Ricoh seal the future of interchangeable lenses

Tokyo, Japan, November 10, 2009—Ricoh Co., Ltd. (president and CEO: Shiro Kondo) today announced the development and release of the GXR interchangeable unit camera system featuring the world’s smallest and lightest* digital camera with the ability to change lenses.

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The new GXR is an interchangeable unit camera system in which lenses are changed by using a slide-in mount system to attach camera units to the body. The lens, image sensor, and image processing engine are integrated into the camera units so the body itself does not contain an image sensor.

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With world-leading small size and low weight* enabling easy carrying, the GXR interchangeable unit camera system features a highly rigid magnesium alloy body and multiple camera units that can be changed to best fit the scene to be photographed. You can enjoy easy lens changes as well as amazing image quality and shooting flexibility. Concealing infinite possibilities in its small body, the GXR is a revolutionary camera system that pioneers a new realm of photography.

Distinctive characteristics:
1.    Lens, image sensor, and image processing engine comprise an integrated unit which can be changed to match the scene being photographed.
2.    World’s smallest and lightest* digital camera with interchangeable lenses
3.    System potential expanded through use of interchangeable units

Comment from David Kilpatrick:

Though the Ricoh system as revealed through this press release appears to show only a GR-size body with a zoom lens module suitable for a 2/3rds or slightly smaller imaging sensor, Ricoh has said that sensors right up to the size of APS-C will be built in to further lens modules. The ultra-wide angle version would have an APS-C sensor making similar to the Sigma DP-1. For similar reasons, high ISO and fast lens may be combined with a different size of sensor.

This is not the first time a digital camera has been designed with lens-sensor modules that could be changed. The Minolta Dimage EX 1500 accepted either a standard zoom module, or a wide-angle module. These included viewfinders (missing from the Ricoh concept, which relies entirely on the rear screen or electronic viewfinders) and had the unique ability to be removed from the camera on a 1.5m long Cable EX. This allowed users to position the wide-angle module inside scale models, doll’s houses and similar subjects to obtain realistic human-scale perspectives. It was only a 1.5 megapixel camera, and Minolta abandoned the concept before they had a chance to develop it further, whatever dPreview said ten years ago:

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/minolta1500/

The technology behind the Ricoh is not all that different from the way consumer digital cameras are constructed anyway. Lenses are already sold sealed to CCD/CMOS sensors, as a single unit. That is how the OEM sources of the lens-sensor modules market them. At photokina, you can see (every two years) a new crop of such modules with both the technical resolution specs of the optical unit and the megapixel count of the sensor, identifiable to this non-Chinese/Japanese reader in the middle of a description which is usually inb Chinese. In 2006, I tracked such a module from its maker to the first camera I could find which used it – a compact branded as Vivitar. The customisation consisted of building any body the maker chose to design, and putting a ring on the lens front labelling it is a high resolution Vivitar lens; actually, it was just a generic lens-sensor assembly from China.

Ricoh has also pioneered unusual digital designs in the past, including rotatable or detachable lens modules and one of the first viewfinder-less designs, where the viewing screen was intended to be used at waist-level rather than today’s habit of waving the camera in front of your face.

This differs from anything previously done in the power of the CPU unit in each lens, and control module with screen display and card interface in the host body. It should allow any reasonable pixel count and sensor size to be built in to future optical modules. If the accessories do eventually include dedicated APS-C lens-sensor sealed modules, ‘dust on sensor’ will be one clear benefit (or the lack of it will). A supertelephoto module is also planned which will use a sensor smaller than APS-C.

Sigma’s DP2 – Camera less obscure

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Sigma’s DP1 was launched in 2007 (with production models available in 2008) to great critical acclaim. occupying a unique spot in the marketplace by combining an APS-C format sensor with a compact “point and shoot” style body. There were a few controversial design choices, and the user and reviewer feedback varied greatly with the time and effort people were prepared to put in learning about the camera, yet the verdicts on the optical performance were united – the DP1 was astounding. Now the DP2 has arrived, with production-quality units available from UK retailers.
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Canon EOS 500D video test

The clip originally shown here has been replaced by an edited selection, shot in a mixture of 1080 and 720 modes, assembled using iMovie and written as a 720p final project for YouTube. Don’t mean to cause confusion, some visitors may have linked to this post already, and I do not want to add another post. Please feel free to link directly to the YouTube vid or to this page.

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Nikon D5000: live view, HDv, articulated screen

Nikon UK is pleased to announce the D5000, its latest digital SLR camera that is perfect for capturing family fun and developing the skills of photography hobbyists. Packed with features that make taking pictures easy and fun, this camera stands out above the competition with its unique Vari-angle LCD monitor, allowing you to shoot easily from almost any angle. (Press release from Nikon UK, April 14th).

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Adobe Camera Raw 5.2 for CS4 only

As expected, Adobe has again ‘broken’ the continuity of support for users of earlier versions of their Photoshop CS and Elements programs; the new ACR release to handle the forthcoming EOS 5D Mark II (which Canon tell us is not likely to be on sale in the UK before January) will require an upgrade to CS4 (minimum £300 in the UK) or Elements (no upgrade path offered, just buy a new copy every time they do this). Lightroom users, as has happened before, must wait for their own update.

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Track your bag by satellite

TRAAKiT is a revolutionary new satellite alerting device which gives you peace of mind by keeping watch over almost anything you want and alerting you if it is moved.

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Kodak wedding camera for guests

Kodak is introducing a new Single Use Camera in a distinctive design especially for the wedding market. The KODAK Wedding Single Use Camera features elegant white roses on a silver body – a subtle, sophisticated design for any wedding. Combining style and quality, this latest addition to Kodak’s single use camera portfolio includes one of the best films available, Kodak’s 800–speed film, which provides unbeatable clarity and sharpness to produce the highest quality prints.

Single use cameras adorn wedding tables across Europe but many are low-cost products which match the decor but lead to disappointing prints,” said Oreste Maspes, Director of Kodak Film Group Europe. “Brides need products they can trust on their big day and, with the introduction of the KODAK Wedding Single Use Camera, brides and wedding planners need not choose between style and substance. The new designs are elegant and will look good on any table which means the happy couple can trust that Kodak has blended looks, convenience and the unbeatable quality of KODAK Film in one package.”

The new KODAK Wedding Single Use Camera is available for purchase in 10-pack increments exclusively online at http://www.kodak.com/go/SingleUseCamera through the Kodak Store. To mark the launch, Kodak is offering customers a saving of £40 on each 10 cameras pack (instead of £80, customers will only pay £40). The offer is available from June 12 until August 31, 2008.

In addition to the sophisticated new look, the camera boasts an easy-to-use design. Placed on tables at wedding receptions, guests of all ages can easily capture wonderfully informal shots that perfectly compliment the formal photographs of the day. Once printed, the newlyweds have a record of their special day through their loved ones’ eyes. Favourite candid images can be scanned and uploaded to a PC for inclusion in thank-you cards, photobooks and even canvases.

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

Adobe Camera Raw 4.4 released

Adobe has released updates to Photoshop Lightroom and the Photoshop Camera Raw plug-in, both available immediately as free upgrades for existing users. The releases provide added raw file support for nine additional digital cameras, including the Canon EOS 450D and Nikon D60. Lightroom 1.4 also provides updated printer driver compatibility for Apple Leopard Mac OS X 10.5.

The camera raw functionality in the Adobe Photoshop software, including Photoshop Lightroom, Photoshop CS3 and Photoshop Elements, provides fast and easy access to the latest raw image formats produced by many leading professional and midrange digital cameras. Working with these digital negatives allows greater artistic control and flexibility while still maintaining the original raw files. Photoshop Lightroom and the Camera Raw plug-in also support the same functionality for TIFF and JPEG files.

The Lightroom 1.4 update and Camera Raw 4.4 plug-in add support for nine additional digital cameras including the Canon EOS 450D (Digital Rebel XSi /EOS Kiss X2), Fujifilm S100FS, Nikon D60, Olympus SP-570 UZ, Pentax K20D, Pentax K200D, Sony A200, Sony A300 and Sony A350.

Pricing and Availability

The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 1.4 update is available as a free download for existing Macintosh and Windows customers on http://www.adobe.com/downloads.  Recommended system requirements are Macintosh OSX 10.4, 1 GHz PowerPC G4 or G5 or multicore Intel processor, or Microsoft Windows XP SP2 or Windows Vista Home Premium, Business, Ultimate, or Enterprise, Intel Pentium 4 processor, 768 MB RAM and a 1024×768 resolution screen.

The Adobe Camera Raw 4.4 plug-in is available with the purchase of Photoshop CS3 and as a free download for users of Photoshop CS3 Photoshop Elements 6 and Premiere Elements 4 by going to the Adobe Web site at www.adobe.com/products/photoshop/cameraraw.html

British police target 'suspicious' photographers

A five-week London Metropolitan Police poster and advert campaign started this month asking the public to report suspicious behaviour – and one of the three ‘themes’ is odd looking people using cameras. Continue reading