…has replaced film photography in our home. It took me two printers and an upgraded camera to convince my wife that digital could compete and then replace traditional 35MM film cameras.
Our first digital camera was my Christmas gift in 1998. It was a Kodak DC260 with 1.2 Megapixels. It worked well although the shutter delay (press the “shoot” button and a second later the picture would be captured) and the inability to take more than two pictures in rapid succession (it’d take ~20 seconds to write the camera’s buffer to the compact flash card) made it frustrating. Why does my daughter do all of her best expressions invariably on what would have been the third photograph? You couldn’t do sports/action/fireworks at all without some serious guessing about what might happen in a second or two or having Jean Dixon as your spotter.
I bought a well known printer manufacturer’s “photo” printer for $200. I bought the leading photo supplier’s paper. The output was crap. It was the bane of digital photography’s existence. The ink wouldn’t jet onto the paper well leaving part of the picture looking glossy and other parts matted. My wife wasn't impressed and kept using the 35 MM for pictures we'd give to people (mainly family).
The perfect storm of technical innovation and exercising a stock option grant convinced my wife to let me invest (yeah, like I’ll see a ROI—I’ve been in sales too long) in a high-end digital camera (a Nikon D100). There are several reasons I wanted it (and none of them have anything to do with its ability to take 6.1 megapixel photographs). First, it uses real lenses (“glass” as those in the business call it). Want to get more light onto the CCD and zoom in from 300 feet away? Open your wallet and buy a new lower aperture, 300MM lens. Second, no shutter delay. I typically take 300K JPEGs which means the buffer can write to the CF at ~3 frames per second continuously. We take a lot of photographs and then delete the less than stellar ones in “post production” (when they’ve been copied to a computer with a display bigger than 50x40 pixels). Lastly, because it behaves like a 35MM SLR. I press the shutter button and take a picture. No worries about the technology (and its possible limitations).
I also replaced our photo printer with a Canon S900. That printer got incredible reviews and was only $150. They made the brilliant decision to include a few sizes of their photo paper with it. Thier paper works very well with their printer. The pictures are stunning. I have done photography as a student (high school a brief stint as a photojournalism major in college), professional (in kind trades), and of course as an amateur for twenty plus years and with the exception of not seeing Kodak or Fuji on the back I can’t tell which was shot with film and which was stored as ones and zeros.
What could be better?
I don’t like the AutoFocus on my high end camera. That is because I invariably end up having “cheat” the camera by setting the focus point (press shutter button halfway down) and then moving the lens to frame the picture or end up forgetting to do that because I’m more consciously thinking about the composition and end up having a in focus wall with two out of focus subjects. Solution? Switch to manual focus. Unfortunately, Nikkor (undoubtedly due to autofocus) makes the focus ring very small while increasing the size of the zoom ring (on the one lens I own). I have two other lower end cameras (including five year old Kodak) that never had problems focusing. I have older non-Nikkor, non-autofocus 35 MM lenses that have a big 'ol focus ring. I've taken more out of focus pictures with my new camera than I ever did with my Pentax K1000 from 1979.
We take too many pictures and even as easy as it is to hit “delete” we don’t do it often enough. I’ve got 90 pictures of me and my daughter in the pool. I took 220 pictures of my niece’s basketball game. Being able to take thousands of photographs and not have to pay for the film and the processing is actually a bonus so my point isn't as much a do better but a practice in need of besting. The one positive of the buffer writing limitiation was we were more judicious about taking fewer pictures.
I see a lot of people who are solely interested in megapixels. Poppycock! (I was in England once). What are you going to do with a 6.1 Mb RAW NEF image? Print a 20 x 30” photograph? Could be but not in my household—my wife doesn’t like anything larger than a 5 x 7s. Actually, when flat panels are pervasive throughout our house (I see and want a Billg-like household experience someday) I can see where we’d want as much resolution as possible but between having 8000 photos and the cost be Gb being still about a dollar its still a bit more than I’m willing to spend (I can’t imagine time and money is cost for Don to rip 1000 CDs in lossless format given that each CD is 300-400 Mb). I do the poor man’s version of this today on the couple of 17-19” monitors in our house and even at 300K they look very, very good. If XBox’s Music Mixer didn’t require a daemon and the clunky software to transfer photographs I’d display them via our home theater today. Someday…
The funny thing is someday we'll all be taking 20 megapixel photos just like we have 180 Gb HDDs when ten years ago I had a 120 Mb one!