A Look At What's Ahead For Photography In 2005...And Beyond Page 3
"In The Year 2010 (Or Sooner, I Hope)"
The future will undoubtedly bring us more and better interchangeable lens digital SLR cameras and digital backs for medium format cameras. As the world of photography moves more and more into digital, traditional large format cameras that do not support digital will fall by the wayside, as will medium format models (already evident by the demise of Bronica). Canon and Nikon will finally realize the need for interchangeable digital/film backs for their SLRs, and the early adopters of this hybrid camera will be photojournalists and stock photographers, along with commercial photographers shooting on location. The cameras will be a bit too pricey for the average enthusiast for some years to come.
As for pricing on digital SLRs, based on what we're seeing now, don't expect prices to drop dramatically, but do expect these cameras to improve enough over the next few years to make them competitive in every way with 35mm SLRs. But the consumer will continue to drive the digital market, not so much with a demand for enhanced technologies as with devices designed to make digital much more user friendly--and chic. Expect more digital cameras to come in different "flavors" and to increasingly move away from that unappealing boxy shape. Portable storage devices will come down in price and size sufficiently to gain mass appeal, accompanied by a similar shift in portable players, making them as easy to carry as a compact digital camera.
Good Year For Consumers: Performance Specs Continue To Creep Upward
& Competition Drives Prices Down
Computers will get smaller and the 1.4MB floppy disk drive will disappear from most machines. Hard drives will reach 3/4 of a terabyte and optical drives (CD-ROM and DVD) will record even greater amounts of data. Ink jet printers will get faster and flat-bed scanners will have higher levels of dynamic density. In other words, performance specs for just about everything will continue to creep upward.
Unfortunately, there are no major technological breakthroughs about to happen. The quality of tech support will continue to decay as large corporations struggle to wring profits from a highly competitive marketplace. All in all, it will be a good year for consumers as market competition will continue to drive prices downward.
Many regional museums will start exhibiting old-fashioned wet darkroom products since their owners will not be able to find buyers for the antique stuff that they will want to unload. Three, maybe four other people besides myself will be willing to publicly proclaim that digital imaging is actually superior to old-fashioned wet chemical photography.
--Darryl C. Nicholas
Black And White Or Bleak And Fright?
Mega-dealers Freestyle in Los Angeles report record black and white sales, especially in the important school market. Kentmere (who coat paper for Luminos among others) have just had the best month in their company's 100-year history. Fotospeed's sales are booming: again, ask Luminos. Guy Gerard of Bergger says, "I am a happy man." Rollei introduces the Rollei R3 line of film and chemicals.
And, of course, Agfa, Arista, Efke, Foma, Fuji, Kodak, Konica, Lucky China, Maco, Paterson, Polaroid, and Tura are still producing and/or selling film or paper or both for black and white photography. At photokina in September at least two consortia were looking to buy coating lines for paper and film. There is no lack of enthusiasm: reports of the death of black and white are, in Mark Twain's immortal words, greatly exaggerated.
It's true that both Ilford and Forte went into receivership (Chapter 11) in the last quarter of 2004, but in October Ilford was still coating and shipping film and paper, and production of Ilford photographic chemicals had apparently been licensed: their financial position was good enough after three weeks in receivership that several buyers were sniffing around. Forte had temporarily stopped coating but should be back on stream by the time you read this; they have also attracted interest. All is far from lost.
What can you do to keep your choices as wide as possible? Buy film. Use it. Replace it. Shoot, shoot, and shoot some more. Go in the darkroom. Make prints. This is what photography is about, after all: not new cameras, but making pictures, using your favorite medium. The future is in your hands. Don't listen to anyone who tells you different.
--Frances E. Schultz
Reinvention Will Be Key To Survival
Photographers have always had to reinvent themselves to survive. Today the corporate structure has created more and more IBM and The New York Times situations where they want to own all of the photographer's images, asking for more rights (and paying less money). So, though the pie has gotten bigger and people are using more and more photographs than ever before, there is more competition and the slices are getting smaller.
Right now the industry seems to be competing against itself with photographers giving away rights and stock agencies taking bigger and bigger pieces out of the photographers because they realize that photographers will eat their young.
Even organizations like AP are now telling photographers they must pay for their own equipment and are paying less expenses. The New York Times pulled similar shenanigans last year and though photographers rebelled for a hot minute or two, too many of them crossed the picket line and they all lost.
Even the Art Directors don't care if you're in business next year. The individual photographer is no longer indispensable. Now it's all about low bid.
What are the results? Probably prices will come down. When a photographer has to compete with Getty, The New York Times, and ad agencies, some will go down with the ship while the more inventive and enterprising will find new ways to make a living in photography and will survive--as will the industry.
A Stone Age Wish: More Concentration On Image Quality Than Megapixel
We have to remember that we are still in the "Stone Age" of digital photography. The first prediction is more a wish. I hope that the manufacturers of cameras will more and more concentrate on image quality than on the pure megapixel race. Cameras have more megapixels than most people will ever need. The Fuji FinePix S3 is a first attempt to sacrifice resolution in favor of improvement in the dynamic range of digital SLRs.
Imaging software is also only in its infancy and future software will allow to correct many imaging defects. The future camera is a combination of optics and correction software.
Further Integration Of Film And Digital
What's in the future? In the workshop teaching profession, I find an equal number of students using film and digital cameras. Many pros are going back to using film in addition to using digital as a back-up as many have lost work, especially assignment work, due to hardware failure. Many photographers, amateur and professional, are questioning the readability of media five, 10, or 20 (and longer) years from now. Many photographers who extolled the many virtues of digital are now admitting that film is better. Of course, it's still and will always be a debatable issue. It's become clear that film is more archival. For stock photography, the Canon EOS-1D Mark II (8.5 megapixels) is acceptable for digital submissions. Therefore, stock photographers will not be likely to flock to purchasing any camera beyond the Canon EOS-1Ds and Mark II, the Nikon D2X, and the Fuji FinePix S3. Nikon just announced a new film camera, the F6, and the Hasselblad Xpan is a very popular 35mm film camera. Fuji's new Velvia 100 (film) is outstanding.
Of course, the truly great thing about digital, which sets it apart, is that you can view your work immediately (instant feedback), and it is an excellent teaching tool. You save on film and processing, as we all know. With the rapidly changing technology, film appears to be more archival and cannot be accidentally deleted.
I use film and digital cameras, as do many other pros.
What's in the future? Probably, a further integration of these two mediums by serious amateur and professional photographers, and more on the epic struggle of film vs. digital!
Megapixel Race Isn't Slowing Down; Slowdown In High-End Camera
As we get deeper and deeper into the digital age, it's getting pretty obvious that the megapixel race has no signs of slowing down. On one hand, progress leads to more quality within the camera, but on the other hand, high-end users of these big ticket digital SLRs are finding it hard to keep up with this fast-paced technology by trading equipment in every six months or so. The end result, I'm afraid, will be a slowdown in camera sales especially in the $8000 range until this race settles down into a comfortable sensor size.
The reproduction of photographs will gain steadily especially when it's getting so easy to print photos into larger sizes. Eventually I predict there will be a line of specialized computers and monitors dedicated, set up, and calibrated just for in-house printing chores. Film will not fade away for some time as witnessed by Nikon's commitment to their new F6 and Canon's redesigned EOS ELAN 7NE line of handy pro-type cameras. As photographers we still have plenty to look forward to in the very near future.
Only Good Times Ahead...
Digital cameras, flashes, and other accessories are becoming so refined that it's totally impractical to "do-it-yourself." I believe that more and more photographers will be relying on automatic built-ins to their equipment, knowing that they can't process information as quickly as their new equipment. They will also know how to make adjustments when the automatic equipment can't cope with exposing properly when using white and/or black backgrounds.
Photographers are returning to more traditional photography, realizing that sales are greatly increased when appealing to people of all ages. Photographic education is on the rise again.
Digital lighting systems such as Photogenic's new 800 ws Photomaster will allow photographers to carry lighting systems on location, using them for both quality portraits and putting them to use again to light the background for reception pictures.
Carrying cases are being adapted to be more practical and lightweight, complying with new airline regulations. Digital effects with programs like Photoshop are becoming more practical and less obtrusive.
Although digital printers are becoming better and more practical, more photographers will be relying on custom color labs to lighten their production load. More framers will follow the lead of Levin Picture Frames and make available ready-made frames to fit the size of digital cameras' images.
Websites are becoming a staple among photographers. They will have much less gimmicks and be more easily read.
Shutterbug will continue to grow in strength, quality information, and practical approaches to new trends in photography.