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Canon Announces Plans for World Domination 

Well at least plans to dominate the compact digital camera business. Cannon announced plans to roll out up to 20 new compact digital cameras in 2004 in an aggressive move aimed at grabbing one-fourth of the global market for compact digital cameras. Canon and Sony compete for the top share of the digital camera market worldwide.

Takashi Oshiyama, head of Canon's Digital Imaging Business Group, told Reuters  Canon planned to launch "about twice" as many compact digital cameras in 2004 as the nine it rolled out this year. That would help it achieve a market share of 25 percent, up from around 20 percent in 2003 and 15 percent last year.

Kodak Tries to Recover a Fumble

Last Month we reported on Kodak CEO Dan Carp's announcement of the company's plans to move away from its roots in chemical photography toward a future based in digital imaging. Part of the funding for this new direction would come from slashing Kodak's stock dividend from $1.80 to 50 cents.

Both Kodak's investors and customers reacted to the news with anger. Investors pointed out that Kodak was moving into a heavily entrenched and highly competitive digital marketplace while abandoning their bread and butter film business; and doing so while dragging along a high debt load. 

Moody's Investors Service currently ranks Kodak's debt one notch above a junk rating.

Customers expressed a sense of betrayal by a company that has been talking about new emulsions as part of their "ongoing commitment to film". 

Carp, the company's CEO admitted Kodak "could have done a better job ... of explaining our plans in a number of areas." 

Doing damage control Kodak issued a press release stating: 

"Please be assured that Eastman Kodak Company remains fully committed to anticipating and meeting our customers' needs for film, whether these end-users are professional photographers, advanced amateurs or hobbyists, or consumer picture-takers".

"While Kodak management acknowledged during the Investors' Meeting that the worldwide film market is declining, they reinforced our ongoing participation in film and a broader investment in image printing, sharing and image management capabilities. We believe that our professional, advanced amateur and consumer photography customers will be pleased by these directions".

We should acknowledge that Kodak has had some real wins in the digital arena lately. Their line of EasyShare digital cameras were the second best selling digital cameras in the U.S. in the first half of this year behind Sony according to market research firm International Data Corp. Now after successfully focusing on the lower-end of the camera market, Kodak plans to begin selling more advanced digital cameras aimed at pro and prosumer photographers. But as our lead story this month regarding Canon shows, a lead in the compact digital camera market may be difficult to maintain. 

Kodak's Perfect Touch kiosks are also showing good growth due to their quality and technology.

Look for Kodak to emphasize its consumable products such as inkjet papers which are already widely available to consumers; and its new line of mini-lab printers, built in partnership with Noritsu, which will generate sales of chemicals and paper. These replace a previous generation of mini-lab printers that had a reputation for reliability problems and allowed Fuji's Frontier printers to gain a significant portion of this lucrative market where the money comes not from the sale of the printer but from the mountain of paper and chemicals that flow through the printer. 

So has Kodak recovered the fumble? Time will tell.

SD Memory Card sales Surpass CompactFlash Card Sales in October

The SD Memory Card has passed the CompactFlash Card, to take the top position in market share among memory cards, according to the most recent sales data available from The NPD Group. The SD Memory Card captured the number one position with 30 percent of the U.S. flash memory market in October against 28.8 percent for the CompactFlash Card. In third place was Memory Stick, with a 22 percent market share. Panasonic is a co-developer of SD Memory cards along with Toshiba and SanDisk.

A total of 1,524 products worldwide, under 134 brand names currently use the SD Memory Card. 

Record breaking Nikon F5

Service engineers at Nikonís German Service Center were amazed to discover during routine servicing recently that a Nikon F5 had achieved 1,092,904 shutter releases without fault.

Translating into about 35 kilometers of film this figure is a testament to the durable design of the shutter mechanism which the F5 shares with the D2H & D1X Digital SLRs.

To put the 1,092,904 shutter releases into context, it equates to 34 hours of continuous shooting at 8 frames per second.

The camera is one of the bodies used in the Matthaus Photographic Studio in Nuremburg, Germany.

Nikkor 17-55mm Lens Release Date Pushed Back

When Nikon announced the D2H in July, they also announced three new Nikkor lenses; the AF-S DX 17-55/2.8G IF-ED, AF DX Fisheye 10.5/2.8G ED & the AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor 200-400mm f/4G IF-ED, with scheduled release around the same time as the camera.

However, Nikon has announced that the introduction of one of those lenses; the AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8G lens has been deferred until the Spring of 2004.

Nikon apologized for the inconvenience to customers during the time taken to ensuring that the image quality standards demanded by professionals is fulfilled. 

Nikon Says They're Still Building 35mm Compact Cameras

An article floating around several news sites including Pacific Business News says that Nikon is about to stop production of their 35mm compact cameras and go all digital. The Tokyo-based Nihon Keizai Shimbun originally broke the story. The newspaper said production is being halted and shipments to stores will stop in a few months.

However Nikon issued an immediate press release stating "We do not currently have such plan as this article reports." 

Sigma Announces New 17-35mm f2.8-4 Lens

Sigma has announced a new version of its 17-35 mm f2.8-4 EX DG HSM lens. The new version of this popular lens utilizes a new type of Hyper Sonic Motor which provides full-time manual focus from the focusing ring. 


Sigma Announces New 28-300mm f3.5-6.3 Macro Lens

Sigma also announced a new ultra-compact 28-300mm f3.5-6.3 Macro Zoom Lens. At just 3.3 inches long by 2.9 inches and weighing just 16 oz. this stout the little lens covers a wide zoom range and is capable of 1:3 reproduction ration in macro mode.

Construction is 15 elements in 13 groups with two low dispersion glass elements and 4 aspherical elements and focuses internally.  A petal shaped lens hood is provided and the lens takes a standard 62 mm filter size. 

The lens is available now in Sigma SA, Minolta (D), Nikon (D), Pentax, and Canon mounts with street prices of around $250.

Sigma Photo Pro 2.0 Released

Sigma has made Photo Pro 2.0 for both Windows and the Mac available for download. Owners of the Sigma SD9 and the new SD10 can use Photo Pro 2.0 for processing RAW mode X3F files. Photo Pro 2.0 has several new features including the storage of processing parameters on a per image basis as well as the new X3 Fill Light function. X3 Fill Light brings up the brightness in shadow area while bringing out details in hightlight areas, maximizing the dynamic range of the image. If the actual results are anything like the samples we've seen the results are impressive.

Sigma Photo Pro 2.0 Download Page

Photo Pro 2.0 for Windows

Photo Pro 2.0 for Mac

Burn CDs from Memory Cards in the Field without a Laptop

PictureThe Disc Steno CP200 from JOBO Fototechnic is the second generation of Apacer's portable photo CD burner. 

With the Disc Steno CP200, users can copy digital photos to CDs to free up memory cards, share images or burn CDs for safety. The CP200 can also be connected to a television via the TV Out port to view digital photos and watch DVDs. All of which allows you to travel and burn CDs without having to haul a laptop along. 

The Disc Steno CP200 supports mainstream memory cards including CompactFlash, Memory Stick/Pro, Smart Media, Multi MediaCard, and Secure Digital. The suggested price is $299 with availability scheduled for January 2004.

Leica Announces 5.0 Megapixel Digilux 2

Like the original Digilux the Digilux 2 is built around a Panasonic digital heart - but the optics are all Leica. 

The lens is a Leica DC Vario-Summicron equivalent to a 28-90mm f2.0-2.4 in 35mm format, and being a Leica you can expect the quailty of that lens to be excellent. 

The camera has a top shutter speed of 1/4000th of a second, pop-up flash, ISO range of 100-400, and the ability to shoot in program mode or to take complete manual control of the process. But gone is the folding metal viewer of the previous Digilux

Two Announcements for the Olympus E-System

In this issue we take a look at the new Olympus E-1 which is at the heart of the new Olympus pro digital E-System. 

The availability of accessories is critical to the success of any camera system and it appears Olympus isn't pulling any punches. 

In addition to the family of lenses announced with the E-1 at PMA Olympus has announced a new wide-angle zoom lens and a Macro flash for the E-System. 

The lens is the ZUIKO DIGITAL 11-22mm f2.8-3.5 which covers the equivalent of 22-44mm. Olympus claims their "telecentric optics ensure images have perfect color, clarity and brightness from the center to the periphery of the frame"; and that the lens is splash proof.

The STF-22 Macro Twin Flash can be positioned at any desired angle to provide the best illumination of the subject when texture and detail are needed. It can be fired as a single or dual flash unit and is compatible with the 14-54 mm and 50-200 mm lenses and with the 50 mm Macro lens using an adaptor. Guide number of 72 feet/22 meters.

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