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Vivid Light Photography, digital and film photography online
2004 PMA Innovation Awards
by Vivid Light Staff

Konica Minolta Maxxum 7 Digital Camera

We're not going to rehash all the details of Konica Minolta's first digital SLR here. You can read our first look at this new camera in this issue for all the details. What makes this camera special, and the reason for awarding it an innovation award is its unique anti-shake technology. 

Anti-shake is nothing new for Konica Minolta, after all they use it in their zoom digitals. It's not new in SLRs either. Canon introduced the technology to SLRs with their line of IS lenses and Nikon followed suit with their VR lenses. But for digital shooters those specialty lenses from Canon and Nikon carry high price tags on top of the relatively high cost of a digital camera body.

The innovation here is that Konica Minolta has placed the anti-shake technology inside the Maxxum 7 Digital's camera body. That means that every Minolta lens, whether it's one you already own, or one you buy a year from now, is an anti-shake lens. It also means that you pay for this technology once - not every time you buy a new lens.

In a market where most Canon owners step into Canon digitals and the same holds true for Nikon owners Konica Minolta has just given buyers a serious reason to look outside their current systems.

In this most competitive of markets Konica Minolta has just changed the rules in a very significant way.

Portable Digital Storage & Viewing

You'll notice some distinct similarities between our other two winners this year. But there are distinct differences as well. These are two separate approaches to solving the same problem. The P-1000 is a more generic device. It supports RAW file formats from most popular digital SLRs and its large screen is ideal for evaluating the quality of images in the field. The Nikon Coolwalker on the other hand is a solution aimed only at Nikon shooters. It supports only Nikon file formats. Both units support multiple memory card formats but the Nikon does so only through optional adapters. The native format is the CF format supported by their digital SLRs.

But for some the smaller size and lighter weight of the Coolwalker will give it a distinct advantage and the greater detail and color capabilities of the P-1000 won't be as important as the smaller profile. But the big news here is that tools are now coming to market to make workflow in the field easier for digital shooters.

Epson P-1000 Photo Viewer

The Epson P-1000 Photo Viewer is a new portable photo viewing and storage device boasting a large 3.8 inch LCD panel, 10 GB of storage and it accepts all popular memory card formats. The big LCD panel allows you to view, zoom and rotate images for easy viewing in the field. The chief advantage of the display is that it is larger, has a higher resolution and is capable of displaying more colors than the LCD on your camera. The 10 gigabytes of onboard memory allow you to store images off-camera. You can output images to your computer or laptop via the onboard USB interface. That same USB interface can be used with an external hard drive or external USB CD-R/RW drive for even more flexibility for image storage and backup. You can even connect the P-1000 to a television or projector for presentations (NTSC or PAL).

The P-1000 has a printer interface. It supports JPEG (Exif 2.1 and 2.2) and raw file formats for select SLR cameras and has the capability to print directly to several Epson printers including the Stylus Photo 820, 900, 1280 and 2200. The EPSON P-1000 supports PRINT Image Matching II (PIM) and Exif 2.2 (Exif Print) for achieving accurate colors in your prints.

The EPSON P-1000 even includes a carrying case and a stand for viewing slideshows. It will sell for $599 (list expect street prices to be lower) and is available now.

Nikon Coolwalker

Like the P-1000 the Coolwalker allows a digital shooter in the field to store images off camera and to easily sort through and make save/discard decisions. The Coolwalker weighs just 12 ounces and at 5.1 x 3.2 x 1.4 inches it's small enough to slip into your camera bag with ease.

It has a 2.5" TFT LCD monitor and a rubberized body so it should tolerate the kind of abuse that is routine for camera equipment. It accepts Compact Flash Type I/II cards (other media can be read using CF adapters). Images are stored onto a 30 GB hard disk.

There's a Hi-Speed USB 2.0 interface for connecting to your laptop or computer but it wasn't clear from the information we have if you could connect to an external hard drive. There are separate audio/video outputs plus an infrared remote control (for slide shows). The Coolwalker is powered by a Lithium Polymer battery.

File formats supported by the Coolwalker include Nikon's NEF raw file format, TIFF, JPEG, Motion JPEG (JPEG video), QuickTime and WAV. Full image playback functions are provided for those formats including rotate, zoom and the ability to display histogram and EXIF shooting data.

You can also print directly from the Coolwalker to any PictBridge compatible printer. Pricing and availability were not announced at PMA.

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