Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2005/03/28

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Subject: [Leica] Digital Disasters: A Journey To Another World
From: paul at (Paul De Zan)
Date: Mon Mar 28 11:17:52 2005

>Have you considered pinhole photography?  ;-)

I've never been able to figure out how to graft a wind lever on to a Quaker 
Oats box.

pld (but once i do, life will be a breeze)

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)