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Digital Photography News Archive!
October 1998

 

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Tuesday, October 27, 1998



October 27 - Serious backlog (sorry...)
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Tuesday, October 27, 1998 - 0:00 EST)


- Your ever-vigilant, diligent, and hard-working (not to mention unfailingly modest) web droid has fallen far behind on the news feed, for which he apologizes profusely to all the readers dependent on a regular fix of IR imaging news. The truth is, we're up to our eyeballs in cameras, two of which we could only have for a couple of days, meaning we really had to scramble. (Try about 500 photos in 2 days!) One of these was a Canon Pro70 (very nice unit!), which we'll hopefully have something posted on in a few weeks. Meanwhile, another unit must remain a mystery until Nov 2, at which point we'll have a full review and sample images posted simultaneous with the public announcement. Hopefully, the pleasant surprise of such timely info on a new digicam will mitigate the burbling discontent amongst the news-junkies. (Seriously, we apologize for the slow news updates, and will try to catch-up on news over the next few days.)
- FlashPoint contest official! The FlashPoint webcast mentioned below was an interesting event in web technology. The "talking heads" of the various company movers & shakers participating looked more than a little choppy when viewed over our paltry 28.8 modem connection. (We just learned BellSouth can't get ADSL out to our location, so now need to go down the ISDN route.) Have you ever noticed how hilarious and embarassing normal facial expressions become when freeze-framed every second or so? Nonetheless, the information was good, and the contest sounds pretty cool. (I could do with an all-expense-paid vacation to some neat place, but suspect that a) I won't qualify, since I'm taking their advertising, and b) I have neither the time nor cleverness to win anyway...) Check out their contest though, if you have or have access to a Digita-enabled camera.
- Beta USB DC260/220 Drivers for iMac! Becoming one of the first (if not THE first) digicam manufacturers to officially support the iMac, Kodak recently announced and posted beta copies of USB drivers for the iMac. Note that you must be running OS 8.5 to use these, and they don't support PCI-based USB cards yet.
- New HP Digicam Details are very sketchy, but HP has announced a new megapixel digicam, the C30, for only $399. (An excellent price.) We don't know much about it, other than the fact that it costs $399, has a megapixel sensor, and includes a 2x digital zoom. We're no big fans of "digital zooms," but felt that the earlier C20 took good pictures: An updated model for under $400 would be a "good thing." Meanwhile, don't forget that the PhotoSmart Scanner and Printer are both carrying $100 rebates through the end of January, 1999. (Read about the latter in our Digital Darkroom article.)
- Confusion over Sony DSC-D700? There's been a lot of "buzz" to the effect of "Where's the new Sony?" The confusion apparently arises from the fact that the announced release date was 10/25, but no sign of the product in the US. Well, apparently 10./25 was the Japanese release date. Don't expect to see any units in the US until sometime after Comdex (late November).
-ZDNet Digital Photo Contest! This must be the month for contests! First the Digita Scripting contest mentioned above, now the ZDNet Digital Photo Contest, which runs from October 12th to December 20, 1998. Various categories and a panoply of prizes, including Olympus D-600 cameras, UMAX scanners, PhotoSmart printers, Lexar Digital Film, ATI video cards, etc, etc. Check the link for details.

Thursday, October 22, 1998



October 22 - Digita news, new camera info, etc...
By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Thursday, October 22, 1998 - 0:00 EDT)


- We're a couple of days behind on this one, but FlashPoint will be announcing the "next phase in their developers program for the Digita scripting language on Monday. This event will also kick-off a contest with the grand prize of a photo adventure to one of three destinations(!) The event will be in the form of a "webcast", that you can link to via your browser. The webcast will feature "vital" information for developers, details about the contest, and an opportunity for an interactive Q&A. Executives from Kodak and Minolta will be on hand as well, demonstrating the Kodak DC260 and new Minolta Dimage EX. Here are the details (You'll need to download player software from the link below in order to receive the webcast):

  • - Canon A5 Zoom Info! Field reporter Mike Tomkins turned up a page on the Japanese DreamArts site with a load of sample pictures from the currently Japanese-only A5 Zoom camera. Here are some highlights of the camera: 28-70mm zoom, "slow shutter" mode for night shooting, including slow-sync (aka "rear curtain") flash sync, manual white balance options, "program mode" allowing greater control over exposure, flash, etc, and a "Raw" storage mode like the current A5, for totally uncompressed image storage. For those interested, here's another link to the Canon Japan home page for the A5 Zoom. Thanks, Mike!
    - More Sony D700 info! Part II of the Mike Tomkins web tour is a page with some more specs on the forthcoming Sony D700. New information includes a confirmation that the camera will have a video-out connector, and the fact that the camera will use the same NP-F550 battery as many Sony camcorders. (According to Mike, the NP-F550 retails for about $55US. This battery allegedly gives the D700 a 2.5 hour continuous-use battery life, with no flash or LCD. (Note that either flash or LCD use would decrease this substantially!) Thanks, Mike!
    - Time that lag! This really belongs more on the "Tips" page, but was sufficiently important we put it here as well: Many have noticed the variable delay between when you press a digicam's shutter-release button, and when the camera actually takes the picture. "Van" Van Horn of Digital Eyes had a friend write a tiny Windows program that helps time this lag. It gives you a large count-down timer to help you push the button at the right instant, then gives a large time readout in tenths of a second. Point the camera at the screen, push the button at the right moment, and the picture you capture will show the delay in seconds and tenths. You can download a copy of the program here. We'll be using this on all our future reviews and reporting the results.Thanks, Van!
    - Digita in printers: Part of the promise of FlashPoint's Digita operating system (see above for the scripting contest webcast) has been the potential to integrate it into other devices, such as printers. Epson and FlashPoint have now done so, in the Epson PT-100 printer. The new printer has card slots for CompactFlash, SmartMedia, and full-size PCMCIA memory cards. A wide variety of image file formats are also supported, including industry-standard JPEG and EXIF.the press release we received from FlashPoint was a little sketchy on what you could do directly from the printer, but said that it "allows photographers to preformat their images and apply intelligent templates and filters directly to their pictures." Given some of the Digita scripts we've already seen, we can imagine the printer cranking out photos in standard page layouts sans computer. The Epson printer continues a trend begun with the Lexmark Photo Jetprinter 5770, which we reported on a week or so back. Expect to see more "smart" printers in the future...
    - Panoply of Products at Kodak Pavilion If you're going to Comdex, the place to be to see digital photography products will clearly be the Kodak Solutions Pavilion. Kodak's pavilion has been a great way for smaller companies integrating solutions around Kodak's products to gain visibility at an important trade event, at relatively low cost. The list of participants (over 40) is far too long to include here (see the press release instead), but we can say that it will definitely be worth a stop if you're planning on attending Comdex. (November 16-21, in Las Vegas, NV)
    - Agfa, HP offer more for iMac Apple's new iMac computer sports industry-standard "USB" ports for attaching peripherals. This has elicited a veritable flood of products designed to attach to the new machine. The latest on this front is that HP has announced a printer cable kit for the iMac, that will connect HP's DeskJet 670C and 690C series of printers for $69 US. Agfa has also announced a Mac version of their SnapScan 1212u USB-connected scanner. the 1212 is a 1200x600, 36-bit unit with an SRP of only $129 US. (We continue to be amazed by the exceptional specs available in scanners close to the $100 mark!)
    - YARC ships RIPs Longtime graphics CPU-engine player YARC has announced it will begin selling low-cost Postscript RIP (Raster Image Processor, if that helps) products for Epson inkjet printers directly from its web site. Follow links from the main YARC site, or go directly to the storefront, at http://SecureShop.yarcrip.com/shop. For more details, see YARC's internet newsroom. The new products include a $480 unit to drive the Epson Stylus Photo EX.
    - Microsoft is now ColorBlind (equipped)! Microsoft has given the nod to tiny Imaging Technologies Corp (ITEC), for their ICC device color profiles to be included with Windows(R) NT 5.0 operating system. ITEC has been a pioneer in the area of automatically-generated ICC color profiles, and the deal with Microsoft catapults them to a new level of visibility and influence. The good news is that Windows users will finally have reliable on-screen color and screen-to-print translation. The bad news is they have to switch to NT 5.0 to get it...
    - ALPS MD-5000 Printer now Public Thanks to reader Otto Kurda, we reported on this a week or so back: Now, it's official: ALPS has announced their MD-5000 Desk Top Print Shop(TM), a 2400 dpi (!) photo-quality printer that works with ordinary bond paper. A proprietary thermal print-head design has led to the remarkable resolution, and resulting fine tonal gradations. The new printer has a suggested retail price of $599. Otto and others have consistently reported on the ALPS' excellent print quality - the only negative appears to be their rather slow print speeds.
    - Iomega, NEC to unveil USB CLIK! Mobile Drive The digital camera community has been hearing about the micro-sized "CLIK!" drive from Iomega for at least a year now. It appears that the product is finally about to make it to market. The estimated-street-price $199 US product does not appear to include the flash-memory reader associated with the Iomega-labeled, parallel-port version we reported on a short while ago. It strikes us though, that $200 is a lot to pay for a peripheral with nothing else that connects to it yet...
    - Yet another camera on a chip: Matching the HP announcement we reported on a week or two ago, OmniVision Technologies has announced VGA-level digital cameras integrated on a single chip. Both black & white and color models are available. The cost? An incredible $17 each for the color version, in quantities of 10,000. Expect to see VGA-res digital cameras appearing as standard features on many PCs and laptops over the next year.
    - Toshiba Picks SuperDisk - A Blow to Sony? This is only tangentially related to digicam news, but it does relate: Toshiba has chosen the "SuperDisk" technology for use in their market-leading notebook computers. This could be seen as a substantial blow to the competing Fuji/Sony HiFD standard for high-density floppies. Where does it hit digicams? Sony's Mavicas have been wildly popular largely because everyone has a drive in their PC that can read the floppies the Mavicas write their images to. Unfortunately, the floppy is rapidly running out of steam as cameras move into the megapixel-plus arena. Sony's model would have worked again if they could get the HiFD standard widely adopted by PC manufacturers: HiFD-equipped Mavicas would have offered 200 MB of storage, and the same no-thought-required user interface of current models. If the world goes with SuperDisk though, a HiFD Mavica would require a whole separate interface unit, making it much less of a slam-dunk. Stay tuned though, this is only the first skirmish in a long standards war!

    Sunday, October 18, 1998



    October 18 - "Digital Darkroom" piece up, lotsa news (so what else is new?)
    By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
    (Sunday, October 18, 1998 - 0:00 EDT)


    - Concerned to maintain our reputation (deserved or otherwise) for continual, frenetic activity, we've used the 5 days since our last news update to complete our "Digital Darkroom" presentation, sponsored by HP. Our intent here was to address the basics of producing good-quality photo prints from your computer, dealing with common questions we've received about resolution, scanning, printing, etc. The final article ended up being pretty huge, even by Imaging Resource standards (about 9400 words), but it should answer a lot of typical questions by beginning (and maybe some not-so-beginning) digital photographers. Check it out!
    - 2 Megapixel sensors coming! Imaging Resource reader Penser tipped us off to a great article in EETimes magazine, heralding the imminent arrival of 2-Megapixel (2MP) CCDs early next year. Matsushita, Sharp, and Sony (claimed to be the three largest CCD manufacturers) have all showed samples of 2-Megapixel-plus sensors at a recent electronics show. Matsushita's device has 2.31 MP, Sharp's has 2.14 MP, and Sony's has 2.11 MP. All three apparently use a 1/2 inch chip size, as compared to the 1/3 inch commonin most current digicams. One consequence of the higher pixel count is that all three sensors will use an interlaced-scan design, rather than a progressive-scan approach. (This could cause problems with moving objects, depending on how the units can be "gated" to capture the initial image information.) With volume production slated to begin in the first quarter of next year, we can expect to see at least engineering samples of cameras using the new chips by next spring's PMA show. Thanks, Penser!
    - Alps announces new printer. Frequent IR contributor (and major Alps fan) Otto Curda wrote to let us know that Alps has announced their latest model, the MD-5000 dry-ink printer, which can print at up to 2400 dpi. Like other Alps printers, it can operate as either a regular 4-color or a dye-sub printer, with the addition of an optional kit. Otto says: "As I have written before, I think the Alps ink printers are awesome, esp. since the images they produce are of top-notch quality, they only require inexpensive laser paper and are waterproof and fadeproof. The only drawback is slow print speeds, because to print color, the paper passes through the printer four times - each time, different color is laid down (C-M-Y-B)." Thanks, Otto!
    - STMicroelectronics and Live Picture put "Instant Panoramas" inside digicams! STMicroelectronics and Live Picture, Inc. have announced their joint design of a custom chip that will allow digital cameras to perform high-quality "image stitching" without the aid of a host computer. The new chip implements in hardware Live Picture's stitching technology currently found in their PhotoVista Mac/PC panorama software application.
    - Fuji announces major OEM digicam sourcing. Given the close resemblance between the Fuji MX-500 and Toshiba PDR-M1 digital cameras observed by several IR correspondents, this will likely come as no surprise, but Fuji Photo Film Co Lt. has officially announced that it is supplying digital cameras to Toshiba Corp, Victor Co of Japan Ltd (JVC), and Leica Camera AG. What we found interesting about the announcment was the amazing volume of digicams Fuji is apparently shipping: They currently are producing 100,000 units per month, up from 50,000 earlier this year, and plan to further expand production to 140,000 units per month early next year. That's a lot of digital cameras, and we have to assume it means profitable business for Fuji. (OTOH, how much profit can there be in a 1.5 MP camera that sells for $499 retail, after both Toshiba and the retailer get through with their cuts?)
    - Toshiba offers trip to paradise. Toshiba has announced the "Picture Yourself in Paradise" sweepstakes, in which one lucky winner will have their choice of four destinations on the Hawaiian islands for a week-long, all expense paid vacation. Seven runners up will receive various other prices, including a Toshiba laptopcompuer, a Toshiba DVD player, and (naturally) the Toshiba PDR-M1 Megapixel Camera. To enter, fill out an entry form at your local CompUSA, Computer City, Wolf Camera, Fry's Electronics, or other participating retailer. The press release said you could also enter on-line, but after IR reader Ulysses pointed out the dead link, we ourselves weren't able to find anything on Toshiba's web site other than the following copy of the press release: http://www.toshiba.com/taisisd/dsc/101498a.htm. Winners will be selected by random drawing, and the sweepstakes runs throughDecember 31, 1998. Thanks, Ulysses!
    - Lexmark links to Kodak Eastman Kodak announced that the new Lexmark Photo Jetprinter 5770 will work directly with Kodak's DC200 series digital cameras. The new Lexmark device has a CompactFlash slot to allow printing directly from CF cards, with no computer required. The 5770 printer carries an estimated street price of $349 in the US.
    -Kodak volume down, profits up. CEO George Fisher's aggressive cost-reduction strategy at Kodak appears to be bearing fruit, along with a "sharp redution in digital operating losses." attributed to the excellent sales of the new DC260 camera. Overall gross revenues for the third quarter were down to $3.419 billion, from $3.787 billion a year ago. Net earnings were up, at $398 million, vs $232 million this time last year.
    -SanDisk volume down, profits down. Doubtless squeezed by continuing erosion of chip-based memory products and increasing competition, SanDisk Corporation's financials for the third quarter showed gross revenue down to $32 million, from $36 million a year ago, and net income at $2.5 million, down from $6.8 million a year earlier.

    Tuesday, October 13, 1998



    October 13 - Too much news (again)...
    By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
    (Tuesday, October 13, 1998 - 0:00 EDT)


    - Once again, the news has raced ahead of us in just 4-5 days, with press releases stacked up and (literally) falling off the desk. Taking a break from the forthcoming HP-sponsored "Digital Darkroom" piece, and our ongoing romp through the (seemingly endless) feature list of the Nikon LS-2000 film scanner, we once again return to our journalistic duties...
    - Nikon Coolpix 900S is official! After weeks of rumors, Nikon has officially announced the new version of their wildly successful Coolpix 900. The main differences in the new model are that it ships with an 8 MB CompactFlash card rather than the 4MB previosly included, and has a "hot shoe" connection for an external flash unit. There's also a 2x digital zoom mode that we think is new (either it wasn't there when we reviewed the original CP 900, or we just missed it...) Everything else is pretty much the same, other than the case, which apparently will be switching to a black-on-black styling, at least based on some pictures from the Japanese DC Express page of the Japanese "910" model. (A side note: One picture shows an external flash unit mounted on a special flash bracket - they'd do better to swing the whole thing around, so the flash head was farther from the lens, to reduce red-eye, and give a little more natural "look" to the flash shots!) Thanks to the DCRP for this link. Further details are available on the official Nikon page for the new product, for which we thank reader Daniel Chang.
    - Canon A5 Zoom Sighted.
    Steve's Digicams posted a link to the Japanese DC Express site, and a review of a zoom-equipped version of Canon's compact PowerShot A5 camera. This looks very interesting - We found the A5 to have one of the most appealing form factors when we reviewed it, and it took pretty decent pictures to boot. The addition of an optical zoom lens would make a pretty compelling package! On the DC Express page, click on the "Picture" button in the left nav bar to see the sample images. Meanwhile, here's a link to the official Canon Japan page for the A5 zoom, courtesy of the DCRP.
    - Iomega Adds Flash to Clik! After a year of trying to find an angle for their diminutive Clik! disk drive (40 meg on a coin-sized disk), Iomega may finally have found a worthwhile configuration: They've announced a "Mobile Drive Flash Memory" bundle that combines a Clik! drive with a reader for both CompactFlash and SmartMedia cards from most digital cameras. The device is projected to sell for $249 "in the second half of 1998" (better hurry!), and would enable downloads from camera memory cards to $9.95, 40 MB disks. If it comes to pass, this would bode ill for MGVision's "digital wallet" concept, and may finally give consumers a valid reason to buy Clik! drives - something that has thus far eluded Iomega. In a related announcement, Iomega has announced support for the Clik! Mobile Drive under the Windows CE operating system for handheld PCs.
    - Not-so-hot Sony Shots? Along with pretty much everybody else, we've been figuratively frothing at the mouth over the image quality from the forthcoming Sony DSC-D700 digicam. We noticed though, a rather odd shot on Sony's Japanese site that shook our faith in the new product a bit. Check out this macro shot of a bug on a flower (warning big, slow download): Is that some pretty extreme noise in the red channel, or is it just a really bad pollen day? We were surprised to see a shot like this on the corporate site...
    - Metacreations tapped for Picture CD. Kodak and Metacreations have announced the addition of the image-morphing program Kai's Power GOO to the complement of software to be included on every copy of Kodak's PictureCD.
    - Sony Memory Stick Makes Sense? The official announcement of Sony's Memory Stick flash-memory format gives us the opportunity to mention a conversation we had with a "highly placed source" at Sony recently about their new memory format. We'd questioned the wisdom (that's a polite expression of our earlier viewpoint) of introducing yet another memory format into an already crowded field. Sony's comment though, was that there "were things they couldn't do" with the existing flash-memory standards in many applications. We find this intriguing: Reading between the lines, it sounds like both the block-structured ATA format of CompactFlash and the more serial format of SmartMedia cards had limitations for some of the higher-bandwidth applications Sony is targeting: Apparently the new cards have a rather different internal structure, with faster access and/or higher transfer rates than the prior formats allowed. They seem to adhere to the ATA standard only via the PC-card adapter Sony will market with them...
    - Digitella announces ScriptGenerator (again?) Didn't we just report on this? In what looks like another example of the "PR spam" trend, Digitella has re-announced their automatic script generator for the Digita language. See www.digitella.com for more details.
    - ArcSoft PhotoFantasy 2.0 ships soon. Continuing their product-line expansion in the consumer arena, ArcSoft is about to ship version 2.0 of PhotoFantasy, which allows users to create "photo fantasies", combining their own photos with any of a variety of "fantasy backgrounds." (Note the admirable restraint we have exercised in refraining from off-color comments about the sort of "fantasies" that would actually lead to dramatic sales volumes. ;-)
    - Sharp Ships Fast Flash. (A free chip to anybody who can say that 10 times in 10 seconds.) Sharp has announced a new line of CompactFlash cards that can operate on either 3.3 or 5v power, and with read speeds of 950 KB/s. (Writes happen at a more relaxed but still speedy 500 KB/s.) Initial devices are available in sizes of 4-32 meg, with 48 & 64 meg devices scheduled for availability 3/99.
    - CardX melds USB, 1394 with PC-Card Standard. The PCMCIA (the organization, not the cards that bear its name) has announced a new "CardX" standard entering the development phase that adapts the USB and 1394 ("FireWire") standards to the PC-Card form factor and interface. While many laptops now come equipped with USB ports, the 1394 support will be big news to digital-video fans. A formal standard definition is planned for late 1999 or early 2000. (This means that the few computers left working in the aftermath of the Y2K bug will at least have speedy interface ports... ;-) More details at www.pc-card.com.
    - HP offers new CMOS sensors. Continuing the march of inexpensive CMOS image sensors (albeit still at low resolutions - 640x480 max), HP has announced new all-in-one camera chips for low prices of $17 to $25 in 1,000 piece quantities. (Considering the level of integration, that's cheap!)
    - Expect to see cheap CMOS camera technology result in more of the sort of gadget reader Mike Tomkins is asking Santa for: A new ultra-compact (2.4 pounds), full Windows computer (266 Mhz Pentium-equipped) sporting a 270K-pixel digital camera neatly integrated into a rotating block at the top of the screen. Not really a digicam, but an indication of one direction all this imaging wizardry is leading. Pictures and info on the cool device can be found here and here. (Thanks, Mike!)
    - HP offers new CMOS sensors. Continuing the march of inexpensive CMOS image sensors (albeit still at low resolutions - 640x480 max), HP has announced new all-in-one camera chips for low prices of $17 to $25 in 1,000 piece quantities. (Considering the level of integration, that's cheap!)
    - Bring your Resumes! Using the code-word "networking" rather than the less politically-correct "job fair", Lyra Research and Questra are billing the Digital Photography Forum '98 as the "networking event of the year." This years fete will be held at the Fairmont Hotel in San Jose, CA, from October 21-23. Last year's event drew 225 executives and managers from companies across the industry, and an even larger turnout is expected this year. For more info, visit www.digitalphotoforum.com

    Friday, October 9, 1998



    October 9 - Nikon Super CoolScan 2000 pics up!
    By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
    (Friday, October 9, 1998 - 0:00 EDT)


    - We've been playing with the Nikon Super CoolScan LS-2000 film & slide scanner for a couple of weeks now, finally have the first sample images from it posted. This is an amazing device! Its ability to generate clean, detailed, good-looking scans with a minimum of muss & fuss is outstanding, and the "Digital ICE" defect removal is almost magic. (We haven't posted much yet that really shows the ICE capability, but you can see an example of what it can do on a dusty slide on the "House" detail clip.) Given the deep user interface, it's going to take us a while longer to get the full review posted, but we have extensive comments posted along with the images.

    Thursday, October 8, 1998



    October 8 - Amazing Sony shots, LOTS else...
    By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
    (Thursday, October 8, 1998 - 0:00 EDT)


    - Having neglected the news page for four whole days (jeez, will somebody slow these guys down!?), we're now flooded with new products, announcements, etc. Unfortunately, the swarm of press releases will probably continue for the next month plus, leading up to Comdex the week before Thanksgiving.
    - Amazing sample photos from Sony DSC-D700! Two pieces of DSC-D700 info, both from frequent contributor Michael Tomkins. (Thanks, Mike!) First, there's a Japanese-language page that looks to have a lot of specs, etc on it. (Any japanese readers out there willing to translate? Any juicy details there?) Please write! The second link is also in Japanese (a magazine review of the D700 this time), but has lots more pictures, including a number of amazing shots taken with the camera itself. The image quality is incredible! Particularly check out the night shot (124k), which shows very little sensor noise in what must be very dim conditions. Also, check the detail in the fur on the sleeping cat (708k)! (We've put the image links here so you don't have to wait for the whole page to load, as it's usually quite slow, coming from Japan.)
    - Film damage on ICE! A big benefit of Nikon's "ICE" (Image Correction and Enhancement) technology is the time it can save you by automatically removing scratches, dust, and other damage from film scans. Featured in Nikon's new Super CoolScan 2000 and CoolScan III scanners (reviews coming here soon), the technology borders on magic. To make their point about the benefits of this technology, Nikon has released three case studies of the huge amounts of money it has saved three real-life users. Check out the reports of a pro photographer, a design firm, and a commercial photo lab. Pretty compelling, even taken with the requisite PR grain of salt...
    - Photo Editor Alert! It's always a problem at Comdex trying to nail-down the key people from the imaging companies you need to speak with. To help editors make the contacts they need, InfoTrends Research Group will again organize ImageScape at Comdex, this time at the Flamingo Hilton, on November 17. Members of the press should call Kendra Bocelli of Blanc & Otus PR, at (617) 225-9990 or email at kboccelli@bando.com. Vendors wanting to get in on the party should contact Matt Davis of InfoTrends, at (617) 859-0300, x15, or matt_davis@infotrends-rgi.com.
    - First dedicated printer for digital cameras? Lexmark has just announced their Photo Jetprinter 5770, a general purpose/photo printer hybrid (changeable photo/standard ink cartridges) with a twist: Built-in card slots for CompactFlah and SmartMedia camera-memory cards! Plug in the card from your camera, push a button, and the printer will spit out prints of all the images on the card, sans computer! The printer also has a number of picture formats, frames, and text messages built-in. Basic specs are 1200x1200 dpi printing, either 4 or 6-color printing, and an estimated street price of $349. Not enough, you say? How about the ability to plug a parallel-port Zip drive into the back of the printer, to dump photos from a Zip cartridge! Sounds like a pretty cool deal, although we haven't seen the print quality yet.
    - Photobit ships first "Databook" CMOS image chip. Don't ask us why they call it "Databook," but Photobit is shipping the first CMOS "camera on a chip" product using technology invented at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). No specs were given, but we can probably assume it's a VGA-level or lower resolution device. Interestingly though, this is only the first of a series of five CMOS imaging chips due out through the second quarter of 1999, including "megapixel plus" versions. If the image quality is good, this could really drive the price of megapixel-plus cameras down into the "everybody's gotta have one" range.
    - A billion-dollar digicam? Well, we hope not, but Nikon's announced that its digital imaging products are now available to Government agencies through two Government-channel resellers: Government Technology Services Inc (GTSI), and Intelligent Decisions, both based in Northern Virginia. Let's see, if the military pays $500 for a hammer, how much would they pay for a megapixel digicam? ;-)
    - 64MB CompactFlash now shipping. Lexar media has announced that they are now shipping 64MB CompactFlash memory cards. No mention was made ofprice in the press release, but expect to see them soon in many retailers, including sponsor Cyberian Outpost. (Click to go directly to their Lexar on-line store.) Not there yet (we checked), but hopefully soon. (Strangely, even Lexar's own on-line store didn't have the new units listed yet! C'mon guys!)
    - SanDisk CF at Best Buy. Continuing their move to direct distribution (and likely irritating some of their co-marketers), SanDisk has inked a deal with consumer-electronic superstore Best Buy, to be the exclusive supplier of CompactFlash in Best Buy's 300 stores spread across 32 states.
    - New news source for micro displays. Apparently, the much-talked-about, seldom-seen Kopin Microdisplay was only the first: There's now a whole newsletter devoted entirely to so-called "microdisplays." Used in conjunction with viewfinder-type optics, microdisplays promise future generations of digital cameras with battery life measured in hours instead of minutes. A year's subscription to the new newsletter is priced at $495 for North America, and $545 for the rest of the world. The first issue can be downloaded for free at www.mdreport.com.
    - Fast images @Home! Tired of the world-wide-wait? Wish it didn't take 15 minutes to download the latest mondo-megapixel sample image from The Imaging Resource? You need @Home! @Home is a cable-delivered internet serice that provides megabits of bandwidth for not much more than you're probably paying for ordinary, pokey internet access now. The only catch is your cable TV provider has to be hooked up with the @Home people, a process hampered by the old cable equipment deployed in most areas. Our friends at @Home (Hi, Evan!) have just announced a major alliance with Intel to bring high-bandwidth digital imaging services to their customers. To our mind, this sort of thing is what will make fully interactive digital imaging over the internet truly practical. - Now, if they'd just hurry up and get over to Imaging Resource world headquarters!
    - HP announces "Flagship" inkjet. Although specs were scarce, HP has announced the DeskJet 895C inkjet printer, with a list price of $399. Saying that it "underscores the dramatic results and world-class print quality that can be achieved with thermal inkjet technology," the press release declined to provide any significant details about its capabilities. Yes, it prints at up to 10 pages per minute in black & white, and 6 in color, and has a USB port, but is it a 4- or 6-color unit? What's the drop size? For that matter, what's the resolution? I sure wish somebody would put some *information* in these press releases! (Based on the photo-quality output of their PhotoSmart printer though, we suspect that the quality of the 895C could be very good indeed.) 'Guess you'll just have to go visit your retailer, which was probably the PR folk's whole intent anyway...
    - XtremeMonitor(tm)! For those of us that work with REALLY big images, ViewSonic has announced the P817 XtremeMonitor, at an estimated street price of $1,699. A 21-inch (20 inch viewable) unit, the new monitor supports resolutions as high as 2,048 x 1,536 at 85 Hz refresh. That's a LOT of pixels, and in fact, we aren't aware of any current video cards that can pump out that much data! (But you can bet there will be.) The new monitor also includes a 4-port USB hub for interfacing to multiple peripherals.
    - Storm Tech PR works overtime. As if us news-types don't have enough to wade through, companies have begun announcing products, and then (a few weeks or months later) announcing they're shipping them. Latest in this trend is Storm Technology, who has now announced they are shipping the ImageStudio VF scanner we first reported on some weeks back. (Page scanner with integrated video digitizer.) $199 at most major computer retailers. Others reported this recently, and we felt we needed to also, so our readers wouldn't think they were missing anything here, but we'll also take a swipe at Storm and their PR guys in the process. (Maybe it's just been too long a day, and I've read too many press releases!)

    Sunday, October 4, 1998



    October 4 - Pages split, Prices fall...
    By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
    (Sunday, October 4, 1998 - 0:00 EDT)


    - Major format revision! We mentioned it a couple of days back, have now implemented the change in our "news" pages. To make it easier to find what you're interested in, and keep useful info from scrolling off the page too fast, we've split our single news page into three pieces, in addition to the home ("index") page, which used to carry all the news information. The new lineup is:

    • Home: A general welcome to the site, links to various pages and resources.
    • News: New products, new models, industry happenings, etc.
    • Deals: Great deals on imaging products submitted by our readers.
    • Tips: Tips and hints submitted by our readers & gleaned by ourselves elsewhere on the 'net.

    - Agfa introduces DuoScan T2500: Agfa has announced the expansion of their TwinPlate(tm) line of high-end desktop scanners, with the addition of the T2500. The new unit offers 8.5 x 14 inch scanning, with a dual-lens design that provides resolution up to 2500 ppi(!) The standard lens covers the full width of the bed, at a resolution of 1250 ppi, while the high-resolution lens covers presumably reduced area at 2500 ppi. A 36-bit device, the T2500 claims a maximum optical density capability of 3.5. Given that the uninterpolated resolution of the T2500 is as high as many film scanners, this looks to be a good choice for users needing high-quality scans of both film and reflective subjects. The new unit is slated to sell for $4,495, in both Mac and Windows versions. Units are available for immediate shipment.
    - Toshiba drops price of PDR-M1! Already one of the better deals in the world of digicams, Toshiba announced it is cutting the unit's estimated street price price a hundred dollars to $499. Combined with other recent price reductions (see below), it's starting to look like a great Christmas for digicam fanciers!
    - Epson chops prices, too! In an announcement actually timed 3 hours before the Toshiba cut, Epson announced they were cutting their digicam prices up to 20%. The VGA-resolution PhotoPC 550 is now $199, down from its previous $249, while the megapixel PhotoPC 700 is now $599, down from $699.
    - New "Digita" Site! For users of cameras supporting the "Digita" scritping language (for now, the Kodak DC220 and DC260, soon to be joined by the Minolta 1500EX), there's a new site up to cater to your scripting needs and interests. Joe S of Technocraft wrote to tell us about www.digitacamera.com. Check it out if you have (or are thinking about) a Digita-equipped camera.
    - Visioneer introduces "OneTouch" scanner under $100. Visioneer pioneered the concept of a "PaperPort(r)" for computers a few years back: A simple, compact device that sits in front of your computer and "wakes up" to scan whenever a piece of paper was fed into it. Their latest model, the OneTouch 5300 takes the process a step farther with 5 dedicated buttons, each of which has a single function: Scan, Copy/Print, Fax, Custom (to link to a specific application), and Cancel. The new 300x600 dpi, 36-bit unit sells for $129.99, but a $30 mail-in rebate brings the price under $100.

    Thursday, October 1, 1998



    October 1 - Hurricane help, Deals, News...
    By Michael Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
    (Thursday, October 1, 1998 - 0:00 EDT)


    - Hurricane relief needed - will you help? Arthur Bleich is not only a noted author on digital photography topics, but he's executive director of the Children's Telemedical Health Fund. The CTHF uses imaging technology to provide medical care to children in remote areas. Currently, thousands of people are homeless in the Middle Keys area of Florida, one of the areas in the U.S. the hardest hit by Hurricane Gorges. Many of these people live at low income levels, have no insurance, and have had their lives devastated by the effects of the storm. Right now, CTHF is working to set up a telemedical link to care for children in the Middle Keys in the aftermath of this disaster. Please consider helping! We've posted a letter from Arthur here, with more information, or check the CTHF website for a more complete picture of what they're doing, at www.cthf.org.
    - Upcoming news page changes. In case you hadn't noticed, the news page has been getting out of hand! We've made it a bit less unwieldy by putting only the current news update in the top HTML "table" on the page, and then all the rest in an entirely separate layout on the bottom. This lets you read the most current news while the remaining 75-100K of the page is loading. Despite this though, there's still too much there, and useful information scrolls far down the page too quickly. We plan to split the news page 3 ways to help with this and make the site more responsive: The "home" page (this one) will contain only a summary of the most recent news. We'll split the bulk of the news into two categories: "Deals" and "Industry News". (Finally activating the Industry News button at the top of this page, and making a new button for "Deals".) This may mean a little more clicking around, but things should load a lot faster, and less-frequent (or new) readers won't have to wade through so much uncategorized material. (Actually, there probably should also be a category for hardware/software tips, since we've had a lot of that sort of thing flow past recently as well - we'll see if we can fit it in...) Meanwhile, today we've moved September's news back to an archive page, leaving only the most recent couple of posts here.
    - Kodak Picture CD rolls into test markets! The biggest news this week is that Kodak has begun market tests for its "Picture CD" product, jointly developed and marketed with Intel. Offered at the time of film processing, each Picture CD will contain reasonably high-resolution images ("4base" or about 1536 x 1024 pixels) from a single roll of film, along with Windows-based software from Adobe for manipulating them. (Mac users will be able to read the image files, but no special software will be included for them.) One of the things that's being tested in these initial market trials is consumer acceptance to different pricing: Initial prices will be between $8.95 and $10.95 each. (Personally, I think they need to be a bit lower to be really attractive to people...) The image resolution on the disk should be adequate to produce up to 8x10 inch enlargements. Depending on how the service is ultimately priced, this promises to be an interesting way to get high-res images from your film to your computer. For Kodak, this is another way to keep film in the loop for a while longer, as consumers move toward digital, while for Intel, it provides a justification for consumers to upgrade their old PCs to later models with new Intel processors inside. (Gee, I wonder why they're ignoring the Mac in all this? ;-) Initial market tests are being conducted in Salt Lake City and Indianapolis, with full rollout to the rest of the nation slated for February. If you're a reader in one of the market test areas (advertising will begin Oct. 5), and would be willing to send a test roll of film through for us (our dime), email us and we'll ship a roll with some of our test images on it and a check to cover costs. - We'll post the results for folks here. (Once the full rollout gets closer, we'll also talk with Kodak about doing a more formal review of the product.)
    - New Olys coming November 4? The DCRP has heard rumors that Oly will announce the D-600XL and D-400Z cameras for US sale on November 4th. The 600XL is basically a 600L with rapid-fire mode (10 frames in 5 seconds), 16MB capability, and external flash support. The 400Z is basically D-340L with a 3X optical zoom and similar rapid-fire capability. Check the DCRP page for links to pictures of both, or the links in our earlier news posting to Oly's European pages for the versions being sold in Europe.
    - HP announces Windows NT support for PhotoSmart. Extending the reach of its excellent, easy-to-use PhotoSmart digital photography products (see our reviews of the C20 camera and the scanner), HP has announced the availability of software drivers for Windows NT users. This is a bit of a breakthrough for NT users, as most digital imaging companies have neglected the platform. (Expect more companies to announce support, now that HP has broken into that market.) Drivers are available free of charge from HP's web site, at http://www.photosmart.com
    - Camera, Phone Home! Moonlight Products has announced the "FoneCam", a low-res (320x240) digital camera with integrated 14.4K modem, CPU, and phone interface. Taking the concept of a "webcam" one step further, the FoneCam doesn't need a local PC to upload its images to the web. The concept is that you just plug it into power and a phone line, and it will dial the internet ISP, and automatically upload its pictures to a designated web server. Pictures can also be triggered by local events, such as a security alarm, etc. FoneCams will sell for $399, and a less-expensive "ExtensionCam" will go for $299. ExtensionCams lack their own modem, but can work through a linked FoneCam.
    - LSI Logic, FlashPoint Announce Alliance. Now that Minolta's Dimage EX ZOOM 1500 is on the streets, LSI Logic and Digita developer FlashPoint have formally announced the alliance that produced the "guts" of the EX 1500. The two companies have been working closely since last year to port FlashPoint's Digita operating environment onto LSI's DCAM(tm)-101 single-chip image processor. The DCAM-101 is apparently quite a powerful camera-processor chip, but is only the first of a full line of such chips planned by LSI Logic, so we can expect other, even more-powerful cameras using Digita in the future.

     



     

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

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