Archives for February 8, 2011

Sigma stabilizes new zoom, updates camera

Sigma says added optical stabilization to its 50-150mm zoom lens allows for shutter speeds 4 stops slower than previously.

The lens, the 35mm equivalent of 75-225, has a an F2.8 maximum aperture, with 21 elements in 15 groups.

Sigma makes minor updates to its fixed-lens compact camera.

Sigma also announced a minor update to its previous DP2s compact camera. The DP2x adds a new analog front end and improved autofocus. It has the same fixed 24.2mm F2.8 lens, 14 megapixel Foveon X3 (5MP effective) and body design of its predecessor.

Nikon’s P300 has fastest Coolpix Nikkor lens

The Coolpix P300, announced by Nikon Inc., Melville, N.Y., is the company’s first compact digital camera to feature a super-fast Wide-Angle 4.2x Zoom-Nikkor glass lens (24-100mm equivalent) with a maximum aperture of f/1.8. It captures Full HD (1080p) video, and has a 12.2-megapixel backside illumination CMOS sensor.

Created for the photo enthusiast who seeks creative control, the P300 features manual controls, Optical Vibration Reduction (VR) technology, and ISO sensitivity up to 3200.

The company says the CMOS sensor in the P300 is designed so that each pixel receives light more efficiently for superior performance. Nikon’s Expeed C2 image processing engine enhances overall speed and performance to deliver images that burst with vivid clarity and color.

The camera has several features commonly found in DSLRs such Aperture Priority (A), Shutter Priority (S) and Full Manual (M) Control, accessed through a top mounted control wheel. Users can also apply special effects to colors, and filter effects such as a cross screen or fisheye lens. The P300 includes Nikon’s new Easy Panorama mode, to simply create vertical or horizontal panoramic shots automatically in-camera. Users can quickly and easily apply these settings, as well as review and share photos on the high resolution 3-inch LCD screen.

The P300 also features several improved scene modes including Advanced Night Portrait mode, Night Landscape mode, and Backlight high dynamic range (HDR) mode. When Advanced Night Portrait mode is engaged, the camera combines multiple background shots along with a subject flash shot. In Backlight HDR mode, the P300 combines multiple shots at different exposures while Night Landscape mode combines multiple shots taken with a faster shutter speed for reduced noise and improved tonal range throughout the photo.

The P300 records high quality Full HD 1080p movies at 30 fps with autofocus, stereo sound and the ability to use the optical zoom. Additionally, the Special Effects mode and a Creative Slider mode will allow ever more creative freedom when recording both movies and still images. Users can also adjust the recording speed of their movies to apply slow motion or high-speed special effects.

Zoom’s the thing with new Nikon Coolpix models

Three new high-power, super-zoom Coolpix digital cameras, including one with a 36x zoom, the longest zoom ever integrated into a Coolpix camera, have been announced by Nikon Inc., Melville, N.Y.

At the core of these new Coolpix cameras are Nikkor lenses, delivering accurate detail, brilliant colour and amazing clarity, says the company. Further enhancing color and sharpness, Nikon’s Expeed C2 high performance digital image processing engine is implemented and custom-optimized for each Coolpix model to ensure high-quality pictures. The cameras offer a variety of functions such as the Scene Auto Selector, Best Shot Selector and Smart Portrait System.

Nikon Coolpix P500

The Coolpix P500 features a 36x wide-angle optical zoom Nikkor ED glass lens, from 22.5mm to 810mm (35mm equivalent), and 12.1-megapixel backside illumination CMOS sensor.

A first for the Coolpix line of digital cameras, the P500 features the Expeed C2 dual image processor that greatly enhances performance, reduces noise and corrects distortion in both movies and still images. For sharp photos and video, the P500 utilizes its hybrid vibration reduction (VR) stabilization system comprising both image-sensor shift VR and electronic VR. To further combat camera shake, an additional zoom control has been added to the side of the lens barrel to increase stability during handheld shooting.

Utilizing the high-speed continuous shooting performance of the CMOS sensor (capturing five images at full resolution in approximately one second), the P500 includes backlighting scene mode with an in-camera high dynamic range (HDR) function. For additional low-light performance, the Night Landscape mode combines a series of consecutive shots taken at a fast shutter speed into a single image with reduced noise when taking handheld shots in night scenes. Additionally, the advanced Night Portrait mode combines consecutive images of the background while the subject is captured using the flash to deliver beautiful night and indoor scenes.

A new shooting mode button facilitates quick setting of continuous frame shooting, in addition to the pre-shooting cache that starts to snap photos before the button is fully depressed. Additionally, a new mode dial enables easy setting of frequently used functions on the fly.

Other notable functions include full HD (1080p) movie recording with stereo sound and the ability to capture still images during recording, as well as the ability to utilize the expansive zoom range while recording, with autofocus. The camera can also adjust recording speed to create slow motion or high-speed special effects. The P500 includes a new Easy Panorama mode that creates dynamic panorama photos with a choice of directions and angles, automatically. The camera also features a 3-inch high resolution vari-angle monitor.

Nikon Coolpix S9100

The new Coolpix S9100 packs an 18x wide-angle zoom Nikkor ED glass lens into a stylish compact body, the most compact body of these three. The zoom covers wide-angle (25mm) to super-telephoto (450mm), features a 12.1-megapixel backside illuminated CMOS sensor and ISO sensitivity up to 3200. The Coolpix S9100 also includes backlighting scene mode with HDR functionality built-in, Night Landscape mode, Night Portrait mode and Nikon’s hybrid VR image stabilization system.

The camera has a 3-inch high resolution LCD monitor with an enhanced user interface that enables easy composing and viewing, as well as a mode dial for smooth setting of frequently used functions. The S9100 also includes full HD (1080p) movie recording with one-touch operation, optical zoom, stereo sound and the ability to capture still images during recording. There’s also a new Easy Panorama mode, and a variety of special effects for artistic photos and movies.

Nikon Coolpix L120

The Coolpix L120 features a 21x Wide-Angle Zoom Nikkor glass lens with side zoom control, 14.1-megapixel resolution, hybrid VR image stabilization system and high sensitivity up to ISO 6400 (reduced resolution); an Easy Auto mode that automatically selects the most appropriate scene mode by simply framing the subject; HD video (720p) with a simple one-touch control button; 3-inch high resolution LCD monitor; and a Pet Portrait mode that helpscapture the expressions and actions of dogs and cats automatically when detecting the pet’s face.

Four Nikon Coolpix cameras unveiled

Nikon Coolpix S6100

Four new Coolpix compact digital cameras have been announced by Nikon Inc., Melville, N.Y., the S6100, S4100, S3100, and L24. All cameras incorporate Nikkor lenses and Nikon’s Expeed C2 digital image processing engine which deliver high-quality pictures with accurate detail, striking colour and extraordinary sharpness. All four cameras include Scene Auto Selector or Easy Auto mode, which automatically recognizes the shooting situation and adjusts camera settings accordingly. To capture flattering portraits, the Smart Portrait System incorporates a series of automatic functions including In-Camera Red-Eye Fix, Face-Priority AF, Face Priority AE, Smile Mode, Blink Warning and Skin Softening. The S6100, S4100 and S3100 feature a new Pet Portrait mode that automatically takes a picture when detecting the pet’s face.

The Coolpix S6100 features the highest resolution ever seen in a Coolpix camera, 16-megapixels, which is paired with a 7x wide-angle optical Zoom-Nikkor ED glass lens; an enhanced touch-screen interface that utilizes tabs to open up screen space, making it easier than ever to preview full-screen shots on the 3-inch LCD without the clutter of excess icons.

Nikon Coolpix S4100

The Nikon Coolpix S4100 features an intuitive touch-screen interface for a seamless operation that makes it easy to compose and share images. The S4100’s bright 3-inch high resolution touch-screen is perfect for showcasing images and HD videos. Both the S4100 and S3100 are sleek and colourful compact cameras that feature 14-megapixel resolution with a 5x wide-angle Zoom-Nikkor glass lens. The super slim S3100 saves on space with a 2.7-inch LCD screen.

The Coolpix L24 continues the trend of premium styling for the Lifestyle-series class of Coolpix cameras. It has 14-megapixel resolution and 3.6x optical Zoom-Nikkor glass lens, and offers the options to record video.

Sony opens E-Mount specification for NEX optics

In April, Sony will disclose its basic specifications for the “E-mount” on its NEX interchangeable lens cameras and camcorder. This move will open the way for manufacturers of various lenses and mount adaptors, Sony says.

Sony “believes the growth of digital imaging products employing the E-mount will further increase the enjoyment of photography and video shooting among an even wider range of users,” the company says. Support from optics makers Carl Zeiss, Cosina, Sigma, and Tamron was featured in Sony’s announcement. Other interested can apply here.

This news follows announcements by optics makers Carl Zeiss and Schneider-Kreuznach that they will make lenses for Micro Four Thirds, the format competing with Sony’s NEX — both of which allow for interchangeable lenses without the older SLR moving mirror mechanism still used by Canon, Nikon, and others.

Olympus zooms 18x in 3D

Olympus VG-110

Olympus claims its SZ-10 is a lightweight, super-slim camera that “reinvents the ultra-zoom category.”

The $250 camera measures 4.2 by 2.6 by 1.5 inches — while its 18x lens zooms from 28-504mm [35mm equivalent]. A new 3D photo mode captures two shots of a scene from different angles to create an image with 3D depth.
The SZ-10 has a 14-megapixel sensor, 3-inch LCD, 720p HD video capture, and HDMI output.

Olympus also announced the VR-320 which has a 12.5x lens that zooms from 24mm-300mm [35mm equivalent] in an “ultra-compact all-metal body.” The $200 camera measures 4 by 2.3 by 1.1 inches. It has a 14-megapixel sensor, 3-inch LCD, and 720p video capture.
A Europe-only variant model, the VR-330, adds HDMI output and 3D still photo capture.

And finally: the VG-110 is a 12-megapixel camera measuring 3.6 by 2.1 by 0.8 inches. It has a 4x zoom, 2.7-inch LCD, VGA-only video, and a price tag of just $90.

Nikon zooms long: 36x

Among Nikon’s eight new camera announcements, three long-zoom models stand out.

The Coolpix P500’s 36x lens zooms from 23-810mm (35mm equivalent) — the longest zoom ever integrated into a Coolpix, Nikon says. Its hybrid vibration reduction stabilization system combines image-sensor shift and electronic VR.
The $400 camera combines dual image processors with a 12 megapixel backside-illuminated CMOS sensor for 3200 ISO sensitivity. It has 1080p video capture, a vari-angle 3-inch LCD, and measures 4.5 by 3.3 by 4.0 inches.

Two other long-zoom Coolpixes were announced:
The SLR-styled L120 has a 21x zoom, 14 megapixel CCD, 720p video capture, and 3-inch LCD, for $280.

Nikon packs a long zoom in many of its new models.

The compact S9100 has an 18x lens, twelve megapixel sensor, and 3-inch LCD, for $330. It measures 4.1 by 2.4 by 1.4 inches.

The company’s not just going long: The P300 has the widest aperture Nikkor lens ever seen in a Coolpix, Nikon says.
The camera has a 12 megapixel backside-illuminated CMOS sensor and a lens that zooms from 24-100mm (35mm equivalent) with a fast f/1.8 aperture at its widest, for ISO sensitivity up to 3200. It has a 3-inch LCD and captures 1080p video.
New modes include Advanced Night Portrait, which “captures the essence of night scenes” by combining multiple background shots along with a subject flash shot, and Night Landscape, which combines multiple shots taken with a faster shutter speed for reduced noise and improved tonal range throughout the photo.
The $330 model measures 4.1 by 2.3 by 1.3 inches.

Nikon also announced four new Coolpix compacts.
The S6100 has a 16 megapixel sensor and 7x lens for $200.
The S4100 combines a 14 megapixel CCD, 5x lens, and 3-inch touchscreen for $180.
The S3100 has a 14 megapixel sensor, 5x lens, and 2.7-inch LCD for $140.
The L24 also has a 14 megapixel sensor, with a 3.6x lens and 3-inch LCD, for $120.

PNI Digital Media optimizes online photo centers

PNI Digital Media, Vancouver, B.C., Canada, announced it is using the Strangeloop Site Optimizer to accelerate its websites.

The PNI Digital Media Platform allows the world’s largest retailers to offer personalized products such as photo prints and photo books, ordered online and produced on demand for pick up and purchase at a consumers preferred retail location. The PNI Digital Media Platform connects 14,000 retail locations, 9,000 of which offer a one-hour pick up of photo prints and photo gifts ordered online. The implementation of the Strangeloop Site Optimizer came just in time for PNI to take advantage of the peak holiday season, which typically sees more than 5 million image uploads and more than 150,000 orders during a single day.

After implementing Site Optimizer, PNI saw page load times improve by up to 50 percent for each online photo center. PNI also saved considerable development time, as it was no longer necessary to optimize each site for each specific browser.

PriceSmart announces 22 percent January increase

PriceSmart Inc., San Diego, Calif., saw net sales increase 22.8 percent to $130.7 million for January 2011, from $106.4 million in January a year earlier. For the four months ended Jan. 31, 2011, net sales increased 22.3 percent to $693.5 million from $567.1 million in the same period last year. There were 28 warehouse clubs in operation at the end of January 2011 compared to 26 warehouse clubs in operation in January 2010.

For the four weeks ended Jan. 30, 2011, comparable warehouse sales for warehouse clubs open at least 12 full months increased 17.1 percent compared to the same four-week period last year. For the twenty-one-week period ended January 30, 2011, comparable warehouse sales increased 16.6 percent compared to the comparable twenty-one-week period a year ago.

Digital Camera still top device for picture taking, reports NPD

While mobile phones continue to increase share of voice and share of image capture, the dedicated camera remains the image capture device of choice by most consumers, according to leading market research company The NPD Group’s December 2010 Imaging Confluence Study.

The device with the largest percentage of all photos taken was the digital still camera, at 51 percent. Close behind, however, was the mobile phone, at 42 percent. Demographics play a factor in which device consumers choose for image capture. 13-17 year-olds reported taking 54 percent of their photos with a mobile phone and 36 percent with a camera, while Moms reported taking 40 percent of their photos with a mobile phone and 55 percent with a camera.

As more devices are capable of both still and video capture, the usage pattern for video also skews towards cameras. There was nearly an even split among amount of video captured on mobile phone versus camera, at 35 percent phone/34 percent camera. Only 27 percent of video was reported being recorded on either a traditional or pocket camcorder.

When surveyed about the most important features in their next photo capture device (regardless of the actual device used), those favored by more than half of respondents included:

  • Ease of use
  • Long battery life
  • Easy to carry

These three attributes are easily satisfied by today’s smart phones.

But other highly sought-after qualities are those for which a dedicated camera is best suited:

  • High quality photos in low light environments
  • Optical zoom capability
  • Fast response time between pushing the button and capturing the image

“Mobile phones have allowed more people to capture spontaneous images and videos on the go; with increasingly better quality and the immediate gratification of instant sharing, the imaging industry benefits with more widespread enjoyment of photos and videos,” said Liz Cutting, executive director and senior imaging analyst at NPD. “But the future for dedicated cameras is bright, as their dual purpose of still and video capture opens the eyes of consumers to multimedia memories. Imaging marketers should capitalize on the need for better and more creative editing, sharing, archival and printing.”