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DigitalFocus
Advance looks at innovative products
by Rick Smith (June 26, 2000)


 

On Monday, June 26, 2000, at the Metropolitan Pavilion, 125 West 18th Street, the following companies sponsored DigitalFocus 2000.

Acer
Adobe
Agfa
ASF
Canon
Casio
Digi-Frame
Digimarc
Epson
Excite@Home
Express Digital
EZ Prints
Flashpoint
FotoWire
FujiFilm
HP
Imation
Intel
iPIX
Ixla
Jasc
Kodak
Lexar Media
Lexmark
Nikon
NuWave
Ofoto
Olympus
Panasonic
PhotoPoint
PhotoWorks
PictureIQ
Polaroid
Ricoh
SanDisk
Sharp
Shutterfly
Sierra Imaging
Sony
Toshiba
Viewics
Xerox/Textronix
Yahoo! Photos
Zing

See our previous coverage of DigitalFocus at PMA, and last year's coverage of DigitalFocus at Fall Comdex and Digital Focus at PC Expo.



Casio PCMCIA Digicam
JK-710DC
While not a new camera, the Casio model JK-710DC is certainly has a unique form factor. It can turn any PCMCIA connector into a digital camera. So if you don’t have a Sony Vaio PictureBook, but want one, this might be a way to “upgrade” your laptop. 

 


Casio's Newest Digicam
This very new digicam (this is an alpha unit), the Casio QV-2800UX has an 8X zoom (second only to Sony’s 10X and 14X digicam zooms). It features a 2.11 megapixel CCD with a swivel lens for shooting at almost any angle. (Doesn’t this camera remind you of the very successful Nikon 9XX series of digicams? But this one has an EIGHT times zoom!) The Casio should be shipping in September 2000, with a street price of $699. 

 


Digi-Frame's New DF-560
Elegent showcase for digital memories
Digital photography is great (almost). It frees you from the photo lab and yields instant results. But, when it comes to presenting your precious pixels, your options are limited. Your are tied to the "big iron" of your PC or your television or must resort to the oldest media, paper.

Digi-Frame brings back one of the nicest aspects of photography, incorporating pictures into your everyday environment without all the clunky hardware.

Their latest Digi-Frame consists of a high-quality 5.6" active-matrix color TFT LCD display stylishly dressed in a designer frame. Like the traditional variety, a Digi-Frame can be set vertically or horizontally, on a wall or shelf or desktop.

Of course, this outward simplicity and familiarity is backed up by the technical smarts that makes the Digi-Frame useful (and usable). The device accepts either CompactFlash or SmartMedia memory cards directly from your digital camera. Alternatively, you can download pictures directly from your PC via a serial connection.

Using on-screen menus and a thumbnail view of your pictures, you select which pictures you want to display in what order, how long to display each, and even video-like transitions between them. You can also "thumb through" your pictures at will using the multi-function control wheel.

Altogether, the elegant form and flashy function could make this $599 piece of high-tech decor a stylish showcase for your digital memories.

Features:
- $599.00
- transfer and view images directly from their digital camera
- snap-on decorator frames in choice of burlwood, brushed aluminum, and "fruity" translucent colors
- vertical or horizontal orientation
- accepts both CompactFlash™ and SmartMedia™ memory cards
- serial interface for PC download
- on-screen menu w/ thumbnail picture view
- multi-function control wheel
- multinational AC adapter 

 


New Epson Printer
Stylus Photo 2000P
The Epson Photo 2000P will be shipping in mid-July 2000 and boasts high quality output capable of lasting 200 years before fading (if mounted in a glass frame under fluorescent lighting). Intended for the professional market, this printer can truly be considered an archival photo reproduction printer and is priced at $900. This large format (13"x 44") printer has a 1440x720 dpi output resolution and can print the entire 13” width, without any borders.

The output I saw at DigitalFocus looked more like the photographic prints made in a darkroom, instead of being output from a computer. In fact, color printers are getting so good, it seems like I will now have to take a loupe with me, to critically evaluate color printer output at trade shows since they are getting so good. 

 


Imation for Images
SuperDisk replaces film
Panasonic and Imation are muscling in on the Sony Mavica's turf with the introduction of the PV-SD4090 SuperDisk PalmCam. The $900 digital camera can not only capture its megapixel images on standard 1.44MB floppy disks but accepts Imation's 120MB SuperDisks as well.

Thanks to the built-in SuperDisk drive, the camera can snap close to 450 shots at its highest resolution without running out of digital film.

That's nearly four times as much as a typical 32MB CompactFlash or SmartMedia cards at much lower media cost. And, it is nice to know that you can fall back to easily available floppies in a pinch.

The camera's other notable features include a decent optical zoom, a extra large LCD viewfinder, movie recording in QuickTime format, and the ability to attach audio clips to each picture.

But, let's say you don't already own a SuperDisk. What then? You simply plug the camera into your PC's USB port and it appears as a disk drive visible in File Explorer. This makes it easy for you to download your latest snapshots of course, but also turns the camera into a fully-functional, 120MB SuperDisk drive you can use for everyday backup or file transfer.

All this storage versatility could make the Panasonic PalmCam and Imation SuperDisk combination a unique challenger to the rest of the digital shoot and store crowd.

Features:

- 1.3 megapixels (1,280 x 960)
- Zoom: 3x Optical / 2x Digital
- Viewfinder: Large, 2.5" Color LCD
- Built-in flash
- Audio recording: up to 5 secs per picture
- Movie recording: QuickTime (10 fps)
- Burst mode: Shoots 16 shots in 8 seconds
- Interface: USB
- Price: $900 

 


Jasc updates Quick View
Today, Jasc introduced the latest version of Quick View Plus that now offers Zip/Unzip capability. I also found out that the beta version of Paint Shop Pro will be downloadable THIS Thursday, the last day of PC Expo. 

 


Jasc Trajectory Pro [pre-release]
Vector graphics tool showing progress
When we took a look at it back in April, we thought Jasc's work-in-progress, Trajectory Pro, looked promising (see story). Well, this latest public release shows that it still is, for two reasons:

First, the object/vector drawing tool market is ripe for a "right-priced" but serious illustration product. And, Jasc has proven with PaintShop Pro that it isn't afraid to compete against the graphics heavyweights at a lightweight price.

Secondly, Jasc is doing the development out in the open by basing the product on SVG, an emerging vendor-neutral graphics standard, and aggressively soliciting customer feedback on the free, beta releases.

The latest beta version (v0.3) demonstrates the ability to apply SVG filter effects to individual objects. Since these effects are completely editable and reversible, you can experiment with special effects on an object-by-object basis without painting yourself into a corner, so to speak.

No word yet on an eventual release date, but we can hope that an initial version is released this Fall. 

 


Kodak DC5000
Rugged Resolution
If the two new consumer cameras Kodak is introducing this summer were roommates, the DC5000, would be the likeable, rugged outdoors type (below). Its opposite, the DC4800, would more be the the smart yet approachable type. Read about it here.

Do you ever feel guilty about taking a piece of expensive electronics out of its padded bag and into the elements? Afraid your boss and/or spouse will kill you if your technical marvel is wrecked by a raindrop or sandbagged by a sand grain?

Someone at Kodak must have felt your angst, because they just introduced the multi-megapixel camera for you.

The DC5000 is a rugged, weather-proof device that doesn't skimp on technical specs despite its thick hide. The camera includes solid features like 2X optical zoom, built-in flash with red eye reduction, removeable CompactFlash and both an LCD and optical viewfinder.

Best of all, the camera's many options and functions are accessable via oversized controls designed to be workable by large or gloved hands.

So, if you dispaired that digital cameras couldn't weather the dirt and drizzle of your typical photo opportunities, Kodak's DC5000 might be your rugged ray of hope.

Features:

- Weather-proof construction
- Oversized controls
- 2.0 megapixel (1760 x 1168)
- 2X optical zoom (30 - 60 mm)
- 3x digital zoom
- Flash: Strobe w/ red-eye reduction
- Media: CompactFlash
- Viewfinder: 1.8" LCD and optical
- PC interface: USB, serial
- Shutter speeds: 1/2s to 1/755s
- Effects: B/W, sepia, borders
- Video: NTSC/PAL
- Power: 4 AA batteries
- Dimensions: 140mm x 89mm x 83mm (WxDxH)
- Weight: 459g (1 lbs) w/out batteries 

 


Kodak DC4800 Digital Camera
Handy Yet Powerful
If the two new consumer cameras Kodak is introducing this summer were roommates, the DC4800 below would be the smart yet approachable one. Its opposite, the DC5000, would be more the likeable, rugged outdoors type (read about it here).

If you want a smart digital camera that doesn't require much of you at first, but has hidden depths to explore, the DC4800 could be your favorite of the two.

First you'll notice the unintimidating form factor, a relatively compact camera that looks a little like those sturdy German SLRs of the 60's. Unlike those cameras, however, the DC4800 has (if you chose) all the automatic features you would expect from a modern camera.

Whether you chose more control or less, you get serious resolution (3.1 megapixels) and decent 3x zoom lens with a nice, wide-angle view when zoomed out all the way. Of course, you get both an LCD and optical viewfinder, video output, built-in flash, and your choice of picture resolutions.

Get past its friendly features, though, and what sets this new camera apart (besides its generous pixel count) are its serious photographic specs.

For instance, its light gathering ability approaches that of ISO 400 film. Another SLR-like feature is its wide shutter speed control, from 1/1000th of a second to a full 16 seconds. You can finally take that river-of-blurring-headlights-at-night cityscape you always wanted to capture.

Taking together, the DC4800's automatic conveniences and photographic range might make this a friendly digital camera whose deeper qualities you could grow to respect (and really use).

Features:

- 3.1 megapixel (2160 x 1440)
- 3X-optical zoom (28 - 84 mm)
- 2X digital zoom
- CompactFlash
- 1.8" LCD and optical viewfinder
- PC interface: USB
- Image formats: lossy JPEG or uncompressed TIFF
- Shutter speeds: 1/1000s to 16s
- Effects: saturated, neutral, black- and-white, or sepia
- ISO settings of 100, 200, and 400
- Flash: Strobe w/ red-eye reduction
- Time between shots: 2 secs per picture
- Video out: NTSC or PAL
- Burst frame rate: 2 to 5 fps
- Power: Lithium-ion battery (charges in camera)
- Dimensions: 120mm x 65mm x 69mm (WxDxH)
- Weight: 320g (11.45 oz) w/out batteries 

 


New printers join Lexmark's product line
Lexmark has completed the updating of their color inkjet product line which started in May 2000 with the shipping of the Lexmark Z52. Shown here, the Z32 (left) and Z42 (right) both feature Lexmark’s Accu-Feed paper handling for printing reliability and fewer paper jams, BOTH USB and parallel ports for compatibility, easy open cartridge install and software ink level indicators for ease of use, both PC & Mac driver software for greater adaptability and a next-business day warranty exchange for peace of mind. The difference between these two models are speed and resolution. The Z32 is only 1200x1200 dpi (remember when this was a description of a $2,000 printer?) and can print at 7.5 ppm in black and white and 3.5 ppm in color and retails for only $99. The Z42 is a 2400x1200 dpi printer and has a 10 ppm black and white and 5 ppm color speed. It retails for $149. If that’s not enough, Lexmark has also announced the Z12, a 1200x1200 dpi printer which retails at a mere $59.

Now, Lexmark has an updated line of four new printers, that all retail for under $200 gives consumers plenty of choice in both price and feature set. These high quality, inexpensive color printers each have quality output that I expect from Lexmark. Reviews OnLine reviewed the Z52 last month and felt that Lexmark had raised the bar when it came to inexpensive, high quality color printing. 

 


Lexmark Optra C710
Fast, Economical Color Laser Printer
Lexmark is out to make color laser printing affordable with the new Optra C710.

For around $1,899 the compact printer will deliver 1200x1200 dpi resolution in color at a rate of 3 pages per minute.

Monochrome printing is rated at 16 pages per minute. In addition, the printer comes standard with 32MB and is expandable to 384MB. 

 


New Nikon Coolpix 990
Great rez, nifty features
Nikon has reason to show off its new Coolpix digital camera this week. Besides its respectable pedigree, the Coolpix 990 boasts multiple megapixel resolution, some semi-pro features, and a killer software bundle.

While you shouldn't blindly follow the "more pixels is better" trend, the fact that this camera grabs 3 and 1/3 times as many pixels as many of last year's cameras, should make it worth a look.

Also, while many manufacturers think gobs of resolution makes up for a whimpy zoom, Nikon has wisely kept the 3x optical zoom (with additional Coolpix lenses available). In addition, you get a unique, step-less 4x digital zoom that smooths the sudden jumps between digital zoom levels.

Nikon has made sure that all that extra resolution isn't wasted by adding the option to save uncompressed images in the camera. Once uploaded to your PC, however, you can use software (Altimira's Genuine Fractals LE) that Nikon has thoughtfully bundled with the camera to compress these multi-megabyte images down to a manageable size with little visible loss of detail.

More professional features include the ability to sync up to four external flashes to the camera. Yet, when a picture requires natural light, the Coolpix 990 can be set to soak up the same low-light detail as ISO 400 film.

Even with all the lighting and exposure controls, capturing a hand-held snapshot at exactly the right moment usually requires a fair bit of luck. But, the 990 offers a mode that will squeeze off 10 shots in 5 seconds and automatically choose the most detailed, jitter-free image.

Details like these suggest that Nikon understands the process of photography and cares about the end result: A quality captured image. If they've applied that philosophy as well to this camera as its predecessors, the Coolpix 990 should deliver the goods.

Features:

- 3.34 megapixel (2048 x 1536)
- 3x optical, 4x digital zoom (step-less)
- Storage: 16 MB CompactFlash
- Video Capture: 1.5 fps full-res, 30 fps 160x100
- Interface: USB and serial
- Accepts Coolpix lenses (wide-angle, fisheye, telephoto)
- Flash: Red-eye reduction (and up to 4 slave Speedlights)
- Macro: .8" to infinity
- Viewfinder: 1.8" LCD, optical
- Uncompressed TIFF or JPEG
- NTSC/PAL video out
- Power: 4 AA
- Dimensions: 5.9" x 3.1" x 1.5"
- Weight: 13.8 oz. (approx)

Bundled Software:

- Genuine Fractals 2.0 LE (Altamira Group)
- iPIX immersive imaging 

 


Stretch Hummer in NY
While this stretch Hummer was not part of the trade show displays, it was waiting just outside the door of the DigitalFocus and MobileFocus events, ready to whisk some lucky attendees off to their hotel. I couldn’t resist taking the picture, since nighttime shots such as this are quite difficult for most digicams, because of their low ISO rating. This picture was taken with the Olympus 3000 Zoom I am currently reviewing. (Here is the review>.) I was using automatic mode, handheld, at ISO 400. This camera’s capability is astounding. Instead of merely warning me that the shutter speed would be slow, this camera gives me the exact shutter speed that will be used. Looks like I will have to stay in New York a few extra days (and nights) to experiment with this new digital camera. 

 


Olympus P-400 Color Printer
Affordable, stand-alone, photo-quality
Just when we were starting to believe ink jet printers were achieving a pinnacle of personal printing art, Olympus has come along to remind us that ink jets aren't the only (or best) game in town.

The newly introduced sub-$1000 P-400 puts dye-sublimation printing in the reach of serious amateur digital photographers or pros that need print-service quality without print-service expense. This printer brings the continuous tonal range and 16.7 million colors of high-end printers down to earth at a tenth of the cost of previous dye-sublimation printers.

What's more, the P-400 offers stand-alone print processing features that might inspire you to bring it out of the photo-lab and into the field. For instance, it can print digital images directly from SmartMedia or PC Cards without the need for a PC. The included LCD panel controls then allow a wedding or other event photographer to specify trimming, framing, and background images. Several available print modes let the printer produce everything from proof sheets to full-sized, photographic-quality prints on the spot.

On the road or in the office, Olympus' P-400 could make satisfying demanding users (and their discriminating customers) an affordable proposition. Even better, The P-400 extends the instant gratification of digital photography to include uncompromising, photographic quality.

Print modes:

- full size, postcard (2 or 4 per page)
- photo-album (1 to 6 images w/ with background)
- index (45 - 260 images per page)

Features:

- Colors: 16.7 million (8 bit/color)
- Print Size: 8.25" x 11.7"
- Photo Size: 8" x 10"
- Speed: 90-second per page
- Interface: parallel port and USB
- Media: SmartMedia, PC card
- LCD Panel
- Dimensions: 30" high x 17" wide x 17" deep
- Effects: black & white and sepia filters
- Functions: trimming, framing, background image, stamp
- Print up to 50 copies at a time
- Cost per print: $1.90 (50 sheets per cartridge)
- List price: $999  

 


Panasonic - PalmCam PV-SD4090
Store megapixels on mega-floppies
Panasonic and Imation are muscling in on the Sony Mavica's turf with the introduction of the PV-SD4090 SuperDisk PalmCam. The $900 digital camera can not only capture its megapixel images on standard 1.44MB floppy disks but accepts Imation's 120MB SuperDisks as well.

Thanks to the built-in SuperDisk drive, the camera can snap close to 450 shots at its highest resolution without running out of digital film.

That's nearly four times as much as a typical 32MB CompactFlash or SmartMedia cards at much lower media cost. And, it is nice to know that you can fall back to easily available floppies in a pinch.

The camera's other notable features include a decent optical zoom, a extra large LCD viewfinder, movie recording in QuickTime format, and the ability to attach audio clips to each picture.

But, let's say you don't already own a SuperDisk. What then? You simply plug the camera into your PC's USB port and it appears as a disk drive visible in File Explorer. This makes it easy for you to download your latest snapshots of course, but also turns the camera into a fully-functional, 120MB SuperDisk drive you can use for everyday backup or file transfer.

All this storage versatility could make the Panasonic PalmCam and Imation SuperDisk combination a unique challenger to the rest of the digital shoot and store crowd.

Features:

- 1.3 megapixels (1,280 x 960)
- Zoom: 3x Optical / 2x Digital
- Viewfinder: Large, 2.5" Color LCD
- Built-in flash
- Audio recording: up to 5 secs per picture
- Movie recording: QuickTime (10 fps)
- Burst mode: Shoots 16 shots in 8 seconds
- Interface: USB
- Price: $900 

 


Polaroid Camera Announced
New Model - PDC 2300
Polaroid’s soon-to-be “top of the line” digital camera, the PDC 2300 boasts a whopping 2.1 megapixel image AND a 2X OPTICAL zoom in camera that will be priced at less than $400. Currently, we are reviewing the PDC 1100, the current top of Polaroid’s line which presently ranges from $60 to $299. 

 


Sony's Latest Mavica
This camera is the latest version of Sony’s very successful Mavica digital camera line. Not only can this camera take great pictures and store them onto 156 MB CD-R media, it can also be used as a portable, USB connected, 3.5” CD-R burner for ANY kind of data.

The 3.5" CD-R discs are completely compatible with a majority of CD-ROM drives and should only cost about $4 a piece or $0.25 per megabyte. That's a phenomenal savings compared to CompactFlash or SmartMedia.

As a camera, I found that the clear, bright, “real-time” viewfinder Sony has been known for was still there, even though this camera boasts 2.1 megapixels. The 10:1 optical zoom is still crisp and sharp as well. While this digicam is larger than my Sony MVC-FD7, it is still lighter than most film 35mm cameras with a standard removable lens and is far lighter than those same cameras with 350mm lens! Picture shooting was quick and seemed to take only a few seconds between shots (and this camera is storing each pictures onto a 3.5” CD-R) - No need to download or worry about stray magnetic fields!

This camera should make for an interesting review, as we compare its features against higher resolution CompactFlash cameras with far less zoom.  

 

Want to see all this page in a more compact form? View the linked version of this article. It's a smaller download than this page, and each product's information is only a link away.

Copyright © 2006 Rick Smith All rights reserved.

   
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