Recently in Equipment->News Category

If you have two video cameras running at the same time in the field, syncing the video tracks in FCP can sometimes be a pain. My pal, filmmaker Harjant Gill, turned me onto Plural Eyes - which does this automatically. Cost: $149.

Leica M9 announced

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Along with the Canon 7D, the new Leica M9 now joins the ranks of things I want but sadly have absolutely no money to buy:


According to the Mirror, the M9:

Specs wise, we’re looking at an 18.2MP sensor on the Leica M9, plus reduced noise at high ISO settings, and an SD slot, and it could be out as soon as this week.

DPReview has an extensive hands-on with this new full-frame digital rangefinder:

Do you think if I put a paypal "Donate to Karen's M9" button on this website, I could collect enough for it? It's only around 5000 euros....

Canon 7D announced

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canon_eos7d.gifHot off the press: "Canon has today announced the EOS 7D digital SLR. It boasts a new 18MP APS-C CMOS sensor, Dual DIGIC 4 processors, ISO range expandable to 12800, continuous shooting at 8 fps and full HD video recording. It also incorporates a new viewfinder with 1.0x magnification and 100% coverage and a 3 inch LCD with 920k dot resolution."


Buying a Kindle

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Well, the little iPhone Kindle app has convinced me that a Kindle2 might not be a total waste of money. I'm actually enjoying read both academic and non-academic books on the iPhone. Although the Kindle2 doesn't have a backlight, it looks like it'd be a good way to read before bed or on the airplane.

I wish the Kindle2 had WiFi, I guess that -- along with the backlight -- is my big concern for the unit. Especially as Sprint might be going bankrupt if it continues to bleed customers like it is now. I wonder what will happen to the Kindle's EVDO if that happens....

I'd love to hear from anyone who has one.

2008-10-30 strappodperson.jpgHere is a piece of camera gear that Cool Tools posted about. It is touted as a more portable alternative to using a monopod.

Pocket-size stabilizer: Strap Pod

In the case of museums or some public spaces, tripods are simply not allowed (though you can sometimes get away with a monopod by pretending it is a 'walking stick'). But again, hauling a monopod around is sometimes clumsy, frowned upon, or outright discouraged in certain environs. The Strap Pod is much less intrusive and bulky, so I'm more likely to toss it into my pocket or my camera bag and bring it along.

2008-10-27 Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1.jpgJust a heads up on a New York Times article about the Panasonic DMC-G1, which is the result of an attempt "to put the photographic quality of an S.L.R. into a compact body."

Pro Quality Without Reflex Lens

Most people -- about 92 percent of us -- buy little pocket cameras that take so-so photos. Only about 8 percent buy those big, black, heavy S.L.R. (single-lens reflex) cameras that take magazine-worthy photos.

It's not that people don't want better pictures. It's just that they're not willing to hang an anvil around their necks to get them.

Next month, however, Panasonic will offer the first camera in a new format called Micro Four Thirds. Its mission: to put the photographic quality of an S.L.R. into a compact body. If it works, then these cameras will surely earn adjectives like "revolutionary," "important" and "popular."

Hot off the press, Apple just released Mac OS X 10.4.11, otherwise a minor update to the last OS release. I haven't upgraded to PantherCheetahLionLeopard yet (since Yale has a site license and I have to wait until I'm back in the USA) -- but the big thing about 10.4.11 is that it supports the Microsoft Presenter Mouse 8000 -- which I've blogged about before.

Yippee! Keynote here I come!

For more:

I hadn't seen this blogged in English...
In May, Sony and Matsushita announced an interim high-definition recordable format for portable consumer camcorders. Called AVCHD the system uses 8cm recordable DVD disks (650nm laser). The compression avoids HDV's long-GOP (with its 0.5 second dropouts) instead preferring the MPEG4 AVC (aka H264) used in BlueRay.

Screen formats 1080/60i /50i and /30p and 720/60p/50p/24p are all supported. 1080 is really 1920x1080 rather than 1440x1080 although that is supported as well. Sampling is 4:2:0. Sound is AC3 (5.1) with bitrates of up to 640kbs or Dolby Diital (1.5Mbs on two channels). The max system bitrate is 18Mbps which gives a min record time of 10 min, although you can downgrade this to get more play time. On the average setting, you get around 20 minutes per disk.

Although the system uses standard DVD recordable disks, they won't playback on standard DVD players unless the firmware is upgraded to support AVCHD (unlikely).

The big question is: Why????

Data from the June 2006 Video Salon magazine in Japan.

I was editing some footage of an interview I shot with an emeritus faculty here when I discovered to my delight that iMovie HD suddenly supports 25p/30p progressive HDV input.

Since when?!?!?!?!

I had shot the interview with my Canon XL-H1 and forgot to reset the frame-rate from 30p to 60i. I only realized this when I got back home and started to edit. I was adjusting settings and turned off the HDV->DV downconvert on the XL-H1 and was astonished when iMovie was happy to suck in the 1080i/30p footage without problem. A quick check of the Help file and it states that 25/30 frame progressive modes are supported.

Since when??!?!?!?!?

NitroAV is now selling a 2-port FireWire 800 card for the MacBook Pro for $89.95. This fixes the main flaw of the MBP 15" -- the single FireWire 400 port. It uses the new ExpressCard/34 slot.

Apple has released the 17" MacBook Pro (keeping the ugly moniker). It looks great with the 2.16 ghz Intel Duo Core processor and dual-layer DVD+R (DVD-RW) support and both FireWire 800 and 400 ports. I'm bummed that the ExpressCard is still the 34 mm size (which precludes Compact Flash adapters) and that the screen size is 1680x1050 which means that it can't show 1080i/1080p natively.

I'm saving my research funds until the next revision of the 15" since the 17" is too big to take to the field. I hope when they "refresh" the 15" that they'll add back the dual FireWire ports, add dual-layer support, and give us the 54mm ExpressCard option.

503CWD.jpgHasselblad has announced the 503CWD - a digital back for the Hasselblad 500 and 200 series. Quite exciting:

  • 16 megapixels (4080x4080)
  • 36.7mm x 36.7mm sensor (1.5x crop factor compared to 6x6 film)
  • ISO 50, 100, 200, 400
  • CF card I or II
  • Battery: Sony InfoLithium L-NP-F
  • 2.2" OLED rear display

The only problem -- the price... estimated at around $10,000 (with 503CW body).

PanasonicDMC-L1.jpgAt the PMA convention, Panasonic has announced their formal entry into the interchangeable lens DSLR category with the Lumix DMC-L1. It uses the interchangeable 4/3 (four-thirds) system lens mount, so technically it should be able to mount lenses from any other manufacturer who is participating.

Although it looks like a rangefinder, it's actually a DSLR (none of the holes above the lens mount are for viewfinders). The body styling, though, is reminiscent of the Konica Hexar RF. In any case, the Lumix DMC-L1 has the following features:

  • 7.5 megapixels
  • Live viewfinder
  • MOS sensor
  • Supersonic sensor cleaner
  • Mega OIS - optical image stabilization (built into lens)
  • SD memory card
  • Pricing is rumoured to be around US$3000 which is too much.
  • Shipping is rumoured to be Q4 2006 which is too late.

Leica has announced its first 4/3 system lens, the Leica D Vario-Elmarit 14-50mm f/2.8-3.5 ASPH, which will be the standard lens for the DMC-L1, but could be used with any other 4/3 camera.

Just when I was about to spend $400 to get the MicroTrack 24/96 despite its many bugs (proprietary lithium-ion battery; 30V phantom power), Roland comes to the rescue with a new model also priced at $400: the Edirol R-09. The various blogs have picked up on it already, so read previews at and Transom.

On first glance it seems ideal: runs on 2 x AA batteries (NiMH ok), uses SD memory cards up to 2 gig, can record 24 bit x 48khz, and can use external mics or line-in as well as its own built-in stereo electrets.

When it rains, it pours.... Konica-Minolta has just announced its withdrawal from the camera and photography business -- including digital photography. They are transferring most of their camera assets (including their digital Maxxum SLR series) to Sony. It's not surprising given that they lost JPY7,300 million on revenue of JPY117,000 million in FY2005 in their camera business.

Cameras: In camera business, we have reached an agreement with Sony Corporation(Sony), having numerous image sensor technologies such as CCD and CMOS, to jointly develop digital SLR cameras in July 2005. In order to continue to have our customers use Maxxum/Dynax lenses, and to maximize possibilities of the optical, mechanical and electronics technologies accumulated through development of SLR cameras in the years to come, we came to the conclusion that it was best to transfer assets concerning camera business to Sony. Since then, we have been negotiating with Sony, and as a result, we have reached an agreement with Sony to transfer a portion of assets regarding digital SLR camera system to Sony*1. In this relation, we have decided to withdraw from camera business*2, such as film cameras and digital cameras, within Konica Minolta Group as of March 31, 2006.

Sony is planning to develop digital SLR cameras compatible with Maxxum/Dynax lens mount system, so that the current Maxxum/Dynax users will be able to continue to use them with Sony’s digital SLR cameras. In addition, we will consign camera service operations for Konica Minolta, Konica,Minolta brand cameras and related equipment to Sony.

Photography: In today’s shrinking photographic market represented by color film and color paper, we have been considering to scale back and to continue photo business at an appropriate size; however, when we foresee the photographic market, it is quite difficult to maintain profitability in this field, and we have decided to withdraw from photo business. As schemed below, we will, as much as possible, avoid causing any inconvenience in providing products to our worldwide customers in the course of withdrawal.

Konica was Japan's oldest camera and photographic supply company. Minolta was one of the stars of the postwar camera boom. It will be sad to see both leave the market.

In other news, Pentax is merging with Samsung.

The Sanctuary has a great guide to budget lighting with examples:

canon_lens1s.jpgWillem-Jan Markerink notes on the EOS mailing list that there is a EOS EF L 24-105mm recall. This is newly released MSRP $1249 prosumer lens that is attracting a lot of interest from photographers such as Fred Miranda because of its compact size and stellar optics. From his posting:


EF 24-105mm RECALL

According to Canon USA, there is a problem with early production
units of the EF 24-105mm f4L IS USM lens. There is an unacceptable
level of flare in certain conditions, most noticeable at the wide
zoom and wide aperture settings.

Only lenses with a serial number under 1000 are affected. You will
find the number engraved on the rear of the lens. It is not always
easy to see - we find that it helps to shine a light at an angle
across the rear of the lens to increase the texture, and use a
magnifying glass. The number is prefixed by 'UT' (which indicates the
factory of manufacture).

If you live in the USA, starting 14 November 2005, Canon will repair
free-of-charge, any affected lenses. Other countries have yet to post
information, but check their web sites over the next few days, or
contact your local Canon Service Centre.

25235_180.jpgNikon has just announced its new DSLR, the 10.2 megapixel Nikon D200. It retains the 1.5x DX crop factor, which Nikon has stated will remain a standard for Nikon digital SLRs. It can shoot 5 fps and maintain this speed for 22 RAW/NEF shots or 37 JPEG/FINE shots. It's squarely aimed against the EOS20D (8.2mp) but with an estimated shipping date of "Spring 2006," is it too little too late for Nikon?

promoaperture20051019.gifApple has come out with a product called Aperture that looks to directly challenge Adobe's Bridge preview and Camera Raw input hegemony. From what I've seen on Apple's website, it looks like a killer app (see, doing just about everything a documentary photographer would want to do. It isn't Photoshop but it's lightweight and fast and does the types of color correction, photo library management (the biggest thing for me), and formatting output that I need to do. It's retailing at $499 for civilians and $149 for academics. I've placed an order, but shipping is 6-8 weeks. Phooey!

ef_24~105_4lis_usm.jpgLuminous Landscape has a wonderful review of the new Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS lens. It sounds like a winner, except for the slightly increased barrel distortion. Contrast and resolution apparently is higher. The new lens was released this October and has the new 3-stop IS; increased weatherproofing; increased contrast/stray-light control; and features 18 optical elements (3 aspherical) in 13 groups.

I have the old EF 28-70mm f/2.8 L lens and while I'm generally happy with it, it does suffer slightly wide open at wide angles in the corners. I was thinking of replacing it with the new 24-70mm L lens, but for fieldwork, it looks like the 24-105mm f/4 L IS is a better choice since it is smaller (83.5mm Dx 107mm L), lighter (670g), and has longer range. The MSRP is ¥145,000, B&H has it for $1249.

hdp2.jpgTascam is noted for its fantastic DAT recorders which have been a standard choice for field workers, indie filmmakers, and concert bootleggers. They've just come out with a compact-flash version called the HD-P2 high-def flash recorder for $999. With 192khz/24bit fidelity, you're set to record everything up to and including bat echolocation (good luck finding a mike that can handle this!) and you don't have to worry about the tape transport noise or cleaning heads. And it supports SMTPE time-code input. What more could one want?


Canon has released new firmware for its professional series DSLRs, the photojournalist's EOS-1D Mark II and the studio EOS-1Ds Mark II:

EOS-1D Mark II: Version 1.24

  • Fixes the phenomenon of file number errors that occurred when shooting bulb exposures.
  • Fixes the phenomenon of file numbers not being sequential even if the file number setting is for sequential numbers if when a CF card is replaced while the power of the camera is switched on.
  • Improves reliability in communication when using some CF cards.

EOS-1Ds Mark II: Version 1.1.4

  • Fix the phenomenon of horizontal line noise appearing when P.Fn-21 is set to ON.
  • Fix the phenomenon of file number errors that occurred when shooting bulb exposures.
  • Improves reliability in communication when using some CF cards.

The buzz on the EOS mailing list is the significant vignetting in the corners seen on wide angle shots at open apertures with the new full-frame Canon EOS 5D. William Coburn was kind enough to show an example using a 20mm lens at f/2.8 versus f/5.6:

Now, some of this is undoubtedly due to the lens itself (most wide-angles suffer from corner darkening at full apertures), but digital sensors are susceptible to more vignetting (or more accurate, light-falloff) with wide-angle lenses* due to their surface microlens design. I decided to hold off buying the 5D until I had gotten more user reports and I'm glad to have done so. Let's see how this shakes out.

* The Epson R-D1 digital rangefinder camera has a software tool to reduce vignetting because of this problem. And people with Photoshop CS/CS2 can correct this in the RAW plugin too. has the latest coverage of the new Canon XL-H1. It's $9000 MSRP, which should put it about $7500-8000 retail, which is pretty good. There's now an optical stabilizer and it'll come out in November. I'm sold. also has links to other sites.

I'm hoping that the actual shipping XL-H1 isn't all-black like the press-release photograph to the right. I actually liked the white/black/red color of the XL2 units. It made the different from the usual run-of-the-mill shoulder camcorders.

And also call me a luddite, but I prefer eyepiece focusing to flip-out-screens. Of course, the best of all worlds is to have both (the flip-out-screens are especially good for reviewing shots in the field), but the XL-H1 now has an enormous 2.5" LCD lurking behind their viewfinder, and it's designed so that you can flip the eyepiece out of the way for low or high-level shots or for reviewing. Of course, you can also just hook up your laptop in the field or get a small auxiliary LCD screen.

For super-luddites (of which I am not), Canon even sells a black-and-white high-resolution eyepiece monitor. The eye has better resolution in black-and-white, which makes critical focusing easier. The B+W monitor is extremely expensive and the new XL-H1 has some built-in focusing aids such as automatically zooming in the eyepiece magnification when focusing or increasing contrast. has the scoop on the new HDV camcorder from Canon, based on its XL-2 model:

Canon USA will announce a high definition HDV camcorder next week at the Canon EXPO event in New York. The new model will be very similar in shape, style, and features to the XL2 MiniDV camcorder. A reliable source close to Canon has given exclusive information about the model, its feature set, and its pricing. Although the announcement was under tight secrecy, Canon Europe displayed a model of the HDV camcorder at their booth at the International Broadcasters Conference in Amsterdam.

Hasselblad has announced the release of the H2D - the successor to the popular (if exorbitantly priced) H1 medium format camera:

Hasselblad launches the next generation of professional photography

Four new products address needs of
both general and specialist professional photographers

A year from the launch of the new Hasselblad, the company is setting a new benchmark for digital professional photography with the announcement of new flagship digital cameras and camera backs based on a new digital platform, satisfying the needs of both the general and specialist professional photographer. breaks the news that the Canon EOS 5D and 1D Mark IIN have been officially announced.

The 5D specs were posted on this site previously and appear to be accurate, except for the price which is estimated at US$3299. That's ground breaking for a full-frame camera. I'll be pre-ordering one as soon as I can. What's really great is that the 5D's focusing screens can be replaced, this was a major bugaboo for me with the 20D/10D since I like to have have grid focusing screens for alignment and composition.

The EOS 1D Mark IIN has the same 8.2 megapixel sensor as its predecessor, which was designed for photojournalists who needed fast frame rates more than they needed megapixels or full-frame sensors. The main difference is the larger LCD panel on the back and a larger and faster buffer performance. It'll be listed at US$3999.

There's a credible rumor going around that the Canon EOS 5D is due to be announced on August 22nd, with shipping to commence in October. According to the info sheet I saw, it features:

  • 12.8 megapixel full-frame (24mmx36mm)
  • 3 frames per second (60 frame burst JPEG; 17 frames RAW)
  • 9 point autofocus (w/ 6 invisible points)
  • Compatible with all EF lenses (but not EF-S)
  • CF cards
  • Batteries use same BP-511a as the 10D/20D (yeah!)
  • New battery grip BG-E4
  • 152mm x 113mm x 75mm; 810 grams

Buy those yellow boxes of film in bulk now, Kodak is awash in red ink despite slashing jobs left and right. I wouldn't be surprised if they jettisoned their film division altogether: From:

Kodak to cut another 10,000 jobs
Company posts loss, plans to slash up to 25,000 positions partly due to slumping film sales.
July 20, 2005: 10:28 AM EDT

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Eastman Kodak Co. Wednesday said it would cut up to 10,000 more jobs than previously announced to speed its move into digital products, and also posted a quarterly net loss due to restructuring costs and a faster-than-expected decline in film sales.

Shares of Kodak (down $2.55 to $26.19, Research) fell more than 6 percent in premarket electronic trading from their closing price Tuesday at $28.75 on the New York Stock Exchange. Although the stock has bounced back in recent weeks, it is still down about 10 percent this year, and is underperforming the Standard and Poor's 500 index by about 13 percent so far this year.

Hot off the newswires, Sony and Konica-Minolta are collaborating on future generations of digital SLR cameras (DSLRs) built around the Maxxum/Dynax/alpha lens mount. This bodes well for the future longevity of this lens mount. The recently released Maxxum/alpha 5D camera is getting rave reviews, along with its more professional older sister, the 7D.

Here's the full press release:

Konica Minolta and Sony Agree to Jointly Develop Digital SLR Cameras

Tokyo (July 19, 2005) Konica Minolta Photo Imaging, Inc. and Sony Corporation have reached an agreement to jointly develop digital Single Lens Reflex (SLR) cameras. Taking full advantages of their respective imaging technologies and key devices, the two companies will develop and commercialize new digital SLR cameras based on and compatible to Maxxum/Dynax lens mount system.*1 has an early preview of the new The Mamiya ZD titled "Hands-on with the most interesting digital ever." . The ZD is a 22-megapixel digital medium-format camera with a huge 36mm x 48mm sensor. If the price comes under $10,000 as rumored, the ZD will be a class-leading product:

The Mamiya ZD, even in its current iteration is a powerful camera. Engineers in Japan will need to ensure that the image processing time is short enough to make the camera a viable option in the studio or in the field, but aside from the buffering times and the image-quality quirks of the early version firmware, the Mamiya ZD is already good to go.

When it ships, the ZD will be lighter than the Canon 1Ds Mark II, with nearly twice the resolution of the Nikon D2X, and vastly more lenses than the Olympus E system. If the company can bring the price in line (a few thousand more than a Canon 1Ds Mark II, but less than a AFD plus back) will make this a very powerful addition to Mamiya%u2019s lineup. notes that Pentax Announces the Pentax *istDL Digital Camera:

PENTAX Corporation is pleased to announce the marketing of the PENTAX *istDL digital SLR camera. With a compact, lightweight body, simplified operations and outstanding cost performance, the *istDL is designed to extend the advantages of high-quality digital SLR photography, including lens interchangeability, to photographers of all levels, even those who are unfamiliar with digital and SLR photography.

The 10-megapixel Leica DMR digital back for the Leica R8 and R9 SLRs is due to be released on June 15th (2005), well behind schedule. Sample cameras are already in the hands of photographers who are starting to upload photographs taken with the camera/back combination. Here are some examples:

The following is a news release from Canon, Inc about serious problems affecting image storage with the EOS-1Ds Mark II, EOS-1D Mark II, EOS 20D, EOS Digital Rebel XT / EOS 350D Digital / EOS Kiss Digital N series of digital SLR cameras:

May 20, 2005
Canon U.S.A.

We have received inquiries about the problem of images disappearing when using specific digital SLR cameras. As a result of our investigation, we found that the following two problems may occur. Please be advised of the details and countermeasures.

The latest 2005.03 data from Japan's CIPA (Camera and Imaging Products Association) shows that digital camera sales have clearly peaked and are stagnating. Overall, first quarter production units are up 5% but revenue as a whole is down 10.9% compared to the same period last year.

By category: The sub 4-megapixel category is the worst hit with total quarterly production of only 29.8% and sales of 20.4% of last year's figures. The strongest category was 4-6 megapixel cameras with 8.7 million units sold first quarter for a revenue of 165 billion yen. Only 2.5 million 6+ megapixel cameras were sold, for a revenue of 90.7 billion yen.

Leica has posted the PDF manual of its upcoming DMR (Digital Module R) for its Leica R series SLRs. The document reveals a very exciting product that should be in consumer hands in the next month or so -- almost a year behind schedule. You can now pre-order the DMR if you can afford the US$5500 street price.

This site might be well known by some, but Canon has issued some service notices on the EOS 20D digital SLR. The most recent one is:

April 27, 2005: We have confirmed that the BG-E2 battery grip for the EOS 20D digital SLR camera causes issues such as the number of shots being limited or a low-battery warning being displayed immediately when used with a fully charged battery pack or a fresh set of AA batteries. Canon offers its sincerest apologies to all customers who have been inconvenienced by this issue.

D_D50_04.jpgNikon has now officially announced the consumer-level D50 and prosumer D70s, which were scooped on this site a few weeks ago. The reaction has been a giant collective yawn. The Nikons have too few features, are too late, and too expensive to compete against the current Canon and Pentax offerings. And to make matters worse, Nikon has begun to encrypted parts of the raw NEF format in their high-end models and Adobe has announced that they will not fully support the new format. Things do not look good for Nikon right now.

The following chart shows how the various sub-$1000 DSLR offerings stack up:

Leading pen tablet manufacturer Intuos has announced the availability of the Graphire3 6x8 Bluetooth. It's their 6"x8" basic graphic tablet with built-in wireless BlueTooth support (MSRP $249). This is exactly what I've wanted for a while....

NE Asia Online has a very interesting article online exploring Matsushita/Panasonic's push into digital SLRs using the 4/3 system by 2006. Panasonic has previously teamed with Leica for optics, whether this represents a new direction for Panasonic is unknown.

The British Journal of Photography notes that Zeiss is stepping into secure the Contax brand:

Carl Zeiss is in discussions to save the Contax brand name after Kyocera's shock decision to pull out of the manufacture of Contax-branded 35mm film and digital cameras, as exclusively revealed by BJP.

Zeiss, which owns the Contax brand, is currently in discussions with Kyocera but is also looking at partnerships with another manufacturer should Kyocera go ahead with its plans to discontinue both its own brand as well as Contax-branded cameras (BJP, 02 March).

I think this bodes well for the future production of a digital Zeiss Contax camera with Leica M lens mount.

Nikon Corporation accidentally allowed the user manual for their upcoming D50 digital SLR to leak on the web, according to I tried googling for it (for ... errr... research purposes only...), but it appears to have been taken down already. We know it's 6.1 megapixels and will write to SD cards. It's being designed as the EOS Digital Rebel/KISS killer. If you have any info, feel free to post.

2005.05.02: Some other sites are illegally hosting the manuals for the D50 and D70s (the successor to the very popular D70). Rob Galbraith's site has more info on this story as it unfolds.

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