The "Day in the Life" series of photo documentary books is one of the best known of this style of fine art books published. Not only did it spawn two New York Times bestsellers among its 13 previous editions, it is currently ranked as the best-selling photo book series in history. The decision to shoot the 14th installment of this series digitally was critical. "After seeing first-hand the amazing picture quality of Olympus digital cameras, I was convinced that the first all-digital 'Day in the Life' project was achievable," stated David Elliott Cohen, Director, A Day in the Life of Africa.

Olympus, a premier sponsor and official digital camera sponsor of the project, supported one hundred of the world's top photographers with both technical support and the complete digital imaging solution to achieve the first digital "Day in the Life" book. Because such an important project required such high-quality digital images - the most realistic digital images yet - each of the 100 photographers was equipped with an E-20 digital SLR camera, a long life lithium polymer battery set, a 28mm equivalent wide-angle converter lens, and a 200mm equivalent telephoto extension lens. They also were supplied with a portable P-200 dye-sub printer so they could print and share their photos while on location in Africa during the shoot. Further solutions like the 4-megapixel C-4040 Zoom digital camera and the P-400 dye-sub printer were also available for use during the shoot and on return to Paris for printing and editing.

Over 60% of these top photographers had never used digital cameras before this assignment. To overcome the issues this raised, Olympus conducted training sessions in February in New York City, America and Paris, France to familiarize the photographers with the digital equipment and digital photography. Technical support from the U.S. was also on-hand in Paris for the actual shoot and editing sessions. An example of the enthusiasm for the all-digital book project was illustrated by one of the many photographers participating. Like several others, Delip Mehta came to Paris with no film cameras or back-ups. During the day of the shoot in Cairo he called Paris in a panic, saying that something was wrong with his downloads. But nothing was wrong - he had simply shot five full gigabytes of photos. Upon his return to Paris the editors looked at his un-edited images. They were absolutely stunning, image after image, crisp focus, rich color inspired compensation. Mehta himself was overwhelmed with the image quality.

The fruits of this labor are abundantly evident on the pages of A Day in the Life of Africa. Over 250 clear, high-quality images appear in the book, while over 50,000 digital images were captured during the course of that day in all. "I was amazed at how freeing the E-20 was toward capturing the color images that I saw in my mind's eye," stated Eli Reed, one of the photographers to take part in the event.

"The ease-of-use of the E-20 allowed me to concentrate on the creative," said photographer Mark Greenberg of his experience on the "Day in the Life" shoot. "The immediacy of digital created a connection. And my experiences in photography have taught me that connecting with the subject matter makes all the difference."

The success of A Day in the Life of Africa was the combination of 100 of the world's best photographers - including several Pulitzer Prize winning photographers - and the quality Olympus digital solutions provided for the shoot. "I worked around the clock and, in the moments I wasn't shooting, I went to my hotel room in the middle of town and downloaded images into my iBook," explained Anne Day, a "Day in the Life" participant. "The really great part was that, at 4 a.m., I could know if the shots I took at 2 a.m. were ok. I loved not having to worry how the film would look, I also loved being able to know how the light and color looked." A Day in the Life of Africa should have no problem continuing the rich, successful tradition of it predecessors.

 

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