Equipment Longevity

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by Narnian, Feb 5, 2011.

  1. Narnian

    Narnian Nobody in particular ...

    Aug 6, 2010
    Richmond, VA
    Richard Elliott
    My 25-35 year old Pentax equipment and lenses still work fine.

    I have some 80+ year old roll film cameras that still work.

    One way I have saved money over the years, especially in large and medium format, was to buy used and often old equipment. Much of the stuff I have owned has been as old or older than I am. And it all worked fine. I could do most minor repairs and adjustments myself.

    Will my new m43 equipment work 10 years from now, much less 20, due to the complexity of electronics and autofocus? Do we need 1/10th of the stuff they put into cameras nowadays?

    Just thinking.
    • Like Like x 2
  2. ~tc~

    ~tc~ Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 22, 2010
    Houston, TX
    Will it work (as in function)? Absolutely.

    Will technology have moved on so far that you'll wonder why you would want to? Absolutely.

    As technology moves more into the digital realm, Moore's Law apply moore and moore :)
    • Like Like x 1
  3. Fiddler

    Fiddler Mu-43 Veteran

    I expect that they will still work in ten years. Whether we'll still have them, or want to use them or not, is another matter. How well they'll survive will say a lot about how well we look after what we have. Could be that we will be using 50 megapixel digital rangefinder(ish) cameras by then, or medium format digital. The future looks good to me :smile:

    All the best,

  4. Alanroseman

    Alanroseman Super Moderator Emeritus

    Dec 21, 2010
    New England

    I like this thread.. unfortunately I'm off to purchase some 'ice melting" chemicals...
    But, I'll be back.
    • Like Like x 1
  5. Pelao

    Pelao Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 3, 2010
    Ontario, Canada
    I restrict myself to purchasing stuff that will make my photography goals simpler to reach, or offer some other tangible improvement.

    I bought a digital Rebel in 2003 - the first 'affordable' DSLR. It produced great files then, and does so now. My wife uses it frequently.

    I moved to a 20D in 2005 for the increased speed of operation: it was the kids and sports stage. Great camera, really great. I sold it when the kids moved on to other stuff (boys, and no camera is fast enough for that...) and purchased a used 5D for my landscape work. It was designed in 2004, yet today I was reading how in terms of file quality it still holds it's own. Well, I knew that.

    I can't foresee me needing to replace my 5D for years. I look after it and it looks after me.

    The only reasons to replace my GF1 will be some damage / failure, or a camera with features that attracted me to the GF1 in the first place but are significantly better and really attractive for my type of photography (built in EVF, manual controls, maybe better dynamic range). Otherwise, the GF1 is it for years.

    Looked after, I suspect an electronic tool can last a very long time. What doesn't last so well is our common sense around what we want as opposed to what we need.
    • Like Like x 2
  6. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Apr 17, 2010
    Near Philadephila
    Cameras today are basically sophisticated little computers (as is almost EVERYTHING we buy today beyond nail clippers and eyeglasses!). I can't see them still being as function 20-30 years after the fact as an older, fully mechanical camera. I'm sure if I still had my old Pentax K1000 it would work as well today as it ever did because it was fully mechanical. I'm guessing it took a battery SOMEwhere for the light meter to work, but I can't recall ever putting one in, so I'm not sure - maybe it was solar powered? :cool: But if it did, I probably wouldn't use it except for the occasional nostalgic shoot - the whole digital thing has been incorporated into my process, down to the level of the DNA, that I can't imagine going back to film.

    And even if these little camera/computers DID still work, would we want 'em to. My early computers back in the '80s were incredibly functional and were sort of a revelation to me at the time. And now they couldn't even BEGIN to do 90% of the things I ask of my cell phone every day. I suspect that cameras in 20 years will make today's cameras look just as old.

    Now, how much that helps or hinders the photographic experience is an open question and up to each of us to answer. To the extent that things become faster / better / more automatic, we lose certain parts of the experience and gain other things. I suspect as cameras continue to evolve, it will be up to each of us to find the right balance between our tried and true methods/habits and the possibilities presented by the new technology. The older we are, the more we'll probably hang onto the old and decry the new, and the young kids won't even know or care what the hell we're talking about when we talk about things like manual focus, or real actual limits in low light and dynamic range and whatnot, etc, etc, etc. Which is all probably as it should be and certainly how it will be. And they'll be no more wrong then than we are now for rejecting horses and buggies for cars, despite the very real charms of getting around on horseback...

    To quote David Byrne, 'same as it ever was'...

    • Like Like x 3
  7. Hikari

    Hikari Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 26, 2010
    The camera companies survive because of fear and desire. The desire for shiny new things and the fear that somehow your equipment is not keeping up with the Jones's. Those two things will keep them in business.

    As far as photography, there is going to be a point when adding pixels does not matter anymore. At what point that comes is a subjective line that each photographer will decide. Fortunately, pixel peeping will keep folks buying. We are at points where people are unhappy with what they have, even though in any practical terms it is not going to make a blind bit of difference--if you want to see the OCD just go to Luminous Landscapes.

    I am not certain that cameras can continue to improve like computers. You cannot pack an infinite number of pixels on a chip. Lens technology has very real limits in terms of what it can do and the reality of producing it. Increasing storage from 100GB to 100TB may have practical uses--at work I could fill up 100GB with 50 files easily. Increasing sensors from say 40MP to 400MP would be fairly useless--except in the mind of the consumer and folks at LL.
    • Like Like x 2
  8. Fiddler

    Fiddler Mu-43 Veteran

    Just daydreaming a bit... thinking that what would change the game would have to be some major revolution in sensor design... It must be in the works...

    All the best,

  9. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus

    Dec 15, 2009
    Phila, Pa USA
    I just uploaded images from the last 40 some odd years to Flickr.
    My vision has remained basically in tact.
    That's all I care about.
    Cameras/lenses come and go but you must remain true to your vision.

    It's important to find your way with what you have in hand. Cherish the moment, they fly by without warning.
    The past is a memory and the future will take care of itself....
    This applies to cameras as well.
    • Like Like x 2
  10. Fiddler

    Fiddler Mu-43 Veteran

    You said it all :smile:

  11. ~tc~

    ~tc~ Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 22, 2010
    Houston, TX
    Perhaps cameras will have multiple lenses and sensors, who knows.

    I do think the megapixel cold war is winding down. Nikon releasing a 12 MP flagship was like Reagan saying "Mr. Gorbachev tear down this wall".
  12. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus

    Dec 15, 2009
    Phila, Pa USA
    Now that's funny.....!
  13. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Apr 17, 2010
    Near Philadephila
    Very true, but the experience of realizing that vision has changed quite a bit, no?

    It certainly has for me, but then I took a loooong period of time more or less off, so I can see a very discreet then and now without it all blending together into a lot of incremental changes. And now is very different than then! Good autofocus is a revelation. I was working in a camera shop when Minolta came out with the first AF SLRs and it was a mind-bender, but was truly awful by today's standards. And just the change in mindset from moving from film (where the image was 90% cooked once you pressed the shutter) to digital (where you still have the ability make most of the decisions after the shutter is clicked that you'd already made before the exposure with film) is a complete paradigm shift. As is the idea that all shooting is free once you've purchased the basic equipment. That's such an enormous burden lifted - the freedom to experiment like never before knowing its not costing you a penny more than you've already spent. Ongoing costs used to be a very real impediment. Now the cost decisions all come up front. Its like an all inclusive vacation - once you've paid the bill you can eat and drink what you want!

    I recently got a bunch of old images scanned and went through them and I realized two things. One, like you, my basic vision isn't much different than it is now. A lot of my best shots in those days look suspiciously like what I'd take today. But I shoot so much more now and, even given a fairly constant percentage of keepers, the real numbers are better now. I've probably taken more images that I like and will keep in the past almost a year I've been into it than in the 5-10 years I was shooting a lot as a kid.

    But I think the percentage of keepers has probably gone up too. While the ability to see and compose and expose a shot isn't a lot different, I probably lost a lot of shots in those days for having the wrong kind of film in the camera, or the wrong filter on the lens, or NOT having a filter on the lens. I have shots from recently that would have been good if I'd taken them with IR film back in the day, but more or less mush if I'd been shooting Ektachrome. Now, I shoot in Raw and can choose between IR and ecktachrome after the fact and massage the color filtration in ways I couldn't even dream about then. So I probably get a higher percentage of shots that work now that wouldn't have then. I even have a couple of shots that I'd have probably taken with tri-x back then that, for my life, I can't make work in B&W today but that are real stunners in color (even given my penchant and preference for B&W).

    These are all advances that I would not want to give back. Even if the basic vision of one of my good ones today isn't much different than one of my good ones 30 years ago... I have no idea what the future holds, but I'm glad there are people thinking about it and working on it because I'd bet they'll come up with revolutionary stuff that we can't even imagine yet, but will love when it arrives.

    • Like Like x 1
  14. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Apr 17, 2010
    Near Philadephila
    Agreed, and perhaps we're already there in terms of pixel density, who knows. But what about improvements to dynamic range and low light shooting. I can envision sensors improving to the point that HDR will be looked back on as a sick joke (not that some of us don't look at it that way now) and every shot will have both blacks and whites in the RAW data that we can combine just about however we want. And I can imagine that sensors, even smaller ones, will get to the point that we can shoot in near dark conditions at relatively fast shutter speeds and still produce nearly noise free images. Which would allow for a lot of shooting that just isn't realistic today. And when the lines between video and stills may be almost meaningless. When you're shooting 10 fps burst mode, that line is getting blurred already. When you can shoot in a video like matter and then pull a brilliant still photo out of any spot in the mix, I think that will change things a lot for the way most people shoot. Perhaps sensor based focussing that will allow for nearly infinite depth of field and then software that allows for really attractive subject isolation and bokeh?

    Some of this stuff may happen, some may not. Other things undoubtedly will. These are just the musings of my very limited imagination. But I can bet that photography will be very different in 30 years than it is today. In some ways worse, perhaps, but in many ways very very good. And its fun to watch the incremental changes along the way, all the time figuring out which ones matter and which ones don't to any given individual.

  15. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus

    Dec 15, 2009
    Phila, Pa USA
    Ray, Things were easier for me back then as far as cameras go.
    I'd load the M4 or whatever, pop on the 35..
    Lux or Cron and hit the streets. No light meter, just a few tissues and rolls of film.

    Now.. I have to decide if the battery will make the day... What ASA to use...
    Look at the meter double guessing my ability to feel light.
    Then... Walk and make photos.
    My vision and subject matter has not changed.

    My choice of camera, lens and processing has changed but guided by my vision.
    Anything that gets in the way of that... ain't pretty.

    So the new technology is only as good as those who know how and use it.
    The M9 is a natural growth of the Leica M camera system.
    It has a past and present and no doubt a future.

    The m4/3 cameras, well who knows in a few years.
    I do know this about cameras and lenses.
    NO matter what you use, the images are a product of your concentrated vision.
    Nothing more, nothing less.

    Technology can make leaps an bounds in the future but the images one makes...
    Will not be because of that technology.

    There is no magic camera, no magic lens and no magic software...
    The magic comes from within us to see outside of ourselves.
  16. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    Point #1- (per the OP)
    My six-ana-half year old, heavily used, 20D still function very well and the images are very acceptable. Grant it, my 5D and 1Ds will kick its butt at 16x20 and high ISO, but all-in-all it will hold its own on an amateur skill level.

    Point #2- (the hijack - lol)
    I was a lot better in my youth than I am now. Even with all the auto features of modern cameras, my images were better decades ago. (Maybe because I was in more image-rich environments and less people with cameras scaring the fish away ... Or maybe because I was much more competitive back then or a combo of the two.) I remember it much easier to shoot on the streets 30 years ago then it is now. Maybe I just need to work harder.

    While my images were better back then, the IQ doesn't come close to what I get with today's cameras.

  17. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Apr 17, 2010
    Near Philadephila
    I agree with all of this 100%. More, if it was possible. Anything that makes it easier to capture your vision is good (and much has). Anything that gets between you and capturing that vision is bad - fortunately not very much has, at least in ways we can't adapt to pretty quickly. I liked it then. I like it now. Its different though. I like it a bit more now in that the technology generally makes it easier. I didn't know that then, though, so I enjoyed it just as much at the time. As you said, dig the present - the future will take care of itself and we can enjoy IT then.

  18. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus

    Dec 15, 2009
    Phila, Pa USA
    Gary, I don't see a hijack.
    We are talking about cameras and lenses and their past and future.
    Directly related to imaging.

    I remember many years ago a friend, a pro shooter had one of the first Blads with the digital back.
    I was amazed.... He did a shoot here in Philly for an agency in Boston for a client in California.
    He uploaded the image and about 45 min later, was talking about corrections for the image.

    Today, that takes seconds.... The image would still be the same but the gear different.
    He paid I think, $50,000.00 for that back.
    So new technology will help the struggle but the images will be from within.

    I still love my 6mp files from my Eppy...
    Would they be better if they were 20mp?
    I don't think so...

    I'd like to be able to just wink my eye and record an image.
    Maybe someday...but not soon...
  19. penfan2010

    penfan2010 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 12, 2010
    NJ, USA
    Incredible and inspiring

    Don - I accidentally clicked on the link to your website rather than to your FLICKR post and just went through your first set of Leica photos. Amazing photography, absolutely brilliant timing, use of shadows and reflections, definitely powerful and even funny "decisive moments" in the Cartier-Bresson mold (the runner in Atlantic City, for one). The mood tends toward moving and melancholy, and I see that a lot in your recent work on the winter Philly streets. Really good stuff, inspires me to work harder at my photography. Thanks for posting, will look at the site and FLICKR post some more.:2thumbs:
  20. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    "Hijack" ... was all tongue-in-cheek.

    Deadlines were/are always a problem. IIRC, we had six deadlines a day at the LA Times. For big events ... say a Rose Bowl, we had messengers on motocycles, whisking the film from the endzone to downtown for developing and prints. Every week I had to print from wet negatives ... today, getting images from the field to a news desk is just a laptop away. Huge improvements from a motocycle weaving down Arroyo Blvd heeding to the 110 Freeway.


    I enjoyed your website ... try as I may I couldn't sign the guest book.
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