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Thursday, July 30, 1998
July 30 - HOT Mac info, bad news from Oly, LOW Prices
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Thursday, July 30, 1998 - 0:00 EDT)
- HOT SCOOP! Beta MAC drivers for the FlashPath! Mac owners can rejoice, at the first glimmer of hope for them regarding the way-cool FlashPath floppy-disk adapter for SmartMedia cards. Reader Russ Taber discovered the following link whilst rooting around on a Fuji FTP server: ftp://ftp.fujifilmsupport.com/fujifilmsupport.com/mac/camera/FDA1MACb.sea.hqx (297Kb) This is VERY beta, but at least in English, and it seems to work, although the readme file says only on PowerMac or G3 machines. The nice part is it's a "clean" app, doesn't install any inits into your system. Performance isn't stunning (we clocked it at about 1 meg/minute on our aging PowerMac 7200), but it sure beats serial! A note to those of you who download this: Be cool, and don't pester Fuji for tech support on something they aren't even ready to release yet! (Thanks, Russ for this great scoop!)
- Sad news for Oly owners (except the 340)? This is a recent development, unfolding on the rec.photo.digital newsgroup. It appears that architectural changes starting with the 16 MB SmartMedia memory cards render them unusable for existing Olympus cameras other than the D-340L! Some users are holding out hope that there will be a possibility of a retrofit, but our feeling is that would be unlikely, based on our past engineering experience. Mike Shuster was good enough to post the following response from Olympus Tech Support:
Date: Tue, 28 Jul 1998 15:55:51 -0400 From: Kenneth Hong
<HongK@olympus.com> The 16 meg SmartMedia cards (and larger)
will not work on any Olympus digital camera other than the new
D-340L. There have been architechural changes made within the
SmartMedia that do not make them backwards compatible. Your camera
cannot be modified to use SmartMedia cards larger than 8 meg.
The MA-1U PC Card Adapter will also not work with 16 meg SmartMedia
for the same reason. Kenneth Hong Digital Technical Support Olympus
- With the older Olys being restricted to 8 MB per card (albeit a pretty cost-effective 8MB), MGVision's Digital Wallet may make more sense for many people. This is a battery-powered unit with a hard drive and a serial port that can offload images from your digital camera, and later upload them back to your computer. The idea is you can bring the 'wallet along on a trip or vacation, instead of lugging your whole laptop computer. We've corresponded with the MGVision folks in the past, and hope to be able to present a review of the product on The Imaging Resource soon. MGVision is apparently about to begin shipping their first production units, at $350 for a unit that stores a gigabyte of images(!)
- CHEAP scanner, printer!! The HP PhotoSmart scanner and photo-quality printer were already excellent deals, at SRPs of $399 and $299 respectively. Well get this: HP is offering $100 off both the scanner and printer! At $199 (after rebate), the PhotoSmart printer is a phenomenal deal, and at $299, the scanner is unbeatable. (Excuse our effusiveness, but these really are great prices!) See their website for a rebate coupon. We should have our reviews of both products posted within a couple of weeks, so stay tuned...
- The sound you hear is falling prices... Consumers just can't lose these days! With volume shipments only just starting, Toshiba has dropped the price on the PDR-M1 1.5 megapixel camera a hundred dollars to only $599! Already a great camera, now at a fabulous price - check out our review of it for more details.
- Texas-based Onramp Access has launched their latest endeavor, Camera.com, aiming to become an on-line digital camera superstore. This seems to us a bit of a strange twist, as Onramp's main business is being an ISP. They claim it's a natural extension of their existing business, in which they already sell computer hardware and peripherals, and their expertise developing and running e-commerce sites for their clients. They do appear to have a fairly broad line of products available: Check them out at www.camera.com (How'd they manage to get that URL?)
- Free Internet Photo Albums? PhotoLoft.com has announced a new service that will offer users free on-line photo albums, through their site (going active in "mid-August") www.PhotoLoft.com Apparently, PhotoLoft expects to make money from ancillary services offered through their site, such as gift items bearing your digital images.
- That's not a print, it's a photo! Polaroid has announced the first "true" photographic printer, a $299 USB-connected device that outputs high-quality photographs from digital files on special Polaroid print film. The press release didn't mention image size, but we'd expect standard Polaroid-sized images. Film for the new ColorShot unit will cost for $30 for a 30-sheet package.
- Adding insult to injury for poor Oly owners (like us), Samsung has announced not only the immediate availability of their 16MB SmartMedia cards, but also are projecting 32MB cards by the end of this year, and 64MB cards by the second half of '99. (What's that in internet years?)
Tuesday, July 28, 1998
July 28 - Hot Kodak price, good article, more adapter rings...
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Tuesday, July 28, 1998 - 0:00 EDT)
- We weren't going to do another news update until Friday or Saturday, but this was too hot to miss: Reader Andrew Wang posted a note in our discussion forum that he found Kodak DC260s listed at CMPExpress for $787.94. (At least as of 9:15pm CST, 7/28) Thanks, Andrew!
- Arthur Bleich has a new column up at ZoneZero, in which he talks about digital camera memory options, and reviews the MGVision "digital wallet", an NiMH power pack, and various other goodies. Good information, and well-written to boot!
- Tom Malzacher is joining the club of those offering adapter rings for the Nikon CoolPix 900. Tom's are machined from aluminum, and will be black anodized. He's just working out the final details (including price), so check his web page for an update.
Monday, July 27, 1998
July 27 - Ratloafs, Software, CCDs, etc...
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Monday, July 27, 1998 - 0:00 EDT)
- If half a loaf is better than none, what's a RatLoaf worth? Quite a bit, to Nikon CP900 owners: Ricky Lo's RatLoaf is now offering adapter rings and a full set of accessory lenses for Nikon owners. Check it out!
- Newly-posted on the Imaging Resource discussion forum: QV-AutoCam now supports the mini-movie features of the QV-5000sx. You can now play a minimovie directly and save as an AVI file. It also includes a new animation feature to allow you to make frame-by-frame animations (e.g time delay phtography, or take-a-shot, move-it-a-bit) and save these as AVIs. Original features include the multi-image printing, and a cool FTP-driven "webcam" feature. QV-AutoCam replaces QV-Link and supports the whole range of Casio cameras. (Thanks, Bob!) Readers: Any other cool third-party digicam software you like? Tell us, and we'll post a note here to let everyone know!
- Digital Eyes has posted a preliminary review of the Kodak DC260. Included are some download timings for the USB connection. Meanwhile, we just got our full-production sample of the DC260, and are busily re-shooting our test images, so you can see what a full-capability unit can do. Check our DC260 pictures page in about a week to see the results.
- Signs of life at Imagek! The 'web has been abuzz for the last 6 months with rumors and foment surrounding the Imagek "Electronic Film System", intended to drop into a 35mm camera and turn it into a digital camera. Imagek recently updated their website, and in the latest piece of news, appears to have brought on board a genuine heavyweight to help them raise and build a team. Peter J. Sprague has just joined the company, carrying impressive credentials as former Chairman of National Semiconductor Corporation.
- Toshiba has announced a 1.66 million-pixel sensor, the TCD5603D, with samples available now for $230US, and production scheduled for August 1. They claim this is the highest pixel-count CCD area sensor, which really can't be true by any stretch: Loral has been making 4 megapixel units for years. It's undoubtedly the largest sensor at that price point though. Hmm - 1.66 megapixels, first production in August: Sounds a lot like the sensor to be used in the Canon PowerShot Pro70, perhaps explaining why projections for the Pro 70 delivery are stretching into October.(We were wondering whose CCD Canon was going to use, as we didn't know of any as big as 1.66 megapixels anywhere. Pure speculation on our part, but the specs seem to match.)
- Signature Color upgrades scanning capabilities. Signature Color announced that they've acquired a Kodak KCDFS (commonly pronounced ka-doo-fus) image scanner. This is a high-speed, high-quality scanner that can run in-line with production photofinishing equipment. This direct-from-film scanner will further increase the quality of Signature's photos-on-floppy offering. (Some folks, here to remain nameless, scan their photo-floppy images from prints rather than the film itself, producing a markedly softer image.) Signature is also the company offering direct photographic (as in silver halide) prints from your digital files over the internet. Visit their web site to check it out.
- The American Builders Network is still looking for someone to write a basic article on digital cameras for them. Here's what Ralph Hudson had to say: "Basically the article should be short, able to give 'not-too-net-savy' home builders how-to info on selecting a camera, how to email photos to clients, and generally how effective the camera will be for his online marketing efforts and customer service and warranty operations. We can help a lot with the article. We typically pay $200 for articles like this to post on a 'resources' page within our site." Email Ralph if you're interested in picking up a few extra bucks for that big CF card you've been wanting!
- The Taiwanese are (still) coming! Reader Dave Rosier wrote in with a URL for TECO, the Taiwan-based parent of Relisys. They've announced a camera, coming soon as the Relisys Dimera 2000. Standard VGA-level features, but we expect to see this drive prices down at the low end, given the early aggressive pricing Relisys had in the scanner market, although no mention of pricing for the '2000 has been made as yet.
- Has anyone seen the Canon PowerShot A5 yet? Several readers have written asking if we knew if this was out yet. As far as we know, it should be appearing very soon, but we haven't heard of any reported "sightings". Shopper.com shows Insight Direct claiming 1 unit scheduled for 7/20 (if true, doubtless gone), at $678.99, and Anything, Inc. expecting delivery 8/11/98, for sale at $615.52. How about it, anybody seen one? Email us if you have. (Also if you've seen Toshiba PDR-M1s, as we've received queries on those as well.)
Wednesday, July 22, 1998
July 22 - A mixed bag today...
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Wednesday, July 22, 1998 - 0:00 EDT)
- SoundVision bundling 2-Meg CF cards. Soundvision will begin bundling 2 Meg CompactFlash cards with teir SVmini-209 digital camera. The SVmini uses a CMOS sensor to achieve 1000x800 resolution at low cost and low power. The camera has always had a small amount of on-board memory, and supported removable CF cards, but this is the first time SoundVision has bundled a CF card with the unit. The bundle can be purchased on-line for $349 from http://www.clubmail.com/.
- The flood of USB cameras continues, with new units from Vista Imaging and Creative Technology. Vista has announced the ViCAM-USB, with impressive specs at $199. The ViCAM captures 24 bits at resolutions ranging from 128x96 up to 1280x960 (presumably, interpolating somewhere along the line), and sports a light sensitivity of 1 lux. (That's pretty doggone dim!). The unit ships with a collection of video-oriented software, and trial versions of some spiffy face-recognition programs. (Computer to user: Is that really you?) Check them out at http://www.vistaimaging.com. With an eye toward their target application, Creative Technologies announced the Video Blaster WebCam II at a retail price of $79(!), after a $20 mail-in rebate. As with the Vista unit, Creative includes a panoply of video-oriented software. Check http://www.soundblaster.com/ for details.
- Ricoh includes NiMH batteries with RDC-4300. In a nod to the voracious battery appetite of high-end digicams, Ricoh has announced that they are now bundling a set of 4 AA NiMH rechargeable batteries and a portable charger with every RDC-4300 sold since June 15. If you bought an RDC-4300 since June 15, and didn't get the battery offer, either check your dealer for a coupon, or contact Ricoh Customer Service at 800-225-1899, ext. 1622. You'll need a cash register receipt and camera serial number as proof of purchase. Ricoh values the bundle at $49.95, which means they probably don't know about our friends at Battery City, where you can get the same package for about $13.50, plus $5 or so for shipping. (That's not a misprint, call Joanne at 888-422-8248, or 213-658-7520 for your set! - They're in the West Coast time zone.)
- FlashPath for the Mac on the horizon? We came across an odd Toshiba press release recently, announcing that the release of a Mac driver for the slick "FlashPath" SSFDC-to-floppy disk adapter would be forthcoming "soon." What we found odd about this was the information that Apple "refused to assist" in the development, forcing Toshiba to have to hack around the Mac's floppy drivers, meaning that the released driver will probably only work with about 70% of the Mac population. Given that the release promised a driver in "about two weeks," and that was about 5 weeks ago, maybe we'll see something soon. We're following up with our contacts at Toshiba for more info on this, and will pass it along as soon as we hear anything. (For that matter though, if any of you out there have any other info on Mac drivers for the FlashPath, let us know!)
- Speaking of the Mac, here's a scoop from Steve's Digicams: J. David Eisenberg wrote a couple of little utility programs for the Mac to let him reset the auto power-off on the Nikon CoolPix 900 to higher values than the default 30 seconds, and to speed Mac downloads from the camera. They're offered without any guarantees, but free for the asking. Not wanting to steal any of Steve's hitcount, go to his "Late Breaking News Page" to find the link to David's site.
- In yet other Mac news, the Los Angeles Macintosh Group is launching a site for iMac USB peripherals (which are likely to include lots of digital photo accessories. Although it clearly will be a Mac-oriented site, this holds the promise of being a great "clearinghouse" site for USB peripherals of all sorts. The site's not up yet, but bookmark http://www.USB4Mac.com/ and stay tuned.
- Storm "Blitzes" the scanning world: If you thought USB was fast, it's about to get even faster, at least for users of Storm Technology's fothcoming TotalScan(tm) Express scanner. The 36-bit, 1200x600 scanner speeds data transfers to the computer (via either the parallel or USB port) by compressing data inside the scanner, sending it across the wire, then decompressing it in the computer. Sounds pretty slick, but no performance numbers were given in the press release, other than a claim for "up to 4 times faster". (Given typical performance of lossless compression algorithms, we'd figure the "real world" number is closer to 2-3, but still not to be sneezed at.) Probably the biggest surprise is that we haven't heard of anyone else doing this: Once you've though of it, it seems obvious. (But then, aren't all great ideas obvious once somebody else has thought of them?) The new unit is set to debut in August, at a retail price of $249.
Polaroid updates microscope camera. Aiming at high-end industrial applications, Polaroid has updated the software and user interface to their Digital Microscope Camera (DMC), calling the new unit the DMC-ES, for Enhanced Software. Improvements include a Measurement marker and annotation tool for adding measurement markers of various calibrated sizes to captured images, direct printing enhancements, improved white balance, and a host of others. At $5,995, the unit isn't cheap, but we can remember paying more than that for a cheesy video-based 'scope camera back in our aerospace days. The new unit is scheduled to be available the week of August 2, through authorized dealers. Check Polaroid's web site at http://www.polaroid.com/ for more details, or call 800-662-8337, ext. 443. (Tell them the Imaging Resource sent you!)
- Looking for a way to run your favorite digicam on some strange computer box? Java may be the answer. Steve's Digicams (yet again) reports on a basic-but-cool-sounding software package written in Java, called JCam. Check Steve's site for a link to the JCam home page and further details. (Versions are available for Windows, Linux, FreeBSD, and the Mac. You'll need the Java JDK version 1.1.3 or better to run the program.)
- Big Brother is coming! - And Lucent's got the technology once he gets here! Lucent has announced the first commercialization of their CMOS "camera on a chip" technology, that they say will result in video cameras costing less than $50 each, including lens and housing. - It may seem like we're already there, with the $79 USB camera we mentioned earlier, but note that the USB cameras rely on the host CPU for most of the heavy lifting. - The Lucent technology (and other CMOS-based camera-on-a-chip approaches) could lead to even lower prices for USB units.
- Kodak is alive and well, just $310 million smaller. If you bought Kodak stock anytime in the last few months, you're doubtless already congratulating yourself on your perspicacity. Kodak figuratively blew the doors off analysts' profit projections, even though their gross volume was about 8% below last year's. In related news, Kodak reported that their share of the US film market rose 1% over the prior quarter, although it was still 1% less than the same quarter last year. Near and dear to our hearts though, we were surprised to see that Kodak reported a loss of $64 million in digital imaging for the last quarter, which they considered good news, since it was down from a loss of $102 million a year earlier. Bottom line, it looks like Kodak's deep pockets and excellent restructuring results will help them stay the course in the digital arena. While they've been very successful in the digital camera market, we believe their real digital profits will be found on-line, with the extraordinary strategic relationships they've developed. - But that's another story, for another time...
Tuesday, July 21, 1998
July 21 - Toshiba PDR-M1 review is up!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Tuesday, July 21, 1998 - 0:00 EDT)
- The FULL review for the Toshiba PDR-M1 is finally posted. With a full 1.5 megapixel sensor producing a 1280x1024 (1.3 megapixel) image, the resolution is great, with color and tonal range to match - Check it out!
Friday, July 17, 1998
July 17 - QV-5000SX review is up!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Friday, July 17, 1998 - 0:00 EDT)
- The FULL review for the Casio QV-5000SX is finally posted. Looks like a cool device for a 'web publisher, with its digital zoom, good macro capability, and "mini-movie" motion-capture feature - Check it out!
Thursday, July 16, 1998
July 16 - Patches, Updates, Warrantees, and Weird Science
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Thursday, July 16, 1998 - 0:00 EDT)
- Kodak bug-fix for DC120 cameras! Kodak has released a firmware update for the DC120 camera. This looks like an important one, as it fixes a bug that could cause the camera's firmware to be corrupted due to low battery voltage! Download it from Kodak's website, which also has instructions for loading the patch into your camera.
- Ricoh announced extended customer-support hours, a trend we'd like to see develop with other digicam manufacturers! Their new hours are 4am-7pm PDT M-F, 7am-4pm PDT Sat & Sun. Tech support can be reached at 702-352-1694, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Heidelberg Color Publishing Solutions (formerly Linotype CPS) has released the next generation of its pro-level scanner, the SAPHIR Ultra 2. The specs are impressive: 42-bit captures at 1200x2400dpi, 3.4 dynamic range, built-in transparency illuminator. MSRP is $3,695. Not cheap, but the resolution and dynamic range look good enough for medium- or large-format transparency scanning. (6x6cm and larger film formats).
- SanDisk announces a 10 Million Picture guarantee for all new CompactFlash (CF) cards sold. SanDisk's CF cards now have an ability in the controller to count the number of times the card is written and erased. The guarantee is big news because historically, flash memory technologies have had somewhat limited life spans. The 10 million picture limit is equivalent to more than 250,000 36-exposure rolls of film! (Ought to be enough to keep even Imaging Resource readers busy!)
- Extended warranty for Nikon CP900s! Steve's Digicams gets the scoop again, with news that Focus Camera is offering extended warranties for Nikon CoolPix 900 cameras. (5 years parts & labor for $99!) Check Steve's site for details!
- Olympus auxiliary lenses. It's a little bit old news, as they've been available since February PMA, but the part numbers listed should be useful: A DCRP reader reported from MacWorld about the auxiliary lenses for the Oly IS-series film cameras being used with the D-500L and D-600L. You'll need a step-up adapter for most of these, but the Oly auxiliary lenses are pretty high-quality. Check the DCRP news page for details and part numbers.
- UMAX announces upgraded MagicScan, version 4.0, claims 86% customer satisfaction level. UMAX has upgraded their scanner software, adding a number of features, and offering more features of the standalone application in their PhotoShop plug-in. MagicScan users can download a free upgrade from the UMAX tech-support site. PhotoPerfect upgrades may be purchased from binuscan, Inc., at 212-681-0600, or by emailing a request to email@example.com. Meanwhile, UMAX announced the results of a customer-satisfaction survey, reporting an exceptional 86% satisfaction level. (This is really very high.) We don't have UMAX represented on the Imaging Resource site yet, but hope to by fall.
- CMOS sensor shipments to grow to 60 million units annually by 2002. Cahners In-Stat Group has released a study detailing growth of CMOS image sensors over the next 5 years. The $1,495 report will doubtless be of interest to our corporate readers at Kodak, Olympus, Fuji, and the like... Email Linda Morganstern at firstname.lastname@example.org for more info. (Tell her the Imaging Resource sent you!)
- Interactive Pictures Corporation's IPIX technology is an amazing tool for assembling full 360-degree "Virtual Reality" panoramas. More than just horizontal stitching (making a cylindrical image), IPIX joins two 180-degree "fisheye" images to create a full interactive, spherical image. At MacWorld, IPIX announced a Mac Wizard for image assembly, to match their earlier PC version. If you haven't seen it, the IPIX technology is very cool. The only drawback is you need a film (or very high-res digital) camera with a true fisheye lens - not a cheap system to assemble! Check it out at www.ipix.com.
- USB-based "computer eye" cameras continue to proliferate: Infotrends has released a new market study that projects sales of tethered digital cameras will double each year for the next two years, and grow to a $500 million market over the next three years. In separate but related news, yet another company has jumped into this arena, with AIMS Labs introducing their USB-connected "iFIVE" camera, at a suggested retail of $150. (See the Kodak DVC-323 review on this site for a review of a competing unit from an established player.)
- 1000:1 Compression! Really? Well, that depends... (Not really digital photography news, but we wanted to clear up a misconception.) There's been some excitement lately about the compression technology recently announced by AT&T Research, that can compress page images up to 1000x. Some have interpreted this to mean that we can soon expect to stuff hundreds of high-res images onto 8-meg memory cards, but that's unfortunately not the case. What the AT&T "DjVu" (pronounced "deja vu") technology does (and exceedingly well) is to separate text & line-art imagery from its background (the underlying paper texture and color, photographs, etc. This lets them optimize compression techniques separately for the two types of data. The result is images of complete pages that are very compact, but it only performs about the same on images as does JPEG. (In fact, we'd guess it probably uses JPEG to handle the image compression.) So, a neat technology that will doubtless result in lots more rare books, etc. appearing on the net, but no big news for us photo nuts...
- X-Rays and Inkjets: This really doesn't have too much to do with our main topic either, but it was just too nerdly-interesting to let pass: Sarnoff Corp and Xennia Ltd. have announced a partnership to help inkjet printer manufacturers. Xennia are experts at formulating inkjet ink, while Sarnoff has some pretty amazing x-ray imaging technology: Would you believe they can actually watch ink flow inside an operating print head? There's a (somewhat fuzzy) dual image of an inkjet droplet forming inside a working print head at www.sarnoff.com.
- Congratulations, Anna! Epson America Inc announced that Anna Jen has been promoted to director, product marketing, photo imaging products. Anna has been the force behind Epson's successful entry into the world of digital cameras. In her new position, she'll take charge of Epson's scanner products as well. (Now, if we can just finally convince her to put some of her cameras on the Imaging Resource Site...)
Monday, July 13, 1998
July 13 - Arrgh! BIG mistake fixed!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Monday, July 13, 1998 - 0:00 EDT)
- In his last news update (from the road), Dave goofed & broke the nav links from the news page! About 40K "bad requests" later, he fixed them this morning when he returned. A HUGE "Sorry" to everyone who was inconvenienced by the mistake!
Saturday, July 11, 1998
July 11 - Slow news, even slower updates...
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Saturday, July 11, 1998 - 0:00 EDT)
- Dave's unfortunately been out of town on some family-related travel, so the news got a bit behind again. Hopefully these disruptions will end next week, and life can resume its normal(?) pace at the Imaging Resource. Apologies to all for the slow updates!
- Ricky Lo, a hyperactive Nikon CoolPix900 owner with far too much energy for any normal human, has announced that his company Ratloaf is now selling step-up adapters for the Nikon CoolPix 900, as well as Raynox accessory lenses, including Macro, Tele, and neutral density filters. Ricky says 2 of the 3 will be available within the week, the adapter/filter set in 3 weeks.
- Taking the external tele adapter game to new heights, Ricky also has some sample pictures resulting from the combination of a Tasco 15-45x spotting scope with his Nikon CP900. He calls this is "giantbehemothzoom". Image quality isn't great, but surveillance types might find it interesting...
- Reader Tom Belluco wrote in to report that the "free" deal from Conde for their inkjet transfer paper isn't all that free: There's a $5 "shipping charge" in exchange for 4 sheets of paper. Still maybe a good deal, but questionable to call it "free." Thanks for the heads-up, Tom! (With the press of things to do, we don't have time to chase-down details on all the offers we report, so feedback from readers is very much appreciated!
- Tom also had an experience in which Battery City lost his order for AA NiMH batteries. His card wasn't charged or anything, but they didn't have any way of tracking his order. So far, this is the only negative experience we've heard of with Battery City, other than a few complaints that their shipping charges seem high ($6 for ground UPS). Battery City is very small, literally a "mom and pop" business, and the traffic they've been getting from our site at times overwhelms them. Mondays are by far the worst, so if you plan to order some batteries ($3.50 per pair of 1200 mAH NiMH AA's) from them, Wednesday or Thursday will probably work better...
- The Digital Camera Resource Page reported on a nifty freeware Windows utility for taking continuous-shot pictures from the Fuji MX-700 and splitting it into separate GIF files, which can then be made into an animated GIF. The utility by Joachim Tesch is called GIFTILE. (BTW, if you haven't discovered them already, the DCRP also has great end-user reviews of many cameras, and an index to lots of traditional-press review articles. A great page!)
- Steve's Digicams reports on a neat, FREE utility program that lets you set the shut-off delay on any digital camera using the Fujitsu chipset, which apparently include the Nikon CP900, and units from Agfa, Epson, Olympus, and Sanyo as well.(Steve also has lots of other info on Nikon CP900 hacks, and other cool news as well. Check out his site!)
- Steve also reports that Damark (800-729-9000) has "refurbished" Oly D320Ls (stock no. B-20461-637283) for sale for only $379 (10% less for their "Preferred Buyer's Club" members, and D220Ls (stock no. B-20461-637276) for $249. Call quick though - Damark buys things in lots, and once they're gone, they're gone!
- Given that Casio's QV-5000SX has been shipping for a while already, this seems like an odd press release, but ISI has announced that Casio is using their pSOSytem operating system in the QV-5000SX. Regardless of the timing of the announcement, we can report that the QV-5000 is quite responsive to user controls, seemingly faster than Digita-based units.
- Flashpoint has announced support in their Digita OS for IrDA, using a software kernel from Counterpoint Systems. (This also sounds like old news, since the Kodak DC220 and 260 both support IrDA already, using FlashPoint...)
- Your mug on a mug! My-website.com has announced a new service whereby users can upload digital images and order a whole range of photo-imprinted products with their own pictures on them. (Including mugs.) Check out www.my-mug.com for this service, their main site for web-based photo sharing applications.
- Reuters reports that a Kodak employee was charged with wire fraud and theft of proprietary information recently, for apparently emailing trade-secret files to a relative working at Xerox. She was caught when she tried to send a file so large that it crashed the Kodak email server(!) (If you're going to be dishonest, it pays not to be stupid, too!)
- Kopin and Motorola announced July 9th that the Kopin Cyberdisplay has been fully qualified for reliability and quality for use in Motorola's consumer products. This may mean we'll see the cool Cyberdisplay (check out Kopin's website) in consumer equipment before it shows up in digital cameras.
Friday, July 3, 1998
July 3 - No holiday at Imaging Resource!
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Friday, July 3, 1998 - 0:00 EDT)
Sheesh! - Turn your back for a day or two, and there's another boatload of news items waiting! What's worse, I stumbled across a couple of emails I'd forgotten about in the last posting! Maybe it really is true that CRTs cause brain damage...
- First though, after our minor flame about Ricky Lo's dropping the link to his nifty solution for the CoolPix 900 lens cap solution, he emailed me saying he'd put the info back up on his main CP900 page "Just for Imaging Resource." - Thanks, Ricky! He also has some shots there of an aluminum adapter ring he had custom-machined to adapt the 28mm threads of his CP900 to standard 37mm threads so he culd use his Tiffen tele adapter lens on the '900. The results he shows are impressive, but alas there are no plans for mass-production of the adapter. Ricky's been a great resource on rec.photo.digital, posting lots of useful answers and info: Support him by visiting his main Screen Savers a2z site, which presumably generates $$ for him somehow...
- In similar vein, a reader at Steve's Digicams sent in info on an inexpensive wide/tele adapter solution for the CoolPix 900 - check Steve's site for details! (By the way, if you haven't already figured it out, Steve's Digicams is definitely deserving of a bookmark - he consistently gets key digicam news ahead of the pack.)
- Catching up on "old business," I was sure we posted this one, but a reader called attention to it, and I don't find it anywhere in our past news, so here it is (again?): Signature Color (a large mail-order photofinisher in Texas) has announced a service whereby you can upload images from your digital camera (or scanner) to their web site, and the order real photographic (as in silver-halide) prints from them! The prices are actually quite reasonable, at $4.50 per 8x10 print, with discounts for quantity. Smaller sizes are available too, at lower prices. By the time you figure in the cost of fancy photo-glossy paper and more-precious-than-gold inkjet ink, this is not that much more than it would cost you to print images yourself on your own inkjet, and you're getting real photos, not just "photo-quality". We haven't tried the new service ourselves yet, but have had past professional dealings with Signature, and found them to be "good folks." Check out their website for more details.
- Another "catch-up" item: About a week ago, Arthur Bleich was nice enough to email us with a note on his camera comparison article on ZoneZero, and we neglected to pass the info along here. Arthur's article is a nice comparison of the Olympus D600L, Nikon CoolPix 900, and Kodak DC260. This is an interesting comparison, as Arthur went a step further than most of us by measuring a number of time parameters that would be of interest to camera buyers. (Such as inter-shot times, etc.) Arthur's column there is a regular monthly feature, so it's worth a bookmark in your browser.
- First digicam manufacturer to support the Apple iMac? We can't say more, but keep your eyes peeled around MacWorld time (next week) for an announcement from Kodak: It looks as though Apple's adoption of USB (Universal Serial Bus) for the iMac(tm) may bear digicam fruit very soon!
- In a similar vein, UMAX has announced that they are the first scanner manufacturer to support the USB interface on the Apple iMac. The UMAX Astra 1220U should ship in July, at an estimated street price of $179, complete with Mac support!
- Well, they got the link wrong in their press release, but we found the right one for you! Ricoh has announced a digital camera photo contest, running now through September 30. The grand prize is an RDC-4300 megapixel camera and a rewriteable CD drive. First prize is the RDC-4300 alone, and second prixe is a RDC-300z camera. Snap those pixels! (Huh? How do you snap a pixel?) Note that you *don't* have to use a Ricoh camera to capture your contest entries! Note too, that you don't even have to capture the image with a digicam, but can scan and manipulate one taken conventionally. The only requirement appears to be that it be "digital" at some point in the process. The site's in Japan, so US and European users can expect rather sluggish downloads. Still, a '4300 would be worth the wait!
- We'd heard from our Toshiba contacts to expect 16 MB SmartMedia cards this summer, but were surprised to see a press release from Lexar Media saying that they'd have such cards in August. Well, 'turns out Lexar is part-owned by Toshiba! Regardless of who's actually making them, Lexar projects a street price of $99 for the16 MB cards. For you Olympus owners out there, note that these cards should work fine in your cameras, but won't enable the panorama suppport in some models, as that capability depends on custom firmware loaded on the Olympus-branded cards. Nonetheless, these cards will be a welcome addition for many digicam owners frustrated by the lack of anything bigger than 8MB in the SmartMedia format.
- Epson announces price cut on PhotoPC 550. Continuing the downward spiral of VGA-level digital cameras, Epson cut the street price of their PhotoPC 550 to $249, down from $299. The '550 is unusual among low-end cameras in that it contains a microphone and allows sound-annotation of captured images.
- Bigger Compacts! (Couldn't resist that headline!) SiliconTech has announced a 48 MB capacity CompactFlash card. Although not the first to do so, the presence of another manufacturer at this capacity point will doubtless spur competition and result in lower prices. In a simultaneous release, Simple Technology announced 48MB CF cards as well. Coincidence? We think not. Unfortunately, Simple didn't see fit to mention price either: Check your favorite dealer for details...
- Wolf Buys Fox! It's been no secret for a while now that Kodak intended to dump (er, sell) their Fox Photo chain. Citing a need to cut $1 billion in costs and refocus on their core business, Kodak has been shopping the 450-store chain for a while now. As of July 1, Wolf Camera announced that it had reached agreement to acquire the 450 stores, to add to their existing 341-store network that spans 15 states. This is a dramatic expansion for Wolf, but it sounds like they got a good deal, based on press speculation as to the price. (Reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AP) to be far below Kodak's original $110 million stake.) Wolf has proven to be a pretty savvy retailer, and has shown a fair commitment to digital imaging. Expect significantly increased offerings at your neighborhood Fox store in the near future as a result...
- Big Gets Cheaper! Those of you who sneer at 8x10 as an "enlargement" will be pleased by Calcomp's recent price cuts on large-format inkjet printers. Slashing prices as much as 50% (!), the models of most interest to Imaging Resource readers include the TechJet 5500S series, now selling for $2,495 for the 24-inch model and $3,795 for the 36-inch model. These versions use 44-ml capacity ink cartridges. The 5500GA series, supporting 500ml ink bottles (that's a LOT of inkjet ink!) sell for $5,695 for the standard 36-inch model, and $6,695 for the "Plus" version, which includes 40 Meg of RAM, an Ethernet interface, and built-in PostScript Level 2-compatible language. If you've been following large-format inkjet printing at all lately, these are *very* competitive prices!
- Make your own photo T-shirts! Conde Systems, Inc. have announced a line of heat-transfer papers for use with inkjet, dye-sublimation, and color laser printers. Print onto this paper, iron it onto a T-shirt or most anything else, and the photo transfers. (Note though, that most inkjet dyes probably won't stand up too well in the laundry! - Color laser is probably a much better bet.) Conde has free samples of the paper available in exchange for your paying the shipping charge. Call them at (800) 826-6332 or (334) 633-5704, or visit their website.
- Battery City Thrives on Imaging Resource Traffic! Joanne of Battery City in LA called last night to thank me for the exceptional response she's been getting from our mention of their SUPER deal on Toshiba AA NiMH batteries. At only (get this) $3.50 for a set of TWO, this deal is unbeatable! If you're a digicam owner, you absolutely owe it to yourself to pick up the phone and call them ASAP to order *several* sets! They also have a great deal on 10-hour chargers for only $6.50. (One side note: They seem to charge $6-10 for standard UPS ground shipping, but given the battery prices, who can complain?) The couple of times I've spoken with her, Joanne can't say enough about how nice the internet callers are! Apparently, people are really stocking up, as the average order is now up to 10 sets! (That's 20 batteries!) They apparently still have a pretty good stock of these, but you shouldn't wait - Given where the rest of the market is on these batteries, the deal can't last forever! Call them at 888-422-8248, or 213-658-7520. (That's in the West Coast time zone.) Disclaimer: We have no business relationship with Battery City, but they're nice people, and Joanne said she was going to send me a cool flashlight as a thank-you. (So hurry up and order a bunch of batteries! ;-)
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