Agence France-Presse (AFP), like other major wire services, will be making extensive use of wireless Ethernet technology at the Sydney Olympics to move photos from the photographer in the field to AFP's on-site editing facilities.
While this is not the first major event at which high-speed wireless networks have been established by the wires to get photos onto their picture networks quickly, it is likely to be the Olympics at which the technology comes of age. The advent of tiny laptops, FireWire-connected digital cameras and medium-range wireless links that are an order of magnitude faster than that available during the last summer Olympics take wireless Ethernet from a curiosity to an essential workflow tool for digital photojournalists.
Transmitting from the field using wireless Ethernet technology
Unlike last month's Republican convention, at which AFP used Apple's Airport system for Mac as well as wireless-equipped PCs to take in photos from the convention floor, the Paris-based wire service will this time be using PC equipment exclusively. Packed into an AFP photographer's "banane" (banana) kit is a Sony Vaio N505VX laptop, Breezecom BreezeNET wireless Ethernet PC Card, external antenna and FireWire cable for direct connection to either a Canon EOS D2000 or Nikon D1 (Canon EOS D30's will also be used by AFP, though they lack a FireWire port).
AFP's "banane" kit
AFPTransmit, an application developed by the wire service for use by its own staff as well as that of the European Photo Agency (EPA), will be employed to send photos over the wireless link to a server browsed by AFP editors. AFP has used a similar PC setup for European football, rugby, figure skating and athletics championships previously. Using a FireWire-connected camera, AFP expects that an important photo will arrive on the editing server about 15 seconds after it's shot.