August 01, 2004

thoughts; long form.

a pair of thoughts I had at the fireworks, either watching everyone try and take digital photos of the fireworks (which is damn near impossible to do right), or watching Drew do the same with his PDA.

I'm not huge on convergence. I like my gadgets separate from each other, so that their UIs can be optimized for each device, and even if I have to spend 4 times as much time learning, I'm happier.
This whole "cameras in everything" trend is slightly worrying; digital cameras embedded in things hardly deliver the shots that a consumer camera would, and come nowhere close to the quality of a pro(sumer) device. Of course, that's okay for most people - I don't think most people I know with cameras ever adjust their white balance or anything like that. A shame, really, because it'd help bump the shot from "okay" to "good". Even if the camera is only to record events, doing it well is never a bad thing*.
What I sort of wonder about is if the trend towards one widget will cause the standalone digital camera to fade into the west get dropped by manufacturers - Asia's already got 3MP cameraphones, which is enough for a decent 5x7 print. I can see the average user moving towards a cameraphone - the camera does the job and is integrated into the phone that would be carried anyway. I wonder, idly, if this trend would eliminate the standard consumer camera, or (as Rob suggested) leave a less contiguous market, where the extremes are marketed to, and cameras come either as super-basic ones or envelope-pushing professional models. I think what's more likely is the same thing that's happened in the PDA market; where four companies (Treo, Palm, HP and Sony) are continuing to produce a decently large range of PDAs, all of which have their own specialties, and all the others simply crashed.
I wonder which four will make it in the camera world...
Canon's in for sure; being the professional choice for both film and digital, I don't see them going away.
Nikon is also definitely in, because if one doesn't go Canon, they go Nikon.
I'd like to see Panasonic over Sony, partially because Leica > Zeiss, and also because Panasonic prefers memory formats that don't suck in addition to providing good kit at decent prices. Don't know if that'll happen, though.
Last spot leaves: Fuji, Sony, Kodak, HP, Casio, Konica/Minolta, and a plethora of others that I can't be bothered with, most of whom will wither away when the wave of firsttime buyers subsides. I can't really say who will stay and who will go, but it'll certainly be interesting to watch.

*it can be a bad thing when you find yourself stuck behind the camera at every event you attend, not only not having fun, but having that one guy who thinks he's a better photographer than you offering tips at every turn, so that the evening is spent watching other people have fun while resisting the urge to turn around and hit said person.

Film is dying, and it's simply a matter of time before walking into London Drugs with a roll of 35mm C41 process colour film gets you the same look as it does if you walk in there with a roll of black and white today**. This is unfortunate, I think, because film has an experience that digital can't match. The struggling inside light-sealed closets as one tries to get the film onto the spindle, the measuring of chemicals and temperatures, the super-careful shake, shake, tap of the developing process, and the satisfaction of slowly pulling out a strip of film and seeing the moments contained thereupon. We're not even going to touch the magic of darkrooms, or the fun stuff you can get up to with a little light, mid-developing process.
What it sort of reminds me of, though, is vinyl. Vinyl as a consumer format is dead. It's reserved for enthusiasts and professionals, who own the proper equipment to show it the respect/love it deserves. Also, said professionals/enthusiasts get up to some extremely cool stuff with it that it's difficult/impossible to do with their successors.
I'm not saying "OMG FILM IS THE NEW VINYL, JUST LIKE PINK IS THE NEW OLIVE GREEN", but I'm wondering if it'll reach the same status, and what we'll start seeing in terms of envelope-pushing art when it does.

I can't wait.
and now I want a darkroom.

**namely, one saying, "Are you fucking nuts? Also, that'll take two weeks and cost more than one-hour colour processing."

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