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RANT- Reality Check-"The Early Days of Digital Photography"

 
 
Drifter
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      10-01-2004
Okay, this one is driving me nutz so I'm going to blow off a little
steam and be done with it.

Repeatedly I have been seeing/hearing the phrase "back when digital
photography was new", sometimes with a wry intent, but more often with
complete seriousness that carries a sort of blasť "been there/done
that" attitude (possibly a symptom of a sort of time-compressed,
multitasking, revved-up, "Moore's Law" mentality that many of us live
with today).

I have to admit that I find it triggers equal measures of irritation
and humor.

Photography in general stems from the ancient concept of the "Camera
Obscuras", but for the sake of my comparison I consider modern
photography to be a direct descendant of the first film negatives
created by Henry Talbot in 1834. That gives photography a pedigree of
at least 170 years. Even starting from the first Leica (1924) we have
a photographic history of 80 years!

By contrast, digital photography (using a sensor as opposed to a film
negative) can, at best, claim a history of roughly 17 years with
Kodak's first commercial sensor around 1987 or, more practically,
about 13 years because the 1991 release of the DCS cameras by Kodak
could be considered the spiritual equal of the stunning release of the
1900's "Brownie" camera. Today (2004) we have moved well into the
equal of the "Leica/Kodachrome" phase (roughly equal to 1936 in film
terms).

Obviously development of digital photography has been accelerated
since digital took only 13 years to cover roughly the same span that
took film photography 36 years. This is no real surprise as many
aspects of digital photography (especially lens technology) rest
firmly on the well developed shoulders of film photography. However
even at this faster pace it seems apparent that digital photography is
still a very young sibling to it's parent (film photography).

Just as Talbot had no idea what his creation would (pardon the pun)
develop into, we have no idea what digital photography will accomplish
in 80 (or 170) years.

We're standing in the shallow end and I'm telling you now that digital
photography is still very, very, new.


Drifter
"I've been here, I've been there..."
 
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Charlie Self
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      10-01-2004
Drifter states:

>Okay, this one is driving me nutz so I'm going to blow off a little
>steam and be done with it.
>
>Repeatedly I have been seeing/hearing the phrase "back when digital
>photography was new", sometimes with a wry intent, but more often with
>complete seriousness that carries a sort of blasť "been there/done
>that" attitude (possibly a symptom of a sort of time-compressed,
>multitasking, revved-up, "Moore's Law" mentality that many of us live
>with today).
>
>I have to admit that I find it triggers equal measures of irritation
>and humor.


No more so than the 20 somethings on TV ads who claim some grease mixture has
kept their skin "young." Or the people I listen to sometimes, just turned
27-28-29 or so, talk about "when I was young." Or some TV ad woman talking
about how she stays slender--at 25!

It's either societal or a part of the human condition. We all want to be more
experienced, thus older, than we are, until the joints actually start creaking,
eyesight begins to fail, and we have to get up 3-4 times a night. Then we'd
rather be 30, but without a loss of knowledge.
Charlie Self
"Politics, n. Strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles."
Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary
 
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Gene Palmiter
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      10-01-2004
Way back when I got my Oly E-10 I would hear people whisper "That's a
digital camera!," others would freak when I showed them a photo on the
viewer...they had no idea that digital existed. I think that is what people
are refering to when they talk of when digital was new...the days before it
was ubiquitous. I do agree though that we are where the PC was before the
IBM-PC. There are no standards.


 
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John McWilliams
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      10-01-2004
Drifter wrote:

> Okay, this one is driving me nutz so I'm going to blow off a little
> steam and be done with it.


Man, if this be a rant, you've set the curve in the opposite direction!
I thought a rant was supposed to be rude, condescending, filled with
righteous indignation, no real point, and generally poorly written. You
have "failed" to reach any of these benchmarks.

Please do "rant" again sometime soon; I enjoyed it, and agree "the early
days of digital" can be equally amusing/irritating.

--
John McWilliams
 
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Robert Lynch
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      10-01-2004
"Gene Palmiter" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
news:Ufe7d.42$ae7.12@trndny07...
> I do agree though that we are where the PC was before the
> IBM-PC. There are no standards.


What kind of standards do you think are lacking in the world
digital photography?


 
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Mardon
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      10-01-2004
"Drifter" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote...

> We're standing in the shallow end and I'm telling you now that digital
> photography is still very, very, new.


Thanks for some thoughtful comments. BTW, I agree that your words are not a
rant!

Your comparison of the digital timeline to the overall photography timeline
raises an interesting issue that you did not address. The quality and
archival durability of many 19th century and early 20th century negatives
(glass plate and film, as well as tintypes) are often much better than
negatives produced by the 'advanced' technology of the mid-20th century. I
have worked with almost 2,000 glass plate negatives and many large format
film negatives from the period around the beginning of the 20th century and
they are generally much better in quality and preservation than the
negatives that I have from the 1960s and '70s. I think that, like many
things, the loss of quality was a result of the disposable economy / lowest
price mindset that overcame the marketplace in the late 20th century. Do
you see a similar analogy being possible with digital; that is, where
quality suffers even though the technology advances? In some respects, the
very nature of digital photography creates this paradox, since digital is
anathema to archival considerations. A hundred years from now, will my
great grandchildren be able to see an image from a 1DMarkII, just as I can
see images of my great grandfather in those old 19th century negatives?


 
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Big Bill
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      10-01-2004
On Fri, 01 Oct 2004 14:57:56 GMT, "Gene Palmiter"
<(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:

>Way back when I got my Oly E-10 I would hear people whisper "That's a
>digital camera!," others would freak when I showed them a photo on the
>viewer...they had no idea that digital existed. I think that is what people
>are refering to when they talk of when digital was new...the days before it
>was ubiquitous. I do agree though that we are where the PC was before the
>IBM-PC. There are no standards.
>

Standards?
As opposed to film?
I can go into a camera store that stocks 35mm film, and see the lack
of standards there.
Or lenses.
Or cameras themselves.
Standards? We've got hundreds of standards, none of them standard.

How about Pentax calling themselves "The official camera of the
Internet"? What standard elected them that?

Bill Funk
Change "g" to "a"
 
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Gene Palmiter
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      10-01-2004

"Robert Lynch" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
news:Sre7d.5$na.0@trnddc04...
> "Gene Palmiter" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
> news:Ufe7d.42$ae7.12@trndny07...
> > I do agree though that we are where the PC was before the
> > IBM-PC. There are no standards.

>
> What kind of standards do you think are lacking in the world
> digital photography?
>


Well....RAW files....why can't they be standarized so that the programs that
handle them can improve? Lion Battery packs...do they all have to be
different and proprietary? But....the market will decide what the standards
will be....but not for awhile.


 
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Jer
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      10-01-2004
Big Bill wrote:


> How about Pentax calling themselves "The official camera of the
> Internet"? What standard elected them that?



Theirs, of course.


--
jer email reply - I am not a 'ten'
 
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usenet@imagenoir.com
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      10-01-2004
Kibo informs me that "Gene Palmiter" <(E-Mail Removed)> stated
that:

>"Robert Lynch" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
>> What kind of standards do you think are lacking in the world
>> digital photography?

>
>Well....RAW files....why can't they be standarized so that the programs that
>handle them can improve?


You mean like the 'DNG' (for "digital negative"?), open RAW file format
that Adobe have just announced?

> Lion Battery packs...do they all have to be
>different and proprietary?


Yeah, that part still sucks, but I think it's unlikely to change. It's
still the same way for laptops, & there have been a couple of failed
attempts to bring in a standard set of battery formats for them over the
last 15 years or so.

> But....the market will decide what the standards
>will be....but not for awhile.


Well, the memory cards are a standard format (well, maybe 1.5 formats
, & the communication protocol for downloading or printing direct from
the camera is reasonably standardised already.

--
W
. | ,. w , "Some people are alive only because
\|/ \|/ it is illegal to kill them." Perna condita delenda est
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