Camera Hacker


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digital camera life cycle is a little too short for comfort

It is so unlike Canon to phase out SLR camera accessories so quickly (see my recent "BG-E1 battery grip being phased out?" post). Normally film EOS accessories float around for years. But maybe this is becoming history as digital SLR cameras are starting to be revamped as quickly as personal computer products. Today, personal computer products have a life span of 3 months on the shelf. Digital cameras are coming real close. I see many new Canon EOS digital SLR camera models every year. I think most people claim that they have an 18-month cycle.

To compete, Nikon has also sped up its process. It's releasing digital SLR cameras as quickly as Canon. Whenever Canon releases a digital SLR camera model, Nikon is right there with a close-competing camera. Even Olympus and Pentax, these manufacturers rarely release new camera bodies in the film-era, has increased its production cycle. Pentax, released its first *ist D on 2003-02-26, has a total of four *ist digital SLR models today. The *ist DL and *ist DS2 are released only two months apart!

For the gadget-minded consumers, this trend might be a blessing, because they can play with the newest and the greatest technology all the time. But for the working pro and the enthusiastic amateur photographers, a short life cycle on digital camera is most likely not beneficial.

Working professional photographers are counting on several things for their photographic gears: consistency and maintainability. Consistency is important because the working pro's incoming is dependant on the result they produce. If they are constantly changing their camera equipment, it's hard to produce consistency; their workflow changes constantly. A working pro's camera needs to be maintainable. When it breaks, it needs to be fixed or replaced immediately with the same model to retain consistency and eliminate distraction from workflow. New parts may be needed. But if the life cycle of a product is short, it's unlikely that the older model is worth fixing. And it is even more unlikely that the exact model can be replaced.

The amateur photographers are constantly learning and experimenting with their photographic gears. Today, an amateur photographer may pick up a Digital Rebel and be fully content with its new potentials. A year from now, the amateur photographer may have reached Digital Rebel's full potential and may be ready to purchase accessories to expand its capability to continue the learning and experimenting process. This process is hindered by the shorter life cycle, because Digital Rebel accessories could be phased out by then. The only way to continue would be to buy a new camera with the new accessories. This new process is detrimental to the amateur photographers, because instead the extra money spent on replacing a perfectly good camera can be used on accessories to expand the potential of the existing camera system.

Sony is a prime example of a manufacturer that is targeting the gadget-minded consumers. Hardly any working professionals use their equipment for professional work. Most amateur photographers only use Sony's equipment for point-and-shoot occasions. Why? Because it's product cycle is short. A typical camera or camcorder model has a life cycle of a year or less. Its accessory life cycle is even shorter! Just do a search on the Sony VAD-PEA adapter on this web site and you will see exactly what I am talking about.

Chieh Cheng
Sat, 1 Oct 2005 13:12:10 -0700

I am what you call a technological bottom
Have gotten a broken Digital Rebel
for 50 dollers. It had seven broken things about it.
Two where caused by the original
purchaser, two were caused by a ham handed service technician, two by the
engineering department and a mis-
assembled part.
To me the warrenty isn't worth the
paper that it is printed on.
All the damages were fixed, the badly
designed parts corrected and resulted
in a camera that is better than new.

The original owner would have held onto
it if the line was longer lasting.

It is the rapid obosolesence that make
it for poor folks like me who have more
time and skill than money to have access
to this wonderful technology.

Professionals usualy have budgits to
cover wear and breakage and to replace
the equipment which is income producing.

Thought that amateurs were the ones who
could not afford to fork out much money
for new and very expensive goods.
Does the BG-E1 ab;e to use standered
AA cells? If no,
Time to learn to use tools to build a
battery grip that could use standard
AA cells. Already know of the contact
pads inside at the end of the battery

Michael Kan
Wed, 19 Jul 2006 10:57:17 -0700

Michael, the BG-E1 is not able to use AA cells, which is a real disappointment to me. I'd love to see how you would hack it to support AA cells.

You might consider referencing the BG-E2 and BG-E3 battery grips, which do support the use of 6 AA battery cells. Good luck.

Chieh Cheng
Thu, 20 Jul 2006 10:22:39 -0700

I have a BG-E1 grip.. and would love to use AA cells in it.. is there any adaptor for it? I know the BG E2 has the adaptor.. but will that work with my old EOS Digital rebel (300D)????

Fri, 18 Jul 2008 21:56:53 +0000

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Title: BG-E1 battery grip being phased out?
Weblog: Camera Hacker
Excerpt: Being used to vertical shutter releases on several of my SLR-cameras, I have wanted the BG-E1 vertical battery grip for a long time (see my "Canon Battery Grip BG-ED3" article). Like every other Canon vertical battery grips, the BG-E1 battery grip is specifically made a Canon EOS camera. In this cas . . .
Tracked: Wed, 5 Oct 2005 13:15:44 -0700

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