Thursday, March 12, 2015

Have tablets killed photography?

They're everywhere - lurking where they're least expected. Only the other day on a trip to a wholesaler to buy a shower base, there it was - a 7 inch tablet - lurking at the checkout. The checkout process was completed on a tablet that had a card swiper. They have literally taken over the world.

Just five years ago, before the late Steve Jobs announced the first iPad, magazines sold well, computers sold well, laptops sold well. God was in his Heaven and all was right with the world - albeit a clunkier world. People transferred images in two ways - they either connected their camera to their computer or transferred a memory card from their camera to a reader attached to their computer. Of course simultaneously developing alongside the tablet was the smartphone which has such good photo quality now that most people that would have had a compact camera now just use their smartphones with their instantly uploaded images.

Tablets seem to have replaced books and magazines as physical book and magazine consumption units. Indeed, they have replaced computers for the vast majority of people. They're more compact, capable of many of the same tasks and they're so much cheaper that laptops have plummeted in price to try to compete. For the past 6 months or so, this blog has been updated solely from a tablet with an external keyboard as an example.

The major downside to tablets is the total lack of local storage (hard drive, blu ray, dvd etc), the total lack of connectivity to scanners and printers and the total lack of connectivity to cameras. If I want to process photos or upload photos, I have to get my laptop (and pray that it feels like working - I still need to head to the Mac guru in Charlotte to resolve the issue of the screen switching off at inappropriate times) then connect my card reader, transfer images via the card to the computer and process them then connect my computer to my tablet to transfer images. Certainly I could use bluetooth transfer but its so much slower than a cable.

Some, more modern cameras come with bluetooth, wifi and NFC but there's a vast pool of people out there such as myself that have older cameras -mine date from 2005- that don't have the money nor time to waste on obtaining a more modern camera. We've all been left in the cold by a total lack of backward connectivity. It very much has echoes of when Microsoft went from 16 bit to 32 bit machines where you had to kiss your 16 bit data goodbye as it was unreadable by the 32 bit machines.

For myself, I do 99.9% of things on my tablet. If a website won't work on my tablet then I don't care what the website does or would do for me. I just don't use it. It's not worth the effort of bending down to plug my laptop into the power supply. These days, things are all about ease of use. The old clunky ways won't do any more. Asking somebody to plug a camera into a laptop to transfer images to the laptop to edit them before transferring them to a tablet is like asking somebody to saddle up a horse in order to ride to the nearest town for a newspaper. Most people will just say "F**k that". Hence, of course, most of my photographs these days are taken on my smartphone.

If some enterprising fellow were to come out with a way of reading camera images via a cable attached between my card reader or my camera and my tablet then I'd be exceedingly interested. Bonus points if there was software on tablets that would read CR2 files.

In the past I have tried Eye-Fi cards but found them so horrid and so limited in use that I sold mine. Nice concept but horrible execution. Having to put an adaptor to convert from SD to CF didn't earn any brownie points either.

So, have tablets killed photography? Pretty much for most things, they have because everything is such a kludge to get images from cameras onto tablets that many people just gave up and went for a smartphone instead.

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