Digital Photography: Where do we go from here?

I’ve often wondered about the development of technology and the patterns that go with it.  As technology has advanced in other areas such as computing, the World Wide Web, and mobile platforms, cameras have also seen similar changes in recent years.  The difference between cameras and the rest of the industry though is that with cameras, it’s been a very recent development.  Photography has been around a lot longer than the digital world, and the underlying principles and foundations that are the basis for the craft haven’t changed much.  Shutter speed and aperture size are still the dominant forces that control exposure in images (along with ISO – which when combined gives us the exposure triangle):

The tools that we use to capture photographs though, have changed a great deal, and with the technophiles and “gear hounds” that are constantly analyzing everything from pixels to color range, to depth of field, and everything in between, the natural question that comes from all this analysis is whether or not, cameras and photography have evolved to a point where we can say that the digital revolution is complete.

In the grand scheme of things, I believe that cameras and photography have advanced to the point where digital capture is no longer in its nascent phase.  I can count on one hand the number of active photographers I know that do not capture with digital tools.  It’s become a way of life, and is generally accepted as the medium of choice.  Just as the typewriter has been replaced with the word processor, and then the computer, I believe film and manual photography has been replaced with the digital devices we have today. When venerable institutions of photography stop producing film (i.e., e.g.: Kodak’s “Kodachrome”), the digital landscape becomes the new standard for delivery mechanisms.

The dark room is now referred to as the “digital dark room”, the film has been replaced with memory cards, and the print continues to see itself endangered by the web and mobile readers as people move toward sharing their images online. Professional photographers alike are also being expected to have a web presence, whether it’s a photography website, a Facebook page, Twitter, or other social media.  Those that choose not to participate in such venues risk alienating a world that is moving rapidly down a digital river, and the landscape of the photography world threatens to dismiss those that do not keep abreast of the changing expectations society has for how they want content delivered to them.

There is a more forward-looking approach too which suggests that because technology is always changing, the whole idea of digital photography is merely a point on the curve of history and that other media like video, interactive applications, and such are really where the future is headed., with still images becoming digital dust at some point.  That idea suggests that even digital photography is merely the start of something much larger that we cannot even envision yet.  I also can see the merit of this mentality because even today we are doing things with imagery, videography, and technology that were not even imaginable less than 50 years ago to many people.

It’s exciting times for sure, and regardless of whether you think that digital photography is the new standard for future development, or that it’s merely the beginning of a future trend and digital stills will eventually become the equivalent of analog TV signals, it never hurts to turn a curious eye to our current expectations and look at how far we’ve come – and consider how far we can go.

So, what do you think?  Is digital photography here to stay?  Does it represent the new standard for future development, or is this the beginning of the end for still images?  Sound off in the comments or share your ideas, perceptions, and feedback with me via email…Happy Shooting, have a great weekend, and we’ll see you back here again next week!

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5 comments for “Digital Photography: Where do we go from here?

  1. August 21, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    once sensors become thin and flexible enough, I think there will be a sort of digital film, that you can load into any kind of 35mm shoot and process via usb (or whatever) and reuse. Digital cameras are in these tank like containers to protect the censor, once that isn’t necessary anymore (and the sensors are smaller, we can do anything. Though I fear too many choices takes away from the nature of capturing light. It’s playing by the rules of the camera and its limitations that creates the photographic experience for me.

  2. August 21, 2010 at 11:12 pm

    Excellent, you have a great sense of photography. I love your blog, always great read. I’m also a Canon shooter, been using Canon sense the old Elan days. I really miss that old camera. Love reading others thought on their experience with their Canon gear. Great read!

  3. wjd
    August 22, 2010 at 8:17 am

    My first camera was a fully manual i(ncluding focus) Fujica. Through the years mostly canons right up to the AE1 and a few of the EOS Elan series (35mm)
    I was a skeptic, thou not a purist. Once my digital camera equaled IQ of my 35mm I was sold.
    Digital times have made the operations easier, but full auto is still lacking, technology has yet and is not likely to displace the art of the operator. The equipment may be easier to handle, smaller and lighter, but the art, thus the artist, is a mandatory component.

  4. September 2, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    In my opinion, still images are definitely NOT on the way out. I think the introduction of video capabilities to cameras is like the introduction of cartoons to drawing. People still like drawing and painting a single picture even though they have the option of doing lots of drawings to put together a moving picture.

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