Interesting Times


As the old photographer’s adage goes, the best camera is the one that you always have with you.

Since its invention in the late 1950’s, the Single Lens Reflex (SLR) pentaprism camera has been the workhorse of the professional photography industry, thanks to its ability to accurately reproduce the view of the lens through the eyepiece as well as for its changeable lens design.

In the early 1990s the SLR got a digital upgrade from its 35mm roots by replacing the mechanical film system with a digitizer back.

Since then, the digital-SLR (DSLR) has evolved to become the platform of choice for many pros and prosumers as developments in digital photography have also improved with each successive generation, such as pixel density and sensor size, faster autofocus motors, stabilized lenses and more advanced signal processing chips, as well as the ability to shoot video.

Read more at Yes, smartphones have killed the DSLR | ZDNet.

It certainly has been an interesting week for photographers. Lots of talk around the web of how standalone cameras are becoming have become secondary to smartphones (deja vu, anyone?). And now it looks like the Nokia 1020 has hit several more nails into the digital camera coffin, let alone film cameras. (hat tip to warptest) If you want to read the full specs, Nokia has published a white paper (PDF) with all the technical details on their newest, dare I say it, phone.

4842840757_d227d2e8a2_qArticles like the one above from ZDNet, and this one from Mother Jones, will most certainly engage photographers of all sorts in discussions over the nature of photography and what makes a photograph. Perhaps the day is already here when the experience of standing in a darkened room with the acrid, vinegary smell of developing agents is gone or left to a dwindling number of people interested in esoterica. (It’s been nearly 35 years since I last developed my own film, but I can still smell the darkroom.) Personally, I find posting film photographs on sites like flickr and 500px the ultimate irony.

So what drives what? Is the fall of film/digital cameras due to the demands of the consumer in an increasingly digital world or has the paradigm just shifted to embrace the current axiom? What are we losing, if anything, by the shift from film camera to digital camera to camera phone?

(Image Attribution: The featured image appearing in this post courtesy of Kurt Torster on flickr and released under a CC BY-ND 2.0 License and the inset photo appearing here courtesy of Thomas Prenner on flickr and released under a CC BY-SA 2.0 License)