Greek Myths


Digital Still Cameras

Digital still cameras use either a CCD or CMOS chip to capture light coming into the camera lens and converts this into digital information. The images are stored in chip memory (either built-in RAM memory, or a memory card) until they are downloaded to a computer. Images are usually compressed when they are stored in the computer memory (remember that an uncompressed 640 x 480 24 bit image is almost 1 MB in size so compression is vital when there's onlu 4 or 8 megabytes of memory available.) This compression, along with the resolution of the CCD chip and the quality of the optics are the greatest determinants of the quality of the final image.

As well as resolution problems, the other important difference between a CCD and film camera is the difference in dynamic range. Film has a wider dynamic range than the average CCD. This means that film can capture more detail when a scene contains both brightly lit and poorly illuminated areas. There are some manufacturers already claiming to sell digital cameras with a range as great as film, however these cameras are very expensive at the moment.

For the average user,the past few years has seen a dramatic decline in the cost of these cameras, while the image quality has improved. While under $1,000 digital cameras still don't rival the quality of images you can get with a 35mm SLR camera, this might change in another couple of years.

Other issues to consider when looking at digital cameras are:

  • Transferring images using a serial connection can take a very long time. Other solutions (particularly using memory card readers) offer better -- though more expensive -- solutions.
  • All of these devices eat batteries. Consider getting rechargeable batteries.
  • As you shoot more images you'll soon discover that they start filling your disc space!


Even if you aren't interested in Canon's products, you might like to check out their site for the section on the history and workings of digital cameras.


According to a new research study published jointly by International Data Corporation and Future Image, the worldwide Digital Camera market will Break $5.4 Billion by 2002. As desktop systems become increasingly more powerful, quality and affordability of photo/near- photo quality inkjet printers gain prominence, and Internet bandwidth steadily increases, the worldwide digital camera market will reap tremendous rewards.

As fierce price wars drive sensor prices down, megapixel digital image capture have dropped well below the $1,000 price point. Cost reductions are also being spurred by the proliferation of advanced chipsets solutions which integrate numerous previously discrete components onto a single chip. As the need for additional chips diminishes, so does price.

Key Findings

  • Internet penetration of SOHO and home markets will help drive the digital camera market and is already at almost 80 percent penetration of PC households
  • The megapixel category, which featured six models in the fall of 1997, reached 35 models by July 1998
  • The worldwide digital camera market will experience a 67.8 percent CAGR in shipments from 1997 to 2002
  • Worldwide revenues will grow from $1.2 billion in 1997 to $5.4 billion in 2002

The Digital Camera Market Review and Forecast, 1996-2002 contains worldwide forecasts and detailed analysis for five digital camera segments. It also presents shipments by application, distribution channel and user segment. The report is available for purchase from IDC (contact Cheryl Toffel at 508-935-4389 or at <>) or Future Image (contact Renata Fried at 650-579-0493 or at <>


Forbes online dismisses digital cameras -- or at least questions the market for them -- in the article linked below. Some of the points are worth noting (such as do most people want to spend the time manipulating their images?)
< article "digital cameras">

Product Reviews

Looking for a still digital camera and thinking about the Nikon Coolpix 900? There are two very detailed reviews of the camera already available on the web at:


For those interested in digital cameras, the Digital Corner of Zone Zero has an excellent comparison of the Olympus D600L, Nikon CoolPix 900, and Kodak DC 260. It does a good job of covering the strengths and weaknesses of each camera.
< column "Digital Cameras Yes! Part 2"


The Digital Eyes website has a very favorable review of the new Kodak DC260 camera.
< review "Kodak DC260">


Imaging Resource has published an Interview with the Kodak DC260 Project Team which covers all kinds of issues with this camera, including: Compression/image quality, focus issues, exposure control, scritping, and why there's no filter thread on the lens. If you have this camera, or are considering it, then this is worth a read.
< special report "Interview with the Kodak DC260 Project Team">


PC Magazines reviewed megapixel cameras that cost less than $800. They reviewed the Casio QV-5000SX, Canon PowerShot A5, Epson PhotoPC 700, Fujifilm MX-700, Olympus D-340L, Panasonic PalmCam PV-DC1580. The Fujifilm MX-700 and Epson PhotoPC 700 were rated best.
< first look "All About Megapixels">


MacWorld has a feature comparing mega-pixel digital cameras. The review covers: Agfa ePhoto 1280, Canon Powershit A5, Kodak DC210, Epson PhotoPC 700, Nikon CoolPix 900, Olympus D-320L, D-3240L, D-500L, D-600L and Polaroid PDC-3000. The winners were the Olympus D-600L and the Canon PowerShot A5, while the Agfa ePhoto 1280 and Polaroid PDC-3000 rated lowest.

Unfortunately -- probably due to timing -- the review does not include the new Kodak 220 and 260 cameras.
< Magazine Feature "Focus On: Ten High-Quality Digital Cameras Put to the Test by Macworld Lab">


And emediaweekly has a comparison of point and shoot digital cameras under $1,000: Casio QV-5000SX, Epson PhotoPC 700, Fuji MX-700, HP PhotoSmart C20, Konica Q-M100V, Olympus D-340L and Toshiba PDR-M1.
< comparison "Digital cameras shoot it out">

The second part of it's review looks at mega-pixel cameras under $1,000. Reviewed are: Nikon Coolpix 900, Olympus D-600L, Agfa ePhoto 1680, Kodak DC260 Zoom, Ricoh RDC-4300. The review notes that while some of the cameras produce "commercial-quality output" you'll still get better results by scanning film.

The Nikon Coolpix 900 came out on top for its "design, image quality and price" though the Agfa ePhoto 1680 and Olympus D-600L images were considered almost as good.
< review "Digital cameras shoot it out Part 2: Higher-end megapixel models">

Companies and Products

Agfa has announced the ePhoto 1680 digital camera which offers image resolution of up to 1.9 million pixels (1.3 million pixel image enhanced by Agfa's PhotoGenie technology) a swivel zoom lens (3X optical and 2X digital), a 2-inch high-resolution color LCD screen and removable flash memory. Software includes Agfa's PhotoWise application for accessing, managing and enhancing digital photos, LivePicture's PhotoVista, for stitching together seamless panaromic and 360(degree) surround images, and LivePix SE. The ePhoto 1680 will be priced at $899 and will ship in August.

Imagek is developing the EFS-1 electronic film system which is an insert that fits inside a regular 35mm camera and turns it into a "digital" camera. The device looks like a film cartridge with a thick plastic strip protruding from the side. You can see images of the EFS-1, as well as photographs allegedly taken with the device at the Imagek web site. The quality of the sample pictures seems no better than those taken with "average" quality digital cameras.
The EFS-1 has prompted a lot of discussion amongst those interested in digital photography. While it seems possible to create a system that will work with some 35mm cameras (after all Kodak creates cameras based on Nikon and Canon SLR bodies) we find it hard to believe they can create a generalized device that will work in all, or even the majority of SLRs. We can't help but wonder how the device is triggered, and how the shutter and aperture impact operation of the CCD (do you have to set the shutter to open for long time period so that the EFS-1 has time to take a picture?) Will the device damage the internal mechanics of the camera such as the pressure plate that keeps regular film in place?
No one knows the answer to these questions just yet, but we remain interested in this device, and look forward to seeing one in operation.

Canon is now shipping the Powershot A5, a small, light weight digital camera with a resolution of 1,024 by 768 pixels. The camera costs about $700, and can be connected to a computer, or the CD-200 Digital Printer. The printer produces 4 by 6 inch prints.


last updated: 11/25/98

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