Pentax Optio W60 – zoom underwater

PENTAX UK has today announced the release of the Optio W60 compact digital camera.  The W60 boasts improved underwater performance that enables it to operate at depths of 4 metres for up to 2 hours.  It has also been dust and sand proofed to a certified JIS Class 5 Standard and can operate in temperatures as cold as –10°C, making it the ideal choice for both winter and summer holidays, as well as water and extreme sports.

One of the lightest waterproof cameras ever developed, it features a 10 megapixel sensor for exceptionally sharp images. It has also been fitted with a newly developed 28mm wide angle lens, which incorporates an impressive 5x optical zoom.  The lens, designed specifically for the Optio W60, covers a focal range from 5mm to 25mm (approximately 28mm to 140mm in 35mm format) and features a refraction lens system so the lens never protrudes from the body while zooming. This flexibility enables the user to capture a wide variety of scenes, including expansive landscapes, architecture, and crystal clear telephoto shots.

In addition, the Optio W60 boasts enhanced video capabilities and can capture movies at resolutions as high as 1280 x 720 pixels, which is comparable to High Definition TV.  The movie function also incorporates Pentax’s Movie SR (Shake Reduction) technology, which automatically corrects camera shake, and has been optimised for use underwater with the Underwater Movie Mode, which makes use of specific settings for shooting.

The Optio W60’s Face Recognition AF & AE function has also been improved to deliver beautiful portrait shots from a single setting. The W60 can now automatically set the focus and exposure, so that it can detect up to 32 faces at one time – all in as little as 0.03 seconds.   This is complimented by a  SmileCapture mode, which waits until the subject is smiling before releasing the shutter, and Blinking Detection, which alerts the photographer if the subject blinked at the point of capture.

The camera also features advanced Auto Picture which automatically selects the optimal scene mode from seven different options – Flower, Sport, Night Landscape, Portrait, Night Scene, and Standard modes. It also has a highly sensitive Digital SR (Shake Reduction) mode, which compensates for camera shake and subject blurring during still-image photography. This mode automatically adjusts the sensitivity, up to a maximum of ISO 6400, in keeping with the subject’s brightness, to permit a fast enough shutter speed to capture a sharp, clear image. In addition, an electric shake reduction function corrects blurring in images during image playback.

Finally, the 2.5-inch high-resolution (approximately 230,000 dots) LCD monitor is finished with an AR (Anti-Reflection) coating that cuts glare from reflections of external light while being bright enough to be viewed easily even in bright sunlight. The monitor’s wide viewing angle — about 170° both horizontally and vertically — means photographers can conveniently check their shot from nearly any angle.

Other features

  1. Macro mode can be used as close as one centimeter away from a subject for stunning close-up shots
  2. Digital wide function merges two shots into one image for ultra-wide-angle expressions equivalent to a focal length of approx. 21mm in 35mm format
  3. Our proprietary SP (Super Protect) coating adds superior water repellency to the lens’s front protective glass to prevent water droplets from forming
  4. Optional Optio W60 Skin O-CC812 (sold separately) guards the camera from scratches and dirt
  5. Panorama mode stitches a series of up to three shots into one wide photo
  6. Intelligent zoom function extends the zoom range without compromising the optical zoom’s image quality
  7. Supports SD memory cards and SDHC memory cards
  8. Approximately 36.4 MB of built-in memory
  9. Frame composite function allows photographers to shoot and create images with decorative frames; 80 styles to choose from
  10. Date and Time imprint function for easy image categorizing
  11. Includes the ACDSee for PENTAX 3.0 image viewer/image management software, that supports Windows VistaTM
  12. Supports PictBridge, DPOF functions, Exif Print, and PRINT Image Matching

Epson Photoshop plug-in speed batch and multi printing

Epson has today launched an innovative new print plug-in for the Adobe Photoshop family of products that provides users with enhanced functionality and flexibility, making colour-managed printing quicker and easier. Engineered specifically for the popular Adobe Photoshop CS and Elements products, Epson designed the software to meet the needs of the users of its Stylus Pro 3800 and its A3+ printers, including the new Epson Stylus Photo R2880.

Mark Robinson, Senior Product Manager at Epson UK commented: “The new Epson plug-in provides an invaluable tool for the keen photographer, allowing them to increase their efficiency when printing a wide variety of projects.

“As an independent resource, the Epson Print Plug-In allows users to switch easily between its interface and Photoshop. This allows them to add images to the multi-image print easily and keep temporary images for reprint even if the plug-in window is closed. For many users, this functionality is highly valuable and could significantly enhance productivity.”

The Epson interface splits the printing workflow into three steps; image selection, layout selection/definition and printer settings and previewing, making the printing process simple and efficient. The window of each step is modular and can be minimised to optimise space on-screen.

The layout function automates the layout process, allowing users to select from three layout types; template, index and free layout, which can be arranged over multiple pages. Over 170 templates, ranging from credit card sizes to A2 are available as standard and users can even create custom templates and save them for regular use. Once the layout is selected, images are simply dragged and dropped into the template and can even be cropped as needed.

Colour management can be automated for both direct colour management using the printer driver, and ICC profile-based colour management. Users can also specify their own ICC profiles for specific print media. The preview function provides a fast and easy way to proof the final print layout before printing begins.

Mark Robinson continued: “The flexible workflow offered by the Epson Print Plug-In ensures maximum usability, making batch printing for projects such as exhibitions, calendars or portfolios quick and easy. As the plug-in is independent of Photoshop, images can be loaded in succession and the interface can be used to check and compare the various stages of editing.”

The new Epson Print Plug-In is available as a free web download from the Epson Europe website at www.epson-europe.com and supports Mac OS 10.4.3 – 10.4.10 (Tiger), Mac OS 10.5 (Leopard) and Windows XP SP2 and Vista.

Epson Print Plug-In key features summary:

  • Easy multiple image printing
  • Flexible multi-page layouts with three layout types
  • Resource independent for improved flexibility and usability
  • Simplified colour-managed printing, supporting both direct colour management and ICC profile management
  • ACE[1], Epson CMM, Windows ICM and Apple ColorSync colour management engines supported
  • Supports the Adobe Photoshop family of products: Adobe Photoshop CS2 (from 9.02), CS3, Adobe Elements 4 (from 4.01), 5 (from 5.02) and 6
  • Supports Epson Stylus Photo 1400, R1800, R1900, R2400, R2880 and Stylus Pro 3800
  • Supports Windows XP SP2, Vista; Mac OS 10.4.3 – 10.4.10 (Tiger) and 10.5 (Leopard)
  • Available in 7 languages: English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Dutch and Japanese
  • Available from 25 May 2008 as a free web download on www.epson-europe.com

Up to 20% price hike for Fuji films and papers

FUJIFILM UK Ltd. (Managing Director Hiroshi Saigusa) has announced that it is to increase prices on its range of photographic papers and films in the United Kingdom. The price changes are being implemented on a worldwide basis.

Prices will be increased from July 2008 and will range between 10% and 20% depending on the product group.

To sustain its photo imaging business, FUJIFILM has been undertaking intensive structural reforms to reduce fixed costs and improve productivity, and has been absorbing the increasing costs of raw materials used to manufacture films and papers over the past few years. However, the recent soaring costs of such materials as silver and crude oil mean that FUJIFILM is no longer able to absorb these costs during the production process.

FUJIFILM’S photographic paper and film continues to set the standard in terms of image quality and they are appreciated by professionals and enthusiasts alike. Fujifilm remains fully committed to this important market and plans to continue its product development of new photosensitive material.

The revealing pixel

Libraries like Alamy are demanding model releases even for crowd scenes now, if the image is to be sold as Royalty Free or offered with Rights Protection for commercial advertising. Either way, they want signed paper! This restricts all street scenes and many place-shots to Licensed (normal, editorial-only) status. Other libraries or portals will not accept unreleased people shots of any kind at all

The latest DSLRs – notably the Pentax K20D, Samsung GX20 and Sony Alpha 350 – offer over 14 megapixels in the small 1.5X factor format. Later this year we get 24 megapixels in full frame, but 14 on APS-C is higher density and will reveal more detail in the cropped area of the shot.

Puerto Rico beach on a Spanish bank holiday

Here, snapped with the Pentax K20D (14.6 megapixels) is a crowded beach in Gran Canaria on a Spanish bank holiday Sunday before Easter. At this stage it is relatively empty 🙂 No-one gives a second thought to a camera with an 18-55mm kit lens. It is not as if this overdressed British tourist is waving a big white tele at them.

What they do not realise is that every single person on this beach is identifiable right down to the wrinkles on their cellulite, and worse things. Today’s DSLRs can pull out a section worthy of Breughel (though parts look more like Bosch) and show as much detail as you would once have expected from rollfilm:

Moving in unfairly on targets

This is cropped and reduced from an export using Adobe Camera Raw from the original .PEF file up to 6144 pixels wide (75 megabytes file size) – to view the full size crop click the image. It is exported with Sharpening set to 0, NR set to 0, and no post processing is applied to enhance detail. It is, as you would expect, slightly softened by the anti-aliasing filter and de-Bayer process but with a wealth of detail present.

Ten years ago you would have been happy to see an 640 x 480 digital camera picture looking as sharp as this crop. So, given web use of images, the picture libraries are right. A model release is needed for any commercial use of any scenes with people in, no matter how many people and how far away.

Today’s and tomorrow’s digital SLRs are going to capture scenes the photographer is not even able to spot when composing the shot, and may cause anything from embarassment to lawsuits because of the clarity of their information.

Be warned! And remember, too much sunbathing is damaging. Cover up…

– David Kilpatrick

Photomart seminars day

Photographic supplier www.photomart.co.uk is to hold a “Summer Show”, a
bumper day of photo workshops, in its huge London showrooms on June 18,
2008.

An all-star cast of photographers – including Keith Trainor, Jon Gray,
and Ian Brierley – will present a variety of photo workshops sponsored
by manufacturers including BOWENS, ExpressDigital, Fujifilm, ICI and
SONY, on topics ranging from Event Photography to Studio Lighting, Wide
Format & Canvas Printing, and Workflow Productivity.

Free food and refreshments will be provided throughout the day, and
www.photomart.co.uk are giving 15% off most accessories and consumables
purchased at the workshops.

A single ticket grants entry to any workshop, and all are presented
twice on the day (once in the morning, once in the afternoon). That
means you should be able to attend at least two different ones.

Tickets, priced at just £50 +vat, can be booked from the
www.photomart.co.uk website. (Directions to the London venue are there
too.) Just type the search code “SUMMER08” into the Search Box on the
www.photomart.co.uk website.