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Author Topic: Nikon - Good cameras and lenses, dumb company!  (Read 10715 times)
DiaAzul
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« Reply #20 on: April 23, 2005, 01:36:16 PM »
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The new Adobe standard - DNG - is a slightly crippled, proprietary TIFF.  (TIFF = "Tagged Image File Format", not "Tagged Image Format").  The "TIFF" we usually refer to is a variant of TIFF usually known as TIFF RGB.  DNG doesn't support nearly as many bits per channel as does TIFF, for instance, so if you want to have another format than RAW for your image data, perhaps saving to TIFF RGB isn't such a bad idea after all.
That's not quite true - DNG is an extension of TIFF not a crippling of TIFF. The second paragraph of section three defines bits per sample and states that bits per sample can be anything from 1-32bits. This exceeds most RAW formats at the moment which are currently up to 16bits (eg Canon RAW format).

Calling DNG a proprietary format misses the contribution that Adobe is trying to make to the photographic community. They are offering it as a potential solution for the benefit of all and have even offered to transfer the specification to an international standards body if that will speed adoption of a common format.

There is another misconception to the DNG argument, which is that manufacturers are tied into a specification which they cannot extend or customise to their own needs. This is not true, and most manufacturers already extend both JFIF/JPEG and TIFF files with custom extensions (most of which are not documented). It is not just the RAW files which are undocumented by camera manufacturers, but all file types where they stuff in custom information which is difficult to decode without access to the original specifications.

Nikon is the current target for Photographers frustrations to a much larger problem which is that manufacturers are not supporting open formats for RAW files and/or documenting how information is currently being stored. This has been a long running issue, it's just at this point in time Nikon provided a specific opportunity for eveyone to express their point of view.
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David Plummer    http://photo.tanzo.org/
Rob C
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« Reply #21 on: April 24, 2005, 12:20:34 PM »
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Hi

Colons: let's just irrigate them; hang them out to dry.

Cheers

Rob C
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didger
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« Reply #22 on: April 23, 2005, 03:23:08 AM »
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Nikon needs to learn THE cardinal rule of selling (any thing any place any time):  THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT.  This is true even if the customer is logically and/or legally dead wrong.  In this case I favor the logic of giving the customer more choice rather than less and of the benefits to everyone for a more open situation, but my "logic" per se is not the important issue for Nikon survival.  The real issue is that if (right or wrong) enough Nikon customers and potential customers get pissed enough Nikon will die.  Their tombstone may read "We Were Right", but they'll be just as dead.  No points for being dead right.

Kinda like a pedestrian letting himself get run over by a truck because he had the legal right of way.  Yoohoo, Nikon, do you not see the truck bearing down on you?
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DiaAzul
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« Reply #23 on: April 25, 2005, 06:34:22 PM »
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Nikon has perpetuated a hostile act against their customers...and thus they should not wonder why they have been lambasted (and will continue to be, to the point of switching to other camera manufacturers) for it.
The only thing that Nikon has done is get in the line of fire at the point in time that photographers of any manufacturer have found an opportunity to vent their frustrations about the lack of open standards for the RAW format and the inherent risk this means for loosing images to an unsupported file format.

Before using this as the excuse to switch manufacturers bear in mind that no-one is guilt free when it comes to proprietary formats and hiding information in maker notes. I am not trying to absolve Nikon for their current predicement, but I don't believe that they are any better or worse than anyone else. They still make #### good cameras and long may that continue.
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David Plummer    http://photo.tanzo.org/
Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #24 on: April 26, 2005, 02:29:43 PM »
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The D2X and available lenses are so great, however, that I believe Nikon will weather the storm somehow.
As a Canon groupie I sincerely hope you are right. Without Nikon, we would all lose. Nikon's good stuff is so good that it makes their stupid moves all the more painful.    

Eric
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gryffyn
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« Reply #25 on: May 03, 2005, 06:08:51 PM »
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Thom Hogan has now weighed in with a review of the D2X and he does not speak well of the encrypted White Balance.

Details on his site at:

    http://www.bythom.com/d2xreview.htm

When someone with the reputation of Thom chimes in with a denouncement of Nikon's actions wrt the encryption debacle, Nikon had better start listening and fix the situation fast.
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.....Andrzej
Roy
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« Reply #26 on: April 19, 2005, 01:06:06 PM »
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I completely agree.

I'm another long-time Nikon user who sees Canon as a more and more attractive alternative. With these really stupid moves by Nikon, my thoughts of buying a D2X are now on hold.

Question is, how do we get the attention of the people who make the decisions at Nikon? It is in our interest to have a strong and healthy competitor to Canon, but Nikon doesn't seem to understand how to do it.
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Roy
Ken Tanaka
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« Reply #27 on: April 19, 2005, 02:58:24 PM »
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I am not a Nikon shooter but have respected their products for decades.  I must agree that this seems like a very bone-headed move whose significance may transcend the practical inconvenience it will precipitate.  It seems to me like a circle-the-wagons gesture made by a beleaguered product management trapped in a group-think maelstrom.

But look on the bright side.  It might just prompt Canon to embrace the DNG format, although it's hard to predict how Japanese managers will react to competitors' maneuvers.  Canon might just decide that Nikon had a good idea.
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61Dynamic
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« Reply #28 on: April 20, 2005, 10:01:56 PM »
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IMHO, Adobe is far from being all white here, and I for one find unacceptable to have to:

- get PS CS2 to gain D2X support in ACR,
- only get partial D2X .nef support because of a supposed fear of what I see as highly unlikely law suits. Was Bibble sued?
First off, you don't have to buy CS2 to get new camera support. You can convert the RAWs to DNG and then those will open in ACR 2.4.

The file browser in PS CS is nothing but bloated code. The "Bridge" is written ground up and is susposedly much quicker. That along with the additional productivity and functionality (Curves & two ACRs at a time!) improvements should make the upgrade worthwile.

Bibble hasn't been sued as far as I know but they could very well be if Nikon is so inclined. We Americans get to suffer with the absolutly poorly written abomination known as the DCMA which does nothing to protect copyrights. It instead encourages anti-competative behavior and harms fair-use rights.

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As a final comment, I find it a bit funny to read the wave of protest at a modest attempt by a camera company to lock us in the their system softwarewise, when Canon and Nikon have done all they could for years to make their systems completely closed hardwarewise... :-)

Not quite the same thing. Software and Hardware are two considerably different beasts in how they're made, how they're used and how laws apply to them. Encrypting metadata in a RAW image is not modest by any means. It's saying the equivalent of, "Part of what you created as an artist does not belong to you but if you pay us $100 we'll be nice enough to let you use it."

Oh, yeah. And the DCMA would allow Nikon to sue you if you were to break the encryption or even to use software that bypasses the encryption. If you are using Bibble to process D2x files you are breaking American law. Hopefully they're not that dumb.

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Why did Nikon make the D70 use CF cards, and now change the D50 to SD cards?

Mabye I missed something, but aside from the word "Nikon" how is this related?
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Ben Rubinstein
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« Reply #29 on: April 21, 2005, 09:39:28 AM »
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On a side point re: the D50 and SD cards, the nikon press release seems to marketing this camera very heavily to the digicam market and not to real SLR users, this might have something to do with the change.

I played with an all black canon 350D a couple of days ago at my local camera store. My first impression was: Canon have just killed their 8 megapixel Powershot pro 1. Here is a similar sized camera but with a very serious low noise sensor and interchangeable lenses. An almost pocket sized backup camera for a pro, and a serious SLR for the home user, at the same price as a lower quality digicam. (I was a bit awed at the idea of hanging that thing off the end of a 70-200IS and getting the same quality pics as a 20D).

That said, I think that the way the 350D is marketed and designed seems to be a lot more 'serious' than the press anouncment picture of the D50.
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jani
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« Reply #30 on: April 22, 2005, 04:52:23 AM »
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Here's my two cents about the Nikon NEF data question. I don't own Nikon equipment and am no expert in RAW converters, just a semi-retired software developer.

I also come from the software world, both with an academic and practical background, and I'm almost a zealot when it comes to customer and comsumer rights.

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I don't know the details first hand but from threads here and elsewhere, it sounds as if what Nikon did was to encode WB data NOT encrypt it. There is a world of difference. Encryption is a way to disguise data. They didn't disguise it, they just laid it out differently, possibly through some simple look-up table, as others have surmised. Since RAW formats are proprietary they have a right to lay out the data in the file any way they want, for whatever design reasons are important to them. Every data file on your computer is encoded in some way or other.

Disregarding that you're wrong on the encryption part, you're right about every data file being "encoded".

But this is not a good defense for Nikon.

The fact that the most popular document formats today are closed document formats mean that you, as an author or artist, have no or little control over your work.

This sounds a bit crass, but:

Microsoft controls your letters and books, and now Nikon wants to control your pictures.

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From my reading my understanding is that they would prefer if software converters use the Nikon programmer interface (SDK or API or whatever they want to call it) to access the data rather than relying on the bit by bit layout in the file. This is NOT bad system design.

Yes, this is bad system design.  It's very bad system design, because it means that when Nikon goes tits-up, their software support for the old formats is phased out, or whatever, you're stuck with a bunch of original files that you no longer can access.

Please show me the photographer who would think it was okay that all of a sudden, he couldn't review his slides or negatives anymore, because the technology to review them is legally unobtainable.

This is why enabling reverse engineering is Good, and preventing it is Bad.

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In fact, there is a lot that's good about it. For example, in future releases of this camera or others, they would have the freedom to move the data around in the file layout any way that's convenient for them, while people writing converter software could continue to use the SDK subroutine library from Nikon, without having to change their program, thereby releasing new versions, and charging us more money.

But Nikon doesn't provide an "SDK subroutine library".

And even if they did, do you think that library would be usable on Windows, MacOS, Linux, Solaris or whatever in 2048?

Who's going to maintain forward compatibility forever?

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You could make the argument that we would all be better off if all manufacturers standardized on a data retrieval interface (standard SDK) so that converters could remain more stable over time.

No, it would be better if all manufacturers used open or semi-open RAW formats, so that you wouldn't have to depend on the availability of an SDK or a specific library.

With semi-open, I mean formats that are easy to reverse-engineer, both technically and legally.

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The only thing that would change would be the underlying SDK from Nikon (or who oever). There is nothing wrong with this design strategy and from my point of view (past software developer) there is a lot going for it. Rather than castigate Nikon for doing what has been been common practice in many areas of software design, the better debate might be whether or not they should all do it this way.

The common practice sucks asteroids through straws.  It places the control over your creative works in someone else's hands.  In the software industry, it's one of the major cost-increasing factors for software maintenance and replacement.  It's the basis for vendor lock-in.
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Jan
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« Reply #31 on: April 22, 2005, 07:25:24 AM »
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It's becoming abundantly clear that Nikon is willing to sacrifice some utility and convenience to their customers for the sake of selling more of their software.  Whatever the legal ramifications of this are, it's for sure a bad move as far as good customer relations and loyalty are concerned.  The Amiga computers were as popular as they were for a long time because of incredibly good and extensive third party software and peripheral support and good co-operation from Commodore to make this possible.  These developers also did everything they could to get customer feedback to improve their products.  Nikon makes great stuff, but they seem to have their heads far up where the sun don't shine where customer relations and feedback are concerned.  This could belly-up them if they keep it up.

Commodore seems to have died for totally different reasons, mainly spending too much R&D on products that no one cared about rather than concentrating on the ones that were already working well.  Being out of touch with what your customers want just isn't good business and outright pissing your customers off is exceedingly bad business.  Yoohoo, Nikon.  :p
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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #32 on: April 22, 2005, 01:05:54 PM »
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Score one for common sense and consumer rights.
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gryffyn
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« Reply #33 on: April 22, 2005, 05:09:30 PM »
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Well, Robert, looks like you've got your SDK, at least.
Not quite...the Nikon SDK is notoriously slow (this from developers that have been using it).  3rd Party solutions are much faster typically.  And if/when Nikon stops supporting the SDK (or heaven forbid leaves the camera business)?  What then with all your archived NEF's? What about other innovative ideas on how to process the raw data, for increased speed, better colour fidelity (or alternate fidelity, like a Velvia look?).  Let the market decide what the customers want...and if you can't compete in an open market then maybe you have no business in that market.

Nikon makes good cameras and lenses, but my experience over the past 6 years is that their software, to be polite about it, leaves a lot to be desired.  And I know whereof I speak since I write software for a living.

Nikon are still defending their right to encrypt  key photographer data.  I disagree with that approach.  The press release from Nikon is just marketing hype.  They say they are doing all this for their "customers".  That's BS....their customers have spoken and universally are panning Nikon's actions.  They are not listening to their customers, who want an open standard...either a fully documented NEF or DNG will be fine.

They are selling a $5K US camera body (the D2X)....and they are getting picky about a $100 piece of software (ie. Capture)? Why....that's just 2% of the cost of the D2X and no-one just buys a body, eh?  I doubt that they even see the revenue for software on the bottom line, unless the plan is to make it even more proprietary and then charge $500 for Capture?  

Why not open up the NEF format....it will make customers happy, will foster more innovative workflow/conversion products in the marketplace, and put Canon on the defensive for a change.  Many photographers would switch back to Nikon if they were committed to an open format/standard, if their competition stayed proprietary.

Besides, the encryption has already been broken...and will continue to be so. DCMA does not apply outside of the USA, and Europe is on the verge of eliminating software patents.  Why not just face reality and keep the customers happy instead?  That is the key to success in the internet age.

My 2 cents worth.
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.....Andrzej
didger
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« Reply #34 on: April 22, 2005, 06:26:54 PM »
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It goes beyond marketing 101; also philosophy 101:  Socrates (or maybe it was Plato, or maybe Confucius) said "Pissing off your customer base is not logical".  Also Religion 101:  Moses' 12th tablet (one of the two that he dropped on the way down from the mountain) said "Thou shalt not bite the hand that feeds you".
In case you forgot, the 11th tablet outlined the exact rules for avoiding sin in image processing; most digital processing is sinful.  All darkroom processing is virtuous.
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gryffyn
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« Reply #35 on: April 22, 2005, 07:28:50 PM »
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Bob continues:

> I have no problem using my NEF files now. And I never touch
> Capture. All of my work exists within some other
> converting/editing application.

And if Nikon encrypts enough of the NEF format, you'll HAVE to buy Capture, since you won't have the option of other apps.  Doesn't that concern you?

> What everyone calls encription is not functionally and
> practicially different from compiling.

It's very different, and after 30+ years in the software business, I think I'm qualified to judge that, having worked on compilers and encryption both.  Bob, you don't seem to know what you are talking about when it comes to the technical issues of software.

> One poll I'd like to see is how many have paid for CS in the
> user group

I have...in fact, I paid for the whole Design Collection, which is way more money than just PS/CS.  And will give Adobe more money, happily, to get the benefit of the new features coming in CS2 since they will make my life easier, faster and thus are worth greenbacks to me.  I have paid for Capture as well, and many other pieces of software.  I think I've spent more on sw than hardware, and given how much hardware I have, that is a big chunk of money.

> Maybe some day you'll have someone use one of your images
> for personal or commercial gain without your permission.

I hope not too....but when the time comes, it should be me suing the culprits...not Nikon, because someone stole their NEF file.  It's MY file...and I should be able to do as I please with it.
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.....Andrzej
bob mccarthy
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« Reply #36 on: April 22, 2005, 11:00:09 PM »
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Quote from: Jonathan Wienke,April 22 2005,21:04

So...

What kind of target shooting?
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Rob C
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« Reply #37 on: April 23, 2005, 05:10:17 AM »
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Hi all

I thought that I'd posted this point yesterday, but it seems to have blown the coop. So, I shall try yet again.

We are getting all hot and bothered about the fine detail of what may or may not be right or wrong business practice and of a particular part of it that, whilst annoying many, still permits the camera to be useful. That costs you circa five thousand bucks.

Take a few steps down the ladder, to the very next rung, in fact, where you only have to spend about a grand, and tell me what you see. Unless I've missed something, the next thing you see is the D70S. And there Nikon has done it again: it had the chance, at this upgrade, to convert the D70 into something really useful and what did it do? It still forgot to build in a socket for a flashgun cable.

Years ago, in the days of traditional cameras, there was hardly a unit to be found (of any quality worth having) that did not allow you to plug in a shoulder flash unit or even a studio strobe, should you happen to have had one.

Can you be more cynical and marketing-man driven than to deny the average, non-millionaire photographer the use of such a lighting tool which, in honesty, once bought would probably last him for life and, of course, allow him much better lighting than flash-on-camera ever can?

So its not only in the world of electronic wizardry that you are getting screwed - its everywhere in the camera game.

Have a nice day.

Rob C
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John Camp
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« Reply #38 on: April 23, 2005, 12:32:54 PM »
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> What everyone calls encription is not functionally and
> practicially different from compiling.

It's very different, and after 30+ years in the software business, I think I'm qualified to judge that, having worked on compilers and encryption both.  Bob, you don't seem to know what you are talking about when it comes to the technical issues of software..

Well, I was speaking in the metaphorical. The sensibility is to mask all that goes on upstream and to accept the product at face value.

I don't think you see the fundamental difference between a compiler and encryption software (or you're simply not expressing yourself in a way that indicates such understanding).

A compiler takes human-readable instructions to the computer and compiles those instructions in a way that the computer can understand.  The result may very well be human-readable, too, there is no need to hide what actually goes on.

Encryption software attempts to make it extremely hard or impossible for any unauthorized entity to get at the encrypted data.  This includes computers and software, not just humans.  Encrypted data is nothing to accept, even at face value, it's intentionally inaccessible.

Or, in over-simplified brevity: a compiler deals with computer programs, encryption deals with data.  Your image in NEF format is not a program, it's data.

Another crucial difference between encryption and compiled code is that the encryption is a legal "no trespassing" sign. The encryption on Nikon's NEF apparently isn't too hard to crack, but that's not the point -- if a farmer puts a "no trespassing" sign on a fence, it's usually not hard to cross the fence, but as with encryption, the difficulty of crossing the fence is not the point. The point is that a legal right has been asserted, and the sheriff will arrest you for crossing the fence or breaking the encryption. Nikon is telling other companies to keep their hands off the white balance; that they have the right to translate the white balance to a usable form, and nobody else does. As the saying goes, it's their way or the highway -- and if they'd thought it out a little more, they might have figured out that unfortuntely for them, some (maybe a large number) of people are going to choose the highway.

But not me. I plan to do a lot of whining and grumbling and posting to forums, but I'm still going to buy the two D2Xs and probably the NC Photoshop plug-in to translate the NEF. Eventually, these guys are going to work something out. I suspect that it's Nikon that will fold -- unless they do something very quickly to speed processing through their hapless software.

A question to our UK friends -- does it sound as weird to you when we use a company name as a singular form ("If Nikon does...") as it does to us when you use it as a plural form "If Nikon do..." ?

JC
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BryanHansel
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« Reply #39 on: April 24, 2005, 11:57:16 AM »
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Rob C,

Correct usage demands capitals after colons in Blighty too, you know. Just not after semi-colons.

End of off-topic grammar exercises.

W
Sorry, one more off-topic about colons.  I suppose it depends on which style book you're using, but coming out of the University of Iowa writer's program I'm versed in Strunk and White's Elements of Style.  When used in a sentence they don't capitalize after a colon.  When used to separate a title from a subtitle they do capitalize after a colon.  I'm not sure how the Chicago Manual of Style treats this.  Of course, I should pay attention to this more in my writing.
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