What Down Market !?!
Minolta has introduced an interesting new digital camera in the Dimage X. The X is light weight and about the size of a mini disc player but unlike most pocket digital cameras, whose images are marginal at best, Minolta has given the Dimage X a high quality lens. It is composed of 9 elements in 8 groups, and has a total of 5 aspherical surfaces for reduced chromatic aberration and a variable maximum aperture of f2.8 to f3.6. Other features in the 5oz. camera include a 3x optical zoom plus a 2x digital zoom for a combined 6x zoom capability. Macro mode, built in flash, 1/1000th of a second shutter speed, 256 segment meter, and 35 second video mode @ 15fps. Look for more details after we get our hands on one at PMA next month.
The CeWe Color Holding Co. Corp. of Oldenburg Germany adn Agfa Gevaert AG will begin to internationally market Digi Film. Wulf D. Schmidt-Sacht, member of the board at CeWe Color Holding Co., which is responsible for research and development, said the agreement will establish "DigiFilm as a standard for the processing of image data for exposure onto original photographic paper."
'DigiFilm' is a CD that will replace previous analog film. The customer puts the memory card of his or her digital camera into the DigiFilm maker and burns the data onto a CD, which is already provided by the dealer. According to the amount of data, this process lasts around 60 seconds. The CD contains all the picture data from the memory card as well as the order data, so information can be automatically read in the laboratory. After the desired picture format has been indicated, the CD will be put into the order envelope and sent to the photo laboratory.
The client can take the memory card with them and delete the picture information. The DigiFilm CD is ready two days later, along with the paper prints and a photo index.
Nikon announced a new 35mm autofocus SLR the N55. The N55 is a lightweight design targeted at amateur photographers and first time SLR users. Shooting modes include AUTO, Vari-Program modes (Portrait, Landscape, Close-Up, Sports Continuous and Night Portrait modes), aperture & shutter priority, and manual mode. It features a three-area autofocus system that detects whether a subject is stationary or moving, based on directional information, and activates Nikon's "Focus Tracking with advanced Lock-On" system. Metering is done with Nikon's five-segment 3D matrix metering system (center weighted metering is also available). The built-in speedlight uses matrix balanced fill-flash. Shutter speeds between 30 seconds and 1/2000 sec. in 1/2 stop increments and a film advance speed of 1.5 frames per second. are on tap. The N55 features the standard F-lens mount and is compatible with all G, D, AF, and AI-P lenses. It is expected to be available in retail stores in Spring, 2002.
Canon introduced the Visualizer RE-450X presentation camera, which the company said displays high-resolution images to a TV monitor, PC monitor or multimedia LCD projector. The Visualizer RE-450X allows business users, educators, lawyers, medical personnel and other presenters to temporarily capture an image in memory with the Freeze Frame Memory feature, while a White Paper Preset automatically enhances white paper documents with black type for improved clarity. Other features include XGA quality resolution, a 1/3-inch 850,000-pixel progressive scan CCD, a 12X power zoom lens, and S-Video and VGA output. The Canon Visualizer RE-450X will be available in March 2002 with a suggested list price of $2,495.
Idruna Software Inc, launched Pocket Phojo, a handheld photo editing and wireless transmission solution specifically designed for photojournalists.
Available either with the required hardware included, or as a standalone software license, the Pocket Phojo runs on Compaq iPAQ 3800 series Pocket PCs and utilizes Microsoft Windows Powered Pocket PC 2002 Operating System.
To use the product, the photojournalist shoots digital images, inserts the CompactFlash card into the Pocket PC, and loads the images into the Pocket Phojo software. Once the images are loaded, the user can edit the images, view a histogram to graphically check highlights and shadow detail, do advanced color correction and use unsharp mask filters. The user can also insert headlines and captions prior to transmitting the images to the photo database via cell phone. Pocket Phojo is available now, priced at $499 for a software-only license, and starting at $1,299 for a software and hardware solution.
Newsline International reported in December that Minolta Co. Ltd. planned to halt new product development of Advanced Photo System cameras. Other manufacturers are now making the same announcement, according to JPEA Photo Electro News. The publication recently reported that due to diminishing interest, Konica and Olympus are also withdrawing from the Advanced Photo System and Pentax is reducing its commitment. Each of the companies plans to focus its resources more on digital imaging, JPEA Photo Electro News reports. Konica ended production of APS cameras for export last year, and plans to discontinue the domestic models by the end of 2002, but will continue to produce APS film. Minolta will curtail its APS production this spring, JPEA Photo Electro News reports.
Fuji and Canon will both continue to produce APS camera, and will introduce new APS products this year.
JPEA Photo Electro News reports during the first 11 months of 2001, production of APS compacts by Japanese manufacturers decreased about 40 percent compared with 2000, while digital camera production increased 50 percent.
Shipments of point-and-shoot digital cameras rose 30 percent in 2001 fueled by surging holiday demand, as manufacturers cut prices and increased awareness through advertising, according to International Data Corp. (IDC). U.S. shipments of point-and-shoot digital cameras reached 6.5 million units in 2001, IDC said. Some 40 percent of those shipments came in the fourth quarter, traditionally the most lucrative consumer electronics season due to robust holiday sales.
"This is due to all vendors offering great products, advertising on television and in print, and in general increasing awareness of the market," IDC said.
The total digital camera market, including VGA digital cameras, rose 2 percent from 2000 levels to 8 million units, the survey said. Average selling prices for point-and-shoot cameras fell to $375 in 2001 from $533.
For the fourth quarter, Sony Corp., at 19 percent of the point-and-shoot market, and Eastman Kodak Co. at 17 percent, were the frontrunners, said IDC, which noted that Kodak made strong gains with its EasyShare line of cameras. Hewlett-Packard Co. was third at 15 percent.
Overall in 2001, Sony led the market with 23 percent share, followed by Olympus Optical Co. Ltd. and Hewlett-Packard, at 16 percent and 15 percent, respectively, IDC said.
IDC noted however that in 2001, Sony, Olympus and Kodak, long-time leaders, lost market share points while Hewlett-Packard, Canon Inc., and Nikon Corp. gained points.
Canon U.S.A., Inc., a subsidiary of Canon Inc. announced fiscal-year 2001 consolidated net sales of 2,907.6 billion yen (US$ 22,027 million), which represents a year-over-year increase of 7.8% over fiscal year 2000.
Canon reported 2001 net income of 167.6 billion yen (US$ 1,269 million), or 191 yen (US$ 1.45) per share, which represents a year-over-year increase of 24.5% (after cumulative effect of accounting change). Operating profit also advanced, improving 20.4% over fiscal year 2000.
"We are extremely pleased to have been able to achieve record sales and profits for 2001, despite the difficult economic climate. For 2002, our objective will be to continue consolidating our business foundation, strengthening our position in the market, and improving our financial structure, while we try to match the record-setting performance in the previous year,'' said Toshizo Tanaka, Senior Managing Director and Group Executive for Finance and Accounting Headquarters, Canon Inc.
Lexar Media Inc. posted a net loss of $3.1 million for the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, 2001, compared to a $20.9 million loss the year before. The company reported income from operations for the fourth quarter of $390,000, excluding stock-based compensation. Revenues for the fourth quarter totaled $21.9 million, compared to $16.2 million a year earlier during the same three-month period.
"Achieving operating profitability, excluding stock based compensation, is a tremendous milestone for the company and we are pleased to have successfully delivered on this important financial goal,'' said Eric Stang, president/CEO. "This accomplishment is a result of strong sales and improved margins reflecting solid demand from consumers for digital photography related products during the holiday season, coupled with a continued focus on cost control."