Let's face it: We are very much a creature of habit. We like doing things the old way; we don't want to change unless we are obliged to.
When it comes to digital photography, the same inherent habit kicks in. No matter how much information you gather, or how much the technology has improved considerably over the years, there's still that slight hesitance to make that jump. You somehow feel the "bed of roses" buzz surrounding this phenomenon is not literally what it seems, and that the thorny issues must have been locked away in some dark room. Of course, cost is another big hump along your path.
Well, Ahead went looking for individuals who made that jump from analogue to digital in the hopes of providing readers with a tell-it-as-it-is take of the whole experience. We found three takers, whom we have identified as the casual photographer, the business photographer and the professional photographer. Here are their stories, first-hand.
BEFORE DIGITAL "My father liked to take photos and I liked to be in front of the camera; the earliest I can remember is in kindergarten! A Canon was my first camera that I played around with and I remember using an analogue camera in primary school. It was a Canon single lens reflex (SLR) with both an automatic focus and manual controls.
"When I was older, I used an Olympus and I used it most often to take pictures while on holiday. I am always the designated photographer during family functions! "I started using Olympus because the picture quality was much clearer, it was easier to use and also practical. Even though there were not many functions on the camera, it produced good pictures when compared to the pictures taken using my friends' cameras.
"I used it once or twice a week on average, depending on the number of functions such as school events, family gatherings or school outings.
GOING DIGITAL "I knew of digital cameras from what I saw in the media, from friends and when I went to camera shops. To me it was more of an investment. I have always wanted a digital camera but going from analogue to digital, I always felt that there's a new product that serves the same functions. And there were always so many products and new cameras coming out.
"Then in 2002, I got married and one of the wedding gifts was a digital camcorder. Movies were recorded on tape but pictures were recorded digitally.
"I found that it was easier to download the digital still pictures than it was to transfer the video from the tape to a CD or the computer.
"I also found that it became easier to send pictures to my brother who is living in the United Kingdom and to put photos on a Web site or e-group with digital pictures.
"I also didn't have to keep buying film. And it was easy to look at digital photos and I could immediately delete them if I didn't like.
"Unfortunately, we had to keep changing the batteries, but eventually decided to buy rechargeable batteries - two for use and two for spare.
"Now I own a Kodak EasyShare DX6440 and I usually use it on weekends. It is the same size as my old analogue camera, so it is very comfortable to hold and feels good in my hands.
"The digital camera is easier to use because the functions are clear - the various camera modes come with brief explanations on the liquid crystal display (LCD) screen. For example, the "sport" mode should be used when the subject is in motion.
"I still use the camera to cover family functions and I always use the best picture quality. A special moment only happens once and it is easier to impress people as the picture looks the best on the highest quality mode! "Having an LCD screen on the back of the camera also helped. I have also used another digital camera, but it didn't come with an LCD screen, so I couldn't preview my pictures immediately, which was a bit of a hassle.
"After taking pictures, I can download them to my computer. It was also easy to transfer photos to a computer without having to go through too many clicks.
"My Kodak digital camera has an icon that pops up on the computer or I just press a button on the camera.
"I also post pictures on a Web site and e-mail them to my family and friends, which is easy to do with the software that came with the camera.
"When it comes to printing the pictures, I think it is more economical to send them to photo shops because they do a better job.
"I find that I take more pictures with the digital camera than I did with the analogue camera mainly because I save on film.
"I also find that I am more creative with a digital camera than I was with an analogue camera. I can take video clips with my camera, crop or superimpose my pictures.
"It is also easier to take a picture of many people but focus on one person on the LCD screen using the zoom function." ..
"When looking to buy a digital camera, consider a brand that is reliable. The external LCD screen is definitely important because you want to know what the end product will look like. It makes it easier to view and there is that feeling of satisfaction when viewing the photo. Find out about the other accessories that can work with the camera, like printers and docking stations."
"MAKING the transition from analogue to digital was a breeze as the principle of photography still remains the same. All that has changed is the medium of capturing the subject matter. I found it easy in making the switch to digital photography, perhaps because my digital camera was a very user-friendly one.
"I view the digital camera as being one of the greatest inventions of the last century. For work purposes, it provides choices that are more flexible and less rigid than the traditional analogue camera - more so in the creative field such as the one I am in whereby branding and product perception often sway purchasing decisions.
"Within the creative photography field, it is highly important to have evidence on the spot to determine that the subject matter is captured as intended, a benefit the digital camera provides. With such `instant evidence', I can then analyse the background and other elements such as light and shadow.
"All these factors, more so with wide shots, convey the impressions of `mood' and `feel'. That is why before the digital days, photographers would analyse the polaroids before actual shooting starts.
"With the digital camera, pictures can also be downloaded in less than a minute to my laptop - and this is a boost in directing the subject matter further. The big screen of the laptop also provides a more realistic impression of the pictorial concept in mind, and whether the mood and atmosphere have been appropriately captured. Approvals can be given on- site, even as the photo shoot is in progress. Digital images can be quickly and inexpensively e-mailed anywhere in the world for approval.
"Then, there is the cost savings. In the long run, it is less expensive than processing the many rolls of the traditional analogue cameras films. Film and scanning costs are eliminated.
"At the end of the day, although the digital camera is a wonderful technology gadget, I believe good photographs still hinge on the need for the photographer to be creative and talented. The camera is a tool, whereas real talent takes experience and practice.
"I am a big digital camera fan." ..
"I FIRST started using a digital camera four-and-a-half years back. It was when I took a photo on assignment, when all the highlights (of the photo) were totally blown out, the photo was highly pixelised, that I realised that film is not going anywhere, and it's going to `die' some time.
"In the days of polaroid, colours were never accurate, so you really couldn't rely on them for colour check. And at that time there were no mini-labs to print digital photos - the only ones available were the commercial labs, which were charging RM10 for a 5R size in those days.
"But today with digital images, I can check lighting, focusing, colour, all on the spot, and if I like them, I don't have to do anything more because I already got my pictures.
"From a creative point of view, we photographers visit different locations, so we don't know what the conditions (at the photo-shoot locations) are, what kind of lighting, any restriction of film. I used to carry around a few cameras on location (to suit the different conditions) - and carrying a few kilos around is not very practical. Now I just carry only one digital SLR (single lens reflex) camera and one large-format camera. Digital cameras simplify everything - it's just a matter of using the right settings. And you do not need to bring rolls and rolls of film - that's not practical and not economical.
"Besides, with film, you have to rewind the camera, unload and reload the film, you may not have enough rolls (of film), and it has happened that rolls get lost or mixed around. All these do not happen with digital - high margin of error, not bringing enough film, wrong type of film, etc.
"In terms of production, turnaround is much faster. I can take a picture now and instantly show someone the picture and ask him if he likes it or not, or if I like it or not. This is not possible with the old-world film.
"To me, time is the most priceless element. The whole process of shooting with film (from getting the photos taken, to putting together a presentation, to checking with the client whether it meets his requirements, to getting the client's final approval) is very time-consuming. But with digital, what I call turnaround time is now reduced from four days to a couple of minutes. It's really an amazing time-saver.
"Some people tell me film has a certain archival quality to it, but I tell them, they are wrong. Film will fade in 10 years, it won't last. Those that last are special archival film, which are not on sale anymore. But with digital, you can store your pictures onto servers and have back- ups.
"Just like how film replaced glass plate about 100 years ago, so will digital replace film, gradually. In fact, I think this trend's been accelerating in the last few years. Technology is getting cheaper, quality is going up - it's actually a two-fold benefit, which makes getting digital cameras more desirable. There will probably come a time when people don't even ask if it's a digital camera, just a camera - because the media would not question it anymore; by default, the camera is digital. I don't think film will die out, it will still be around, but at a cost.
"In the end, what everybody wants are just the pictures. Nobody questions the media.
"I was excited when digital photography took off few years back. I won't say that the transition, or rather the migration from analogue to digital was difficult. To me, using the digital camera is a small migration. Taking pictures with digital cameras is easy. What's more important is after that, the processing part.
"You need to have a computer. If you don't have one today, digital photography in its own right, technically, does not really go all the way.
"In terms of the creative processes, you won't be able to do very much without a computer. You need to be computer-literate; you need to be able to work with photography software. It's just a matter of embracing the technology. I'm sure those who are already using computers today will not find it (going the digital photography way) difficult - the learning curve isn't too steep. It's all part and parcel of digital photography.
"Another thing is, the upfront cost is high - for the total layout equipment, computer, media, the camera itself. But in terms of returns on the cost in the long term, it is well worth it. The running costs include getting new batteries, which is almost negligible. You will not have any additional incremental costs.
"I was initially hesitant to buy digital cameras. I felt they were too expensive and the photo quality at that time, to me, was not quite there. But today, I can safely say the high quality is already here, and it makes good commercial sense to go digital."
New Straits Times (Malaysia); Jun 28, 2004