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Don't worry, be snappy: Stop complaining about your digital camera

Christopher Breen | Aug. 4, 2014
When one has done something long enough (and, for the sake of this particular argument, let's say living can be reasonably counted among them) there's a tendency to take the long view--we have some notion of where we've been as well as how things are now. Recent complaints about the state of Apple and photography have compelled me to take a journey down the historical highway in the hope of gaining some perspective on just where we stand in regard to taking and making images with our cameras.

When one has done something long enough (and, for the sake of this particular argument, let's say living can be reasonably counted among them) there's a tendency to take the long view — we have some notion of where we've been as well as how things are now. Recent complaints about the state of Apple and photography have compelled me to take a journey down the historical highway in the hope of gaining some perspective on just where we stand in regard to taking and making images with our cameras.

Divine digital

Unfair though it may be to compare yesterday's picture-snapping process to hiking 17 miles uphill in the snow, I'd like to put in a word for digital as it pertains to photography. As you old-timers recall, at one time our cameras housed strips of cellulose acetate or polyester covered in light sensitive material. When the shutter opened, that material captured an impression of the light shone on it. Before you could view your pictures, you had to remove the film, run it through a development process, and then create printed images from the negatives.

This took time. Lots of time. Lots of time when you weren't pointing your camera at the objects you wished to capture. This meant that you had to have more than a small measure of faith that you knew one end of the camera from the other, as you didn't have the luxury of snapping a shot and quickly looking at an LCD to see a preview of it (or pull up a histogram that offered clues on how to adjust the camera's settings).

Additionally, film cost money. Unless you were particularly well-heeled (or took pictures for a living) you didn't burn dozens of rolls of film hoping that one picture out of 100 was worth a damn. Instead you carefully planned your shots and, perhaps, shied away from the kind of experimentation that could result in a wasted frame (but far more interesting image).

While there may be those who prefer the look of film (just as there are people who prefer long-playing records to CDs or digital downloads), even the most traditional among us must admit that there's something to be said for the ability to shoot and preview hundreds of images at a go. It means we can get realtime feedback on what we're doing and, as today's memory cards can hold hundreds of high-resolution images, we can afford to take chances. Rather than snapping one shot of your beloved feline and hoping for the best, you can now try for the ultimate kitty pic by shooting the creature from every angle under a variety of lighting conditions.

 

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