Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Analogue technology

The coming of digital cameras has been a major boon to the camera industry, although it has turned the camera business into essentially an outpost of the electronics business, at the same time that the consumer electronics inudustry was turning into an outpost of the PC business. It has done this because it has forced everybody to upgrade. In the elder days, camera companies were frequently adding new features to their products, but these didn't make the older cameras any less good at what they did. They took photos on 35mm film. If you were a good photographer, you could take good photographs using virtually an camera. New features sometimes made it easier, but didn't change the end result.

However, these days we want to put our photographs on our computer, either to post them on our blogs, e-mail them to our family, or simply store them for later use. And if we do this, we don't want to wait for processing, and we don't want to have to go through the hassle of scanning them. Plus, we want to take lots of photos all the time and we don't want the cost of film and processing. So, digital is the way to go. (While it may be a boon for camera manufacturers, the change to digital is obviously a disaster for people in the film and processing businesses, given that digital makes them entirely unnecessary).

Personally, though, I haven't gone through this. I purchased a 20 pound toy digital camera last year, but it has no LCD display and its pictures are not good enough even for blogging use. For my general photography, I am still using a Pentax P-30N manual focus SLR that I bought 12 years ago, and which has been with me virtually everywhere I have gone - to about 35 countries - in that time. I have a wide assortment of lenses and attachments for the camera, and it feels like an old friend. The camera is nothing special, but simply a decent, good quality SLR that does the job. I am fond of it, and I like using an SLR rather than a compact camera.

But, sometimes I find myself the way I do now, which is that I have written a blog article about being an experience I had last week of being unable to cross the German/Polish border, but I haven't posted it because I am waiting to get my photographs back. (The mail order place that I get to do my photographs is very cheap, and does a perfectly good job, but takes a few days). Thus I now find myself blogging about the reasons why I am not blogging.

I think an upgrade is coming soon. Ideally, I would like a digital SLR, so I can have fun with lenses and all sorts of fun photographic tricks that you can't really do with a compact camera. However, these are still too expensive for now, particularly if you consider that my lenses would be incompatible, and I would have to start building a new collection from scratch, and lenses for digital cameras are more expensive than those for analogue cameras.

So, when I do this I might find myself carrying a digital compact and an analogue SLR for a while. Or not. You never really know until you try it.

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