Why Obsolescence

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Roger, May 29, 2005.

  1. Roger

    Roger Guest

    1The question of Obsolescence was recently raised and where it comes
    to electronics/cameras:

    Electronics (and today's cameras are masterpieces of electronics) is a
    rapidly changing field and the parts used in cameras even more so with
    the evolution of sensors, memory, and processors.

    Those of us using digital cameras, be they point-and-shoot, or the
    more expensive digital SLRs (dSLR) have bought into one of the fastest
    changing technologies available.

    One of the risks associated with rapidly changing technology is rapid

    Much electronic equipment is made with replacement in mind, not
    repair. There is little in a computer than can economically be
    repaired. It's far cheaper to replace the motherboard, video card,
    hard drives, or R/W DVD drives than to even attempt to repair them. I
    have four computers that run 24 X 7. The only thing that remains the
    same (so far) are the cases. Almost everything inside is upgraded
    every two to three years.

    Cameras are currently much the same as computers in the above aspect..
    With the rapid advancements in memory, processors, and particularly
    sensors coupled with a highly competitive market, there is a
    tremendous drive to keep pace with technology. That means the camera
    manufacturers have no choice but to try to bring out the latest and
    greatest before their competition does.

    This means for any given brand, models will be changing rapidly.
    Technology allows them to provide more functions for less money. It
    also means it is uneconomical for the manufacturers to carry spare
    parts for models more than a generation or two back from the current

    Something important to remember: This is a consumer driven market! It
    is a highly competitive consumer driven market that requires every
    competitor to try and stay at the leading edge by offering the most
    features, or the most features for the money (not necessarily the

    I'm not so sure the digital camera market has even started to mature
    as yet. Until it does so, we will by necessity be looking at what are
    essentially "throw away" cameras. You *may* find the more expensive
    dSLRs and pro cameras supported for a generation or more longer than
    the consumer oriented camera. These cameras are much more expensive
    to have repaired so the manufacturer can afford to keep parts for a
    while longer.

    Like computers where probably 90% of the users could get along with
    the $300 to $400 version, many opt for the much faster and higher
    priced models, the camera end users are going for the 5, 6 or 8
    megapixel models when 2 or 3 megapixels would be sufficient for the
    vast majority of the market. These are the people who drive the
    market. They are the people who put the majority of the money into
    the market that drives the technology. By driving the consumer market
    they are indirectly driving the intermediate (dSLR) and even pro

    Once the market matures several things should happen. Manufacturers
    are no longer going to be able to offer far more capabilities for less
    money. That means there will be fewer major upgrades and they will
    not come as often. With a much slower pace keeping spare parts at
    least for the parts that can be replaced, will become much more
    economical and even the lower end cameras *may* find repair as an
    option instead of replacement.

    I happen to like the new technology, but I still use my 35mm cameras,
    my old Oly E20N (even if it is slow) and I use a digital watch even
    when flying.

    Roger Halstead (K8RI & ARRL life member)
    (N833R, S# CD-2 Worlds oldest Debonair)
    Roger, May 29, 2005
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  2. Roger

    Matt Ion Guest

    Not so much with cameras though.
    The only thing that "obsoletes" a computer is not the change in
    electronics, but the changes in software. Newer, more powerful software
    requires a more powerful computer to run it. And old 386 will run a
    given app just as well today as it did in, say, 1992. If that app does
    the job it's needed to do, then it is not obsolete and neither is the
    computer. The computer only becomes "obsolete" if the software becomes
    obsolete because newer software with greater capabilities is required.
    Not at all...
    A camera is a very simple, basic device: it's a box that holds a
    light-focusing mechanism (from pinhole to multielement lens) in front of
    some sort of photosensitive material (silver plate, film, CMOS or CCD).
    From the first silver-plate pinhole cameras to the latest digital
    monstrosities, that premise has not changed. Everything else -
    autofocus, electronic metering, adjustable apertures, even the shutter -
    is just bells and whistles.

    The development of new types of photosensitive materials does not
    obsolete the basic concept. It may obsolete other materials of the same
    type (as the 8MP sensor may obsolete the 1MP sensor, CMOS may obsolete
    CCD, or modern film formulations may obsolete the silver plate) but it
    won't necessarily obsolete DIFFERENT technologies.

    Even new bells and whistles don't necessarily obsolete the old ones.
    New technologies bring their own drawbacks; often the more advanced the
    technology, the greater the showstoppers those drawbacks can become. A
    single dead battery turns my Digital Rebel and all its accessories into
    a $3000 doorstop, while my old Argus C3 "brick" camera continues to take
    pictures that are just as clear and sharp as they were when it was new,
    50 years ago (and, arguably, CAN be clearer and sharper than anything
    the Rebel cranks out).

    Old? Yes.

    Obsolete? Not even close.

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  3. Roger

    Roger Guest

    Far more so now than with the earlier 35 mm technology.
    This is one of those chicken or the egg things.
    If the computers didn't have the capability to run "bloat ware" the
    programs would be much smaller.
    As it's been my profession, my experience is like the old adage, the
    job will take the time allotted, in this case the applications will
    expand to use the resources available.
    Much of today's software is truely "bloat ware" and this is
    particularly true for the Windows environment.

    Being able to program in the object oriented languages such as Visual
    C++, or Visual Basic really takes a load off the programmer, but it
    puts one whale of a load on the machine. When you compile say 32K of
    source code it gets a bit larger, but when you compile it into a
    "stand alone' program it may expand by one or two orders of magnitude.

    The standard office apps don't have all that much more capability than
    the early ones. Certainly they have some and to some people they are
    important, but take for instance Front Page used in web page
    development. It is one of the sloppiest pieces of software out there.
    It works well, but it generates 3 to 5 lines of code for every line on
    a page. It starts with three to five pages of definitions and links,
    none of which are needed in most cases.

    Because of poor design that takes advantage of powerful CPUs and lots
    of memory.. and lots of storage we have very large programs that
    wouldn't fit on one of the old computers, or if it did it'd run very
    Working in both professions I still say they are at present.
    35 mm camera were, today's digital cameras are not.
    Bells and whistles the average shooter could not do without.
    Bells and whistles demanded by most shooters including the pros.
    Take out the film and add a CCD, or CMOS sensor and you have just
    ended up with a camera that *requires* a CPU, memory, buffers and a
    fair amount of power consumption. Those are the cameras of today and
    those are the things that are evolving rapidly.
    But it obsoletes the specific cameras. The electronic components of a
    camera are replace, not repair.
    But we have a consumer driven market and they demand the latest and
    greatest, whether they need it or not. That drives rapid development
    and evolution of devices that make it impractical to keep parts for
    older units. it drives a market that makes it uneconomical to support
    many cameras more than a few years old. It's also the reason
    manufacturers are resorting to what are sometimes drastic cost cutting
    measures and one of the most costly is customer service. Basically
    you have to support not only the basics of a camera but a computer
    with specialized circuitry as well.
    Bleeding edge instead of leading edge. OTOH that is a good description
    for many of the computers I've owned over the years.
    I have about 20,000 slides from a C-3 and I still have my Original H2
    Pentax which was an all manual SLR.
    To you or me, no, but to the market...yes they are.

    I still use the old H-2 that was my first camera as a teenager., and
    my F4-S (which was a long time after I had been a teenager). The F-4S
    is not a brick, it is more related to a bowling ball for heft, but it
    sure is strong. It's also capable of shooting in a full manual mode.
    However I still see new F4S bodies going for a fraction of what mine
    cost. There is no cost effective market for a strictly manual small
    frame camera except the disposable 35s. (a growing market BTW)

    My minors are art and math with my degree in CS. Back in the
    photography classes we had a good percent of the students who had a
    devil of a time using cameras in the manual mode. As I was using an
    F4S the instructor figured I had the background to use it in manual
    mode which I did. It was a bit inconvenient as I had to use the
    camera as a light meter and then set everything manually. However if
    the batteries go dead it becomes a fully manual camera that even
    requires you use a different shutter button.

    That F4S has been the most trouble free camera I've ever owned with
    maybe the exception of that old C-3. I've used the F4S a lot, but
    it's never been my favorite for casual use due to its heft. It's just
    too darn heavy for casual work, but it is rugged as opposed to an F-3
    I owned for a few years. That camera spent more time in the shop than
    all the rest I've owned put together. I still have the 8008S that I
    used mostly for casual shooting. It's light and it works well.

    Roger Halstead (K8RI & ARRL life member)
    (N833R, S# CD-2 Worlds oldest Debonair)
    Roger, May 30, 2005
  4. Roger

    Doug Warner Guest

    I thought digital watches were "new technology" What's rendered them

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  5. On Sun, 29 May 2005 18:38:42 -0400, Roger

    So? Just buy in a DLSR which has quality lenses which fit all their
    bodies. What if you replace bodies every couple of years if your
    lenses (the really big investment) go on. This is why I went with
    Canon and don't buy EF-S lenses but only EF's and them try to say with


    "I have been a witness, and these pictures are
    my testimony. The events I have recorded should
    not be forgotten and must not be repeated."

    -James Nachtwey-
    John A. Stovall, May 30, 2005
  6. Roger

    DHB Guest

    John A. Stovall,
    IMHO the 1.6x crop factor (APS) size sensor is
    unlikely to ever go away. Even if the price of a full frame sensor
    was equal to the APS size, I think Canon & others will continue to
    make cameras in this sensor size for those who favor the telephoto
    lenses because it gives them the option of using smaller, lighter
    lenses to meet most of their needs.

    On the other side of the equation, here is what I would
    consider if I were Canon & wanted to give people their cake & let them
    eat it too:

    Build a full frame DSLR that can use both EF & EF-S lenses.
    On the face of this, the idea seems flawed because the required larger
    mirror would likely hit the back of an EF lens. Also an EF-S lens
    used with a full size sensor would likely cause serious light drop off
    in the corners of the image & or very poor quality edge to edge.

    It's my belief that the solution to both of these problems can
    be addressed by Canon or others in the following way:

    1> Redesign the way that the mirror flips up so that it can
    safely clear the rear of the EF-S lens!

    2> When an EF-S lens is detected on the camera, it will switch
    over to a "electronically" cropped APS sized area of the full sized
    sensor. Granted this would result in a considerable loss in
    resolution over that of the full size of the sensor being used but for
    more casual or higher speed work, this could be a viable option that
    some might want when they don't need that much resolution or want/need
    to save the memory card storage space.

    After all, is this not why the cameras offer the consumer
    resolution options? For some things, it's just not needed to use the
    full resolution of the camera. Rather like RAW or jpg, each has it's
    uses & although RAW can yield better pictures, it requires
    considerable post processing that not everybody is willing to do.
    Also there is yet to be a single RAW format used by all manufacturers.

    In any case, these are just some ideas, thoughts, wishes from
    an amateur photographer with 25+ years experience with 35mm film SLR &
    4+ years with digital cameras.

    It's an interesting time to be in photography because digital
    is still growing & advancing. Which way it grows will depend both on
    what can be economically (profitably) done as well as what the
    consumers "want", not necessarily "need"! Most want more megapixels,
    especially in the P&S line where few even consider the actual sensor
    size when making the MP size choice.

    It will be interesting to see where things go from here!

    Respectfully, DHB

    "To announce that there must be no criticism of the President,
    or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong,
    is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable
    to the American public."--Theodore Roosevelt, May 7, 1918
    DHB, May 30, 2005
  7. snipped
    And can you name one EF-S telephoto Canon makes?

    If you want a Canon telephoto for a 1.6 sensor, you will buy an EF


    "The condition of civil affairs in Texas is anomalous,
    singular, and unsatisfactory."

    Maj. Gen. Philip H. Sherdan
    Bvt. Maj. Gen. John A. Rawlins
    November 14, 1866
    John A. Stovall, May 31, 2005
  8. Roger

    Roger Guest

    Not obsolete, but there are areas where watches with sweep second
    hands are preferred. I do have a digital timer on the yoke, but the
    panel has a wind up clock with a sweep second hand. Like taking a
    pulse it is easier to time from a position rather than count. Yes,
    you can set a count down timer or straight timer for the other, but in
    flying we try to eliminate any extra steps, particularly when you are
    coming down an ILS and can't see your own wing tips

    Roger Halstead (K8RI & ARRL life member)
    (N833R, S# CD-2 Worlds oldest Debonair)
    Roger, Jun 3, 2005
  9. Roger

    Roger Guest

    Which is also what I did with Nikon. I have several 35s including an
    F4S and their lenses work just fine on the D-70. I just purchased a
    28 to 105 close focus that works on the 35s and great on the D-70.
    Good enough I may start using it as the standard lens instead of the
    kit lens.

    For my own use, I don't care if a camera is considered
    state-of-the-art as long as it does what I want. As I mentioned, one
    of the cameras I still use is a fully manual Pentax H-2, but
    admittedly it doesn't get a lot of use.

    The D-70 does nearly everything I want with a couple of
    exceptions. The D70s answers one of those with the remote cable
    connection. Sooo... I may add a D70s body, or I may wait to see if
    they add a mirror lockup in a year or so. Still, it'd be nice to have
    a spare body that I could control remotely from behind instead of the
    front mounted IR sensor.

    My original post was just an explanation as to why today's cameras go
    obsolete so quickly and why they aren't supported for long after
    seeing so many complaints about such. It's just pretty much a natural
    result of a consumer driven market that is evolving rapidly.

    Roger Halstead (K8RI & ARRL life member)
    (N833R, S# CD-2 Worlds oldest Debonair)
    Roger, Jun 3, 2005
  10. Roger

    DHB Guest

    That's my point, the crop 1.6x crop factor allows shorter
    focal length lens to act much like longer focal length lenses. My
    Canon EF 100mm f2.0 USM lens acts much like a 160mm lens on my Digital
    Rebel/300D so if I prefer longer focal length lenses, I can mimic
    their effective performance with shorter 1's thanks to the 1.6x crop

    The only reason Canon "might" make a telephoto EF-S lens in
    the future would be to reduce the extra size & weight of the lens. A
    reasonably light/small 200mm EF-S lens would be nice if the price was
    also less than a comparable EF lens. The relative equivalent of a
    320mm lens when used on a 1.6x crop factored camera would be nice but
    Canon would only build it if they felt there was a large enough call
    for it & if it would not cut too far into comparable EF lenses they
    make now that cost more.
    True enough but I am hoping that Canon comes out with a
    relatively small, light weight, fairly inexpensive EF-S 200mm F2.8
    lens. This may simply be wishful thinking on my part but what would
    life be without hope?
    Thanks for your question, I hope I answered it.

    Respectfully, DHB

    "To announce that there must be no criticism of the President,
    or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong,
    is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable
    to the American public."--Theodore Roosevelt, May 7, 1918
    DHB, Jun 3, 2005
  11. They have nearly that now, the 135mm F2.0L.


    "I have been a witness, and these pictures are
    my testimony. The events I have recorded should
    not be forgotten and must not be repeated."

    -James Nachtwey-
    John A. Stovall, Jun 6, 2005
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