David Etchells Editor Emeritus

About IR > The Team

David Etchells's avatar

David Etchells is the Founder,
Publisher and Editor in Chief of Imaging Resource.

 - Photographer since 1970

 - Photo-industry consultant 1992 - 1999

 - Founded Imaging Resource April 1, 1998

 - Intellectual Property Consultant (Imaging and Photography)
    since 2000

 - BSEE, MSEE, UCLA, 1981


The early years
I've been a photographer all my life, starting out happily sloshing developing chemicals in my parents' basement back in the summer of 1970. (Dating myself a little bit, there... :-0)

Back then, I mainly shot landscapes and a lot of high school sports, with my trusty Honeywell Strobonar accompanying me to many, many basketball games. 

My photo passion took a back seat during my early college years, but I managed to build a tiny darkroom in a house I shared with roommates in ~1974, which was when I first got into color print processing. Along the way, I earned BSEE and MSEE degrees from UCLA, with a specialization in semiconductor physics.

Before Imaging Resource: Aerospace, image processing, photo-industry consultant
I worked in the California aerospace industry for a while, serving a stint as a Hughes Fellow, at the Hughes Research Labs in Malibu, California. I delved pretty deeply into image processing architectures there, and ended up as a named inventor on three image-processing patents: (EP0085520A3; US4745546A, and US4498134A) Image processing algorithms just seem to fit a particular part of my brain, and I immensely enjoyed my work with Hughes.

I had another photo/imaging hiatus following this, but came back into the photography world while running a Macintosh-based systems integrator (Perspect Systems) in LA in the early 1990s. Some of our clients produced huge volumes of photography for mail-order catalogs, and a study I did for one of our clients in 1992 on the economics and performance of digital studio cameras turned into a widely-circulated industry report, recognized in the Seybold Report and marketed through the Future Image organization. 

I consulted for several companies in the photography and imaging industry from 1995 - 1999, helping traditional photo organizations prepare for the transition to digital, and helping tech companies adapt their existing technologies to the new world of digital photography.

The birth of IR!
Finally, I launched the Imaging Resource website on April 1, 1998, to provide photographers with unbiased, detailed information on digital cameras, particularly actual sample photos shot under carefully-controlled conditions. A first on the 'web, this let readers make apples-to-apples comparisons between them. At the time, information on digital cameras was the proverbial mile wide and an inch deep; you could find the same five facts about any given camera multiple places, but nothing about how well they actually worked as cameras. That was the problem IR was intended to solve, and 20+ years later, readers still look to us as the definitive reference for camera performance and image quality. We began with just camera reviews, but added lens reviews beginning in the Fall of 2005, in initially under the SLRgear brand, but since brought back under the Imaging Resource umbrella.

I still get involved in our camera and lens reviews, especialy when a deeper dive into the technology is called for; I've always loved learning about and then explaining technical topics to others, and that's still my first love with the site. I've also been privileged to interview many photo-industry leaders, including top executives and engineers from every major camera and lens manufacturer. Probably my favorite sort of article to write, though, is factory tours; I love talking with other engineers, understanding how they've solved various challenges, and seeing how the cameras and lenses we all use are brought to life. Tours and interviews explaining advanced camera and lens technology have become my personal trademark on the web.

Here are a few of the articles I've written:

Factory tours:

Nikon Sendai factory tour: A rare chance to see Z7 production up close and personal (Sept, 2018)

Pixels for Geeks: A peek inside Nikon’s super-secret sensor design lab (July, 2018)

Glass for geeks: An in-depth tour of Nikon’s Hikari Glass factory (April, 2018)

Inside Sony Kumamoto: A rare glimpse inside Sony’s super-secret sensor factory (Sept, 2017)

Up to Utsunomiya: An extremely rare look at Canon’s primary lens factory (March, 2017)

High Tech in Thailand: Touring Sony’s massive camera and lens production factory (April, 2017)

A geek’s tour of Sigma’s Aizu lens factory: Precision production from the inside out (Sept, 2013)

Executive and Engineer interviews:

Canon says lots coming in 2019! Lens strategy, the future of A.I. and more... Executive Q&A (March, 2019)

Is Fuji's AF the most advanced out there? Plus their coming 100-megapixel body. Fujifilm Q&A from CP+! (March, 2019)

Mount Wars: Guess what? Z-mount really DOES help lens design... and AF! (Nikon technical Q&A)  (March, 2019)

Olympus Q&A @ CP+ 2019: Finally! Why the E-M5 III is running so late, and why not to worry (March, 2019(

Juicy technical tidbits on the Canon EOS RP - IR Interview/Q&A (Feb, 2019)

Olympus E-M1X Q&A: A closer look at the amazing tech underlying the new OM-D series flagship (Jan, 2019)

Interview: Sony's Kenji Tanaka on why Sony doesn't worry about competitors, plus AI and AF (Nov, 2018)

Sigma interview @ Photokina 2018: CEO Kazuto Yamaki gives us a peek inside the L-mount alliance (Oct, 2018)

Canon EOS R: A deep-dive Q&A session with the Canon engineers (Sept, 2018)

IR Interview: A deeper dive with the Nikon Z7 engineers (Sept, 2018)

Sony @ CP+ 2018: A.I. is the future of mirrorless cameras; only we have the technology to drive market growth (May, 2018)

Olympus @ CP+ 2018: A first chance to talk strategy with new Imaging Business Unit head, Shigemi Sugimoto (April, 2018)

Ricoh @ CP+ 2018: Rewarding K-1 fans with a major upgrade, plus what comes next after the K-3 II? (April, 2018)

Canon @ CP+ 2018: Mirrorless strategy, development focus and Dual Sensing IS tech (April, 2018)

Sony execs reveal mirrorless strategy in PhotoPlus Expo interview (Nov, 2017)

Sony says clearly: “APS-C Forever!” (Aug, 2017)

Sigma Q&A @ CP+ 2017: Global Vision and Sony FE-mount lens plans, and the epic 200-500mm’s connection to… sushi?? (April, 2017)

Sony Thailand factory tour Q&A: Mapping out the future of the interchangeable-lens camera (March, 2017)

Canon lens factory tour interview: Better lenses yet lower prices, new details about nano-coatings! (March 2017)


Other work: Patent/IP consulting
In the intervening years, I've also consulted from time to time on intellectual property ("IP" or patent) legal cases involving imaging and photography, with a particular emphasis on prior art. I honestly love this work, and hope to do more of it in the future, time permitting. It feels like the perfect combination of my background and experience, engineering training and decidedly odd mind :-) I love picking apart and understanding patent claims, and finding prior art that teaches the same or related concepts. (And if anyone needed further confirmation of my oddity, I actually enjoy depositions: As I've said on several occasions, I'll take 5 depositions over one advertising proposal any day of the week :-)

Thanks to my family!
My family has been a huge part of the business throughout IR's history, with my wife Marti faithfully handing the accounting from the beginning (even though she's trained as a molecular biologist), and our sons Arthur and Chris having both been involved in the past. (Arthur was our Director of Development for about 5 years, and now works for software startup Constructor.io in Portland, Oregon. Chris has gone on to a medical career, currently entering his second year as an Emergency Medicine resident at Erlanger in Chattanooga, TN.) 

In my "spare" time, I enjoy tinkering in my basement electronics, woodworking and 3D-printing workshops, although there's been precious little time for that, in recent years.

I travel a lot more than I'd like for the business, but am always happy for an excuse to visit Japan; Japanese society actually seems to fit my psyche better than American culture does, and I hope one day to find my way to a consulting practice that could routinely span both the US and Japan.

The photography business is the best business!
In the meantime, though, I and my family have been hugely blessed by IR and all that's flowed from it. I work with an absolutely amazing group of individuals, all of whom I count as friends, and the photo industry has to be one of the nicest on the planet. I'm constantly struck by the good humor and friendship I see across the entire business, and count myself lucky every day to have been involved with it for more than 20 years now. For any of you reading this who've known me over the years, thank you for your part in making this the nicest business in the world! And for all our readers, many, many thanks for your support, without which none of this would be possible!

(Besides the Google+ link below, you can also find me on LinkedIn)