Nikon E3/E3s Digital Still SLR Camera, 1998/1000

 


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Nikon announced the Nikon E3 in 1998 but officially, it was available in December, 1999 - just a few months after the Company announced the long awaited Nikon D-1 Digital Still SLR camera. As most observers in the market made general assumption that the birth of the E3 may also signified the end of the E-Series Digital bodies - this was hardly surprising as basically the E-series has a few handicaps in its basic design and the call for a conventional SLR-type design was more desirable than the bulky dimension of the series.

The E3 series - comprised of Nikon E3 and E3s - was the 3rd model from the co-development effort between Fuji Film (sold as "Fujix" Or "Fuji DS- Series) by latter). It uses the Reduction Optical System "ROS" which enables Nikkor lenses to capture "virtually" identical "full frame" picture angles and aspect ratios as they do when mounted on conventional film cameras, even with wideangles and fisheye lenses. Although from the basic configuration, this camera was quite similar with the earlier E2/E2s and E2N/E2Ns models except of cause the E3 series models can deliver a higher resolution at 1.4 million (1,364 x 1,032) total pixels as compared to E2N's 1.3 million pixels (1,280 x 1,000 array) BUT actually within the body, there are MANY MORE enhancement - both from the design features as well as the software (see below for MORE information). But most of all, the Nikon's E3 series were also compatible with most Nikkor lenses (older lenses may have limitations) and many other Nikon system accessories including speedlights and remote triggers while allowing photographers to download images directly to a PC, or operate remotely from a PC. The E3 has a few enhancement made, it comes with an additional SCSI high-speed interface; it now can shoot up to 3 fps for 12 consecutive photos with its larger buffer (standard version E3 shoots at one frame per second).

Nikon E3 Mdm.jpg FujiDS560.jpg
Note: The Nikon E3/E3s was also sold as Fujix DS-560(A). Both have almost virtually similar basic configuration The Fujix model has its own specific model designation imprinted at the side where the Nikon simply labeled as E3 or E3 s.

The sensitivity section of the E3 series models now added with an intermediate setting (MID) which permits STD (Equivalent to ISO 880 film); MID equivalent to ISO 1600 film and HI (equivalent to ISO 3200 film); Other areas of improvement includes: Metering Range (with f/1.4 lens in STD mode): EV 1 to 16-1/3 for Matrix Metering, EV 15 to 20 for Centre-Weighted and EV 2 to 20 for Spot metering; the built-in aperture diaphragm inside Reduction Optics; controlled aperture started from f/4.8 (to f/38) instead of the previous f/6.7; the Auto Bracketing (AEB) allows user to shoot 2 to 3 frames, each with different exposures. Compensated value range from ± 1/4 to ±-3/4; 9 combinations are available. The storage mode has also been improved, where operates at C (continuous shooting) mode, the E3s now enables up to 12 consecutive shots; an independent PV (Preview) mode; PC mode was also added; another great improvement is at White Balance when operating in MANUAL, now it has 6 settings/selection 1) Incandescent light (3,000k), 2) Fluorescent light (6,700/5,000/4,200K), 3) Fine weather (5,300K), 4) Cloudy weather (6,500K), 5) Shade (8,000K), and 6) F[ash mode (5,700K)]. Further fine-tuning can be performed. The flash section of the camera has a wider applications, a X-sync terminal was added, top sync speed of 1/250 sec.; in M or S mode, shutter fires at user speed set (1/350 to 1/2000 sec. cannot be chosen); Matrix Balanced Fill Flash possible with Nikon TTL Speedlights including SB-28, 27, 26 and 25; Standard TTL Flash is also possible; External sync (PC) terminal also provided. Lastly, a few additional new options were also added in the power-charge accessories.

Overall, although all the E-series models may sound inferior in the Pixel-war among the many new entries, but the camera have a few areas which make them as a very attractive alternative to the current line up of Nikon Digital bodies. Firstly (and most important factor): ALL these E-bodies has lens inter changeability where they provide a level of flexibility and optical quality that is hard to match by consumer's level digital models. Technically, the 2/3" CCD should also outperformed 1/2" sensor despite their weak figures in delivering high pixels fugues and the camera is packed with most of the technologies you can find in any top notch film-based SLRs, regardless from flash, exposure control to metering options... so, they become a very logical to relate any of them as alternative to conventional thinking rush to buy a latest new entries of portable digital models. Well, all the E-series models also have their shortfalls. For example, you can only view the images via the eyepiece (but they are far far superior to EVF system employs in many portables; the whole camera size and weight like a dinosaur and most of all, the storage options are quite limited etc. But the good thing is, these cameras are considered obsolete and they should be VERY CHEAP now, they may not be the ultimate choice for your only Digital SLR but again it depends on your business/personal objective, for an example, the web designer may find them extremely useful as they don't require high-res images but they can mount any of their Nikkor to try out to achieve some desired angle or perspectives. A commercial studio owner may also find them handy for quick passport output (warning no USB, the E3(s) is the only model that has SCSI interface or you can get a multi-card reader or using Nikon's own PC-card Reader); or a loving father that wants to keep track of his family electronic album etc. - BUT all these possibilities may also boil down to a hard fact - where I have to assume you are a seasoned photographer who knows how to manipulate confusing buttons and levels in a typical modern SLR PLUS already has a good collection of Nikkor lenses in your possession to call for a justification even if they come cheap as an used unit. Perhaps these are te few facts that I think you should seriously consider before comiiting any investment.

1. Focus mode selector
2. Lens release button
3. Lens mounting index
4. White balance window
5. Camera strap eyelet
6. Accessory shoe
7. Eyepiece ring - Adjust the eyepoint (eye glass wearer by pushing in the eyepiece, and others by putting it out) for optimal viewing.
8. sync terminal - Also accommodates large studio flash units.
9. Remote terminal
10. Aperture dial
11. LCD panel
12. CMND-L (command lock) button
13. V-Out (Video Output) Manual
14. GPS IN (Input) IE. Trig. (External Triggering) terminal
15. MODE (exposure Mode.) button
16. Metering system button
17. Exposure Compensation button
18. SENS (sensitivity selector) button
19. Main dial lock-release button
20. Main dial
21. Shutter release button
22. Command dial
23. AF-L (Auto Focus Lock) button
24. AE/AE-L (double lock) lever Implements AF-L and AE-L Simultaneously.
25. QUALITY (image quality) button
26. W.BAL(white balance mode) button
27. DATE (dial setting) button/INDEX PRT. index print button - Can select year, month, day, hour, minute. Also Can print index when depressing; the button during playback
28. INDEX PRT/PRINT/ ED button - Can print image when depressing the button during playback/Can set photographer's ID.
29. FORMAT button.
30. ERASE button
31. BATT (battery) EJECT lever
32. Tripod socket
33. Custom settings display LED
34. CSM (custom setting mode) button
35. BKT (exposure bracketing button
36. Exposure bracketing display LED
37. Image Memory Card confirmation window.
38. AE-L (Auto Exposure Lock) button
39. Eject knob lock-release button
40. Image Memory Card eject knob
41. Camera back incorporating the Image Memory Card slot
42. SCSI connector

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On the technological front, Nikon heavily emphasize a few of their innovations in:

Nikon Reduction Optical System (ROS) achieves practically identical picture angles when the same Nikkor lens is mounted on either an E Series digital or a Nikon 35mm 135-format SLR camera, This avoids confusion when you switch between these two types of cameras on a shoot. High viewfinder magnification ensures easy, detailed viewing. The Nikkor wideangle, lens image that you see when setting up is what yen get, for assurance that the subject filling the viewfinder frame is completely captured in the final shot.
Infrared Reduction Filter Ordinarily, a CCD's infrared light sensitivity adversely affects naturalism of reproduced color. Nikon's infrared reduction filter located in front of the CCD, however, retains realistic tone and maintains excellent balance of RGB coloration. Low-Pass Filter Digital cameras tend to suffer from ROB round (false coloration) caused by color points which should not exist. These points are generated at edges of forms, where contrast is often dramatic, or in areas of the picture where patterning is very fine. Color adjustment using a PC deteriorates image quality to an unacceptable degree. Nikon's optical low-pass filter located in front of the CCD, however, reduces RGB more effectively.

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But features-wise, the E3/E3s have MORE to offer(where some of them have improved considerably from previous models) ... For an example: White Balance Control The Auto White Balance (AWB) function makes highly accurate coloration as easy as possible. For more precise manual control, white balance can be set to my of six settings, and can be fine-tuned farther. Exposure/Metering Control A choice of three metering modes and four exposure modes, as well as auto bracketing, offers plenty of exposure metering flexibility. Anti-Vibration Mode When the shutter button is pressed, the shutter is released after 0.2-0.3 sec. to prevent possible effects of camera shake-a feature well-suited to microscope photography. An added SCSI Interface A 25-pin D-Sub SCSI connector enables setting and control of camera functions, direct transfer of image data to a PC, and direct printing of images on specific printers.

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Auto Bracketing In situations where it's difficult to obtain proper exposure, auto bracketing lets you shoot the same subject at two or those, different exposures after you select among three degrees of exposure, compensation variation:

Custom Setting Function Nine custom settings include some of those found in the professional Nikon F5 and user-ID recording to an image Memory Card. Video Output The professional E Series has an analog video output terminal (NTSC or PAL), which enables video cable connection to a TV monitor such as a portable LCD TV. This lets you confirm images without use of a PC. Preview (PV) Mode You can preview a shot image on a TV Monitor without storing to an Image Memory Card. After confirming the image, you can store the image to the card by pressing the SENS button. Multiple Compensation Modes Images are stored in TIFF or three JPEG (Exif Ver. 1. 1) compression modes: HI (uncompressed TIFF), FINE (compression ratio 1/4), NORMAL (1/8), and BASIC (1/16). uses PCMCIA Card Convenient delete functions erase any chosen shot or all shots previously taken and stored, making it easy to fee up space to save your best images; E3s high buffer memory capacity makes it possible to shoot up to 12 consecutive images at 3 frames per sec. Both the E3s and E3 enable shooting until the memory card is full at one frame/sec. using newer Ni-MH Battery A longer-life, rechargeable Ni-MH (nickel-metal hydride) battery powers shooting of up to approx. 1,000 consecutive shots. External sync (PC) terminal; Nikon Browser Software - Nikon View ES Camera Shooting Software: Connects the E3/E3s to a PC through a SCSI cable, enabling you to set shooting conditions and control shooting via a PC. Also, it allows transfer of shot images to a PC for storage. Camera Setting Software: Connects the E3/E3s to a PC through a SCSI cable, enabling custom settings via a PC; Image Download Software: Displays images stored on a PC card inserted in in the E3/E3s or those on a PC. Also, it displays shooting conditions on these images.

As most of you recall early days of development in digital SLR was mainly a marriage between Kodak/Nikon. Somehow the relationship gets a little confusing when Kodak introduced a Digital SLR based on a original Canon EOS-1 body, and there were many followed up models since then with the EOS interface. Since then, as I can recalled, the only Nikon body that Kodak still banged on was actually an APS format Pronea 600i (Actually, it seems to me the deal looks more like a trade off for Nikon's further commitment in the APS consortium, why ? Since APS format has been defined, there is definitely a lesser development cost for Kodak than a camera manufacturer, APS films are still selling everyday - but it may not be the case for a APS camera body, right ? So, in such a conflicting business, you have to contain a camera manufacturer to carry on producing more camera bodies, so there will be a bigger market for film rolls...).

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Other info: But whatever it was, as this emerging market was not dominated and just confined to products from Kodak and Nikon, with so many strategic alliances formed (Canon + Kodak, Agfa with Minolta, for a few instances) and others that hounding the back of these Companies, it was a matter of time that each of the 35mm SLR manufacturers eventually regained their business sense to get back their own product identity rather than letting others to ride on their back. So did Nikon, where they also decided in developing their own Digital Still SLRs which has eventually resulted with the debut of the Nikon D-1 in 1999, all the events and happening during the confusing state of the mid-end of the '90 seemed fall back in places (by the way, Nikon's partner in the E-series development, Fuji Film co. Ltd., chosen a Nikon F60 body and eventually leads to the development of the Fuji's FinePix S1 Pro).

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Kodak's DCS-560, a Canon EOS based digital SLR camera. Delivers 6 mega pixels, 520- 2 mega=D2000; 520 cost (1999) RM50,000 like D2000, the Model 560 costs RM120,000-00 * US$1=RM3.80. - you can get half a dozen of a Nikon D1x !

Note: A little correction... the Kodak DCS560 is NOT D2000, the DCS 520 is. Credit: CYLeow, who happens to use both bodies at the press centre.


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The APS format Pronea 600i converted Digital body comes with a 1.5 megapixel CCD (1524 x 1012) and a ASA range of 100-400.
Other info: The Kodak DCS-460, based on the Nikon's F90, employs a 3060 x 2036-pixel (6-million pixel) CCD imager. The EOS-DCS 1 Digital Camera employs a full-frame CCD imager measuring 2036 x 3060 pixels. Total resolution is 6 million pixels, corresponding to a color file size of 18 Megapixels. The subsequent Kodak DCS 560 offers a six megapixel CCD unique to the studio market and an remarkable ISO range of 80 - 200.


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Recommended links to understand more technical details related to the Nikkor F-mount and production Serial Number:
http://rick_oleson.tripod.com/index-153.html by: my friend, Rick Oleson
http://www.zi.ku.dk/personal/lhhansen/photo/fmount.htm by: Hansen, Lars Holst
http://www.mir.com.my/rb/photography/hardwares/nikonfmount/lens2.htm
http://www.photosynthesis.co.nz/nikon/serialno.html

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