New Kodak and Ricoh compacts, onOne's portrait software, DSLR paradigm changes, and the ACLU weighs in on photographers' rights
Ricoh Claims Faster AF, Better Image Quality in GR Digital IV
Ricoh this week unveiled the fourth generation of its critically acclaimed GR compact digital camera series, the GR Digital IV. Ricoh boasts that the camera's AF speed and accuracy have been improved, as well as its image quality. The GR IV is the first in the series with image-sensor shift image stabilization with a claimed shutter speed increas of 3.2 stops which, combined with the 28mm f/1.9 lens, may make this a serious choice for low-light photography. Ricoh also claims image quality has been improved over the GR III, while AF focus time is said to be reduced to 0.2 seconds, half the time of its predecessor. The camera is backed by a revamped 3-inch 1.23 million dot VGA LCD monitor, has an improved electronic level feature, and compatibility with wireless WiFi cards.
For details, see the Ricoh press release at the end of this article.
Kodak Launches a Pair of Easyshare Cameras
Kodak has just launched two new compact cameras, the Easyshare Touch M5370 and the Easyshare Z5010. The Touch is—as its name implies—a touchscreen operated camera, with a 16MP sensor, 28-140mm (35mm equivalent) optical zoom lens, and 720p HD video capture. Unusually, it records onto microSD cards, rather than regular SD cards. It replaces the M577, and costs around $160. It will be available later this month. The Easyshare Z5010 is a 14MP camera with a 21x zoom lens with a 25-525mm 35mm equivalent range, a 3-inch LCD, and runs on 4 AA batteries. It costs less than the 30x Z990, which Kodak introduced earlier this year. Look for it in October for around $230.
OnOne announces Perfect Portrait, automates flattering features
onOne has just announced a new Photoshop plug-in designed for portrait photographers, Perfect Portrait. With it photo enthusiasts and pro shooters have automatic face and feature detection, and can quickly change skin texture and color, remove blemishes, and enhance eyes, lips and teeth. In addition to compatabily with Photoshop, Lightroom and Aperture, Perfect Portrait will also be available as a stand-alone program, or as part of onOne's Perfect Photo Suite 6. Perfect Portrait will be available as a standalone for $100 and as part of the Perfect Photo Suite for $300 starting in October. For details, scroll down for onOne's unedited press release.
Sony, Panasonic gain as Canon, Nikon dawdle on MILCs
With more and more mirrorless interchangeable-lens compacts entering the market, the SLR part of the photo industry may be experiencing its biggest paradigm shift in six decades, according to an industry analyst quoted in this article by Bloomberg. The biggest winners? Sony and Panasonic, as well as Olympus, Samsung, Ricoh and Pentax. All of these companies have introduced small cameras with interchangeable lenses (or in the case of Ricoh, lens/sensor modules). Oddly, in Japan, MILCs are being lumped together with SLR sales—and last year accounted for over 40% of all “SLR” sales there. Meanwhile, DSLR sales are slowing down. Are Canon and Nikon, who haven't entered the MILC race yet, really losing? No—Canon forecasts a 24% increase in DSLR sales this year—but in the long run, according to the article, both Canon and Nikon will have to enter the market.
Android market share growing
Speaking of market share, without Steve Jobs at the helm, should Apple be worried about this? According to a study just released by ABI Research, Android Tablet sales are up to 20% of the total tablet market over the past year, making it the only credible alternative to Apple's iPad. However, no individual tablet maker has taken the lead.
And finally...ACLU Guide to Photographers' Rights
Do you know your rights as a photographer? The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has just published what should be the difinitive guide to your rights as a photographer, what the Police can and can't do to you and your gear, and what to do if you are stopped by a cop. Download the full document here. This is a must read to avoid incidents like this one.
Unedited Press Releases
Ricoh announces the GR DIGITAL IV
A digital camera offering enhanced Quick Shooting capability and
image quality with a Hybrid AF System and GR ENGINE IV
Tokyo, Japan, September 15, 2011—Ricoh Co., Ltd. (President and CEO: Shiro Kondo) today announces the development and release of the GR DIGITAL IV digital camera, the successor model to the GR DIGITAL III, which offers enhanced Quick Shooting capability and image quality.
The GR DIGITAL III (released in August 2009) was a compact digital camera with high image quality that came with a 28mm/F1.9 GR Lens, the GR ENGINE III, and a high-sensitivity CCD that continued the evolution of the concepts originally introduced in the first GR DIGITAL model (released in October 2005). In the two years since its release, it has been enthusiastically received by a broad range of customers including professional and amateur photographers.
The new GR DIGITAL IV, featuring a new image engine and a refined optical filter, exceeds the GR DIGITAL III and achieves the highest level of image quality in the history of the GR series.
Additionally, for the advancement of the Quick Shooting capabilities required to make sure you never miss a shot when out shooting, Ricoh has introduced a Hybrid AF System and an Image-sensor-shift Image Stabilization Function, which makes use of Ricoh's independently developed external AF sensor, and a 3-inch, approximately 1.23 million-dot VGA LCD monitor for heightened outdoor visibility. The addition of an electronic level that can detect inclination in the tilt direction, as well as the conventional horizontal direction also improves operability. Moreover, the inclusion of Dynamic Range Compensation makes it possible to shoot subjects in backlit or high-contrast scenes in the way the eye sees them, and Interval Composite, which can combine images shot at a certain shooting interval, advances the camera's expressive capabilities.
Ricoh will also continue to provide the highly praised function-expansion firmware.
Main Features of the GR DIGITAL IV
1.Improved AF speed and accuracy due to the introduction of the Hybrid AF system
1.The camera comes newly equipped with Ricoh's independently developed external AF sensor, which has a maximum of 190 AF points. Through the Hybrid AF System, which is used in parallel with the conventional CCD contrast AF, Ricoh has realized an AF focusing time as short as 0.2 seconds, as much as half that of the GR DIGITAL III.
Also, algorithm refinements have led to improvements in the AF speed for macro shots that are taken using only the CCD contrast AF method for a maximum reduction of half the time of the previous model.
2.In shooting with a single press of the shutter-release button, the high focusing accuracy required for snapshot shooting has been added to the camera's Quick Shooting capabilities by performing the metering with only the external AF sensor. The metering information from the external AF sensor can be displayed on the LCD monitor as necessary.
2.Even higher image quality achieved
1.Through refinements to the optical filter and optimization of the image processing from the previous model, the GR DIGITAL III, the SFR* characteristics have been improved.
2.With the new image processing engine, the GR ENGINE IV, color reproduction enhancement and color noise reductions are achieved when taking high-sensitivity photographs.
3.Ricoh's signature 28mm/F1.9 GR lens demonstrates its high resolution while suppressing chromatic aberration and distortion. The approximately 10 million-pixel, 1/1.7-inch CCD shows off its high-sensitivity characteristics. These are the elements through which the GR DIGITAL IV achieves the highest image quality in GR DIGITAL history.
*Spatial Frequency Response (SFR): One of the indicators of a digital camera's resolution characteristics, including everything from the optical system to the image processing.
3.Comes with the first image-sensor shift image stabilization function in the GR DIGITAL series
1.With the image-sensor shift image stabilization function, the GR DIGITAL IV achieves a stabilization effect equivalent to a shutter speed increase of a maximum of 3.2 stops*, which combined with the fast F1.9 GR lens further increases the camera's ability to capture dark scenes.
*Measured using RICOH measurement methods.
1.Introduction of a new, high-brightness LCD monitor and the addition of an automatic brightness adjustment function
1.Through the introduction of the new 3-inch, approximately
1.23 million-dot VGA LCD monitor, which adds white pixels to the RGB ones, the GR DIGITAL IV secures a maximum brightness of approximately 1.7 times that of the GR DIGITAL III, improving its visibility when outdoors.
2.A function in which the camera automatically adjusts the luminance to match the brightness of the subject has been added, which minimizes decreases in visibility due to changes in the shooting environment.
2.Shooting functions that heighten the photographer's expressive ability and enhanced scene modes
1.Comes with dynamic range compensation to minimize the effects of blown highlights in bright areas and crushed blacks in dark ones. For backlit or high-contrast scenes where exposure compensation alone is not enough, compensation is performed for each area, enabling the photographer to take pictures at a brightness that closely matches how the subject looked.
2.The Auto Bracket function has been enhanced. In addition to the conventional Exposure and White Balance, Contrast Bracket Setting and Dynamic Range Compensation bracketing have been newly added, of which any two can be selected for addition to the image settings to record a sequence of three shots with Image Setting Bracket.
3.Comes with an Interval Composite mode that will replace and combine only the high-brightness pixel data in images of the night sky taken at fixed intervals. This makes it possible to shoot distinctive landscape pictures that show the trails of light left by the stars.
4.Positive Film and Bleach Bypass, which lowers saturation and increases contrast, have been added to the image settings. Along with settings like the existing High Contrast B&W and Cross Process, these can be used in each of the shooting modes (Auto/P/A/S/M).
5.Multiple exposure shooting, which makes it possible to shoot up to five overlapping shots, and bulb exposure functions have also been included.
3.Already high operability heightened even further
1.Included since the GR DIGITAL II, the electronic level function has been enhanced. Now it can detect inclination in not only the horizontal direction, but also the tilt direction as well.
2.The function combinations that can be used with the Fn1/Fn2 buttons have been expanded to four settings that can be registered with the Fn Button Pair Setting. Because the user can switch between functions registered in the Fn Button Pair Setting without going into the menu screens, they serve as an easy shortcut, making it possible to change functions in an instant to match the scene being shot.
3.The My Settings function, which enables the user to register their preferred camera settings, have been expanded from types to 12 types. Better still, because the settings can be registered on an SD card, users can share their favorite settings amongst themselves.
4.Includes a function for working with Eye-Fi cards. Images taken can be wirelessly transferred to a computer or uploaded to a photo-sharing site. When these functions are in use, the transmission information will be displayed on the shooting and playback screens.
4.An even broader range of expandability with new options
1.A genuine leather hand strap for excellent portability and handling and a metal lens cap that works with the lock function of the power button will be available as new options.
5.Implementation of function expansions through firmware
1.The provision of function-expansion firmware, which has been highly praised from the GR DIGITAL to the GR DIGITAL III models, will continue with the GR DIGITAL IV. By updating the firmware, the camera can always use the latest functions.
onOne Software Introduces Perfect Portrait
Brand new product from onOne provides photographers with automated and intuitive tools for portrait retouching.
Portland, OR-- September 7, 2011 -- onOne Software, Inc., a leading developer of innovative, timesaving solutions for professional and advanced amateur photographers, today introduced Perfect Portrait, part of the new Perfect Photo Suite 6 that was also announced today.
Perfect Portrait is a completely new product that offers the latest innovations in portrait retouching for photographers with automatic face and feature detection saving photographers time from having to make selections manually. Additionally, Perfect Portrait makes short work of improving skin texture, skin color, removing blemishes and enhancing features for eyes, lips and teeth by providing robust yet easy to use tools and controls.
As photographers do more of their work in applications like Adobe® Photoshop® Lightroom software and Apple Aperture, onOne has evolved its product line to support these changing workflows. Users can use any of the newest onOne products as standalone applications as well as accessing them from within Photoshop, Lightroom or Aperture allowing users to use these new products where they want. To further streamline workflows, users of Perfect Photo Suite 6 will now be able to move effortlessly between all of the individual products using the new Module Selector within Perfect Photo Suite 6.
"For years, portrait photographers have had to rely on outside retouching services or spend hours learning or finding the non-intuitive methods to enhance portraits using pixel editing applications," said Craig Keudell, president of onOne Software. "We wanted to develop a portrait retouching product that would deliver amazing, professional quality results in a simple to use application. Perfect Portrait will automatically find a single face or multiple faces in an image and then give you incredibly intuitive controls to enhance a portrait in a fraction of the time it takes with traditional tools."
Key Benefits of Perfect Portrait:
Designed for Portrait Retouching from the Ground Up: Photographers will appreciate having just the right tools to quickly enhance and retouch portraits. Unnecessary tools or controls that might get in the way are left out intentionally.
Automatic Face Detection: Because Perfect Portrait automatically detects faces, photographers can get directly to the art of retouching. Each face in the image is located automatically so that they don't have to be identified through the use of complicated wizards. If there are multiple people in an image, each can have their own, unique settings. Most importantly, the rest of the image is untouched so it maintains its original fidelity.
Automatic Feature Detection: More than just finding each face, Perfect Portrait also quickly finds the eyes and mouth in a portrait automatically. No time is wasted painting in the features or using manual wizards. Because the features are identified right away, photographers can quickly get to the task of enhancing those critical features.
Retouch Brush: The brand new retouch brush in Perfect Portrait removes acne, stray hairs, veins and other blemishes. Just dab the retouch brush on a blemish and it is gone automatically.
Skin Blemish Removal and Smoothing: With Perfect Portrait, you will get great looking natural skin automatically because the application maintains realistic skin structure so portraits don't look over retouched. Small imperfections like wrinkles and deep pores can be quickly smoothed to give the skin an even consistency. Perfect Portrait can be used on just the face or the entire body.
Accurate Skin Color Correction: Perfect Portrait helps achieve accurate and natural skin color automatically. This color correction technology adjusts color based on the skin color and ethnicity of each face in the image.
Works Anywhere: Perfect Portrait works directly with Lightroom and Aperture and even as a standalone application. It also works as a plug-in to Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Photoshop Elements.
Perfect Portrait will be available in late October as standalone product for $99.95 and as part of the Perfect Photo Suite 6 for $299.95. Owners of Plug-In Suite 5 or earlier versions can upgrade to Perfect Photo Suite 6 for $149.95.