PRESS REPORTS ON NiCOMM PRODUCTS:
The following is a report on the NiCOMM products in c't Magazine...
ARTICLE: Image on wire (Bild am Draht)
Modern electronic "analogue" 35mm cameras have more features than their users generally realise. For example, Nikon's semi-professional F90X camera and the professional F5 can store information of up to 99 films. This is necessary for pros and amateurs wanting to record details about their shots, without reaching for their notepads.
All one would need to read such data is a camera, a computer, a program and a cable. In the other data direction the user can control his camera remotely, and customise his camera's settings. Until recently only the F90/X together with the Sharp Electronic Organizer (8000 and 9000 series) offered the user such functionality. This system is obsolete now.
The next generation idea was to connect the camera directly through a special cable to the serial port of a PC or notebook. This was done by Nikon's Photo Secretary application program, which is available in two versions, one for the F5 and another for the F90/X. Photo Secretary for F5 is also available for the Mac computer. Together with this application program comes a special cable to convert the RS-232 levels to that of the camera's interface. This cable is not available in Germany.
If you can find such a cable, i.e. from the USA, you can also get such functionality of Photo Secretary at a lower cost. Through the Internet we found on Compuserve a shareware program Optn90s from Dean Gibson, and the freeware program SoftTALK from Jaco Mostert. Both DOS applications only support the F90X camera. A new 32-bit Windows version of SoftTALK (now shareware) will be available in the German language in a couple of weeks. Versions for the F90 and F5 are in preparation. Since SoftTALK will be interesting for the German market, we have looked at both SoftTALK and Photo Secretary. Apart from the mentioned download, the following features are also available on both programs:
Exposure date and time are not stored in the camera, even if you have the MF-26 multi-control data back. Date and time can only be recorded on film.
Before the camera will store any data, the option must first be switched on using any of the three mentioned programs. These programs store aperture, shutter speed, program mode, manually selected exposure compensation and focal length. The exact focal length of zoom lenses is stored. This data is stored under a pre-selected, auto-incremented film number, in a delimited text file. The delimiting character is user defined. After downloading the film number can be adjusted manually, should the film start with frame number 0, and with Photo Secretary it is also possible to add comments. The download can be performed at any time, but the Nikon program does not load the data of a partially exposed film. Films need to be rewound before a download will be performed.
The special camera functions such as setting up a new program curve will be rather difficult for most German photographers, because of the absence of German instructions. According to Nikon, a German version of Photo Explorer is not planned. We fail to understand the long delay times we have measured controlling the camera from remote. From pressing "Fire" to camera operation takes about six seconds.
SoftTALK does not have some of the limit programs allow user defined fields, they do not allow importing data to these fields. Such functionality we have only found in Ulead PhotoImpact-Album. The user selects SoftTALK or Photo Secretary data files, converts and saves the data fields once. The program then transfers the data fields into the photo album in the correct sequence.
PC-Camera Connectivity Products
ERRATA, ADDED BY COCOON Creations, 7 FEB 98
Nikon (and presumably F90, N90, F90X, N90S and F5) are registered trademarks of Nikon Inc. and Nikon Corporation Japan.