The Times They Are Still a’Changing

 “…the one fixed point in a changing world.”—Arthur Conan Doyle

Joe Farace in the snow with a monopodQuality, speed, price. Or as they used to say back in the old film days, “choose any two.”

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 intense 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 digital imaging product cycles are measured in months, instead of years for developing traditional optical and photochemical products. The digital camera you purchase today is quickly replaced with a newer model that produces higher quality images at a lower cost. While the recent disasters in Japan may have slowed down the rollout of some photographic hardware, that is the exception not the norm. And software innovation continues unabated.

For many people, this is the single most frustrating aspect of the digital imaging process. Since this trend is not going to change any time the near future, I have a few words of advice:

  • First, get used to it. This pace of  development of new camera may slow slightly because of the last year’s tragedies in Asia but it’s not going to change any time soon.
  • Second, don’t go broke upgrading to get the latest hardware and software unless you can cost justify any productivity improvements that they can provide.
  • Third, keep all this technology in perspective. The single most important photographic accessory is still the person behind the camera.

Author: Joe Farace

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