My Birthday Rant

BDCAKE Click on the Birthday Cake to listen to this long rant on the possible future of our industry and suggestions on a more sustainable path. The discussion includes the current love-fest with the new Leica M9, printer ink costs and how video is going to kill much of the photography industry… video killed the photography star!

Note: In the audio I mention how I was considering buying an Epson 9900 to work along with my d’Vinci yet once I saw the ink price was shocked back to my senses. Well I guess not shocked hard enough… as I just purchased one. Now if you will excuse me I have to get to McDonald’s for my tenth job to pay for the ink.

Also, my birthday was on September 12- and for the curious I got a retro wood record player for my growing record collection.

13 thoughts on “My Birthday Rant

  1. A lot of interesting points brought up here.
    I have to say though, sorting through several cards worth of images is bad enough. I couldn’t imagine having to go through several minutes worth of footage trying to find a single frame worthy of printing.

    1. I’ve done it from time to time and its not so bad… just set the play back to a slow motion and have a glass of wine and click stop when you like it… I’m sure there will be a more sophisticated method as this advances but I am sure at least for me the glass of wine is the key to success.


  2. One thing is for sure… we don’t know what the world will look like in three years… let alone five to ten…

    I look at things differently than you. If more photographers switch to video photography will be a more specialized niche. So let them switch. Also, I don’t feel like still imagery is going anywhere. I have been a musician for 20 years and your rant sounds just like what we thought was going to happen to the music industry when computer/midi technology came along. Yes, the music industry has changed a lot but plenty of people still make it big singing and playing acoustic guitar.

    In the end I think it comes down to photographers like you and me teaching other people how to use still cameras and how to make prints that will keep the industry alive.

    1. I don’t think still images are dead I just think that in journalism in particular that video will replace the vast majority… I hope that sites like FR and other that share info on printing and hybrid workflows can generate enough interest to keep this portion of the industry alive as I believe that digital and analog should and need to coexist… fingers crossed! Problem in our industry is that so much of what we use is made for us by companies that are having a difficult time making $$$… people can sing or get an instrument like a guitar as it has crossed from Analog to digital but Kodachrome, good darkroom paper or even a new 35mm camera are getting very hard to find…

  3. When I saw the length of your rant Stephen I thought …. whoooaaa …. better download this one, burn to CDW and listen in the car. Which is exactly what I did this morning and as usual you are right on the money with your views, the pricing of the M9 is a joke as is the D3X etc, etc and there’s no way it is sustainable. Think it’s going to some of the camera dealers heads too, I was in a shop in Bath earlier and they had a nice mint- chrome M7 with no price on it so I asked how much only to be told £2100.00 ….. When I replied that even Leica recommended dealers were only charging between £1200.00 – £1500.00 for the same camera in the same condition I was told well that’s what we are charging for it take it or leave it! Lord knows what they would of charged for an M8 if they’d had one for sale.

    For goodness sake, we are in a global recession and I think with so many new cameras launched at silly money of late that many dealers are also whacking up their mark up on their S/H gear too which is a travesty. As you say, these prices cannot be sustained and there’s only so many updates that anyone can put up with and/or afford when it comes to digital gear especially because as soon as you buy it it’s old news in only a matter of months.

    Interesting thoughts on video and it being photography’s future and that does makes sense really, hehe I physically bought a newspaper today for the first time in ages and shock horror almost all of the news in it was already familiar to me from the day before – up to the minute news via the web is here to stay that’s for sure so something will have to give, gotta be the newspapers as you indicate.

    You really ought not to have given in and bought that printer though – but who am I to talk? We all do it don’t we from time to time even though we know the price, running costs and lifespan of a product is criminal? 😀

    1. The printer was difficult to purchase but it will allow me to run two machines at once (d’Vinci and 9900) on a wider range of papers for my clients and my own artworks… time will tell but I am excited about this new options at IHIW.


  4. I cannot comment on the high-end aspect of your rant (ie the S2 and its ilk). If a pro can amortize that purchase effectively and it makes sense, who am I to say it’s too expensive?

    What I will comment on is the X1 at $2K (to represent a bigger general counter argument). Bad deal you say. Unsustainable.

    But let’s look it at. The last round of film high-end point and shoots that had similar specs retailed for about $1K. Adjusted for inflation that’s about/at least $1.2K in today’s dollars. (I’m speaking here of cameras like the Contax T3 and the Nikon 35 Ti). I purchased, well traded gear, for a Contax T3 in 2002 and remember well the price. It should be noted that the 35 Ti debuted in 1993 priced at about $1.1K ($1,640 in today’s dollars).

    So, in comparison, the X1 is well priced. It’s hard to argue that it’s expensive/overpriced given this background.

    Now, here’s the interesting part…If I buy and use an X1 for 5 years, I needn’t pay for film, development, or scanning (or any costs associated with these if you do some of it yourself). How much do you spend on these in a year? A moderate shooter (I’m a light shooter) will have paid for the X1 in two years. A light shooter in 4. And that, I believe, is erring on the side of caution.

    Many will argue now that the X1 (if it delivers in practice what is currently on paper) will be more than sufficient to out-perform the above mentioned film point-and-shoot classics. If you purchased a Ti when it was introduced, you’ve now been using it for some 16 years. The only concern with the X1 is will it (the sensor and electronics) last 16 years. Because it will really only be obsolete if you think it’s obsolete. Obsolescence, in this case, is not Leica’s fault, but yours. If the X1 lasts for 10 years and you shoot it and enjoy it, you are far, far ahead of the film game in terms of investment.

    This is the myth of digital being expensive. Yes it’s expensive if you don’t factor in the cost of film. And all of this, I should note, is coming from a film shooter who will continue to shoot film for the foreseeable future.

    The wedding photographers I know, own a mix of gear. Some are shooting crop-sensor DSLRs (minimal investment) and some full-frame. All of them love digital, love what it’s done for their process, and wouldn’t go back to film for any money. None of them are making less, or are less busy, than they were before. Mothers and fathers sporting the latest DSLRs are not about to usurp those who know what they are doing. Again, another myth.

    And are we so quick to forget that photography has always been about the next best camera and/or lens for so many of us? It was in the heyday of film. Don’t tell me you settled on your Leica and a 35mm ‘cron back in the 60s and never bought another piece of kit. I won’t believe it.

  5. 1st of All happy birthday Mr. Schaub 😀

    This indeed is a long rant but considering your birthday, oh well 😀

    As a reaction to the Leica M9 and others being unreasonably expensive, I sincerely and wholeheartedly agree! It sucks but rather than the companies providing sustainability to the professional photographers, the ones that really but alot are the households and hobbyists!

    I’m not a pro or anything but almost every month, friends or friends of friends go to me and ask me for help on basic photography because their family just bought a DSLR for vacation photos and whatnot. It is slowly becoming, if not, already a peice of household electronic. They have more purchasing power than professionals and they are easily attracted to marketing schemes. (It’s annoying how many times I have told people that it’s not about the megapixel).

    at the end of the day, the photography companies just want to make money and as long as people buy and go uneducated— then the cycle or the prediction you pointed out just might happen 🙂

    Have a good one 😀

  6. I think you hit the nail on the head here, except for one thing. The $7k price tag on the new Leica won’t stop people buying it, even though it will be worth less than an M3 in 10 years. I’m constantly astounded at the pricey gear that people own, even people who never use it in anything other than program mode. Soccer mums with maybe $5 to $10k worth of equipment, who don’t seem to know how it works. And the magazines are constantly pushing new gear/software etc.. “hey, you must have this, its only $700, how can you afford not to get it!!” Or check out the questions on the popular photo websites… “I have this $4k lens, should I sell it and get this $6k lens?”. I never had this kind of gear as an amateur.

    On a separate note, I got out of the photography biz 10 years ago and now work as a TV producer. The writing was on the wall even then, and as you said, pulling stills from an HD camera today will give you a 1020 by 1980 pixel picture. I’m amazed any newspaper photographers even shoot with still cameras anymore. If you’ve got the $$$, you can get a RED video camera with 4000 pixels. This technology will trickle down to a more affordable level in the next few years.

    From my perspective, the technology is a great thing. I already shoot, edit and produce my own stuff. Now I will be able to sell stills as well. Good for me, bad for you (if you’re a photojournalist). If I wanted to be a journalist today I would learn video. Still photography as a profession will soon be a niche occupation, mainly reserved for fine artists.

    I still love photography, but it was obviously becoming a crappy way to make a living. So now I’m an amateur again, rediscovering my love of photography, and it’s perfect.
    I can use whatever equipment I like, from 4 X 5 pinhole to a DSLR, photographing whatever I like, and I don’t have to justify my choices to anyone!

  7. Stephen,

    I believe you’re right.

    Video is going to be the most disruptive technology to hit photography since digital.

    It’s already becoming more prevelant in the magazine industry…which is ironic because they’ve practically killed off the day rate assignment, staff and contract photographers and yet they’ll spend a gazillion dollars to have a photographer shoot stills and motion and that requires a huge staff, production gear rental, and craft services.

    I thought they had no money?

    I got into stills precisely because it is NOT like movies and this level of production. The notion of a small bag, a small camera, a couple lenses and a few rolls of b & w film are what appealed to me then and even more so now.

    Personally commissioned work is probably the only saving grace for still photography in the future.

    Happy Birthday, btw 🙂


  8. RED cameras are already being used for stills in magazine shoots for Vanity Fair and the like. Oddly enough, Red’s next generation of cameras (which are designed to be used for both still and video) are of a modular design that is meant to save the user money by forcing you to only replace the “brain” as they call it to upgrade the sensor. It is indeed the most expensive part of the system, but perhaps a step in the right direction.

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