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Author Topic: If you had been told in 2001.....  (Read 23777 times)
Ben Rubinstein
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« on: May 02, 2006, 07:20:09 PM »
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First of all this is something that I would love MR to write up properly for one of his articles, no doubt he would get tarred and feathered for it as usual but his predictions along the way have been pretty damn accurate. I came across the idea while looking through some of the old articles here on LL and while making some serious decisions vis a vis film for the future.

As far as my predictions go, I used to manage a high street lab up until the year 2003 when digital was becoming a serious consideration. At that time we had to make some major decisions about what the future held, oh and then I left!  

Anyone who wants to add to it, please feel free. Studying history has always been the best way to predict the future, the history of digital photography is very recent though it feels longer, but it is still enlightening.

OK.

In the year 2001 the D30, the first 'affordable' digital SLR hit the market. (A bit before but let's not quibble!) If you had been told then that by five years from that point......

(not in any order, just as they came to mind)

#Digital cameras would be the majority sold worldwide by a large margin,
#Most professionals would use digital cameras for at least some if not all of their work,
#The resolution of many DSLR's would pretty much outstrip 35mm film and seriously contend with medium format,
#A FF chip of 13 megapixels would be availible in a camera the price of the D30,
#Camera phones would be among the most popular P&S cameras in the modern market,
#The canon 1V would be the last film flagship model canon made and would have almost stagnant sales,
#Nikon would bring out only on more flagship film camera while discontinuing every other film camera,
#Agfa, the first to market colour film would have disappeared,
#Ilford, the highly respected maker of B&W materials would have died only to be painfully resurrected and whose reps still walk about pessimistically and long faced,
#Kodak would be axing tens of thousands of jobs a year in the film industry while closing down film production lines,
#Kodak would have stopped making B&W paper,
#Entire darkrooms would be sold on ebay for a pittance as chemical printing becomes 'passe'
#Most labs have become entirely digital working with digital minilabs and scanners, labs printing traditional B&W are pretty rare,
#Great film cameras, especially medium format, would be sold for a fraction of their worth on ebay and so many of them reach the end of the auction without a single bid.
#Only one company would still be making an affordable film scanner (Nikon) and looks unlikely to bring out a new model or even continue the present one for much longer,
#Contax, one of the greatest names in photography would die,
#Minolta after a merger with Konica would be sold off to Sony after failing to keep ahead,
#Pentax would be hoding on by its fingertips to the medium format market,
#Mamiya so long one of the biggest names in medium format photography, would be all but completely dead,
#The modern photographer would be extremely computer workflow orientated from capture to presentation,
#Inkjet printing would come of age though still be rather fiddly and expensive,
#Kiosk printing would be the modern way to have snapshots printed with C-41 processing machines lying pretty unused in most highstreet labs,
#Professionals and amatuers would pay many times over what their film cameras cost for the digital equivelent and upgrade to the latest model with the resultant loss as digital creeps up and conquers the advantages of film one by one. Professionals are doing the math and ofsetting the cost of the digital age against tax and film costs whereas amatuers are spending a fortune for their hobbies unforseen in the film days,
#Many working professional photographers have not shot a roll of film in 2 years or more,
#The great Leica would also be hanging on by its fingertips awaiting a digital M which would revive the fortunes of the company as too many people abandon their film cameras along with film.
#That digital cameras would get so good that the lenses would be the factor holding back resolution and not the sensor or technology,
#That many lenses once considered 'good' would be consigned to an unopened drawer due to the ruthlessness of digital sensors emphasising errors that film grain long hid,
#Many people shooting with DSLR's will never have shot a roll of film in an SLR camera before in their lives including some talented professionals who have never seen a darkroom,
#That even the bastions of the 4X5 neg/slide would be challenged (note the word challenged) by medium format back for resolution, albeit at a fortune,
#Photography in general would have a huge revival compariable to the post war years due to the ease, low cost and sheer fun of the digital camera, especially when coupled with the sharing aspects of the internet,
#The litmust test of survival in the modern photographic world would be the innovation, marketing and fast production of competitive digital products without which the economics dictate that big companies cannot survive,
#Even well known small dealers and stores in the photographic world would disappear due to the globalization of the digital camera market via the internet, even large stores such as Jessops in the UK would be in trouble competing while digital camera stock seemingly changes by the month,
#35mm DSLR camera bodies would replace medium format film cameras in a huge number of studios across the world,
#A 1.5 year cycle would be 'normal' for new DSLR bodies and far from thinking it's crazy, people would be panting for the next model,
#The interchangeable backs that everyone thought would become the norm back then in 2001 would only appear, late, for a manual Leica SLR and but no other camera

I could go on for a while, just read the review of the D30 to see what the mindset was back then, remember what you were shooting and how far away the present day's realities would have seemed then, read through the 'whats new' from 2001 and see how fast and how drastically the photographic world has changed in such a seriously tight amount of time.

As for my predictions for the future, for the next 5 years time and I believe them to be true if slightly conservative based on the past 5 years.

#Digital sensors will mature to the point where they have the latitude in the highlights of film but with the latitude in the shadows of digital. At that point film really will hold no more advantage in either latitude, DR or tonality and will very rapidly decline even among discerning protrait/wedding/street shooters who have stayed with film for just that reason.
#Once those sensors appear in DSLR's the entire crop of current DSLR's will drop very heavily in price, will be almost obsoleted by a camera that doesn't need to compress the DR to fit the sensor.
#DSLR's will have reached peak resolution at approx 22 megapixels, lenses may be improved to match but as the 35mm user rarely needs or even wants more megapixels this may not be as important for the companies as some discerning customers may wish.
#At that point the advantages that will sell new cameras will be better noise, better tonality, better DR and the aforementioned latitude in the highlights and possibly the migration to more widespread FF sensors. To keep the present upgrade cycle the companies have to offer something if not megapixels and sensor size is a good selling point if marketed well to the newer generation of photographers who have never shot film.
#I don't know enough about medium format in the digital world to predict but I assume that the megapixel upgrade cycle will peak at the same as DSLR's and the same enhancements to other aspects will carry over. I would hope for their to be at least one main competitor to Hasselblad, an industry with no competition is an extremely unhealthy one.
#I sincerely believe that 5 years hence C-41 processing of 35mm film will not be availible in regular highstreet labs, it will be sent out as B&W is at present to a pro lab on contract and will be pretty expensive. Only a very small range of films will be offered for sale, just as APS is sold now.
#The new generation of the incredibly popular frontier minilab will be offered in 2 versions, one with a neg scanner for pro labs and a smaller, faster and cheaper machine with no neg scanner at all for the high street.
#Kiosks including the 24 hour kiosks taking credit card being trialed here in the UK similar to a cash point, will be the norm in all malls, in restuarants, etc high street labs will suffer to the point of having to specialise in sales of cameras and such items as photo mugs, etc. This is happening already but will become far worse. Internet printing at cheap prices may take over the high street lab entirely, kiosks, internet and pro labs, no other choices!
#iPod/phone/internet/computer/camera, all in one, as cheap as the ones they give my wife for free every 6 months and very much the norm, all in one package. The digital p&s market shrinks to a normal pace and is superceded by the phone for the casual user.
#Ilford will not survive that long, I live in Manchester home of their factory and offices and the reps do not sound at all optomistic. All the film companies will cut down their selection, perhaps drastically. Pro film is funded by consumer film, if as I presume that no one will be buying consumer film any more in 2011 then pro film will either become very very expensive or cease to exist, at least in 35mm though not in medium format or large format.
#The plan to sell film to the 3rd world and developing countries floated recently collapses as even they realise how cheap a lower end digital p&s is, especially in comparison to film and processing. They may not have computers but they needed a lab anyway for the film...
#Only the higher end film scanners such as Imacon are sold and they are expensive, out of the reach of the regular consumer. Flatbed scanners scan film though not to the same standard, the need not being enough to drive the added research.


I really should get to bed, feel free to add if you've survived this long....
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leonvick
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« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2006, 12:14:28 AM »
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In the year 2001 the D30, the first 'affordable' digital SLR hit the market. (A bit before but let's not quibble!) If you had been told then that by five years from that point......

An impressive list pom, but all inevitable since the development of digital image downlink from satellite technology, don't you think? What possible aspect of chemical photography can possible survive the limitless capability of digital, given  a few more years to get the prices affordable?

My bet on the future is on the digital application of the old Polaroid theme. Not the technology but the technique of taking a photo for instant prints and copies. Tack a current Canon Selphy printer onto a 5D and you're there today.

If they make it I'll be there.  
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Leon
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macgyver
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« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2006, 01:23:32 AM »
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Pom you make me think, laugh and, perhaps most of all, fear the cost of such years....
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HiltonP
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« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2006, 04:09:53 AM »
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If you had been told that five years from 2001 . . .

we would have 8Gb memory cards,
we can buy 4Gb memory cards for $130, and 2Gb cards for $70,
we could take acceptable low light photos, without flash intrusion,
the best source for equipment would be an online store 8000 miles from my home,
this online store would sell more photographic equipment than all the photographic retailers in my country combined!

and then the "dark" side, that . . .

digital point 'n shoots would have model lifespans of 3 months,
dSLR's would have model lifespans of only 9 months,
within a month of a new model release discussion board speculations start about the next model,
half of my hard drive space is taken up by photographs taken only in the last 18 months,
my budget model mobile phone's camera now has a higher pixel count than my (then) top-of-the-range digital camera.
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Regards, HILTON
Kenneth Sky
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« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2006, 08:30:15 AM »
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The only thing that will slow the accelerating rate of change will be demand. We are seeing more and more people using digital cameras that far outstrip their capabilities or need. How many people want more than a 4x6 picture? What do most picture takers know or care about colour management, etc? What I'm saying is, the main driver for changes in digital cameras is soon going to diminish and the economics off change will put the brakes on this field.
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Tim Gray
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« Reply #5 on: May 03, 2006, 08:50:36 AM »
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And in 10 years LLVJ will have a feature interviewing Mr "X" - the Ctein equivalent of silver halide darkroom prints!
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Peter McLennan
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« Reply #6 on: May 03, 2006, 01:53:20 PM »
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Among all the other digital amazements is the fact that, when I'm out photographing, the only thing constraining me from shooting is the volume of data that I'll accumulate and have to process or delete once I get back to the "darkroom".

Oh yah, and dragging the "contrast" slider in ACR and watching the histogram expand and contract.  

As the song "Itchycoo Park" says, "It's all too beautiful"
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Ben Rubinstein
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« Reply #7 on: May 03, 2006, 05:22:27 PM »
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I forgot my prediction for inkjet in 5 years time.

IMO the same kind of people printing at home now will still be printing at home albeit with better materials (I expect the huge choice to consolidate a lot) and ink, I would also hope that the cost of printing and the chore of colour calibration will be far far less orenous even for the pro. However I do believe that the majority of professionals who neither have the time or patience for home printing and those who print large volumes of work such as large sections of the industry, will still be sending out to the labs who will still be using chemical printing for efficiency, volume and cost reasons where a chemical print process will always beat inkjet (note I didn't mention quality or longevity, I have no doubts that would be a historical concern by 2011), especially for price with that kind of volume of printing.

For example I myself often print thousands of 7X5" prints at a time. When I take it into the lab I know that I will be getting all the prints with exactly the same colour and density balance as I editied them for, no print to print variation (they calibrate each roll of paper loaded and test the chemistry twice a day) perfectly sized and cropped, on nice photo paper with a garunateed 100 year life and no metamarism, all without having to do any work whatsoever such as changing ink cartridges (how many cartridges would that many prints blow through!), worrying about drying times, worrying about complicated colour calibration, worrying about cutting and cropping, all at a fraction of the price it would cost me for inkjet printing. The cost and ease may be better in 2011 but I'll be damned if I can bothered even then....

Personally I believe that inkjet printing is in the realm of the hobbyist and fine art pro photographer but little else. That is probably why Fuji is still in business for all the drop in film sales, the fuji frontiers are still churning out prints across the world at a frantic pace, albeit now from kiosks instead of the film scanner which lies idle next to it.
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DiaAzul
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« Reply #8 on: May 03, 2006, 05:49:44 PM »
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#Kiosks including the 24 hour kiosks taking credit card being trialed here in the UK similar to a cash point, will be the norm in all malls, in restuarants, etc high street labs will suffer to the point of having to specialise in sales of cameras and such items as photo mugs, etc. This is happening already but will become far worse. Internet printing at cheap prices may take over the high street lab entirely, kiosks, internet and pro labs, no other choices!
#iPod/phone/internet/computer/camera, all in one, as cheap as the ones they give my wife for free every 6 months and very much the norm, all in one package. The digital p&s market shrinks to a normal pace and is superceded by the phone for the casual user.

[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=64318\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Excellent post Pom, well thought out and comprehensive.

To put this into perspective it is just one aspect of the digital revolution which is touching us in some many different ways. The revolution in photography is nothing compared with the revolution that is taking place in telecommunications. If I told you that the telephone exchange, as was, will no longer exist in a couple of years - and I don't mean a change in technology with some new box replacing the old box, I do truly mean that the exchange will just physically disappear - try explaining that to Alexander Graham Bell and Strowger.

What is increasingly becoming clearer is that everything will communicate with everything else and, at the centre of all this connectedness, will be companies offering applications/services to enable you to do things you haven't yet dreamed of. Of relevance to photography is the fact that historically there has been a long time between taking the picture and seeing it. However, now with digital technology you can not only see the picture instantly but share it with anyone around the world at the touch of a button. Want to show your wife the shoes you are thinking of buying for a second opion - click, send, phone (or for the younger generation you probably get a text message saying your dumped if you wear those home).

In some ways your list mourns the loss of the past, perhaps we should be excited about a new beginning.
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David Plummer    http://photo.tanzo.org/
Ben Rubinstein
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« Reply #9 on: May 03, 2006, 05:55:29 PM »
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David,  what amazed me was how fast it all happened, heck, hasn't Windows XP been around for 5 years? yes computers have gotten faster and cell phones funkier, but technology wise nothing seems to have gone so fast, killing dead healthy companies in the space of a couple of years, than the photographic revolution, it's just happened so suddenly, BAM!
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DiaAzul
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« Reply #10 on: May 03, 2006, 06:03:34 PM »
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David,  what amazed me was how fast it all happened, heck, hasn't Windows XP been around for 5 years? yes computers have gotten faster and cell phones funkier, but technology wise nothing seems to have gone so fast, killing dead healthy companies in the space of a couple of years, than the photographic revolution, it's just happened so suddenly, BAM!
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=64408\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Tell me about it - when I started in telecommunications I was trained as a Telex operator (about 20 years ago), digital was just comming in. About 15 years ago we were carrying bricks around with a 6 hour battery life to make mobile phone calls. About 10 years ago the internet started to pick up steam. About 5 years ago the web and email started to really pick up. More recently everyone is talking about converged services in telecommunications - i.e the same company will offer you voice, broadband and mobile in the same package plus loads of other applications on top.

It's not just that things are changing so quickly, it is that there is so much of it all changing at the same time. But I wouldn't worry in Manchester people still go around with a horse and cart (or has someone stolen the wheels)?
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David Plummer    http://photo.tanzo.org/
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« Reply #11 on: May 03, 2006, 10:16:40 PM »
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Interesting ruminations, Pom. We sure live in exciting times. Some technologies seem to develop faster than we imagined possible, yet others remain tantalisingly on the horizon, like quantum computing and unlimited cheap energy from atomic fusion.

One development taking place in the labs, that should be of great interest to photographers, is the construction of 'super lenses' using photonic crystals and artificial materials (metamaterials) which have a negative refractive index.

If I've understood the concept, in a few years time we might be using small P&S cameras sporting razor sharp f1 lenses that stop down in manual mode to f32 and still produce sharp images due to a circumvention of the conventional laws of diffraction.
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Ben Rubinstein
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« Reply #12 on: May 04, 2006, 04:37:16 AM »
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David, what's a wheel?  
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Ben Rubinstein
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« Reply #13 on: May 05, 2006, 08:34:36 AM »
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Just spoke to the guy in the know at my local Jessops (biggest non specialist photo chain in Britain). He said that at present they are printing a ration of 75% digital. Jessops in now trialing a new store in Dorset which has a Fuji Frontier - but no C-41 processor at all. He told me that Jessops has bought all their C-41 machines so it's not a matter of finishing a lease and not renewing, but how long they will continue to pay for the maintenence and chemicals is in doubt. Of course if these machines arn't worked with at least 30 rolls of film a day then the idle time is detrimental to the chemistry (that was the rule in the Agfa lab I ran, no doubt little different for Fuji). This store in a busy new shopping center is processing about 10 a day maximum with perhaps 30 on a Satuday/Sunday.

Jessops anyway send out any pro stuff (handprinting, B&W, 120 film, etc) to a pro lab in Warrington, BPD Phototec who are one of the top handprinting experts in the country and the expert on Cibachrome. As I said I think I was being conservative. I'm adjusting my time scale to two years on C-41 develpment being sent out by all highstreet and Walmart type labs, no more 1 hour processing on film.

I know from my time in the business that maintenece charges per month whether you use them or not are high. The chemisty is expensive and those labs running a 'buy paper with the chemistry for X price' are going to find that the companies are not interested in that kind of deal anymore, especially when the boxes of chemistry are piled up in the stockrooms and not being used.  Maybe for the likes of Asda (UK's Walmart) and Jessops with large chains they will deliver the chemistry from head office as and when needed to keep the machines alive but it won't be long before they start asking whether the percentage of 1 hour film development is worth the expense and upkeep of these machines. Smaller family owned labs, those very few that still exist, and the smaller chains are going to have to make up their minds pretty fast as a bad choice in the upcoming year could kill them when they are hanging on by their fingertips in any case.
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Ray
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« Reply #14 on: May 05, 2006, 09:51:26 AM »
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David, what's a wheel? 
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Manchester has a lot to be proud of. I'm from Manchester. Manchester was the site of one of the first working computers (that occupied a whole room, of course).

There's nothing wrong with Manchester, except the weather and the general drabness of the place   .
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JJP
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« Reply #15 on: May 10, 2006, 06:54:54 PM »
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This is a true story....but the date and names have been forgotten and changed!
Once upon a time, a professional golfer before the beginning of the final round....got his clubs & bag stolen.
Would you believe it, one of the spectators attending had an el-cheapo set in their vehicle at the parking lot and offered them to "Joe Pro".   Would you believe it, Joe Pro kept his "game" going and ultimately won that tourney.  Then afterwards, he donated his winnings to a charity.
A little perpespective is in order here....wouldn't you say?
The moral:  no camera will ever make me a world acclaimed photographer.  It's what clicks inside the person that makes a photographer and not what clicks inside the gear.
jj
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JJ
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« Reply #16 on: May 10, 2006, 09:09:28 PM »
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This is a true story....but the date and names have been forgotten and changed!


Continuing with the fictitious names and dates, here's the true story. The professional golfer in question outclassed everyone. He was miles ahead in the game and his winning was a certainty. Someone, playing dirty, stole his golf clubs hoping it would cause the golfer to lose the game. It didn't. With the help of some el cheapo clubs kindly donated by a spectator, the golfer still won the game, but not by as big a margin as he would otherwise have done. If his clubs had been stolen earlier in the game, he would have lost.

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The moral:  no camera will ever make me a world acclaimed photographer.  It's what clicks inside the person that makes a photographer and not what clicks inside the gear.


That's very catchy, but have you ever come across anyone who really believes that mere possession of a 'tool' will transform that person into an expert craftsman, golfer, artist, musician, whomever?
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macgyver
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« Reply #17 on: May 10, 2006, 11:18:54 PM »
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That's very catchy, but have you ever come across anyone who really believes that mere possession of a 'tool' will transform that person into an expert craftsman, golfer, artist, musician, whomever?
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Perhaps you would be suprised.
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DavidJ
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« Reply #18 on: May 11, 2006, 04:58:40 AM »
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A fine musician needs fine instruments to give the best performance. Fortunately most don't need to be upgraded more than once every hundred years or so.

David
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David Allen
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« Reply #19 on: May 11, 2006, 10:19:39 AM »
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A fine musician needs fine instruments to give the best performance. Fortunately most don't need to be upgraded more than once every hundred years or so.

[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=65074\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

As I understand it, that's not quite true. A piano will tend to improve over the first few years of use, and then go into gradual decline. It is after all a mechanical contraption. The tone and timbre of a piano, as with a violin, will depend on the type and quality of timber used, as well as the design and quality of craftsmanship.

The Australian made Stuart & Sons piano is a case in point. It's made from slow growing Huon Pine, found only in Tasmania, employs an innovative method of coupling the strings to the piano and produces greater clarity and tonal richness as a result.

It's not only a fine musician who needs a fine sounding instrument, but any serious student. An instrument that does not produce a beautiful tone can discourage the student.

When I look back on the cameras I've owned since my first brownie box camera as a kid, I find that the number of photos I've taken, or perhaps more relevantly, the amount of time I've spent taking photos, has increased in rough proportion to the sophistication of the camera. I don't recall shooting more than a few rolls of B&W with the fixed lens, fixed aperture, box camera. It was so limiting. I shot a few more rolls with my next camera, a Canon 35mm rangefinder with fixed lens that wasn't particularly sharp. However, it wasn't until I bought a Pentax Spotmatic with through-the-lens metering and interchangeable lenses that I really took a serious quantity of shots. Years later, with my first digital camera, the Canon D60, I took more shots in the first 3 to 6 months than previously in my entire life, and during the first 6 months of owning a 5D, I've taken more shots (and spent more time taking those shots) than I took during the first year of using a D60.

Now, you might well make the point, it's not the number of shots that counts but the quality of the shots. However, that's a separate issue. The point I would make is that a fine instrument, whether musical or photographical, tends to encourage greater use by the owner, and as we all know, practice makes perfect   .
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