Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Asian Babes Fight of the Week!

Asian Babes Fight of the Week!

Today we have two new contenders… Hwang Mi Hee on the left (Korean) and Yumi Sugimoto on the right (Japanese). If you need to see more, please check our gallery below.

Which one of these beautiful babes won your heart over the weekend?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

PMA 2009 Interview: Olympus

PMA 2009 Interview: Olympus

Back at PMA we sat down with a handful of senior Olympus executives from Europe, the USA and Japan for our usual show briefing and, as promised, we dedicated a section of the meeting to an 'on the record' interview for publication here. Unfortunately, much of what we discussed can't be talked about just yet, and perhaps inevitably we failed to get through the huge list of questions generated by our active Olympus users community - we're working on getting written answers to all of them. For now here's a transcript of the parts of the conversation we can report on!

Olympus people in the interview:

  • Akira Wantanabe, SLR Business division, Product Planning department, Manager
    Olympus Imaging Corp.
  • Miquel Angel Garcia, Managing Director European Marketing, Olympus Imaging Europa GmbH
  • Heino Hilbig, Head of Corporate Communications & Marketing Services, Olympus Imaging Europa GmbH
  • John Knaur, Senior Marketing Manager DSLR, Olympus Imaging America Inc.
  • Sally Smith Clemens, Product Manager, Olympus Imaging America Inc.

We're obviously not going to get through all these questions here, but I think that the willingness of Olympus to listen to them - and to answer them where possible - is hugely appreciated by the community, and is in stark contrast with some of the other manufacturers we deal with.
SSC: We're glad to be able to do it because we are interested to know what the forum members are thinking and also to share what’s going on at Olympus.

When you look at the scores of questions we've got and the hundreds of daily posts on the forums there are a few themes that turn up again and again, and one of the biggest is the need for reassurance about your commitment to Four Thirds since the arrival of MFT, which we spoke about at Photokina. I think there's still some concern about resources being diverted to MFT and away from the main system. I mean there's little evidence for it; you're bringing out new FT cameras all the time, but there's still and undercurrent of concern that their investment in this system will at some point be wasted.

MAG: I think that there is a basic understanding which we have to set, which is that there are not two separate worlds for investing in Micro Four Thirds and then investing in Four Thirds, actually it is all Four Thirds to us. Therefore, part of our investment in the Four Thirds system itself, is the Micro Four Thirds development. There is a good reason for the order of our development roadmap. We announced the Micro Four Thirds extension in August 2008, then we launched the E-30 and now the E-620 FT cameras.

A benefit of the development for both Four Thirds and Micro Four Thirds can be seen in the new image stabilization system that we are using in the E-620 which is 20% smaller. We will surely also see a similar type of mechanism in the Micro Four Thirds product. I think that any fear from our loyal customers will disappear because for us, it’s not ‘here’ or ‘there’ – we are utilizing resources from the development of both of our systems. This is similar to the way many of the innovative technologies from the E-3 found their way back into other E-series cameras. This will also happen between both Four Thirds and Micro Four Thirds: it’s not one of the other.

AW: Many of the components used in FT models can be also used in MFT bodies. The sensor - and getting the image from the sensor is a big use of resources - and also the image stabilizer can be used for both, so we don't think it's 'split'. Of course some modification is needed for MFT bodies and FT bodies, we're confident we can develop both at the same rate as before.

And in terms of optics; are there technologies developed in the design of lenses for MFT that are applicable to FT or is that completely separate?
AW: Of course the biggest difference when it comes to interchangeable lenses is the back focus distance, so especially for wide-angle lenses the design has to be different. But for telephoto lenses, as you know - for example the 300mm lens - there is no lens element at the back, so the back focus distance doesn't matter. But yes, for some of the lenses we need to separate the designs.

So I would presume that the form factor you've chosen for your Micro Four Thirds camera lends itself to a particular type of lens, so you may not have a situation where you have competing FT and MFT versions of many lenses?
AW: In general terms in the design of a lens the size of the lens can be minimized when the focal length and back focus distance are roughly equal. In essence the thickness of the MFT body is the best focal length for the lens to make it the minimum size. But for longer focal lengths there would be virtually no difference in size.

In terms of the differentiation between the two lines, one of the questions that we see quite regularly is whether there will be ruggedized or weather sealed or otherwise 'pro grade' MFT bodies, or are you going to keep the two lines completely separate?
HH: The important point is that for us, in our understanding, there is no difference between MFT and FT. From our perspective we have to be very much aware that the only difference is that there is no mirror inside, and because of that we can make the camera body smaller. And I would like to get rid of this fear that we are no longer developing components for 'the' Four Thirds products because of MFT, because this implies an incorrect idea of how we develop a product. We don't develop a product in isolation; what takes time to develop are the components inside, which means that - as we talked about earlier - the image stabilizer used in the E-620 was developed for the MFT camera and introduced in a FT product.

So actually the development of MFT will benefit FT users.
HH: Yes, that's the way to see it. If Four Thirds is the 'master-class', the MFT development is, in R&D terms, one step higher. To make it smaller is more difficult, but this means that FT will benefit from MFT.

So can we talk about the FT lens roadmap. The one that has been published doesn't go beyond 2009,
HH: That's the one that's been published, yes.

So when are we likely to see a new lens roadmap, and what can you tell us about the general direction of current development?
AW: The way we set the roadmap is always like this; We get requests from the market, from your website and so on, and we put them together and make a list and put them in an order and simply develop from the top one down. I cannot tell you which lens is in the first place or second place but I can tell you we do have a long queue.

So how long does it take to get from the top of the list to actually being available to buy?
AW: When we revealed the system and the roadmap for the first time I think there were almost twenty lenses and we've now shown all of them. That took about four years.

JK: Which is kind of phenomenal when you think about it; 20 lenses in four years.

AW: The first lenses we produced were the very basic lenses, which is inevitable for a new system. so we needed to quickly fill the range. The situation now is a little bit different. One year we may focus on the bodies, the next we may focus a bit more on lenses, so we will not launch lenses constantly but we have been listening to the voices of our customers.

How about updates to existing lenses such as the 50mm macro; would they come quite low on the priority list?
AW: That's correct.

So what about the process of moving to contrast detect AF; is there a separate program to upgrade existing designs or is that just something you'll be concentrating on for new lenses? Are you likely to go back and update some of the more popular lenses so they're more compatible with CD-AF systems?
AW: This is something we'll need to clarify by the time we launch the MFT system, so please wait until the summer.

Now that professional cameras are increasingly moving towards full frame is the pro market an area you're still actively looking to participate in?
HH: Can I just make a 'marketing' comment on that first before the business and technical guys answer. Where does the term full frame come from? Full frame is 35mm which is half of the cinema film used in Kodak projectors. The question is 'where is the quality satisfied?' From our perspective, it's a subject of a market-orientated quality which has to be delivered; whether this is quality of the picture in general, or its pixels inside, which I don't think is a mark of quality. So this is an issue of talking about the format, which fulfills the market standard rather than 'full frame'.

OK. That's fair, because obviously the format shouldn't make any difference, but for a 'pro' camera to compete against the kind of camera professionals are buying it has a lot of work to do, and our only question is whether that will be an area where you'll be actively competing?
JK: From our side, and I'll speak because I work with a lot of professional photographers in the states - not all professional photographers are looking for 'full frame'. There's a lot more to the quality of the image than the size of the sensor and the number of pixels involved, which I know you guys are well aware of. Cameras like the E-3 have been used very successfully by many professionals. In fact, right now one of our professionals is traveling around the globe with (National) Geographic, and all he's using are E-3s. He can use whatever he wants but he's choosing to use E-3 because the lens quality he feels is better, he can shoot wide open and get good sharpness at the edges, the color quality is there, the image quality is there. So to characterize any camera - whether it's an Olympus or anything else - and say 'this is a professional camera' based on one feature is an injustice to any camera. In fact we’ve got one Magnum guy out there who still uses C5050's because he thinks its the best camera ever made - for what he's doing. So I think it's the quality of the image we can deliver that's more important than the size of the sensor.

Sure, but I don't think that you'd argue that any of the full frame cameras that have been released don't also offer excellent image quality.
JK: No, I think that across the board a lot of the cameras out there today - compared to five years ago - are very good and very high quality, but I don't think you'd argue that those manufacturers' with APS-C cameras aren't any good simply because they're not full frame.

But the point is they have the advantage that they can offer both full frame and smaller sensor bodies, and whether you can persuade enough professionals that you can offer a viable alternative to the full frame systems offered by other manufacturers to justify the continuing development of your professional system. To us the E-620 is represents exactly what FT is 'about' and the sensor format gives it genuine benefits over the competition. It's easy to understand its position in the market and its easy to see its appeal.
MAG: If we were targeting to really lead the professional market this would be a key issue. So the question is, are we targeting to lead the professional market in the short term? Today that's not in our plan. If we really wanted to succeed we would have to look at all the alternatives, which would most probably break all the work we've done on Four Thirds. But I don't think Olympus is trying to lead the professional market. We are, on the other hand, leading by way of technical innovations that many Pro’s and consumers now recognize as very useful; built-in dust reduction, digital specific lenses, etc.

I think part of the problem is that you launched the FT system with a professional camera and so the perception was initially that this was a system aimed at professionals. I guess the main question is whether you're working on an E-3 successor or whether you are now concentrating on cameras like this (the E-620)?
MAG: The reason we launched with the E-1 all those years ago was a decision taken in Japan. There are many ways to enter - or re-enter - a market, as we did in 2003 after 15 years out of it, and still I believe that this was the best way for us to get back into the market. And again there will always be professionals - and not in small numbers - who apply common sense. There is a lot of common sense and rational decisions being made amongst the professional photographers and many can come up with a good reason why an Olympus professional camera is the right choice. Moreover, for the FT system, for Olympus, the E-3 as a professional camera has a lot of meaning. You're right that this camera (the E-620) is what FT is all about, but most probably without the E-3 we wouldn't have this. I think this is very important for your readers to understand.

Of course your pro system does offer some unique benefits over others that will be really important for some users, just as full frame offers other, different advantages over FT. There will always be some systems better suited to some kinds of photography and some kinds of user.
JK: Sure, and it's always been that way. When I got into photography all my peers were using medium format and I was one of the first to jump into 35mm because of the size and weight - everything that FT brings to the table in the digital era. There is no one camera that suits everybody or every need, I had medium formats when I was out in the field as a professional and I had 35mm when I was out in the field as a professional. I see no reason why, in the future, you won't see people who have multiple types of cameras out there based on the need, based on what the job/application is today.

Well Micro Four Thirds has certainly led a lot of people to consider investing in a second system. Moving on, you currently get all your SLR sensors from your partner, Panasonic. How much involvement do you have in the development of sensors and how much R&D does Olympus itself do in this area?
AW: We're doing research, though we're sticking to the Four Thirds format of course, nothing else. We're now developing a new sensor and new image processing engine, and improvements are always being done to get higher sensitivity or higher dynamic range. We’re not very keen on increasing the pixel count because if you want over a 20 million pixel sensor, there are many models on the market to choose from.

Is there an optimum pixel count for Four Thirds sensors with current technology?
AW: Theoretically there is no limit, but we have no intention to compete with other manufacturers in terms of pixel count alone. I think the current 12 megapixel point is a very good one, covering most applications, so we're not placing a priority on pixel count at the moment. We'd rather concentrate on other features.

So how do you compete at a retail level when everyone else is offering, say 15 or 20 million pixels next year? What are you going to be offering - and will it be enough - to make people choose Olympus given that most consumers don't understand that they don't actually need the extra pixels? Are features like the Art Filters and small form factor going to be the Olympus differentiators?
JK: I think not only features but the image quality is becoming more apparent. A few years ago people buying computers only looked at megahertz, or how many gigahertz, and so on. Today, even though that perception is still there to some degree, it's no longer the main selling or purchasing feature for that type of product. It’s becoming apparent at both the retail counter and for the customer, that with digital cameras, more megapixels doesn’t necessarily mean better image quality.

Do do you think that consumers at this level - E-420, E-520, E-620 etc - understand that?
JK: I think they're getting to that point. At retail you're not hearing so much 'how many pixels does it have' from the people coming into stores. You're beginning to hear 'what's the picture quality like?'. And even at the dealer level the guy behind the counter is beginning to ask 'what are you using the camera for?' and 'how are you using it?' and telling people 'you really don't need more pixels than this unless you're going to print really big prints'. The purchaser understands this, today, they are most interested in products that satisfy their specific needs/ applications.

MAG: We have to understand the maturity of the DSLR market, and at Olympus we're starting to try to forecast who the consumer of 2010, 2011 will be; trying to figure out what those new people will be getting into - I don't even want to call it an SLR, really, or getting into the SLR world. I mean MFT won't be an SLR, but in terms of quality and features it is going to be an SLR, exactly the same, so how is the consumer changing? What are they going to be looking for? Maybe we're fooling ourselves, but we ask ourselves are people coming to high quality cameras in 2,3,5 years time, are they really going to be talking about reflex cameras? I don't know. Anyway for buyers interested in that level of high quality camera with high picture quality and high performance - not only in the still images but also video more and more, are they really going to be megapixel orientated? We really don't believe they will. We started with Art Filters and in the beginning it looked like a compact camera feature, but we are witnessing internally, the potential of this functionality from the positive reaction of the people using them.

I think they're (Art Filters) a great idea, but I was concerned as to whether they would be enough to swing anybody to buying one camera over another, whether they would be given any value.
MAG It's a nightmare for marketing when you really believe in something and you wonder how long will it take you to get people to really understand the pleasure of this different kind of photography. But things are easier when it's something that your consumers are, in some way, looking for. I don't mean they're looking specifically for Art Filters in an SLR camera, they're looking for something that consumers in the past were not requesting in an SLR, something different. So are we visionaries? I don't know. But we're working on the principle that in 2010, 2011, the game is going to be different and if you look at Micro Four Thirds or you look at FT we are changing, we are moving. I don't think that in the future the consumer for an SLR or interchangeable lens-type camera - a high image quality camera - is going to be looking for the same things they were at the start of the market a few years ago.

Of course the problem is that it's quite easy for any other manufacturer to watch what you're doing and just say 'oh right, that works, I'll put that on my camera', so your window of opportunity may not be that big.
MAG Of course; art filters, multi aspect, multi exposure, wireless flash; there are many things that you can do with our cameras and they could be copied by other manufacturers. As in the past, features like built-in dust reduction, digital specific lenses and full live view have been copied by other manufacturers after first being introduced by Olympus, What is important is that a manufacturer leads as opposed to follows.

HH: The FT system is the only system that allows for a MFT system . There is no other system that does it, and I think the combination of an SLR with the technology and features possible with MFT - which they may want later; to combine these two things will make a unique proposal to users; for FT as well as MFT.

How has the E System market share fared in the last year or so?
JK: In the United States last year up until October we were doing very well; when the economy tanked things changed, but we're still getting a lot of encouragement from our dealers on the new products such as the E-30 and the E-620.

The E-30 is a great camera, it's just too expensive.
MAG: We absolutely feel that it is important for us to be aligned with the market. That's a good point you bring up regarding the E-30, and I thought you were going to ask me. We have received some similar feedback from other sources, and we're seriously looking at ways to address this response. I'm sure your readers will be pleased with the outcome.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

PMA 2009 Interview: Samsung Camera

PMA 2009 Interview: Samsung Camera

Soon after the announcement of Samsung's 'NX' hybrid interchangeable lens system at PMA 2009 we met up with Mr Seung Soo Park, Vice President of the Strategic Marketing Team and Mr Choong-Hyun Hwang, Vice President of the Strategic Marketing Team's Product Planning Group from Samsung Digital Imaging Company to see if we could find out any more about their plans for the system.

Mr. Seung Soo Park
Vice President Strategic Marketing Team

Mr. Choong-Hyun Hwang
Vice President Product Planning Group
The Samsung NX system camera - announced at PMA 2009.

Although they remained tight-lipped about the fine details of the system - which is slated for full launch some time in the second half of 2009 - they were able to give us a little more insight than was contained in the the rather vague press statement (click here for our report on the initial announcement).

The NX system was hardly a surprise (Samsung had hinted at its development over a year ago, and we spoke to Mr Hwang about it during our Photokina 2008 interview), but the unveiling of a relatively finished camera at PMA was unexpected. We were certainly led to understand that the camera shown behind glass was more than a mere 'concept' mockup, and that the shipping product would be substantially similar to what we saw, even if the fine details are still being ironed out.

What is certain is that the basic idea is very similar to Panasonic's Micro-G system: an interchangeable lens camera with a large (APS-C in this case) sensor in a smaller form factor enabled by replacing the mirror and prism (the 'reflex' bit of a Single Lens Reflex' camera) with an electronic viewfinder and full-time live view system.

We couldn't get any concrete information on the sensor, the electronic viewfinder or the lens roadmap (and inevitably much of our conversation has to remain 'off the record' for the time being), but we did end up with a clearer view of where their ambitious plans for the NX system are headed. Mr Park supplied most of these answers.

First question is about the lens mount. Is it a new lens mount? Is it the Pentax K mount?
It's our own mount.

So it's a new mount, smaller. Will it be compatible with the K mount used on your current DLSRs?
As far as I understand it will be, using an adaptor. That's part of the plan.

We couldn't get a clear answer on whether such an adaptor ever allow autofocus - or even aperture control - with K mount lenses, though it would seem that AF with any lens without a built in motor would be nigh-on impossible.

So when are we likely to see the first 'real' NX cameras?
Second half of 2009 - that's all I can say at the moment. It will be decided based on the market situation. In terms of the technology we don't have any problems, but we're measuring the timing based upon market conditions.

So the specifications have been more or less decided?

That's interesting, because one of the questions we had prepared was about how the current economic situation affected your product development schedule. But you're saying this is simply about the timing of the release, that's all?
Actually the economic situation doesn't impact on the product development at all. It only influences the timing of the launch.

At the time of launch how many lenses do you expect to make available?
We won't be revealing those details until we launch, but I can assure you that we are preparing a series of lenses for this product. So I can't say the exact number today, but we will bring the full system to the market.

The announcement of the NX system throws some uncertainty on how far the Samsung / Pentax collaboration actually goes. Samsung has struggled to make much of a mark on the DLSR market with its re-badged versions of Pentax DLSRs (though it does supply the sensors for Pentax), and we wondered if this new system represented a break in the partnership - something Samsung wasn't keen to comment on. What did become clear is that the new system is 100% Samsung.

I'm sure you won't want to answer this question, but does this mean that you're abandoning the 'full size' reflex camera system?
The market exists in three different form factors at the moment. One is the existing DLSR, second is compact, and hybrid is emerging. We will not abandon the DSLR market, we will just focus more on the hybrid form factor.

We ask because there's not been a Samsung equivalent of several recent Pentax DSLRs.
We simply want to focus our energies on our own hybrid first.

So is this something that you're developing completely independently of Pentax?
Yes. The lenses, sensor, processor, display - everything comes from Samsung.

So there won't be a Pentax version?
At some point maybe we'll collaborate - but not only with Pentax. To fully develop this kind of product we'll need a lot of collaboration with other industries in general terms, so there are lots of partners we have, but the majority comes from Samsung, all coordinated by Samsung, all done by Samsung.

I presume you intend to open the system to third party lens manufacturers?
Certainly. Once we've succeeded with this format that is our intention. We will open our system and license it to others.

To body manufacturers as well?
Yes, sure.

Since the announcement we've seen quite a lot of feedback on our forums, with many questions not covered by the initial announcement. People are quite cynical about this announcement - it's easy to say 'we intend to do this', they're waiting to see when - and if - you actually ship anything.
(laughs) We will announce the first products in the system in the second half of 2009.

What was the thinking behind designing a camera that looks like a mini SLR rather than, say, a digital version of a rangefinder camera?
It was all decided by market research. We always implement very pervasive market research, so when we first brought this idea to verify the concept, we did lots of research first.

So you tested different form factors / shapes?
Yes, always.

And is that research done internationally?
Yes, we always do global research, and even though it's small and light and designed for portability, what they want is a 'professional' feel.

Interestingly Panasonic said exactly the same thing about the G1.
Although ours looks a little like an SLR the design is quite sophisticated; all the lines are more 'aerodynamic'.

With your sensor size being a little larger I presume that means that the lenses - and indeed the cameras - have to be bigger too?
Yes, the sensor size is larger than Micro Four Thirds, but the lens size will be almost exactly the same. The thickness of the body is almost the same too.

So does the reduced flange-back distance give you problems with wide lenses? - you've got quite a big sensor and the lens is pretty close. This is one area where Four Thirds would seem to have an advantage in this kind of camera.
That was one of the challenges when designing the system - working with wide angle lenses. We solved those issues. For one thing our flange-back distance is slightly longer than Micro Four Thirds.

I presume there will be an element of in-camera correction (such as for corner shading)?
That is correct.

Can you tell us anything about the sensor specification - such as the pixel count, for example?
All I can say at the moment is that it is APS-C. Of course we already have the specification but we're not revealing it now.

Image quality is going to be the making or breaking of this new system. Will the NX be based on your existing image processing?
For the hybrid we are opening a completely new horizon.

So it's a completely different team developing it? Will developments make their way into all your cameras?
Sure, It's a completely different team, different sensor, different processor, etc etc. We're constantly working on improving image quality and we're structured with an advanced development group working on the hybrid camera that will have a benefit on the development of compact cameras down the line.

Finally, one quick question going back to compacts, is there any reason why a camera like the TL320 (WB100) doesn't have a raw mode ?
I recently asked exactly the same question. There was a discussion about including raw mode, and later - after we launched - we realised that raw mode is essential if we're going to claim this is a serious users model, and we're working very hard to ensure that we have raw mode in our compact premium models in the second half of 2009.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Nikon announces new Coolpix cameras

Nikon announces new Coolpix cameras

Nikon UK announces three new affordable, exciting COOLPIX cameras: the L100, L20 and the L19. All three are packed with high-quality features that make taking photographs a joy, without stretching the budget.

With superb quality NIKKOR lenses, these cameras are both easy to carry and easy to use and include features such as Scene Auto selector, Smile Mode and Blink Warning - making great images possible for everyone.

Mark Pekelharing, Product Manager Consumer Products at Nikon Europe B.V: “Not everyone wants to spend a lot of money on a camera. With these three new cameras, you get the best of both worlds: quality imaging with many exciting features, and all at an affordable price.”

Enjoy your photography
The L100 boasts 10 effective megapixels, Nikon’s EXPEED digital image processing system for high performance and a 15x zoom NIKKOR lens covering a wide-angle 28mm to super-telephoto 420mm (35mm-format equivalent) - you know you’re going to capture almost any scene in detail. Put it in macro mode, and you can even capture objects from as close up as 1 cm. With four anti-blur features, including Image Sensor Shift VR image stabilisation, you can rest assured that it’s also going to be in focus.

You will also appreciate the L100 if you enjoy sports photography, as the L100’s Sports Continuous Mode allows up to 13 fps. Scene Auto Selector automatically adjusts the settings to suit the scene. Smile Mode takes the picture when your subject looks his or her best whilst Blink Warning warns you when your subjects have their eyes closed. Other features include In-Camera Red-Eye Fix for beautiful portraits, D-Lighting for in-camera image enhancement, 15 Scene Modes, movies with sound, and Active Zoom, amongst others.

With a sensitivity range up to ISO 3200, problems images in poor lighting are a thing of the past. This is further enhanced by the camera’s Motion Detection system, which detects camera shake or subject movement during shooting, automatically selecting a faster shutter speed and higher ISO sensitivity.

Easy does it
The L20 and L19 (10 and 8 effective MP respectively) have several features that ensure smooth and comfortable shooting, such as Full-Auto Mode, Scene Auto Selector, Smile Mode and Blink Warning. Power them with two AA-size batteries that are available anywhere, and you’ll never miss a shot. Large buttons and controls, and a 3-inch and 2.7-inch LCD monitor on the L20 and L19 respectively, improve operational ease.

Both cameras record movies and a special new feature for both is the Scene Auto Selector. This automatically judges a scene by its subject and surrounding conditions and chooses the best setting. Now you won’t have to worry about the mode-setting procedure and you will always be ready for speedy, smooth shooting. The L20 is available in black metallic and deep red, the L19 in bright silver or shiny pink.

Taking great pictures with a great looking camera is easy, and very affordable.

The L100, L20 and L19 come with a strap, AA-batteries, USB and audio/video cables, and the COOLPIX software suite. All cameras come with 2GB free online image storage at Nikon’s my Picturetown service on mypicturetown.

Nikon Coolpix L100 images

Nikon Coolpix L20 images

Nikon Coolpix L19 images

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Samsung LCD SyncMaster 43

Samsung LCD SyncMaster 43 Series Sales Reach the 10 Million Mark!

Today Samsung proudly announced their SyncMaster 43 Series LCD for PC, available in various sizes, has exceeded the mark 10,000,000 million in worldwide sales...

Quite an achievement!


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

O.T Stealth.Com Releases a Powerful Rugged Fanless Mini PC

O.T Stealth.Com Releases a Powerful Rugged Fanless Mini PC

Early January Stealth.com (Toronto) introduced the LPC-650, an Ultra Compact desktop PC powered by a Core 2 Dou… And yesterday for us in Japan or Friday in North America, Stealth.com announced the LPC-625F a fanless mini Core2Duo
In Just 200 x 200 x 60mm Stealth.com succeed to fit a Penryn Dual Core P8400 CPU (optional P9500), from 1 to 4GB of RAM, 120 to 500GB of HDD Sata with optional SSD, Intel GMA X4500, HDMI & DVI Out, WiFi… For $1,595… Way more expensive than a Mini but also way more powerful too.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Fujitsu FLEPia

Fujitsu FLEPia, an Outrageously Expensive Color e-Book Reader

Fujitsu Begins On-Line Consumer Sales of World’s First Color E-Paper Mobile Terminal FLEPia
- Displays up to 260,000 colors; features Bluetooth and high-speed wireless LAN; thin and lightweight -
Tokyo and Kawasaki, Japan, March 18, 2009 – Fujitsu Frontech Limited and Fujitsu Laboratories Limited today announced the start of consumer sales in Japan of the world’s first color e-paper mobile terminal, FLEPia, available for purchase from today through Fujitsu Frontech’s online store “FrontechDirect”. Developed by Fujitsu Frontech and Fujitsu Laboratories, FLEPia is the first ever mobile information terminal to feature color electronic paper (color e-paper). In addition to being lightweight and thin, the color e-paper mobile terminal features an easy-to-view 8-inch display screen capable of showing up to 260,000 colors in high-definition, in addition to being equipped with Bluetooth and high-speed wireless LAN. FLEPia is also power-efficient, enabling up to 40 hours of continuous battery operation when fully charged, and does not require power for continuous display of a screen image, consuming power only during re-draw. Featuring significant storage capabilities, when used with a 4GB SD card, the color e-paper terminal can store the equivalent of 5,000 conventional paper-based books when each book is 300 pages long at 600KB per book, thus being environmentally friendly. In Japan, FLEPia can now be easily ordered from Fujitsu Frontech’s online store. As an additional option, through Fujitsu Frontech’s dedicated website, FLEPia users can purchase e-books from the largest e-book online retailer in Japan and download the e-books directly into FLEPia. As the only color e-paper mobile terminal commercially available, FLEPia offers a convenient, paper-free and eco-conscious enriched innovative mobile reading experience to users.

Fujitsu Frontech and Fujitsu Laboratories co-developed proprietary color e-paper, and announced the launch of FLEPia in April 2007 as the world’s first color e-paper mobile terminal. Previously, commercial samples of FLEPia were available for purchase on a limited basis for corporate use only, as part of field trials of the first ever color e-paper mobile terminal. Compared to the FLEPia commercial samples which were used in field marketing, the latest FLEPia offers 1.5 times higher brightness and greater contrast, enabled through optimization of the color e-paper’s optical properties. Re-draw speed was also enhanced by 1.7 times. In addition to previously available high-speed wireless LAN, FLEPia is equipped with Bluetooth, enabling users to easily download and access various content from nearly any desired location.

Key Features

1. Lightweight, thin and high-performance: 8-inch screen displays up to 260,000 colors in high-definition
Weighing just 385 grams (385g) and only 12.5mm thick, FLEPia is lightweight and easily portable, while offering an easy-to-view 8-inch screen. Featuring world-leading color e-paper technologies, the mobile display terminal enables users to view a multitude of documents and images in high-definition at 768 dots x 1,014 dots (XGA), with up to 260,000 displayable colors (4,096-color and 64-color display is also possible, if desired).

2. Power-efficient color e-paper; enables up to 40-hour continuous battery operation
As the color e-paper employed displays text or images by reflecting external light, FLEPia does not require power to maintain screen display, consuming power only during re-draw (power consumption is approximately just 1/50 that of standard notebook PCs under similar usage conditions). When fully-charged, FLEPia offers up to 40 hours of continuous battery operation (conditions: display of 2,400 pages at 1 page per minute with 64 colors).

3. Feature-rich external interface (Japan: Bluetooth, high-speed wireless LAN)
Equipped with Bluetooth in addition to high-speed wireless LAN, FLEPia offers dial-up connection via various Japanese mobile carriers, thus enabling easy download of content featuring images and text (excluding audio and video content) from nearly any desired location. Also included as standard features are a USB mini-B connector supporting USB2.0 (480Mbps) and a SD memory card slot. Stereo speakers (embedded) offer audio playback of e-books, including picture books.

4. User-friendly operation: touch screen, digital stylus, scroll key, function buttons
A touch screen featured on the 8-inch display screen, along with a digital pen, enables easy operation of FLEPia. Also included are a scroll key and 6 function buttons, enabling users to freely and quickly implement commands on the screen in all 4 directions (up, down, left, right), as desired.

5. Two e-book viewers included as standard features (XMDF and .book formats)
Two popular e-book viewers widely used on PCs or mobile phones in Japan - “BunkoViewer” (XMDF format; “bunko” refers to “library” in Japanese) and “T-Time” (.book format) are included as standard features. These e-book viewers enable downloaded e-books to be easily read with FLEPia. The e-book viewers offer an enriched reading experience compared to conventional paper-based reading, enabling readers to jump from the table of contents to desired sections and freely enlarge or shrink text or images. A vast number of e-book sites are currently available on the Internet, and a wide range of approximately 20,000 Japanese e-books in either XMDF or .book format can be downloaded with FLEPia (see “Content Storage Capacity” under Specifications).

6. Equipped with Windows CE5.0 (Japanese version)
In addition to the content browser, Microsoft’s Windows CE5.0 (Japanese version) enables use of an internet browser, e-mail, and various software on FLEPia. Microsoft’s Office can also be used to generate text documents, spreadsheets, or presentations, making it possible to view a variety of documents - including e-mail file attachments - while in transit or in the field and away from an office environment, thus fully maximizing FLEPia’s multiple functions as a mobile information terminal. In terms of text input, a software keyboard and digital stylus make it possible to send e-mails and other text

Dedicated customer-support website offers technical support, maintenance, software upgrades (Japan)
Fujitsu Frontech will offer a dedicated customer-support site, FLEPia World, on its Japanese website. FLEPia World will offer product information to potential customers considering purchase of FLEPia, in addition to technical and maintenance support to FLEPia users. Software upgrades will be offered free-of-charge.
Furthermore, customers will have the option of purchasing e-books through the FLEPia World website via Japan’s largest e-book online retailer - offered through a collaboration between the retailer PAPYLESS CO.,Ltd. and Fujitsu Frontech - and downloading the e-books directly onto FLEPia.


Monday, March 23, 2009

PMA 2009 Interview: Panasonic We caught up with a team of executives from Panasonic Japan at PMA for a chat about the new GH1 and their plans for the

PMA 2009 Interview: Panasonic

We caught up with a team of executives from Panasonic Japan at PMA for a chat about the new GH1 and their plans for the DSC market. As part of our meeting Mr Ichiro Kitao, General Manager of the DSC Product Planning Group agreed to answer some of our questions - and some of those posed by our forum members - in an 'on the record' interview.

Obviously the big story for Panasonic at this year's PMA was the announcement of the GH1, so naturally the conversation started there. Panasonic wouldn't comment on what's next on the Micro G lens roadmap, and could only tell us that the GH1's price should be announced within the next few weeks.

There's been some suggestion that the GH1's sensor will offer slightly better high ISO performance than the G1, can you confirm this?
It's too early to know for sure, but it's a newer sensor, so yes it should be slightly better, but it's difficult to say at this moment.

How does the pixel density of the GH1 sensor compare to the G1?
The size of each pixel is same as G1. The total pixel number is different because the GH1 offers multi aspect.

We spoke at length about the physical size of the GH1's sensor without getting a definitive answer, though Panasonic was later to confirm that the GH1's sensor is indeed larger than the standard Four Thirds sensor. This is in order for it to allow the use of three different aspect ratios yet retain the same diagonal (and therefore the same angle of view).

Of course the GH1 is only half the story with this announcement; the new 14-140mm 'HD' lens being the other half.

From what we understand this lens has taken a lot of work to develop...
We're still working! Yes, it's been a challenge.

When you design a lens this ambitious do you still stick to the same strict optical standards as with your other shorter zoom range lenses?
Of course. We make no compromises.

What's the reception been in the camcorder division been to the GH1?
(laughs) 'Stop now!'. No seriously, that's quite a tough question. We can approach a different world from camcorders; the depth of field, interchangeable lenses, things like that. But for ease of use a camcorder is much simpler. This kind of zooming (manual, mechanical) would be quiet challenging for normal consumers.

So did you ever consider using a powered zoom for this lens?
We have an idea but it's quite difficult to realize because it would result in a lens that was quite big. The optical components of the lens are small, but we'd have to include a big motor, so it would end up much fatter - bigger than the camera.

Presumably you're using different compression, codecs and so on, so is there a difference in the video quality between the GH1 and your best camcorders?
In terms of resolution the camcorder is still better because they offer full 1080P (50i / 60i) codecs, and also the compression is a little bit different; a camcorder can manage compression wisely, with B pictures, which this one doesn't have. Of course in the future it will get better.

So who is the target user for this camera, as distinct from high end camcorders - and also as distinct from the target market for the G1?
High end camcorder users are one of the big targets. Also video journalists and maybe broadcasting companies.

In other words it's very different to the target market for the G1?
Yes. Of course the normal consumer wanting to shoot their children or whatever is one of our target customers, but as I said, operating the GH1 is a little more difficult than a camcorder.

We saw a lot of feedback - before and after our review - about the lack of even a basic video capture mode on the G1. I think most people would have been happy even with a simple VGA movie mode, and don't understand its omission given the 'full time live view' operation. Was that technically impossible or was it a marketing decision?
The output from the sensor is different to the GH1, the GH1 is a new high speed live view sensor. Of course we can realise full time live view on the G1, which means that obviously we can get some video off the sensor. But for the first product with this capability we wanted to target the absolute highest possible quality of video, and that's why we developed the GH1. Maybe next time the G1 type of product will have some kind of, say VGA movie mode; we'll look into this.

Of course even if you only go to VGA, you still have all the advantages of the bigger sensor.
Exactly, and the benefits of being able to change the lens. Wideangle video, for example, is quite interesting.

The new 7-14mm lens isn't an 'HD' lens - how well does it work for movies on the GH1?
It's not as fast as the 14-140mm, but it's certainly usable.

And I guess with a wide lens that's almost always focused on infinity it's not going to be so much of an issue anyway.
No exactly.

We're not big fans of the dedicated movie button. Would it be possible to allow the main shutter release to optionally be used to stop and start movies?
No, but we will consider this option for the future.

What happens if you press the shutter button when recording a movie?
It activates a one shot AF operation.

All of the technology that you developed for stills; CA correction, distortion correction and so on; is that also being applied on the fly when shooting video?
Basically, yes.

There's been some controversy on the whole subject of in-camera lens correction and the fact that Panasonic makes it very difficult to override, even in raw mode, even when using third-party converters such as Adobe Camera Raw. We wanted to know if there had been a fundamental shift in lens design, away from purely optical correction of aberrations.

Your approach to lens design appears to have changed; there's now an element of digital correction built into the design. Do you consider the future of lens design to be partly optical and partly digital (using in-camera corrections)? And are there any compromises involved in digital aberration correction?
Without the technology we've developed to allow digital lens corrections we simply couldn't make such lenses. In order to minimize the size and in order to maximize the performance of the lens we choose to use this technology. It's a digital camera, so it makes sense.

We agree completely, we don't think it's an issue at all how you get the performance you want as long as the results are good, but to many purists this is hard to swallow. So when you're designing a lens now you're designing it partly optically and partly digitally?
Yes. Of course we work closely with the lens engineers. But Leica doesn't allow us to use digital corrections, so that's why there are no Leica lenses for the Micro G system. But of course, we have a plan with Leica as part of the roadmap.

So does the camera need a database of lens corrections? Does it need a firmware update every time a new lens is released?
No, the lens has some information which it sends to the camera.

What about third-party lens manufacturers? Will they be able to use the same mechanism to tell the camera to apply corrections to their lenses?
Yes, members of the Four Thirds consortium can.

So do you know if there will actually be any third-party lenses for Micro Four Thirds system?
I think not in the near future. First will be Olympus and Panasonic.

I guess they're going to wait and see how well the system does; this isn't just a new lens mount for them; they have to design a completely new lens.

Does it offer any benefits for stills? Can the camera change the aperture in smaller steps when, for example, shooting in shutter priority mode?
With the G1 you get exactly the same 1/3 steps. With the GH1 you get almost continuous control from F4.0 to F8.0 - 1/6 step. Over F8 it's 1/3 steps.

One of the most important things about the new 14-140mm lens is the continuously variable aperture. Is this something that we'll see in all future MFT lenses?
No, it's an expensive and difficult to produce component.

Moving on, we've been looking at the feedback since the G1 was announced, and we've got a lot of questions from our community, some of which we'd like to cover here.
First up; there's a lot of demand for a smaller Micro Four Thirds body - more 'rangefinder' style than faux DSLR. It's not really a question, it's more just telling you what they want. But do you have any comment?

(mock surprise) I didn't hear anything about such a request? This is news to me!

OK, we're obviously not going to get anywhere with that line of questioning. Another question which we suspect you're not going to want to answer concerns your plans for your 'non Micro' Four Thirds cameras such as the L10. Are we likely to see a statement about whether there are any plans for further models or lenses?
We've just started with Micro Four Thirds with the G1 and at this PMA have introduced the GH1, and our first priority is to survive these severe market conditions with Micro Four Thirds. So, we'd like to strengthen the Micro Four Thirds lineup first. After that - if the market requires it - our Four Thirds models, such as the successor to the L10, will be considered.

At the moment you're targeting the high end amateur. Is that as far as you'll go or would you ever consider going to the really high end - the professional end - of the market, with Micro Four Thirds?
We don't want to go to the real 'professional' area. We would, however, like to expand our lineup with more consumer-type products, but we've really just started, and are still in the initial phase of introducing Micro Four Thirds. So maybe in the future? I don't know when, but there is certainly potential. Micro Four Thirds has the potential for entry level models and step-up models.

How has the G1 done for you? has it met expectations?
In some countries yes, some countries no. Of course just after the G1 introduction the economy started to fall.

So how does the state of the global economy affect your research and development projects and launch timings?
We carry on. We're still the number five camera brand globally and we're not going to give up anything.

One of the big questions we've had from our community concerns the FZ50 replacement. A lot of people are saying 'if I wanted a G1 I would've bought an SLR'. Is this now a discontinued line?
The problem is price. Now that entry-level digital SLRs are so cheap it's incredibly difficult to sell a bridge type camera at the high end. When we introduced the FZ50 the price was something like $599 but now I don't think we could sell it for that much. Of course we're not going to give up on such kind of products but in the next year or two we currently have no plan introduce another model.

So the FZ50 is now discontinued?
Yes, it will be shortly. But sometime we'd like to come back to this area.

Moving on to the LX3, have you been surprised by how popular that camera has been? We understand that there are availability problems.
(laughs) Yes, on eBay an LX3 is being sold for $799! We will solve the availability problems.

The problem with cameras like the LX3 is that no matter how hard you try the image quality hits a wall due to the limitations of current technology in such small sensors. Are you actively researching next generation sensor technology that will allow you to break through this wall, or is there any chance of larger sensor compacts appearing.?
Yes, we have several ideas, but there's still nothing concrete. We have several choices when it comes to sensors, including CMOS, and we have to study the options carefully, and are going to be proposing some completely new ideas. However this year it's going to be quite tough - especially in the US market - because of the number of megapixels demanded even on entry-level models. We'll maintain our approach of slightly lower pixels counts compared to our competitors, who are pushing 10 and 12 megapixels in their mass market models, where we'll only have 8 megapixels and concentrate on more important things. Unfortunately the consumers' biggest measure of a digital camera's 'image quality' is still megapixels.

We were talking earlier about how to make Panasonic's offerings stand out now that you have a lot of competition in the compact super zoom market, is there any reason why you don't include manual controls - such as aperture priority - on these models?
Actually the new lens on these models (the TZ6 / TZ7) has a 'real' bladed aperture so we could now incorporate manual exposure functions into TZ cameras, but there were some hurdles to including full manual functions, so this time we didn't include them. But in the future - next time - we'll look at it again.

What's the thinking behind using AVCHD on a consumer compact like the TZ7 and not a simpler MPEG file format?
AVCHD is a very convenient format for use with televisions and blu-ray recorders. Our Viera models have the capability to play AVCHD directly, and we will expand those lines. We believe videos should be played back on a TV; it's much nicer than looking at it on a PC screen. With the software we've developed it's easy to share AVCHD videos by burning them to a DVD - and everyone has a DVD player. And of course you can convert to an MPEG file for sharing via PC. The cameras have a Motion JPEG option for customers who only want to use their movies on a PC. Windows 7 will be fully compatible with our AVCHD files, allowing them to be played without converting them first.

At this point we ran out of time. Obviously there was a lot that we discussed that we can't currently talk about, but we'll be meeting with Panasonic's Japanese executives again in the Summer so will continue this interview - and pass on more of the questions raised in the forum - then.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

USB To HDMI Dongle from Lancerlink

USB To HDMI Dongle from Lancerlink

Lancerlink released in Japan their latest USB to HDMI dongle, the GHC-U2H. Compatible PC or Mac, it displays 720p video (max 1280x720).

Rest assured it's HDCP and will let you use any HDCP compatible display or TV. The only drawback is the price, 19,800 Yen (€155)… Luckly it looks like Lancerlink will offer a nice discount for the launch, 12,800 Yen (€100) for a limited time.


Sunday Stories: 2009 Nissan Cube: Big Bang For Small Bucks

2009 Nissan Cube: Big Bang For Small Bucks

Recently it seems every time we turn around there’s another addition to the ever-swelling B car segment. The surging demand for small and economical from the American car-buying public means the manufacturers need to expand their small car offerings. Nissan is now widening that end of their model line up beyond the Versa and Sentra and finally shipping the Cube to America. JDM versions of the Cube have been rocking the home market since 1998, with an arsenal of features, big space in a small package and iconic styling. Now, much to delight of American JDM B car fans, the Cube’s latest iteration is headed Stateside with Nissan promising all the features American buyers need in a small car plus a few extras they’ll definitely love.

The Nissan Cube comes packed with more safety features than your sweet mother’s arms. An advanced air-bag system, vehicle dynamic control with traction control system (TCS), ABS with electronic brake distribution (EBD), brake assist (BA), a tire-pressure monitor (TPMS), adjustable seat-belt shoulder harness height and a dizzying slew of other safety-related acronyms all come standard. That’s a lot of safety gear.

Safety isn’t the Cube’s only strong point. There’s also an impressive list of standard features like air conditioning, power windows and locks, keyless entry, 12-volt outlet, a cargo light out back and intermittent wipers front and rear. And f you’re willing to spend a little more money, Nissan is also offering up its Nissan Intelligent Key™ with Push Button Ignition, a Bluetooth® Hands-free Phone System and a kickin’ Rockford Fosgate subwoofer with six upgraded speakers.

That’s all the stuff we’re used to seeing from a well-priced B Car, but Nissan’s taken a different tack on the functionality front. Aside from the unique rounded edge-square styling, the biggest variation comes at the rear door. We say door because unlike other hatches, the back of the Cube doesn’t open with a tail-gate or clam shell. Instead, the door opens just like a refrigerator. The move maximizes space inside and keeps you aware of the end of the door – saving the Cube from embarrassing parking lot dings. Plus with its asymmetrical rear window, it looks darn cool too!

With all the goods crammed inside the Cube, Nissan has armed its new-for America B car with the style and features it needs to take on the competition and win. And with the recently announced base price of $13,990 we have a feeling you’ll be seeing quite a few of them on the road very quickly.


Sunday Stories: Nissan Announces USA Pricing for the 2010 GT-R

Nissan Announces USA Pricing for the 2010 GT-R

By far the most exciting and exceptional JDM car produced this decade, the GT-R 2010 will be even better worldwide including the USA. If the 2010 GT-R is even better than its predecessor don't expect to get a Spec-V in disguise, but some nice little improvements. Beside the 5hp boost, Nissan gave the GT-R a redesigned re tuned suspension with Bilstein shocks, upgraded braking system, standard front seat- and roof-mounted side curtain airbags, a darker set of wheels, and a new Pearl White color…

Not sure about Pearl White, if I had a GT-R it would either be Sliver or Orange like the Zele Show-Car.

March may be the month known for madness, lions and lambs, but at Nissan North America, Inc. (NNA), the biggest roar is coming from the early introduction of the new 2010 Nissan GT-R supercar, including a number of important enhancements. Specifically, five additional horsepower, a revised suspension, updated wheel finishes and standard front seat- and roof-mounted curtain side-impact supplemental air bags.

First introduced in the United States in July 2008, the Nissan GT-R earned near universal acclaim, including being named Motor Trend "2009 Car of the Year," Automobile magazine's 2009 "Automobile of the Year", and winning Kelly Blue Book's "2009 Best Resale Value Award."

For 2010, the horsepower rating of the GT-R's 3.8-liter twin-turbo V6 engine has increased to 485 hp (from 480 hp) and the car's high-performance, 6-speed, dual-clutch transmission receives new Transmission Control Module (TCM) programming designed to optimize clutch engagement for improved drivability, and improve vehicle acceleration with the Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) on (activated). In addition, the braking system has been updated with more rigid brake lines for improved durability, and the brake calipers now carry both the Brembo and Nissan logos. Finally, the GT-R's state-of-the-art suspension has been retuned with redesigned Bilsteinâ shocks with a new valve body design and revised spring and damper rates.

The base GT-R model is now equipped with slightly darker, high-luster, smoke finish for the 20-inch RAYS forged aluminum-alloy wheels, while a new "near-black" metallic wheel finish is standard on the Premium model. For 2010, one new color – Pearl White – is offered, while the Super Silver exterior color has been enhanced to include a polished front bumper.

For 2010, the Nissan GT-R will again be offered in two models – GT-R and GT-R Premium. All 2010 Nissan GT-Rs are equipped with a standard 3.8-liter twin turbo V6 backed by an advanced paddle-shifted, dual clutch rear transmission and a world's first independent rear transaxle ATTESA E-TS all-wheel drive system. The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)* is $80,790 for the GT-R, and $83,040 for the GT-R Premium model. Destination & Handling (D&H) is $1,000.

Two options and two accessories are available for the 2010 GT-R: The Cold Weather Package (no charge); Special Super Silver Paint ($3,000); iPodâ Converter ($400); and carpeted GT-R floor mats ($280). Complete pricing information is available on the attached sheet.

The 2010 GT-R will be available only through officially certified Nissan retailers that have met a number of strict sales, service and facility commitments, including dedicating a master technician to GT-R service, on March 21, 2009. A complete listing of the nearly 700 GT-R Certified Nissan dealers is available to consumers on NissanUSA.com.


Saturday, March 21, 2009

ASUS's Bamboo Covered U6V Notebook

ASUS's Bamboo Covered U6V Notebook for Korean Geeks

Back in 2007 and 2008, Asus announced their intention to release a bamboo covered notebook, so far it's only available in a few countries including Taiwan. Finally Asus Korea launched their very own bamboo notebook in a high-end device, the U6V… Besides the obvious bamboo thingy, the U6V is powered by a Core 2 Duo T9400, has 4GB of RAM, a GeForce 9300M GS with 256MB of DDR2 VRAM, 320GB of HDD, a DVD Super Multi or Blu-ray drive, a 12.1” WXGA LED Backlight LCD, Wifi ABGN, and HDMI Out.

If only it were available in Japan too, I'd seriously consider buying it.


Monday, March 16, 2009


A New Micro Four Thirds Digital Interchangeable Lens
Featuring Ultra Wide Angle in Compact Size

March 3, 2009: Panasonic today unveiled a new interchangeable ultra wide-angle zoom lens called the LUMIX G VARIO 7-14mm/F4.0 ASPH. In spite of its impressive wide-angle zoom range of 7-14mm (35mm camera equivalent; 14-28mm), the new lens is surprisingly compact and lightweight for casual on-the-go use.

Taking advantage of its wide, 114-degree angle of view, users can easily fit subjects into the frame even when shooting indoors where the distance is limited. The world looks extraordinary when viewed through the new lens, allowing photos and movies to be recorded with a uniquely rich perspective.

This high-performance lens system achieves outstanding compactness by combining 16 lens elements in 12 groups, including two aspherical lenses and four ED lenses. Image resolution is high from corner-to-corner even at the wide-angle setting. It also features F4.0 brightness over the entire zoom range thanks to its large-diameter glass moulded lens elements.

When mounted on the DMC-GH1 Lumix G Micro System Camera, the new lens allows use of the advanced contrast AF system, which includes a Face Recognition function, for more convenient, more enjoyable shooting. Seven blades give the aperture a rounded shape that produces an attractively smooth effect in out-of-focus areas when shooting at larger aperture settings.

The LUMIX G VARIO 7-14mm/F4.0 ASPH lens also features a highly reliable metal mount, and uses multi-coated lens elements that minimise ghosts and flare to further enhance its optical performance. The optimally designed lens hood enables use even under strong sunlight.

LUMIX G VARIO 7-14mm/F4.0 ASPH specifications

Focal length 7-14mm
35mm equivalent focal length


Diagonal Angle of view

114° (W) - 75° (T)

Maximum aperture F4.0
Minimum aperture F22
Lens Construction

• 16 elements/12 groups
• 4 ED glass elements
• 2 aspherical elements

Number of diaphragm blades

7, Circular aperture diaphragm

Minimum focus 0.25m / 0.8ft
Maximum magnification

Approx. 0.08x / 0.15x

Image stabilization


Supplied accessories

• Front and rear caps
• Lens Hood
• Lens Case

Weight 300 g (10.58 oz)
Dimensions 70mm diameter x 83mm
(2.76 x 3.27 in)
Lens Mount Micro Four Thirds

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Geneva 2009: Nissan Qazana Crossover Concept

Geneva 2009: Nissan Qazana Crossover Concept

The Qashqai was too dull for you? So what about this cute little Qazana Crossover Concept then? Nothing much we can say beside that we kind of love this cute little roundish concept, granted this is may be not the most sexiest ever made 4WD car but I don’t know this Qazana has something unique and pretty… anyway…here you are the official press release and Nissan pictures below… you will decide whether or not this new concept worth your attention.

The Nissan Qazana makes its first ever appearance at the Geneva Motor Show today. Inspired by a simple desire to have fun behind the wheel, Qazana shows that mind-numbing motoring could be a thing of the past.

Officially it's a showcar, a study into how a small car of the future could look. But with the announcement that a small crossover – a baby brother to Qashqai – will be built at the company's Sunderland factory in the UK, Qazana's significance should not be underestimated.

"The Qazana concept is an intelligent, all-wheel drive crossover which is masculine, agile, lean, and designed for the tough city streets. Our team at Nissan Design Europe in London realised this image with the motif of a modern day beach buggy and four-seat motor-bike," explains Atsushi Maeda, Studio Chief Designer, Nissan Design Europe.

According to Matt Weaver, project lead designer at NDE, Qazana was designed to be sophisticated but fun. "It's a hugely optimistic car, which is no bad thing in these difficult times. Had it been created in the 1960s, it would have counted camper vans, bikes and buggies as its rivals. Infused with that same spirit, there's nothing quite like it available today."

Challenges tradition
In the same way that Nissan re-wrote the rule-book when it introduced Qashqai two years ago, so Qazana is ready to do it again. By approaching the small car market from a totally different direction, Qazana invigorates, stimulates and rejuvenates the traditional town runabout.

Compact dimensions
Compact overall dimensions (4060mm in length, 1570mm tall, 1780 wide and a wheelbase of 2530mm) mean Qazana would be ideally suited to the urban environment. Yet its advanced specification and energetic styling suggest an ability that goes far beyond the city walls.

By mixing SUV and sports car styling cues, NDE's design team has created a highly individual Crossover quite unlike anything else on the road. The tall stance, truncated rear styling and short front and rear overhangs underscore its feeling of robustness and strength, but the low roof line, assertive side window graphic and broad shoulders hint at a sporting ability absent in traditional all-wheel drives.

At the same time, rounded elements – notably the wheel arches and bonnet – evoke a friendly ambiance and provide a link with existing Nissan Crossovers. Indeed, Qazana has the signature Crossover design detail in the rising window line at the rear, also found on Murano and Qashqai.

Says Weaver: "Qazana follows in Qashqai's wheel tracks by challenging convention. Externally Qazana adds a number of existing Nissan design cues – including a variation on the 'boomerang' rear light theme from 370Z – to a highly distinctive shape that's unlike anything else in the company's current design portfolio."

Crossover styling
The profile is dominated by the prominent wheel arches and by the body's high waistline, which combine to give an impression of strength and which contrast vividly with the slim side windows. Echoing a style first seen on Mixim, Nissan's high performance electric coupé concept shown at the 2007 Frankfurt Show, the glasshouse resembles a crash helmet visor.

Although it appears at first glance to be a two-door coupé, Qazana has a further pair of rear-hinged half doors to ease access to the rear compartment. All the doors are electrically operated and for safety reasons the rear pair can only be activated once the fronts have been opened. With no conventional B-pillar, access to the interior couldn't be easier.

One notable feature of the roof-line is the virtually straight cant rail above the doors which adds further to the strength of the profile. The roof itself has a pair of thin glass inserts running the full length of the roof which allow slithers of natural light into the cabin.

This contrast between sporty performance and all-terrain potential is underlined by the venturi-style skid plate at the rear of the vehicle, Qazana's extended ground clearance and the soft rubber spats which edge the wheel arches and help to disguise the vehicle's long suspension travel. The graphite coloured spats contrast vividly with the bold exterior colour, a unique shade called White Titanium, and the strikingly styled
20 inch black chrome alloy wheels.

Distinctive frontal aspect
The car's face is dominated by four headlamps. Two lower circular lamps set within the bumper contrast with a pair of daylight running strips mounted high on the wings on either side of the bonnet: the look is of a rally car preparing for a night stage.

While the full width grille, dominated by Nissan's centrally mounted badge, is an interpretation of current Nissan styling, its construction is not. A one-piece acrylic moulding, no cooling air can pass through the grille. Instead, the lower portion of the bumper, finished in a contrasting graphite colour, is dominated by a number of large holes for air to reach the radiator. See-through acrylic mouldings are also used for the door mirrors.

The interior has been designed as an extension of the exterior thanks to a clever interplay between hard and soft materials. Rather than being completely enveloped in leather for example, elements of the lightweight carbon fibre seat structure are on permanent view, appearing to have 'broken through' the covering. The centre portion of the backrests features a mesh material, allowing fresh air to circulate around the occupants.

Like the seats, the metal sections of the centre console seem to have forced their way through the leather covering while the internal door-frame is part exposed so that the door pull appears to be hewn from solid metal.

Motorcycle inspired interior
Adding further to the mechanical feel of the interior, the shape of the centre console and armrest has been inspired by the fuel tank and seat of a sports motocycle. Paul Ray, senior interior designer at NDE, is a keen rider. "I enjoy the sensation of being at one with my bike and wanted to capture that feeling in Qazana," he says.

"The way the structure appears through the fabric of the interior also reflects motorcycle design and construction."

Accentuating the practical side of the car, Qazana has 'floating' seats centrally mounted over a one-piece rubberised floor covering, creating an openness in the cockpit. Grooves cut in the flooring are replicated on the seats themselves.

The dashboard is dominated by a centrally mounted screen. As well as doubling as a navigation display, it will deliver vital information relating to Nissan's next generation fully electronic ALL MODE four-wheel drive with torque vectoring system and other advanced technical processes found on board, including integrated communications systems. Using an intuitive touch-screen interface, the driver will be able to adjust the air-conditioning and other key vehicle settings.

Alfonso Albaisa, Vice President, Nissan Design Europe, says: "When it comes to design, Nissan has developed a reputation for constantly delivering something different. The global success of Qashqai has proven that the car buying public is fed up with the conventional... but we are not prepared to sit on our laurels. Qazana might seem a radical solution but important elements of the concept do point to a future Nissan production vehicle.