As we lift the lid on 2007 it’s interesting to note how the battles in certain product categories are taking shape. Digital media makers continue to produce cards with increased capacities and shrinking price tags while the feature sets on point-and-shoot digital camera get more sophisticated by the day. While we’re not featuring any product in the digital frame category this issue, we’ll certainly be keeping an eye on this explosive product in the coming weeks.
While almost every imaging category revs their 2007 engines, no category will beat the battle that is shaping up in the DSLR market. As you’ll see this month, most of the action appears to be in the entry-level area as both Canon and Nikon now have impressive models in the $600 range. The rest of the field is poised to deliver as well and we’ll keep you posted as the “DSLR Wars” unfold.
Nikon Adds Entry-Level DSLR
As the DSLR wars continue to heat up, it’s interesting to see the lower-end of that market getting most of the action lately. Nikon has introduced, what to date, is their lowest priced DSLR with the introduction of the D40 – priced at $599 with lens. This 6-megapixel model has been dramatically slimmed down from previous D-series models and features a menu system specifically designed for the newbie DSLR user.
We were particularly impressed with Nikon’s “assist images” feature that displays sample images for each camera setting to help users pick the right one while a retouch menu lets users correct mistakes — like red eye or under exposure — after they happen. Once in this “retouch” mode the user can crop photos or add a variety of filter effects to images.
The D40 also includes a burst mode of 2.5 frames per second up to 100 photos, eight scene modes, including a new “flash off” mode that kills the flash and automatically boosts ISO for low light settings and a 2.5-inch, bright LCD, something now becoming common place on the entry-level DSLRs.
The $599 bundle includes a 3x optical zoom Nikkor lens (18-55mm) and works with all of Nikon’s AF-S and AF-I Nikkor lenses. Should be a fun, and profitable, year ahead in this category.
Fujifilm has added the 6.3 megapixel FinePix Z5fd to the Z-series lineup. This is the first digital camera in this line to feature Fuji’s hardware-based Face Detection Technology along with a new Blog Mode. The sleek, all-metal body of the FinePix Z5fd is available in three “chic” colors, as Fuji describes them, “sophisticated wine red, decadent chocolate brown and lustrous brushed silver” – with a sliding cover that features an eye-catching logo that lights up during operation. A non-extending Fujinon 3x optical zoom lens is also part of the feature set as is a 2.5-inch scratch-resistant LCD screen.
PNY 4GB & 8GB
PNY now offers a 4GB SDHC memory card and plans on adding an 8GB SDHC card to their line later this year. The 4GB card will offer a Class 4 speed rating, meaning it can transfer data at a minimum of 4MB per second (can only be used in host devices that accept SDHC Class 4 cards). Expect an MSRP of $119. Pricing had not yet been set for the 8GB card.
Zeiss Makro-Planar T
At f/2, the new ZEISS Makro-Planar T* 2/50 ZF and Makro-Planar T* 2/100 ZF are, according to Zeiss, the fastest macro lenses for 35mm full-frame photography today – whether for film or digital capture. The two new lenses capture an object field of approximately 50x70mm at the close-focus limit. All of the ZEISS ZF lenses feature precision metal mechanics, providing the photographer with a durable, reliable tool of lasting value. A ‘floating element’ optical system enables the Makro-Planar T* 2/50 ZF to deliver very high image quality over the entire focusing range. The Makro-Planar T* 2/100 ZF goes several steps further by employing an optical design originally developed for the ARRI/ZEISS Master Prime T* 1.2/100 – an ultra-high performance lens for big budget feature films.
Sinar Bron’s eVolution
Sinar Bron is announcing that the Sinarback eVolution 75H is the only tethered, actively cooled multi-shot solution on the market. Developed jointly by Sinar and its technology partner Jenoptic, the 33 million pixel eVolution 75H has been designed without components such as display, controls and memory, allowing for maximum transfer rates, higher speeds and outstanding image quality. The Firewire 800 (via IEEE 1394b interface) ensures a faster live image, while dual Peltier and fan cooling guarantee optimal continuous operation.
Imagenomic recently announced the release of two new plug-in products to complement their Noiseware portfolio. RealGrain Plug-in ($99.95) incorporates versatile and proprietary methods for simulating grain patterns, the color and tonal response of different films and scan resolutions to accurately replicate the smooth, even look of grain found in conventional film.
Portraiture Plug-in ($169.95) eliminates the tedious and time-consuming steps of selective masking and pixel-by-pixel treatments currently required with digital portrait retouching to remove unwanted imperfections while retaining important picture details.
Green Clean Dust
Green Clean has brought a new dust removal solution to the DSLR market – dubbed Digital Camera Sensor Cleaning System, and it works on the vacuum principle, “to gently remove dust and friction particles from the sensor and camera housing.” The system consists of the Mini Vacuum, a 10 oz. Vacuum Power Canister, 3 sterile Pick Up vacuum tubes, 3 Wet and 3 Dry sensor cleaning Swabs and an Anti-Static Polishing Cloth. The one-way Pick Up tube was developed specifically, they tell us, for use on reflex digital cameras. The Pick Up connects to the Mini Vacuum and consists of abrasion-free and non-conductive plastic material that does not contain any softeners. The Wet Swab is pre-soaked in cleansing solution which is non-toxic and non-flammable, but does have a high degree of grease solvency. The dirt dissolved in the solution is lifted off by using the Dry Swab. The Dry Swab’s projecting textile edges clean directly into the corners of the sensor and the pre-treated fabric allows, what company claims is streak-free cleansing of the entire sensor surface.
Toshiba’s Memory Play
Toshiba has announced the launch of the latest addition to its new series of high-capacity SDHC Memory Cards: an 8GB Class 4 memory card. The new card joins their 4GB products launched back in September, and, as Toshiba explains, “will give the company a larger commercially available lineup in high performance SD Memory Cards.”