World Cup photographers gone digital

I read in a Japanese camera magazine that 70% to 80% of sports photographers who covered the World Cup in Korea and Japan used a digital SLR camera and laptop computer to beam their soccer pictures back to their headquarters.

This is a huge leap from four years ago during the 1998 Nagano Olympics when only a small minority of sports photographers used a digital camera. How quickly things can change. In professional sports photography, the transition to digital is nearly complete thanks to the advent of better, faster, and cheaper high-end digital SLRs.

You may wonder which digital camera they were using. It usually was either the Nikon D1x or the Canon EOS-1D. Canon actually was the camera of choice among sports photographers in Japan who used film. (You might have noticed more white EOS telephoto lenses than black Nikkors at major sporting events).

But now in the digital SLR age, Nikon has made major inroads in this market with the introduction of the pro-use D1 about two years before Canon unveiled the 1D. Right now, it looks like a 50-50 split between the two rival manufacturers in the sports photography market.