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Tuesday, 19 August 2008


Thanks for the feel good post :)
Now where do I get enough money to buy all of this ?


When you find out, tell me.

Mike J.

I had almost forgot, but now I remember! Thanks for starting my day with a smile :)

Remember when everybody was worried about the millenium?

Really, it was just the start of a whole new world of imaging. I got my first digital camera in 2001, and bought one of those 6MP Digital Rebels in 2004. I made a lot of images with it which stand up technically today. Revisiting high ISO shots taken with it, which weren't bad to begin with, using contemporary NR software can be a revelation.

Now my darkroom is only dim, is dry and doesn't smell like it will shorten my lifespan - and - I can do so many things in/with it that I couldn't before.

And printers! Oh my. I can easily make color prints better than anything I could afford before.

Carbon fiber tripod? IS lens? Yeah, got those, and love 'em.

And the cameras! The 5D is a wonder. The F30 and A650 IS do things I could never dream of with small film cameras. To paraphrase Ben, twist and tilt screens, low noise high ISO and IS are proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.

I've found the digital revolution to be a wonderful, deeply enjoyable thing. Even the Diana+ on its way to me will have its images scanned and printed digitally, as are the 35mm images I still make.


"....and don't think anything of it at all. "

Well I think a lot of it. In fact, the ability to see the work of lots of photographers when I feel the need, and to read the views of a huge and diverse range of photographers and critics - the creation of communities - is the biggest marvel to me, far more than all the gear.

So too is the humble podcast a marvel - something to make commuting bearable and add to one's stock of knowledge at the same time.

The other thing that I marvel at has been overtaken - my little F30 that I can take with me everywhere and never runs out of battery power or space for photos.

The Canon EF 75-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM was the first IS lens.

I'm drooling....

Gotta add a Nikon body to pair with Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24–70mm ƒ/2.8G ED, tough.

I remember salivating over a Mac external hard drive. It was a 540 meg drive at the low price of $499.00 -less than a buck a megabyte. It would help my Mac with its new 1 meg memory stick ($100.00)with applications I could only dream of.

It still boots up faster than my current winblows xp gazillion everything computer.


PS Where is the jet pack/ flying car that Popular Science/Mechanics magazines promised me during the 60's. (And no the Segway is not a close compromise on this)

My list is long and partially reflects my age and 20 year absence from photography between about 1979 and '99.

When a family purchase of $700 on a 2MP Kodak reignited my dormant interest in photography I considered just using my existing Minolta film SLRs (an XE7 and xd11, with 135 and 21 or 24mm Vivitars in addition to the Rokkor 55s) and getting my negatives digitized. But I don't see that well or focus that fast. Auto-focus was so amazing that I had to get a newer camera - so even though it's not just from the last 5 years I vote for autofocus as the single advance that has most increased the number of keepers I shoot.

Another feature of digital that kind of comes along automatically for the ride is auto ISO. As someone who walks the streets of NY hoping for "grab" shots, I'm often in auto mode and when I don't have time to think about what ISO I want, knowing the camera will often get it right for me in time to get the shot is invaluable.

Next, even though you mentioned Canon IS, I was thrilled with the sensor-based "Anti-Shake" in my Dimage A1 and Maxxum 7D. Another advance that has increased the range of shots worth trying for.

My new Nikon 300D lets me shoot reasonably noiselessly at really high ISOs - this really increases the range of shooting I can do.I kept my Minolta 7D set at ISO 100 because of noise issues and often couldn't shoot at dusk without adjusting that. Now I let the Nikon zoom up as high as 3200 to get shots without resorting to flash!

All my digital cameras from the Dimage A1 on have allowed me to adjust the metered auto-exposure aperture or shutter-speed by just turning a knob. This is way faster and more accurate than realigning 2 needles.

Both my Nikon and my 7D allowed me to do wireless off-camera flash without buying any additional equipment (other than the flash). Using a single umbrella and stand for about 30 bucks, I'm thus able to run a quick portrait booth at semi-annual school fairs, letting the auto metering in the flash and camera do a quite creditable job of exposing.

I could keep going - but the thing that all of these features have in common is that they make more shots worth trying for and a much higher percent of them seem to work (I think I get about 10% usable shots now, up from a much lower number, if I'm honest)


Remember when you could buy Polaroid film that produced both a positive and a negative?
Remember when you could manipulate the photos from your SX70 camera, for added fun and creativity?
Remember the excitement of getting your slides / photos / contact sheets back from the lab, or opening the tank in the darkroom after processing a batch of b+w film?


I shoot some digital, and plenty of film, and you are right about everything you say with the advance of technology in recent years Mike. I also tune into the net every day. But I hate to see the old analogue ways go too!! Out with the old, in with the new, as they say. Lets hang on to some of that cool old stuff I say ...!


This is a good "feel good" list, as Erez called it.

We in the photography world truly have a greater bounty of stuff available than ever. Not just "good" stuff, GREAT stuff.

But the excitement of the new is an eternal human emotion, particularly for amateur photo enthusiasts.

You said it.
I feel like a middle aged geek every time I make a breathless post on my blog about how astounding the development is. Like the Canon D30 in 2001 compared to today's cheap ones. (It's only a couple years ago I thought digital cameras could never become as cheap as film cameras.)

I paid about four grand for my first Mac in 1995, including a laser printer.

Remember when people had to pay extra for each stabilised lens instead of having stabilisation in the body?

Oh, they still pay extra. >:-)

I just have to say - the first hard drive I used was 64K (yes K) of a PDP11 - that was the upgraded one from the 32K on the PDP8.

It was about 9 inches high in the equipment rack.


"Now where do I get enough money to buy all of this?"

Dunno that it would work for everybody, but what I did was make a site with nekkid girls.

My first computer had an Intel 486 processor and a 520MB hard drive (with my stripped down, bare-minimum Windows 3.11 taking up 220MB of it!). I remember being able to back it up on a CD and still have room to spare :-) But I stopped being amazed the day I saw a 512MB SD card, so much tinier, yet capable of holding the same amount of data.

Oh, and remember when camera companies would listen to their customers in order to bring out products with specs we all wanted? No, wait, that never happened, did it? :-s

OK, after reading some others' comments and looking at your original post closer, I have to add two additional remarks.

1. That Katrin Eismann book is, in my opinion, the finest book of its kind (on "digital darkroom" techniques I've ever seen. It's a relatively timeless work that I highly recommend. Katrin is an excellent educator.

While I'm recommending such books I have to also HIGHLY recommend Leslie Alsheimer's "Black and White in Photoshop CS3 and Photoshop Lightroom" (Focal Press). (Mike, please provide the TOP amazon link for this book if possible.) It's superb, too.

2. Speaking of whopper hard disks, just this week I connected a Newertech 1 Tb miniStack drive (approx. $300) to my 1 Tb Time Capsule / Airport Extreme station and installed my entire image library on it. (Fun fact: It takes almost exactly 5 hours to transfer 490 Gb over a Firewire 800 connection.) I can now work on my Lightroom library either from my office desktop system or wirelessly from my MacBook Pro. It's a dream. But more to the point here, it's simply breathtaking to be talking terrabytes in one's home...for so little cost.

Remember when to get a decent flash exposure you had to divide the guide number by the distance and use the result to manually set the aperture?

This is going to be a really fun post to look back upon a few years down the road =).

Remember when "Dual Disk Drives" meant we had infinite storage capacity, because you could keep the operating system and software running on one disk and swap data disks in the other drive?

"It was about 9 inches high in the equipment rack."

Equipment rack? You had an equipment rack? I only had a stick, and it was a crooked stick...

Seriously, I wrote a novel on a Radio Shack computer using an old color TV set as a monitor and a Radio Shack tape recorder for mass storage and I was *very* pleased with that system. The computer was the TRS 80 Color Computer that came (I think) with a native 32K of memory, I believe, but somehow the word processor was able to access 64K. I can't remember the name of the word processor, but it was more than we needed, and I think had the number "64" in the name. The word processor loaded into RAM, just like the documents, and we *still* had enough space to write some fairly complicated stuff.


Remember diluting glacial acetic acid for stop bath? It would clear your sinuses though. Now I use ACR and PSE6. Not easier just different.

Dear Folks,

Indulging my curiosity once again...

Does anyone here actually use 32 GB memory cards in their digital cameras, and if so, why and what for?

I just bought an 8 GB for my Fuji S100, and even with its bloated RAW files (23 MB), it'll still hold 350 photos. Can't imagine why I'd want a single card that would hold 1400 (but I'm figuring that's a failure of my imagination).

Even after doing personal computing for more than 40 years, I still regularly suffer future shock. I can't believe I've got 3 TB of data storage in this office. I can't believe I whine about how my 2 Kg laptop computer (a laptop!!!) only has 4 GB of memory and how this cramps my style.

pax / Ctein

>>Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3—Well, okay, you can't quite buy this yet.

In fact it is available in stores here in Switzerland.

How about an iPod (or equivalent)

*Days* of music in your pocket and room to back up your photos, too.

"Remember when to get a decent flash exposure you had to divide the guide number by the distance and use the result to manually set the aperture?"

Good one, Chuck! And do I ever.

Mike J.

Great post, Mike.

Always brings a chuckle to my lips when I think about all the money and time we've spent doing the things we enjoyed.

The creative ways we got around the obstacles was probably part of the fun for some people. For others, the fun must have been the collective agony, and being able to relate to a fellow photographer.

Thanks for keeping up the discourse of photography.

Ctein wrote: "Can't imagine why I'd want a single card that would hold 1400 (but I'm figuring that's a failure of my imagination)."

I have a 4GB card and thought along the same lines (I usually don't fill it in 1 week of my normal amateur shooting)...until I shot a live concert with two bands. In the break between the bands I had to start deleting files in-camera to make room for the second band! :-)

I once spoke to a photographer who had shot opera, and he said his average number of shots per show was 3000. Yes, that's three zeroes. He might need the upcoming 64GB card...

Everyone has a "You can't top this" old time story. I'm happy to live in the present and dream of a peaceful and productive future. I'll just make a quick mention that I started my software development career by learning to program a TRS-80 over one Thanksgiving weekend in the dim and distant 1970s. I'm glad times have changed.

I remember the early (and prohibitively expensive!!) days of Digital SLR's when there was the distinct possibility that someone would start making affordable "digital backs" for your existing 35mm film cameras. I waited for months hoping to be able to buy something like that for my beloved Nikon N80. Well, of course those never materialized, but that's a completely moot point today.

It makes me shudder with glee every time I see just how much camera $1000 can buy nowadays.

Going back a bit further with digital cameras....the first digital camera I was issued as a photojournalist (1996) was a Kodak DCS-3 utilizing a 1.3MB sensor, internal battery, no preview screen, and a price tag of $15,000. Our Kingston PCMCIA micro-drives topped out at 180MB and sounded like maracas if dropped as the glass disks shattered easily.

20MB hard drive? Luxury!

My first computer was a Sinclair ZX81, which came out in, um, 1981, growing up in the UK. It had a whopping 1K (not MB, but individual kilobyte) of RAM. That meant if the power went off (easy to do with the dodgy transformer connection) you lost everything. Persistent storage consisted of a tape recorder.

I was in heaven the day we got a 16KB memory module that plugged into the back, but it frequently got disconnected also and again you lost everything.

Here's a picture of a ZX81 I took at a rather good computer museum in Paris: http://richardsona.zenfolio.com/p722463869/?photo=726199341

The museum is at the Grande Arche at La Defense, of all places, and has lots of great vintage gear.

Man, I loved the rebel. That camera allowed me to begin learning and enjoying photography in a way that I would never have gotten to with film. I never use it anymore but I'll never get rid of it, it's got special spot in my heart. I took great joy in sending it with a friend who was studying abroad in Morocco over this past summer. I liked the idea of it being pressed into service again and not just gathering dust... although it certainly came home with its fair share of dust.

"Remember when to get a decent flash exposure you had to divide the guide number by the distance and use the result to manually set the aperture?"

1. Remember when you learned that you had to replace all your Nikon AF lenses with AF-D lenses to do the same?

2. Remember when the Nikkor-GN, a 45mm lens did this for you automatically? It seemed like a really bright invention at the time. Actually, considering the simplicity of the approach, it still does.

I'm still using my 800mhz eMac. It turns six this month. I'll upgrade to the Mac Mini.

A 32 GB memory card is quite amazing. But I'm still amazed that a decent 4 GB CF card now costs about $40 (e.g. Sandisk Ultra II). It wasn't but four years ago when I bought a 256 MB Sandisk CF card for about $40. In four years, the price dropped 16x!

And speaking of computer stuff, another great thing are those little USB flash memory sticks. Earlier this year, I picked up a Kingston 4 GB for about $19. A little more than a decade ago when I was in college, we always had to fuss with keeping enough 1.44 MB 3.5" floppy disks on hand to transfer our data between computer labs on campus. Just think- my 4 GB stick (that fits nicely in my pocket along with my keys) is the equivalent of 2778 3.5" disks! :-)

And... Remember those clunky, cylindrical memory cartridges which needed to be changed every 36 frames because that was all they could take? :-)

Man, this sort of reading makes me feel reaaaally old...
I still remember when I bough my first auto exposure semi pro SLR (Pentax ME, sorry I have weird tastes) and every professional in town despised autoexposure as an unneccesary gimmick. And how amazed I was when I developed the first roll and found out the camera judged the exposure 8 out of 10 times better than me. In fact, I remember the first autofocus camera I heard about, the focus assisted Pentax Me... I did despise autofocus then and thought it was an unnecessary gimmick. The most common comment then was "What's gonna be next? Auto framing?" Nobody could even imagine face detection or smile shooters.

I remember when I bought my first computer, a two floppy machine made by Toshiba that cost me US$9,000 in 1980, which would translate into what, $50,000 today? Last PC I bought cost US $400.

Not so long ago I bought an Avid editing system that set me back US$120,000. It was made up of a 9600 Powermac, a Targa video card and a propietary connexion box. And of course the software. Worked with 9 Mb external SCSI hard disks that costed 4,000 dollars each. You could install third party drives but they--Avid--would deny you assistance, void your guarantee, etc. Those costed "only" 1,600 dollars.

But what I find even harder to believe is that today's 35mm. Film cameras (writing about the ones used in Hollywood productions here) are cumbersome, fully manual devices that need a crew of four people to do what a simple US$ 100 compact p&s does on its own. Of course that manual control, dedication and sheer manpower produce fabulous quality images , but it's still an unbelievably archaic, expensive and arcane way of working.

in january of 2001 i purchased one of the very early nikon D1 bodies for the typical $5000 price tag. But, to go with it, I purchased two 64mb cf cards for $249.00 each.

a couple years later, after using the very- cost-effective-for-their-time 1gb microdrives for a year or so, i had a couple die on me in a short period of time.

i made the big move and purchased the lexar 16x 1gb solid state card for $1199.00!

from 2001 til about 2006, cf cards were a legitimate expenditure in the digital photography chain. they seem a non-factor at this point.



Remember the Canon RC250 "Xapshot" still-video camera? The first electronic camera I ever worked with. Not digital, it stored analog NTSC frames on a tiny floppy disk. We bought one at work to take photos for graphics classes. I remember transferring images to the computer via a TARGA video capture card and taking them home on floppies to edit in PhotonPaint on my Amiga.

Bryan C,
I remember the Xapshot well. It had an 11mm lens, if memory holds. We had one students could sign out in photo school. I remember a party where most of the people in attendance were photographers. We'd pass the Xapshot around and whoever had it would fill it up, then we'd review the shots on the television and vote whether each shot could be kept or culled. Spirits got, um, very high. Then a new person would take the camera and fill up whatever space remained on the floppy. By the end of the evening we had a pretty dynamic record of the party, with some very inventive shots. I still wish somebody had kept that disk--it would be very interesting to me to review it again now.

Mike J.

I would add the UPStrap to this list. I would however like them to make one of the lightweight ones (SL is it?) with 1/2 the thickness of rubber.

Great product but still more robust than I need.

Interesting read and list.

Remember that time when the only reliable source of photographic information was your high street specialist photographic retailer? and remember when photography magazines were a sorry excuse for soft porn?

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