PhotoPlus 2010 Review and Why I Shoot Film Part 2

Click on the Audio link to listen to a review of PhotoPlus Expo 2010 as well as Part 2 in my series Why I Shoot Film!

Viva la Revolution- Stephen

Stuff On Display at Expo…

PhotoPlus Expo 2010... Models??
Listening to the Photo Evangelists

7 Responses

  1. Ron

    I couldn’t agree more. It all goes back to what someone considers “better”. For example, mp3’s are better if, by “better”, you mean being able to carry a zillion songs inside a tiny device. However, an mp3 does not sound as good as a quality analog recording. Convenience is being conflated with quality, but that is only realized by people who recognize quality in the first place. I fear that in less than one more generation the trade-off will be irreversible.
    Sound and light are curvy sine waves and the digital process converts them to square waves. Even with the highest sampling rates, a series of square waves can only approach a curvy wave. Don’t forget: there are no square waves in nature.

  2. It’s the picture, stupid!

    It’s the same problem that every mass-market product has ever had. It’s like records to CDs to MP3s. As long as something is the domain of artists then quality can be sought. As long as something is aimed at consumers then quality is out the window and instead some arbitrary spec is pursued.

    Let me parallel this with audio. When I was growing up we all worried about two things: frequency response and distortion. The better the equipment the better these numbers tended to be so we took them as a sort of holy grail. Then came CDs with perfect frequency and distortion numbers. I remember how puzzled I was when I first realised that a cheap CD player sounded thin and dead and a more expensive one sounded better when they gave the same numbers. I was blinded by my faith in those two numbers as the sole measure of audio quality. A true connoisseur needs to trust his ears but a consumer can only be sold on a number.

    Fast forward to today. All serious equipment is now reviewed almost solely on the artistic judgement of audio experts using subjective terms. All consumer equipment sounds horrible. MP3s rule the roost even though they can’t cope with something as simple as a multi-part vocal harmony with echo without breaking up in a way that anyone can hear. Anybody who remembers better is old enough to be disregarded.

    This is why I’m not so sure that digital will ever really surpass film unless it ceases to be the mass-market fad that it currently is. Since “capturing memories” seems intrinsically human, I’m not sure that day will ever come. As long as cameras are driven by the mass-market then lenses will continue to pursue corner sharpness at any cost. Mega-pixels will continue to soar along with ISO. Any kind of “zing” whether from hyper-sharpness, hyper-contrast, ultra-builtin-HDR or whatever will continue to drive R&D. Frame rates will accelerate until the ultimate merger with video. I saw some ladies faces on posters the last week that should never have been allowed out the door. The poor women looked like test subjects for some accelerated skin ageing drug thanks to hyper-persuit of sharpness above any other concern and digital’s harsh highlight edges.

    At the same time, film’s market becomes more and more a market of connoisseurs driving the film makers to pursue genuine artistic improvements. Can they ever out-sharpen digital? But they can out-subtle it, they can out-texture it, they can out-colour it, they can out-natural it. In this way I see the two technologies actually progressing in different directions.

    Me, I think I like the film direction.

    Sam
    http://www.flickr.com/samagnew

  3. James B.

    Great post, Stephen. I’ve often wondered whether that “hyperreal” look is a result of the sensors or the way photographers shoot. It seems that everyone is bringing truckloads of lighting to their shoots these days.

  4. K. D. G.

    Actually I think press photographers should just set their DSLRs to ‘video’ and single out frames later. After all, most of their stuff is for web use and it isn’t as if newspapers make proper use of 12 megapixel images.

  5. Jean-Michel

    I’m glad I’m not the only who is less than thrilled at the convergence between video and stills. I never could be bothered even trying the (alleggedly excellent) video capabilities of my Canon DSLR, wondering all the while how much better the camera could be if the engineers would have concentrated on designing and building the best stills camera they could for th egiven price. So when I “discovered” that film was still alive and kicking, out went my DSLR kit, that I replaced with the minimalistic and superb FM2… Truly a liberating moment.

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