Old writing back in 1998 - may not apply now. 

Agfa StudioCam (with Nikon's Zoom Lens & Housing)


To help you easier to understand and not so defensive about digital imaging, I would rather portray the medium as a camera & computer darkroom. In simple term, digital imaging is all about capturing images without a film by means of digital camera, a digital camera back or by digitising a source (negative, transparency, or print) by a scanner and manipulate & perfecting the image on a computer to suit your application.

The digital capture can occur either initially through the use of : A digital camera, or Digital camera Scanbacks, An image digitised from a negative, transparency, or print using various scanning methods.


D I G I T A L  C A M E R A S

Nikon E2nS, total system compatibility with the huge Nikon system. There are basically three categories in the offering: the entry, intermediate and the high end digital cameras. The resolution a digital camera can produce dictates its price (Canon latest D2000 body ? Ask canon marketing). Although the quality of digital images produced by digital camera has improved dramatically over the last five years, the quality of digital images produce by digital camera is currently still lower than that of photographic film. The principal advantage of immediate images often far outweighs the importance of slight loss in resolution in certain application such as news, photojournalism, medical and scientific applications. In the high end sector, there isn't any fully dedicated commercial models available for the medium and large formats yet. The modular design of camera and flexibility of removable backs, in particular provides a platform for digital component to be mounted. Both Rollei (DSP 104 for its 6008 & 6003) and Hasselblad have some modular digital back for their camera models, while third party, like Kodak recently launched a removable digital backs, the DCS 465 for Hasselblad (for its 500 & 503), Mamiya (RB &RZ) and the Sinar camera as a accessory component.

The Rollei DSP-104 Scan back for its Rollei 6003 & 6008 Medium format cameras

The high end 35mm format has some broader scope of choices. Kodak, Fuji, Agfa, even Polaroid (please note all these are traditional film manufacturers), directly or indirectly (on the ground of common survival) forming strategic alliances with the top camera makers. Kodak launched their first single shot 35mm SLR digital camera in 1991, built around the body structure of the Nikon F801 (the US model N8001), currently the Kodak's top model which based on the Nikon body structure is DCS 460 (essentially on the Nikon F90x) - incidentally, is the highest resolution 35mm digital SLR camera available on the market, can capture up to 6 million pixels on a single image! The Kodak is co-develop and marketing some digital cameras using Canon bodies, the DCS-1, 3 & the latest DCS-5 (built around the Canon EOS-1n - check the latest D2000).

The Kodak (Canon) DCS-5 High End Digital Camera (The E3 is out !)

The brand loyalists might find these scenario confusing, while Kodak is with both Nikon & Canon, Fuji is working with Nikon. The Fujix (or the E2n & E2nS under Nikon's brand name) is constructed based on the structural framework of the Nikon F4 (though appearance slightly differs). Agfa's ActionCam is teaming up with Minolta, which essentially is a Minolta Dynax 500si body, while its lower ranked model, the StudioCam is using Nikon's housing, bayonet mount and even with a Nikon 35 - 80 mm zoom lens. All the desktop publishing cameras we looked at are built from the ground up for specific tasks. The more expensive, high-resolution, instantaneous capture cameras are usually as mentioned, built onto an existing 35mm SLR design. Kodak DCS 420 is built onto a Nikon N90 body. It accepts standard Nikon lenses and can produce a 4.5MB (1,524 x 1,012 pixels) file, while the Kodak DCS-5 (Canon EOS-1n body) provides 1.5 million-pixel (1012 x 1524) image, almost equivalent in resolution. The top range Kodak DCS 460 has a huge array of 2,036 x 3,060 pixels (rivalling quality on a digital scanback of some medium format). The price of such a high-resolution camera is nearly US$28,000.

The World Highest Resolution Digital Camera (* As at: 1st quarter of 1998), The Kodak DCS-460 (Nikon's F90x Body) The best of 35mm SLR digital camera technologies currently features on a model like the Kodak's DCS-460, (Digital technology changes and improves almost every two months, please be patience in your investment - I don't suggest a rush into it - unless deem necessary. Incidentally, Kodak has led the way in the development of solid-state image capture devices for commercial use. In 1986, Kodak scientists designed and fabricated the world's first megapixel sensor - a sensor capable of recording 1.4 megapixels, or 1.4 million picture elements. and production for digital camera began in early 1990 with a 1.3 megapixel sensor digital camera - current 'resolution' record as at August 1998 is hold by Canon in the new D2000 Digital camera body - where it operates, accept the EF lenses and functions more like an Canon EOS1n SLR camera) beside retaining all the basic Nikon F90x features like autofocus, manual & auto exposures, flash, self-timer and accept ALL your F-mount lenses, it also employs new generation Megapixels CCD (Charge Coupled Device) with 6 million pixels, allows images to store in PCMCIA-ATA Type III harddisks (just like those cards for the notebook computer) and flash memory cards, thus enable extended shooting time by changing disk, captures 12 bits per RGB colour (36 bit colour) for greater detail in shadowy and hightlights area. Besides, it even has built-in microphone to let you record sound clips and individual sound file not neccessary links to specific image file for greater flexibility. The camera can also serve as a PCMCIA card reader for transferring images to a computer, it has basic connectivity features like SCSI interface and provide plug-in software for image editing programme like Adobe's Photoshops to work on a MacOS based computers.

Are you following with what we are putting up here ? If it sounds to technical, we re-define in simpler terms:

A high end digital camera is essentially built around a top notch 35mm SLR body, you can snap your pictures normally as how you take your pictures, even mounting your favourite lenses. The only different is, there's no film and you can view images (and hear sound clip recorded) instantly. So you'll know when to make adjustments on the spot. You'll see the results of those changes immediately. And you'll know when you've captured the shot you want. All of which contribute to reduced shoot time, talent time, and equipment rental time (where applies, definitely not in Malaysia). And because this is filmless capture, there is no processing time or cost and of coz' the most beautiful part is, you can manipulate to patch up some slight defects in your captured images on a computer - it is basically a combination between a scanner, a computer built in your current 35mm SLR body.

The next part we will bring you some quick review on the entry and intermediate range of digital cameras.


 [ Introductory ][ High End Models][ Entry Models][ Scanner ][ On Screen ][ Gamma ][ CCD ] [ Glossary ]

Nikon, A2n, A2nS & Nikkor are trademarks of Nikon Corporation; Agfa, StudioCam & ActionCam are trademarks of Afga-Gavert Inc; Canon is a trademark of Canon Inc; Fujix, Fuji are tademarks of Fuji Corporation Inc; Rollei is a trademark of Rollei Fototechnic GMbH; Apple, Macintosh are trademarks of Apple Computer Inc.;Hasselblad is a trademark of Victor Hasselblad AB, Sweden.; Kodak, DCS-420,460, DCS-1,3,5 are trademarks of Eastman Kodak Inc.

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