Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The gritty truth

Just now - as one often does after a large glass of Armagnac - I read one of Thom Hogan's articles. It baffles me as to why people read his articles as opposed to mine because I usually say similar things but way before he does. Anyway, he was writing bemoaning the inconvenience of cameras. This is something I believe I wrote about some while ago. His article is here.

Those with memories (it doesn't matter how long or short) should recall without recourse to a waterboard or an electric cattleprod applied to the privates that a few postings ago, I commented that I had not used my digital SLR in many months. I did actually break that gap a few days ago and yes, I found the digital workflow to be a humungous irritation. It was not possible to edit the photos on the camera nor to connect the camera wirelessly to a tablet nor to upload the images wirelessly. Everything has to be done via a cable or by taking the memory card out.

Only today I was talking to an Elementary school teacher; we were reminiscing about a time before computers and before mobile phones. I can't imagine how inconvenient it must have been for lodgers who needed a phone to have to pay continual connection and termination fees as they moved lodgings every few weeks when lodgers now use mobile phones. I don't even have a house phone. My girlfriend does not have a house phone either. We are 100% mobile. Now think about cameras...

In the old days we would buy a roll of film and put it through our camera, often having the same film in the same camera for a couple of years as film and processing were costly.  It would take weeks for the prints to get back. Along came digital and killed the cost of film and processing but jacked up the cost of the camera to more than the amount of money most people would spend on film and processing in a lifetime.

A similar thing happened with telephones - the cost of the service and the phone rocketed as it became wireless yet the last time I knew, nobody owned the airwaves and tower to tower relays are far cheaper and faster to install and maintain than underground cables.

So we have a thing - convenience costs money. Leaping on this bandwaggon, the camera manufacturers have begrudgingly created very expensive wifi devices that plug into some cameras. The problem is smartphones are so much easier to use with built-in photo editing and easy upload that traditional cameras are beginning to look a bit like a museum piece. Indeed, I see so many businesses doing their photography with iPhones rather than cameras that I wonder very much what planet people are on when they mention photography as a business. I mean, seriously - somebody that's going to take days or weeks to produce a phenomenal (or not) image when somebody with an iPhone can produce a perfectly acceptable image within minutes and at near zero cost - the guy with a real camera is a dinosaur.

This brings us to the main point. How can camera manufactures keep producing the same outdated old crap year in, year out and expect to remain in business? Ages ago, I did a comparison between a smartphone, a digital SLR and a digital compact and the results were all perfectly acceptable. Producing something and screaming that it's quality is superior doesn't wash any more. Betamax comes to mind. Remember Betamax? Sony produced an excellent product that was far better than VHS but everybody bought VHS because it was cheaper and better marketed.

Competing on quality does not work when the world works on best affordable quality and highest convenience. All I can say is that of the big camera manufacturers now: Nikon, Canon, Pentax, Sony, Olympus and Sigma, very few if any will be left by the end of the decade unless they cease gazing at their navel fluff and set to making cameras more user friendly. People won't buy outdated junk - they'll slap a zoom lens on their phone and just sharpen the image.

No comments:

Post a Comment