Weekend Wrap for March 11, 2011

The latest photo industry news



Nikon, Canon Safe after Japan Quake
As of approximately 7:30 AM (E.T.) today, Amateur Photographer magazine reports that the Nikon Corporation building and factories, which are located in the north of Japan where today’s massive 8.9-magnitude earthquake was centered, were not significantly damaged, and no employee injuries were reported. The magazine also reports no plant damage. Pentax is currently investigating whether there were damage to its facilities or injuries to staff. CNN reports that the quake is the most powerful to have hit Japan in at least 100 years, and generated a Tzunami that is causing widespread damage. Go to Amateur Photographer for updates regarding the quake’s impact on the Japanese photo industry.


JVC offers world’s first consumer 3D camcorder
Are consumers willing to buy a camcorder that is dedicated to 3D videos? JVC is banking on the trend towards 3D by serving up the GS-TD1, the world’s first consumer-oriented 3D camcorder. The $1,700 camcorder, which is available now, features two 3.32MP CMOS sensors and shoots full HD 1080i resolution 3D video using MP4 MVC mode or AVCHD 3D side-by-side mode.  It’s fronted by an f/1.2 twin HD GT lens, has 64GB of built-in memory and an SDXC card slot, 5x optical zoom, optical stabilization and a 3.5-inch 3D touch panel LCD monitor which plays back 3D images that can be viewed without 3D glasses. You will need the glasses, however, when watching the videos on any 3D TV.


Are consumers really interested in 3D?
But are consumers really interested in 3D? Why would manufacturers gamble on developing the products if they weren’t? Well, this might or might not be a self-fulfilling bit of research, but the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) just released a study that predicts that 23 percent of digital imaging enthusiasts are likely to buy a 3D digital camera within the next year, and one in ten are expected to buy a 3D camcorder. Those who said they would buy a 3D camera would most likely shoot natural scentery, buildings or landmarks, and historic places. Those are pretty impressive numbers. However, the study doesn’t say if consumers are interested in 3D-only cameras or standard digital cameras with a 3D option, such as Sony’s “Sweep 3D” mode.


Hama Flexible LED Light Panel
For video and still photograhers, Hama has just introduced a daylight-balanced LED light with 40 dimmable LEDs and a soft diffuser and an orange filter to balance with tungsten light. It generates up to 1670 lx/3ft.The light panel is attached to an articulated neck so it can be pointed straight at a subject, or bounced off a wall or ceiling. It is mounted to the camera via the hot shoe or can be mounted to a tripod via a ¼-inch thread, and runs on 3 AAA batteries. No info on when it will be available in the U.S.


Fujifilm apologizes for X100 shortage
The Fujifilm X100 seems to be a victim of its pre-release buzz. The camera was released this month, and there has been an immediate demand for this unique, rangefinder-style (but not, actually, a rangefinder) camera. Fujifilm Japan reports that the X100 is already in short supply. In a brief statement on its Japan-based web site, the company apologizes for the shortage, and says it is increasing production of the camera in response to the demand. Read the notice in the original Japanese.

Samyang Unveils Micro Four Thirds Fisheye
Samyang is showing around a prototype of a 7.5mm f/3.5 fisheye lens designed for Micro Four Thirds cameras such as the Olympus E-PL2 and Panasonic GF-2. Features are expected to include focusing down to approximately 4 inches, a 180-degree angle of view, and a compact, light design. Samyang says it’s the first of a series of lenses they’re planning for mirrorless interchangeable-lens compact cameras.

A Safer Lens Cap?
In the “why didn’t anybody think of this before” department, a new lens cover, called Lens Guard, provides more protection than a lens cap, according to manufacturer DeluxGear. Much like a car bumper, Lens Guard is said to absorb impact and prevent scrapes, scratches, dents and cracks to the lens. The Lens Guard is made up of a 0.08-inch santoprene outer cover and a cushiony, water-resistant inner core made of 0.25-inch thick closed cell neoprene, the same material used in diving suits. Lens Guard will be available in three sizes for lenses from 2.5 to 4 inches in diameter, and is expected to cost $20.

Ricoh GXR Wins Design Award
The Germin iF (International Forum Design) has awarded the Gold Award for product design to the Ricoh GXR, the world’s first modular compact camera.  The innovative design, where lenses and matched sensors are built together into modules that slide into the camera body, was one of 50 products selected for the Gold Ward among 2,756 products that were entered. Adorama is the exclusive U.S. source for Ricoh digital cameras.


And finally…meet the World’s Smallest Digital Camera
Speaking of Germany, researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany have developed a digital camera that’s about the size of a grain of salt, dubbed the microcamera. The camera measures 1x1x1 millimeters, and is expected to be used for surgery, and applications for consumer electronics and automobiles are being considered. For example, microcameras could replace side-mounted mirrors or be used as eye-tracking devices. Image quality? 62,500 pixels—1/20 of a megapixel, or worse than a cell phone.


And that's a wrap! Have a great weekend and if you're in Japan or Hawaii, be safe!


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