Masahiro Yoshie
Previous Head of Photography Publishing Dept.
Asahi Newspaper Company

I went to have a look at a digital camera. The Canon EOS, DCS-1. It's the most expensive 35mm digital camera. The CCD has become much bigger and there isn't the 35mm film's 24x36mm area but it is the same as the film area of the popular APS camera. According to the demo explanation, just making the CCD was very difficult and apparently out of the 1000 produced, only 1 passed as a product to be sold. For this reason, this digital camera that prides itself on the great picture quality, has a steep price of 360,0000 yen.?

The image it gives is great, and it's very hard to tell the difference between it and a photograph taken by a film scanner using 35 mm film. It's just a shame that you cannot take continuous photographs because you have to store each on a hard disc, and it also takes a lot of batteries. In the demo they recommended using the AC power supply. Digital cameras are apparently becoming the 'in thing'. And this is why the popular camera quality has become slightly better. When Canon releases its new 570000 picture image 'Power Shot 600', Olympus will release its 810000 picture image camera that has the same kind of public appraisal. The time has come where we can use a good digital camera with a low value.

Not focussing on the subject of digital cameras, I thought about writing on camera prices. The Nikon F5 which will be released in October has already become notorious with the shutter speed that can be put on the digital function from the Analogue Dial function is not a usual feature of Canons. And they have adopted many other features which when comparing it to the F4, of course the new machine with its functions, make it a superior machine. But the thing which everyone is talking about is its price. Just for the camera body, it has a price tag of 325000 yen. The F4's popular E model was 26 2000, so it's a 30% price increase. I really have to sigh and say it is really expensive! Probably the others will put their prices up, but how does it compare to the rest?

The Spi Gra. Its real name is the 'Speed Graphic'. It was a camera that proved a popular camera for news journalists collecting material, in the second half of 1946 following after the war. The reason why it became so popular was because it was a camera that American photographers (from the country that defeated Japan in the war) used so it seemed so great. Freeing anti-US feelings, it became a popular object of american culture that most people admired. But this wasn't the only reason people started to acquire this camera, it was a camera that compared to other cameras, had a larger capacity. Explaining it in more detail, the camera which used 4x5 film (10cmx12cm) had accordion like folds on its camera body. The lens which was attached to the shutter was a 127mm to 135 mm lens. Even though it was quite a lge type camera, a range finder (distance meter) was attached. Apart from the lens shutter, a 1/1000 focal plain shutter was also attached. The finder used both the optic aspect and the frame finder ideas. Really the reason why the 'Spigura' got such a good name, was because of its sturdy body and its stationary flashgun. In a time where strobes (speedlights) were still not used, also night photography etc, this camera had new functions which others didn't.

Taking a quick look, it seems as if it was thought of highly, but it didn't have an outstanding feeling. Because of the Ektar 127 mm's clarity and well-renowned lens, it was natural that news journalists wanted to use this camera. Defeated in the war and destitute country Japan, it didn't get imported goods easily. Every newspaper company had a lot of difficulties in getting this camera. I entered the Publishing Dept of the Asahi Newspaper Company in 1964 and for a while after entering the company, I was given an old 'Spigura' and told to take my work with that.

It really was an old camera and I noticed when everyone met in the materials room, all the other cameras that the other photographers were using, were nothing like the one I was using. However the more I used it, the more attached to it I became. It became a precious camera for me as it took good photos. Around that time, a co worker bought a new 'SpiGra' for 280000 yen. He was the only cameraman in the company to own a Spigra so while his name was becoming familiar around the office, I was really amazed at the costliness of his Spigra. It was the time which the monthly salary was 10000yen. Thinking back to the prices of the day, 1964 it cost 9200 yen which was about the first pay of a government servant. The monthly salary still hadn't reached the 10000yen mark. I don't know if the commodity prices had reached a standard price, but in 1965 one cup of coffee cost about 50 yen. So when you think about this, cameras really haven't gone up alot at all.

When talking aboutthe prices of cameras, the story of being able to buy one per household before the war always is a conversation piece. But other questions like were other ones cheaper? Were cameras expensive? I really don't know...When you think about it, we can't really simply say because there's nothing to compare the 3600000 yen EOS DCS-1 with in those days, but the 320000 yen Nikon F5 is not so.