Leica posts big sales bump

It has been a good fiscal year for Leica, with the company reporting an increase in sales of over 50 percent for 2010/2011.

From April 1 2010 to March 31 2011 Leica Camera AG saw a 57.3 percent increase in sales compared to the previous year, going from €158.2 million to €248.9 million.

The company’s pre-tax earnings improved six-fold on the previous year from €7.4 million to €42.4 million and net income went from €3.2 million to €30.4 million.

Leica attributes the success to ongoing popularity of products from the Leica M system, professional S series and the company’s casual compact range.

The record sales figures mean that the manufacturer will be paying a €0.3 dividend per share to stockholders, a payout totaling €5.0 million and the first time Leica has been able to pay a dividend since 1997.

It is certainly a reversal of fortunes for a company that suffered heavily for its stubborn support of film photography as the rest of the industry raced into the digital era.

Pentax powers up

In an odd team-up Pentax has partnered with DC Comics to bring the publisher’s colourful superheroes into the photographic realm.

Never one to shy away from customisation options, Pentax is introducing a range of spandex-clad faceplates for its Optio RS1500 compact.

Released to cash in on the hype surrounding Warner Brothers’ forthcoming Green Lantern film, the DC Super Heroes RS1500 collector pack will let users snap on a faceplate featuring their favourite DC hero or villain.

The pack, which contains seven faceplates (Green Lantern, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash and Superman, Catwoman and the Joker), also comes with a 4GB SD card and special Green Lantern protective camera case.

The compact itself is more of a sidekick than hero, featuring a 14MP CCD sensor, 4x optical zoom, HD recording options and a 3-inch LCD display.

I know straight-laced photography enthusiasts are not big fans of the Pentax penchant for personalised whimsy but I have to say I appreciate the 70s-era designs chosen (though no Green Arrow, for shame).

The super-Pentax will be hitting shelves in May for £119 (about NZ$220).


Sigma gears to launch large-sensor compact

Sigma’s latest addition to the high-end compact market will make its market debut next month.

The DP2x compact sports an SLR-sized 14-megapixel Foveon X3 direct image sensor, a new 24.2mm F2.8 fixed lens developed specially for the model and a quick TRUE II processing engine.

The camera’s Analogue Front End captures full colour data that the sensor system converts into a digital signal, ensuring richly coloured, high-definition images.

The successor of the DP2s, the DP2x will feature an enhanced version of the line’s Auto Focus for faster image capturing.

That formidable power may be housed in a smooth, unassuming compact case but the price tag reflects just how ostentatious those specs are, with a suggested retail price of US$800 (about NZ$X).

Sigma says the DP2x will be hitting US shelves in ‘late April’.

Expect local release and price details to be announced soon.


X100 back in production

Production of FujiFilm’s FinePix X100 has resumed after unexpected global demand quickly dried up initial stocks.

Scarce availability during the early-March launch was made worse when the Japanese manufacturer’s Taiwa-Cho factory had to be closed after the March 11 quake struck.

FujiFilm has since announced that none of the factory staff had been seriously injured and production of the X100 has now resumed, with shipments expected to begin in early April.

The beautifully crafted compact did make it briefly to the New Zealand market on March 11 but most camera retailers reported selling out on the same day and are still waiting for replenished stock.

The FinePix X100 features an APS-C CMOS sensor, new EXR processor, 23mm F2 prime lens, ISO range of 200 to 6400 (boosted to 12800), ND filter and analogue-digital ‘Hybrid Viewfinder’ housed in a retro, rangefinder-esque chassis.

When stock does trickle back to our shores the FinePix X100 will have a recommended price tag of $2199 (though most retailers were putting it out for around $1700 the first time around).


Olympus XZ-1 earns a Red Dot

Olympus’ high-end compact has taken away one of the world’s most prestigious design awards.

The 10-megapixel XZ-1, which packs an impressive iZuiko lens, received a Red Dot Design Award care of an international jury of acclaimed designers.

The international Red Dot Design Award was launched in 1995 to single out products of high quality and superb design.

Olympus’ pro-level compact fits the bill by assembling the manual control and quality lens of a DSLR in a classy, portable design.

The Red Dot jury pointed to the camera’s clean lines and clever functionality, such as a multi-purpose click-stop dial around the lens, as some of the reasons behind the XZ-1’s win.

The top shelf compact market has become a tougher game, with the Panasonic LX series, Nikon P7000 and FujiFilm’s X100 jostling for that high-power dollar, an accolade like the Red Dot could make all the difference for Olympus.

If you are not already acquainted with the Olympus XZ-1 check out this feature-focused video spot.

Retro pro compact priced and dated

The gorgeous Finepix X100 professional-grade compact, as seen in the latest issue of D-Photo, has finally had a release date and price affixed.

Fujifilm will begin shipping the 12.3 megapixel compact in March at a suggested retail price of US$1199 (about NZ$1555).

Designed to suit the needs of professional photographers who require a convenient alternative to their DSLR, the Finepix X100 features an APS-C CMOS sensor, new EXR processor, 23mm F2 prime lens, ISO range of 200 to 6400 (boosted to 12800), ND filter, ˜Hybrid Viewfinder’ and a classy magnesium alloy chassis.

By ˜Hybrid Viewfinder’ the company claim to have developer the world’s first combination of both window optical viewfinder and modern electronic viewfinder system.

This Franken-viewfinder typifies the gutsy compact’s aim of being both technically cutting-edge and classically inspired, design-wise.

The camera’s cassis is a wonderfully retro design inspired by old rangefinder models, with a textured black body sandwiched between glinting silver base and control top.

With three separate focusing options and a dedicated raw button the camera is ideally suited to pros looking for a quick and effective secondary shooter, or amateurs with an eye for style and craftsmanship.

Nikon Launches Coolpix S8000

Nikon have recently announced the latest addition to the Coolpix family — the S8000.
With a 14 megapixel sensor, 10x optical zoom and 3-inch, 921k-dot, wide-
viewing angle clear color panel TFT LCD monitor, this little beauty is also very
slender — a mere 27.3mm. Nikon have incorporated new thin lens barrel design to
make this the slimmest camera of its kind.

The Coolpix S8000 features four advanced image stabilization features, a new image
processing engine that supports high sensitivities, and advanced noise reduction
processing technology combined with an automatic ISO sensor — meaning it performs
exceptionally in low light situations. It also features Smart Portrait mode, super high-
speed response and HD video shooting capabilities.

The Nikon Coolpix S8000 will be available for a recommended retail price of

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