Doors Swing Open for Photokina 2008

Doors Swing Open for Photokina 2008

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The bi-annual photography extravaganza known as photokina swung open its doors this week in Cologne, Germany with the usual frenzy of digital imaging-related news and announcements. We’ll provide with a quick peek at a few of the headlines from day one.

– Eye-Fi Inc. (www.eye.fi), makers of the world’s first wireless memory card for digital cameras, today announced enhancements to its family of Eye-Fi cards that will make the upload of digital photos from camera to computer twice as fast. The faster wireless speeds will also be made available to existing Eye-Fi users at no extra cost. In addition, users will be able to upgrade their Eye-Fi cards to add the individual services they want, including Web sharing, hotspot access and geotagging.

“Faster wireless uploads and the ability to add new services to your Eye-Fi card are significant advancements in making it more convenient and rewarding to save and share digital memories,” said Jef Holove, CEO of Eye-Fi. “Even better, we’re able to offer this new convenience and flexibility to current users as well as new customers.”

Beginning October 5, new and existing Eye-Fi card owners can easily add features that are not already included on their cards and renew annual services. By using the updated Eye-Fi Manager Web application, users can add the following services to their cards:

• Web Sharing – Users who have an Eye-Fi Home Card can add Eye-Fi’s popular Web sharing service to send photos directly from their camera to one of more than 20 online photo sharing, printing, social networking or blogging sites using a wireless network, saving the time and hassle of manually uploading from the computer. Annual service fee: $9.99.

• Geotagging – Users who have an Eye-Fi Home or Share card can add geotagging to their card. Geotagging invisibly adds geographic information indicating where the photo was taken, allowing users to map where their memories were captured. Annual service fee: $14.99.

• Hotspot Access – Users who have an Eye-Fi Share card can upgrade their card to automatically upload photos away from home at more than 10,000 Wayport hotspots and through open hotspots. Annual service fee: $14.99.

– On the DSLR front, we’ve already informed of the new offerings from Canon, Nikon and Sony and the latest info from Olympus and Panasonic on the 4/3 front. Add Pentax to the mix with their new K2000 DSLR – a 10.2 MP model aimed squarely at consumers ready to make the jump from a point-and-shoot camera to a DSLR ($699 with lens). The K2000 also features Pentax newly developed Auto Picture Mode which selects from Portrait, Action, Macro, Landscape and Night Portrait modes to tailor the camera settings for myriad photo situations. Add Shake Reduction and a host of other impressive features and the K2000 presents dealers with another solid entry-level DSLR to sell.

Back to Olympus for a moment, the company announced that it is indeed developing a new interchangeable-lens digital SLR (single lens reflex) within the Olympus E-System lineup. “This new Four Thirds-compliant camera reinforces the company’s commitment to the standard,” the company said in a statement.

Positioned as a mid-level model, this new DSLR, “is intended for anyone who wants to express their creativity through photography, whether they are just starting out or are a professional with years of experience behind them.” The prototype model displayed at Photokina is being developed as an advanced amateur model that will be positioned between the E-520 and E-3.

Introduction of the new camera is expected in the first quarter of 2009. A prototype of the camera was displayed at photokina and we hope to have images of the new model next week.

– DSLRs aren’t stealing all the headlines though as a new image retrieval/organization software from a company called iLovePhotos garnered some attention as well.

Here’s a quick look at what their software promises to do. The free Mac software takes a fresh approach to addressing the billions of photos that are left unorganized and forgotten on people’s hard drives each year – leveraging face detection, visual tagging, automated sharing, and intelligent slide show technology to let people, as they explain, “effortlessly organize, share, and enjoy their photos and all the memories attached to them.”

– iLovePhotos first unveiled this photo sharing platform in private beta at DEMOfall2008 and is now launching its public beta the following capabilities:

• Automated sharing: With automatic sharing feeds, iLovePhotos claims to take all the work out of keeping family and friends connected with your photos. “For example, share pictures of your baby’s first smile, bath, trip to the park, and baseball game with close friends and relatives. Every time you tag a photo of your baby, it’s automatically uploaded to the iLovePhotos.com website and all recipients receive an email with a link to the new shots.”

• Intelligent slide shows: Like a great radio station for your photos, they explain,, iLovePhotos can bring back long-lost photos and favorite memories. It “intelligently” creates slideshows based on the people in your photos, how frequently they appear in your collection, and who they’re with most often. And these portable slide shows can be embedded on Web sites, blogs, and social network profiles and also be distributed and played across multiple platforms, including iTunes for syncing directly with iPods, iPhones, and Apple TVs.

• Face detection and visual tagging: iLovePhotos makes it easy to tag and organize photos. Instead of photo albums and folders, iLovePhotos organizes photos based on the people in them. Simply click on a friend’s photo to show every photo they’re in. 

Alongside the launch of its public beta, iLovePhotos introduced a new Flash-based version of its Mac application. Users can access the online software from any Mac or PC without downloading any software. And consumers can even bring their photos straight in from Flickr. Worth keeping an eye as this program seems to address several issues surrounding consumers’ growing image collections.

– Staying with software for the moment, Athentech Imaging Inc. is exhibiting their latest version of Perfectly Clear, their automatic turnkey image-correction solution. Athentech President Brad Malcolm told Clique his company has arrived in Cologne, Germany, “with new and powerful Perfectly Clear inventions available for license. In addition, Athentech is introducing improved image-correction solutions for both consumer and lab applications – and offering a peek at its “pro” image-correction (Perfectly Clear PRO) solution currently under development.”

“Our multi-patented Perfectly Clear solution is now represented in every major market in the world, including the dynamic BRIC countries – Brazil, Russia, India and China,” Malcolm said. “We’re pleased that wherever digital photography is gaining ground and becoming more sophisticated, Perfectly Clear® is in demand. This solution, which is the smallest ‘auto’ image-correction technology available for visually pleasing, error-free, color-accurate pictures, continues to attract a growing list of quality imaging partners, retailers and licensees – including major players like Germany’s CeWe Color.”

Malcolm explained at the show that the uniqueness of Perfectly Clear lies in its ability to “perfectly preserve the photographer’s memory.” It does so, he explained, by accurately restoring the original image that the photographer saw but that the camera did not capture due to improper exposure, color imbalance or some other inaccuracy. “We’ve learned that an accurate correction will re-trigger memories better than an inaccurate correction,” he said, “which is why we are unique in our ability to offer ‘Real Color’ and therefore help drive prints.”

Additional news on the output side of the equation came from Fujifilm as they unveiled the DL410 Frontier Dry Minilab. The company explained the intro as a “response to the growing interest in inkjet-based solutions.” This latest addition to the “standard-setting Frontier line of photofinishing lab solutions further expands a retailer’s ability to deliver high quality photo prints to consumers,” the company explained. The release of the new inkjet-based digital lab comes as increasing consumer demand for prints at retail is presenting retailers with growth opportunities.

“With an ability to scale to fit varying traffic and volume needs, the Fujifilm Frontier DL410 can be introduced on its own or easily added to an existing lab environment to deliver Frontier-quality prints with the combination of Fujifilm’s high quality inkjet photo paper, inks and Fujifilm’s Image Intelligence software technology.  Fujifilm workflow applications such as Frontier Workflow Management Software “MS” and kiosk interface “TS” software enhance and simplify the lab operator and consumer experience, increasing the opportunity for retail and lab business growth,” Fujifilm explained.

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