Are New Cameras Obsolete?
Are New Cameras Obsolete?
Whether or not the Nikon D5 camera was obsolete would have never even brushed through my mind a month ago. I was just as excited as the rest of my fellow photographers at the announcement of Nikon’s new flagship camera, the Nikon D5. Imagine it, a full frame 20.8 MP FX-Format, CMOS Sensor, 12Fps up to 200 frames per burst, 14 Bit Raw Files, ISO up to a staggering 3,280,000, 4k UHD video recording up to 30 fps, this camera is a mother*cking BEAST! I looked across the desk at my “road dog” camera the Nikon D300 and it took all of the intestinal fortitude I had NOT to spit at it in disgust when compared to this Nikon D5.
Almost as if heaven itself decided to open my eyes to a reality that I never even considered, I received an “Inbox” message in Facebook. It was a model that I have been chasing down for months, finally contacting me back out of the blue. Why? Because she seen a photograph that I put in one of about 30 different Facebook Photography Groups and she fell deeply in love with it. Really? So I go online to see which image she is talking about and it was this gorgeous image that I took years ago. I was goofing around and experimenting with textures and I edited it and posted it around. The comments were fantastic! I was feeling pretty good and this one group’s administrator requested that I post the EXIF Data for the image. Not a problem..right? Well, you couldn’t believe my utter shock and horror when I got the EXIF Data and I realized that I shot this image on my OLD Nikon D70 ! I wouldn’t have EVER posted that image if I had known I shot it with my Nikon D70. However, when I REALLY looked at the image again, I realized something. It was REALLY HOT!
Having a really hot image that everybody really seemed to enjoy, jump started the ole noggin and made me think. “If this image looks this good on Facebook, and I shot it years ago with a Nikon D70, why would I spend almost $7,000 on a new Nikon D5? What is this new camera going to show image wise, that is so significantly different than this D70? Yes, it would be almost twice the amount of Megapixels but would it really make a HUGE difference?
Today’s print magazine market is shrinking in size exponentially every year. The latest print giant to fall under the might and power of this digital millennium is Penthouse Magazine which is now only in digital format. Almost every online platform suppresses the images in their display. JPEG’s in of themselves are a suppressed file. Usually when a photographer edits a photo to display digitally, they significantly pre-suppress the image by using a “Web Optimization” filtration solution by Photoshop or some other image editing software solution.
So I asked around to see what other photographer’s interpretations are of these digital photography trends and how the internet is impacting their genre. Did they feel as though these new very powerful cameras are necessary for their market of niche photography? Recently Vogue Magazine stated that Wedding Photographers were no longer needed. This blase comment pissed off a lot of my fellow photographers and I wanted to look into it a little deeper as to why they would say that.
Philadelphia Wedding Photographer Timothy P Hines felt as though upgrading to a new very expensive but very powerful camera such as the D5 would NOT be a wise investment. Timothy stated:
“the more pixels you have in your image, the more potential size your prints can be. Only photographers who make large prints really need cameras with large pixel amounts. In wedding photography, very few people order prints large enough to hang up on their walls.”
Naturally, Tim’s response shocked me because he hadn’t mentioned anything about the internet. So I asked him flat out, if the internet had any effect on his Wedding Photography Business as it pertained to investing in one of these new powerful cameras. Tim stated:
“The internet has affected my business more than anything I can ever think of. The major part of my business was creating Wedding Books but now most couples are less concerned with their Wedding Books and more concerned with their Face Books. Even when it comes to portraiture, people are less worried about the physical walls of their house than their digital walls of their virtual world.”
I asked Fine Art Portraiture Photographer Arthur Steel, a hypothetical question. I asked him “If you were shooting a spread for Penthouse Magazine now that it is no longer a Print Magazine, would you invest in a new Nikon D5 to shoot it? Arthur Steel stated:
“The new format seems like a tweak, but 7 grand seems a bit excessive. More pixels does not equate to a better or even different image. The lens and size of the sensor contribute, but unless you are going to a medium format sensor, one full-frame will deliver the same optics as the other. Low light sounds like it could be a treat. I am not making any decisions on format (aka dslr, 4/3rds) for a while. My 5D mark III will serve my needs for a long time. Especially with print becoming less impressive.”
I then asked Arthur “ With the decline of Print, do we really need cameras this powerful anymore?” Arthur’s response was:
“There is still a portrait market, but even it is declining. Ease of use, and better low-light were the factors that influenced me to upgrade from the mark II to the mark III. Cost is extremely important. The mark III simply was not worth a $3600 price tag with photographer’s margins dropping. At $2400 I bought it, but I have no intention of spending that much again”
I see two opposing trends occurring. These cameras are being built to be more and more powerful. The major camera manufacturers such as Canon and Nikon are creating what I call “more cameras”; they have more megapixels, more powerful processors, more powerful sensors, and more features rivaling small laptop computers. However, today’s technological web-based platforms actually require LESS! The larger the images, the longer it takes to load, and the slower it takes to display, and that hurts a web platforms overall performance ratings. This conflict of technological interests leads me to conclude that new cameras could be obsolete before they are ever manufactured.
The most fascinating aspect of this article to me is the question that I cannot answer. Why me? I am not the brightest guy in the world and by simply asking a few questions and utilizing a few brain cells to apply some deductive reasoning and I cannot understand why these manufacturers are going full steam ahead with making more powerful cameras with huge price tags on them. Nikon and Canon are manufacturing cameras with all kinds of thrilling digital and electronic features, larger amounts of megapixels, and blazing sensors. The internet is fighting for faster and faster load times and process times. The same things which occurred to the music industry are obviously occurring in the Publishing Industry which directly affects the photography industry. I sincerely hope one of these companies begins to understand what is happening to all of these industries and creates cameras that are more fiscally reflective of industry trends and technologically reflective of industry trends. I believe any camera these manufactures design at this point are obsolete on the drawing table. A new camera needs to be developed that creates images optimized for the internet with significantly lower price points. If not, these manufacturers will continue to make better and greater cameras, that are obsolete due to the means of distribution requiring significantly less quality to be considered an optimal piece of electronic equipment.