The End of the Beginning

This is the third and final blog post about digital photography in 2018 – at least as I see it.

Consumer film photography was in its heyday for 100 years. The age of the consumer digital camera has now been around about 30 years. It’s fair to say that the film camera is at an end for most practical purposes. How about the digital camera? Is this the end, or – as Churchill might say – is this the end of the beginning?

The lovely Samsung NX-1 pictured above is no more – and it was the finest mirrorless camera on the market when it was introduced. In fact,  Samsung – profitable maker of smartphones, tablets, DVD players, TVs, washing machines, and refrigerators – has decided to get out of the camera market entirely. Their market was destroyed by the smartphone.

Now I cannot deny that smartphone cameras have made huge strides in image quality. For the average user, smartphone snapshots are just fine. A smartphone gets smoked by a digital camera when it comes to sensor size, optical zoom, and creative settings but if you are the average person walking around with a phone on a selfie stick, do you care?

Here is one of my favorite photos from the recent cruise we took. I was happy to have my travel zoom along when we returned to the ship from Willemstad, Curacao. Yet I must admit this one could have been adequately photographed by a smartphone. A good one would go wide enough, be fast enough, and have enough pixels to capture the pounding surf and the cruise liner.

This one not so much. You needed the travel zoom’s telephoto capability to catch the Montjuic Castle in the morning sunlight.

A smartphone couldn’t do this either. This one has a DSLR’s capability and an ultrawide lens that isn’t available on a smartphone..yet.

Not to brag, but the average guy walking around with a selfie stick would not have my experience as a photographer. It takes a bit of skill to spot the right point to take an image, plus see things in the right light. You may have to get down and dirty with the rocks in the foreground as well.

A camera does not make a photographer, but I believe that the fact that you do have a good picture appliance along gives you a bit extra motivation to get things right. Plus I enjoy using a really nice piece of optical kit. In my case, a smartphone would not be replacing an el cheapo $100 digicam.

As I see it, it’s far too early to write the last chapter in the digital camera story. “Real” cameras are going to become niche items, maybe even luxury items. The vast majority of future images will be made and shared by smartphones. But just as film and film cameras have never truly gone away, I don’t expect that specialized digital cameras will either. At least they won’t as long as mossbacks like me are around to buy them.






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