The oldest ones are nearly 15 years old: 1600-by-1200-pixel snaps taken from my first digital camera, a Canon PowerShot. I bought that camera in October 2001 because my wife and I were about to have our first child; we knew we were about to have a life experience that really needed to be documented.
Here’s how much photography has changed in the last 15 years: One of the selling points I had to make back then was the relative cost of having prints made from digital photos versus taking film to the supermarket and getting back prints. (I won the argument, because even in 2001 the economics were shifting away from film — it was cheaper to digitally print only the images that turned out well, rather than paying for an entire roll of film to be printed, regardless of quality.)[…]
By 2003, the digital photography revolution was in full swing. My boss at the time gave me a bonus — but rather than cash, he offered me a Canon Digital Rebel. This was the first $1000 Digital SLR, and it dramatically improved the quality of my digital photos. Not only was it a 6.2-megapixel camera, but it had all the gorgeous optics of an SLR. It also meant that all my photos went from being 400K to 2.5MB per shot, making iPhoto groan under the strain.[…]
In 2007, though, I got a new camera — the original iPhone. Its sole rear-facing camera had a paltry 1.9-megapixel sensor, like the one in the point-and-shoot I’d bought six years earlier. Unlike that camera, however, the iPhone had no optical zoom or flash, and much worse optics.
But now I had a camera with me at all times — not just the times when I anticipated needing a camera.
I don’t know when I first heard the maxim “The best camera is the one you have with you,” but the iPhone proved that to be true. The first revision to the iPhone didn’t come with a camera upgrade, but in 2009, the iPhone 3GS upped the camera to 3.1 megapixels, offering auto-focus and auto white balance. The iPhone was getting better at photography, but there was still a lot of room to grow.
I had a party at a beach earlier this year, and soon we’ll be having it again. It’s what you expect, a bunch of 18-year-olds going for a swim and then getting drunk. The trek there is long, combined with the fact we have to carry a lot of stuff with us.
My DSLR will just add to the weight of stuff I have to carry, and considering last time we had the party my mate lost his glasses that were given to him by his granddad before he passed away, I am not risking that. My phone, however, will be with me no matter what. It will be the perfect camera for the event, as the image I took at the last party will demonstrate for me:
There will always be people who stick to their DSLR roots, just like there are some people who stick to their film camera roots2. DSLR’s will always be better, but soon phones will become the everyday, easier photography tool, just like digital photography has become for film.
- Read: Hipsters. Seriously, browsing the 4chan photography board, and there are so many people still using film cameras. ↩