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dglow
Dec 25, 2002, 12:16 PM
WARNING: personal speculation and opinions follow

iPhone? Sure, I could see it happening... eventually. Perhaps we'll see 'iPhone' software, but not a standalone device (yet).

It seems to me Apple is looking for a sure-fire follow-up to the iPod, especially given these difficult economic times. Something small, popular, and inexpensive to manufacture (relative to CPUs) is a much safer bet when it comes to capital expenditure and inventory management. So, my prediction:

The Apple digital camera (iShot? iSnap? ;). It will feature an integrated hard drive like the iPod. It will connect and charge itself over Firewire like the iPod. And it will seamlessly synchronize with version 2 of iPhoto - just like iTunes and the iPod. And like the iPod, it'll only work with a Mac... at first.

If (when) Apple does release their videoconferencing software, they'll naturally release displays (and iMacs) with built-in cameras. Users with existing hardware, though, will need to add a camera, and an 'iShot' could fill that need by doubling as a high-res Firewire webcam.

Again, I have no inside informaiton to confirm this. But, given current technology trends (and Apple's success with the iPod), a hard-drive based digital camera seems inevitable. And, might this *also* explain why we've yet to see the widely-rumored update to iPhoto?

Happy Holidays! :)

cubist
Dec 25, 2002, 04:21 PM
I had one of those, and later, the much better Quicktake 200.

At any rate, I can't picture Apple recrossing that well-trodden ground.

How about an iPod with audio recording capability?

jefhatfield
Dec 26, 2002, 09:10 AM
Originally posted by cubist
I had one of those, and later, the much better Quicktake 200.

At any rate, I can't picture Apple recrossing that well-trodden ground.

How about an iPod with audio recording capability?

why not, the technology is much better now and digital cameras are much more accepted by the public

as for a cell phone, those have exploded on the market in the last two years and apple could cash in on that one two

i assume apple still has the digital hub idea

ftaok
Dec 26, 2002, 09:21 AM
Originally posted by jefhatfield
why not, the technology is much better now and digital cameras are much more accepted by the public

as for a cell phone, those have exploded on the market in the last two years and apple could cash in on that one two

i assume apple still has the digital hub idea I could see Apple getting in on the digi-cam craze, but definately not the cell phone biz. They would get their head handed to them on a platter. The margins are so low (something that Apple doesn't really go for) and the competition is so high. It wouldn't make any sense for Apple to get into the game.

medea
Dec 26, 2002, 09:33 AM
see I dont know why in the world would apple dive into digital cameras, there plenty of companies out there already and apple wouldnt be able to do much innovation with digital cameras, and a built-in HD wouldnt be the best idea, the memory cards are great, you can shoot all you can on one and when its full you just pop in a new one, just like a roll of film, a full HD though? would take forever to browse through, what if you didnt upload all the pictures on it and only needed a few, or what if you uploaded half of it and erased the other half, now you have new ones to upload....last time I checked iPhoto didnt let you browse the camera to find which pictures you wanted to upload.
On the other hand there is plenty of innovation left for cell phones and Jobs has already mentioned "soon you wont even think about using a cell phone without a computer...."

jefhatfield
Dec 26, 2002, 09:37 AM
...so is apple just going to stay with computers and the ipod?

ftaok
Dec 26, 2002, 10:07 AM
Originally posted by jefhatfield
...so is apple just going to stay with computers and the ipod? Is this question directed at me???

If so, I say NO. Apple is definately commited to the "Digital Lifestyle". I think they might offer a DVD/Digital Video Recorder device. Maybe have it linked via Airport, Firewire, Ethernet or USB. That way, we can have the DVD/DVR device by the TV and it can send a signal to any Mac (or PC) so that you could watch TV or recorded shows. Covert the clips to DV and you can merge them into your iMovie/iDVD presentations.

If copyright issues are of concern, they might leave out the DVD part of it and include an optical input to the device.

This would be a device that I'd want.

medea
Dec 26, 2002, 10:52 AM
Originally posted by jefhatfield
...so is apple just going to stay with computers and the ipod?
indeed, that is the question at hand. If Apple started to make digital cameras as well and cell phones and a DVD/Tivo type device (?why?) then they would become a Sonyesque company and I don't think Apple wants to become Sony, at least I would hope not. Apple should and I belive will stay first and foremost a computer company, so far the two products they have released were both related to the computer and the digital hub, those being the Newton and the iPod.

jefhatfield
Dec 26, 2002, 10:59 AM
sony rocks!

apple could stand to get bigger, and yes, make more money

apple inc could become a mini-sony

but apple will never become the "same size" as sony...at that point, i would fear for the quality going down since i have seen some sony crap...but the vast majority of what sony makes is the best stuff on the market

if i had to use only a pc running windows, a sony would be it...desktop or laptop

dglow
Dec 26, 2002, 11:36 AM
Originally posted by medea
<SNIP> ...and a built-in HD wouldnt be the best idea, the memory cards are great, you can shoot all you can on one and when its full you just pop in a new one, just like a roll of film, a full HD though? would take forever to browse through, what if you didnt upload all the pictures on it and only needed a few, or what if you uploaded half of it and erased the other half... <SNIP>


Personally, I'm always finding memory cards a major limitation for digital cameras. I like to shoot a lot of picutres, though - maybe it's just me. My most satisfying digital camera experience was using an Olympus model featuring a CompactFlash II slot which accepted my IBM Microdrive.

Lets think about this from the other side of the digital photo equation, though: the viewing of your photos. In my experience, half the fun of a digital camera is the ability to immeidately share the results with your friends. (C'mon, who hasn't shot a photo then had a crowd gather around to look at the screen?)

Now imagine device roughly the iPod's size and weight, similar battery and hard drive, but sporting a consumer-grade lens and large-ish color screen. By forgoing a large zoom ratio, such a device could remain roughly the size of an iPod. Think snapshots, not prosumer photography.

What you have now is a perfect device for not only capturing but also sharing digital photos. The hard drive enables you to keep entire albums of photos on hand, showing them to people wherever you go. Instead of the iPod's headphone-out, the camera would have an A/V out for connection to a television or monitor. Think the digital equivalent of wallet-sized photo album.

And of course, there are those little movies you can shoot with digital cameras. Most cameras limit these clips to 15 seconds or so; with an integrated hard drive, you'd probably be limited more by battery life than storage space. (Speaking of which, any camera sporting an iPod-like rechargable li-polymer battery could likely do much better than the AA Ni-Cad sucking beasts I see today.)

So imagine short movies from your Apple camera: a perfect vehicle for QuickTime and MPEG-4. Stitch your shots together in iMovie or just directly post them to .Mac. Now they're ready for streaming to your family and friends. This is the kind of end-to-end customer scenario that Apple loves to deliver and excels at engineering.

[/B]
On the other hand there is plenty of innovation left for cell phones and Jobs has already mentioned "soon you wont even think about using a cell phone without a computer...." [/B]

I agree with you here. I also agree with ftaok in an earlier post: the cell phone business is brutal when it comes to margins and, as a result, profits. Most manufacturers (Nokia, Ericsson) make their bank off cell-network swtiches and other infrastructure.

Apple would have to offer a very compelling feature set in order to command the price premium its products require; the beutiful industrial design and high-quality materials aren't free, you know. Another option might be to partner with an existing manufacturer. But who would this be? Ericsson's in bed with Sony, and Nokia's busy with their EPOC-powered communicators (FYI: these days, Symbian basically is Nokia).

On the other hand, Handspring's making of go of it with their Treo, as is Danger with the Hiptop. I imagine Palm will jump on the voice-enabled bandwagon soon enough. Maybe Apple's getting cozy with some cellular carriers, hoping for hardware subsidies to bring down the cost. Given carriers' desire to inject themselves into the customer expereince (branding, online functionality, etc.), though, I'm not sure how they'd get along with Apple... <g>

Speculation is fun, but reality is even better. The good news? Macworld is only a week and 1/2 away!

GrandShenlong
Dec 26, 2002, 02:41 PM
I have a Sony DSC-P5, and it's battery is big enough for about 40 shots. The issue with a HD-based iSnap would prolly be battery be battery life, considering how the iPod, with its monochrome screen, and no CCD, has only 10 hours.
With a decent-res CCD and a iPod-screen-sized color LCD, I doubt that Apple can fit a battery big enough into the case to make an HD necessary.;)

lmalave
Dec 26, 2002, 03:57 PM
Originally posted by dglow


Apple would have to offer a very compelling feature set in order to command the price premium its products require

How about a 3G-compatible phone (that would also be compatible with existing 2.5G networks):

http://www.cnn.com/2002/TECH/ptech/12/26/japan.docomo.reut/index.html

Keep in mind, DoCoMo is already an Apple partner in Japan (with DoCoMo using QuickTime technology and MPEG-4 to transport video in their 3G service).

So it's a simple extension for DoCoMo and Apple to cooperate on industrial design and launch a cobranded phone.

I don't see how markets like Digital Cameras and Mobile Phones are any less competitive than the MP3 market. Keep in mind, MP3 players had been around for a few years before Apple entered, and just about every electronics company came out with their own MP3 player. All the same arguments people are making now would have applied and indeed were repeatedly made: Apple would be "committing suicide" by entering a commodity market. This did not stop Apple from gaining a market-leading 15% market share in the MP3 player market despite the fact that its products are far more expensive, and were only available for the Mac until relatively recently.

The fact is, the iPod proved that Apple can come out with a compelling product at a $500 price point and still have it be a major success even if it costs $200 more than the competition, as long as the feature set is compelling enough. Note that $300 is about the going rate for high-end color screen phone, a mid-range 2 Megapixel digital camera, a mid-range PDA, or a low-end DVR set-top box. If Apple comes out with a stunning iPhone, iCamera, iPDA, or iSetTopBox, it can indeed succeed even if Apple's products cost $500. And I wouldn't even rule out a sub-$1000 iVideoCamera!

My vote is that almost EVERY digital hub product that's been rumored will be released in 2003 or 2004: iPhone, iCamera (still and/or video), iPDA, iSetTopBox, or any combination of the above. 2003 will indeed be the "most important year ever for Apple", as Apple moves to become a mini-Sony and dramatically increase its revenue and net income.

GrandShenlong
Dec 27, 2002, 09:08 AM
I harbor doubts about iPalm.
iPalm:

1. Apple wants to "Think different.", meaning that it'll want its own operating system, which is not profitable in the current market of either-Palm-or-Pocket-PC. Thus, it'll prolly hafta end up joining one of the two factions.

2. If you go with Palm OS, the new Tungsten series is very eye-catching, not to mention that the Treo series has features galore (but admittedly lacks in the hish-style dept.) Apple may score sky-high in the style department, but I doubt that people will spend an extra $150 on something most users consider quite utilitarian. (Business users) . AND the current emphasis is on either the low end, or wireless connectivity. Apple might incorporate Bluetooth, and I dunno much about AirPort, but if it's not WiFi, I doubt that iPalm will appeal to the masses.

2b. Apple won't ever go with Pocket PC, for obvious reasons.

dglow
Dec 27, 2002, 10:10 AM
Jobs has publicly stated Apple won't do a standalone organizer without voice (phone) features. Given the trends of the handheld industry (Treo, Symbian, Hiptop, Pocket PC Phone/Stinger), this makes sense.

The 'two body' solution promised by bluetooth will continue to work for laptops, but is flawed WRT handhelds. Standalone organizers won't completely die, but almost anyone owning a separate phone and a palm today will, in the next five years, acheive the same functionality via a single device.

The more I think about it, an Apple-DoCoMo partnership makes plenty of sense. That would mean Apple-AT&T in the US, but I'm not sure what it would mean for Europe. Didn't DoCoMo partner with someone there?

Timothy
Dec 27, 2002, 10:13 AM
Apple entering either the mobile phone market or the digital camera market makes little to no sense. Neither of these markets compare to the MP3 player market.

When Apple released the iPod, there wasn't a single device out there that made sense. The best players were priced around $300 but only gave you about 128 mb of memory. I am fanatical about my music, had my entire collection already on my computer, but didn't even consider buying such units. The iPod changed the game entirely, and Apple created the first compelling reason to buy an MP3 player. It was a relatively simple device once the 1.8" HD came available from Toshiba, and Apple was able to grab a niche that complemented their computer offerings nicely.

The same does not hold for the camera market. There are compelling cameras on the market. Canon, Nikon, Sony, Olympus...and others, make great cameras. My Canon G1 is just about perfect for me. I have an IBM microdrive in it, and take A LOT of high-res images. With the largest IBM microdrive, you could take approximately 600 or more 3.1 megapixel images. The market for individuals who need to do that on a regular basis is miniscule. There is not a demand for such capacity. There really is no compelling feature that is lacking in the Digital Camera market. Apple will not enter this well-served arena.

The Mobile phone market provides it's own unique challenges. Factor in that a phone has to be manufactured differently for different markets and carriers, and you've fractured the market to such a degree that to then attempt to target the phone to a miniscule market of Apple users, the numbers would be so small as to make it not worth it. With the iPod, the computer was the primary point of connection. With an iPhone, the carrier would be the primary point of connection, the computer is secondary. The only compelling reason to buy a phone at a price point of around $500 would be if it is truly integrated with a PDA...and, as yet, Apple doesn't have a PDA or PDA software...yet.

The only compelling device that I can see for Apple to release, the one that would appeal across the board to every mac owner...the one that would be purchased by a majority of mac owners, is an Apple PDA. Such a device could be made to interact with both digital camera's and mobile phones. But, really, until Apple releases their next inevitable PDA, I don't see any compelling reasons for any other digital devices.

The PDA is the only digital device left that makes sense, the only one that would truly leverage Apple's expertise and the only one that would target the full-range of Apple users.

MacBandit
Dec 27, 2002, 10:20 AM
I don't see Apple getting back into the digital camera market. It's way too competitive at the moment. Every few months everyone is outdoing eachother on price/feature/MP. This isn't what Apple wants or needs to get into at the moment. It would just be one more market where everyone would point and say, "look Apple can't keep up there either".

JSRockit
Dec 27, 2002, 10:53 AM
Originally posted by dglow
WARNING: personal speculation and opinions follow

iPhone? Sure, I could see it happening... eventually. Perhaps we'll see 'iPhone' software, but not a standalone device (yet).
just like iTunes and the iPod. And like the iPod, it'll only work with a Mac... at first.

:)

If they make a camera ever, they need to make it compatible with PCs as well. Unless Apple somehow figures out how to make the best digital camera going...which is unlikely. The iPod was revolutionary...However, their camera most likely would not be.

doddsk
Dec 27, 2002, 11:01 PM
An Apple branded Camera with a a) 3 MegaPixel Foveon sensor, b) 10 gig harddrive, c) organic light emitting diode (OLED) screen, d) built in bluetooth, e) and firewire 2 (800mbps).

a) The man that invented the Foveon sensor is involved with the company that developed the iPod. Its 3MP is the equivalent of other cameras' 9MP. You can group the pixels into groups for better light gathering at lower resolutions (think DV video) and since you don't have to do the processing necessitated by other cameras' colour filters, batteries last longer and you can write to memory faster (no delay between pressing the button and taking a picture).

b) already proven in the iPod. Record short DV clips for later editing on iMovie. View mpeg4 movies on the flight using the built in.....

c) OLED display. High brightness and and low power consumption. Kodak has apparently taken an order for 2 inch displays from an unknown manufacturer.

d) when I look at photos, I sometimes view them with members of my family that have taken pictures at the same event. Now when we are viewing them off our Apple cameras...."hey your shot of Mom looks better than mine. Beam it across, will you?"

I'm a real estate agent with a T68i on my hip. Take a picture of a house and it's sent back to the office. Do quicktime-streaming -video-instant-messaging using the same set-up.

Sell it with a small bluetooth A/V recieving station that is permanently plugged into your tv's A/V input. View pictures on your TV using the camera in your hand (its the size of a remote control anyways). Watch that inflight movie on a big screen.

e) you really only need regular firewire for everything I've mentioned except for the last killer app: streaming the lightly compressed output of the 9MP Foveon to an external hardrive for editing High Definition movies on Final Cut Pro 4. Everybody is all excited about the new Panasonic 24P DV camera using crappy DV resolution. Who cares? Panasonic's High Definition cameras fit a full 60 progressive frames/second of 1200 x 720 video into a 100mbps signal on tape. If you cut that down to 24 frames (film rate) its only 40 mbps. Now if you double the resolution (2400 x 1440) you're at 80 mbps. Remember now, the latest and greatest Sony HD cameras that Lucas used to shoot Star Wars II only have 1920 x 1080 resolution (we're already way above that) and even that resolution re-jigged before it is compressed to be recorded on tape (Sony's HD camera records about a 140 mbps signal).

"But Kelly" you're saying, "Those HD cameras have big, power sucking hardware to compress the signal that much. They have the quality glass lenses that film makers need. They record sound. They don't have to be tethered to a harddrive!"

To which I answer: our camera isn't going to compress it anywhere near that much. We'll output a signal with relatively mild compression, leaving us with about 500mbps (or 62.5 MB/sec) going down the firewire to our RAID (that leaves us 300 mbps headroom on Firewire II). Our RAID is just 3 ATA drives software striped using OS 10.2. And power for our compression chips isn't a problem since we're drawing it from the Firewire anyways.

Quality glass is a problem, but: this glass is good enough for very high quality stills, it will do for budget film makers. Besides, zooming is a crutch. Plus, the camera costs $1000.00. Whadda you want for nuthin?!

Most films record sound seperately to DAT.

Being tethered is a pain, but most HD film makers are tethered already for monitoring and back-up recording. The new Thompson Viper Filmstream camera needs TWO serial high definition cables just to get its 3000mbps signal back to its RAID (it has to record to RAID. There isn't a tape format around that comes close to recording 3000 mega bits per second! That's why we're compressing ours a little bit.)

Well, what do you think? Everything except the HD film camera part is VERY doable today. And these technologies would set Apple apart as nobody else in the digital camera market offers these.

dglow
Dec 28, 2002, 12:54 AM
Damn, doddsk, I think we're on the same wavelength here.

You've taken the camera idea and followed it through to a very logical conclustion: a forward-looking vision for Apple prosumer video hardware. Which would beautiful thing to see happen.

The Bluetooth TV receiver makes perfect sense. I intentionally avoided BT in my original post: all too often I read 'dream hardware spec' postings that list every every buzzword/feature/technology on the map. Here you present a realistic scenario that matches well with the techology.

For the sake of cost, I would do Bluetooh like Apple did Airport. Not included with the camera, but easily added. $39 gets you a small plastic block, roughly the size of a stick of Trident with a mini-USB connector on one end; slip this BT radio into the camera and you're set. Fashion the A/V receiver like a miniature Airport base station.

This Fovean sensor thing sounds absolutely incredible. Can you post some links where I could read more information? I love the name, it sounds straight out of Star Trek.

And bingo with the OLED. These displays are absolutely beautiful and are going to change the way people use small devices. In fact, while on the subject of displays, lets entertain another 'out there' idea: Apple Personal VideoGlasses.

If we're going to start talking about video, not just stills, lets go there. I don't know if this is the camera or a separate device. But either way, you're taking the iPod experience and extending it to movies in the most logical way. Rip (your DVD or Tivo stream). Mix (your selection of programs). Burn (your 1394b cable as huge amounts of data stream across it).

Destination: the Video iPod. Yes, you heard it here first: the vi-Pod (Hold will double as a meta key <g>).

The glasses provide DVD (480p) resolution on a single, monoscopic display. They're lightweight, comfortable, and include high-quality earbuds for the soundtrack. Smart binaural processing wraps 5.1 channels around your head. The connection to the iPod is via a custom DVI jack, so you have a pixel-perfect, lossless image in front of you.

Anybody want to imagine what an amazing UI hardware like this could provide? You'd still want a small, separate B&W display on the vi-Pod itself, but inside the glasses?! That could be beautiful.

kansaigaijin
Dec 28, 2002, 02:56 AM
is not a cell phone at all. It is an 802.11 device that allows you to walk around the house and yard, and wherever there is a internet hotspot or open network, like Macdonalds or Starbucks here in japan. it would autodetect to your VOIP provider for phone service to anywhere.
I have yahooBBphone, but we have to have two DSL modem boxen and all kinds of wires to plug in a regular phone/fax base unit, and I can't just plug in another phone.
Apple could set this up through your .mac account, and sell the Voip service to go with the phone.

the cell phone is too fragmented, too many different providers, markets, systems to sell into.

alex_ant
Dec 28, 2002, 04:43 AM
Dglow and doddsk, the picture you paint is appealing, but I'm afraid that it is firmly entrenched in dreamland.

- There's a reason video glasses haven't caught on: They're bulky and expensive and require a power source and make one look like an idiot while wearing them. I'd still love a pair attached to my 480p iPod, but I don't think I'd want to pay the >$2000 that they + the video iPod would cost.

- Foveon sensors are great but expensive. If Apple put them in a consumer level camera, it would be only a matter of time before every other manufacturer did as well.

- 10 gig hard drives fit for an iPod are the reason iPods cost so much. Fit one into a digicam and a 3mp camera that would have cost $500 now costs $800, and when the iCam is sitting next to the Coolpix 5000 and the Canon G3 at Best Buy or wherever, I know which one 98% of people aren't going to buy.

- The OLED screen is a good idea, but again, this is something that will be mainstream in a short time. If Apple came out with this tomorrow, everyone else would be quick to follow.

- iCam-to-iCam connectivity is a nice idea, but probably not all that useful when you figure the odds of two people who both paid $1k for their iCams being in the same room together. Useful where there are a lot of rich Mac fans around, maybe. Bluetooth is a good idea, but yet another thing that would up the cost and the size of the camera. (hard drive, Bluetooth transmitter, plus all normal camera optics and electronics... this thing IS supposed to be pocket-sized, isn't it?)
the last killer app: streaming the lightly compressed output of the 9MP Foveon to an external hardrive for editing High Definition movies on Final Cut Pro 4. Everybody is all excited about the new Panasonic 24P DV camera using crappy DV resolution. Who cares? Panasonic's High Definition cameras fit a full 60 progressive frames/second of 1200 x 720 video into a 100mbps signal on tape. If you cut that down to 24 frames (film rate) its only 40 mbps. Now if you double the resolution (2400 x 1440) you're at 80 mbps. Remember now, the latest and greatest Sony HD cameras that Lucas used to shoot Star Wars II only have 1920 x 1080 resolution (we're already way above that) and even that resolution re-jigged before it is compressed to be recorded on tape (Sony's HD camera records about a 140 mbps signal).
If you don't want this camera to cost $50,000, you've got to build it using at least semi-commodity parts. If 2400x1400 streaming DV were such an easy thing to accomplish at a sub-thousands-of-dollars price point, you can be assured that the cutthroat competition in the digicam marketplace would already have spurred one of the manufacturers into building it into one of their cameras. Nobody except a very few professionals need that kind of video anyway, and these professionals still wouldn't use this camera for a multitude of reasons. (No VTR attachment? No component and fiber-optic triax output? No full manual control? No interchangeable lens? [Zooming is not a crutch.] No manual focus? No panhandle support...) Good for the Blair Witch Project maybe, not so good for professional applications. There is a reason ENG/EFP cameras cost $50k+ and sell! You can't fit all this stuff into a pocket camera. Or even an SLR-sized camera. And the fact remains that even if Apple could do this, a company like Canon or JVC could come along and do it better.

I couldn't see an iCam, because I couldn't see it being marketed to anyone besides absolute photo newbies, like HP and Kodak cameras and whatnot are. It would be impossible for an Apple camera to compete with Canon/Nikon/Minolta/Olympus/Fuji in image quality, features, or even build quality, unless they wanted to start pouring tens of millions into R&D. It would even be tough to beat them in Mac integration, because most digicams already work seamlessly with iPhoto. iMovie integration is another story, but it seems like a long shot that Apple would debut a digital camera just for this. An Apple camera's only redeeming values would be its looks and its ease of use - beyond that, it would almost certainly be overpriced and useless to most digital photographers with 4+ months experience. Again, Apple would be out-innovated by the big boys here.

With the iPod, Apple brought a great product to a market that was fully of crappy products. The digital camera market is nothing like the portable MP3 player market - it's full of great products and I think it would be very hard for Apple, with no photo experience, to compete. I would rather see them continuing work to improve iPhoto and the iApps rather than continuing to spread themselves thin.

I think the same goes for an Apple cell phone.

doddsk
Dec 29, 2002, 05:48 PM
I'll go point by point:

I agree that video glasses aren't going to happen, and even if they do, I don't believe there's much inovation that Apple can bring to that particular party (and even less profit margin-OOPS! Did I say that out loud?) Other companies are better positioned. I feel the same way about an Apple cell phone.

Foveon sensors might be a bit more expensive but that it is because they are new to the market with a better technology. The price will drop. By the way, Sigma's DSLR with the sensor will be the cheapest pro camera on the market. (If they ever bring the darn thing out! Seems like they've been promising forever. Check out steves-digicams.com and look at the Sigma 9 review for sample photos. MMMMM! Yummy.) Some of that cheapness is because Sigma is agressive and trying to establish itself with the big boys, but there is nothing about the Foveon sensor that is inherently harder or more expensive to produce (in fact, I suspect it will be quite the opposite). Also, you are wrong to suggest that everyone will be switching to this CCD (Sorry, I shouldn't say wrong. I disagree with your opinion.). I think Sony is the largest supplier of still camera CCD's for itself and others. Panasonic makes their own as well. This is not just another CCD supplier, its is a different type of CCD. For Sony to abandon it's manufacturing process and buy Foveon chips, would mean abondoning its technolgy, patents and intellectual property and PAYING to use someone else's. Sony isn't going to do that. Part of the reason Foveon is starting with Sigma is that like Sigma, it want's to get into the big game. It is partnering itself with independents that are already players (like our favourite computer company).

When my dad asks me if he should buy a digital still camera, I tell him no. He can't believe a gear geek like me would tell him to stick with film for the time being. My reasoning? When he is on vacation and his 64 meg card runs out of space, he is screwed. If he wants more pictures he has to spend BIG dollars for another card that buys him only a few more pictures. With film he spends $3 dollars for another roll at ANY corner store anywhere in the world. But: if he spent a little more upfront for his Apple digital camera, (about the same amount more he would have had to spend for an extra card with a regular Digital camera) he would have a camera that takes the equivalent of dozens of rolls of film, more than he would ever use before he is able to archive and start again.

Yes OLED is coming and soon everyone will have it. So what? Apple will have it first. There are a number of iPod imitators that have harddrives now, it doesn't lessen the value of the iPod. And really when you think about it, there were harddrive mp3 players before the iPod. Ipod has shown that people are willing to pay a premium for a superior product.

Yes the odds of two people having Bluetooth equipped iCams in the same room are small today, but look at the longer term. 1 in 3 mp3 players sold today are iPods. Sony has Bluetooth video cams, Palm has a bluetooth Tungsten (and I would wager that it will be a standard option in every hand held from this day forward). Soon every Mac will have it built in. It is going to replace infrared in all cell phones from this point on. A year from now, we won't be able to imagine any moderately expensive personal communication device coming to the market without Bluetooth. Ahead of the curve! Innovation! (and I'm not talking about Dell hey-we-invented-WiFi-2-years-after-Apple style innovation).

Price and size? The work is already done with the iPod. Its smaller than most point and shoots and all we're doing is adding a lens and CCD. Palm's bluetooth add-on card is the size of a postage stamp (not that I think we should make Bluetooth an add-on as someone else suggested. Too easy to lose. Built in is cheaper and smaller and universal.) As I said at the end of my first post, this is VERY doable. Like the iPod, there is nothing particularly groundbreaking or economically unfeasible here, the magic comes from novel integration.

The HD film camera. As I said in the first post, this is stretching, but there is nothing non-commodity about this little cam. My scenario is highly targeted at a very select few, but it can work for that very reason. I'm not selling to Panavision users, I'm selling to the readers of RES Magazine. The other manufacturers haven't done it because they wouldn't sell enough. As I say, this ability is a "Bonus" for a select few. There is no VTR tap because there is no VTR that can record a 500 mbps flow. The compressed signal is component (it could be 4:4:4 for that matter). Who said this camera wouldn't have full manual controls? Many point and shoots do. As I said in my first post, I agree the lens is a weakness. Part of the reason the other cameras are so expensive is that they use existing tape mechanisms: Why? So that they can take advantage of already invested R&D dollars and don't have to start from the beginning. Think of Sony: BetaCam, SP, DigBeta, SX, HDCAM, 24P, IMX all using essentially the same tape size and transport. Also, they don't want to alienate customers that have thousands of archived tapes of the same type. But sticking with the same tape can also be a disadvantage: It takes a lot of expensive processing power to squeeze that HD signal down from 1500mbps to 100mbps in real time, just to accomodate your yeterday technology tape. Our iCam wouldn't have to compress it nearly that much. These cameras cost $50,000 for many reasons (durabilty, small volume, quality, R&D costs, etc.) but one of the biggest reasons they get away with charging that much is because THEY CAN. They're the only game in town. The reason there has been an explosion in the film/video production industries is because some companies abandoned old thinking, took advantage of some very particular and HIGHLY TARGETTED technologies (Firewire, small digital tape, compression, computer editing off disk) and recognized the opportunity to combine them for a paradigm shift. This camera is a THINK DIFFERENT camera. Think of it as a animation stand camera that happens to output a contnuous HighRes stream.

"It would be impossible for an Apple camera to compete with Canon/Nikon/Minolta/Olympus/Fuji in image quality, features, or even build quality..." In a word: Why? It's not like they don't know how. They've proven they can do it with the iPod. They are one of the highest volume and quality computer manufacturers in the world. It's not like they're carpenters trying to break into the consumer electronics industry! It's their bread and butter already! Kodak, Sony and Panasonic use outside experts such as Zeiss to design their lenses, why couldn't Apple? Most of a digital camera is software and user interface design. Hmmm. Saaay, what is the number one company doing that today? Wouldn't it be great if that number one company also made and integrated hardware? Say hello to Apple's iCam.

lmalave
Dec 29, 2002, 09:23 PM
Originally posted by doddsk

There are a number of iPod imitators that have harddrives now, it doesn't lessen the value of the iPod. And really when you think about it, there were harddrive mp3 players before the iPod. Ipod has shown that people are willing to pay a premium for a superior product.

Right on!! Are people forgetting that all the naysayer arguments that are being made now about new Apple Digital Hub devices were also said before the iPod was released? 9 out of 10 people would have said that Apple was committing suicide by entering a crowded MP3 player market that all the major electronics manufacturers had already entered or were thinking of entering. And look now: Apple is the market share leader! And this despite the fact that their product cost $200 more (that's 67% more!!) than any competing product, and has until recently only been officially available for the Mac.


Yes the odds of two people having Bluetooth equipped iCams in the same room are small today, but look at the longer term. 1 in 3 mp3 players sold today are iPods. Sony has Bluetooth video cams, Palm has a bluetooth Tungsten (and I would wager that it will be a standard option in every hand held from this day forward). Soon every Mac will have it built in. It is going to replace infrared in all cell phones from this point on. A year from now, we won't be able to imagine any moderately expensive personal communication device coming to the market without Bluetooth. Ahead of the curve! Innovation! (and I'm not talking about Dell hey-we-invented-WiFi-2-years-after-Apple style innovation).


Speaking of Wi-Fi, let's not forget the possiblity a high-end iCam model with integrated Wi-Fi. Not only does Airport have an 11Mbps transfer rate compared to Bluetooth's 760Kbps transfer rate, but Rendezvous already works over Airport (or any IP connection). So this Wi-Fi iCam could sync wirelessly with iPhoto at the same speed as current wired USB connections (Bluetooth would be soooooo much slower - suitable only for displaying one picture at a time on a TV or something, or printing a single picture on a Bluetooth printer). I agree that Bluetooth is a must, though, and should be in addition to Wi-Fi. The killer app I see there is emailing pictures that you took with your iCam via your Bluetooth cell phone. (hopefully an Apple iPhone, but that's another discussion ;) )


"It would be impossible for an Apple camera to compete with Canon/Nikon/Minolta/Olympus/Fuji in image quality, features, or even build quality..." In a word: Why? It's not like they don't know how. They've proven they can do it with the iPod. They are one of the highest volume and quality computer manufacturers in the world.

Exactly! As long as Apple maintains the strategy of producing well-designed, best-of-breed products, I don't see why they can't continue to pursue new digital consumer electronics products beyond the iPod. Keep in mind that Apple does not have to even become the market share leader like they did with the iPod to make a profit off the product. Some of these markets (mobile phones, cameras) are so huge that just a 5 to 10 percent market share would
significantly increase Apple's revenues and profits (since Apple would still be making a good margin in these competitive markets the same way they did with the iPod, by building a premium product).

alex_ant
Dec 29, 2002, 11:14 PM
Originally posted by doddsk
Foveon sensors might be a bit more expensive but that it is because they are new to the market with a better technology.

(edited because of the 10k character limit)
...

You're right, but I don't believe Canon/Nikon etc. have any long-term contractual obligations to use Sony CCDs. Sony may be a major supplier of conventional CCDs, but they are only a small slice of the digital camera market. When Foveon sensors become economically appealing to the consumer and prosumer markets, conventional CCDs will disappear, whether or not Sony has anything to say about it. And when this happens, everybody will be using Foveon sensors, and Apple's temporary leg up in the digicam marketplace here will disappear.

This is different from the portable MP3 player market in that all of Apple's competitors in the MP3 player market are jokes. Creative? Archos? Diamond? The iPod is a great product in part because it has no serious competition. It hasn't changed much in over a year, and it's still awesome. Sure that says a lot about the iPod's greatness, but it also says a lot about Apple's inept competition. The digicam marketplace is completely different. Canon and Nikon and Fuji are simply rocking in all categories. Cameras are constantly getting smaller, using less battery, with higher resolutions, better lenses, more intuitive operation, etc. At first thought, one would think, "Yeah, just take the iPod and slap a lens on that sucker and it's good to go." But then one looks at a beautiful, near-perfect little camera like the Canon S230 or the Fuji A303 and is forced to think twice about that.
When my dad asks me if he should buy a digital still camera, I tell him no.

...

Last summer I paid $60 for a 64MB CompactFlash card, and now I could get a 128MB card for less than that. Flash card size is becoming less and less of an issue as they approach 1GB in size. With a 128MB card, a 3-megapixel camera can store about a hundred photos at high quality, and over 200 at standard quality. I'm not sure how much benefit consumers will see in an expensive built-in hard drive when memory cards continue to get bigger and fall in price. The only real advantage I could see to a portable hard drive would be to store photo albums on the camera, navigable by an iPhoto-like app. But when flash cards already hold hundreds of photos and digicams already include thumbnail browsers, I don't see the advantage of the iCam here.
Yes OLED is coming and soon everyone will have it. So what? Apple will have it first.
So, if every camera manufactuer uses OLED, Apple's edge will disappear with regard to its OLED display. If being first is good strategic move, then great, but this hardly is. Not that it's bad, either - it's just that, wooptie-doo, an OLED display. Who cares, when everyone else will have one in 4 months anyway?
There are a number of iPod imitators that have harddrives now, it doesn't lessen the value of the iPod.

...

The reason iPod imitators don't lessen the value of the iPod is that none of the iPod imitators are able to match the total package of the iPod. Individually, they can each do certain things better, but they can't do everything better at once. This is the value of the iPod, and it wouldn't carry over into camera-land. Apple's competitors are too experienced, sharp, and numerous. Apple would be going straight up not only against the masters of photography in Canon/Nikon/etc., but against Sony, who are practically the masters at the kind of thing Apple would be looking to do.
Yes the odds of two people having Bluetooth equipped iCams in the same room are small today, but look at the longer term.

...

You're right that Bluetooth is a good idea and will catch on, but I don't understand how this carries over to the importance of Apple coming out with a Bluetooth camera. Why bother, when everyone else will be including it in a matter of months anyway? Being first here would be good for bragging rights, but not for much else.
Price and size? The work is already done with the iPod.

...

So there's an iPod-sized digicam on the shelf next to a Canon S230, which is about the same size. They're both 3 megapixels, they both have 2X zooms, they're both beautiful. One is by Canon, a reputable company who knows its stuff when it comes to cameras. The other is by... Apple? And it costs nearly 3X more? If you ask me, Apple would have an uphill battle against a camera like that, nevermind against a solid prosumer camera. Have you seen the Olympus C-50? Five megapixels in your pocket for a little over $500. I wonder how long the advantage of the Foveon sensor will last against the ever-improving digicam lot, many of whom are poised to make the switch to Foveon themselves in the coming months/years.
The HD film camera.

...

I have to admit, of all the arguments you make for the iCam, this is the one that seems like it should be the craziest. But I think this is the one is actually the strongest. In order for it to work, though, the iCam has to be successful on its own as a consumer camera. (Either that, or it has to cost a few thousand dollars to compensate for its low volume.)
"It would be impossible for an Apple camera to compete with Canon/Nikon/Minolta/Olympus/Fuji in image quality, features, or even build quality..." In a word: Why?

...

I look at cameras like the Canon S230 and the Olympus C-50, and I think, "If Apple could beat either of these cameras, it would take the best ****ing point-and-shoot camera ever to do it." So I'll echo my comments about the iPod's success being a function of its market position. I think if Sony and Matsu****a wanted to go after the iPod, they could, and they could deliver a hands-down better product at a lower price. The iPod is in a unique position because it is in an "illegitimate" market - none of the big players want to compete with it because these big players also happen to be media companies, and to compete with the iPod would be to legitimize and popularize the MP3 format, which we all know (:)) is nothing but a vehicle for piracy. I think if Apple tried the same thing in the digicam marketplace, they would get clobbered by companies who would be capable of delivering a better product at a lower price. It doesn't matter how many innovations Apple were to bring to the table, or even what they would be, really, because the cutthroat competition in the digicam marketplace would lead everyone else to assimilate whatever those innovations might be and pull the rug right out from under Apple's feet in a matter of months.

doddsk
Dec 30, 2002, 11:59 PM
I feel like I'm repeating myself a bit, but I'll have one more go and leave it at that. I wrote my initial response because as I interpretted things, it seemed to me that you were stating that Apple shouldn't make an iCam because they couldn't bring anything new to the party. I kind of feel your counter arguements are turning back on yourself and making my point for me. It's been a fun joust, but I won't be responding again.
Once again:

Yes I feel the Foveon sensor is a superior product and will eventually dominate the market, but that is not going to happen overnight. As I said, Foveon is particular about who they are allowing to have the sensor, and they only have a limited manufacturing capacity, and even if Nikon et al could get their hands on them, it will take awhile to integrate them into their product line.

And yes the cameras you listed are nice cameras but we're not comparing apples to apples (if you'll excuse the pun). The iCam has the equivalent of 9 million pixels, not 3.2 like the Canon s230. It has 5 gigs of storage, not the limited capacity of a CF 1 card, it has a Firewire connector, not USB. Now I'm sure you'll say that the Canon isn't going to remain stagnant at those specifications, but NEITHER WILL THE iCam. The iPod now has 4 times the storage of what it was introduced with. It has a remote control, it has the added functionality of addresses and calendars.

OLED. Same arguement. Yes everyone will have it eventually, but they don't have it NOW, and I sincerely doubt they will see universal adoption in 4 months.

"The reason iPod imitators don't lessen the value of the iPod is that none of the iPod imitators are able to match the total package of the iPod." YOU'RE SINGING TO THE CHOIR HERE!

"Individually, they can each do certain things better, but they can't do everything better at once. This is the value of the iPod"
EXACTLY!!

"and it wouldn't carry over into camera-land." WHY!!

"Apple's competitors are too experienced, sharp, and numerous. Apple would be going straight up not only against the masters of photography in Canon/Nikon/etc., but against Sony, who are practically the masters at the kind of thing Apple would be looking to do."
Look, you seem to be hung up on this idea that Apple can't compete, but for the life of me I can't understand why. There were at least as many manufacturers of mp3 players before the iPod came along including Sony and Matsu****a. If they're so great, why didn't they take over a THIRD of the market? (I've addressed your content arguement on this point below) Your much revered Sony developed Firewire along with Apple, and has much experience with it. Why do none of their mp3 players have Firewire connections even today? Even if they wanted to implement ATRAC or WMP as a standard, why idn't hey build players that could do that with a faster interface? The battery in the iPod is A SONY SUPPLIED PART!!! They obviously have the capabilty and technology, did they surrender a THIRD of the market out of the goodness of their hearts? The specs for Firewire have been around and available for years, and yet your much revered Canon hasn't bothered to implement it into any consumer camera. Why? They obviously know it is better since they use it in their pro SLRs. The rules of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth usage have been around for years, but nobody else seems to have the vision to take advantage of them. Read the article at this link to see how the iPod was developed, it will open your eyes.
www.designchain.com/coverstory.asp?issue=summer02

My idea is that this camera would cost no more than $1000. We can argue about relative value all night, but as I said last post, people will pay more for a quality demonstrably better product. As you yourself have said, the iPod has been around for over a year, is still expensive, and is selling like gangbusters.

"The iPod is in a unique position because it is in an "illegitimate" market - none of the big players want to compete with it because these big players also happen to be media companies, and to compete with the iPod would be to legitimize and popularize the MP3 format"
A fair point in some respects, but I'll use your Foveon arguement: once the general public recognizes the value of something and gets on the bandwagon, the companies have no choice but to follow. Look at Windoze, VHS and mp3. They aren't the best technologies, but the public adopted them and the companies had to swallow their pride (but Sony sure stuck it out with Betamax. Stubborn bunch those people! They're still trying with MiniDisc as well!) And also, if they are going to make products which can play mp3s (which even though they don't like it, they still manufacture players which can play this "illegitimate" format), why wouldn't they make the best ones possible rather than their current offerings? And if they really don't like mp3, why didn't they make an irresistable iPod-like product to convert people to their way of thinking? According to you, they are these monsters that control hardware and content. If they have all that might, why haven't they exercised it? And if you feel Apple can only compete in "illegitimate" markets, a handheld video player/recorder with a colour screen, 10 gig hardrive, firewire connection and mpeg4 compression sounds like an ideal movie pirating machine to me! (Hehehehehehehe!!)

I await your reply, good sir knight (or maiden as they case may be)

alex_ant
Dec 31, 2002, 03:13 AM
Assuming the iCam isn't already in development, it wouldn't really take Nikon any longer to pick up a Foveon sensor than it would take Apple, would it? Even if Apple had a 6 or 12 month head start over their major competitors, (to repeat what I've been saying) that advantage would last exactly 6-12 months and no longer. A good amount of time to make a quick opportunistic buck, but not enough time around which to base a long-term business plan.
And yes the cameras you listed are nice cameras but we're not comparing apples to apples (if you'll excuse the pun). ... Now I'm sure you'll say that the Canon isn't going to remain stagnant at those specifications, but NEITHER WILL THE iCam. The iPod now has 4 times the storage of what it was introduced with.
I know the iCam won't sit still either, but my point in mentioning the ever-growing sizes and ever-dropping prices of CF cards was to note that digicam storage is now so plentiful and cheap that, with $100 spent on a flash card, most people are really no longer concerned with how many pics their camera can store. They can go hog wild snap-crazy and still find that their card is only 75% full (if they delete the pics they don't want to keep as they go). In the coming months/years, people will feel less and less inhibited by flash card size. I cringe at the thought of a full-blown image browsing interface on the iCam's little OLED display. If having a "portable photo album" is the big benefit of the hard drive, well, I've got an iBook for that, running great image browsing software with much higher display resolution.

As the iPod demonstrates, it's not a given that a consumer electronics device with Firewire will spur competitors to implement Firewire on their own devices. So I can perhaps see Firewire being an advantage of the iCam for as long as it takes for USB2 cameras to start showing up. Yeah I know Firewire is better, but we have to keep in mind that this is just a picture-downloading interface. Not one of a camera's primary features or selling points.
OLED. Same arguement. Yes everyone will have it eventually, but they don't have it NOW, and I sincerely doubt they will see universal adoption in 4 months.
But you think an iCam in 4 months is likely? :)
"The reason iPod imitators don't lessen the value of the iPod is that none of the iPod imitators are able to match the total package of the iPod." YOU'RE SINGING TO THE CHOIR HERE!
I probably am! My point though was to illustrate the differences between the MP3 player and digital camera markets and show how success in one doesn't necessarily carry over to success in the other. As for why - I think I explained that pretty clearly in my last post.
The rules of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth usage have been around for years, but nobody else seems to have the vision to take advantage of them.
I don't know if it's lack of vision or lack of ambition. Personally, if I had a choice between a camera with USB and a camera that with on-board 802.11 or Bluetooth that cost $50 more, I would get the USB camera, because it would offer faster transfers with better compatibility (a minority of computers have wireless capability). Maybe the reason Canon doesn't put Bluetooth in their cameras is because they realize it would be very slow at transferring and it wouldn't really be very popular? Maybe the reason they don't put WiFi in their cameras is because it's more important for them to be less expensive, and their customers aren't really clamoring for it anyway.
My idea is that this camera would cost no more than $1000. We can argue about relative value all night, but as I said last post, people will pay more for a quality demonstrably better product.
Here's the deal: If it could be contractually ensured that Apple would be the only user of Foveon sensors in the <$1500 digicam market for the next 2-3 years, I would say an iCam would be a great idea. The problem is, I don't think that's very likely. A digicam's photosensor is the single most important component of that camera, more important than even the lens. It's what makes a digicam a digicam, and if Apple were to enter this market, I would want them to have a fundamental advantage here - not a handful of relatively insignificant temporary advantages with supplementary technologies like the Firewire interface, the OLED display, Bluetooth, etc.

I do think that an iCam as we've outlined it would be a smash hit if it were released tomorrow - but not for very long. The competition is too manic. It is in Foveon's best interests to get their sensors into as many cameras as possible. Unless a superior technology comes along, it could be thought of as inevitable that this will happen. The question then becomes "by when," and I'm not sure I would want Apple to bet its future success on the answer to that question.

To counter this, though, I also think an Apple-branded washing machine could be very successful. I think Apple could take advantage of a design process similar to that used in the iPod which that article you supplied touched on, and I think the final product could end up competing favorably with the likes of Maytag and Whirlpool. Who knows, maybe they could come upon a new motor technology that used only half the energy of a conventional washing machine with half the soap requirements. Even having said all this, I'm not sure I would want to see an Apple-branded washing machine, even if it could be highly profitable. I realize washing machines aren't digital cameras - I'm just trying to find a way to creatively say that I hope if Apple decides to stray this far from the Macintosh, they know what they're doing. (I was undecided in the iPod debate, but in retrospect it was a great idea.)
A fair point in some respects, but I'll use your Foveon arguement: once the general public recognizes the value of something and gets on the bandwagon, the companies have no choice but to follow.
If only the RIAA thought like this! :) They obviously recognize the market's demand for digital music, but for some reason, instead of capitalizing off it, they're ****ting themselves trying to capitalize off DRM-controlled music, pay-per-download music, pay-per-listen music... anything they can control. And mostly failing. (Their products tend to play MP3 only to the extent that they have to in order to stay competitive.) They don't make an iPod-like DRM device because... actually, I'm not sure why they don't. Sony has a $299 "Network Walkman," but it uses memory sticks. Maybe it has something to do with their competitor Toshiba being the only supplier of 1.8" hard drives. (As for why Toshiba doesn't make one - I'm not sure of that either, but I don't believe they are in the portable audio market.)

I think if MP3 were not MP3, if it were some secure format like WMA owned and controlled and promoted by RIAA member companies, and Apple had come along with the iPod which played only this and other secure formats, Apple would have gotten clobbered by Sony et al, in whose best interests it would have been to make portable devices to play this format. Right now, Apple's market position here is very unique. I think Sony could make a better iPod than the iPod if they wanted to (assuming they could strike a deal with Toshiba for its portable drives).

In summary: I think the success of the iCam would hinge mostly upon the Foveon sensor and who else would have it in their cameras. I don't think integration and simplicity (Apple's forté) would be as big of a plus as with the iPod. We've debated this pretty thoroughly, so I think that if I haven't swayed you yet, we'll have to agree to disagree.

jettredmont
Dec 31, 2002, 04:05 AM
Originally posted by doddsk
Panasonic's High Definition cameras fit a full 60 progressive frames/second of 1200 x 720 video into a 100mbps signal on tape. If you cut that down to 24 frames (film rate) its only 40 mbps. Now if you double the resolution (2400 x 1440) you're at 80 mbps.

Just wanted to point out that you just quadrupled the resolution, not doubled it. You now have 160Mbps. To double 1024x768 (786k pixels) you can go up to 1450x1085 (1,573k pixels). That's a bit less than the 2MP of Star Wars II.

jettredmont
Dec 31, 2002, 04:42 AM
Originally posted by doddsk

When my dad asks me if he should buy a digital still camera, I tell him no. He can't believe a gear geek like me would tell him to stick with film for the time being. My reasoning? When he is on vacation and his 64 meg card runs out of space, he is screwed. If he wants more pictures he has to spend BIG dollars for another card that buys him only a few more pictures. With film he spends $3 dollars for another roll at ANY corner store anywhere in the world. But: if he spent a little more upfront for his Apple digital camera, (about the same amount more he would have had to spend for an extra card with a regular Digital camera) he would have a camera that takes the equivalent of dozens of rolls of film, more than he would ever use before he is able to archive and start again.


Huh?

First of all, I regularly see CF cards at around $0.50/MB (ie, 128MB for $60 or so), and fairly often much less (I shopped around and got a 128MB for $30 about six months back). Given that a 3MP camera uses about 1MB/picture (at least, my Kodak DC4800 does), that's 128 pictures for about $0.50 each, even if you throw out the card after using it once. Compared to film prices (where I wouldn't dare buy an unknown brand because quality differences can really screw your pictures up) of $0.10/frame for film and $0.06/frame for processing (even for the pictures you immediately toss in the trash!), you only need to fill the CF card up four times to make it cheaper than film!

Here's a 512MB card for $169 ... a steal if you ask me!

http://shop.store.yahoo.com/meritline/51comcf512mb.html

If your dad regularly takes (and keeps) more than 14 rolls of film at a time (512 pictures == 14 rolls of 36-exposure film), then perhaps he should buy an "offline storage" device that accepts a CF card, downloads everything to a small hard drive (20-40GB), then erases the CF card so it can be used again. I believe these are around $300-400, but if it's a real need then he'd also be saving at least that much in switching from film to digital anyways.

(examples:
http://shop.store.yahoo.com/usbdiscount/superdi20.html for USB only, or spend more:
http://r2.us.rmi.yahoo.com/rmi/http://amos.catalogcity.com/cc.class/cc/rmivars%3ftarget=_top?pcd=4751675&ccsyn=15 for FireWire
)

Add to that the fact that most digicam users I know end up taking more pictures "in the field", then prune their collection in down time to get rid of the "not quite there" shots and such, and I tend to end up with a better collection of pictures coming off a single 128MB card half-filled than my friends with 35mm cameras achieve on several rolls of film.

In my experience, memory card space is hardly an issue at all for digital cameras anymore. Managing multiple hundreds of pictures using a 2" LCD and funky controls is not something I'd wish on my worst enemy!

And, of course, as has already been mentioned, if you buy an IBM micro drive, you have a much larger "memory card" in an existing (CF Type-II) camera. I don't see a huge advantage in offering a 20GB digicam drive-only model versus a 1GB option on a CF digicam, as anything more than 300MB of space is relatively unmanagable. Granted, Apple could work magic on the interface (or hire an outside firm to do it as with the iPod), but that is a minor bit of the overall camera.

When I go looking for a digital camera, I look for:

1) Quality of picture

2) "Manual Override" flexibility

3) Memory card format that fits with my existing cards if possible (much less an issue now than a few years back)

4) Ease of use (point/click mode, easy to us manual settings, bright/clear LCD display that can be turned off and doesn't end up with an imprint of my nose when I use the viewfinder)

5) Shutter lag

6) Frame-to-frame lag (burst and sustained)

I'm a no-frills kind of guy with cameras, so I completely ignore "movie-mode" features ... I'd much rather just use a real videocamera. I also completely ignore any packaged software and "starter kit" gimmicks like photo paper I already have. Connections? Well, USB is pretty much the only option out there, though I'd spend money to get FireWire instead ... but not if any of the above conditions were compromised to get FireWire!

matznentosh
Dec 31, 2002, 09:43 AM
Let's not forget that the Foveon is not yet a product. Neither are OLED screens. Guessing what their actual resolution/utility/value will be is just that - a guess. They may be worthless and never see the light of day.

matznentosh
Dec 31, 2002, 09:51 AM
Oh, here's a quote from Steve's Digicam review of the Sigma:

"In most cases the SD9's images are amazingly sharp and defined with very good color rendition. In fact, they're some of the most sharpest images I've ever seen from a camera with a 3.4 megapixel sensor. Most of this is due to the fact that the Foveon sensor does not employ an anti-aliasing filter which tends to blur fine details. On the flip side, when examined at 200% (or greater) there are lines or curves that exhibit prominent stair- stepping (jaggies.) Red colored objects can be oversaturated at times to the point that they look to be painted in. There is an abundance of red channel noise visible in all images. More than a few of my sample images have unnatural and over-saturated blue skies. We've also seen chromatic aberrations (purple fringing) on contrasting highlight areas. There seems to be less than half a stop of exposure latitude before highlights get "blown out." Long exposures are problematic to the point that shutter speeds slower than one second are not even available at ISO 200 or 400. Long exposures (beyond 2 seconds) at ISO 100 lose sharpness and color saturation, possibly due to the effects of an undocumented noise reduction process. "

So as I said, this is a new technology that may or may not be better than current systems.