Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Two New Families of Digital Cameras

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Two New Families of Digital Cameras

Article excerpt

Home to heavyweight championships, Las Vegas was a natural venue when the biggest names in cameras and film introduced competing products at the mammoth Photo Marketing Association conference and exhibition, held in the desert city earlier this month.

In one corner, EOS DCS digital cameras from Eastman Kodak Co. and Canon Inc. In the opposite corner, the formidable Nikon Inc.-Fuji Photo Film tag team, with its E2 and E2s (Nikon) and DS505 and DS515 (Fuji) models, first announced last August. These products represent what many photojournalists consider "second-generation digital cameras"' designed from the ground-up to be self-contained digital capture devices with the characteristics, functionality and ergonomics of conventional SLR cameras.

In this case, the film giants on each team supplied the electronics; the camera makers provided the bodies, mechanics and optics. Though in different ways on each team, all partners will sell the cameras.

Although manufacturers on each team cooperated on technology, only Kodak and Canon also devised cooperative marketing agreements. Kodak will target commercial markets that don't require increased ISO with the EOS DCS5 model, while Canon addresses the photojournalism market with the EOS DCS3.

Each of Kodak's three EOS DCS5 models (color, black-and-white and infrared) are priced at $11,995, including power supply and Macintosh and PC drivers. A PCMCIA hard drive and a package including the hard drive and a 28mm Canon lens are available separately. Kodak says the cameras will be available this spring.

Utilizing Kodak's 1.5-megapixel CCD photosensor, the EOS DCS5 includes a "digital back" on Canon's EOS-1N conventional body, and is compatible with all Canon EF lenses and EOS accessories. Because the EOS DCS5 provides exposure equivalents from 100 to 400 in color and 200 to 800 in black and white, photojournalists may opt for the EOS DCS3 model, which differs from the EOS DCS5 in its 1.3-megapixel chip and maximum ISO of 1600 for color imaging (up to 6400 for black-and-white and infrared). The DCS3's chip corresponds to faster film's larger film grains, which trade off some resolution for greater light sensitivity.

Kodak said EOS DCS3 color, black-and-white and infrared models will list for approximately $17,000. It also announced that later this year it and Canon will market a six-megapixel EOS DCS camera.

According to Kodak, both the EOS DCS3 and DCS5 models support all functions of the Canon EOS-1N, including Advanced Integrated Multipoint control to link focus and exposure, all metering modes and the automated time, date, F/stop, exposure time, software version, and program setting information.

They capture 36-bit color (12 bits per RGB channel, converted in initial camera versions to 24-bit color before downloading), record 10 images in four seconds in the EOS DCS5 and 12 images in four seconds in the EOS DCS3, and utilize PCMCIA Type III cards to store images.

Both cameras also have a built-in audio recording function that allows photographers to identify images and preserve other information without taking their hands or eyes from the camera. "Roughly three minutes of sound is equivalent to one image in storage," said Kodak Professional and Printing Imaging spokesman Joseph Runde.

Images are acquired using an Adobe Photoshop plug-in. (While software and cables come with the camera, Windows users must supply the SCSI host adapter.) The Photoshop acquire module picks up the image, sound and all camera data related to each shot.

Image data from the DCS 1.3- and 1.5-MB sensors are expanded to raw images in Photoshop of approximately 3.7 MB and 4.4 MB, respectively. The near tripling in file size accomplished by software interpolation is required to process and color-separate complete images from data supplied by a sensor in which the CCD elements are overlaid with red, green and blue filter arrays. …

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