On photography websites we're forever going on about what we can't buy— "wishful thinking" cameras, future technologies, rumors of coming products, capabilities we need but don't have. Think about it. Every now and then it's probably healthy to reflect on what we can buy, and to remember how recently we couldn't. Things have gotten much better for us in a relatively short time, after all.
Got any other good examples? Here are a few that came to my mind (I could add some more, but I'm tired):
Kingston 32GB SDHC flash memory—Remember when the first 1GB IBM Microdrive came out? And that it was a miniaturized hard drive the size of a CF card (i.e., roughly three times the size of this) and cost "only" $500? And how amazing that seemed at the time?
Canon Rebel XS and EF-S 18–55mm IS lens—Remember back in 2003 when the Digital Rebel, the first true "Volkskamera," came out? With "crippled" firmware and a whopping six megapixels, lapping the then-still-recent D30? And how, if you bought it without a lens, it actually cost less than a thousand dollars (for the first time ever)? And how people back then snarfed 'em up by the bushel if not the boatload?
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3—Well, okay, you can't quite buy this yet. But do you remember when "one megapixel" was an awesome concept, and blew away your friend's 320,000-pixel "digital-electronic camera"?
Leica M8—Remember when everybody was fervently hoping against hope that one day this would exist?
Canon EF 400mm ƒ/2.8L IS USM lens—Remember Canon's very first IS lens, for its film cameras (it's still available), and how you passed it around to all your friends so they could could see, and how you marveled over just how in the world they did that?
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24–70mm ƒ/2.8G ED—Remember when zooms just weren't as good as primes?
Leica 35mm Summicron-M ASPH—Remember when Leica had only one highly skilled craftsman who could make aspheric elements? And how the value of every $5,500 35mm Summilux Aspherical Type 1, with its hand-ground and -polished aspheric element, went up immediately after it left the manufacturer?
Gitzo Series 0 Mountaineer Carbon Fiber Tripod—Remember when lightweight tripods had legs made of aluminum tubing?
Flashpoint F-1128—Remember when carbon-fiber tripods were expensive?
Remember when everybody, but everybody, wore one of these when they were working? (Oops, sorry, delete that—they still do.)
The Creative Digital Darkroom by Katrin Eismann and Seán Duggan—Remember when a "darkroom" really was a dark room?
Mac Mini—Remember how much you paid for your first Macintosh? (For me it was $2,500 for a machine with half a MB of memory.)
Epson Stylus Photo 1400—Remember when Epson was a new name on the scene that only a few people had heard of, and its Stylus Photo started making people realize that maybe inkjet was a viable medium for printing photographs after all? But you couldn't print on glossy paper and the ink dyes started fading after only a few years?
Canon iPF 5100 17"-wide, 12-ink pigment printer—Remember when the Epson 2000p came out—the very first consumer pigment inkjet printer? And how it was "wide-format" at 13" and "photo quality" because it had six inks instead of four? And remember that nasty metamerism?
Remember the first time you ever clicked on the address bar of a web browser, and how amazing it was that all that information came up so fast? Even if you'd now think it was pretty slow? And now you come here to The Online Photographer nearly every day, and don't think anything of it at all.
Featured Comment from Jon Bloom: "1 TB hard drives. The first hard drive I ever owned was a whopping 10 MB in size—a bit too small to hold one RAW image from a modern camera."
Mike replies: Good one, Jon. (Hope you don't mind the link I chose.) My brother and I frequently remember one of his "big" early purchases—a 20MB external hard drive about the size of a volume of an encyclopedia that cost $800.
Featured Comment by David A. Goldfarb: "Remember the technological marvel that greats like Richard Avedon used to make timeless images? You can still buy it—."
Featured Comment by Tom: "A comment on the original Digital Rebel. It was crippled, but a hard-working Russian hacker who went by the name Wasia hacked the firmware. All of a sudden I had FEC on my dReb. I was so elated that I posted it on my web site. My web traffic at that time was almost entirely my mother. But my one post mentioning that hacked firmware went over 5 digits worth of views. So my top 5 posts by views were like 3 views, 3 views, 4 views, 10 views (<—a cat photo) and 25,000 views. For that many people to be interested in loading some unknown Russian's hacked firmware on to their $1000 dReb is a pretty good indication of just how well it sold."