7 thoughts on “Are We Really Getting Our Money’s Worth

  1. My thoughts? Seems identical to yours, the piece about vinyl was timely truth that adds to the debate too.

    Too many folk have bought into the great digital lie in my opinion. It’s newer so it must be better, right? So many people I know believe this, people who should know better too. Thing is this issue is so easy to prove though.

    Everytime I have any doubts or am considering going back to the dark side and lusting over a Leica M 240 I just get prints of my best work out from say my current 1958 Rolleiflex 3.5f or old Mamiya 6 and then compare them to my best prints made on digital with I guess the M9 being the pinnacle in that area.

    Takes minutes and game over EVERY time for digital imaging on so many levels. And as you say, get an old 5×4 or 10×8 and compare and it gets even worse for digital. Sure the workflow takes more effort but the results are way, way worth it in my world. Isn’t that what *should* count?

  2. I like the vinyl analogy and the mention of the reflection time. Instant super sharp, hyper saturated images do not excite me anymore. I like personal craftsmanshipe over prefabricated Lightroom presets.

  3. Digital is great for its immediacy, but that’s also its downfall. We should avoid falling into the trap of believing that digital is better simply because of its speed and convenience compared to film. I’ve seen great pictures taken in both formats – and plenty of bad ones, too!

  4. This is very much in line with what I’ve been thinking about lately as well. Digital seems very specific in that each new advance brings with it another sacrifice in quality, a sacrifice that likely will not be redressed after we have become used to it. I think by it’s very definition of integral approximation, this decline in quality is inherent in some way. Vinyl is a good example. I also use the typewriter for word processing as another example, especially for creative writing. This is an important distinction, that we are creating art so the values of the technology are going to be different than its use for business or science. If you don’t understand the values of your work, you will default to those of the manufacturer.

  5. Seeing that the Library of Congress has taken it upon itself to archive all twitter messages (what a great use of taxpayer dollars), this seems to be the new solution to storage of digital everything: let someone else do it.

    I also like your analogy of vinyl and prints. Being a musician who records music on tape instead of digitally, I also see a lot in common between film and tape on the capture side as well. I’ve seen some pretty good canvas prints made from digital camera images, and heard some nice-sounding discs cut from all-digital sources, but of course the best examples of both are those that started out life on a physical medium. There is only so much manipulation you can do to a darkroom print, the same way that there can’t be endless edits on a tape. What you certainly get from the beginning is a more authentic (and usually better) source, and a longer-lived, nice physical one at that (tape is archival too, and most digital information is stored long-term on data tape even today).

    While recording on tape can be an exhausting and time-consuming process, the rewards are there to be heard (it actually takes a lot more skill…I still have a lot to learn). I’d love to have my albums cut to vinyl someday (and you can bet it’ll be AAA all the way), but it’s not affordable for me right now, unfortunately. I mixed down to CD using a digital console and then made a cassette release, it’s kind of like getting prints done at Walgreens. There are equivalents in other ways. I just transferred my multitracks to Pro Tools to remix, kind of like scanning a negative and dodging/burning in Photoshop. The possibility of combinations between digital and physical mediums today truly is staggering…

  6. Take a look at the article “The Afterlife is Expensive for Digital Movies” at the NY Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/23/business/media/23steal.html?_r=0

    It raises some interesting points about bang for your buck, and specifically the hidden costs of digital. Vault storage for a film master is around $1,000/year, but around $12,500/year for a digital master. Adding in all the ancillary material raises the preservation costs for digital to over $200,000/year. The cost for storage of analog ancillaries? $486/year. The article also mentions the need to continually migrate the data to new formats as older ones become obsolete.

    Obviously the storage costs for still photography are much smaller than the vast amount of storage required for even a single feature-length film, but the odds that a photographer will be able to keep up this kind of “active” archiving without data loss are small. We are on the brink of losing a chunk of our history.

    The Times article is based on a paper called “The Digital Dilemma” released by AMPAS (also worth a read).

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