Lexar Ships 300x And 600x CompactFlash Cards For Pro Shooters

by Ray Willington

Secure Digital cards may be all the rage these days, but true photographing professionals probably have no interest. Even today, most higher-end DSLRs use CompactFlash cards alone, and if you rely on rapid-fire continuous shooting to get “the perfect shot,” Lexar’s new pair of cards might be worth a look. The company is today revealed that their Professional ExpressCard CF Reader and Professional 600x and 300x 32GB cards are now available in traditional and online retail channels.

Both cards offer increased speed and performance, with a guaranteed minimum sustained write speed capability of 90MB/s and 45MB/s, respectively, when paired with an UDMA 6-enabled device. There’s also a high-speed reader to take those images from card-to-PC more quickly, with the Lexar Professional ExpressCard CF Reader being compatible with all UDMA and non-UDMA CF cards, supporting read/write speeds up to 133MB/s, and featuring a design with an extra deep card slot for added card protection. Pricing has yet to be made public, but any pro knows these high-capacity, high-speed cards don’t come cheap.

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Leica V-Lux 20 superzoom compact with GPS tagging

The 12x superzoom Leica V-Lux 20 12.1 megapixel compact camera

By Paul Ridden

erman camera specialist Leica has announced its first compact superzoom in the form of the 12.1 megapixel V-Lux 20. The new addition to the Leica family not only benefits from 12x optical zoom and 720p HD video capabilities but also features built-in GPS tagging for recording the exact geographical location of each snap taken.

If you’re thinking that the V-Lux 20 looks somewhat familiar, you’d be right. Spec for spec it’s almost the same as the less expensive and slightly smaller Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS7 announced in January but sports a Leica brand logo instead and doesn’t benefit from Panasonic’s AVCHD Lite video movie format. Other than that the main features are, somewhat disappointingly, the same.

Both cameras have a 1/2.33in CCD sensor with 14.5 million total pixels (12.1 million effective), a LEICA DC-VARIO-ELMAR 4.1-49.2mm f/3.3-4.9 ASPH 12x optical zoom lens with a focal range of 25-300mm (35mm equivalent), an ISO80 to 1600 sensitivity range and a 3in 460,800 dot LCD display with 100 percent field view. Integrated image stabilization, face recognition, automatic scene modes and smart exposure should ensure good picture quality and memory card support includes SDXC. Connectivity options are covered by USB 2.0, HDMI and AV out.

GPS tagging co-ordinates are automatically added to the Exif data of each photo “ensuring the user always has a useful and accurate record of their trip”. And of course, including such information in a photo means that if it’s uploaded to social media or sharing sites on the internet, “the data automatically reveals exactly when and where the photos were taken”. Additionally, the camera can display up to 500,000 points of interest spread across 73 countries to help users find interesting photo opportunity.

Those with a requirement for a little more than mere point and shoot automatic settings will be pleased to find Program, Manual, Shutter and Aperture options available via the familiar dial on the camera’s top. And for capturing those movie moments in high definition, Leica‘s V-Lux 20 offers its 720p HD video at 60 frames per second in QuickTime Motion JPEG format (whereas the ZS7 records to the more advanced AVCHD Lite format).

The matt black 4 x 2.4 x 1.3in V-Lux 20 will ship with Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 and will be available shortly for US$699.

http://www.gizmag.com/leica-vlux20-superzoom-gps-tagging/14909/

Will the ARRI Alexa finally kill film?

ARRI Alexa platform is a new generation of high-end digital movie cameras

By Alan Brandon

Motion picture equipment manufacturer ARRI is set to release its new high-end digital movie camera, known as the Alexa, and some people in the industry are calling it the final nail in film cinematography’s coffin. Sure, we’ve heard that prediction before but early hands-on reports of the Alexa seem to back it up. Final details have not been officially released, but so far we know the Alexa platform will have a 35mm-size 3.5k pixel sensor with 800ASA sensitivity, onboard HD recording, and shooting speeds up to 60fps.

ARRI held the “world premiere” of the Alexa prototype in February at the AFC (Association of French Cinematographers) event held in Paris. More than 200 professional Directors of Photography had the opportunity to get a hands-on demonstration of the new digital camera system.

ARRI is certainly no stranger to the motion picture industry. The Munich, Germany, based company already offers another digital camera, the Arriflex D-21. The company also makes film cameras, lighting fixtures, and digital image processing systems.

ARRI is releasing three Alexa cameras over the course of 2010. The base model is the A-EV, which will shoot from 1 to 60fps and features a 16:9 aspect ratio, electronic viewfinder, and onboard HD recording. The A-EV Plus model adds uncompressed onboard HD recording as well as wireless remote control capability. The A-OV Plus has all that, but adds an optical viewfinder and shoots with a 4:3 aspect ratio.

All three models will feature the same ARRI Alev III CMOS sensor, which is a full-frame 35mm size and has a 3.5K pixel count. ARRI claims the chip’s sensitivity is 800EI (exposure index; comparable to an ASA or ISO speed rating). The low-noise sensor uses a dual-gain architecture (DGA) for extended range (up to 13 stops). ARRI’s electronic viewfinder is an LED-lit F-LCOS micro display with automatic calibration and high-quality coated glass optics.

Hands-on reports say the Alexa’s controls are similar to a film camera and include FPS, shutter, EI, and WB (white balance). Buttons control the functions and an LCD display shows all the camera settings at once.

The ARRI Alexa platform is aimed squarely at the RED ONE digital camera, itself already well established in the movie industry. RED digital cameras have been used by directors such as Steven Soderbergh, and on feature movies including Angels & Demons. ARRI has designed the Alexa for shooting feature movies, television dramas, and commercials.

The ARRI Alexa cameras will be officially launched at the NAB show in April 2010, and complete details are expected then. The A-EV will be available in June 2010, with the A-EV Plus available in September, and the A-OV Plus due in December. Prices are expected to start at US$69000.

For more information visit www.arridigital.com.

Follow link for Video -> http://www.gizmag.com/arri-alexa/14543/

Fujifilm’s FinePix Z700EXR – a Touch of Class

Fun NEW Features
Taking Face detection technology to the next level, Face Recognition technology has been developed by Fujifilm which allows you to pre-programme the Z700EXR to recognise up to eight people. Once you have set it up it will optimise the settings to ensure that your favourite people are always given preference when the camera is calculating focus and exposure.

In playback mode you can use a new Picture Search tool to search by name, for example bring up all the photos with ‘Tom’ in them. In addition you can also use this search function to sort by Scene type (Macro, Landscape, Portrait etc), and even by images that have been earmarked for Facebook upload.

The Z700EXR isn’t just all about people; it’s got some clever Pet Detection technology, too. This works in a similar way to Face Detection technology, and can identify up to ten cats or dogs in a scene and optimises the settings for your four-legged friends rather than any distracting background. So, whether you’re snapping your feline friends or in true Paris Hilton style capturing a portrait of your pooch, you can be sure your pet pictures are immaculate.

Key features:

  • 12 Megapixel Super CCD EXR sensor
  • Fujinon 5x zoom lens (36-180mm equivalent)
  • 3.5 inch wide 460K dot touch screen LCD
  • Dual Image Stabilisation – CCD shift
  • 720p HD capture for stills and movies
  • ISO sensitivity to 3200
  • EXR Auto
  • Up to 400% expanded dynamic range
  • NEW Easy Web Upload function
  • NEW Face Recognition
  • NEW Pet Detection
  • NEW Image Search
  • NEW Dual Direction GUI and Dual Image Display
  • Pro Low-light Mode
  • Face Detection
  • Natural Light with Flash
  • Auto Picture Rotate

February 2, 2010: Fujifilm are proud to announce the launch of the FinePix Z700EXR, the first in a new class of EXR touch screen camera. Combining beautiful styling, award-winning EXR sensor technology and showcasing a gorgeous 3.5 inch touch screen LCD and a new YouTube/Facebook easy web upload tool, the Z700EXR really is a joy to handle.

With advanced features including an internal Fujinon 5x zoom lens, 12 megapixel resolution, 720p HD image capture, ISO to 3200 at full resolution and Dual Image Stabilisation, the Z700EXR will produce images that are just as magnificent as the camera itself.

Beautiful to look at, beautiful to use
The FinePix Z700EXR’s sensational design oozes luxury. The 16.7mm slim metal body features a smart horizontal lens cover with wave detail, which neatly acts as the on/off switch with a cool “Z” motif that lights up when the camera is in operation. And thanks to its petite build, it can be slipped in to any pocket or bag so it’s always ready for action.

However, the Z700EXR’s real talking point is its intuitive touch screen technology. The 3.5 inch touch screen display panel facilitates effortless navigation of the camera’s many functions. This responsive touch screen not only lets you take and view photos at the touch of a finger, but also provides a large, bright screen to compose and admire your photos.

With the addition of new Dual Direction GUI and Dual Image Display travelling though the Z700EXR’s functions is smooth and easy; Dual Direction GUI detects the orientation of the camera and automatically switches the direction of the menu button accordingly (for shooting, playback, multi-viewing and image search), while Dual Image Display splits the screen in various ways to view multiple images at once, so you can scroll through your images quickly and easily to locate the one you are looking for.

Advanced features at your fingertips
Inside the slim metal chassis hides a generous, high-quality Fujinon 5x zoom lens (36-180mm equivalent). These world renowned high-precision optics will deliver pin-sharp results across the entire zoom range, be in dramatic close-up shots or wide-angle compositions.

What’s more, the Z700EXR incorporates Fujifilm’s award-winning Super CCD EXR sensor, prized for bringing a new level of image quality to the consumer compact market. EXR has the unique ability to switch its behaviour dependent on the shooting conditions; it can be left on EXR Auto, or alternatively you can manually select the EXR Priority mode for high resolution (HR), dynamic range (DR) or high sensitivity and low noise (SN).

The Z700EXR features Dual Image Stabilisation (CCD-shift) to minimise image blur. With high sensitivity settings up to ISO 3200 at full resolution, this camera is an excellent low-light performer. Additionally, it features Pro Low-light Mode which uses multi-frame technology to produce images with impressive clarity at high ISO levels, perfect when shooting subjects like cityscapes in poor light conditions.

High Performance meets HD
HD is a must-have for the Z700EXR’s target audience. With 720p HD image and movie capture, they can rest assured that their memories are being captured in HD and they will be able to re-live them in glorious high definition on any HD ready television*1.

NEW Facebook & YouTube Folders
Fujifilm has introduced a new Facebook/YouTube Easy Upload feature which again is perfectly suited to the target audience of this product. Users can mark their favourite images and videos to a Facebook folder or YouTube folder so they are all ready to go when they next connect to their computer. No more time is wasted sorting through pictures on the computer – just connect to MyFinePix Studio (supplied with the camera), and all marked images and videos will upload directly to the respective site at the press of a button.

Fun NEW Features
Taking Face detection technology to the next level, Face Recognition technology has been developed by Fujifilm which allows you to pre-programme the Z700EXR to recognise up to eight people. Once you have set it up it will optimise the settings to ensure that your favourite people are always given preference when the camera is calculating focus and exposure.

In playback mode you can use a new Picture Search tool to search by name, for example bring up all the photos with ‘Tom’ in them. In addition you can also use this search function to sort by Scene type (Macro, Landscape, Portrait etc), and even by images that have been earmarked for Facebook upload.

The Z700EXR isn’t just all about people; it’s got some clever Pet Detection technology, too. This works in a similar way to Face Detection technology, and can identify up to ten cats or dogs in a scene and optimises the settings for your four-legged friends rather than any distracting background. So, whether you’re snapping your feline friends or in true Paris Hilton style capturing a portrait of your pooch, you can be sure your pet pictures are immaculate.

http://www.dpreview.com/news/1002/10020204fujifinepixz700z70.asp

Finger Fail: Why Most Touchscreens Miss the Point

By Priya Ganapati

You’re not crazy, and neither are we: The touchscreen on the Apple iPhone really is more responsive than the screens on the BlackBerry Storm, the Motorola Droid, the Nexus One and many other phones, even though all of these devices use essentially the same touch-sensing hardware.

Though handset makers buy their touchscreens as components from the same select pool of suppliers, a good touchscreen experience requires more than just hardware. It requires a bit of design alchemy blending software, engineering and calibration for the perfect feel. Few smartphone makers have managed to get that balance right, say experts.

“If you think that no other touchscreen out there is as good as the iPhone, its not all your in your head,” says Chris Verplaetse, vice president of the Moto Development Group, a product design and development firm. “It’s like asking what makes a Mercedes door close like a Mercedes door and a Hyundai door close like one though they use the same steel. There’s clearly a difference.”

Variables include engineering details such the calibration of the touch sensor so it can separate the signal from the noise, the quality of the firmware and the level of integration of the touch experience into the phone’s user interface. There are also more difficult-to-quantify things such as as the level of the company’s commitment to making the best touchscreen experience possible.

“Many layers account account for the performance of a touchscreen,” says Verplaetse. “But it all comes down to how well the electronics and the mechanical hardware are integrated.”

As cellphones became more powerful, allowing users to surf the internet and check e-mail, handset makers started to add touch capability to their phones.  The earliest screens were resistive touchscreens, where two thin metallic layers are separated by a narrow gap. A finger pushing down on the top layer makes contact with the bottom surface and the point of contact is computed by the accompanying electronics.

But resistive touchscreens didn’t make most consumers happy because they weren’t responsive enough — you had to really push and hammer away at the display with your fingernail or a stylus to get it to respond.

The capacitive touchscreen in Apple’s iPhone changed the game, because it’s not pressure-sensitive. Instead, this kind of technology responds to the electrical properties of your skin, not the pressure of your finger, to figure out where you’re touching the screen. For the first time, just a light tap could open an application or a flicking gesture could get the screen scrolling. Best of all, it seemed effortless.

A projected capacitive touchscreen — the kind that’s usually used in phones — has a glass insulator coated with a transparent conductive layer. The layer is etched into a gridlike pattern. When a finger touches the surface of the screen, it distorts the electrostatic field. That can be measured as a change in capacitance.  The location of the touch is computed and it is passed on to a software application that relates the touch into actions for the device.

In theory, all capacitive touchscreens should offer consumers the same experience, but they rarely do, says Andrew Hsu, a technology strategist for Synaptics, one of the biggest touchscreen component makers.

“Capacitive touch-based handsets involve a lot of development work and quite a bit of engineering expertise in order to give them their ‘magical’ quality,” says Hsu.

It’s Not Just About Hardware

Smartphone users have no way to measure exactly how well the capacitive sensor system on their phone is actually working. Their perception is based on the feedback they see on the screen, says Hsu. That means a touchscreen could be quite fast and accurate, but if the visual display doesn’t keep up, it won’t feel smooth or responsive.

That’s where well-designed user interfaces and quality firmware come into play.

“Some systems are better at it than others,” says Hsu.

Synaptics ran tests comparing the iPhone touchscreen to the original BlackBerry Storm. They found that the Storm’s touchscreen sensor responded well, which pointed the finger at the underlying firmware.

It’s also a reason why BlackBerry maker Research In Motion was able to fix some of the lag and the bugginess of the screen that reviewers had initially complained about. Subsequent updates to the Storm’s software significantly improved its responsiveness to touch.

Another problem is separating signal from noise, which some phones are better at than others.

A perfectly designed and well-tuned capacitive sensing system would require no pressure to detect the presence of a user’s finger. But to get there, handset makers have to solve what Hsu calls the “needle in a haystack problem.”

The amount of signal that your finger contributes when it touches the sensor is very small compared to the noise already present in the system. To accurately sense it and compute its location requires some software magic.

“Even if you design the entire touchscreen right, once you put it into the device, there’s an impact from other sources that emit electromagnetic interference, such as the wireless unit,” says Hsu.

That’s where an ASIC, or application specific integrated circuit, is needed to measure and amplify the signals. Apple reportedly designed its own ASIC for the iPhone’s touchscreen, while most other companies buy an ASIC from one of the touchscreen chipmakers.

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Cameras of the Future: Heart Researchers Create Revolutionary Photographic Technique

The image shows a drop of milk falling into a beaker of water. A video was made at the same time, using the same camera, and represents the same image data. The still image has a 16 fold greater spatial resolution (see swirls of milk in the beaker), and it can be decoded into the video frames played in sequence to reveal the high-speed motion content. (Credit: Copyright Dr Gil Bub, University of Oxford)

“What’s new about this is that the picture and video are captured at the same time on the same sensor” said Dr Bub. “This is done by allowing the camera’s pixels to act as if they were part of tens, or even hundreds of individual cameras taking pictures in rapid succession during a single normal exposure. The trick is that the pattern of pixel exposures keeps the high resolution content of the overall image, which can then be used as-is, to form a regular high-res picture, or be decoded into a high-speed movie.”


Scientists at the University of Oxford have developed a revolutionary way of capturing a high-resolution still image alongside very high-speed video — a new technology that is attractive for science, industry and consumer sectors alike.

By combining off-the-shelf technologies found in standard cameras and digital movie projectors they have successfully created a tool that will transform many forms of detailed scientific imaging and could provide access to high-speed video with high-resolution still images from the same camera at a price suitable for the consumer market. This could have everyday applications for everything from CCTV to sports photography and is already attracting interest from the scientific imaging sector where the ability to capture very high quality still images that correspond exactly to very high speed video is extremely desirable and currently very expensive to achieve. The technology has been patented by Isis Innovation, the University of Oxford’s technology transfer office, which provided seed funding for this development and welcomes contact from industry partners to take the technology to market. The research is published February 14, 2010 in Nature Methods.

Dr Peter Kohl and his team study the human heart using sophisticated imaging and computer technologies. They have previously created an animated model of the heart, which allows one to view the heart from all angles and look at all layers of the organ, from the largest structures right down to the cellular level. They do this by combining many different types of information about heart structure and function using powerful computers and advanced optical imaging tools. This requires a combination of speed and detail, which has been difficult to achieve using current photographic techniques.

Dr Kohl said: “Anyone who has ever tried to take photographs or video of a high-speed scene, like football or motor racing, even with a fairly decent digital SLR, will know that it’s very difficult to get a sharp image because the movement causes blurring. We have the same problem in science, where we may miss really vital information like very rapid changes in intensity of light from fluorescent molecules that tell us about what is happening inside a cell. Having a massive 10 or 12 megapixel sensor, as many cameras now do, does absolutely nothing to improve this situation.

“Dr Gil Bub from my team then came up with a really great idea to bring together high-resolution still images and high-speed video footage, at the same time and on the same camera chip — ‘the real motion picture’! The sort of cameras researchers would normally need to get similar high-speed footage can set you back tens of thousands of pounds, but Dr Bub’s invention does so at a fraction of this cost. This will be a great tool for us and the rest of the research community and could also be used in a number of other ways that are useful to industry and consumers.”

“What’s new about this is that the picture and video are captured at the same time on the same sensor” said Dr Bub. “This is done by allowing the camera’s pixels to act as if they were part of tens, or even hundreds of individual cameras taking pictures in rapid succession during a single normal exposure. The trick is that the pattern of pixel exposures keeps the high resolution content of the overall image, which can then be used as-is, to form a regular high-res picture, or be decoded into a high-speed movie.”

The technique works by dividing all the camera’s pixels into groups that are then allowed to take their part of the bigger picture in well-controlled succession, very quickly, and during the time required to take a single ‘normal’ snapshot. So for example, if you use 16 pixel patterns and sequentially expose each of them for one sixteenth of the time the main camera shutter remains open, there would be 16 time points at which evenly distributed parts of the image will be captured by the different pixel groups. You then have two choices: either you view all 16 groups together as your usual high-resolution still image, or you play the sixteen sub-images one after the other, to generate a high-speed movie.

This concept has attracted the attention of Cairn Research, a UK based scientific instrument manufacturer. “High speed imaging of biologically important processes is critical for many of our customers at Cairn Research,” said Dr Martyn Reynolds, “Frequently there is a requirement to record events in living cells that are over in a fraction of a second, and this pushes us to the limits of existing technology. For several years we have been developing a product line for fast imaging of optical slices though cells, and we are very interested in using the processes and technology developed by the group in Oxford to extend the capabilities of our devices and the scientific benefits this could bring.”

The research may soon move from the optical bench to a consumer-friendly package. Dr. Mark Pitter from the University of Nottingham is planning to compress the technology into an all-in-one sensor that could be put inside normal cameras. Dr Pitter said: “The use of a custom-built solid state sensor will allow us to design compact and simple cameras, microscopes and other optical devices that further reduce the cost and effort needed for this exciting technique. This will make it useful for a far wider range of applications, such as consumer cameras, security systems, or manufacturing control.”

This research was funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and the British Heart Foundation.

Story Source:

Adapted from materials provided by Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.


Journal Reference:

  1. Gil Bub, Matthias Tecza, Michiel Helmes, Peter Lee & Peter Kohl. Temporal pixel multiplexing for simultaneous high-speed, high-resolution imaging. Nature Methods, 14 February 2010 DOI: 10.1038/nmeth.1429

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100214143129.htm

Canon Unveils EOS T2i D-SLR, New PowerShot Cameras

Canon Eos Rebel T2i DSLR  (Source: Canon)

Shane McGlaun (Blog)

EOS T2i is first to EOS model to support SDXC storage

Canon is a big and popular maker of many types of digital cameras from the cheap point-and-shoot cameras to more complex and expensive D-SLR cameras. The new D-SLR camera from Canon is called the EOS Rebel T2i. The camera is described as a D-SLR that can grow with a photographer as they learn more and expect more from the camera.

The camera can shoot bursts at 3.7 fps and has an ISO range of 100-6400 and a 63-zone dual layer metering system. Canon is positioning the camera as a bridge between entry-level D-SLRs and prosumer cameras. The T2i can record 1080p HD video  and has a Movie Crop mode that offers 7x additional zoom with no lost image quality when shooting in SD resolution.

The camera has an 18-megapixel sensor and features an expanded +/- 5 EV exposure compensation range for more versatility when showing. The cam has selectable image quality settings and can store JPEG images and RAW images. The LCD is a 3-inch model and has 1.04 million dots and a 3:2 aspect ratio. The camera is the first EOS model to support SDXC memory cards. The T2i will ship in March for $799.99 in a body only kit. A kit with an 18-55mm lens will sell for $899.99.

Canon also unveiled a new line of point and shoot cameras that include the PowerShot SX210 IS, PowerShot SD3500 IS, PowerShot SD1400 IS and PowerShot SD1300 IS. The SX210 IS is a  compact camera with 14x optical zoom and a 28mm wide-angle lens with optical lens stabilization. It has a 14.1-megapixel sensor and a 3-inch LCD on the rear. It will ship in March for $349.99.

The SD3500 IS camera has a 3.5-inch LCD that is touch sensitive allowing for control of the functions and images with a finger. The cam has a 14.1-megapixel sensor and 5x optical zoom. It will ship late this month for $329.99. The SD1400 IS has 4x optical zoom with image stabilization. The sensor is 14.1-megapixels and it can shoot HD video. The camera is under an inch thick and will ship this month for $249.99.

The last camera is the SD1300 IS sporting 4x optical zoom, image stabilization, and a resolution of 12.1-megapixels. The rear LCD is 2.7-inches and the camera will come in five different colors. The camera will ship this month for $199.99.

Digital Photography Review has posted a hands-on preview of the new Rebel T2i here.

http://www.dailytech.com/Canon+Unveils+EOS+T2i+DSLR+New+PowerShot+Cameras/article17630.htm