Saluting General Specific (Canon 20Da)

So, I find this camera fascinating. Not for it’s specific features, but more for what it represents and means. Here is a camera, based on a popular DSLR, that just by tweaking a few things could target the fairly specific needs of an not-very-large target market. Now, if you read the reviews of the camera on the general photography sites, you might not understand how neat this camera is. But if you know someone who does astrophotography as a hobby (like my father), you would know different.

The review here can be helpful in understanding part of why this camera is so interesting. With the capability of taking images nearly as good as sensors costing 4 times as much, it’s quite a bargin. But that’s only the beginning. Because, you see, with those other sensors, you have to have a tethered laptop with you. Not only that, the images are stored in a proprietary file format that has some, well, annoying software that you have to use. I actually tried to help my father with some processing one evening and was tearing my hair out by the end of it. (Though, if you’re lucky, you can get the files into FITS format, in which case the FITS Liberator is your friend). Now, if you are picky enough to know that you just don’t want to deal with Bayer filter geometrical artifacts, those more expensive solutions are probably still for you. But for most, it is a hobby, and like most hobbies, you never get to spend enough time at it, and anything like the 20Da that saves you that much time and lets you have more fun is worth it.

What is interesting to me is that a large company such as Canon would not only stumble into having a general camera such as the 20D that had some nice properties for this hobby, but they would actually listen to their customers and add the now incremental improvements to create the market specific 20Da – and then listen a second time and make the camera available worldwide after a Japan-only initial release.

I think that’s kinda cool.

3 Responses to Saluting General Specific (Canon 20Da)

  1. Scott,Great post. As another 20d owner, I have been consistently impressed with the platform, so much so that we are beginning to think about using it for scientific imaging. Which brings me to my point: Given that so many of us spend our lives in Photoshop, using it for preparation (and analysis) of our data, I would like to encourage the folks at Adobe to start paying more attention to the scientific imaging market. All of the tools are present in Photoshop to do very specific things, it is mostly just an interface issue. i.e. getting access to custom filters, exporting histograms etc….This is something that I’ve talked in the past with a couple folks there about including J. Peterson and C. Cox and even got a call a couple of years ago from one of your product managers doing some research. But nothing has ever come of this. Why?Best regards,

  2. Scott Byer says:

    How about we rephase it as “nothing visible has yet turned up”? Much as Canon stumbled into figuring out that they produced a product that was useful to a niche market with just a couple of tweaks, Adobe Photoshop is finding itself in the same position. Keep encouraging us, and I think you’ll find that we are, indeed listening – it sometimes can take a while for that to make it’s way out into a product.

  3. Good to hear Scott. If I may, I’d like to point out how important Photoshop has become to folks in the sciences, many of whom especially in the biosciences are beginning to discover digital imaging in a big way. The scientific imaging market is more than a niche market and an application like Photoshop tweaked for our needs would prove to be a big seller. Like I said in a blog post back in 2002, “Adobe has done an admirable job of hiding the mathematics and complexity of image analysis from the non-technical user and created a software package that allows the graphic artist to import, modify and enhance images. In fact, most scientists I know are also quite proficient Photoshop power-users as Photoshop has become a de facto standard for many of us to create and layout images for publication.”I should also reinforce the fact that a number of us are also using it for analysis of our data. Simple additions to Photoshop that would make it an even better platform would be access to the filters for custom design, better image math interface/accessibility, access to histogram data, more robust image mosaicing and precise image registration would also be nice features. I know this functionality exists in Photoshop already, it’s just getting access to them in the appropriate manner.