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Fuji S2 Pro e-mail


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#1 Marc Furth

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Posted 24 January 2003 - 07:22 PM

I thought it might make a interesting discussion about my return e-mail to Ed who was interested in buying my custom camera housing for the Fuji S2 Pro. Ed has decided on buying Ikeliteís Fuji S2 Pro housing but has asked me to build a different back for it. Ikeís housing can not access all the push button controls that are on the back of the camera.

Hi Ed,
Sounds like a real challenge, but Iíd be willing to give it a try.

But donít you think that Ike would have done it himself if he could ?

I believe that camera housing manufactures are in a state of wait and see.
Most manufacture have quite investment in tooling in their next or existing housings. With new and cheaper cameras on the horizon no one wants to put to much expense into a housing that wonít be wanted by the time itís finished.

Some of Ikeís housing are being retro fitted from his arsenal of 35mm film camera housings. He will have to spend a lot of money to make a injection mold for a camera that might not be sold in less than a year. A mold of this type can cost as much as $ 10,000 to 30,000 thatís a lot of housings to sell just to make up their cost of tooling. I donít think their are many if any housing manufacturers that have their own injection systems. Their usually farmed out to specialty companies that only blow the parts for others.

I know from personal experience that I have made molds for different video cameras and by the time the molds were finished a new camera was released and the consumer now wanted the new model. Itís a challenge to anticipate what will be around for some time to recoup your expenses and make a profit. I think forms like this are most helpful for manufactures, they can feel the market out and make better decision on what their going to build.

Now their are those companies that use CNC machining to cut a block of solid aluminum into a housing. This is still time consuming and labor extensive. Their is still a lot of man hours of labor that goes into fit and finish work. They also must be anodized and painted to hold back the elements. The prices of these housings usually reflect the amount of man hours involved into fabricating.

We are all at the mercy of the industry thatís changing every day as we speak.. I believe that it will never change all that much different than the video market has gone. How else will they be able to sell you a new camera every year. More features, better resolution, changing styles on and on we go. Hopefully the higher priced professional cameras will at some point max out and stable so we all can get on with taking pictures, and housing manufactures can make a decision and a decent profit. We want them to be successful, it only makes things cheaper and more readily available.

Marc
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#2 scorpio_fish

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Posted 25 January 2003 - 04:52 AM

You are right on the money Marc. The explosion of consumer digicams has created a two-edged sword. Now, rather than an amphibious range finder camera or an expensive housed SLR, the diver can take the same camera he bought for personal use underwater. This is and should be a boom to housing makers, but the other edge is that the product life cycles are so short and with each change, the bodies and controls change shape/size and position. Plus, there are just plain more controls to deal with.

Ikelite's several sizes fits all put them at the forefront, since it became a matter of control placements. Not an elegant solution, but far easier to bring new housings to market. Ikelite's SLR housing backs have been aluminum with no controls, which means it became more than just drilling holes into plastic to convert the backs for digital SLR use. Plus, you've got a viewfinder and LCD display to see. While I see exploding sales for Ikelite, I imagine a bunch of engineers pulling their hair out on a daily basis. They are probably forbidden to read the latest digicam releases for fear of mass suicides.

The aluminum housing guys have it much worse. Sure, they don't have to invest in molds, but the time to design the unit and program CNC milling machines runs many thousands of dollars, plus all the fine tuning necessary before the first one reaches market.

I found it interesting that Sea & Sea took a more "Ikelite" approach to their D60/D100 housings.

About all they can do is pick the cameras to build for and hope that the installed base of owners is large enough knowing that it will be obsolete at some point. I think that's why you see D100 housings coming out vs. S2. The installed base of D100 housings is far greater than S2s, regardless of which is "better".

The Canon D60 has now been discontinued after a really short life span. While rumors swirl about its replacement, the key question for underwater housings is will it be in the same size housing with the same control locations.

I do see product life cycles increasing over time. It's natural. And, as digital approaches film, the number of users that upgrade will also diminish. My first digital was a 1.3mp Oly. It was definitely going to be obsolete, no questions because 1.3mp just ain't very good. I was a little miffed when the CP995 was discontinued one month after Aquatica started shipping their housing. At least the CP5000 has some legs left in it. I believe the percentage of users that say XXmp is good enough will not be willing to upgrade.

Now with D100 housings becoming available 7-9 months after introduction of the camera, it just shows the amount of time necessary for development. It becomes difficult to wait and see knowing that it will take that long to bring a housing to market. Just like the consumer who can take a perpetual wait and see attitude, the housing folks could end up bringing out nothing. You takes your chances. I think the D100 is a safe bet just because their are so many out there and they are still selling them. With PMA just around the corner, who knows what's next.

Just some miscellaneous ramblings.

And yes, I think Ikelite would have done it themselves if they could. I think it turned out to be a little harder than anyone thought.
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#3 Cybergoldfish

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Posted 25 January 2003 - 05:05 AM

Yes, I too think it's an all-round frustrating topic and wonder why each manufacturer cannot stick to a iniform design layout for their ranges.
I wish a manufacturer would bring out a full remote control system enabling a standardised housing to be made and a seperate tiny unit housing the controls that can be fitted near the right or left-hand grip, or wherever.

Food for thought?

#4 Marc Furth

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Posted 29 January 2003 - 01:45 PM

Itís a definite advantage to housing manufactures to have full electronic control over different cameras inside the same housing.

But the horror stores Iíve heard about these same controls failing on your best dive trip make me feel manual is your safest bet.

Marc
Nikon D3, 16mm Nikkor,14-24 Nikkor,24-70 Nikkor, Sigma 15 mm New DIY housing,Nikon D2x, DIY housing, Ikelite Strobe 400's, twin iTTL housed Sb 800's, Sigma 14 mm, Tamron 90 mm, Nikkor 80-400 VR, Nikkor 18-200 VR, Tamron 180 mm macro, Epson Pro 4800 printer.