Five ways the digital camera changed us

Five ways the digital camera changed us

Kodak has fallen on hard times, with critics accusing the company of failing to adequately shift to digital. However, Kodak was credited with developing the first digital camera four decades ago, a breakthrough that altered the globe.

The first was a little coffee machine-sized box with a cassette tape taped to the side.

When it took its first image in 1975, no one could have predicted that this Heath Robinson-Esque prototype would nearly obliterate the camera film market and turn us all into potential Robert Doisneau’s or Henri Cartier-Bresson’s, recording everything from the banal to the beautiful on our mobile phones.

Steven Sasson designed Kodak’s first boxy digital camera. However, the company has struggled to profit fully from its discovery, and with its share price plummeting last year, there has been rising concern about the company’s prospects.

According to Samsung, there are now 2.5 billion digital cameras in use around the world.

The introduction of digital photography altered the classic camera, but the camera phone was the most significant innovation.

Big breaking news items of 2011 were filmed on camera phones, from the capture and killing of Colonel Gaddafi to outbreaks of major looting in England’s summer riots.

When the camera and phone were originally combined, they were considered unusual bedfellows.

“I remember Sony Ericsson showing off a phone with a clip-on camera in 2001,” says Jonathan Margolis, a Financial Times technology journalist. “Like everyone else, I wondered, ‘Why would you want a phone with a camera?'”

Although standalone digital cameras were generally available by 2005, it was the mobile phone, particularly the smartphone, that introduced digital photography to the general public.

Professional photographers have felt a significant impact. Previously, a photographer would not have dared to

“I was there”

The mobile phone, particularly the smartphone, was responsible for bringing digital photography to the public.

Because of digital cameras, people’s behavior in public has changed.

Nowadays, guests may greet the delivery of their food with a few delighted clicks of their phone, capturing that sushi or pizza for posterity. Back a couple of decades, showing a friend a picture of a dinner you’d been served might have raised eyebrows.

One of the most noticeable differences is at concerts and athletic events. If you go to a stadium concert, you will be confronted by a forest of arms holding cameras aloft. At the start of a football game and following goals, thousands of small camera flashes strew the crowd.

Steven Colburn is a Ph.D. student at Sussex University working on a doctoral thesis about concert filmers who upload their material to YouTube.

“They recognize that taping the concert removes them from the live experience, but it also removes those memories. They then upload it to YouTube to demonstrate their presence at the event.”

They are effectively demonstrating to the rest of the “fan community” that “I was there.” They are also the first to provide a record of the incident, beating out established media.

The amateur photographers and videographers are aware that not everyone at the concert appreciates what they are doing. Concerts are dark settings, and cameras create a distracting source of light. Then there are the arms in the way of people’s vision.

It can lead to arguments, according to Colburn, who adds that a man from Texas told him he even elbows others out of the way to obtain the footage he needs.

We’re taking more snaps

The most significant impact of digital is the sheer amount of images taken. If an uncle had gone to his niece’s first birthday in 1985, he might have thought that shooting a single 24 exposure roll of the film was a very generous photographic record. He would not hesitate to take 100 or 200 shots with a digital camera today.

A survey conducted during the week of the royal wedding predicted that 327 million images of the occasion would be shot on digital cameras.

The sheer volume of photos taken is the most major influence of digital. If an uncle had attended his niece’s first birthday party in 1985, he might have believed that capturing a single 24-exposure-roll of the film was a very generous photographic record. He would not hesitate to snap 100 or 200 digital camera photographs today.

A survey performed during the royal wedding week anticipated that 327 million photographs of the event would be captured on digital cameras.

People are better photographers

Better images are now possible due to the sheer weight of statistics. If you want to snap five good shots at an event and take 240 instead of 24, your chances improve.

And the fact that each image can be checked on the LCD screen immediately after being taken allows consumers to try again. Some photographers refer to this as “chimping,” but it has transformed the way staged photographs are taken.

Once upon a time, every photographer had to choose the film speed, compose the shot, manually focus, set the aperture, select the shutter speed, and then press the shutter release.

However, the digital camera has automated the entire technique, making it more difficult, but not impossible, to create a technically problematic photograph.

“Without being degrading,” Margolis argues, “it has given a significant amount of power to not very good photographers.” Grids can be used to help compose the photograph, and photo editing software programs can be used to improve the outcome.

“It’s allowed photographs to be reproduced at home on an inkjet printer with no mess and no need for a special darkroom,” explains Amateur Photographer editor Damien Demolder. “Anyone may now upload their photos to a printing service and produce a hardback book of their vacation or family wedding.”

“Without being degrading,” Margolis argues, “it has given a significant amount of power to not very good photographers.” Grids can be used to help compose the photograph, and photo editing software programmes can be used to improve the outcome.

“It’s allowed photographs to be reproduced at home on an inkjet printer with no mess and no need for a special darkroom,” explains Amateur Photographer editor Damien Demolder. “Anyone may now upload their photos to a printing service and produce a hardback book of their vacation or family wedding.”

“Without being degrading,” Margolis argues, “it has given a significant amount of power to not very good photographers.” Grids can be used to help compose the photograph, and photo editing software programmes can be used to improve the outcome.

“It’s allowed photographs to be reproduced at home on an inkjet printer with no mess and no need for a special darkroom,” explains Amateur Photographer editor Damien Demolder. “Anyone may now upload their photos to a printing service and produce a hardback book of their vacation or family wedding.”

“Without being degrading,” Margolis argues, “it has given a significant amount of power to not very good photographers.” Grids can be used to help compose the photograph, and photo editing software programmes can be used to improve the outcome.

“It’s allowed photographs to be reproduced at home on an inkjet printer with no mess and no need for a special darkroom,” explains Amateur Photographer editor Damien Demolder. “Anyone may now upload their photos to a printing service and produce a hardback book of their vacation or family wedding.”

“Without being degrading,” Margolis argues, “it has given a significant amount of power to not very good photographers.” Grids can be used to help compose the photograph, and photo editing software programmes can be used to improve the outcome.

“It’s allowed photographs to be reproduced at home on an inkjet printer with no mess and no need for a special darkroom,” explains Amateur Photographer editor Damien Demolder. “Anyone may now upload their photos to a printing service and produce a hardback book of their vacation or family wedding.”

Citizen journalism

It’s not just the fall of a dictator or massive plunder that the average citizen may record on their smartphone.
The widespread availability of digital cameras elevates what would otherwise be a minor incident into a worldwide spectacle. Internet phenomena such as the bungee jumper who survived her fall into the Zambezi or Fenton the deer-chasing dog would have been less likely to be filmed if not for the camera phone.

Video cameras were usually present at gatherings where it was understood that something interesting was going to happen. However, the development of the smartphone camera altered the conceivable range of subjects.

In 2005, there was a lot of talk about the “happy slapping” fad, which involved occurrences being filmed on phones and spread online. However, major offences still result in voyeurism. After a man was stabbed in Glasgow in September, it was revealed that passersby had stood about filming the attack rather than helping the victim.

We’re all archivists

Some may wonder whether the flood of digital images taken in the last decade will survive to become important documents about living in the early twenty-first century.

However, Lanxon believes that the vast majority will survive. The larger danger is that the best will be lost among the rubbish.

“I know a lot of individuals who shoot 500 photos on vacation, don’t edit them and post them all on Facebook. In 20 years, they’ll have 50,000 and won’t be able to find the ones they want.”

Another factor is how technology companies have introduced technology that effectively implies our photos now reside in their software through programmes such as Facebook’s Timeline or Apple’s iPhoto. “It’s starting to feel like Google and Facebook own our images more than we do,” Lanxon says.

The digital camera, according to Andrew Keen, author of The Cult of the Amateur: How Today’s Internet is Killing Our Culture, has ruined the craft of photography.

“Everyone is a photographer these days. Everyone nowadays enjoys continuously recording everything.” He says that there is a stark contrast between that and the distinguished female photographer he knows, who shoots very few images but with great care.

“People no longer believe that photographs have intrinsic value since they are so simple to create. What worries me the most is that cyber thievery is decimating the photography industry.”

Of course, one could argue that this is more about the internet than digital cameras and is not limited to photography.

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