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That's Some Telephoto!

Image Courtesy ESA

Image Courtesy NASA
The Mars Express Orbiter continues to send stunning images of the planet from space, while the Mars Rover gets up close and personal with the landscape. 

For those interested in space and technology it's been quite a month. 

Though it appears the Beagle 2 lander has been lost, the European Space Agency has plenty to be proud of. The Mars Express Orbiter continues to return stunning images from space and has confirmed the presence of water on the planet. Water means there is a much greater likelihood that life could have developed at some time during Mars history. 

The Mars Express Orbiter uses Very High Resolution Multispectral Airborne Stereo Camera utilizing a Carl Zeiss T-AS stabilizing platform.

Meanwhile NASA's two Mars Rovers have been returning stunning images of their own; and after a glitch that immobilized the Spirit Rover for several days it appears it will be able to continue it's mission along with it's sister rover Opportunity.

The ESA and NASA cameras are returning high resolution images from 106 million miles (170 million km) away. Amid these successes President Bush announced that America will be returning to the moon with manned space missions. The moon will then be developed as a jumping off point for deep space exploration - including manned missions to explore Mars.

Predictably some have criticized the cost of exploration. But simply put, we can't afford not to go. Significant advances in science, technology and medicine will flow out of these programs that will pay huge dividends for society. There is also man's need to explore and learn. It cannot be denied. It drove us outward across continents and oceans, and it now drives us out into space. It is who we are.

To see and learn more about the ongoing missions to Mars and to see the latest photos check out the ESA's Web site and NASA's Web site.

U.S. Postal Service Not Taking Over Email !!!

We received over 50 emails on this in a single day so we're setting the record straight. According to a press release on the U.S. Postal Service Web site this is just one of those ridiculous rumors that circulates around the Web on a daily basis.

A completely false rumor concerning the U.S. Postal Service is being circulated on Internet e-mail. As a matter of fact, the Postal Service has learned that a similar hoax occurred recently in Canada concerning Canada Post.

The e-mail message claims that a "Congressman Schnell" has introduced "Bill 602P" to allow the federal government to impose a 5-cent surcharge on each e-mail message delivered over the Internet. The money would be collected by Internet Service Providers and then turned over to the Postal Service.

No such proposed legislation exists. In fact, no "Congressman Schnell" exists.

The U.S. Postal Service has no authority to surcharge e-mail messages sent over the Internet, nor would it support such legislation.

The News Keeps Coming Out of Kodak

Kodak Discontinues Production of APS Cameras Worldwide & 35mm Reloadable Cameras in the US.

In a series of announcements made in early January, Kodak officials said Kodak will accelerate its 35mm consumer film efforts in growing emerging markets, while discontinuing reloadable 35mm cameras in the United States, Canada, and Western Europe and APS cameras worldwide.

"Kodak is, and will remain, committed to manufacturing and marketing the world's highest quality film," says Bernard Masson, President, Digital & Film Imaging Systems. "Consistent with our strategy, we will focus our film investments on opportunities that provide faster and attractive returns, while reducing investments where we see unsatisfactory returns."

"We are reinforcing and expanding our commitment to 35mm film and cameras in emerging markets because of the significant demand from China, India, Eastern Europe and Latin America," says Masson. "The 35mm film industry continues to grow at double-digit rates in those markets.

"We are exiting the APS camera business because of declining consumer demand, which has led to unsatisfactory returns," he adds. "Selling APS film and photofinishing remains a very attractive business for retailers. In addition, consumers who use APS film are highly loyal to the format. We remain committed to delivering enhanced consumer benefits in our APS films, and we will continue to provide service and support for retailers and consumers."

Kodak will:

  • Increase its commitment to 35mm reloadable camera sales and manufacturing in emerging markets, such as China, India, Eastern Europe and Latin America
  • Introduce worldwide new 35mm and APS films next month at PMA 2004
  • Continue to manufacture APS films, consistent with consumer demand
  • End distribution of reloadable APS cameras worldwide, and reloadable 35 mm cameras in the United States, Canada, and Western Europe by the end of 2004.

In 2004 Kodak will introduce a new version of its PLUS Digital marketing effort for 35mm and APS film. Under this program - first marketed last year - the purchase price of a specially packaged single-use camera included a Picture CD. The program rankled independent retailers who felt obligated to provide the CD, even if they didn't sell the film or Kodak's Picture CD-branded discs.

Masson acknowledged the program's problems for independents, but maintained Kodak will provide a broad range of products to consumers.

"The picture business is going to be fantastic for Kodak, as long as we look at the long-term opportunity," said Masson. "Film is a still huge part of it. The percentage of film pictures captured versus digital is still enormous."

Kodak Announces Massive Layoffs

Kodak has announced a restructuring plan that includes eliminating 12,000 to 15,000 jobs by 2007 as it tries to transform it primary business from film to digital. On the news Kodak stock gained $3.95 for a share prices of $30.95. 

Wall Street likes job cuts because they represent a short term cash savings. But we've been hearing rumblings from people in the industry who wonder about the "brain drain" that those job cuts represent as well as the general public's changing perception of Kodak and their commitment to their corporate partners. 

The rift with one of those partners, Walgreens, became public when it was reported in the Wall Street Journal on January 23rd. According to the WSJ report: "Kodak's new strategies have created confusion and alienated Walgreen executives who feared Kodak was cutting them out of the business." 

Kodak Ends Production of DCS Digital Pro Backs

In a memo to dealers Kodak has indicated that it will no longer produce DCS Digital Pro Backs for medium format cameras though it will sell through it's existing warehouse stock. Kodak will honor the warranties for existing DCS backs and will continue to produce electronics for the manufacturers of other brands of digital backs (a number of digital backs have Kodak internals). 

The memo indicates the reason for discontinuing the DCS line is that 35mm digital cameras are now approaching the quality of medium format digital backs and that "Kodak will focus its digital camera development resources on the growing segment of professional digital SLR users..."

There is no indication whether this means a greater emphasis on digital SLR development in the future.

Lexar Unveils Three New JumpDrives

Lexar announced the JumpDrive Sport, JumpDrive Elite and 2GB JumpDrive 2.0 Pro drives.

The JumpDrive Sport has a rubber cap that wraps securely around the entire flash drive, making it more impact-resistant and protecting the cap from accidental loss. The JumpDrive Elite features a pearl white shell and a snap-on cap that can be attached to either end to prevent its being misplaced.

Both will be available in 128MB, 256MB and 512MB capacities, and list for $49.99, $79.99, and $169.99 respectively and are available now.

The new USB 2.0 GB JumpDrive 2.0 Pro can transfer 2GB of music or data in less than six minutes and will ship nationwide in February 2004 with expected retail pricing of $999.99.

JumpDrives are portable USB flash memory drives that allow users to store, carry and transfer files that are often too large to fit on other media such as CDs, floppy disks and Zip drives. They are compatible with any Mac or PC that supports the USB standard.

Bogen Photo Corp. Changes its Name to Bogen Imaging Inc.

Bogen Photo Corp. has changed its name to Bogen Imaging Inc.

The name change will officially go into effect this month and reflects the company's expanding mission and rapid growth into video and other markets.

Sea & Sea Announces New Digital Housing

The D70 doesn't even exist as a production model yet and the folks at Sea & Sea have announced an underwater housing for the new camera ! 

Recently they've added a slew of digital camera housings to their lineup including housings for the D100, EOS D30 & D60, Fuji S2 and several Coolpix models. 

Digital underwater photography is especially interesting to divers who have to contend with far more variables than those of us shooting on dry land. They can instantly see if they got the shot, if backscatter was a problem, and if they're using the correct color correction for the depth they're shooting at.

Canon Adds Two New Pro-sumer IS Lenses

Canon has added two new pro-sumer lenses to it's lineup. The EF28-300mm f/3.5-5.6L IS USM lens & a compact EF70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 DO IS USM Zoom.

The new EF28-300mm f/3.5-5.6L IS USM is an entirely new L-series design lens and a significantly enhanced successor to Canon's EF35-350mm f/3.5-5.6L USM zoom first introduced 11 years ago. This newly designed, 22-element L-series lens combines Canon's newest optical glass advances, faster autofocus and a new Image Stabilization system with new shake-detecting gyro sensors. Canon says this new image stabilization system is good for up to a three shutter speed improvement. 

The EF70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 DO IS USM lens is the second Canon EF lens to employ Diffractive Optics (DO) technology allowing the lens to be significantly smaller and lighter than 70-300mm lenses from other manufacturers. This lens also utilizes Canon's newest IS system. The lens also features an improved focus design for improved autofocus speed. 

The lenses are expected to be available in March with suggested list prices of $2,499 and $1,299, respectively. Expect street prices to be lower.

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