Latest Event Updates

Nikon D3000

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Nikon’s new D3000 is its newest addition to the DX-format DSLR family. It appears to be aimed at the first time DSLR owner with the offering of a Guide mode, which aids new users with step-by-step assistance when needed. This assists users in choosing shooting modes for a variety of situations and, if they choose, lets them explore advanced photographic techniques. The guide mode is accessed by the program dial on the top of the camera and displays a variety of shooting situations via the LCD screen, indicating the most appropriate setting for a particular scenario. There are also sample photos, which illustrate the effects of different photo-taking techniques.

D3000For those counting megapixels, the D3000 has 10.2 – which bucks the trend of going higher and higher, but which is perfectly fine except, perhaps, for some pro applications. Yet, because it features Nikon’s EXPEED digital image processing system (which I consider one of, if not the best), it should deliver incredible results.

Nikon’s 3D Colour Matrix Metering II, in conjunction with EXPEED, instantly evaluates the exposure elements of each scene and compares it to an onboard database of information from more than 30,000 images. To quote the boys from M*A*S*H, “finest kind.”

Extending the D3000’s performance is Nikon’s Scene Recognition System; Active D-Lighting, which automatically compensates to reveal veiled details in shadows and highlights in high-contrast situations; the aforementioned 3D Colour Matrix Metering II; 11-point Multi-CAM 1000 autofocus; and Advanced 3D Subject Tracking, which continuously focuses on a fast-moving subject throughout the frame.

The D3000’s normal ISO range extends from ISO 100 to 1600, and it can expand to a Hi 1 setting of ISO 3200.

The In-Camera Retouch Menu allows users to apply a variety of fun and dramatic effects to their images. The D3000 introduces a new Miniature effect, which changes the appearance of distant subjects to look like close-ups of miniature models. It also inherits the Soft Filter and Colour Outline Retouch options from the D5000.  As with all Nikon digital SLRs, the camera creates the new retouched image, while saving the original.

The D3000 also includes the ability to capture images in the NEF (RAW) format, in addition to traditional JPEG.

The D3000 also incorporates Nikon’s Integrated Dust Reduction System, which combines an active sensor-cleaning function that activates whenever the camera is turned on or off, with the Airflow Control System to direct dust away from the sensor.

The D3000 will be available late August.

(An update, Aug. 28: D3000 with AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55 mm f/3.5-5.6 G VR Lens, suggested list [rice is $639.95.)

Nikon 18-200 mm & 70-200 mm

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Major announcements from Nikon Canada. We’ll start with two new lenses, the AF-S DX Nikkor 18-200 mm f/3.5-5.6 ED VR II and the AF-S Nikkor 70-200 mm f/2.8G ED VR II. The two new telephoto zoom lenses feature Vibration Reduction (VR) II optical image stabilization. VR II allows photographers to shoot handheld at as many as four shutter speeds slower than would otherwise be possible. Two VR modes are available: “Normal” mode, ideal for everyday use and panning a subject; and “Active” mode to reduce more extreme instances of camera shake.

Nikon has further refined the 70-200 mm lens with an enhanced optical formula featuring seven extra low dispersion (ED) glass elements for vibrant, high-resolution images with optimal contrast. Image quality is further enhanced by Nikon’s Nano Crystal Coat, which reduces instances of lens flare and ghosting. The new 70-200 mm VR lens also includes a Silent Wave Motor (SWM) for fast, quiet autofocusing. The SWM takes full advantage of 3D tracking autofocus (AF) systems, such as those found on the FX-format D3X, D3 and D700 DSLRs. Three focus modes are available – M, A/M and M/A – for automatically focusing, manually focusing or fine tuning AF performance.

With the DX 18-200 mm VR, Nikon enhanced the construction of the lens to include a zoom lock switch, allowing photographers to secure the lens barrel at its minimum length, eliminating the natural gravitational effect that can draw the barrel downward during transport. VR II image stabilization helps to prevent blurry photos in a variety of lighting conditions. Nikon’s Super Integrated Coatings reduce instances of ghosting or flaring. The lens also has Nikon’s SWM technology. Its zoom range is equivalent to 27-300 mm in 35 mm format when mounted on any Nikon DX-format camera. Additionally, the optical formula contains two ED glass elements and three aspherical lenses to minimize chromatic aberration and distortion. Nikon says the resulting images exhibit extreme sharpness, extraordinarily vibrant colour, high fidelity and crisp contrast.

The 18-200 mm will be available in September, the 70-200 mm in November.

(An update, Aug. 28: the suggested price for the 18-200 mm is $949.95; for the 70-200 mm, $2,679.95.)

Panasonic ZR1

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The Lumix DMC-ZR1 digital camera from Panasonic features the world’s first 0.3mm thin aspherical lens, says the company, allowing for a compact body that still features an 8x optical zoom2 Leica DC Vario-Elmar lens (25-200 mm equivalent). This zoom also works during video recording. The camera has a 12.1-megapixel image sensor.

panasonic ZR1

Other features: ultra high-speed auto focus (AF); a 2.7-inch LCD; energy-efficient Venus Engine V3 image processing LSI; Intelligent Auto (iA) Mode, with Power optical image stabilizer (O.I.S.), which features double the repression power compared to Mega O.I.S., the previous image stabilization system; face recognition of up to six faces, and up to three can be simultaneously recognized to show their names once registered; Travel Mode which organizes information related to travel, including destination, date and time; High Dynamic Mode to help capture a scene with moderate exposure even when the scene may contain both bright and dark areas.

The ZR1 will have a suggested retail price of $349.99 and will be available in black and blue colours, with a red model available in October.

Panasonic SDHC memory cards

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Panasonic is launching the Gold series of SDHC Memory cards with Class 10 speed specification in Canada. Class 10 is a new speed specification standardized by the SD Card Association as part of SD Card Specification version 3.0 and designed to meet the requirement for higher resolution consecutive shooting and large-sized high definition video shooting. This Class10 card will enable users to record (write) large amounts of data continuously, until the card is fully written, without missing any shots or writing stops.
The cards will be available in 4GB, 8GB, 16GB, and 32GB sizes
Panasonic also has a Silver line series with Class 4 speed specification and a maximum writing speed of 20MB per second, for high definition video recording.

Panasonic DMC-FZ35

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Panasonic FZ35Panasonic’s FZ35 is a digital still camera with AVCHD Lite High Definition (HD) video recording capability. Looking like a DSLR, it is a crossover, with a fixed 18x optical Leica DC zoom lens (27-486 mm equivalent). It’s the successor to the FZ28.

The camera offers new manual controls and creative options. Creative Movie Mode allows the user to set the shutter speed and aperture manually. My Colour Mode allows you to adjust the colour,
brightness and saturation parameters, while seeing how the adjustments affect the picture, live on the monitor. High Dynamic Mode helps to capture a scene with moderate exposure even though the scene may contain both bright and dark areas.
The 12.1 megapixel FZ35 features an upgraded optical image stabilizer (O.I.S.), which allows for double the repression power compared to the conventional image stabilization system, MEGA O.I.S., and ultra high-speed Auto Focus (AF) for capturing action scenes.

An enhanced energy-efficient image processing LSI – the Venus Engine HD1 – is said to deliver an extended battery life of approximately 470 pictures.

The FZ35 features Intelligent Auto (iA) Mode, a suite of intuitive technologies including Face Detection, Intelligent Scene Selector, Intelligent Exposure and Face Recognition. With the improved Face Recognition, the FZ35 recognizes up to three faces simultaneously while taking photos2 and allows users to specify the age of the registered subject. When babies under three years-old are registered, the camera will automatically switch to Baby mode if the baby appears to be in the frame.

The manufacturer’s suggested retail price: $499.99.

Fuji point & shoot cameras

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The FinePix F70EXR is Fujifilm’s first long-zoom compact digital camera featuring its EXR imaging technology, and a Fujinon 10x optical zoom, all in a compact design.  The lens, developed in conjunction with Fuji’s proprietary Super CCD EXR sensor, is said to produce crisp, high resolution results throughout the focal range (27-270 mm equivalent).  The camera is 22.7 mm thick.

The camera offers a radically improved flash control system, which controls the level of flash for a given exposure to produce what Fuji describes as beautifully-balanced flash illumination.

The F70 has dual image stabilization – picture stabilization automatically reduces shutter speeds to freeze action while CCD image stabilization counteracts “hand shake.”

Fuji’s latest face detection technology tracks up to 10 faces simultaneously.
Aimed at the advanced photo enthusiast looking for excellent picture quality without the expense or bulk of a DSLR system, the FinePix S200EXR combines a 14.3x manual optical zoom Fujinon lens (30.5-436 mm equivalent), with the 12 megapixel Super CCD EXR sensor found in the FinePix F200EXR.

Key features: Super CCD EXR technology; EXR Priority Mode to quickly optimize the camera’s settings – the photographer can decide which sensor setting is preferable by choosing High Resolution Priority (HR) to maximize resolution, High ISO and Low Noise Priority (SN) for high quality low-light work or D-Range Priority (DR) for the best detail with high contrast subjects.

Other features: Film Simulation to capture subtle changes in tone and colour reproduction; Face detection technology to track up to 10 faces simultaneously.

With a metal body, the Fujifilm J30 features Panorama Mode, allowing the user to capture panoramic pictures by seamless stitching three consecutive images together.  The J30 also features a 12 megapixel sensor, 2.7-inch LCD screen, 3x optical zoom, new intelligent scene recognition and face detection technology with automatic red-eye removal.

The FinePix Z35 is aimed at teens and young adults. It offers a 10 megapixel sensor, a 3x optical zoom lens, a web-ready mode with visual effects as well as intelligent scene recognition and face detection technology.  The camera is designed for social networking with easy photo and video sharing.  Web Mode includes 12 in-camera visual effects and easy uploading to Facebook, YouTube or other sharing sites.

Fujifilm has introduced two new cameras to its popular A-Series line of easy-to-use, high quality and cost-conscious compact digital cameras.  The A170 and A235 are the first A-Series models to feature Fujifilm’s proprietary intelligent scene recognition technology.  ISR AUTO detects a scene without needing to pre-select the mode on the camera, recognizing six different scenes – Portrait, Landscape, Macro, Backlit Portrait, Night and Night Portrait.
The two cameras are said to perform well in low light and can shoot at up to ISO 1600.

Tokina 12-14mm lens

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The new Tokina AT-X 124 PRO DX II (AF 12-24 f/4 II) with a built-in AF motor drive is available in Nikon and Canon mounts. With tTokina 12-24mmhe built-in motor, the lens can be used in AF mode with the Nikon D60 and D40 and other silent wave bodies with APS-C sized sensors. There’s a new AF control gear assembly delivering smoother and quieter autofocusing. The Canon version of the lens has a built-in AF motor and will benefit from the improved multi-coating.

The optical system of the original AT-X 124 PRO DX won awards for its sharpness world-wide. This was apparently improved in the new version. The new multi-coating helps reduce reflections that can cause flare and ghosting better than with the older lens.

The AT-X 124 PRO DX II features a one-touch focus clutch mechanism.

The lens weighs 19.0 oz. (540g).

Canon hybrid image stabilizer

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Canon has announced Hybrid Image Stabilizer (IS), claimed to be is the world’s first optical image stabilization technology that compensates for both angle camera shake and shift camera shake. Canon says the technology will appear in interchangeable single lens reflex (SLR) camera lenses this year.

Several different preventative methods and corrective procedures have been introduced, by Canon and others, to compensate for errors caused by camera shake. The Hybrid IS technology compensates for angle and shift camera shake. Sudden changes in camera angle can significantly alter images taken during standard shooting, whereas shift-based shaking, which occurs when a camera moves parallel to the imaging scene, is more pronounced in macro photography and other close-range shooting.

The new Hybrid IS technology incorporates an angular velocity sensor that detects the extent of angle-based shaking and is found in all previous optical image stabilizer mechanisms, as well as a new acceleration sensor that determines the amount of shift-based camera shake. Hybrid IS, says Canon, also employs a newly developed algorithm that synthesizes information from the two sensors to make optimal adjustments, thereby dramatically enhancing the effects of image stabilization during shooting, including macro shooting, which had proven difficult for conventional image stabilization technologies.

Canon began researching methods to compensate for camera shake in the 1980s, and in 1995 launched the EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM, the world’s first interchangeable SLR camera lens to feature a mechanism that compensates for optical camera shake. Since then, the company has continued to produce a variety of interchangeable lenses with image stabilization capabilities, and now has a total of 21 such lenses in its current product lineup.

Digital 3D arrives

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By pure luck, I had a meeting set up with one of Fujifilm Canada’s vice-presidents, yesterday, to talk about the company’s prototype 3D system. I had called him to ask about it last week, letting him know I would be bringing my son Gareth along with me. He’s an artist, and some of his work has used 3D imaging, so he was interested in it as well.

When we arrived for our meeting, we were told Fujifilm Corp. in Tokyo had just announced the launch of the 3D system in that country. Serendipitous.

Fuji 3DThere are two parts to the system, a camera and a digital frame. The camera has the basic look of a regular digital point and shoot camera, although it is slightly wider. And then there are the two lenses . . . The digital frame looks normal . . . until you turn it on and play either 3D still images or 3D movies shot with the camera.

There’s no word as yet when — or if — the system will be sold in Canada (or the United States for that matter).

To achieve the 3D image, two images are layered together. Two Fujinon lenses are used, offering 3x optical zooming, directing light to two CCDs (image sensors). According to the company, the 3D camera depends heavily on a newly developed chip called the “RP (Real Photo) Processor 3D” which synchronizes the data passed to it by both CCD sensors, and instantaneously blends the information into a single high quality image, for both stills and movies.

As well as seeing the still 3D images and 3D movies on the digital frame, Fujifilm has developed a 3D print service. Currently, that service is running only in Japan, but apparently is accessibly for uploads via FTP from anywhere in the world, with finished prints mailed. If the system is to be sold in Canada, Fujifilm will have to set up the special processing equipment in its Mississauga headquarters. That’s not going to be too difficult to do, I’m told, but the processing of the images into prints is labour intensive. The prints are remarkable, but expect them to be more expensive than 2D prints. Prints should be available in several sizes, including 8×10 inches and perhaps larger.

The camera also will shoot 2D images and offers the same functions as conventional 2D digital cameras. When shooting 3D, the W1 offers a couple of special shooting modes.

I’m sure Fuji will be curious to know if you might be interested in buying a system, whether for your personal use of commercial application. Go to http://www.fujifilm.ca/x613.xml and click on the words Customer Service toward the bottom of the page. And tell them Grandpaparazzi sent you.

Hello world!

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I’m thinking about moving my blog from Blogger to WordPress, so will be testing this system. Please do not adjust your sets.

Update: I have moved my blog http://grandpaparazzi.blogspot.com/ here to WordPress. If you’re looking for past entries, click on the link to take you back, back, back in time.