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Software Upgrades Hardware

Canon Digital Rebel Hacked Into A Pseudo-10D 585

Reverb9 writes "When Canon introduced the Digital Rebel, the world's first entry-level Digital SLR camera, many remarked on its similarities to the 10D , its $500 more expensive big brother. In fact, the two cameras share much of the same technology and so Canon implemented a number of software-based limitations to avoid destroying sales of the professional-oriented 10D. Now, a new hack that restores a previously hidden menu along with a few additional tricks has added nearly all of those 10D features to the Rebel, with an arguably superior user interface to boot. Canon has so far said little on the hack but certainly cannot be happy with its potential effect on sales. This is, however, a reality that more corporations are having to confront. In an era where programming labour is relatively cheap and computer connectivity more frequent can artificial, marketing-driven, barriers between technology products, last?"
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Canon Digital Rebel Hacked Into A Pseudo-10D

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  • by beatnitup ( 616700 ) on Wednesday June 02, 2004 @12:24AM (#9311713)
    picture that...
  • by JessLeah ( 625838 ) on Wednesday June 02, 2004 @12:25AM (#9311718)
    Yes, when they're enforced by the DMCA and jail sentences for those who reverse-engineer them. (Remember DeCSS? The outcry over DeCSS was just a preview; things are going to get a lot worse, not better.)
    • by lambent ( 234167 ) on Wednesday June 02, 2004 @12:52AM (#9311891)
      That's funny ... I remember DeCSS. My friend had the T-shirt. I read and loved the haiku.

      I also remember how thousands of hackers won out in the end, and have libdvdcss and libdvdread installed on their systems. And remember how DVD-Jon was aquitted? Twice? That was sweet.

      It's too bad that the DMCA brought us all down in the end. Every day i lament the fact that I can't download pirated movies off the internet before they're released in the theatre, and that I also can't watch dvd's on my computer.

      It really sucks.
  • Time to buy. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 02, 2004 @12:25AM (#9311721)
    I've been meaning to buy the Digital Rebel/300D ever since it was released, but somehow was held back by the lack of the Mirror Lockup feature. Now that this hack enables that feature, I think I'll go pick one of these babies up very soon. I already have a nice collection of Canon EF and EF L lenses that the 300D can take.
    • Re:Time to buy. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by cujo_1111 ( 627504 ) on Wednesday June 02, 2004 @12:55AM (#9311901) Homepage Journal
      Spend the extra on the 10D, the metal chassis alone is worth the extra $$...
      • by valkraider ( 611225 ) on Wednesday June 02, 2004 @01:52AM (#9312144) Journal
        Yeah, because I frequently need to stop bullets or pound nails and stuff with my $1000 camera.
        • Re:Time to buy. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by sql*kitten ( 1359 ) * on Wednesday June 02, 2004 @04:08AM (#9312684)
          Yeah, because I frequently need to stop bullets or pound nails and stuff with my $1000 camera.

          You'll be wanting a Nikon F4 then :-)

          But seriously, when you hire a photographer, you aren't paying for someone to point the camera and press the shutter button. You're paying for someone to take the responsibility for delivering pictures. For a one-time event like a wedding, a photographer simply can't risk equipment failure. A photographer working away from civilization, such as a nature photographer or a photojournalist, simply can't risk equipment failure. That's why these people are willing to pay $5000 or more for the EOS-1D and the like.

          The people buying the 10D are the ones who can't justify the cost of a 1D, but need more reliability than a consumer model can give them. Maybe they like to travel a lot for example. The people buying the 300D won't have reliability near the top of the priorities. That's not to say that the 300D is necessarily flimsy, but it's just not built to take abuse. Canon made no secret that the sensor in the 300D is exactly the same as the one in the 10D, and unlike Nikon, all EF lenses work perfectly with all EOS bodies, so image quality isn't a reason to choose between them.
      • The metal chassis is not such a big issue. A much bigger one is the really expensive ultra-short EF zoom lens that would make the short zoom for 10D - remember the 1.6x conversion factor for the focal length. There aren't that many choices that would get you a 2x-normal wide lens.

        • EF 16-35mm f/2.8L USM ~$2.5k+
        • EF 17-40mm f/4L USM ~$700

        That and the price difference between 10D and 300D add up to quite a lot.
        • by b0rken ( 206581 )
          If you want a reasonably wide zoom lens on your 300D *or* 10D, and don't want to pay for Canon lenses (let alone Canon L lenses), get the Sigma "DC" lenses. For about $240 you get a 18-50mm and 55-200mm focal lengths. You can apparently only get these as a set, so buy your 300D without the kit lens. They're not the brightest lenses (f/3.5-5.6 and f/4-5.6) but otherwise I'm satisfied with them.
          Oh, one little complaint---The zoom ring on the 55-200 doesn't move as smoothly as I'd like, which can make it a
  • by gandalphthegreen ( 751209 ) < g m a> on Wednesday June 02, 2004 @12:26AM (#9311725)
    Canon has so far said little on the hack but certainly cannot be happy with its potential effect on sales.

    That arguement is rediculous. What part of Canon's market that will shell out for that camera will apply this hack? Probably almost none of it, if they can find it or understand it. So that leaves the likes of the slashdot crowd, and that really isn't a big enough group to put a dent into Canon's sales.
    • by SilentChris ( 452960 ) on Wednesday June 02, 2004 @12:42AM (#9311846) Homepage
      What part of the normal music market will learn to download MP3s off the internet? Probably almost none of it, if they can find or understand them. So that leaves the likes of the Slashdot crowd, and that really isn't a big enough group to put a dent into cultural acceptance. Oh wait...
    • by Alan ( 347 ) <arcterex@ufie s . o rg> on Wednesday June 02, 2004 @12:48AM (#9311872) Homepage
      Emulating the functionality is different when the main object that you're hacking is physical. The construction of the 10D (IIRC) is quite different and "more professional" (as far as more solid and rugged) than the 300D. People who say they'll buy the 300 instead of the 10 because they can hack the functionality are at least partially, kidding themselves. The *real* professionals will get the professional camera (or the 1D, or the 1D2 or whatever).

      Of course, it could also be argued that this is driving people to the 300D because they can get professional features at an amateur price just means that canon gets more sales anyway, right?
      • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) * on Wednesday June 02, 2004 @01:08AM (#9311972)
        Saving $500 is quite a lot, I'll bet a number of normal people figure out how to apply this hack with detail instructions from message boards and the like.

        I really thought it was odd of Canon to differentiate the software at all - they should haver just kept the price differential to a resnable cost for a sturdier body.

        Both are really prosumer cameras, I think people shopping for one would be thinking about the other - like you say, the real difference is when you are going for a 1D or a 1Ds.
      • The *real* professionals will get the professional camera (or the 1D, or the 1D2 or whatever).

        No, they'll get the 10D, or they'll already have it. A lot of pros skipped the 1Ds because of the weight - if you need to lug around 3 lenses + body weight starts to become an issue. The 1Ds was a studio camera, and a lot of people stayed with the 10D which is an excellent all-arounder. Heck, some of my photopro buddies still use the Canon D60.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 02, 2004 @01:52AM (#9312140)
      I personally know 3 people who own this camera, all of them have applied the hack. They have been buzzing about it since folks started posting on a few weeks ago.

      Despite what conceded slashdot'rs think, average camera nerds can indeed find links on the internet and are also capable of following simple instructions.

      This will most certainly hurt sales of the 10D. Many people are more than willing to give up a metal body to save $500!
    • Yes, there are a few who will hack their camera, but most of them are likely to be people who wouldn't have bought the higher price camera to begin with.

      Professionals aren't likely to want to trust their bread and butter to a hack. They might buy a Rebel as a second body (which they might have anyways), and try the hack on that (as a second body). On the other hand, the few lost sales are likely to be offset by the increased sales that this article on Slashdot is likely to generate.

      Case in point: Back w

  • by djcapelis ( 587616 ) on Wednesday June 02, 2004 @12:28AM (#9311741) Homepage
    This will be happening a lot in the future... it's a good thing though, if they can make a product more powerful for that amount of money than they should do so. Marking up the same hardware and because you don't have artifical barriers on it should be a crime...

    Unfortunately, it's breaking these artifical barriers to make full use of hardware you paid for that a crime in our society.
    • by Dun Malg ( 230075 ) on Wednesday June 02, 2004 @12:34AM (#9311790) Homepage
      Marking up the same hardware and because you don't have artifical barriers on it should be a crime...

      By what rationale? Neither "crippling" by the manufacturer, nor "uncrippling" by the end user should be a crime. Making either illegal is sheer idocy.

  • by eln ( 21727 ) on Wednesday June 02, 2004 @12:29AM (#9311750)
    But, the article, submitter, sure has a thing, for commas.
  • No worries! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by yawhcihw ( 171760 ) on Wednesday June 02, 2004 @12:29AM (#9311751)
    The Canon 10D is aimed at pros, and what pro would actually rely on a "hack" to turn their Rebel into a 10D? These guys have to be able to trust their cameras completely and having hacked firmware will degrade that trust, no matter what the 1337 h4x0r community says.

    Besides, what will happen to these pros when the next Canon firmware obliterates this hack? If the firmware provides needed fixes that they can't get without losing their "Rebel/10D", they're going to be mighty unhappy.

    So I doubt Canon will be too worried about this: their target audience for the 10D isn't the hack-using geekerati, it's professionals. People who rely on their cameras aren't about to compromise reliability just to save a (relatively) few $$.
    • Re:No worries! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by lambent ( 234167 )
      It's a poor musician who blames his talent on his instrument ... or something like that.

      But you're a fool if you buy any equipment and put implicit trust in it, even if it came pristine from the manufacturer.

      When you buy something you have to depend on, you test it out. Many times. Under all possible conditions that you may need it for.

      You only need your equipment to fail once in a clutch situation to learn this lesson.

      Flip side: apply the hack, and test out your equipment. If it works, that's fabul
      • Just purchased a 10D and a 16-35 f2.8L lense (about 2700$ total).

        The system locked up during a wedding I was photographing. Why? Water apparently condensed on the contacts in the lense.

        The 10D has absolutely the WORST focus on anything other than central point that I have ever seen- and I'm coming from an eight year old A2.

        I have shots that would be in focus (you could feel the lense jittering) and then upon depressing the shutter button the focus would jump (out, that is).

        All in all I wish I hadn't b
    • Re:No worries! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by linzeal ( 197905 ) on Wednesday June 02, 2004 @12:41AM (#9311841) Homepage Journal
      I know about a half dozen local photographers in current production. They don't care nearly as much as you think about the brand or name of digital cameras as much as old film cameras because most of the work for them is done in processing the picture and even if they took a half megapixel shot of someone's wedding they can reasonably work out something desirable to the person who wants the picture. Things are getting more stylized I'm noticing more usage of filters and the like in batch process to give desired effect like a subtle contrast boost and a tweaked guassian blur to lessen the harsh edges digital cameras are still prone to leave in the unedited image file.
  • Programming Labour (Score:3, Insightful)

    by femto ( 459605 ) on Wednesday June 02, 2004 @12:30AM (#9311763) Homepage
    > In an era where programming labour is relatively cheap...

    It's not necesarily that programming labour is cheap. I'm my opinion, the increase in connectivity has lead to an increase in efficiency, whereby the same code gets reapplied to many more applications than before the onset of the Internet.

    IMO, the per hour cost of programming labour has not really changed. The cost of programming labour, per unit produced, has dropped.

  • Not 100% the same (Score:5, Informative)

    by Polo ( 30659 ) * on Wednesday June 02, 2004 @12:30AM (#9311764) Homepage
    Just to mention that the 10D does have different hardware, so this hack won't give all features,
    notably the faster frames per second and frames that are buffered.

    The EOS-300D will shoot 4 frames at 2.5 frames per second and the EOS-10D will shoot 9 frames at 3 frames per second.

    Also, the EOS-300D has a cheap-feeling plastic body while the EOS-10D has a black magnesium body.
    • by Kenja ( 541830 ) on Wednesday June 02, 2004 @01:10AM (#9311976)
      But the software hack changes the plastic body to a magnesium one, then you just need to paint it black.
    • Re:Not 100% the same (Score:3, Informative)

      by XaXXon ( 202882 )
      Cheap feeling? Have you actually HELD a Digital Rebel? I guess maybe if you're used to metal cameras, it may be different, but it's in no way flimsily made. I have mine right in front of me (I already applied the patch), and just picked it up. It's solid.

      That said, I don't go around dropping it all over the place.

      BTW, just for everyone who thinks this is going to ruin your camera.. all it does is flip a couple bits from saying "don't display this menu" to "do display this menu". All the code for the
  • by the pickle ( 261584 ) on Wednesday June 02, 2004 @12:34AM (#9311789) Homepage
    The linked page is basically one guy's explanation of and links to a bunch of Russian sites that host hacked firmware for the 300D/Digital Rebel.

    Firmware update instructions from Canon []
    10D Instruction Manual [] (PDF file)
    Latest Firmware from Wasia []

    (Wasia is apparently the pseudonym of the Russian hacker who has developed all these goodies.)

    Wasia's site is here: []

    Some more info from the linked page:

    Its been widely known that the Canon EOS 300D Digital Rebel and the Canon EOS 10D DSLR's are similar beasts. In fact, if you look at their Side-by-side comparisons you can see that most of the features that vary are catagorized as "Customizable".

    The 10D has a menu item called "Custom Functions" which allows these settings to be adjusted. Well, a fellow in Russia found that in the latest firmware, by switching a single byte in the firmware image, he was able to enable most of these 10D "Custom Functions" in the Digital Rebel. Now, some features, such as more frames in rapid shooting, are hardware-limitations but some features lacking such as Flash Exposure Compensation and embedded JPEG quality are found to be working in the 300D.

    This is not the 10D firmware, it is the 300D firmware with some of the dormant 10D features enabled. The developers probably shared the codebase between the two models. The 10D firmware will not work on your 300D.

    Now, be aware that this Modified firmware will violate your warranty!

    There are a bunch of other neat tips on that site, but they aren't directly related to this story, and so I haven't re-posted them here.

  • by CodeBuster ( 516420 ) on Wednesday June 02, 2004 @12:34AM (#9311791)
    In this particular case the hack involved restoring some capabilities, which while present in the hardware, had been locked or hidden by software. Certainly this individual deserves his due for circumventing the software barriers. However, in software products it is much easier to simply leave sections of code out of the finished build in the lesser versions. If the functionality is not there in the first place then no amount of unlocking will enable it. This incident raises important issues about the sale and marketing of technology products, especially in the digital camera market. It is my opinion that the industry has vastly underestimated the demand among consumers for more powerful "professional" grade digital cameras. It would probably make more sense from both a business and technology standpoint to offer the full camera at a price which is higher than the basic entry level model, but less than the full "professional" model since most of the work was probably in the design of the hardware and software and not as much in the manufacturing. People are generally willing to pay for a well built product as long as they know that the quality is there.
  • Overclocking? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Andorion ( 526481 ) on Wednesday June 02, 2004 @12:36AM (#9311803)
    CPU manufacturers have been doing this for a long time - if a chip tests at a high speed but they need more "value" low-speed chips, they'll mark it as slower and crank it down. There have been ways to overclock CPUs (not just things like FSB tweaks but hardware mods on the cpu that make it think it's a faster version) from way back. Intel's only concern is people mass-marketing the slower cpus as faster ones, not individuals OCing their chips.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 02, 2004 @12:36AM (#9311806)
    1. Build a product out of [price] reach for most consumers;

    2. Charge a more realistic price for a 'feature reduced' version;

    3. Watch as it gets hacked;

    4. Then watch sales climb high as people begin to believe (under false pretences) that they have got 'one over' on the company - people love a free ride or a good 'bargain'.

    I like it!
  • by Ratso Baggins ( 516757 ) on Wednesday June 02, 2004 @12:37AM (#9311814) Homepage
    Having a product "hackable" arguably set AMD, Sony's PS1 and of course Microsoft up as huge market forces in their relative areas.

    It can only be a good thing for Cannon too?

  • by EvilBastard ( 77954 ) on Wednesday June 02, 2004 @12:37AM (#9311816) Homepage


    Here's a mindboggling stupid idea from our Marketing Department that you might be able to use. We make [type of machine]. A new version of our product is both cheaper and faster. A great breakthough, right?

    Well marketing wants Engineering to slow the unit down so they have a low cost unit to sell. Then sell them upgrades to full speed at an enormous price. These would be physically identical, just one would have the code messed up on purpose to run slow.

    So does this mean [type of machine] = Digital Cameras ?
    • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Wednesday June 02, 2004 @01:06AM (#9311964) Homepage Journal
      Yep. A lot of "big iron" does the same thing. They'll bundle many more processors than get enabled, or multiple terabytes of disk storage when you only order one. Then when you need more you order an "upgrade" at the appropriate price and an encrypted number gets written to a disk and sent to you. You pop it into your unit and your machine magically becomes faster. Apparently it's cheaper to do it this way. Other places I've seen this is on printers, graphics cards and Intel Processors (486sx vs 486DX, etc.) It's extremely common in the industry.

      I suspect it'll remain so because typically the company doesn't care about the 4 people who actually use the software to unlock the additional features of their lower end hardware (Voiding any warranties in the process.)

      • It's not necessarily exactly cheaper. The hardware does have a significant cost, which is soaked up by the manufacturer unless/until the customer turns it on.

        I think the point is more that you can sell it to them immediately when the want it -- a kind of corporate impulse shopping.

        If I know that adding more CPUs is going to require ordering them, arranging downtime, bringing the machine down, physically installing the CPUs, bringing it back up and hoping nothing broke then I might think twice, and try to
  • by brucmack ( 572780 ) on Wednesday June 02, 2004 @12:44AM (#9311851)
    I doubt this particular hack will have too big an impact... Most features does not mean all features, and there are hardware differences.

    It doesn't necessarily mean that any significant number of people are going to do it, either. Look at CPU overclocking for example... Both Intel and AMD allow it, so it obviously isn't hurting the sales of their high-end parts too much. Even considering retail seperate from OEM. If they felt like they could make significantly more money by locking the multipliers and FSB, they certainly would have done so many generations ago.

    The other thing to consider with Canon is the costs involved... To modify the cheaper model enough to make this impossible would probably cost them more than they will lose with this hack out in the open.
    • Ummmm (Score:4, Informative)

      by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Wednesday June 02, 2004 @02:56AM (#9312450)
      They DO lock multipliers. It's a pain in the ass actually. I have a P4 2.4ghz chip that runs on the 400mhz bus (100mhz quad pumped) so 24x multiplier. Well my motherboard and RAM can handle 800mhz (200mhz quad pumped), which would give me better performance. No can do though, I'd need to step down to a 12x multiplier and the chip won't allow that.

      The reason they don't bus lock is there isn't really a feasable way of doing it. It would require some kind of trickiness with the chip generating it's own internal clock, and doing a comparison, which would never work since external bus speed can vary from one board to teh next natrually.
  • by SnapperHead ( 178050 ) on Wednesday June 02, 2004 @12:54AM (#9311894) Homepage Journal
    Way back when, the local phone company shipped out these cheap caller ID boxes when you ordered new service. They sent the lowest end model, which only shows the name and had ~50 number memory.

    One day bored, I opened the box up and found that there was *1* soider point that would upgrade it to "name" caller ID, and 200+ more number memory.

    The difference in price bewteen the 2 models was like $40.

    Honestly, I don't think many people will do this change to upgrade there camera. Personally, I wouldn't becuase those damn things are expensive compaired to my $100 digital camera :P

  • by Monkelectric ( 546685 ) <> on Wednesday June 02, 2004 @12:55AM (#9311903)
    The business terminology for this is "Functional Pricing".

    It is an artifact of the need to standardize board layouts, processors, hardware and designs for mass production. Its also a direct tribute to the greed of companies who wouldn't offer their customers the best possible product possible.

  • by Goonie ( 8651 ) * <<robert.merkel> <at> <>> on Wednesday June 02, 2004 @01:11AM (#9311977) Homepage
    At least some Xerox photocopiers in the 1980's were sold in two variants: one with reduction and enlargement, and one without. Remember, enlargement and reduction was done optically back in those days, not in software. The only difference between the two models was the control panel and a tiny bit of electronics. The models were otherwise identical! Needless to say, when the machines were traded in and put on the secondhand market, most Xerox dealers "upgradeded" the machines before resale.

    Many other photocopier models offering different speeds were identical except for the controller boards, and swapping those over wasn't uncommon either; in fact, at one stage the distributor used to officially sanction it because the manufacturer was screwing them over.

  • by SlideGuitar ( 445691 ) on Wednesday June 02, 2004 @01:16AM (#9311999)
    From everything I've seen about the Rebel, it is a much more cheaply made piece of equipment. "As a professional" I would consider the more robust design of the 10D (which is due for a replacement/update by the way) to make it a superior camera, for reasons unrelated to the chip set and its functions. Furthermore, as a professional, I am considering the Rebel as a backup digital body, without any hacking. It just doesn't look like a good bet for a high use high reliability camera, although it has its potential uses. But even with functions hacked, it is unlikely to equal a 10d.

    As for the "propriety" of crippling functionality, get a clue. The fact that a company can give something away at no cost doesn't mean that it is evil if it doesn't.

    Look at it this way: The price for the low function and high function products is probably lower (over time, ceteris parabus, etc. etc.) because the development cost is amortized over a larger market which includes the low and high function products instead of just the high function products.

    Of course the company could distribute the benefits of the larger manufacturing run to different market segments depending on compeitition... but somewhere, if the market is competitive, the consumer is a winner, if the company can sell more of those chips by crippling some of them.

    Think about it.

  • by boots@work ( 17305 ) on Wednesday June 02, 2004 @01:29AM (#9312053)
    I know a lot of companies are going to get upset about people doing a kind of arbitrage pricing. Enough other people have ranted about that.

    A more interesting point is the positive opportunity this offers for camera manufacturers. Who will be first to ship a programmable and hackable camera, with at least partially open source firmware?

    I don't think it's such a crazy idea. There is a fair degree of overlap between digital camera buyers and programmers, or at least people likely to have access to programmers. A pro photographer or press agency might well want to invest a couple of days of programmer time to add some feature they really need. I'm imagining something like the old HP programmable calculators.

    There are some ugly edges in the UI of my Minolta camera. It's a great camera in many ways, and the problems are perhaps not serious enough to warrant an official patch from Minolta. But they could be fixed purely in software, and if it were reasonably easy to change it I might do it myself.

    There are a few issues you'd need to sort out: hopefully the software shouldn't be able to physically damage the camera, and there needs to be some way to easily get back to the default if you screw it up. I don't think those are impossible to overcome.

    What could you add?

    - rebind keys to suit the features you most often use

    - digital effects on the camera, such as multiple-exposure

    - capture coordinates from a GPS or notes from a PDA by bluetooth

    - better downsampling

    - Probably many more I haven't thought of yet. Look at all the diverse things people have done with Palm devices or MP3 players.

    The potential of programmable devices is much larger than even the best hardcoded device.
  • by Foo2rama ( 755806 ) on Wednesday June 02, 2004 @01:38AM (#9312085) Homepage Journal
    Some of the stuff in this thread is just insane. And far and beyond normal idiocy.

    1.Since this camera was announced we knew it would be hacked it was just a matter of time.

    2.Canon knew it would be hacked.

    3.If you only knew how many times products are crippled/disabled and priced lower so that high end stuff still sells? anyone remember 3.5 single sided floppies? Companies do what is in there own best interest.. err in the stockholders best interest. Do some of you really think Canon is doing this to pull one over on you? No they are doing what will make the most money for their shareholders.

    4.I think the anaology to overclocking is not valid. Chips are clocked at set speeds becuase they are stable at that speed, If AMD/Intel sold the 2.4 rated chip as a 3.0 which it is in some cases IDENTICAL, people would complain since the 2.4 rated chips can't really handle those speeds and crash. AMD and Intel love overclockers cuz they buy more chips then anyone else, since they fry things all the time.

    5.All in all this will not really affect 10d sales, for all the reasons listed above, stability, ability to interface with higher end equipment, better case, higher quality parts, and certain features that the 300d can't so at all.

    6.300d sales will go up since this just became the geek camera of the year.

    Also on a side note no one has mentioned that people have been hacking the Canon lenses to get more f-stops and zoom out of them for awhile. Canon restricts some lenses since the quality becomes adversly affected at min and max. So some people have removed the stops and taken the quality hit for more versitility.
  • by sakusha ( 441986 ) on Wednesday June 02, 2004 @01:58AM (#9312165)
    Software hacks and the price differential of a few hundred bucks are fairly irrelevant when the camera's power can really only be unleashed with pro lenses costing $1500 or $2000 (and up) rather than the cheap crap lens that comes with a stock Rebel unit. It's not uncommon for a serious photog to have tens of thousands of bucks invested in lenses. Do you really think that this sort of pro would balk at the 10D's price and get a hacked Rebel instead?
    • I know a couple of pro (and semi-pro) photographers, and most of them own a 300D (the Digital Rebel) as well. Why? For backup, or to have a cheaper camera to go out with. The 300D is attractive for this because it is compatible with their L-Series lenses.

      I decided to get a 300D on their reccomendation when I decided to get more serious about photography. It was the cheapest, easist way to get into the Canon lens system.
  • by cbreaker ( 561297 ) on Wednesday June 02, 2004 @02:04AM (#9312200) Journal
    Often times it's cheaper for a manufacturer to do this.

    I mean, they've already got production on the higher end model. It's a professional unit and is in line with competition prices.

    So, they swap out some metal with plastic, remove some features in software, and sell the camera for a lower priced segment.

    It's likely that they wouldn't have been able to do that at all if they had to design a whole new unit from the ground up for the lower market segment. It would have been too expensive for all the R&D and the new production line. In the end, the new lower cost model would have cost too much.

    So what would you rather have? An inexpensive camera mostly based from a high end model or a low end camera built from the ground up and costs more with less quality parts?

    I think it's an acceptable practice and it works out for the consumer in the end. Better product and less money.

  • Still not a 10D (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Chroneos ( 545099 ) on Wednesday June 02, 2004 @02:09AM (#9312232) Homepage
    There are a few inaccuracies I see in that piece, first of all the 10D isn't professionally-oriented, the 1D-series is. The 10D is more oriented for the rich consumer or the poor/aspiring professional.

    I also bought my 10D for reasons more than software/firmware capabilities. I knew the 300D (Digital Rebel) was crippled in some ways, including focus modes, but I still prefer the 10D for its overall build quality, the 10D has a magnesium-alloy body as opposed to the 300D's plastic body.

    Other issues include the 300D's increased "mirror slap" which can cause some camera shake, not good for those long exposures. Also a slower shutter time and longer viewfinder blackout time.

    This isn't to say the 300D isn't a good body, it's going to do wonders for those aspiring pros who can't quite afford higher end gear yet, but it still isn't a 10D.

  • Nikon, too (Score:3, Interesting)

    by BenEnglishAtHome ( 449670 ) on Wednesday June 02, 2004 @08:28AM (#9313418)
    Oddly enough, I was thinking about this topic just this morning. My Nikon F5 was worth the multi-kilobuck price tag because it was built like a tank. It'll last for thousands and thousands of rolls of film. But it won't take any better pictures than the cheapest 35mm that Nikon makes.

    Pros have always accepted this. A good photographer can take a cheap camera and turn out the same wonderful work he can do with an expensive camera. The difference is that the more expensive camera makes things more convenient and is built better to last longer under the rough conditions pros must endure.

    That's why pro cameras are more expensive. They don't *really* have any secret technology that makes better pictures. They're just tougher and more capable of accomplishing a given task more readily under deadline.

    But digital changes all that.

    When the Nikon D70 appeared, Nikon officially said it wouldn't replace the prosumer D100. However, the D100 immediately dropped out of the sales catalog of several large camera vendors. They know that the cheaper camera will cannibalize the sales of the more expensive one because the cheaper camera, while probably less well built and slightly less convenient, has better image capturing hardware and software. And that's the one thing that will make a pro change cameras faster than you change your shirt; Show 'em something that takes better prictures and everything else be damned, they'll go for the better output quality.

    So if you're a pro and you're shooting digital, what do you do? Stick with the better made, more convenient pro cameras? Or just buy the latest cheap thing because it has more megapixels and better quality? The answer is that better quality almost always wins. (Yes, in some situations speed is important and pros will use a lower megazixel count if they get faster shutter response, but that is becoming less and less of an issue every day. Consequently, the Nikon D1 series that was built to capitalize on that need is being marginalized.)

    Now, with film, output quality was a constant and pretty static, to boot. Therefore, it made sense for pros to get a camera built to last forever and paying through the nose for it was no big deal. With digital, though, the camera that will be introduced next year will have better image quality than whatever you're holding in your hands now. So what's the point of paying for high-quality construction made to last 20 years? You're gonna wanna dump your camera in two years, tops, to get the better image quality of the new gear.

    This turns the whole professional camera selection criteria on its ear. I predict that "pro" digital cameras will soon come to be treated by their users as virtually disposable, something to be used hard for a year and then upgraded. When that happens, pros won't want to pay as much so they'll just buy one more spare than usual.

    In the future, cameras will come to be treated as what they have become: computers. The pro photo industry has always taken great pride in their well-built cameras that were made to last a lifetime. (Hell, I still love my Nikon F.) That attitude arose because mechanical refinement was the only market differentiator when everyone uses the same film and gets close to the same output quality. But now digital has changed the rate of change. Now cameras will be obsoleted in months instead of decades. How will the industry adapt? How willing will pros be to give up the snob appeal of their ridiculously expensive cameras and use the same equipment as regular folks? Or will they be so wedded to the need to pay extra money for prestige brands and models that they will continue to pony up big bucks for ridiculously small differences between models?

    These are highly interesting times in the photo world. I'm not willing to predict the death of the pro camera, but I predict the pro digital camera of the future will be far close to the what regular consumers use than has previously been the case. And that's a big change.
  • by Junks Jerzey ( 54586 ) on Wednesday June 02, 2004 @10:35AM (#9314525)
    Consider Borland's once-flagship product Delphi. You used to be able to buy the standard edition for ~$70 and the professional edition for ~$500. The pro version included some more stuff in it, but it didn't matter for the vast majority of development. Naturally, the $70 product became popular among hobbyist programmers.

    Then Borland went and changed the license of the standard edition to prohibit using it for commercial purposes. You couldn't sell software written with it. You couldn't even use it for internal software development at a place of business. They changed the name from "standard" to "personal." At the same time, the upped the price of the professional edition from $500 to over $1000.

    Other than the license change, the sofware was the same. But in doing so, you had to pay an additional $930, essentially killing the Delphi hobbyist market.
  • by lazn ( 202878 ) on Wednesday June 02, 2004 @12:08PM (#9315613)
    My parents VCR that they purchased in 1987 was a cheaper model minus some features of the top of the line VCR. Well my Dad, being the kid of guy he is took it apart for some reason that I no longer remember, and inside found a hidden switch and after moving it, it became the higher end model. We even went and purchased a "replacement" remote for the better model to make some of the new features easier to use.


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