THE EASTMAN KODAK BOX BROWNIE CONCEPT CONTINUES

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Early in the history of photography in America, well before the year 1900, Eastman Kodak invented the concept of “you snap the picture we will do the rest”. Kodak designed and made simple, easy to use box cameras, as well as better models, and the box Brownie was sold at a very low price to make it accessible to a wide audience. Kodak expected to, and did, earn their profit from the sale of film and processing. By the time I was a kid in the 30’s cameras, film and processing (negatives and a set of prints) were available through just about every corner drugstore.

Today, in the digital era, that basic concept continues with point and shoot digital cameras. Just about all of them save image files in JPEG and sRGB color, and the files can be sent in or inserted in a vending machine printing kiosk, often located in a drugstore, and prints will be produced. These cameras are all automated to obtain well exposed and focused pictures, and contain built-in processors that edit the images for good image quality.

Contemporary home/office computers of almost every make are in lock-step with point-and-shoot digital cameras with easy-to-use JPEG download utilities and operating systems that have an sRGB default colorspace. Photo printers made to be used with these cameras have a driver that adjusts the image to make what the pinter manufacture considers is a good reproduction of the image information on file and downloaded to the computer. Essentially none of these computers in the marketplace have the capacity to be used by a serious photo enthusiasts to be set-up for color managed image adjustment, color correction of raw photographic images that reproduce the full information capacity of digital cameras that save in Raw format, and the current LCD displays that come with home/office computers cannot be adjusted to match paper white brightness to make color managed prints that match an on-screen image.

Yes there are work-arounds and added peripherals that will accommodate the serious photographer, but they involveconsiderable added costs, like color management hardware and software and an expensive professional LCD display.

COULD THE INDUSTRY PRODUCE AN AFFORDABLE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY COMPUTER?
Yes. all of the needed technology is already available. But the few million Americans who are serious photographers are not enough in numbers to interest the industry, not even one computer company, to make computer models that support serious digital photography. A couple of years ago one of the largest LCD manufacturers made an LCD display model with over 90% of the color gamut of Adobe RGB that was quite affordable, but after just one year the model was discontinued. LCD displays for home office computers are too bright, but it would cost little to produce a model with half the intensity of backlight. All LCD displays have DVI connectors that include a DDC (Direct Digital Control) segment, but none of the LCD manufacturers would agree to a DDC standard; so the operating systems, the video card manufactures and computer companies have never supported DDC, except one professional LCD display maker who uses DDC for their proprietary system, that’s NEC’s Spectraview 2.

Otherwise most contemporary home/office computers can be configured to support serious digital photography with a color managed workflow. And, probably more applications for photography would add color managed support if it was supported by the LCD display industry.

But sadly digital photography customers are not demanding that the industry supplies what they need. Sadly too many computer buyers assume they are getting products that support their serious photography interest, and do not realize that if you cannot see all of the image and color information in a digital photograph on-screen, you cannot control it with software applications like Photoshop. Photographer are missing a boat they could have if they would just demand it and quit buying inadequate home/office computers.

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