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|| News Item: Posted 2007-04-25

Batteries Not Included: #100: The First 100 Newsletters
By Zach Honig, University of Missouri

This issue marks a milestone for the Sports Shooter newsletter. The way we take pictures and the tools we have at our disposal have seen significant change since the first newsletter hit inboxes worldwide more than 8 years ago. The first product mentioned in the Sports Shooter newsletter was an "improved 800 speed color neg film" from Eastman Kodak. It's 2007, and I can't even remember the last time I loaded a roll.

I've gone through the archives, every issue, and complied a list of the latest and greatest from yesteryear. You'll be amazed at how drastic the change has been in only eight years - I know I was.

Issue 2.1: 21 Sept 1998
EOS3 Causes Stir
USA Today Photographer Robert Deutsch was able to get his hands on the latest Canon SLR - the EOS-3. The camera shoots at 7 fps and includes such revolutionary features as that "eye-tracking thing" and a 45-point auto-focus system. It was a steal with an MSRP of $1499.

Issue 4: 5 Dec 1998
Nikon Announces New Camera
Ten weeks after the first mention of Canon's EOS3, the Sports Shooter Newsletter introduced the Nikon F100 was announced in the fourth issue of the Sports Shooter Newsletter. This film SLR shoots at 5 fps and has a 5-point auto-focus system. Early adopters took one home for $1299.

Issue 5: 4 Feb 1999
Geek Corner
In this issue's Geek Corner column, the Big Kahuna mentions a new digital body that was demoed a few days before at Super Bowl XXIII in Miami. The 2 megapixel, 3.5lb Kodak DCS 620 was based on the Nikon F5 film body and carried a suggested retail price of just over $10,000. AP Photographer Eric Draper reviewed the DCS 620 in the following issue.

Issue 7: 8 Apr 1999
Gearheads Unite!
Bruce Kwitny of Roberts Distributors announced that Nikon's new 28-70 f/2.8 lens would be shipping later that month for $1399.

Issue 10: 21 July 1999
Geek Corner
Bert adds to the rumor pool with a blurb about the recently announced Nikon D1. The 2.7 megapixel camera was revolutionary for its day, with a retail price of approximately $5,000. Nikon's announcement also resulted in price drops on Kodak's DSLR bodies.

Issue 13: 22 Oct 1999
Geek Corner
USA Today's Michael Schwartz spreads the word about the 900 MHz IBM Cordless Computer Connection. Before the days of WiFi - if you wanted to visit a website or down an entire pot of coffee while waiting for a single image to transfer- chances are you were tethered to a phone jack. IBM had the solution - as Schwartz describes the device, "It's like a cordless phone for your modem."

Issue 14: 15 Nov 1999
Gear Corner
Penn Camera's Jeff Snyder shares some exciting news for photographers who find their 20MB compact flash cards filling up too quickly. Lexar announced their 10x 160MB compact flash card. The price: $799. The card began shipping the following year.

Issue 17: 23 Feb 2000
Road Warrior: The Next Generation of Cell Phones
Remember the last time you carried a PDA and a cell phone? I don't either. "Mongo" made his way out to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to report on a device one would only expected to have seen in a 007 movie. Qualcomm's pdQ cell phone combined all the features of a Palm handheld with a CDMA (14.4 kbps) cell phone - all in one, rather large, handheld device. At 1.5 inches thick and 10 ounces, I don't think I would have enjoyed carrying this thing around in my pocket. MSRP: $799.

Issue 21: 28 June 2000
Round 2: Using Airport for Remote Cameras
USA Today Photographer Robert Deutsch tells the story of how he used an Apple Airport base station and two Apple PowerBooks to send images from a Kodak DCS 520 mounted in the catwalk of Conesco Field House in Indiana to the pressroom in real time during the NBA Finals. In 2000, this was mind-blowingly awesome - today - still pretty cool.

Issue 23: 28 Aug 2000
Here Comes Canon, Finally!
It's Q3 Y2K - 3.25 megapixels - I'm dreaming, right? Bert had an opportunity to play with a pre-release model of Canon's new D30 at the 2000 Democratic National Convention. With 10MB Raw files you could squeeze about 15 images onto your $799 160MB Lexar CF card. The D30 was comparatively reasonably priced at about $3,000. For those on a tight budget, Jody Grober listed the 2 megapixel Canon S100 Digital Elph for $639 - but that price includes a 32MB CF card!

Issue 26: 20 Dec 2000
Road Warrior: Lost on the Road? Find Your Way
Mongo returns to share his knowledge of GPS navigation equipment. Though handheld GPS devices wouldn't become popular for a few years to come, Mongo recommends software titles that, when used in conjunction with a laptop computer and GPS module, provide such functionality as voice recognition and audible driving directions.

Issue 27: 23 Jan 2001
Show Me the Light: lighting with the Canon 550EX flashes
Vincent Laforet provides information that any photographer would find priceless. Laforet, who previously shot with Nikon equipment, uses helpful diagrams to demonstrate how he achieved very cool results using two Canon 550EX flashes. "The results are stunning and have turned me into an instant convert." To add to the cool factor - you can see your results without ever entering the darkroom!

Issue 29: 30 Mar 2001
Look Ma! No Wires!
Vincent Laforet, though absent from issue 28, returns the following month with a review of Metricom's Ricochet service. Although using a cell phone modem to transmit photographs wasn't a brand new concept in 2001, the speeds Laforet achieved with the Ricochet modem would be considered acceptable even by today's standards. And at $70 per month for unlimited access, pricing was comparable to similar services today. At publication time, Ricochet was only available in a handful of cities.

Issue 33: 27 July 2001
Hands On With the New Nikon D1X
And just when it looked like things couldn't get any better - Jackson Hole News Photographer Lucas Gilman shares his first impressions of Nikon's new $6000 6 megapixel digital SLR. New features included the ability to select between sRGB and Adobe 1998 color spaces and the "auto chimp mode" which provided an instant thumbnail image on the camera's LCD. Gilman was impressed, "What will they think of next? I don't honestly know. It could be a microchip planted into your upper Medulla Oblongata linked to your retina, constantly uploading 300 frames per second via satellite to your friendly photo editor back at the office." Yeah - the D1X is just that cool.

Issue 35: 28 Sept 2001
It's Here! A Hands-On Look at the New Canon 1D
Nearly 6 years old, I continue to shoot with Canon's 1D on occasion. I'm still impressed by the image quality and 8fps - and with the 1D Mark III on the horizon, you just can't beat the price. USA Today's Bob Deutsch got his hands on an early model. Some cool features included virtually no shutter lag, 8fps, RAW+JPG, 1/500 flash sync speed, 45-point auto-focus and "tons of user adjustable settings." With a suggested retail price of $6,499, this college student would have only been able to dream. Used 1D bodies are now popping up in the classifieds for about 10 percent of the original cost.

Issue 40: 1 Mar 2002
Penn Camera's News & Notes
Jeff Snyder provides a roundup of the latest offerings from Nikon and Canon. In 2002, the 6 megapixel Nikon D100 cost $1,999. Canon announced a 6 megapixel camera of their own, the D60, with a retail price of $2,199. For those shelling out the big bucks for a Canon 1D, the wait was several months long. Good news though in the compact flash department - a 256MB card can be had for the low price of $139.95. The new 1GB Lexar card was available but pricing isn't clear.

Issue 41: 30 Mar 2002
Early Spring Specials From Roberts
Jody Grober adds some new toys to the box in this issue. The Nixvue Vista (not to be confused with the Windoze product) is a 20GB external portable hard disk drive with LCD screen that allows users to dump images from their compact flash cards. You get 20GB of go anywhere storage for $699, that's less than you paid for that 160MB CF card less than two years before.

Issue 45: 31 Jul 2002
It's in the Files: A D-60 Users Report
Peter Read Miller spent a month testing Canon's new six megapixel DSLR, the D-60. Features included no shutter lag, the ability to zoom in on an image in review mode, auto-focus point confirmation and an 8-frame 3.3 fps burst mode. The camera, which first appeared in issue 45, retailed for $2,199 and included a battery, charger and DC kit.

Issue 47: 1 Oct 2002
The Wireless Way
The Salt Lake Tribune's Trent Nelson shares a speedier and more cost effective alternative to Ricochet's cellular data network. Verizon's Express Network offers a $99/month unlimited usage plan that allows for image transmission at moderate speeds - fast enough to transmit a 500K photo in about 20 seconds. Transmission speeds have seen little improvement in nearly five years. It's 2007, and I've still never been able to transmit a photo in 20 seconds using Cingular/AT&T's EDGE network!

Issue 49: 10 Dec 2002
Road Warrior: Annual Holiday Gift Guide
The annual holiday gift guide is a great place to look for the top tech toys of the past. What could you expect to find in a stocking stuffed in 2002? Mongo focuses on music for this issue, suggesting the iRock wireless FM transmitter and 20GB 1st generation Apple iPod for about 500 bucks. Also mentioned are a Linksys 802.11b wireless card and 128MB Lexar JumpDrive for $75.95.

Issue 52: 2 Mar 2003
Snowy Specials from Penn Camera
In this winter edition of Penn Camera's monthly gear roundup, Jeff Snyder begins taking orders for Canon's new 10D digital SLR, replacing the 6 megapixel D60. Though the 10D doesn't offer a higher resolution than the D60, it does feature significant improvements including a superior CMOS sensor, frame rate, additional auto focus points, enhanced chimping capabilities and more white balance options.

Issue 53: 1 Apr 2003
Go Totally Wireless!
No, it's not time for an 802.11b transmitter just yet, but commercial photographer Lorenzo E. Gasperini reviews LPA Design's built-in PocketWizard for Nikon's D1 series bodies. The device, which requires a $300 body modification, enables all the features of a PocketWizard MultiMax without the bulky receiver and pesky cables. The device allows you to transmit or receive with 1,000-foot range thanks to a relatively small external antenna that connects to the Nikon's PC socket.

Issue 62: 31 Dec 2003
Winter Specials from Roberts Distributors
Jody Grober lists his monthly specials in this New Years' Eve issue of the newsletter. In addition to the much anticipated Nikon D2H and 10.5mm lens, prices continue to fall on SanDisk and Lexar CF cards. A 1GB SanDisk Extreme costs $285 after a $40 rebate and Lexar's equivalent can be had for $259. At the low end a 512MB card will run you $159 and a top of the line 2GB card costs just over $500.

Issue 63: 29 Jan 2004
Digital Darkroom Notes and the Best Gadget Ever
Along with the second installment of his Digital Darkroom Notes, New York Times Photographer Vincent Laforet shares what he describes as the "best gadget I've bought this year," the Garmin iQue3600, a combination GPS receiver and Palm PDA. In 2007, a TomTom would put this baby to shame, but with the ability to store maps of essential metro areas on a single 256MB SD card and sporting audible turn-by-turn directions, this thing is pretty cool. You would have spent about $600 for the device, SD card and car mount.

Issue 73: 16 Dec 2004
Hands on with the Canon 20D
Bert shares his love of Canon's new 8.2 megapixel digital SLR. What will $1500 buy you as compared to Canon's 10D? In addition to the higher resolution sensor, the 20D brought an additional 2 auto focus points and nearly two additional frames per second with a 23-frame buffer. Despite all the great features of the 20D, Bert seems hesitant to recommend the body to shooters more familiar with a pro-level model.

Issue 76: 5 Mar 2005
First look: Canon WFT-E1a Wireless File Transmitter
USA Today Staff Photographer Robert Deutsch reviews Canon's 802.11b/g wireless transmitter. The device allows its user to transmit images directly to an FTP server or nearby laptop with a range just shy of 300 feet. Though the device can be finicky if not properly configured, Deutsch was generally very pleased with its performance.

Issue 79: 31 May 2005
Hands on with Nikon's New D2X
Andrew Tucker of the Augusta Chronicle got lucky during the 2005 Masters Tournament. Not only was he able to capture an awesome frame of Tiger Woods celebrating a win, he was able to do so with a Nikon D2X. Nikon supplied Tucker's paper with a 12.4 megapixel D2X prior to the Masters Tournament. Some of the coolest features: a 34.9 meg file, improved image quality at high ISOs, and a unique high-speed crop mode.

Issue 80: 5 Jul 2005
Fighting Noise, Transmitting PDAs and Storage in your Pocket
Vincent Laforet shares a few tools of the trade. Noise Ninja, a Photoshop plug-in, allows photographers to remove noise from high ISO images in post-production. The product works quite well and also applies sharpening if necessary. Pair an HP Ipaq with Pocket Phojo and you have a pocket-sized wireless editing machine. The device will also work with wireless data transfer devices on Canon or Nikon bodies allowing you to essentially transmit directly from the camera. Finally, the Epson P-2000 allows its user to download images from CF cards directly to the device's internal storage.

Issue 86: 22 Dec 2005
Canon 5D Users Report
USA Today contract photographer Dan MacMedan was able to get his hands on Canon's new 5D digital SLR. As a "Mark II guy," the first thing he noticed was how much lighter the 5D is compared to what he's usually shooting with. The 12.8 megapixel marvel shoots at 3 fps and features a full frame sensor, 2.5" LCD and fantastic image quality at high ISOs. In 2005, this baby wasn't cheap - I wish I could have afforded the $3300 ticket price.

Issue 87: 25 Jan 2006
Apple Slices: Macworld 2006
Each year, hundreds of new products are released at Macworld San Francisco, with Apple's offerings always at the center of attention. Darrell Miho was fortunate enough to have gone to the Macworld Expo where the hot item was Intel's new Core Duo processor and the Apple computers it powered. Apple's switching to Intel? As exciting as it was for most, photographers saw little initial benefit, as essential programs were not yet able to run natively on Intel's hot new chip. Other observations: lots of cool iPod stuff and EVDO, providing faster wireless broadband access.

Issue 92: 3 Jul 2006
Putting the Multi in Your Media for On-Line Galleries
Nhat Meyer of the San Jose Mercury News shares his experiences in one of the newsletter's first articles dedicated to multimedia. At the time, Meyer had produced 23 slideshows. He used an M-Audio recorder for sound, Audacity and Apple's GarageBand to edit audio, and SoundSlides to put it all together on a PowerBook G4.

Issue 93: 31 Jul 2006
The Photographer's Toybox: Nikon D2Xs User's Report
Southern California freelance photographer Matt Brown is a Nikon guy through and through. Until the release of Nikon's new D2Xs body, his favorite camera recorded on film - the Nikon F5. The D2Xs brings several improvements over the D2X: a viewfinder mask in high-speed crop mode, improved LCD and auto focus performance.

Though we haven't seen much change since the release of Nikon's D2Xs, I'd be on the lookout for Canon's new 10fps, 10 megapixel EOS 1D Mark III digital SLR. I had an opportunity to play around with a pre-production Mark III at SSA IV earlier this month in Irvine, Ca. The Mark III is absolutely incredible - my jaw dropped the first time I heard the motor drive fire off 10 frames per second. One of my favorite features is the live LCD preview. Though auto focus is not operational while using live view, it's easy to focus manually by zooming in on a pre-selected focal point using the 3-inch LCD. Image quality is great at ISO 3200 and even at ISO 6400. The Mark III is an amazing piece of equipment - spend 30 seconds with this thing and you'll be sold.

What news will the next 100 issues bring? What will be shooting with another 8 years down the road? Will we still be shooting stills or pulling frames from high-def video? Just when you thought technology hit its peak, someone comes up with another reason to sell your extra kidney. It's a scary world out there - I'm confident that I have no idea what the future will bring. What will they think of next?

(New Jersey [exit 4] native Zach Honig is a tech-obsessed journalism student at the University of Missouri. When he's not shooting or writing he's building hours towards his commercial pilot's license. You can check out his work at: and at his personal website:

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