this quarter, Imaging and Workflow sometime this month, and Workflow Desktop in the third quarter of the year.
- Imacon and Howtek revise OEM agreement! Imacon Inc. and Howtek Inc. have today announced that they have revised their OEM agreement on the Imacon Flextight Precision II CCD drum-scanner, Howtek will no longer rebadge the unit as a Howtek HiDemand 200, instead concentrating on upgrade software for Imacon's scanners for high-end prepress work. Existing HiDemand 200 owners will continue to be supported by both Imacon and Howtek.
- Forbes ranks SanDisk in top 100 firms! Forbes Magazine has selected SanDisk Corp. as a top-100 US publicly traded company, a SanDisk press release notes. Forbes interviewed analysts, money managers and venture capitalists for the Forbes ASAP technology supplement, and wrote "Tiny product, massive opportunity - at least 70% of digital cameras store their images on Sandisk's matchbook-sized CompactFlash cards", and went on to note that SanDisk "set the standard" for CF technology, and were now experiencing growth in cell-phone, disk drive and MP3 businesses.
- Frost & Sullivan investigates CCD vs. CMOS! Research company Frost & Sullivan has completed a new study comparing the CCD and CMOS image sensor markets, according to a press release. Unfortunately, detail is scant in the release and Frost & Sullivan's website is awkward to say the least, but the report finds that the overall image sensor market is growing at 10 to 14 percent, and the CMOS market is growing "significantly" faster than the CCD image market.
- DIG retains the Ardell Group as PR Agency! A press release today from The Ardell Group notes that it has been retained as Public Relations Agency for the Digital Imaging Group. The DIG is a 60-member not for profit consortium, formed in 1997, to expand the use of digital imaging across consumer, business and professional markets and applications.
Monday, April 12, 1999
April 12 - Lots of Japanese news catch-up!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Monday, April 12, 1999 - 0:00 EDT)
- Nikon CoolPix700 to ship in Japan! Nikon has now announced a ship-date for the CoolPix700 digital camera in Japan, according to a press release. The camera will ship on April 24, at an estimated price of 87,000 yen (US$720 approx.), and an optional PC connection kit (9,800 yen, approx US$80) has been shipping since March 25th.
- Sony shrinks its CCDs! Sony Japan has a press release on their website announcing a new super-small megapixel CCD. The unit is referred to as a CCD2 type, with 1,250,000 effective pixels (1,310,000 actual pixels) in a 1/3.6 inch casing. According to Sony the new CCD uses about 40% less power than the previous 1/2.7 inch Sony model, and has a special high-speed draft mode which allows an output of 30 frames/second for the LCD display. The new CCD will ship in April '99 for the primary color filter version, and May '99 for the complementary filter version, at a sample price of 7,000 yen.
- More Nikon CoolPix 950 sample images online! The PC Watch website has posted a review of the new Nikon CoolPix950 digital camera - I've not had time to check the images out myself, but from the context of the article I'd say the images are taken with a production camera - they're all demonstrating the extreme macro capabilities of the camera very nicely. Phil Askey has also posted some preview samples of the CoolPix 950 production unit he has just received. All in all, it looks very nice...
- Sony DSC-F55K MPEG video samples online! The Japanese PC Watch website has posted a review of Sony's DSC-F55K digital camera, along with three sample MPEG videos from the camera. Two of the videos are in 320 x 240 resolution, whilst the remaining video is at 160 x 112, and they're actually surprisingly useable! The largest of the three clips is 1.3MB resulting in a 320 x 240 animation for 15 seconds, and whilst it's a little jerky, it still seems a worthwhile capability that might just get used now and then...
- Sharp releases new PDA with optional digicam! Sharp has shown a new Zaurus PDA (personal digital assistant), with an optional 850,000 pixel digital camera attachment. The PDA should retail on April 16 at a price of 160,000 yen, and has a 640x480 LCD display built in. It weighs 255 grams, with dimensions of 161 x 83 x 23 millimetres, and has 24MB of RAM. The optional 45,000 yen digital camera attachment can take photos at resolutions of 1024 x 768, 640 x 480 and 320 x 240.
- Seiko-Epson announced new D-TFD displays for digicams! A press release from Seiko-Epson announces four new active matrix D-TFD (digital thin-film diode) displays, two of which are suitable for use in digital cameras. The first unit (LB18DC2) is a 4.4cm / 1.8 inch display with a resolution of 474 x 234 (110,00 pixels), and Seiko-Epson note this is about 7% smaller than previous comparable units. The second (LB20DE) display is a 5cm / 2 inch unit which has a resolution of 640 x 234 pixels (about 150,000 pixels), and this unit also has special circuitry and an optimized backlight that reduce power consumption by about 35% over comparable units. Both units can accept an RGB PAL or NTSC analog signal, or can accept a digital signal to reduce on parts and power consumption in the camera. All four displays will be shown at the Yokohama EDEX (Electronic Display Exhibition) on April 14, and sample shipments will begin in May. height="35" naturalsizeflag="0">
- Japanese digicam rankings online! The PC Watch website has posted their latest ranking of Japanese digicam sales covering the period March 22 - April 4. The top four places remained the same as in the last ranking, with Fuji's FinePix MX2700 taking first place, followed by Olympus' C-900Zoom, Nikon's CoolPix 950 and Olympus' D-340L. Fifth place marked the entry of Sony's new DSC-F55K 2-megapixel model, which pushed down Fuji's FinePix700, Sanyo's DSC-X110 and Fuji's FinePix500 to 6th, 7th and 8th positions respectively. Finally, Fuji's FinePix600Z and Canon's PowerShot A5 Zoom climbed from outside last month's top ten to occupy 9th and 10th places respectively.
- Japanese digicam price index online! Also online at PC Watch is the latest Japanese digicam price index, covering the period March 18 - April 1. Unusually, several prices have gone up, including Kyocera's Samurai 1300DG (up 10,000 yen to 59,800 yen) and Sony's DSC-D700 (up 11,800 yen to 178,000 yen), while their MVC-FD91 has climbed from 102,600 yen to 108,000 yen. Minolta's Dimage EX Zoom1500 and EX Wide1500 have both dropped quite significantly, from 79,800 yen to 59,800 yen, the only prices that fell in this period. Also of interest is that a number of cameras were out of stock at one of the three vendors monitored. Predictably enough, one of these was Nikon's popular new CoolPix 950, and the same vendor also had no stock of Canon's PowerShot Pro70 and Sony's DSC-D700 and MVC-FD71. Konica's DG-1 was out of stock at two of the three vendors that PC Watch monitors.
- Yamada gets his own show! Ever wondered what Japanese digicam reviewer Yamada of the PC Watch website looks like? An April 9th article on their website answers the question, with a picture of the proud Mr. Yamada taken at his exhibition of digital photographs currently being held in the Olympus Gallery, Tokyo from April 8-14. Mr. Yamada used an Olympus C-2000 Zoom and Nikon CoolPix950 to take the photos, and an Epson PM-5000C printer to print them...
- Want to play with a Kodak DC240... without leaving home or handing over the money? If you can fake a little Japanese, you're in luck, with one of the more amusing applications I've seen recently... Kodak's Japanese web site has released a DC240 "simulator" which lets you play with all the knobs and dials, and take "photos" of your Windows desktop - everything is in Japanese, but its easy enough to guess what to do to play with it... The program comes as a self-extracting 740K executable file, and requires Windows95 or 98. All you have to do is guess how you fit an American address into the Japanese form to download... ;)
Saturday, April 10, 1999
April 10 - Mike's back, time to catch up (and up, and up) - LOTS of news!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Saturday, April 10, 1999 - 0:00 EDT)
- Fuji to sell rebranded Clik! disks! Iomega Corp. has today announced that Fuji Photo Film USA has agreed to distribute Iomega's Clik! media under the Fuji brand name. Fuji already sells Iomega's 100MB Zip disks under the Fuji name, and the new agreement will carry this tradition forward as Zip sales reach a plateau and Clik! gains popularity. Both Zip and Clik! are based on Fuji's ATOMM (Advanced super Thin-layer and high-Output Metal Media) technology, which offers better signal-noise ratios increasing performance and density of the media.
- New prices from Olympus! We received an email today from Olympus' PR people to let us know of some new prices for their digital cameras, scanners, photo printers and accessories, as below:
C-2000 Zoom $ 999
D-620L $ 999 (Free Ni-MH battery/charger)
D-400 Zoom $ 699 (Free FlashPath)
D-340R $ 399
D-600L $ 899
P-330 Printer $ 449
P-300 Printer $ 399
ES-10 SCSI $ 399
ES-10 Parallel $ 399
ES-10 A-10 Adapter $ 199
Digital Photo Studio $ 899
Digital Camera Accessories:
A/C Adaptor $ 49.95
Recharger & Batteries $ 49.95
2MB $ 29.95
4MB $ 49.95
8MB $ 79.95
16MB $ 99.95
PCMCIA Adapter (for SmartMedia) $ 99.95
FlashPath $ 99.95
D-500L/D-600L Accessory Kit $289.95
D-220L/D-320L Accessory Kit $149.95
NIMH Battery/Recharger Pack $ 49.95
P-300/P-330 Photo Printer Accessories:
Paper kit $ 39.95
Paper kit (1 cut sticker) $ 64.95
Paper kit (16 cut sticker) $ 74.95
- Digital Imaging helps boost Data Storage market! A report just released by Peripheral Research Corp. has found that amongst others, the digital imaging market will help boost the flagging market for data storage products over the next three years. According to the report, new applications such as digital imaging will require an additional 65.4 million data storage products per year by 2002, of which 35.5 million products will be disk drives, the remainder consisting of items such as flash memory, optical and tape drives.
- Image Software makes new version of Camedia Master! A press release from April 6 notes that Image Software, makers of Olympus' Camedia Master application, has just completed its 75th OEM imaging application. The new application is an updated version of the Camedia Master application, due to ship with Olympus' lineup of digital cameras. Image Software has also made OEM software to be bundled with digital cameras and scanners from Apple, Canon, Casio, Flashpoint Technology, Hewlett Packard, Kodak, Konica, Olympus, Philips, Relisys, Sanyo, Sony and others over the last three years.
- ScanSoft and Digital River extend agreement! Digital River and ScanSoft Inc. have announced in a press release plans to extend their agreement for online electronic software delivery to cover sale and delivery of ScanSoft's complete line of products over the Internet. Digital River commenced sales of ScanSoft's Textbridge Pro 98 product in July 1998, with customers downloading the product from Digital River's website rather than more traditional mail-order methods, and the success of this initial trial has led ScanSoft to decide to dsitribute their remaining products (Pagis Pro, PaperPort, Visual Explorer and TextBridge Pro 9.0) in the same manner.
- Applied Science Fiction raises $30 million, adds to board! Applied Science Fiction Inc. of Austin TX, makers of the Digital ICE image correction technology used in Nikon's SuperCoolScan 2000 and CoolScan III scanners, released two news items on April 6th. The first item notes that ASF has secured $31.5 million of venture capital financing from a number of companies including Technology Crossover Ventures, Amerindo Investment Advisors, JW Seligman & Co., Triton Ventures, Hambrecht & Quist, Sculley Brothers and others, as well as original investors Sevin Rosen Funds, InterWest Partners and Centerpoint Ventures. The second news item announced the appointment of three new members to ASF's Board of Directors - Rick Kimball, Charles Phipps and Harvey Cash. Kimball is co-founder of ASF's new investor Technology Crossover Ventures, whilst
Phipps and Cash are partners of ASF's initial investors Sevin Rosen and InterWest Partners respectively.
- IPIX chosen for MSN HomeAdvisor! Interactive Pictures Corporation of Oak Ridge, TN has announced that its IPIX 360-degree x 360-degree panoramic image technology has been chosen by Microsoft for the MSN HomeAdvisor service. MSN HomeAdvisor will allow prospective buyers to tour homes online, looking at rooms from floor to ceiling, with the use of IPIX images.
- MGI releases new content for PhotoSuite II! A press release from MGI Software Corp. announces the release of a free add-on pack for its MGI PhotoSuite II product, with six new special effects (such as Frosted Glass and Weave), 40 new photographs from the Jerry Down's collection, new project packages with seasonal templates and 47 new props such as flowers, butterflies and musical instruments. The new content can be downloaded from MGI's website.
- Photobit executives honored by NASA! Photobit has released a news item noting that five of their top executives are to be inducted into the Space Technology Hall of Fame by the United States Space Foundation in cooperation with NASA. The honors go to Photobit CEO Dr. Sabrina Kemeny, chairman and chief scientist Dr. Eric Fossum, deputy product division manager Robert Nixon, new-product marketing manager Dr. Barmaks Mansoorian and senior engineer Roger Panicacci. The five invented CMOS image capture technologies whilst at NASA's Jet Propulsion Technology lab, and will be honored along side two of their JPL colleagues who also worked on the project.
- Tektronix offers rebates on old printers! Tektronix Inc. has announced the "Trade-In and Trade-Up to Color" program, which offers owners of old network printers to trade in their old units for Tektronix's new Phaser 740, 780 or 840 color laser printers at saving of up to several hundred dollars.
- April issue of megapixel.net online! I received an email whilst I was busy moving to let me know that the April issue of megapixel.net has gone online - thus far I've not had time to read it, but I can tell you that this month's reviews are the Olympus D-620L, Epson PhotoPC 750Z, Hewlett Packard C30 and Minolta Dimage EX1500...
- digitaFX samples online! We received an email from reader Rommel Palma Feria to let us know that he's put a number of sample pictures from the digitaFX image editor application online. If you're not familiar with digitaFX, it runs in your Digita-OS camera to apply a number of useful effects to your images, without the need for a PC! Great if you want to make a few changes before you print the image out, without needing to go home first!Thanks, Rommel!
- Epson PhotoPC 750Z review online! Reader James Koponen sent us an email to let us know he'd posted a review of his new Epson PhotoPC 750Z, along with a number of sample images. James finds the camera to be great, but feels he'll probably still upgrade to another camera soon, to get better macro capabilities. Or maybe he's just got "needmoretoysitis"! ;)Thanks, James!
- Mike's back... and somewhat the worse for wear. It was a battle, but I finally persuaded the phone company to give me a phone line, and then my PC died... Got that going, and then my Internet provider (who shall remain nameless) let me down! But I'm finally back, and playing catch up. If you've sent in an email, and not had an answer, fear not! I've not forgotten you, and hope to get the Deals and Tips page up to date tomorrow, then back to normal from Monday onward. My apologies for the erratic nature of the newsfeed for the last week, and my thanks to Dave for filling in for me when I wasn't back as planned!
Friday, April 9, 1999
April 9 - Nix on 32 meg? In-camera editing, and more!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Friday, April 9, 1999 - 0:00 EDT)
- Editor Missing, Authorities Alerted! - Dave here again, with another update in Mike's absence. - Somehow, from my own bloody experience moving, I expected Mike's estimates might be a little optimistic: He's still not back, but hopefully muddling through ok... I'm in the middle of an unusually large flood of cameras and scanners to review, and Paul, who normally helps out on these is also vacationing with his family. - Hence, the much slower-than-normal pace of news updates. We beg forgiveness, but promise that there'll be lots of new review material starting to show up next week. - I just finished testing the DC265 yesterday, and came to the conclusion that the numerous small improvements (and a couple of major ones) Kodak's made over the DC260 really add up to more than the sum of the parts: While the DC260 was a fine camera, I ended up liking the DC265 much more. I'm also mid-stride in our review of the Olympus C-2000 Zoom camera (a full working model, this time!),
and am very impressed with what I've seen so far. Also "in the pipe" are reviews of the Minolta Dimage Scan Multi, a scanner that handles everything from APS to 6x9 mid-format, at an unusually affordable price, and the new Fuji DX-10 and MX-600 cameras, both of which look like great values at their respective price points. The general sequence that things should be appearing in next week is: DC265, DC200, Oly C-2000 Zoom. The Dimage Scan Multi should show up something the week after, along with the Fuji cameras.
- Oly 32-Meg upgrade off? We were all set to send our Olympus D-600L off to Oly to get upgraded to 32-meg capability, when we received a copy of an email from Olympus, forwarded to us by reader Robert Berkert, indicating that Olympus has "suspended the program until further notice". No explanation was given, but we have calls into our contacts at Oly, to see if we can find out what the status is. This program was to have begun April 1, and we've received no official notification from Oly that it has been called off, so it's all a little strange-seeming at this point. We fervently hope that Oly hasn't chosen to drop this service: Olympus has stood alone among digicam manufacturers in their commitment to their customer base, and we'd hate to see them lose that position!
- Digita F/X: Who needs Wintel? While we doubt it will impact either Microsoft's or Intel's bottom line, this indicative of a trend they've just got to *hate*: FlashPoint has announced the availability of their Digita F/X *in-camera* image-editing program! That's right, an image-editing program that runs on the digicam itself! We suspect many people were unaware that the Digita operating environment not only can be used for simple "scripting", but for complete applications as well: Digita F/X is one of the latter, occupying about 800K total on the camera's CF card, but giving surprisingly robust adjustment capability for captured images. (Brightness, contrast, RGB correction, hue/saturation, sharpen/blur, and a host of special effects.) This clearly marks a new step in the blurring of the lines between camera and computer, now making it possible to go from camera to printer, including image adjustment, without requiring a host
computer. The new application costs $19.95, can be obtained from the Flashpoint web site, and will run on Kodak DC220, DC260, and DC265 cameras, as well as the Minolta EX 1500 Zoom/Wide. (We managed to lay hands on a copy just prior to sending back our review unit of the DC265, and so will include a mini-review of the app in our upcoming coverage of the DC265. - stay tuned!)
- Epson Authenticates! - (Business Wire) The ease with which digital images can be manipulated calls into question their authenticity (as well as the authenticity of ANY photograph these days). Addressing this issue, Epson has announced the Epson Image Authentication System (IAS), which marks images in the camera, clearly identifying the unmodified original: Make any change to the image, and the unique "its original" mark is lost, identifying the attempt to modify the image. This now makes digital images more authoritative than film-based ones, and has obvious applications for law enforcement and the legal profession.
- New camera coming from Samsung? - (Reuters) This one probably sets the record for the most terse press announcement we've ever seen. About all it says is that Samsung has announced it will be shipping a new "flip-up screen" digital camera late this month, under the brand NEXCA, with a 1.8 inch LCD that can flip and turn 180 degrees. Size is "about the size of a man's wallet," and it can take and store up to 45 shots using a 4-megabyte memory card. Gosh, THAT's sure a lot of info! (Stay tuned, we'll report more as we learn it.)
- EPSON ships network-enabled inkjet: (Business Wire) The recently-announced Epson Stylus Color 900 set new records for print speed and image quality, with Epson's Micro Piezo(tm) technology enabling the industry's smallest droplet sizes, at 3 picoliters, and variable-dot-size capability. (This translates into much finer gradations on photos, and crisper text as well.) Now, Epson has announced a network-ready. The $649 printer offers business users a standard preinstalled internal 10/100 Mbps Ethernet print server for out-of-the-box LAN connectivity. Because the print server is inside the printer, a separate power supply is not required. The printer features standard USB, parallel, serial and 10/100 Base-TX Ethernet Print Server interfaces and is compatible with Windows NT, Novell Netware, OS/2, Solaris, Sun, AIX, HP-UX and other Unix platforms, in addition to all popular client platforms, including Windows
and Macintosh. The printer also offers larger-capacity ink tanks, suiting it to higher-volume printing.
- Updated color-management software from Pictographics (nee Candela) - (PR Newswire) Candela was one of the early leaders in the color-management game. They were bought-out by Pictographics late last year, and now Pictographics has announced the first update of the product since assuming control: Candela ColorSynergy 4.0 by Pictographics may be purchased for $895 beginning in April 1999. Current ColorSynergy users can purchase an upgrade to Version 4.0 for a special price of $245 through May 31, 1999, after which the upgrade price will be $295. Candela ColorSynergy 4.0 by Pictographics is distributed to end users via the Internet at http://www.picto.com and through a network of international dealers, distributors and catalog retailers. New features include support for digital camera color profiles, using the common Macbeth ColorChecker(r), enhanced profile editing,
support for 16-bit ICC device profiles, an improved color transform to increase compatibility with Adobe Photoshop 5.0 and other programs, and support for several new colorimeters/spectrophotometers.
- IXLA WebEasy Web Page Design Program Debuts In The Top 5 With U.S. Retail Stores (Business Wire) - IXLA's new WebEasy template-based HTML (web page) design program is apparently enjoying great success in the sales channel, ranking fifth overall in the internet software category in January and February. IXLA is a big player in digicam software, and this package gives their users another thing to do with their images once they've shot them.
- More Pictures in Your Windows? - (PRNewswire) Microsoft has announced the Windows Image Acquisition (WIA) architecture, a new infrastructure promising to "seamlessly integrate digital imaging functionality into the Microsoft® Windows operating system and make it easier for users to capture, view, manipulate and publish
still images." - Apparently not to be available until Windows 2000 (the press release referring to "future versions of Windows"), the new standard will not supplant TWAIN, but extend the system in new directions. WIA will provide a standardized way for software developers to query the characteristics of imaging devices, and then interact with them, using familiar programming languages like Microsoft Visual Basic(r). For hardware types, WIA builds upon the existing Still Image Architecture (STI), a hardware-driver infrastructure built into Windows 98. On the user side, the new system includes a Picture Acquisition Manager, intended to ease organization of images during the acquire process (as they're downloaded from the camera or scanner). A preliminary version of the WIA architecture documentation can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/hwdev/. What's it mean to users? Besides a more-consistent device interface, and better integration with image organizers, the thing that
most struck us about this announcement is the promise that people will be able to develop imaging apps in Visual Basic: We expect this will open up the shareware/freeware market a lot, by making it easier for people to write digicam applications. Some of the programs we use on a daily basis (Cameraid on the Mac comes to mind) were written by individuals, and distributed at very low cost. Furthering this sort of activity can only mean good things for end-users.
Monday, April 5, 1999
April 5 - Full DC240 review posted!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Monday, April 5, 1999 - 0:00 EDT)
- No time for the news, but the DC240 review is up! Mike's still off today, but Dave finally got the full review posted for the new Kodak DC240 digicam. Nice little unit, *great* color: We expect it will find many happy homes! Mike's (hopefully) due back tomorrow from the great moving expedition, so normal news should resume shortly...
Friday, April 2, 1999
April 2 - PictureCDs everywhere, Way-fast IR, and more...
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Friday, April 2, 1999 - 0:00 EST)
- Mike off, Dave fills in... With Mike in the process of a big move this weekend, Dave is pitching in to the tune of a single news update, and will try his feeble best to uphold the standard of excellence Mike has established... (Dave hasn't been totally slacking off: He's re-shot all the Kodak DC265 images with the new, full-spec unit (a bloody lot of work, as Brit Mike would probably say), and is just about (he hopes) to finally finish-off the reviews of the KodakDC200 and DC240. Hopefully, the full DC265 review will also appear sometime next week. Meanwhile, "on deck" are the Minolta Dimage Scan Multi multi-format film scanner, the Fuji MX-600 and DX-10 digicams, and a full working prototype of the Olympus C-2000 Zoom(!!). In the midst of all this, tech writer Paul had the temerity to take a vacation! Sleep? Who needs sleep?)
- Powershot A5 Zooms in stock! IR advertiser State Street Direct wrote to let us know they have stock on the new PowerShot A5 zoom, at only $394. This is the lowest price we're aware of for a megapixel camera with a true optical zoom. (Not to mention that the A5 is one of the sexiest cameras we've had our hands on.) SSD also has several other new cameras in stock, including the Sony DSC-D700, Canon PowerShot Pro 70, Toshiba PDR-M3, and Fuji MX-600z.
- Photos on CD everywhere, part I: In the flurry of PMA news in mid-February, we missed the announcement that Wolf Camera plans to roll-out PictureVision's digital kiosks at 500 of their 750 stores nationwide. The kiosks will allow Wolf's 1-hour labs to also scan images to CD or upload them directly to PhotoNet. This item suggests that the conflicting standards between PictureVision and Kodak's Picture CD have been resolved, as it says the kiosks will write Picture CDs. This sounds like great news for photographers wanting to dip their toe into digital, without taking the plunge of buying their own scanner. No mention was made of pricing, but past information suggests that you'll be able to get a roll of film digitized to 4.5 megabyte JPEG files for between $9.95 and $15. - This is ample resolution to make good-looking 8x10 prints. naturalsizeflag="0">
- Photos on CD everywhere, part II: In related news, we've independently learned that Kodak's market tests of Picture CD were a roaring success, and they're immediately making the service available nationwide. Expect a delay of a month or two though before you see advertising for it appearing, as they need to ramp-up their production capabilities before widely advertising it. Once they do, expect many of your corner drugstores to sport a "Picture CD" option on their processing envelope.
- WAY-fast IR for Digicams! (BusinessWire) The Infrared Data Association (IrDA) has announced the approval of a high-speed specification for the infrared interface bearing its name. The new standard boosts the maximum transfer rate to 16 Mb/s, or about 2 megabytes per second (!), up from the previous maximum of 4 Mb/s. The new extension is called VFIR for Very Fast IR, and will be backward-compatible with prior versions of the standard. While a number of cameras and many computers (mostly laptops) have had the IrDA capability built in to them, so far it's never really achieved critical mass, and operating system support has been spotty. With the approval of the new standard though, Microsoft has committed to implementing drivers for it in the next version of Windows 2000 (The operating system Formerly Known as NT).
- Agfa scanners get cheaper! Already aggressively priced at $249 and $299, Agfa has announced a mail-in rebate for their SnapScan 1236S and SnapScan 1236S Artline scanners. The $50 rebate applies to units purchased between April 1 and May 31, 1999. Customers can also register for the rebate on-line, at www.agfahome.com/promotions/usa.html. The two 1236S scanners offer true 600x1200 optical resolution, and 36-bit digitization. The Artline model includes a software bundle aimed at creative applications.
- Digital Fireworks! Thanks to Phil Askey and his reader Daniel H Lauring for this one: A Japanese site has posted a series of photos of fireworks, shot with a beta unit of the new Nikon CoolPix 950. These photos show what a digital camera with long time-exposure capability can do! Little explanation was offered as to the exposure parameters, but a translation of the opening page reveals that the author used aperture priority to get the aperture he wanted, thus also causing the camera shutter to stay open for the maximum 8 seconds. The "...fire3.html" shot shows a nice reflection in the lake, while "...fire5.html" has a wider range of colors. My
personal favorite was "...fire6.hmtl," a beautiful two-toned burst apparently created by the simultaneous launch of two shells. Very cool!
- "Stealth" serial relief for Blue G3 Owners! (A totally obscure headline for everyone except those it applies to...) Owners of the new Blue G3 PowerMacs from Apple Computer have been bemoaning the loss of the standard serial ports on that model. While the built-in USB and FireWire ports are fast and sexy, owners of existing serial-connected digicams have been left with no cheap way to connect their devices. Now, Silicon Valley startup GeeThree.com has announced their first product, the Stealth Serial Port, which adds a fully-compatible serial port to the Blue Power Mac, by connecting to the internal modem slot of the new macs. (Sorry, if you already have a modem installed, it sounds like you're out of luck.) The new port is fully compatible with Apple's Communication Toolbox, and supports everything from PalmPilots to digital cameras and printers. Visit
www.geethree.com for more details, or www.macsource.com, to find early stock on the product.
- Hard drives race against Flash ROM: Calluna has announced a volume manufacturing partner for their 260 Megabyte Type II hard drive cards. (These cards are only 5mm thick, thin enough to fit into most PCMCIA card slots.) No pricing was mentioned, but this has to be good news for professional digicam users, as it will advance the competition between the flash-memory and hard-disk technologies for high-capacity image storage, ultimately driving prices lower.
- More MicroDisplays: We've yet to see any "microdisplay" technologies appear in digital cameras, but once they do, we predict the impact will be huge and immediate. Combining a lens and tiny, high-resolution LCD display to eliminate the need for a large LCD screen promises to dramatically extend battery life in digicams. The latest news in this front is that early microdisplay leader Displaytech, Inc (Longmont, Colorado) has announced a strategic manufacturing alliance with Japanese manufacturing powerhouse Miyota (Nagano, Japan). The new relationship moves microdisplays one step closer to actually appearing in a digicam near you! (Our prediction is that it will still be about a year before we start seeing microdisplays in production-level digicams. - Of course, we'd be happy to be proved wrong!)
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