Kyocera, meanwhile, showed a crowd-pleaser in the form of their Finecam SL300R, which uses a new processing technology to provide near-instantaneous start-up and continuous (until the memory card fills up) full-resolution shooting at 3.5 frames per second. Off-floor, we saw a Contax-branded version of the same camera, featuring a Zeiss lens said to be "sharper"—though plans to distribute it in the U.S. were not announced. This processing system is after Canon's lunch, particularly its claim for its DIGIC processor, supporters of the new technology told us while showing off-floor comparisons between their work and Canon's. In addition to megapixels and price, performance and quality are set to be the noted considerations of 2004.
It's been years since the dollar value of digicam sales surpassed that of film cameras. Not so surprising, actually, given the higher price of digicams. But lately, we're hearing that the unit sales of digicams are pulling ahead of film, too. Clearly, we've rounded a corner. The time is coming when it'll no longer make sense to call this column, "The Digital Deal." All cameras of significance will be digital, all photography will be digital. We're thinking of running a "what should we call the Digital Dude's column next?" contest.
You can read the future of an industry in its tradeshows more clearly than psychics can divine from tea leaves. All channels, both CE and photo, will be jumping because of the new trends—price, features, performance—introduced on the eighth day of the new year. But also, when the opportunity to beat the bushes for new business arose, photo went into the CE space and made a place for itself. It remains to be seen when and if the computer makers, also beating bushes, will have the insight to reciprocate.
Don Sutherland has sold cameras across the counter, shot with them as a pro, and written about them for more than 30 years. His first article predicting the future of digital photography (1976) is becoming truer and truer. Don is a photo historian as well as futurist, and is author of the immortal slogan, "If you have one foot in the future and one in the past, you understand the present perfectly." Email Don at email@example.com.