“I don’t think phones will ever replace cameras,” my friend said during a recent discussion.
I’m sure film-users said something very similar when digital photography became main-stream. There are still, and always will be, people out there who believe that there is no replacement for quality film photography. I agree. There’s just some factor Ansel Adams’ portfolio has that digital images lack.
Why did we turn to digital? Convenience. Film photographers must have felt mighty frustrated when they slaved away at measuring the perfect shutter speed for one good photo out of 24 precious and expensive exposures while their high tech friends clicked away 75 images at no cost.
Now those same DSLR users are now having the role reversed on them. Those of us still half-way devoted to “the art of photography” and using the manual seting on their DSLR are finding themselves up against, you guessed it, the smart phone.
Your friend is looking at the same stunning scene you are, say, a mountain range in Glacier National Park. You’re freezing your hands off fidgeting with the tri-pod and settings on your camera while your friend whips out this metallic white screen next to you. He presses a button and scans the space in front of him like Commander Data using a tricorder to find any life forms. Bam! his phone instantly transforms this magic sweep of the hand into a perfect panorama. Up the contrast, add some mild HDR effect, post it instantly with Instagram and by the time you’re back to your car he’s got 25 likes.
Your photos won’t be public until that evening when you can insert the SD card into your computer, make a couple minor adjustments on paint.net (because you’re too cheap for Photoshop) and upload them to the internets. By then, you’re friends have already seen your buddy’s flashier image and yours is old news.
Well, life is unfair and I’m sure we can all do without the excess facebook fame. But it is discouraging when everyone became a photographer overnight. Thanks to the help of apps and new technology the number of interesting photos my friends are posting have quadrupled. Apps like Instagram help people transform their images into aesthetically appealing ‘photographs.’ Three years ago you actually had to know how to work Photoshop CS to get those effects.
Times have changed and we digital photographers need to deal with it, somehow. We may have to start saying “you just can’t replace lens reflex cameras*” like our film predecessors resisted digital. However! one thing will always be true in photography: the photographer makes the image not the camera, program, app, or whatever new technology surfaces.
*sounds like the new all digital four thirds systems will, which in my opinion are just digital cameras with interchangeable lenses.