Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Ricoh Caplio GX100 brings 24mm back to compact digital cameras

If you like the Ricoh GR Digital, the GX100 is going to blow your mind. Featuring a 24-72mm (35mm equivalent) F2.5-4.4 lens, it covers the most useful zoom range of any compact digital camera to date. The lens contains 11 elements in 7 groups! The GX 100 uses a 7 blade diaphragm that will certainly bring nice bokeh.
This camera must be designed to steal the thunder from right underneth the Sigma DP1. It's sensor is "only" 1/1.75", but it's already larger than most compacts. The sensor is 10 megapixels, with support for JPG or RAW. Max shutter speed is 1/2000(same as the GR Digital), which is quite nice for a compact.

On top of all that, the GX100 will feature the first ever detachable LCD viewfinder! This camera is like the DP1 on steroids... If you look right under the hot shoe, you can see a little port for the viewfinder connection. This is truely exciting times we're living in. The camera is estimated to be around $750, quite reasonable for what you're getting, and a really strong alternative to the DP1 if it were to go above $1000.

UPDATE: The detachable viewfinder sits on the hotshoe and can be rotated up 90 degrees! The camera also contains CCD-shift image stabilization. At the announcement event, the GX100 is called the Mini Cooper of cameras. I think they're right :)

UPDATE2: Ricoh corrected its news release that claimed the detachable LCD viewfinder is the first in digital history. Actually, the 1998 Fuji DS-330 1.3 megapixel digital camera is the first ever digital camera with this feature. For more details of that camera, visit Steve's Digicams for the DS-330.

Panasonic Lumix FX07 Urushi (lacquer)

I first saw these on Mono magazine, and was quite amused. For some, luxury means a red dot on a black or chrome body; for others, luxury means embracing their own culture and tradition with color to match.
Urushi is lacquer art form common to many south east asian cultures. Japan has a rich tradition in this art. Last year, Panasonic released the FX07 with 5 different lacquer finishes. These cameras are done by the same company that did the ultra rare Leica R7 Urushi. Web images can't do these cameras justice; the 3-dimensional finish is incredible. Each color is limited to 100 units. Of course, luxury comes at a price. At 59800yen, these cameras cost more than double the regular FX07.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

R-D1s Lens Kit - last call for the Epson Rangefinder?

The Leica M8 has grabbed all the headlines these days. First with its initial rush, infrared problems, fixes, firmware updates, filters finally available, initial rush over with stock on several major websites, etc, etc, today we got to hear from the "other" digital rangefinder maker, Epson, and it might not be good news.

Epson announced the R-D1s Len Kit (R-D1sL), to be available in Japan in April. The kit will come with a Cosina Color Skopar 28mm F3.5 lens in black with round hood, a M-Bayonet Adapter, a special neckstrap and a soft leather half case (silver or red fonts).

The Color Skopar 28mm lens on the R-D1s becomes a 42mm given the sensor size. It is very close to the normal human perspective (43mm). It's F3.5, not the best low light performer but it's small and light, making the combination very useful for street photography. The included Leica mount adapter expands the lens options for the R-D1s, which otherwise is a $55-dollar part.

As we know the production of R-D1 has ended. This is possibily the last clearing of stock before Epson completes sells out of its inventory. With the revival of film rangefinders, one would think the digital rangefinder market should be sizable. At almost $5000 for the M8 (body only, in comparison the Canon 5D is about half the price), one would think there must be money to be made here, no?

Friday, March 16, 2007

Canon SD800 IS Digital ELPH review roundup

The Canon SD800 IS Digital ELPH (aka Canon IXUS 850 IS or IXY Digital 900 IS) is a massively popular ultracompact camera. It's just the right size and is made by Canon. It also has a very useful 28-105mm lens for versatile every use.
It's rare Dpreview gives a Canon camera anything but Highly Recommended. The SD800 received a Recommended only because the image quality is actually a step back from the previous SD700. DCRP recommended it citing the very useful lens zoom range. I personally feel it's just another Canon, not much innovation but you can't really go wrong with it.

Pentax K10D review roundup

The Pentax K10D is currently the flagship of the Pentax SLR line. With a long list of great features (in-camera shake reduction, dust and weather seals, automatic sensor cleaning, compatble with all K-mount lens, etc) it is a strong competition amoung the similarly prices SLRs from other manufacturers. The question is, how does it stack up?
The consensus seems to be that the in-camera processing engine does not do the K10D justice. You will be able to squeeze much more quality from RAW than shooting in jpg mode. This is a bummer somewhat. Otherwise, it has gotten good reviews from Dpreview and DCRP. My only concern is the short supply of lenses. The fabled FA 50mm f/1.4 and FA 43mm f/1.9 Limited lenses are almost as hard to find as the Nitendo Wii. This has driven the price of SMC-A 50mm (f/1.7 and f/1.4) lenses up on eBay. Pentax has promised to make more digital-only DA lens soon. Let's hope they deliver and we get a new competitor in the DSLR field dominated by Nikon and Canon.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-G1 comes with big screen TV

Just kidding, but close. The DSC-G1 has a mega big 3.5" LCD screen with 921K pixels, allowing you to see your photos clearer than ever. I can just imagine how impressive it is to display slide show with music to my friends and family members.

The DSC-G1 has the unusual 2GB of internal memory, which can save a memory stick purchase (those things are expensive). The G1 also has the ability to send photos wirelessly to other Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA)-enabled devices, such as another camera or a PC, a nice touch to save the hassle of wires and memory stick readers. I have to say this is one of the best extra-featured camera we've seen yet.

The camera itself is just like any other Cyber-shots out there, 3x optical zoom 6 megapixel with many scene modes. It will ship in April for $600. A little steep but would certainly be a great gift for anyone.

Sigma DP1 - the future is here

It's always the small players who rock the boat. Sigma did it today with the announcement of the Sigma DP1, featuring a APS size sensor, the same ones used on entry-level DSLRs, that is 12 times bigger than a 1/2.5" sensor. This is a 14 megapixel Foveon X3 sensor with the TRUE image engine that was co-developed with Fujitsu. Image quality is going to be good! And it output RAW files too. Shame on you Canon G7.
The DP1 features a 28mm (35mm equiv) f4 lens with 6 elements in 5 groups. Most people will not even consider anything less than a 3x zoom these days, but a fixed lens often means better quality because it's optimized with less moving parts. On a SLR, even cheap primes (fixed focal length lens) perform better than much more expensive zooms. I expect this lens to perform well; afterall, Sigma is really a lens maker and making cameras is just a part-time job :)
The DP1 looks like a rangefinder. There are even optional accessories to make it look even more like one. There is a optical viewfinder that can be put in the hotshoe, and a rectangular hood! I suspect this camera will create waves in the rangefinder community who might find the Leica M8 and Epson R-D1 too expensive.

There has long been talks about why we don't have something like this yet, and finally Sigma brought it to us. Thank you very much. Visit their special site for more details of the Sigma DP1.

Kodak EasyShare Z712 IS features ISO 3200

The high sensitivity arms race is going very hot these days. Seems like every digital camera supports ISO 1600 or 3200, even with their tiny sensors. Kodak announced their EasyShare Z712 IS 12x optical zoom camera with ISO 3200.
The specs are very similar to the Panasonic FZ8. The lens is 36–432 mm (35 mm equiv.) f/2.8–4.8, which is the same range, though the wide end f4.8 is a bit weaker. The LCD is 2.5" with 230K pixels, and the viewfinder is also 115K pixels. Kodak claims to have Best-in-class click-to-capture speed of 0.26s. We'll have to wait for the reviews to see if it's really as good as the claim. In ISO 3200 mode, pictures are limited to 1.2 megapixels, quite small but might be useful for example in a dark aquarium where it's dark and fishes are swimming fast.

At a MSRP of $299 and the Kodak name, this camera will surely get a lot of attention. Similarly lower-priced superzooms include the Fuji FinePix S700.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Samsung NV7 OPS Reviews Roundup

Samsung has a lineup of stylish cameras that really sparks the imagination. The NV7 OPS grabs lots of attention with it's interesting design. Samsung should be praised for its innovation of different products, even if sometimes they are not of the best quality. Same thing with the NV7 OPS. The camera comes with interesting specs, notablely the 7x optical zoom 38mm-270mm Schneider-KREUZNACH lens. Unfortunately, the concensus is that image quality is mediocre. In addition, while the menu system is unique, it's not a great improvement over current systems. Let's hope Samsung can do better next time.
Reviews from different sources:

Nikon D40x is official!

Nikon today confirmed the rumors about the D40x. It's here! The D40 gathered a lot of attention last year, and today the D40x is announced to compete with the 10 megapixel Canon Digital Rebel XTi. At $730 body only, and $800 with a 18-55mm lens. This is $150 higher than the D40, so this is not really a replacement. The D40x has a lower ISO sensitivity option of 100, quite useful when using fast lens. The continuous shooting mode is also slightly faster (3.0 fps vs 2.5fps). Nothing particular new, but the D40x is a great alternative in the 10 megapixel group including the Canon XTi and Pentax K10D.

A detailed hand-on preview is already online at

Friday, March 2, 2007

Sony DSC-W200

Sony's new lineup of compact cameras includes the DSC-W200, DSC-W90 and DSC-W80. The W200 has the most impress specs for a compact, with W90 and W80 almost the same with 8.1 and 7.2 megapixels.

The W200 has a whopping 12megapixel 1/1.7" sensor. This is the most compact 12 megapixel camera to date. It's now 2 times the resolution of the Nikon D40, its entry-level DSLR (we'll see a 10 megapixel D40x soon though). The W200 spots a 3x optical zoom lens (35-105mm f2.8-5.5). What's interesting is that the lens for W90 and W80 are 35-105mm f2.8-5.2, very slightly faster probably because of the smaller sensors (1/2.5"). I hope this doesn't imply vignetting in the W200 (because the sensor is too big for the lens). It comes with all the standard features of this year: face recognition, ISO 3200, HDTV compatible (with optional cable). The LCD is 2.5" with 115K pixels, somewhat disappointing. I hope this translates into a cheaper street price to compete with great compacts from Panasonic and Canon.