News and Commentary
Entries are presented in reverse chronological order, with the most recent news at the top of the page.
This page does "not" contain reports on the 3,546 new digicams being announced this week.
Photokina is now over. If any late breaking announcement
they'll be announced on What's New and will subsequently appear here.
Monday, September 30, 2002
Kodak now has their offical DCS 14n page online, with full specifications..
Sunday, 29 September, 2002
A number of readers have expressed interest in the just announced Sigma f/5.6 300-800mm EX HSM lens. There's good news and there's bad news. A readers has written that he saw the lens today at the show. He reports that it's around 18cm in diameter, about 57cm long and has a weight of approximately 5kg. Sigma says that the price will be between 8.000 and 10.000 Euro. (Roughly the same as dollars). Hummm.
NPC / Pentax
Good news for Pentax 645 owners (me included). A reader has reported that he visited Photokina yesterday and saw the first digital back for the Pentax 645. It is made by NPC in cooperation with Mosaic Imaging. The first generation model has the electronics off to the side, looking similar to a Polaroid back for the 645. They are apparently working on getting the electronics into the film insert cavity, so the second generation will be a lot more compact. Also, he will use a larger 645 chip as they become available.
Saturday, 28 September, 2002
DPReview has reproduced a press release from Phase One in which they state that they will be releasing their image processing software for the Canon EOS 1Ds initially, followed by a release for Nikon DSLRs. Up until now this software has only been available for the company's own medium format and large format digital backs.
Dave Etchells of The Imaging Resource has just published the first hands-on look at the exciting new Kodak DCS Pro 14n.
LetsGoDigital has published a page on the new Sigma SD9 and the new lenses that we're previewed here a few days ago. I'm especially interested in the APO 300-800mm f5.6 EX IF HSM, which if it performs well be a very exciting lens for wildlife photographers.
Rollei has dug into its past and resurrected their wide angle twin lens reflex from the 1960s. This new camera is named the 50mm Rolleiflex TLR. It features a Schneider-Kreutznach Super-Angulon 50mm f/4 lens.
Photo courtesy Peter Wolff — www.PHOTOgraphical.NET
Rollei was also showing their already announced 6008AF, the world's first 6X6cm autofocus camera. A surprise announcement was the new Rollei 35RF rangefinder camera, based on a modified Voigtländer Bessa R2 body along with with three leica M-mount Rollei-lenses. These are a Sonnar 40mm f/2.8, a 50mm f1.8 Planar and an 80mm f/2.8 Planar. Imagine — Zeiss design lenses in a Leica mount! Welcome to the new millennium.
Photo courtesy Peter Wolff — www.PHOTOgraphical.NET
Friday, 27 September, 2002
Either announcements from Photokina have died out, or the people reporting from Cologne are too busy eating Bratwurst and drinking Pils. My guess is that its the former, as I know how hard working a major trade show can be.
But if that's the case then some major companies have not made needed announcements, and this is bad news for them. One that immediately comes to mind is Pentax, who really needed to position themselves properly vis-a-vis a digital solution for their 645 system. The salience is deafening. With their competitors Mamiya, Contax and now Hasselblad offering comparability with the very popular Kodak DCS Pro Back Pentax becomes the only major 645 format camera maker with no digital offering. It's my belief that unless they do so no later than PMA, many professionals will start to abandon them.
Another major manufacturer that appears to be missing in action is Nikon. Now, Photokina is the largest photographic show in the world, and happens only every two years. It isn't as if it sneaks up on you. It could well be, as some readers have conjectured, that the Kodak 14 Megapixel camera took them somewhat by surprise. Sure they knew something was coming (they supply the body parts to Kodak), but I think that the jump in resolution that both Kodak and Canon have offered may have taken them off guard.
A correspondant in Japan has alerted me to the fact that Mamiya has announced on their Japanese web site a 26mm f/4.5 super-wide angle lens for their 645AFD camera and also a 43mm f/4.5 for the RZ67 Pro II.
Contax today announced two new lenses for its N series film and digital SLRs. These are the Planar T* 85mm F/1.4 and Tele-Apotessar T* 400mm F/4 priced at $1,449 and $3,830 respectively.
Thursday, 26 September, 2002
The only new film announced so far is from Kodak — who continue their product announcement juggernaut.Ektachrome E100G and 100GX films will replace Kodak Professional Ektachrome E100S and E100SW and will be available in the first quarter of 2003. I'll look forward to an opportunity to test these new films as I have yet to find a Kodak transparency emulsion that I prefer to those from Fuji.
If you have a bit of extra room in your basement, and are finding that an Epson 7600 or 9600 isn't able to make large enough prints for your needs, you might want to consider the new Durst RHO 160 inkjet printer.
Wednesday, 25 September, 2002
I can now confirm that the Hasselblad H1 announced yesterday does indeed use Fuji lenses. The camera is a co-development between Hasselblad and Fuji. The H1 will be branded in Japan as Hasselblad/Fuji and in the rest of the world as Hasselblad. A Japanese language press release can be found here. (Trying using Babblefish for translation of this and other foreign language web pages).
Erik Sundstrom on the Medium Format Digest on PhotoNet reports that "In an interview with a guy from Hasselblad in a local Swedish newspaper one can read that there will be an adaptor that enables the use of V-series lenses on the H1. That’s good news. The article also mention that the cost for the whole development project was 35 million Euro… and that American wedding photographers is one of the prime target groups. The auto focus mechanism is supplied from Minolta and the lenses from Fuji, as already mentioned in the thread. Two thirds of the camera is supplied from external suppliers and the manufacturing of the camera house, finder and all assembling is done by Hblad in Gothenburg. The price will be about 55.000 SEK, that’s about $5900, but I can’t read from the article if the cost is just for the camera house or a package with other stuff."
The original source (in Swedish) is http://www2.gp.se/gp/jsp/Crosslink.jsp?d=118&a=102687
Sinar has announced their Sinarback 54, which will utilize the new KAF-22000CE CCD image sensor, jointly developed with Kodak. This chip is 22MB and contains 5440 X 4080 pixels of 9 micron size. The chip measures 38.8 X 50mm, making it essentially the same size as 645 format film.
So now we have full-frame digital 35mm format cameras from Contax, Kodak and Canon, and full-frame medium format (at least 645) from Sinar.
In addition to all of its other professional digital announcements Kodak unveiled the "Kodak KAI-11000CM, an 11-million pixel interline transfer CCD color image sensor that enables professional photographers to capture high-resolution images with a full-field 35mm format image sensor... The KAI-11000CM also provides a fluid motion preview for viewing subjects on a studio monitor, making it ideal for portrait and social applications."
This is an OEM product and will end up soon in cameras and backs made by third parties. Clearly Kodak has lifted itself up by its bootstraps and now intends to become (remain) a major player in the professional digital imaging world. This is great news for every photographer in the days ahead as it will increase competition in this area and provide us with better products at lower prices.
Tuesday, 24 September, 2002
Minolta has announced a number of new products today, none terribly exciting. Evolutionary rather than revolutionary.
According to a MacCentral news report out of Japan this morning the price of the EOS 1Ds will be U.S. $7,663, not the $8,999 price mentioned in the Canon U.S. press release of earlier today. A welcome $1,300 reduction, if true, but still a deterrent for many.
Imaging Resource has published a first-look review of the EOS 1Ds.
As anticipated in yesterday's Kodak announcement of a its latest 16MP DCS Pro-Back, Hasselblad has now announced its new 645 format Hasselblad H1. This is that venerable company's first autofocus camera and also their first 645 format model (though 645 backs were available for previous 6X6 bodies).
Photos Courtesy Hasselblad
The camera will take 120 and 220 film backs as well as Polaroid and digital backs. The initial HC series autofocus lens line-up includes a 35mm f/3.5, 50mm f/3.5, 50-110mm f/3.5-f/4.5 zoom, 80mm f/2.8, 120mm f/4, 150mm f/3.2 and a 210mm f/4. A 1.7X teleconverter will also be available. What an exciting offering! Last year Hasselblad looked to be in financial trouble. Now they've come roaring back with what appears to be a superb state-of-the-art camera system. No prices as yet, but availability is supposed to be before year's end.
It didn't occur to me when I first read the announcement of the H1 that the lenses might not be made by Zeiss, as they have since time immemorial (or at least since 1950). In fact the web page doesn't indicate at all whose lenses they are. A bit of sleuthing has turned up that the new Hasselblad's lenses are made by Fuji, not surprising given their XPan relationship.This is no bad thing since Fuji makes some superb lenses. Just a bit surprising given the company's long-standing relationship with Zeiss.
Phil Askey of DPReview has posted photographs of Olympus' Four Thirds Systems prototype. These photographs are the first look anyone has had of what some have been calling the Olydak. This is a prototype, under glass, so it would appear that a shipping camera is still some ways off. Frankly, the size reduction promised (which is one of this new format's main selling points) does not appear to be evident from this example.
If you think about it, regardless of the merits of the system Four Thirds is a simply awful name for a new camera standard. "So, what kind of camera do you work with?" "Me, I have a Four Thirds." What is that in metric, 1.33? Common!
The excellent French magazine Chasseur d'Images has posted a first review of the Canon EOS 1Ds. This will appear in the November issue of the magazine. It is only in French, and unfortunately because it is in PDF format can't be translated online. But, the bottom line is that they give the 1Ds essentially perfect marks on every test.
Canon Japan now has a slick "Flash" web site with a comprehensive EOS 1Ds product overview as well as sample images, including 32MB sample files for downloading!
Of concern is that the Canon U.S. press release states the list prices as $8,999. Deliveries are to start in November. Regardless of the camera's merits, this may turn out to be more than many photographers are willing to bear — even many pros. This is medium format digital back territory (the 16 Megapixel Kodak DCS Pro back is somewhat more expensive at $11,995), and with Kodak's 14 Megapixel DCS-14n priced below $4,000 Canon may find considerable price resistance at this level.
Kodak / Olympus
Olympus and Kodak have announced today their support for the Four Thirds Systems, a new standard for a reduced size universal lens mount system. This will also standardize a chip size smaller than full-frame 35mm thus allow lenses to be made smaller and lighter. It will be interesting to see how many other of the major manufacturer's climb on this bandwagon. Remember half-frame? Another Olympus idea that had merit never caught on.
Monday, 23 September, 2002
DPReview has published comprehensive specs and the press release for Kodak's Pro DCS-14n, its new 14 megapixel full-frame CMOS digital SLR, previewed yesterday by a Rochester NY newspaper.
Also being reported from Kodak is its DCS Pro Back 645H a new version of its excellent 16 megapixel digital back. What does the "H" stand for? (We already have this back available as the "C" for Contax and "M" for Mamiya.) The "H" is for Hasselblad — the long rumoured but now real Hasselblad H1. Quoting from Kodak's press release... "The H1 camera body's contemporary design is specially designed for digital backs and film magazines. It features an all-electronic user interface that communicates with lenses, film magazines and the viewfinder. The LCD displays information from the digital back, providing photographers with quick access to histograms, format and white balance status." Interestingly, the H1 hasn't yet been formally announced by Hasselblad, though it certainly will within the next 24 hours.
Photo Courtesy Leica
Leica will be formally announcing the R9 this week. This appears to be a minor and incremental improvement over the R8, with a small weight reduction and a few additional features. Several additional R series lenses are also likely to show up.
The official press release by Leica is now online.
I overlooked including these in yesterday's summary, so here they are now.
Sigma at the end of last week announced several interesting new lenses. This company really seems to be moving up-market. Among the ones that readers here may find of interest are an 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 EX "OS" lens, with the OS standing for Optical Stabilized. Yup, the first such lens from anyone other than Canon and Nikon.
The second is a 300-800mm f/5.6 EX IF HSM with a constant f/5.6 aperture. Now that should be interesting! No prices or availability yet. These lenses will be available in Canon, Nikon, Minolta, Pentax and Sigma mounts.
Canon also will have new lenses. One that is known is the EF 24-70/2,8L USM, replacing the already superb 28-70mm f/2.8L. Hard to understand the raison d'etre for this lens at the moment.
Sunday, 22 September, 2002
Photokina begins on Wednesday the 25th in Cologne, Germany. There will be a huge number of new photographic products announced, some digital, some traditional — most evolutionary, and possibly a few revolutionary.
As the week progresses I will report on what I hear about that I find to be of interest (no — I will not report on the 396 new digicams that are going to be announced), and I will provide links to web sites that have breaking news and useful information. I'll also give you my opinions on what's announced.
Photo Courtesy Canon Corp.
With the show opening still 3 days away the two most exciting products for serious photographers are the Canon EOS 1Ds, an 11 Megapixel CMOS sensor digital SLR, and the Kodak DCS Pro 14n, with a 14 Megapixel (also CMOS) sensor, and a price of U.S. $4,000. I have a preliminary spec page on the Canon camera online, and more information on Kodak's Nikon-bodied digital SLR can be found in a report today in the Rochester, New York (home of Kodak), Democrat and Chronicle newspaper.
Photo Courtesy Kodak
If these two new cameras have you salivating, but you don't know where the money is going to come from to be able to afford one, you might want to read my just-published essay The Digital Revolution & Equipment Angst.
Photo Courtesy Sigma Corp.
Sigma will finally be ready to ship its Foveon-chip based SD-9 digital SLR in late October. The price has been announced at U.S. $1,800 making it (at least for now) the least expensive digital SLR, undercutting the Canon D60, Nikon D100 and Fuji S2 by $200-$600. The main issue that I see is that one will only be able to use Sigma lenses with this camera.
Sinar (I was their Product Manager for Canada about 25 years ago) has announced the joint development with Kodak of a 22 Megapixel CCD imaging chip for medium format camera backs. Some web sites are erroneously reporting this as a "digital back". Not yet. The chip measures 4080 X 5440 pixels and is 38.8 x 50.0 mm in size, close to the size of 645 format film. The implication for photographers is that while the new Canon 1Ds and Kodak 14n at 11MP and 14MP respectively boost 35mm format digital SLRs into medium format territory, medium format is now moving upwards as well. No indication as yet of when we'll see this in a commercial back, and for which cameras, or of price. But, you can be sure that it will not be inexpensive.
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