What's New in Black & White Photography | July 98
Nikon's Pronea Bombs, Goes Digital | How Long do Digital Prints Last? 1001 Uses for a Dead Pronea

What do you do if your top-line APS camera is gathering dust on dealer shelves because its intended audience is ignoring it in droves? Nikon, whose Pronea APS SLR, which was designed for professional photographers, was a dud among pros, according to industry sources close to the manufacturer. "Simply, nobody wants to buy a $700 camera that produces pictures less than half the size of 35mm," we were told.

Nikon has decided to turn a lemon into Lemonaid: they've persuaded Kodak to use the Pronea body for its newest megapixel DCS pro digital camera, which should hit the market later this month. Given the size and weight of current Kodak DCS SLRs, which are currently grafted to Nikon 35mm SLR bodies, the lighter and smaller Pronea may have finally found its calling.

How Long Do Digital Prints Last?

We asked that question a lot at PC Expo in New York in June, and got answers ranging from 1 to 3 years. Epson's Stylus 700 produces photo-quality inkjet prints from a printer that costs less than $300. According to Epson's product manager for print papers, their Photo Film paper will last longest--five years--under normal storage conditions. If the image is framed and hanging on a wall, plan on it starting to fade in approximately four years. "After that," she told us, "you can reprint the file." By then, perhaps digital prints will last longer.

The prints we saw were remarkably close to photo quality, and the difference could only be seen when viewing from a couple of inches away, and only if you looked very closely and knew to look for something that didn't look like irregularly distributed film grain. And at under $300, the Stylus 700 (and several of its competitors) now make the cost of entry to digital printing comprable to that of buying an enlarger.

It's enough to make an old darkroom hand feel a little ancient...

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