by Tom Lee Published 01/02/2001
No one (well maybe one or two), can dispute the onset of digital imagery encroaching on all our businesses in one way or another, whether just for retouching old photographs or for actually taking pictures. The former has been with us in varying degrees of acceptability for some years now, but what about taking digital photos instead of by traditional methods.
The word "traditional" has been chosen with some reservedness.
This after all, only means that the method has been used for some time and is readily accepted as the norm.
By this I mean film and wet chemicals. So where has digital capture been? It must have happened while we were asleep last night! And isn't the quality of the finished print inferior to "normal" prints?
Professional digital cameras have been available for a few years now, notably the Kodak/Canon DCS560 hybrid, which delivers excellent quality for around £13000 (and small change), and Mark Cleghorn has recently won a Kodak Gold Award with a print produced from digital capture. The biggest problem has therefore not been the quality, but getting the balance right between quality and affordability.
Nikon in this respect were ground breakers with their D1 model, followed closely by the Fuji S1 Pro and more recently the Canon EOS D30. These cameras (with the exception of Canon's) have undergone stringent testing by some of the profession's more eminent photographers and given them the thumbs up quality wise. Even more impressive was the price tag accompanying them.
From under £4000 for the Nikon, under £3000 for the S1 and approximately £2000 for the Canon. BUT, and it's a big BUT, these prices do not include lenses or other accessories.
Even more ashamedly, you have to purchase additional software for the Nikon. How daft is that! The Nikon and the Fuji cameras both use the Nikon AF series of lenses whilst the Canon is of course using the Canon EOS lenses, which means you are snookered if you don't already own lenses of this type. So just when you think you've got it sussed, costs start spiralling again.
As a long time Canon user (and techno freak) I had been eagerly awaiting imports of the D30 and was told I could order one, but may not get it due to long waiting lists, until spring 2001! Imagine my frustration whilst contemplating trade-in prices, one of my lenses packs in during a "child passport" shoot! Good job I carry backup cameras (although the Bronica seemed like taking a sledge hammer to a nut) Then came Olympus....Who?.....do they still make cameras?
An advertisement carrying the first details of the Camedia E10, was launched in November last year. Although launched in France last August, this was the first time it had been exposed in the British media. Olympus have been making low end digital consumer products under the Camedia banner for some time now, but this is to be their new flagship model aimed at the professional market. Stunned by the unexpected I read on, with the edges of my mouth getting slowly wider and curling upward! Only stopping when my jaw dropped at seeing the price. £1499 - It must have been a misprint! Confused, I rang the Olympus helpline, only to be more confused when they said they didn't know much about it!
My lab man (Brian) at the Colour Centre on the Wirral, who processes all my wedding packages said that his camera rep was due in the next day and he would ask him if he knew anything about it. I got a phone call at 12.00 noon the following day, with a very excited Brian on the other end. He said "...do you want one, ....I can get it in for next week but only if you tell me now!..." His supplier had asked for ten to be imported, but was TOLD he can only have five, and three of them were already spoken for. Eager to be "one of the few", I said yes.
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