iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






Photo Digest, November 2000

Heavyweight category

Contax N Digital SLR. A "cousin" of reflector perfection...

The release of a new professional Contax N Digital SLR reflector camera (a "cousin" of its digital brother, Contax N1 camera) is expected to happen in spring '2001. As it's affirmed in the preliminary announcements, 6Mpixel camera matrix (3040 x 2008) will coincide in size with a standard 35 mm film frame. Possible exposures: 32secs to 1/8000sec, flash synchronization up to 1/125 sec. This camera will have an autoshoot mode, as well as manual adjustment capability: diaphragm priority and exposure, single button preprogrammed white, etc. Video & audio recording support. More features: NTSC and PAL video output and a 2" color monitor.

Camera uses rich gamma of changeable optics for Contax reflector cameras, manufactured by Carl Zeiss.

Storage type: Compact Flash (tm) Card (Type I and II). Picture formats supported: TIFF and JPEG. Links to computer via IEEE 1394.

Approximate price is $7400. And it's not so high for such resolusion.

Middleweight category.

A new premiere from Olympus: C-2100 Ultra Zoom.

Digital photographers may stop worrying about losing any important image details with the coming of a new top autofocal TTL Olympus C-2100 Ultra Zoom digital camera. The 10X optical zoom (38 - 380 mm focal length or F:2,8 in 35-mm equivalent) and 2,7X digital zoom will "see" everything, and the new optical dejitterizer will save picture with maximum precision. Camera has various manual adjustments (diaphragm priority, exposure, autobracketing) that will result in a very clear picture. Video & audio recording is also supported. Moreover: built-in flash and a "hot plug" for external flash.

Diaphragm: F:2,8 - F:8,0 (F:3,5 - F:8,0 in telemode). 1/2 - 1/800sec exposure. Autobracketing with a step of 1/3 EV, 2/3 EV and 1 EV. TTL sampling system, automatic and manual focusing.

Optics operation modes:

  • standard mode: 60sm - infinity;
  • telemode: 2m - infinity;
  • macro at minimum lens focal length: 10 sm - 60 sm;
  • telemacro: 1m - 2m.

ISO 100, 200 and 400 sensitivity. Video recording in QuickTime Motion JPEG format. HQ: 320 x 240 pixels, 12,5 frame/sec. 35secs max. (8 MBytes: 23secs).

JPEG or TIFF image formats.

Storage type: 3.3v SmartMedia (SSFDC) cards (2 - 64 MBytes). One 8 MBytes card with built-in panning function is included in the package. Links to computer via USB.

Recommended price is $999.

Olympus accumulates "Optical power" - Camedia C-2040 and C-3040.

The Olympus company has announced that two new digital cameras models: Camedia C-2040 and C-3040 will be released in the nearest couple of months. These cams will become an upgrade of already existing C-2020 and C-3030 models.

Both cameras will have new lenses with enlarged relative aperture of F:1,8 - F:2,6 and accelerated autofocusing. Besides, cameras will have new iESP system for white balance set-up. Camedia C-2040 Zoom will use USB unlike its predesessor.

Olympus Camedia C-2040 Zoom should appear for sale in Europe in December '2000 and C-3040 will follow in January '2001.

New word for "Optimality" - Toshiba PDR-M5.

We present a new digital Toshiba PDR-M5 camera that have won a prestigious DIMA award on the Photo Marketing Association Show exhibition for being the most optimal digital camera in $600-899 price range.

New Toshiba PDR-M5 has 2,14 megapixel matrix (1600x1200 resolution), 3X optical zoom (or 40-120 mm in 35mm equivalent), 2X digital zoom, and also 2.5X zoom for image viewing. Besides, it has a very fast processor. Camera sensitivity: ISO 100/200/400. Video recording: AVI, 120sec (8 MBytes), 960sec (64 MBytes). Internal memory buffer: 16 MBytes. JPEG file format. Focusing limit: 14sm in usual mode and 4sm in macro mode.

It's necessary to mark a new DSP processor among all advanced designs that Toshiba has applied to this camera. It will considerably prolong camera battery life by shortening period between shooting two frames in a serie. Camera can take 160 pictures with one battery charge (LCD monitor turned on) and 240 pictures with LCD monitor turned off.

Storage type: 3.3v SmartMedia flash cards (2 - 64 MBytes). An upgrade up to 128 MBytes is possible. 8 MBytes card is included into package. Links to computer via USB-port, RS-232c and RS-422.

Estimated price by retail sales - $799.

Enjoy the music - Fuji FinePix 40i.

And another novelty from Fuji: FinePix 40i digital camera combined with an MP3-player! This model has won a special prize for advanced technologies - Popular Science, and it may become the most superb among its probable users. Camera combines 2.4 megapixel Super CCD matrix of 2400x1800 resolution (interpolated up to 4,3 megapixels) with an MP3-player for CD, MD or SmartMedia memory cards. This cam is oriented to more "advanced" users, which would like to take qualitative digital photos. However from a customer view point this camera has some minor disadvantages like a rather ephemeral power supply. Camera has Super EBC Fujinon lens (36 mm in 35-mm equivalent) with a maximum diaphragm of f/2,8 and 3,75X digital zoom. Exposures: from 1/4 up to 1/1000 sec, ISO 200 sensitivity, and capability of video and sound recording. JPEG image format. It also has a remote control (via a cord) for shooting and frame scrolling and also music volume control.

Storage type: 3.3v SmartMedia flash cards (2- 64 MBytes) (SmartMedia with an ID for MP3 format playing). One 16 MBytes card is included into package. Links to computer via USB.

Estimated price by retail sale - $699.

The new Konica Q-M200camera.

The new Konica Q-M200 camera has broken 2 megapixel resolution limits and can offer its users perfect color and image sharpness which earlier were featured only by more solid (or "unwieldy") professional cameras. That is why new Konica Q-M200 ideally suits individual usage as well as business where image excellence is important too. Due to its Hexanon optics of 38 mm (in 35-mm equivalent), 2X digital zoom, 2,11-megapixel matrix (1,600 x 1,200), a set of 1/8 - 1/1000 exposures, fast autofocal mechanism and enclosed HotShots (tm) software, Konica Q-M200 with its small size can do almost anything. Camera has a special "Text" mode that permits to store texts in b&w with increased clearness, and it also has rather high shooting speed which allows to take four frames with one button press in a special mode. Camera allows to shoot panoramas even in the macro mode from a distance of 10sm.

Storage type: CompactFlash (tm) Card. One 8 MBytes CompactFlash (tm) card is included into a package. JPEG record format. Links to computer via RS-232C digital interface.

A novelty from UMAX: Debuts Mega-Pixel AstraCam 1800.

UMAX Technologies, Inc. has announced its debut: 1.3 megapixel digital AstraCam 1800 camera. 1280 x 960 pixel frame size (interpolation up to 1600 x 1200 dpi). JPEG record format. NTSC video output.

Package includes the complete version of Adobe PhotoDeluxe Home Edition, various UMAX software and the UMAX PhotoStudio TWAIN interface. It's compatible with Windows 98, 2000, ME or Mac OS 8.6 and higher.

Storage type: 3.3v SmartMedia flash cards (2 - 64 MBytes). One 4 MBytes card is included into package. Links to computer via USB.

Estimated price by retail sale - $199.

Polaroid DMC - Digital camera for an optical Microscope.

Just connect your Polaroid DMC (Digital Microscope Camera) digital camera to your microscope, and in 3 seconds you'll get 24-bit 1600x1200 resolution image. Camera has an automatic white balance, color correction, image scale marker, the preview mode zoom function and a lot of other useful features. As the microscope captures images in an uncompressed format, user has not to worry about data loss while transferring images to computer. Exposition shooting control: from 1sec up to 1/125sec.

The enclosed software grants a complete control of luminance, contrast, image color even before recording it in the TIFF format. There's also a plug-In for Adobe Photoshop for Macintosh OS, and a TWAIN driver for Windows applications.

The connection of Polaroid DMC camera to your microscope is very easy. Only a standard "C-mount" adapter is required.

Links to computer via SCSI-2.


iRemote+ (tm) - A "clever" remote control.

The new infrared iRemote + (tm) console allows to control the whole set of digital cameras such as Kodak DC 260/ 265 / 290, Minolta Dimage and HP C-500 with a possibility of manual focal length adjusting.

Let's have a closer look at iRemote+ with DC290 camera.

iRemote+ has a special console, which provides 360 degrees camera rotation and all construction can be mounted on a special support.

iRemote+ is supplied with its own 3 button remote control, and a usual RC5 TV control also can be used. Operation radius of the "native" console is about 30 meters.

GPS comes to digital photography.

The special PhotoGPS interface allows to connect your Kodak DC260/265 or DC290 camera to any GPS device and thus to store the shooting location coordinates, precise time and current date (all NMEA data).

The special fixture allows to install both PhotoGPS and the digital camera close to each other. PhotoGPS interface can be plugged to any (!!) GPS device that transmits NMEA data, from rather inexpensive Tripmate models to the high-end DGPS.

iRemote+ and PhotoGPS are trademarks of the OPSiS company.

A "digital wallet" in your pocket.

All digital photographers were always unhappy to carry unwieldy and expensive notebooks for saving huge image files. So their problems came to an end, because now they can use a new Digital Wallet from Minds@Work company that is a portable instrument with rather big memory capacity (6 GBytes as the standard), PCMCIA socket and an internal processor capable of copying flash card contents. "Wallet" allows the photographer to go for "digital hunting" just with the small portable instrument, which can store thousands of images.

Here are some features:

  • Case: plastic;
  • Connection interface: PCMCIA (Type II max);
  • Disk size: 6 GBytes (5,838,752 KBytes after formatting);
  • Microprocessor: Motorola ColdFire;
  • Interface: USB 1.1 (4-pin);
  • Internal buffer: 512 KBytes;
  • Power supply: six 650 mAH AAA NiMH 7.2V batteries;
  • Compatibility: PC (Windows 98 and 2000) and MAC (OS 8.5 and higher);
  • Dimensions: 135 x 95 x 32 mm;
  • Weight: 350 gramms;
  • Price: $500 (that makes $0.08 for 1 MBytes).

An optical nozzle package from Tiffen corporation.

Various optical nozzles by Tiffen corporation will help to expand a range of lens focal lengths of your camera. As to increase ("Tele-mode"), so to decrease ("Wide-angle").

The nozzle must be plugged in front of camera lens. Various transition rings provide the simplicity of plugging and allow to use the same nozzles with different cameras.

Digital Technology News.

Sony's latest development: a 5 megapixel CCD matrix.

5 megapixel ICX282 CCD matrix is the latest development of Sony in the field of CCD technologies. It's a successor of all ICX252's previous advantages that can be seen in the majority of 3 megapixel Sony (and not only Sony) models of this year. The sensor size has been enlarged up to 2/3" (11 mm in diagonal), thus pixel size has remained the same (3.4 micron X 3.45 micron).

By the supposition of Sony experts it can be said that the next year will bring us release of 5 megapixel digital camera instead of 4 megapixel one, that will have new optical scheme according to the enlarged matrix size.

  • Total pixel amount: 2658 x 1970;
  • Effective pixel amount: 2580 x 1944;
  • Signal/noise ratio: 90 dB.

Three MemoryStick units - it's a Sony.

At the Comdex / Fall 2000 exhibition Sony has demonstrated three new MemoryStick unit prototypes. They are: GPS unit, digital camera unit, and also user's fingertip recognition security unit.

GPS unit: 31 x 112 x 11.5 mm; 29 gramm weight; 16 channel parallel receiver signal format.

Digital camera unit: 24 x 77 x 15 mm, 12.5 gramm weight, CMOS image sensor of 100,000 pixels, image size: 332 x 288 pixels.

User's fingertip recognition security unit: 21.5 x 50 x 2.8 mm; 4 gramm weight, less than 1% authorized user malfunctioning probability; less than 0.1% unauthorized user functioning probability.

New USB the driver for cameras Canon.

The Canon company has manufactured a new USB driver (version 3.4.0) for digital cameras. It's informed to be compatible with Digital Ixus, EOS D30, PowerShot S10 and S20 models, and also with new PowerShot G1 model. It works under Windows 98, Windows Me (Millenium Edition) and Windows 2000. You can download it company's european site.

It's interesting that drivers marked as 'via Card Reader' have a feature of using EOS-D30 and G1 TWAIN drivers without connection to the computer, and that provides to the user access to RAW (.CRW) files on a hard disk, that was impossible before.

Digital cameras and cellular telephones "make friends".

Canon and Ericsson companies have developed a mutual technology of image transmission. Canon's digital camera experts and Ericsson's mobile telephone specialists have signed the agreement about joint development and market advancement of the new image standard and digital cameras and cellular telephones communications protocols. Both companies have announced that they will present some new products next year that will allow users to fast and easily send digital images from cameras to cellular telephones. One would also be able to attach voice&text messages to an image. The base standard of this technology is GSM, as well as future GPRS, EDGE and 3G-cellphone standards, also with the support of modern Bluetooth or WAP technologies.

IBM Microdrive with Iomega's name.

The Iomega company is going to manufacture IBM Microdrive under its name already in '2001. As it's said in the widespread press release, Iomega will initiate card release in February '2001, as well as special 340 MBytes Microdrive Type II PC Card adapters along with Iomega Quik Sync 2 software. However, it's known that Iomega will not sell 512 MBytes and 1 GBytes Microdrives.

As to the 340 MBytes Microdrive type II plus PC card adapter, it's already compatible with 62 laptop computer models from 15 manufacturers, including Dell, Compaq, Toshiba, IBM and Apple.


This digest doesn't mean to be a comparative analysis of described cameras, it's only offers its readers some "objective information" from manufacturer corporations. And speaking about "eternal" consumer question "Where to find something both cheap and nice?, it can be said that it's better to wait for old camera prices to fall than to wait for some cheap novelties. We can recommend our readers not to expect latest technologies and modern design when buying camera from up to $500 price range. Therefore it's better to choose "older" (everything's relative in this world), but better and already tested cameras such as last year top models. They may have not very modern design, but their quality will surely exceed this of all latest 1- and even 2 megapixel cameras. And you should always remember that progress is very tight with your purse.

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