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  Photography Forum: Philosophy Of Photography Forum: 
  Q. Digital Obsolescence
In Transit
Asked by In Transit    (K=29432) on 5/3/2005 
By Peter Marshall,
Thanks to Still Journal I found a couple of interesting and rather different approaches to obsolesence in Digital Cameras today. In The Camera Is the Film PC Magasine's John C Dvorak points out that different cameras impose their own signature on pictures because of their sensor, lens and processing characteristics, making buying a digital camera like being stuck using a single brand and type of film. He also talks about rediscovering the character of some of his obsolete digital models.
Meanwhile, over on Ken Rockwall's site, in Future Trash he points out "You don't have to buy a new camera every couple of years; you'll want to." The technology is advancing so rapidly that any camera more than a couple of years old is likely to to seem to be a "crappy pain-in-the-butt." Fortunately rapidly falling prices make keeping up with progress much easier - so for example the Nikon D70 at $800 is a better camera than the D1X, now several years old, at $4000.
Although their approaches seem very different, there is some truth in both. Different cameras do produce different 'digital looks', but certainly if you shoot raw, the processing can produce infinitely different results. Dvorak suggests using a particular digital camera is like being stuck with a single type of film - whether Kodak Tri-X or Ilford Pan F. Those of us using dSLRs know this is not the case. From shot to shot we can vary ISO, and in the raw processor and Photoshop shift tonal and colour balance, saturation and more at will, giving us the whole shop full of film if we care to do so.
Rockwell is right to point out that those who do buy a dSLR tend to lose any doubts about preferring digital to film overnight. I still do shoot some film, especially for panoramas, but unless I need the pictures urgently I'm finding it hard to get into the darkroom to develop and print work. Digital does indeed let you "make more photos better and more easily with more fun than you ever have."


 Jeroen Wenting  Donor  (K=25317) - Comment Date 5/3/2005
This one should have been closed and hidden under forum rules for where it was posted but was IMO too good for that so I moved it instead.
Don't expect such leniency very often :)

Roger Williams
 Roger Williams  Donor  (K=86139) - Comment Date 5/15/2005
I'm not sure that Dvorak was thinking mainly of DSLRs. Certainly the vast majority of digital cameras don't offer raw images, and not even a majority of those who use DSLRs actually bother with raw images, if a quick poll among friends is anything to go by. I'm less concerned with whether something will come along that will make me want to dump a camera bought only two or three years earlier than with whether (a) it will still be working after two or three years (or if not, whether it can be quickly and cheaply repaired) and (b) whether it will have any resale value at all. I'm well past retiring age but cannot afford to retire, so these cost factors--and useful length of service life--are important to me.

I've recently realized that I can EITHER buy a mechanical 6 x 6 film Kiev 88CM (Arax) SLR with three superb lenses OR a Nikon D50 with the standard lens kit. I have decided on the former, and intend to use my MF film scanner so that I can work on the photos I take in my digital darkroom. This is because "free" digital images (after I compare the cost of the digital media and depreciation in the value of the camera) are not that attractive to me.

I find it hard to believe that I would stop using film after purchasing a DSLR, because I mostly take wide-angle images and panoramas, and while panoramas are readily possible with a DSLR, wide-angle DSLR photography is definitely less easy than with a mechanical RF camera. The lenses are much more expensive, bigger and heavier, and the viewfinders are dim and pokey. Oh, and you're more or less completely dependent on auto focus. So I probably won't be going digital any time soon. One day, maybe. Perhaps the, hmmm, let me see; the D30?

In Transit
 In Transit   (K=29432) - Comment Date 5/15/2005
You are soooo correct... the depreciation of digicams to the Global Village's dumps with the toxic contents... all being wanabees... while a simple Rollei 35 or Leica Ms continue to be sought after by those that are in the know!

But then the evolution is becoming so rapid... that one tends to say 'stop the train, so that U No Who... so he may possibly learn'!

In Transit
 In Transit   (K=29432) - Comment Date 5/15/2005
Next time he will bend over... for at least six lashings... as JW is sooo correct!

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