Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2005/03/24

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Subject: [Leica] Digital Disasters: A Journey To Another World
From: jim at (Jim Hemenway)
Date: Thu Mar 24 12:29:09 2005
References: <>

Have you considered pinhole photography?  ;-)


Paul De Zan wrote:

> Come with me now to a place where the concept of "workflow" does not 
> exist and "bokeh" might be some kind of sushi you haven't tried yet. 
> Come with me to the world of the "consumer digital market."
> Episode I
> Tuesday night, I got a call from my sister, who lives a few hundred 
> miles away and sees me as her personal IT department, which is fine with 
> me. I am one of those sick puppies that actually seems to enjoy fixing 
> Windows for others. Somehow her JPEG program default had been switched 
> to something other than her preferred photo viewer/editor application. 
> At the moment she called me, she was on the verge of running a system 
> restore utility to try and fix the problem. Rather like a 
> diving-to-save-the-girl action hero in a bad movie, I yelled 
> "NOOOOOOOOO!" and explained that doing such a thing was a VERY bad idea 
> and that I would call her back with the right Windows fix later in the 
> evening.
> By the time I called her back - you guessed it - she had gone ahead and 
> run the system restore. ALL of her pictures were gone. ALL of them. She 
> was in an absolute panic; her 5 year old son has been (successfully) 
> battling cancer for the past year and the photos she has taken of him 
> during this nightmare are extremely important to her, because - who 
> knows? - he still might not live all that long.
> Her PC is now in the hands of a local service tech, who for a couple 
> hundred bucks will almost certainly be able to restore her JPEGs.
> Object Lesson I: How do you lose your 35mm negatives? You have a FIRE in 
> your home.
> Episode II
> Wednesday morning, my Toshiba PDR-3310 digital camera died. Probable 
> cause is a failed sensor; it takes "black" pictures now. A few minutes 
> of web research revealed that lots of people have experienced similar 
> failures and there is no practical remedy because:
> a) Toshiba has exited the digital camera business
> b) Toshiba no longer supports their former line of cameras (which they 
> didn't build to begin with)
> c) Toshiba refers support inquiries to a third-party company that wants 
> $20 before they will even talk to you
> d) If parts were available (and they do not appear to be), the cost 
> would vastly exceed the residual value of the camera
> I bought the camera directly from Toshiba on May 31, 2002 for $600. At 
> the time, it was the smallest 3+ MP camera on the market. It made pretty 
> decent pictures, and of course provided me with all that 
> new-digital-user "oooh and awwwh" factor. A quick check using Picasa2 
> shows that I have about 1200 pictures taken with the camera on my 
> computer. Note that these are not necessarily "good" or "keeper" shots; 
> that's all the shots I've ever downloaded from the camera. Overall they 
> are at least acceptably good, because I threw away the obvious flops 
> right after they were taken. Still, I think I've printed somewhat less 
> than 50 of them since day one.
> Oh...and did I mention that the camera that died on Wednesday morning 
> was actually my THIRD? Yes, I had the original camera replaced TWICE 
> under warranty, the second time after a long argument with Toshiba.
> So...utilization over the 32 months of the camera's life was roughly 
> equivalent to a 36 exposure roll of 35mm a month, which is about right 
> for a casual snapper. If you do the math, the cost of shooting 35mm 
> color prints comes out at just about the half the price of the Toshiba 
> camera. And that's before adding in at least part of the cost of a 
> decent color printer, ink, paper, etc.
> An equivalent camera costs less than $200 today, so the theoretical 
> economics of P&S digital are a lot better now. A Canon Powershot A75 is 
> a much better camera than my deceased Toshiba; whether it is any more 
> reliable is an open question.
> Although I'm a lot more technically sophisticated than my sister, I'm 
> not all that much less likely to experience a catastrophic loss of data. 
> I'm only occasionally a "serious photographer" (although this is 
> starting to change...again) and I have no "digital workflow" (although I 
> do burn CDs a couple of times a year for backup; whether that will turn 
> out to be enough in the long run is another open question). When I do 
> shoot for real, I use a 10 year old 35mm SLR and a handful of primes 
> that have produced thousands of acceptably good images and have never 
> seen the inside of a repair shop.
> Object Lesson II: Convenience is expensive...and possibly not all that 
> convenient. And maybe even dangerous.
> Most average people, including me, consider their casual snapshots as 
> one of their most important possessions. The "Film-Processing-Prints" 
> model is, given the way most people are likely to (mis)manage digital, 
> more reliable and vastly more permanent than Pixel Wonderland. It leads 
> to a nice, safe packing box full of negatives and a line of albums up on 
> the mantle, ready for the next generation (and historians, for that 
> matter) to discover. Of course, right now no one cares about this, 
> because the good things about P&S digital tend to make people ignore its 
> problems. But I've come to think that a lot of what used to be called 
> "Kodak Moments" are going to go up in digital smoke and decided that, 
> even as a casual shooter, I'd rather retreat from digital cameras than 
> "get serious" about them.
> So I'm buying an M4 and a decent film scanner.
> (Please note: Leica content above.)
> ----
> pld (i've seen the light and become a luddite)

In reply to: Message from paul at (Paul De Zan) ([Leica] Digital Disasters: A Journey To Another World)