With no rest for the weary technology consumer, last week the industry's event CES 2009 took place in Las Vegas with thousands of companies debuting their latest consumer electronics innovations that promise to hit the market this year. So what's up with digital cameras? With most point-and-shoots are offering 10- to 14-megapixels, the megapixel wars are over and cameras are being differentiated by new features like superzoom and wi-fi. The most super of the zooms comes from Olympus in the SP-590UZ ($450 available in March) with an incredible 26x optical zoom at a focal length of 26-676mm. Kodak's launching the Z980($400 available in spring) with a 24x optical zoom at a focal length of 26-624mm. The key to success here? An excellent image stabilization feature. On the wi-fi front Sony has the most interesting offering with the DSC-G3($500 available now). The camera is the first to feature a built-in web browser and can upload stills and video. So whether you're in a hotspot or at home on your wireless network, not only can you load photos to sites like Shutterfly and YouTube, you can use your camera to display any photos or videos already on the sites.
Now here's a poll that won't get you down. In August 2008, PMA (The Worldwide Community of Imaging Associations) reports that almost 80% of digital cameras sold in the US had 8-megapixels or more. To boot, 27% of digital cameras sold in the US had 10-megapixels or more. Compare this to August 2007, where only 20% of digital cameras sold in the US had 8-megapixels or more. In 2007, DSLRs accounted for just 10.3% of digital cameras sold in the US. We don't have more recent numbers on that fact, but it'd be interesting to see what kind of camera bodies people are housing their megapixels in. There's a distinct correlation between dollars and megapixels and at a certain point, you're not benefiting from the megapixels in a low-end camera body. Kind of like putting ground rib eye in meatloaf. You dig? (via ZDNet)
Wowsers! Kodak invented OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) technology and now they've stuffed it into the first ever consumer-available wireless digital frame. OLED technology gives greater color depth and saturation, and views well from any angle--all in a display panel that is significantly thinner than the usual. In addition, you've got the wi-fi technology (which should pretty much be mandatory in digital frames, in our opinion), a premium audio system and wide screen display.
In November, the frame will go on sale at Kodak.com (later at other retailers) with the whopping price tag of $999. Yeah. In the meantime, you could head on over to Cologne, Germany and see the frame on display at Photokina, the world's largest photo and imaging trade fair.
To quote: "Drawing inspiration from the simple design of the human eye..." Who said our eyes were simple?! Sure, Charlie. Well, researchers at Northwestern University and the University of Illinois joined forces to develop an eye-like camera with a curved lens that resembles a retina. This curved screen reduces the distortion that comes from projecting light on a flat surface and increases the field of view, reducing the need for multiple lenses. As we know, all electronics are currently based on flat and rigid wafers, and even slight curves pose considerable production and engineering challenges.
The implications of this "flexible electronic" development are exciting for both electronics engineers and bioengineers. For the latter, it's the hope of correcting neuron misfirings in epilepsy patients and even bionic eyes that transmit digital signals to the brain's vision centers. For electronics engineers, it's compact, one-lens-does-all cameras, wrap-around video displays and even roll-up solar panels.
Very exciting stuff! Keep your eyes peeled for more on this. Heh. (via TMCnet)
Well, while some folks ogle at fancy car magazines, we ogle at Hasselblads. Sigh. 50-megapixels. This thing is HUGE. Its sensor alone (Kodak 50mp 36x48 mm) is twice the physical size of the largest DSLR sensors out there. This camera can capture a 65MB (compressed) image in 1.1 second. Be still my heart! Who is this gorgeous beast made for? Very high-end commercial pros. (Keep in mind most of these guys are satisfied with 25-megapixels.) So if anyone's got $36,000 burning a hole in their pocket, this Hasselblad is crying for you.
Japan is leading the way here on disposable digital cameras made from recycled cell phone displays. Plaza Create Co. developed the camera and runs 1,200 photographic print shops across Japan. Right now only the LCD displays are recycled but the company plans to incorporate phone camera lenses in the future. The disposable camera will do 27 exposures and retail for about 1,280 yen ($11.91) or 50 exposures at 1,480 yen ($13.77), which is comparable to the current film models priced between 500 and 1,000 yen ($4.65-9.30). Considering there's no development fee with the digital camera, consumers are making out well. While you can't rewrite over the memory card, you are given the option to "save" or "delete" after each shot, so there should be no exposures wasted. (via The Daily Yomiuri)
If you don't already have a robot in your life, get used to the idea because they are already sweeping floors, cutting grass and now they're shooting a mean panoramic photo.
Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have developed a consumer-friendly robotic device that attaches to most digital cameras. It's called GigaPan, descriptive of its ability to capture over a billion pixels in a high-resolution panorama. Woah! GigaPan is larger than your digital camera and requires the use of a tripod. It uses a robotic finger to repeatedly click the shutter to take dozens to thousands of overlapping images, each at a slightly different tilt. The images are then spliced together to create the awesome panorama. How long does a shot take? Up to 90 minutes, so bring a cocktail.
These "giga" panoramas are idea to zoom into on a computer monitor, seeing crisp detail across a vast space--kind of like looking through binoculars. The plan is to release the GigaPan later in the year--no exact price yet, but folks are dedicated to making this affordable and speculate on a price in the $150-300 range.
Visit gigapan.org to see more examples. It's pretty cool! We'll keep you posted on updates.
This is case in point of "you get what you pay for." With the rising popularity of the digital picture frame, all kinds of unqualified manufacturers are getting in the game, usually in China. These cheap frames are branded generically or sold as private label frames for stores like Best Buy and Wal-mart. Fortunately, U.S. port officials have caught on and just rejected almost 1 million digital picture frames manufactured in China due to fire hazard concerns.
Fire? Yes, indeed. Many a cheap digital picture frame has been blamed for fires in homes and offices across the country because the frames spontaneously catch on fire. Manufacturers are using substandard materials that run at high temperatures and/or LCD screens and operating systems that are not engineered to handle the constant usage that the average digital picture frame is under. Buyer beware of manufacturer Sun Plus Technology -- their screens and operating systems were originally designed for portable DVD players and have been identified as fire starters. Take it from us -- stick to the trusted brands and if the price is too good to be true, as Dad said, it usually is. (via DigitalPictureFrameReview)
Who knew? A couple weeks ago at the Indian Point nuclear power plant in Buchanan, New York, the radio frequencies from an employee's digital camera apparently interfered with a control panel it was near. The control panel regulated a boiler pump that provides water to steam generators and the interference resulted in a water level drop, which resulted in the shutdown of the nuclear reactor. There were no environmental problems associated with the shutdown. According to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) simply having the digital camera "on" was enough to interfere with controls at the close distance. The nuclear plan regularly uses cameras to document equipment and this accidental shutdown has resulted in some fresh new policies as you can imagine. In 1997 there was an incident where Halon gas was released in Connecticut at the Haddam Neck Plant caused by camera flashes. Careful, Homer! (via newsday)
We don't usually indulge in rants at PictureSnob, but Nikon's Ashton Kutcher TV campaign just keeps begging for it. In our earlier rant we chastised Nikon for a transparent and misguided campaign pushing entry-level product (CoolPix). Turns out, this goon is also the face of Nikon DSLR in this spot for the D60. Nikon even has the audacity to give a shout out to the D300 at the end of the spot. Here's the riddle: what exactly do the CoolPix, D60 and D300 photographer have in common? Taste in celebrity? At least make Ashton put the strap around his neck like most folks would do with a $700 camera. As for his self-centered, "phototainment" approach to shooting, we all know those types of people and they're irritating -- hardly an embodiment of the ever-savvy Nikon photographers we know. Nikon, you are testing the limits of our unconditional love.
We're excited about this one. While all the rage is digital picture frames, there will always be an occasion for the old fashioned beautifully framed print. And isn't it such an expense and hullabaloo to bring prints to a local shop? Well, at Real Memories you can upload your digital image file, edit it and select all the framing options you like--over 2,000 frame styles and mat openings--then you'll get a framed print in the mail! The web site is intuitive and easy to use and the base prices are affordable. Frames are handmade in the United States and you can select archival mats and museum quality glass. Beware they have a bird logo on the site that chirps -- anytime they want to turn that little feature off would be great. We plan on trying it out soon--let us know how it goes if you get to it first!
Some key features:
- Add personalized captions in foil stamp
- Ship the same frame to multiple people
- Can simulate a preview of the frame hanging on your wall, complete with your own paint color
- Loyalty points program gives you 10% back on every order
Stars, they're just like us: they take digital photos!
It's time to rain down on Nikon's Ashton Kutcher TV campaign for CoolPix. Oh, the horrors. Now exactly how much do Nikon and Ashton Kutcher have in common that he would ever be chosen to embody the brand? And didn't Ashton peak years ago? There's great celebrity pairings to be found--Nike & Tiger, Priceline & Shatner--you know makes them work? Some thread of relevance.
For a brand that has a stellar, high-end reputation for innovation and consistency, enjoys the faithful patronage of pros and hobbyists alike, why would it ever launch an oops-my-strategy-is-showing television campaign to beg a younger audience with entry-level product? Nikon we love you, but seriously--let's hope moving those $250 point-and-shoots is worth eroding the brand.
Thanks to our friends at Kitchen Contraptions who found this auto-focus oven. That's right, folks, an auto-focus oven. The same way our lovable digital cameras can automatically set ISO, lens speed and aperture by assessing the light in a frame, this oven (Inspiro by Electrolux) can assess the contents of the oven and set the optimum temperature and cooking time. Just don't put your camera in the oven, OK? You can read more about this at the Electrolux Inspiro blog.