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As usual this is a slow news month with most of the big announcements having been made at PMA (click here for a full report on PMA). But there is some good news and an important travel update for any of you heading to, or planning a trip to Cuba. 


We Have a Winner!
The winner of this year's Christmas Camera Giveaway is Brian Martinez of Baltimore Maryland who won a Konica Minolta 3.2 megapixel Z1. 

In what's become something of a tradition we asked Brian to use the camera to send us a photo of himself to use in the announcement. The proud Papa included little Alex in the shot. Can you guess who'll be staring in a lot of Brian's photos?

Thanks to the good folks at Konica Minolta for sponsoring the contest and congratulations to Brian.

Second Annual Take Your Camera to Work Day

Friday May 21st has been selected as Take Your Camera to Work Day 2004 (

Take Your Camera to Work Day 2004 celebrates photography worldwide and encourages professional, enthusiast and everyday shutterbugs to share a “day in the work life” with participants from the Ukraine to New Zealand to Canada and the USA beginning at Midnight on May 20th. This unique website will provide a snapshot of the world and unlike other Day-in-the-Life-style projects, anyone with a camera is encouraged to participate in this non-profit venture whose only goal is to demonstrate that photography truly is the universal language. Take Your Camera to Work Day was conceived by our own Joe Farace. 

Photographers all over the world are invited to post one or two pictures on the Web site that are made between Midnight May 21, 2003 and 11:59PM that day. The images don’t have to be posted that specific day, just created on TYCTWDay; they can be posted at anytime after that. The site will be up all year so people can visit, share, and add new photographs widening their circle of images and friends. 

Joe’s concept is that “If you really love photography, don’t just keep the camera on a shelf, make a picture and share it everyone!”

Travel Update

Bush Tightens Restrictions on a Popular Photo Destination

Cuba has become a popular travel destination for photographers and photo journalists. The country is frozen in time circa 1959 when Castro came to power. Images of a vibrant people set against stark Havana and 1950's automobiles became part of many photographer's portfolios during the past five years and Cuba became a photographers "must see" destination.  A place to see and shoot before it, like the former Eastern Block, rejoined the modern world.

Just a few years ago it appeared all but inevitable that laws banning travel and trade between the U.S. and Cuba would be lifted. 

But the "hanging chad" election fiasco in Florida changed the dynamic. There are 800,000 Cuban-Americans in Miami-Dade County and the majority are registered Republicans who voted overwhelmingly for Bush in the 2000 election. Anti-Castro sentiment runs high in this group.

Now in an election year Bush is pandering to that small number of voters because they reside in a swing state. He has announced that existing laws governing Cuban travel will be strictly enforced, new restrictions will be imposed, and gaining visas to travel to Cuba will now be much tougher. Even those with the correct permits and visas are reporting problems upon reentering the U.S. 

Last spring, the government canceled all educational person-to-person travel visas, which made up about 70 percent of permitted U.S. travel to the island. Among those who lost visiting privileges were the National Geographic Society, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Stanford University. Participants in the last Conch Republic Cup Sailboat Race (Key West to Havana) now find themselves embroiled in a grand jury investigation and their homes the target of search warrants. 

If your travel plans for the coming year include travel to Cuba, even as part of an organized group, take extra time to contact the appropriate government agencies. Document all of your contacts (in writing if possible) and make sure that ALL of your paperwork is in order. You may even want to consider another destination.

Kodak Files Suit Against Sony

Kodak has filed suit against Sony alleging Sony has infringed upon 10 of Kodak's patents related to digital photography including a patent for "an electronic camera utilizing image compression and digital storage."

Kodak says they have been in licensing negotiations with Sony for three years. Sony has no comment. 

Kodak has had more than their share of controversy during the past few months. At Kodak's PMA press conference their management stressed the fact that Kodak has a strong IP (intellectual property) portfolio and that Kodak had a long history of investing in digital research. One has to wonder if this is only the first move in Kodak leveraging that IP portfolio into a revenue stream - assuming there are a significant number of companies that have violated their patents and assuming those patents are enforceable.

Sigma Announces Support for Four-Thirds Standard

The Four Thirds Standard was designed by Olympus to be a new standard for digital SLR's and lenses. It includes a standard for sensor size, lens mount design and a body to lens communication standard. The E-1 conforms to this standard.

At PMA Olympus announced that Panasonic, Sanyo and Sigma had joined Olympus, Kodak and Fujifilm as the group of companies now supporting the Four Thirds System. 

Now Sigma has announced that it will develop third party lenses for SLRs conforming to this standard. The first two lenses will be an 18-50mm f3.5 - 5.6 and a 55-200mm f4.0-5.6. No release dates or prices have been released yet.

Software Update for Konica Minolta Film Scanners

Konica Minolta recently announced updated DiMAGE Scan driver software (version 1.1.3) supporting Minolta's DiMAGE Scan Elite 5400, DiMAGE Scan Multi PRO, DiMAGE Scan Elite II, DiMAGE Scan Multi, and DiMAGE Scan Multi II film scanners. 

This updated DiMAGE Scan driver software is available for free by clicking here.


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