August 2, 2005 The photographic industry’s version of the 'Oscars', are the European Photo & Imaging Awards of the Technical Image Press Association (TIPA), and they were once again presented in Cologne at Photokina this year. Every year, TIPA editors vote for the best photo & imaging products introduced in Europe during the previous 12 months, taking into account innovation, the use of leading-edge technology, design and ergonomics of the products and, naturally, their ease of use and price/performance ratio. The main winners in the digital camera categories this year were the Canon EOS-1 DS Mark II (SLR Professional), Fujifilm FinePix S3 Pro (SLR Midrange), Canon EOS 350D (SLR Entry), Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ20 (Superzoom), Nikon Coolpix 7900 (Compact), Sony Cyber-shot T7 (Ultra Compact) and the Sony Ericsson K750i (Mobile Imaging Device).
Best D-SLR Midrange: Fujifilm FinePix S3 Pro This third entry from Fujifilm in the domain of the digital SLR is certainly the best yet. While retaining the Nikon F-mount and the handling of the Nikon F80 film SLR, the FinePix S3 Pro offers a new Super CCD SR II sensor, with a total of 12.34 million pixels. This is made up of 6.17 million ‘S’ pixels and 6.17 millio ’R’ pixels, which combine uniquely to produce images with an extended dynamic range offering outstanding highlight detail. Being half the weight of high-end professional digital SLRs, the FinePix S3 Pro is a very competitive option for studio, location or still-life shooting.
Best D-Compact Camera: Nikon Coolpix 7900 The Nikon Coolpix 7900 incorporates several new features which make it the ‘Best Digital Compact Camera 2005’. The D-Lighting function adds light and detail to dark areas of shots, while leaving brighter areas unaffected. The In-Camera Red-Eye Fix function automatically detects and corrects red-eye in flash photos. The most innovative new function is Face-priority AF, which can automatically sense the presence of a human face in the frame and sets accurate focus accordingly.
Best Mobile Imaging Device: Sony Ericsson K750i Cameraphones have the potential to become the entry-level digital cameras of the future, but so far their image quality has been disappointing at best. With the latest models introduced in Europe stepping into the 2MP class, this is changing rapidly. The Sony Ericsson K750i is a prime example of such a new generation. It combines an MP3-player with a 4.8mm f/2.8 autofocus 4X digital zoom lens, red-eye reduction function, image editing and a photo album. It delivers good minilab quality pictures up to 10x15cm print size. Using the optional Memory Stick Duo up to 2GB it can store approximately 6000 photos in its photo album. Pictures can be shared also by Bluetooth, infrared or USB.
Best 35 mm SLR Camera: Nikon F6 It seemed unlikely that the world would see true innovation in a new analog SLR camera, but Nikon have managed to prove everyone wrong and pull it off! With its robust build quality, its exceptional viewfinder, its incredibly accurate exposure system, and its fast and responsive autofocus, the Nikon F6 gives the dedicated film user all the benefits of the very latest developments in technology and ergonomics. It is without doubt the best analog SLR that has ever been produced, and will provide its owners with a tool that will never go out of fashion. It’s rugged construction will last for many years - at least as long as film is available!
Best Prestige Camera: Epson R-D1 The Epson R-D1 is the world’s first digital rangefinder camera. It is a state-of-the-art digital camera that offers outstanding performance and image quality, yet comes in a guise that offers the traditionalist the look, feel and handling of a classic film camera. With a superb blend of classic analogue features and modern digital technology, the R-D1 is a Prestige Camera that gives twenty-first century photographers a way to use the famous Leica lenses from our photographic heritage.
Best D-Superzoom Camera: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ20 The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ20 incorporates an impressive 12x optical zoom (equivalent to 36-432mm on a 35mm film camera) with a fast, f/2.8 aperture right through the range. The combination of three aspherical lenses and one ED lens generates high optical performance while preserving the compact size. Thanks to the effective optical image stabilizer, the full zoom range can be used even for hand-held shots, making this camera a great photographic tool.
Best D-Ultra Compact Camera: Sony Cyber-shot T7 Despite its small size, this ingenious camera boasts many distinctive features, such as the 3X optical ‘folding’ Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar zoom lens. Another important feature is the anti-reflection Clear Photo LCD, which enhances viewing quality by preventing reflected light from interfering with the displayed image. For this combination of innovative design and powerful features, the TIPA jury awarded Sony the ‘Best Digital Ultra Compact Camera 2005’ Award.
Best D-SLR Professional: Canon EOS-1 DS Mark II The real sensation of the year, this EOS 1Ds Mark II has pushed digital photography to a new level, by creating image files up to 16.7 MP. This amazing output not only enables print-sizes up to 60x90cm, but also ensures that professionals can safely crop images without the fear of losing quality. In addition to the awesome file sizes, its 24x36mm CMOS sensor is a true full-frame, so keeps the focal lengths of lenses exactly equivalent to those of 35mm film SLRs. This is a huge advantage to users of wide-angle lenses, and the large viewfinder image that results gives professional photographers the clarity they need for critical composition and focusing. The image processing is also second-to-none, and offers excellent detail at high sensitivity, up to at least ISO 800.
Best D-SLR Entry Level : Canon EOS 350D With its CMOS 8.2 MP sensor and Digic II image-processor, the Canon EOS 350D is the most compact and powerful digital SLR camera on the market, and comes with a very attractive price-tag. While being easy to use, it also incorporates the latest technology employed by high-end models in the Canon professional range. It can be used either on its fully automatic setting, or with complete manual control of shutter speed, aperture and ISO settings, thus allowing newcomers to develop their photographic skills. The EOS 350D is compatible with all Canon EF and EF-S lenses, giving an unparalleled choice of optics for the discerning user.
Best Small Format Printer: Hewlett Packard Photosmart 375 Small format printers are becoming increasingly popular for quick and easy prints from digital cameras. The Hewlett Packard Photosmart 375 is easy to use and delivers lab-quality, borderless 10x15cm prints in as little as 60 seconds. Photos can be previewed, selected and edited from the tilting 2.5-inch colour LCD, making a computer connection unnecessary. Built in memory card slots, PictBridge support and an optional Bluetooth Wireless adapter make this printer a ‘portable minilab’.
Best A4 Photo Printer: Canon Pixma iP8500 The Canon Pixma iP8500 puts unprecedented image quality and speed in the hands of photographic professionals and enthusiasts. This printer makes a full A4 photo in just 35 seconds, while still delivering superb quality. Canon’s 8-ink ChromaPLUS photo system, which includes additional red and green ink, expands the printer’s colour gamut significantly, particularly in the yellow-to-red and green hues. The Pixma iP8500 supports PictBridge, direct CD/DVD printing and has a duplex unit for easy two-sided printing.
Best A3 Photo Printer: Epson Stylus Photo R1800 The Epson R1800 ink-jet printer is highly significant for photographers because it combines the long durability of pigment-based inks while offering the possibility of a true, glossy finish. This is achieved with an extra ‘ink’ that performs as a varnish and does away with the bronzing effect that is all too common in pigment-based glossy prints. With its fast printing times and Super A3 output, the Epson R1800 is a superb printing solution for photographers, and a worthy winner of the ‘Best A3 Photo Printer’.
Best Photo Software: Adobe Photoshop CS2 Adobe Photoshop continues to lead as the uncontested image editing software of choice for professional photographers. Version CS2 adds many welcome additions, such as a much improved multi-image RAW converter, the amazing ‘Vanishing Point’ perspective cloning, image warp, colour fringing and lens aberration correction, and advanced noise reduction. HDR support makes it possible to combine multiple exposures into a single, 32-bit image with expanded range, preserving details from the deepest shadows to the brightest highlights.
There were many more categories presented in the TIPA Awards – if you have a category you’re thinking about a purchase in soon, check out the 2005 winners here.