Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1997/12/03

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Subject: [Leica] Re: Leica/Nikon/Canon
From: (David Morton)
Date: Wed, 3 Dec 1997 15:16 +0000 (PST)

Eric Welch wrote:

> Yes!!!! Please tell me. I'm still able to decide our first staffer
> be
> Canon or Nikon. Some are pushing for Nikon, I'm biased for Canon.

The Nikon offering from Kodak isn't going to change any time soon,
and as this is based on the F90(N90) it's not popular. There will be
a digital back for the F5 from Fuji, I hear, but every time this
comes up in conversation the delivery date has slipped further away.
It's still unclear if this is a removable back (so the same camera
can be used for film) but for all practical purposes this isn't
important. The 'back' will be expensive, and it's immaterial if it
happens to come with a free F5 bolted to it.

The Canon situation is more promising. The new offering will be
smaller than the DCS3, the digital bit which looks like an
old-fashioned motor drive is shallower. My information is that the
sensor end is similar to the current offering (though let's hope
they've sorted the broken TTL flash).

The real improvements are in the user interface. The current practice
is to take the pictures, go back to the car, plug the camera into a
Mac PowerBook, drag the images into PhotoShop, compress them as jpeg
files, and then send them back to the desk via a GSM digital mobile
'phone. The transmitted files are around 250-300k in size.

There are two problems with this. Firstly it's a pain in the gluteus
maximus having to carry a Mac around, and secondly it's *VERY*
difficult persuading the photographers not to adjust the colour
balance before sending them. No amount of persuasion or threats seems
to convince them that a TFT or DS LCD screen should not be used to
alter colour balance.

The new Canon is said to have a small LCD screen on the back, which
can display the image (though too small to be useful, only serves as
a confirmation that the system worked), or a histogram (more useful
to check exposure & flash settings). However the camera will now
compress the images into jpegs *itself*, and connect directly to a
mobile 'phone/PDA device like the Nokia communicator. So you can take
the picture, check it's roughly OK, and send it back to the desk
without a Mac in the chain (if you wish, the Mac option is still
there). It's suggested that there's even a mode where this process
happens automagically as you take pictures.

All this is 'grapevine' stuff, but from a source which is very well
connected, and normally reliable.

> Not a chance. The blooming that happens in low light with light
> in
> the frame make them totally incapable of shooting in some
> I.E.
> where the Leica excels above all others!
> And until they can do TTL flash right, they're going to suffer. I'd
> 5-10 years. Four at my paper. Too expensive to equip more than one
> photographer a year.

Here in the UK things seem to be converting more quickly. Unofficial
word from two of the largest circulation national tabloids (I could
name them, but probably shouldn't) is that in 12 months time
freelancers will *need* to be equipped with digital cameras, if
they're to be considered for work.

I hear what you say about the problems with digital artifacts (like
blooming), but it's noticeable that these are 'photographer
dependent' some can produce images which don't suffer in this way,
others can't.
There's one agency in the UK which is totally digital, and they've
had great success in recent months, one picture editor even insisted
that the images they were sending in couldn't *possibly* be from
digital cameras, because they didn't have the artifacts he was used
to seeing. I asked the boss of this organisation why this was so, and
he said that he believed it was because they had made the decision to
go all digital, and had been forced to "really learn how to use the
kit". His opinion is that those who're vacillating between film and
digital and have yet to commit to the latter, will always revert to
film (with which they've got many MANY years experience) when the
going gets tough, and so they haven't really got the measure of the
new technology.