News from PMA
Wide Carriage Printers
Wide carriage inkjet printers are nothing new. But wide carriage printers with improved quality at reduced costs are news. Although few of us are likely to buy a printer this large for our homes, the reduced price means more and more labs will be able to offer high quality oversize prints at reasonable prices. Look for these printers to start showing up in labs near you soon.
Expanded Digital at Your Local Camera Shop
Industry pundits speculate that there have been two barriers to digital cameras taking over the marketplace. The first is the wide availability of sub $200 digital cameras with a resolution of two or more megapixels. The other is that the average person doesn't want to fool around with uploading and printing their own pictures. They want the same convenience they have with film - which is to be able to drop off their pictures at a lab and pick up prints an hour later.
Well sub $200 cameras may not be the norm yet, but easy developing of your digital images will become a reality this year. A number of vendors have had digital solutions available for mini-labs and kiosks that can be placed in malls. The news this year is that there are a lot more options for labs, including processing equipment with digital capabilities built in, and new digital processing kiosks that can fit on the counter of your local photo shop. With prices dropping and hardware becoming easier to integrate into one-hour photo labs look for one-hour digital printing to become commonplace before the end of 2002.
Nikon D100 6.1 Megapixel Digital SLR, New Flashes, and New 28-200 f2.8 VR Lens
Last month we reported that Nikon was unveiling a new entry level SLR, the N55. At PMA Nikon introduced it's new "entry level" digital SLR the D100. But in fact there is nothing entry level about this camera. The D100 is based on the N80 body and features virtually all of the N80's features including it's autofocus and metering technologies. The D100 will look familiar to D1 users. The primary differences being the increased resolution of the D100 and it's lack of ruggedness compared to the D1 family (which is based on the F5). Look for the D100 in the spring with a street price between $2,200 and $2,400 dollars.
Nikon was showing off two new DX flash units. DX units work with both Nikon digital SLR bodies and Nikon film camera bodies. All new flash units from Nikon will now be DX flash units. The first is the SB-80DX which replaces the SB-28 and SB-28DX. The SB-80DX has basically the same functionality as the SB-28 units it replaces but with the addition of a built in flash slave ala the SB-26. Feedback from photographers told Nikon the slave was a feature they needed. Also based on customer feedback is the new SB-30. The size of a pack of cigarettes with a guide number of 52 it falls between on-camera flash and the SB-80DX, this may be the perfect traveling flash. It is expected in the spring and should have a street price of around $100.
Not officially announced but definitely a hot topic of conversation was the 28-200 f2.8 VR lens. The second lens in the VR lineup (Vibration Reduction). Nikon confirmed that the lens, the worst kept secret on the Internet, is coming and that it should be announced this summer. No pricing information was available.
Canon D60 6.3 megapixel Digital SLR
Not to be outdone, Canon introduced the D60 SLR which replaces the D30 in Canon's digital lineup. the D60 is based on a CMOS rather than a CCD chip (as was the D30) which make more efficient use of power than a CCD. Based on the D30 and having a full complement of features, the D60 is an excellent alternative for digital pros who don't need the ruggedness of the flagship 1D body. Like the 1D the D60 takes the full complement of Canon lenses and is fully compatible with Canon's IS (image stabilization) technology. Sample images from this camera looked fantastic and we're looking forward to getting one in house.
Look for the D60 in the spring with a street price between $2,200 and $2,400 dollars.
Minolta Rolls out a New Dimage, the 2 Megapixel Dimage X
Small enough to fit in a shirt pocket, but powerful enough to create high quality images, the Dimage X packs a lot of punch into a small package. Unlike point and shoot competitors it uses a glass lens and an all glass prism and a glass lens in its 3x zoom. The images we saw were surprisingly sharp for a camera in this category. So much so that if the camera is truly as good as it appears than Minolta has raised the bar for this class of camera. As always we reserve final judgment until we can get a production model to test. But at first blush Minolta appears to have done an awfully good job.
Sigma & Foveon Team Announce a New Digital
The news everyone at PMA was buzzing about was the new Sigma X3 camera. Based on new CMOS chip technology from Foveon, the X3 is claimed to be a breakthrough technology. Sigma/Foveon claim the 3 megapixel Foveon chip is the equivalent of a 9 megapixel CCD chip due to Foveon's patented chip technology that allows them to capture complete color information for every pixel vs. other chips which can only assign a red, green, or blue value to each pixel. Those values are then interpolated to create the final image.
Only mockups were available at the show. Functional cameras aren't expected until the fall. We'll keep you posted. Look for an upcoming article on the technology behind the new Foveon chip.
Leica Replaces the M6, Introduces a New 4 Megapixel Digital, and a New R Series Lens
After 18 years Leica has updated the venerable M6 with the new M7. The are 2 significant updates from the M6 TTL we reviewed last month. They are the introduction of aperture priority mode and DX film settings with exposure compensation. For the full scoop on the new Leica click here to read the review.
The 4 megapixel Digilux is Leica's new entry into the Digital market and it is the only digital that is built like a Leica. It has the same heavy, solid feel of Leica's M series cameras and it's sized to fit comfortably into a pocket.
Also released at PMA was the new Vario-Elmar-R 21-35 mm f/3.5-4 Aspherical zoom lens for R series Leica SLRs. Using an internal focus design of 2 groups with 9 elements in 8 components and a concave aspherical element, this inward-curving, non-spherical shape posed a unique production challenge for Leica. But the quality of this design is said to be worth the effort.
Adobe Releases PhotoShop 7.0
PhotoShop 7.0 adds a number of convenience features, particularly if you're developing for the Web. Tools include increased support for Web graphics and rollovers, new tools for organizing and browsing images, built in spell checking for text, improved tools for photo retouching and color correction, and powerful new pattern and painting tools. There are too many details to list here. For more information check out the specs on Adobe's PhotoShop 7 page.
Applied Science Fiction Rolls out New PhotoShop Plug-ins
Applied Science Fiction announced two new PhotoShop compatible plug-Ins. The first, Digital ROC automatically restores, balances and corrects the color quality of any digital image. Digital SHO automatically reveals details hidden in the shadows commonly caused by exposure problems such as backlit subjects, uneven flash illumination and partial shade. Both work with digital images from any source including digital cameras, film scanners, flatbed scanners, CDs and the Internet. The plug-ins are available on CD or as an Internet download at www.asf.com.Express Digital introduces Labtricity digital photo lab network
a new software platform that enables professional digital
photographers to communicate electronically with their labs. The
Labtricity server software allows digital labs to accept orders
electronically or on a secure CD. In addition, the lab software provides
open architecture, and direct printing capabilities to digital minilabs,
high-speed thermal printers and large-format devices on the market. The
Labtricity software allows labs with new automated services to attract and
retain the growing population of professional digital photographers.
to the Labtricity network is provided through software from Express
Digital for: Portrait & Wedding, Sports & Event, School &
Group and PhotoReflect Publisher. It
provides the photographer with a complete solution to digitally capture,
present and print orders using his or her local lab. Orders can be sent
electronically or burned onto a secure CD for delivery to the lab.
Labtricity can be installed as an open network, attracting orders from any professional digital photographer - or as a private network, attracting orders only from a specific lab's photographers or specific locations, or both. Express Digital expects to connect its current customer base of more than 4,000 professional digital photographers with labs beginning in March. Labtricity expects to be available in more than 60 professional and specialty labs by year's end.
Kodak.com visitors' pictures featured in Times Square display
Visitors to www.kodak.com can submit their own pictures for a chance to be shown on the Times Square Gallery, a three-story display overlooking Broadway in New York. The pictures chosen also will appear on kodak's home page as the Kodak Picture of the Day. Everyone online can also see the Gallery through a live webcam on www.kodak.com.
Lowepro Introduces the First Completely Waterproof Camera Bag
The DryZone 200 is essentially a Lowepro Trekker classic reworked using the same material used to make dry suits for divers and the same waterproof zippers used in those dry suits. It consists of a waterproof inner bag, and self draining outer pockets in the flap. The DryZone is targeted at outdoor shooters working in environments such as kayaks, canoes, boats, and at divers. Lowepro claims that a DryZone loaded with 60 lbs of concrete still floated when dropped in the water. The DryZone is available in the bright yellow pictured here or in black for those who don't want to be quite this bright.
Monaco & X-Rite Team on New Color Management Ensemble
Monaco Systems, know for their color profiling systems has teamed with X-Rite, a manufacturer of precision measuring devices on a new color management system. Able to take measurements of both monitor and printer output the system ensures imaging professionals that the image they create on their screen is the image they get from their printer. The bundle is expected to sell for $3,500.