THOUGHTS ON DIGITAL...
Here are my responses
to some interesting questions from a subscriber:
S: Hi Art,
Like many other
photographers these days, I feel overwhelmed by the hype
given to the "magical" world of digital imaging.
AM: I do not like when
folks use the word hype, especially when referring to
things that I have said. All that I have ever done is
show and tell folks what I am doing, how I am doing it,
and what my feelings are. I try to avoid telling folks,
"You should do this or buy that."
S: But I can't help but
think that a lot of what I hear and read is driven by
the excitement of new toys and technology that a lot of
folks (mostly guys) find irresistible.
AM: That may be true but
all that I know is that I am having more fun with
digital than I ever did with film and I had lots of fun
S: And you're one of 'em
AM: There you go
insulting me again <smile>
S: For a guy who was such
a dedicated film shooter and so completely sold on Fuji,
you sure did a fast and total "flip".
That has always been how
I've tried to live life, consider the facts, make a
decision, and then go with it. I bought the place
where I am living now after seeing only it and I just
bought an expensive suit (which happened to be the first
and only one I tried on). These are personal decisions
and I usually make such decisions quickly. Sometimes
they turn out well, sometimes not. Up to now I am
thrilled about my switch to digital. I have no
obligation to film ..
S: That's all well and
good though, and I can feel the excitement in your
writing having made your decision to change over. And of
course it makes good business sense.
AM, At present that may
or may not be true...
S: Being a contract
photographer also has it's benefits as I imagine that
all of the equipment and technical support that you need
is made readily available to you.
AM: As I have stated many
times that is not at all true. I pay for all of my
S: But most of the rest
of us don't have those advantages and find
that contemplating a change over is way daunting
in terms of money and serious computer skills (and
Guess what? The decision
for me was way
daunting in terms of money and the need for serious
computer skills (and equipment), not to mention the
still unresolved issues of post-processing,
labeling, filing, and image access!
In order to make a good decision it's
prudent to do a lot of research beforehand.
AM: I have always advised
S: You could be of help
here by devoting a bulletin or two on how to get
started, things like what you "need" in a basic
digital kit (excluding lenses and camera body).
AM: That info is all
pretty much there for free on George Lepp's site and
further detailed info is available from Tim Grey's Daily
Digital Questions, and his DDQ archives are an
incredible resource. Pony up the $25 or so and get
started on your research! (Not to mention that he is
far more knowledgeable than I am...) Here is the link
to DDQ info:
S: We've all heard and
read about the falling prices and rising quality of
equipment, and of course a person can spend as much
as they want. But this crap..
AM: When you say "crap"
it seems that you have strong feelings against digital.
is largely a mystery to many of us (older) people plus
being very expensive to those of us with limits on our
AM: I agree 100%!
S: Ongoing discussion is
a good thing, but where are the real benefits beyond not
having to buy and process film?
AM: I have written
extensively on what I consider the benefits for me in
recent Bulletins. (You can find all relevant Bulletins
in the archives at the web site.)
S: I know, I know - you
can shoot more frames thereby boosting your chances for
a real standout shot, but so what?
AM: Have you ever read
"The Four Agreements" by Don Miguel Ruiz? I strongly
suggest that you do. One of the agreements that he
suggests that we make with ourselves is to "not make
assumptions" (as you have done above).
I press the shutter
button far fewer times now that I am using digital than
I did when I was using film... Go figure. My style is
and always has been to make one image at a time, even
when photographing action. In my career I have "held
the hammer down" less than a handful of times...
Secondly, there is no need (as there is with film) to
make 20 in-camera original "duplicates" of each and
every good situation when working digitally.
S: If you're not in the
business of marketing your work, that can be pretty much
a moot point.
AM: It's a moot point to
me because your original premise is totally incorrect...
S: I don't know, it's a
dilemma for sure, and I'm not rushing out to buy the
latest technology just to soon find out that's it's
yesterday's headlines. My A2 still has lots of miles
left and pretty sure I'll be using them all up.
AM: It sounds as if that
is a good thing for you to do. Here are the most
important points that I have to make: Folks who
switch from film to digital because I have switched,
because everyone else is doing it, or because they think
that it is the wave of the future, are making a
huge mistake. Switching to digital requires a fairly
large outlay of money and requires that the switchee
have good to excellent computer skills. And don't
forget to consider the huge amount of post processing
and PhotoShop time and effort that is involved with
digital... Folks who are comfortable with film and are
scared of digital should stay with film!
On the other hand, I do
feel strongly that serious hobbyists who photograph
nature three or four times a month, who have decent
computer skills, and wish to enjoy the many advantages
of digital should make the switch if they can afford
it. In the long run they will have more fun and the
savings on film and processing costs will more than pay
for their switch over time.