• Another major announcement from a major manufacturer is expected within the next couple of days. Can't say more than that at the moment, but stay tuned.
• Michael Reichmann, a longtime Canon user and supporter who has a great working relationship with Canon Canada, has published what appears to be the web's first thorough review of the Canon 40D on The Luminous Landscape. His most interesting conclusion, after shooting some 1,000 images, is that the image quality of the 40D "is on a par if not even slightly better than that of the Canon 5D, which up until now has been my benchmark for DSLR image quality both at low and at high ISO." The observation, he reports, has been somewhat controversial. Seems like good news to me—who wouldn't want the image quality of a $2,540 camera body in a $1,300 camera body?—but then what do I know.
• Digital Photography Review says it has received "official" word that the new top Olympus model, which, it is currently believed, will have the designation "E-3," will be announced on October 17th.
• I'm still working on a review of the Zeiss Ikon (a film camera, for those of you who don't have it on their radar screens), which should be finished soon.
• PhotographyBLOG has published image samples from the Panasonic L10.
Nothing against our friends at PhotographyBLOG—this is not directed at them—but I'm really beginning to question the usefulness of image samples on the web. At least at anything short of 100%, and sometimes even then. I'm pretty good at discerning IQ from limited data—I would put my skills in that regard in the top .02% at least—but beyond lens bokeh at wide apertures with some lenses, lens corner performance at some apertures, seldom-conclusive glimmerings about color fidelity in certain limited cases, unprocessed noise at high ISOs (which is information of limited value in my opinion, since noise-reduction software is so flexible and so good), and just about nothing else, small 100k online sample JPEGs are pretty much looking all the same to me these days.
Prints are where IQ differences really show up. I used to download full JPEG files from the web and make prints (usually of small areas enlarged) to discern IQ differences, but these days I'm not even doing that, since I would personally only use cameras that shoot RAW, and RAW converters—and individuals' RAW conversion skills—vary so widely. Not to mention the fact that few sources put up uncompressed RAW files on the web for downloading.
• Recent weeks have seen the announcement and/or introduction of no fewer than four major new DSLRs from Canon and Nikon. All look excellent in their own ways, but I was somewhat curious that none of these new cameras feature sensor IS. As those of you who have been following along have heard me say before, sensor IS is one of my very favorite camera features. Yes, I do know that this is not true for everybody, so there's no need to pepper the comments with emphatic assertions of how little you care. I'm also quite aware of Canon's and Nikon's arguments that lens IS is more effective than sensor IS at long focal lengths. It may be, but that's not what I use IS for. I like it as a "virtual tripod" for low-light shooting with normal to medium-wide focal lengths. In combination with high-ISO settings on DSLRs it's a one-two punch that has really opened up new creative possibilities for me. My 7D with sensor IS, ISO 800 or 1600, and my Sigma 30mm ƒ/1.4 lens is an "available light" tool that a few years ago I wasn't even dreaming of.
Nikon made a big mistake in my opinion by not making its new 24–70mm a VR lens—it seems to be assuming that all its users are only interested in IS for use with telephotos, and I just don't think that's true. The feature is good for much more than just steadying handheld super-teles in normal light. Both Canon and Nikon are going to get into trouble sooner or later with no sensor IS in their lineups, in my opinion. In-lens IS may work better, but that's a moot point if there are no lenses with IS in the focal lengths you shoot. Nikon doesn't have a single VR lens that even interests me. Lens IS just can't compete with sensor IS in terms of lens choice flexibility.
For this reason, I think that Canon's quiet introduction of a budget IS normal zoom lens—its new EF-S 18–55mm ƒ3.5–5.6 IS—is a more significant product than it's being given credit for. It will mark the first time that Canon is making IS available in a small, light, and inexpensive lens that will match well with a Digital Rebel or a 20D / 30D / 40D for street, carry-around, and grab shooting. This one product goes a respectably long way toward addressing the lack of sensor IS in any Canon body. If I were a Canon shooter, I know what two lenses I'd own: the 18–55mm IS lens and the 24–105mm IS lens: the former for walking around with, which I'd switch out with the latter for jobs and dedicated shooting when I wouldn't mind the size and weight.
In general, I'm not complaining. Despite the lack of sensor IS in any of the new Canons and Nikons, Pentax offers it in the K100D and K10D, Sony has it in the Alpha 100, and it looks like the new top-of-the-line Olympus as well as the coming up-market Sony will both have it. So I'll have my own alternatives to choose from, when it comes time to phase out my 7D and look for something new.