“More, better, faster, cheaper.“ Choose any two.” back in the film days, this was an 0ld photo lab expression that I had adopted for our studio.
Before digital imaging came along, the introduction of new photographic technologies had been gradual, with each new product building on and backwardly compatible with what has gone before.
Computer companies, on the other hand, are driven by competition and the realities of Moore’s Law, which states that “the power of the silicon chip microprocessor will double every eighteen months, with a proportionate decrease in cost.” Gordon Moore, one of Intel’s founders, predicted that computing power would rise exponentially over time. In practical terms, this means that digital imaging product cycles are measured in months, instead of the years that were formerly required for developing traditional optical and photochemical products.
It seems that it’s always this way: The digital camera you purchase today is quickly replaced with a newer and better model that produces higher quality images at a lower cost. For many people, this is the single most frustrating aspect of the digital imaging. Since this trend is not going to change, I have a few words of advice:
- First, get used to it. This actual pace may slow and this is most obvious in traditional digital SLRs but it’s not going to change any time soon.
- Second, don’t go broke spending all your money to upgrade to get the latest cameras and computers unless you can cost justify noticeable productivity improvements. Once I was on a trip to Mexico with an established and highly successful professional travel photographer and we got talking about software. “I use Photoshop 3,” to told me. “CS 3″,” I replied. “Nope,” he said with a smile on his face, “Photoshop 3.0 running under the powerful Windows 95.”
- Third, keep all this technology in perspective. The single most important photographic accessory is still the person behind the camera.