PMA Digicam Shootout 2006: Review, Part 2

Dennis Faas's picture

Continued from Part 1.

Surveying the hundreds of new products introduced at the Photo Marketing Associations (PMA) trade show (Feburary 27 ~ March 1, 2006) revealed that technology companies have finally ended their fight for "the largest mega pixel" camera. The truth is that an average shooter only needs a 6 mega pixel camera for 5x7 or 8x10 to develop quality prints.

So what's next?

There are too many choices when camera makers introduce 15 new models and the competition is increasing as Samsung introduces it's first SLR with interchangeable lenses at the PMA showing Orlando Florida.

In what has become a $35.2 billion dollar industry, digital imaging is starting to focus on "post-capture image manipulation." The trend is to load cameras with software for real-time gratification and cut out manipulating images in the computer.

Texas Instruments announced a new processor tied to "Da Vinci technology" that supports camera resolution up to 16 mega pixel or 30 frame/second high-definition video frame capture. They are offering it to camera makers to use as "a base to build on," and claim it eliminates the shutter lag, boot time and picture playback deficiencies in today's digital point-and-shoot cameras.

"Da Vinci" will offer higher sensitivity TI says with less noise for low-light photos, instant red-eye removal while shooting, and the ability to get high quality prints off video frames, in-camera editing and image stabilization.

They say this as they're going from digital to analog!? I thought it was best to go analog to digital?

The French company, DxO Technology says their software does it all.

DxO says the software not the camera will do the focusing and take the blur out. Everything will be sharp from 6 inches to infinity. The software addresses what they call "the 20 major defects that reduce image quality" by eliminating blur, contrast, noise, demozaicing, distortion, vignetting, etc.

Darn! I can't brag about how my photos are better because my lenses are sharper than another brand. Digital photography is taking away my bragging rights!

Panasonic, Olympus, Sygma and Kodak all favor a new 4 by 3 image proportion, claiming this proportion is mathematically better in the digital age. The companies would also like to see a universal "open system" lens mount. This would enable consumers to shop for their favorite algorithms, and then match it to their favorite lens.

Panasonic's new camera comes with the famed Leica lens and is expected to retail for around $2000.

Digital printing now surpasses traditional photo paper says both Canon and HP with the introduction of several new inkjet printers at PMA having a wider color Gamut than silver halide paper and claiming to have a print life of 200 years. (FYI, when ink-jet and dye-sub prints first appeared they bragged about having a life expectancy of 10 years).

Selling for around $ 700, they "lay down a ton of ink" claims Dave Etchell founder of The new ink dye or pigment based printers have an average of 10,000 ink nozzles for printing colors never before possible. (I'm not talking sRGB!) Canon introduced one model for $1945 with 30,000 ink nozzles to output prints as large as 17 by 24 inches.

Filling a need is an ink cartridge refilling machine from Accufill for dealers to have in their store, that is said to be able to refill 75% of the cartridges available today.

I just hope I don't get any ink on my fingers, when I refill my empty cartridge at my local drugstore. ;-)

Companies like Mustek USA are coming into the photo market with an 8-Megapixel model MDC-832Z ($ 249) that in addition to recording images and video will play MP3 music, and record sound.

Nikon is adding "Picmotion" where a "muvee" is created in-camera from images and video automatically styled to music, that is all stored in the camera.

The UK company, Pixology exhibited at PMA its "Facedetect" which "automatically detects human faces" in the a picture to improve auto-focus and auto-exposure.

As Pixology president Yuval Yashiv says, "Now that the mega pixel race is coming to an end, manufactures are looking to differentiate themselves by adding technology inside the camera."

It looks like to me that digital imaging is going multi-function, like when the PC went from Dos to Windows. What will the next camera do?

You can find out more at:

Contact photo coach Jim Domke at jim(at)!

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