Monthly Archives: March 2007

Tate Modern extension is approved

A fantastic glass extension for the Tate Modern gallery in central London has been approved and should be open in time for the 2012 Olympics.

16 things it takes most of us 50 years to learn

Including one I’ve just realised myself, There is a very fine line between ‘hobby’ and ‘mental illness.’

XBOX 360 Elite

Rumours are that Microsoft is releasing another edition of the XBOX 360 dubbed the XBOX 360 Elite which will include a 120GB hard drive, a HDMI video out port and will be in black.

Twitterlicious 1.1.1

This should be the final bug fix to Twitterlicious before the next major revision. This release fixes a proxy bug that prevented it working with some proxy servers, and a major bug where the application would sometimes crash after a user updated their status.

As usual get it from the project page.

Twitterlicious 1.1

Another update to Twitterlicious, but this time it includes some feature enhancements so the version number goes upto 1.1:

  • Twitter list now highlights new Twits from the last time the main window was open instead of the last automated update.
  • The update text box now shows the number of characters remaining and clears when the update was successful.
  • The text of a Twit is now selectable.
  • There is now a setting for whether the main window should always be above other windows.

As always download from the project page.

Mac OS X 10.4.9 Updater

Apple has released it’s Mac 10.4.9 Updater, which includes a big range of improvements and bug fixes for OS X 10.4 users.

Twitterlicious 1.0.1

Twitterlicious 1.0.1 includes a bug fix for web proxy support. Get it from the project page.

Twitterlicious

Twitterlicious is a small Windows app that makes Twitter much easier to use.

Twitterlicious UI

I was impressed by Twitterific, and when working on my MacBook I used it exclusively for reading Twitter updates and writing. But when I’m at work I have to use a Windows machine, and looking around I couldn’t find a Windows Twitter client that worked the way I wanted it to, so I made one myself.

It tries to be as un-obtrusive as possible, hiding itself in the system tray until needed and it’s multi-threaded which allows multiple requests to be sent and received from Twitter at the same time to increase responsiveness.

You can find out more about Twitterlicious and download it for free on it’s project page, and by all means do give me a shout if you have any questions or suggestions.

No new Nikon D3 annoucement at PMA

Looks like Nikon’s not going to release a successor to the D2 line at PMA this year.

Nikon D40x and 55-200mm VR lens

The first big official Nikon announcements for PMA have been made, both of which are upgrades on existing products rather than out and out new ones. A D40 DSLR upgrade and a 55-200mm lens upgrade.

D40x

The new D40x is exactly the same as the old D40 except it now contains the sensor and processing engine of the D80. This means it now has a 10.2 mega-pixel sensor as predicted, and a slightly faster 3 FPS burst rate.

Ken Rockwell will get his hands on a D40x this Wednesday, so I’m going to have to speculate on it’s performance based on what we’ve seen so far with Nikon’s cameras.

I suspect it’ll have the same image quality as the D80 and D200. If you take a shot of the same thing with the same settings and same lens with all three cameras, you’ll get exactly the same output. However I expect the D40x will retain the old D40’s 420-segment Matrix metering rather than the D80’s 1005-segment version, although the difference in metering will be minimal. Both the D80 and D40 over-expose images compared to the D200 and the D40x will be similar to the D40 and D80.

As it’ll have the same output as the D80 and D200, it should have the same high-sensitivity noise performance too, which is a great shame. The best thing about the D40 was the super-clean ISO1600 shots it produced. This made it a great indoor or night-time camera, especially when in tandem with the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 lens, which will even auto focus with it as it’s HSM. The D80 and D200 have pretty average high-ISO noise performance, and I wouldn’t personally use it at ISO1600 if I could avoid it.

What I suspect Nikon is doing is to set a low price DSLR to compete against the higher priced but similar mega-pixel count Canon, Pentax and Sony alternatives. Most consumers will mainly look at the mega-pixel number to decide which camera to buy, and when you can get a D40x with 10 mega-pixels for a significant amount less than a Canon 400D, if I was an uninformed consumer I know which one I would go for.

But this is not to say you’ll be disappointed with the images from the D40x. The D80 and D200 produce superb low ISO pictures, and the extra pixels will allow you to crop a bit more. Nikon have posted some samples of the D40x and they do look very encouraging.

55-200mm VR

The most interesting thing about the D40x samples however, is that most of them are taken with the new 55-200mm VR lens. This is Nikon’s first consumer VR lens1 with a US list prices of $249.952 it’s a very cheap lens aimed squarely at consumers. But if you look at the samples taken with the D40x, you could be fooled into thinking it was the 70-300mm VR, or even the 70-200mm VR lens which costs many times more.

This lens seems to be a fantastic light travel-zoom to compliment heavier and faster zoom lenses. It has the sharpness and VR, which helps a bit with the small aperture, and it only weighs 335g. While a 18-200mm VR would be more convenient, it seems the 55-200mm trounces that lens at the long end, where it still remains very sharp.

There is still some confusion over the specifications though. It’s not specified whether it’s a VR or VRII, although it’s probably just VR. One Nikon site specifies it with a seven-bladed aperture, but on another it has a nine-bladed aperture. Also, the old 55-200mm lens didn’t have real AF-S capabilities. Instead of having a ring type motor directly rotating a floating lens element, it just had a normal motor like that driven by old screw AF-D type lenses, except this was built into the lens body. This meant it was pretty silent at focusing, but was slow and didn’t have full-time manual over-ride like that of real AF-S lenses. I suspect this is still the fake AF-S.

I await Ken Rockwell’s review as that should clear up any ambiguity with this lens, and also give us some sample shots not taken by Nikon.


  1. If you discount the 18-200mm, although technically it was a consumer lens, the price of it puts it firmly out of most consumers pockets.
  2. But annoyingly a UK list price of £249.99. This absurd pricing in the UK by Nikon has to stop, but that’s for another post.

Ken Rockwell: Nikon D40x and 50-200mm VR on Wednesday

Ken Rockwell claims that he’s receiving a Nikon D40x with the 10 mega—pixel sensor and a 55-200mm VR lens on Wednesday.

Update: this has been confirmed by Nikon.

Nikon D3 announced

Jim Seaholm has posted on the photo.net forums that he attended a Nikon sales rep seminar where the D3 was announced:

Full Frame (no 1.1 crap) – DX mode at 1.5x – High Speed Crop – VERY fast motor drive (can’t remember the number he quoted, but when he fired it, it sounded at least as fast as my F5 on CH. – 18.7 MB – MSRP $7999 – No H and X models anymore, just the one D3.

The camera was fitted with another new release: an undisguised 50mm 1.2G AF-S lens, which looked to be quite large and sturdy. Also mentioned but not present was a 24-120 2.8G AF-S. The rep said no new DX lenses were forthcoming in the near future.

Pictures and full specifications are to be announced on Monday, so more to follow then.

Nikon at PMA predictions

Here are my predictions for Nikon’s new product announcements at PMA in a few days. They are based speculation, rumours and logic only; I have no proof whatsoever. But still.

Cameras

  • D3 — The long awaited replacement for the D2h/D2x line—up of professional cameras, set to compete against Canon’s new EOS-1D Mark III. Should be 10 mega—pixels, 10 FPS, 1.1x crop factor sensor and improvements in the AF engine.
  • D60 — This will fill the gap created by the D40 when it replaced the D50. The D40 doesn’t feature a body AF motor, so it wont auto—focus with many current and older AF-D type lenses. The D60 will feature the D40 body with a 10.2 mega—pixel sensor from the D200 and D80 with an AF sensor shoe—horned on. It’s feature set will include some other improvements but not enough to compete with the D80.
  • D200s — The D200 has been a huge success for Nikon, beating Canon’s 30D on price, features and sales. An upgrade to the D200 to feature the sensor and AF system from the defunct D2x would be a very welcome addition and would tempt many nature and sports photographers to upgrade just for the D2x’s excellent AF system.

Lenses

The majority of the new lens announcements will be for older designs to be upgraded with AF-S and VR. I predict that some, if not all of the following lenses will receive that treatment:

  • 28mm f/1.4 AF-S
  • 50mm f/1.4 AF-S VR
  • 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 AF-S VR
  • 85mm f/1.4 AF-S VR
  • 300mm f/4 AF-S VR
  • 400mm f/2.8 AF-S VR
  • 500mm f/4 AF-S VR
  • 600mm f/4 AF-S VR

There will be some new lenses to fill gaps currently being filled by their competitors (Sigma et al):

  • 17-70mm f/2.8 AF-S VR DX
  • 20mm f/1.4 AF-S
  • 28-105mm f/2.8 AF-S VR
  • 30mm f/1.4 AF-S VR DX
  • 100-300mm f/4 AF-S VR
  • 400mm f/5.6 AF-S VR
  • 400-600mm f/5.6 AF-S VR

And finally if Nikon feel very generous and want to bring their budget/consumer lenses into the modern era:

  • 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5 AF-S VR
  • 50mm f/1.8 AF-S VR
  • 85mm f/1.8 AF-S VR

Honestly, I’d be surprised if even 20% of what I predicted gets released, and I certainly don’t hope for Nikon to replace all their lenses with updated versions in one go, but hopefully before the next PMA the majority will be on their way out.

Nikon D40x rumours

More news from the acclaimed jeff-c, he claims that Nikon is going to release an upgraded D40 called the D40x with the 10.2 mega-pixel sensor from the D80 and D200 because of supply problems with the venerable 6.1 mega-pixel sensor.

Personally I think this is a bad move as the 4 mega-pixel jump is relatively minor compared to the increased high-ISO noise from the 10.2 mega-pixel sensor. The D40 and D50 were low light, high-ISO gems and this would really kill the D40s appeal to serious photographers as a small low-light camera when twinned with the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 lens.

Update This has now been confirmed by Nikon and Ken Rockwell.

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