...from the BIG Photokina show
Digital sex appeal: The very cool-looking Rollei d530 flex is billed as the only German-manufactured digital camera in the world and should be appearing at U.S. dealers as you read this. The 5MP SLR (and yes, it's a genuine optical reflex, not an electronic viewfinder) uses a PCMCIA Type II interface, which means you can use a variety of storage media via an adapter: CompactFlash, IBM microdrive, SmartMedia, etc. A nearly antiquated built-in SCSI connector lets you also tether directly to a PC or Mac for direct data transfer and remote control. Lens is a 40-120mm (equivalent) f/2.8-4 Rollei D-Variogon HFT, and image playback is on a nice big 2.5-inch LCD monitor. Selling price is expected to be in the $2,800 range.
The luxe-level, titanium-bodied Contax T VS Digital we told you about last month somewhat overshadowed another hot little 5MP camera from Kyocera, the Finecam S5. Billed as "the world's smallest 5-megapixel digital camera" (Kyocera will need to speak to Konica on this-read a little further), the S5 is indeed tiny (it can hide under a credit card) and lightweight (8 1/2 ounces). It has a 3X optical zoom (equivalent to 35-105mm in 35mm), a 4X digital zoom, and the expected bells and whistles, such as AVI movie mode and voice messaging. A new up-and-coming feature: you can downsize images in playback mode to gain memory space, or for fast transmittal. (The S5 uses the Secure Digital or MultiMedia wafer cards.) Kyocera says its redesigned lithium-ion battery will provide 180 minutes of continuous playback, and that the "Day Fine" 1.6-inch LCD monitor can be viewed easily in bright daylight. Street price will be under $600; the new Finecam S3L has mostly the same features and 3MP resolution for under $400 retail. Street price of the Contax T VS Digital, by the way, will be around $1,000.
World's smallest 5MP?
Call in the calipers (or a mediation team), because Konica says its new Digital Revio KD-500Z is-yep-the world's smallest 5-megapixel digital camera-the same claim Kyocera makes for its S5. We'll be diplomatic and say that the new Konica is equally tiny, with its own distinct personality due to its clamshell design-similar to the Revio 430, but in a smoke-gray stainless finish. Lens is a 39-117mm equivalent, augmented by a 3X digital zoom. Signature feature here is a dual slot that allows use of either a Memory Stick or SD/MMC card. Movie clip as well as voice note recording are here, as is image resizing. Power is via a proprietary lithium-ion rechargeable. The KD-500Z has a suggested retail of $650, which includes Adobe Photoshop Elements software.
Pixels in your pocket
The Casio QV-5700 is Son of QV-4000-the appearance, size, and control layout of the well-regarded 4000 stay pretty much the same, but the CCD imager gets a boost to a full 5MP of picture power. This coat-pocket-sized camera allows everything from point-and-shoot automation to full manual control with a wide array of options in between, including an intriguing variation on the Best Shot mode: A CD provided with the camera allows you to load the camera memory with any of about 100 highly specific scene settings-indoor sports arenas, for example, or architecture. You can also program your own custom setting into memory. The 3X optical zoom is the equivalent of 34-102mm. The QV-5000 uses Type I or II CF cards, including IBM microdrives, and the camera runs on four supplied NiMH rechargeables. Street price is expected at $800.
In pocketable point-and-shoots, Casio showed the new QV-R4 and QV-R3 cameras, metal-bodied 3X zoom cuties with 4MP and 3MP resolution, respectively. They have a certain similarity to Pentax Optio models-in fact, they sport Pentax lenses. Street prices around $500 and $400.
Digitless digital video
Gary Regester, once the driving force behind the Plume and Chimera lines of studio gear, had a thought: If handholding his camcorder resulted in jittery video clips, why not support his mini-DV machine with a more stable appendage-his forearm? The result is the Regester Handi-Pod II, a lightweight metal bracket that uses a canvas strap and a few patches of Velcro to clamp around a photographer's forearm (see photo of prototype). The bracket has a ribbed rubber grip and is topped by a circular camera platform with a ¼ -20 tripod bolt. We've seen the Handi-Pod II in action and can attest that it will support a Mini DV-sized camcorder with minimal help from a videographer's tremble-prone hand. The only requirement? It helps to have a camcorder with a flip-out monitor for viewing. For information about pricing and availability of Regester's latest camera support, contact him at email@example.com.
Konica marketed a single-use camera with a 17mm wide-angle lens some years ago, but it was set up for pseudo-panorama format only. But now the 17mm camera is back, this time using the full 24x36mm frame area. The appropriately named Film-In Superwide is being marketed as a group self-portrait camera, because a 17mm lens can easily take in three people in a waist-up portrait at arm's length! To help with composition, a mirror around the lens shows you what's in the picture. You can turn it around and shoot the Grand Canyon, too. It's Loaded with 27 exposures of Konica's fast and good Centuria 800 film. No plans for U.S. intro yet, but stay tuned.
Pixels in a clamshell
Here's another pocketable, 3X zoom 5-megapixel camera, but in that unmistakable Olympus clamshell style (or should we say Stylus?). The C-50 Zoom uses the newish xD Picture Card, an itty-bitty storage medium that allows for yet more downsizing. The 38-114mm (equivalent) zoom can be boosted electronically via a 4X digital zoom. Besides five scene-specific auto settings, the "My Mode" lets you program your specific settings for quick recall. Serious shooters can opt for a variety of overrides and full manual operation. It has video clip with sound, panoramic stitching, that sort of thing. It uses a proprietary Li-ion battery. Street price should be $599.
Hail, Your Tininess!
Lots of digicams call themselves "card size" these days, but the Konica Revio C2, at 13.5mm thick (an eyelash over a half-inch) is, by our reckoning, the thickness of about 10 credit cards. More amazing is the weight-under 2 1/2 ounces. This 1.2MP camera achieves its svelteness by being rather basic-it has no removable media, just a not-so-big internal memory of 14Mb, and downloads only via USB cable-but it has a fast f/2.8 lens (37mm equivalent), and can take a half-res movie clip up to a blistering 10 sec. Price to be announced.
Teensy multifeatured meter
There have been many exposure meters small enough to tote on a key chain. But Gossen's matchbox-sized mini Digisix ($109), weighing only 1.5 ounces, is far more than a simple tiny meter. Within this tiny black plastic casing you'll find reflective and incident light meters offering digital EV readouts (that you transfer to analog dials), a timer, an alarm clock, even a digital thermometer! Shutter speeds range from 1/2000 sec to 4 min for film speeds between ISO 6 and 3200 in light from EV 0-18. Want more? The Digisix, which is sold with case and strap, has accessories! Check out the hot-shoe adapter, for one, at www.bogenphoto.com.
Location shooters who photograph itty-bitty objects, meet Novoflex's inexpensive Magic Studio. Unlike most portable backgrounds, this Lilliputian sweep of flexible, off-white plastic requires no stands or poles, and no cloth or paper backdrops. You simply bend it into the shape of a seamless sweep, and lock it in place with cords of beaded plastic (see photo). When photography is finished, release the cords, and the Magic Studio resumes its flat, transportable shape. Small enough to fit inside the average light case, it comes in two sizes (19 ½ or 11 ¾ inches wide) and is either translucent or opaque ($44-$72). Novoflex's mini sweep can also be suspended for bottom lighting using an optional fold-up frame. Availability? Check www.hpmarketingcorp.com or call 973-808-9010.
Paper to the people!
If you've owned an inkjet printer for very long, you know why its special inks and papers are called consumables: They consume your cash! Finally, one of the major players is addressing the inkjet consumables problem. Kodak's new Anytime Picture Paper, specially designed for printing photos, is said to be quick drying, has a surface described as soft gloss, and is available in 20 8 1/2 x 11 sheet packets for-drum roll please-$5.99.
With sinking hearts, we learned that Kodak has given the boot to its popular, sweeeeetly saturated pro slide films, Ektachrome E100S and E100SW. Our funk lasted only a moment, though, because we then heard that Kodak is replacing them with E100G and E100GX, E-6 films of similar color dispositions (G=saturated, GX=saturated and warm), but finer grain. With an RMS granularity rating of 8, Kodak claims the new color reversal films have visibly finer grain than S and SW (RMS: 10). Available in most popular sizes (35mm, 120, 220, and cut sheets), the newcomers join extra-vivid E100VS and the push-ready E200 in Kodak's E-6 pro lineup. The "G"? It stands for "grain."
New to digital photography? Want to get the most out of your digital ZLR or SLR? Check out the instructional DVDs from www.ShootSmarter.com. Distributed by Mamiya America, the most recent are titled "Digital Portrait Basics, Level 1" and "Pro Digital Basics." Produced by Chicago commercial photographer Will Crockett, the videos will help newbies and established shooters make their way across the digital frontier. "Portrait Basics" ($45) talks about effective lighting, metering, and exposure, and is the first in a planned series. "Pro Basics" ($45) teaches you to interpret a histogram and establish a white balance, among other digital challenges. Additional ShootSmarter DVDs explore color management and flash meter calibration. For additional info, contact Mamiya America at 914-347-3300 or visit www.shootsmarter.com on the web.
Of the image-management software packages we've tested, ACDSee is consistently among the top, so we have high hopes for its latest incarnation, ACDSee 5.0. Chief among its new tools: a Calendar view that displays photos chronologically in a calendar-like grid; newly streamlined ways to assign multiple, customized categories and key words to photos and groups of photos; faster processing speeds; and more easily customized interfaces. The best part? Like ACDSee 4.0, the new program accepts numerous modular plug-ins to enhance printing, image editing, and presentation abilities. The price? Still under $50. For more, visit their web site at www.acdsystems.com.