Sharing of pictures electronically is the key for digital imaging technologies and until that is more widespread and simple, traditional 35mm film will remain dominant.
This was the subject debated by industry heavyweights, such as Nikon, Kodak, Canon and Hewlett-Packard, that gathered at Comdex this week to discuss the acceptance ? or lack of ? digital cameras.
?Sharing is the killer application, not digital photography. Cameras and the Internet are two key trends we can exploit,? said Atul Bhathagar, information appliance manager at HP.
But Ned Bunnell, director of product marketing at Canon, said the flaw in this argument was that people liked traditional cameras because they were simple to use.
?Ease of use of PCs and the Internet is a problem. The PC is not yet an appliance that everyone can use,? he said.
Many of the panel commented that while the quality of digital pictures was improving, people were still put off by the need for a PC to view them.
?Most of us just want to take pictures. How many homes are ready to do all this digital sharing? Only when we can drop the digital film off at the developers and get prints like traditional film, will digital compete fully,? said Nancy Carr, general manager for consumer cameras at Nikon.
Kristy Holch, principal analyst at research organisation Infotrends, noted that digital scanner and camera penetration was still under five per cent of US households, and that although this would grow significantly by 2002, digital cameras would remain a supplement to film cameras for at least the next 10 years.
Don Whiteside, general manager at Intel, claimed that the universal serial bus (USB) being introduced to PCs would help simplify the process of connecting cameras and scanners to PCs.
Willy Shih, president of digital imaging at Kodak, said they were working on ways to combine traditional and digital. One example was Kodak?s Picture CD, that takes traditional film and scans the customer?s pictures on to a CD-Rom disk together with software for enhancing and storing them.
At the show Olympus announced the D-400, a 1.3 megapixel camera with three times optical zoom. Epson announced its 750Z, a 1.9 megapixel camera with six times zoom. Both will retail in the US for around $800.
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