Friday, December 19, 2008

Trash or Treasure?

In my spare time I enjoy playing photographer. There is something about photography that has always intrigued me, though I think it has always started with the "coolness" factor of the newest camera technology.

That said, during the recent purchase of a new (to me) camera I've read a multitude of articles discussing the quality, specifications, and performance of current and past camera models. One thing I've noticed is the seemingly universal dismissal of older technology. We all know how quickly technology advances these days. A personal computer from more than about 4-5 years ago is considered completely worthless to some. The same is true of other electronics and especially cameras.

There is a plethora of used digital photographic equipment out there that can be had far below, literally fractions of the original retail price. Most people know this, especially if you shop at garage sales or on eBay. The camera I recently bought was about two years used, and about 1/3rd what it cost when new. Some people might say I'm crazy for buying a used digital camera from a few years ago, when technologically speaking, it's a dinosaur.

True, the camera is definitely old and will continue to be outpaced as newer cameras are released. That said, it still takes fantastic pictures. Alternatively, if I took every penny I spent on the used camera, and bought the newest technology I could today, I would have other trade offs. These trade offs would limit my speed or artistic freedom, and if I don't get the picture I intended on taking, was it worth it to have that quality? Absolutely not.

Used technology has it's place. I've seen computer servers doing the same job they've been doing for 20 years, and doing it well. Cameras are the same way. A used film camera from the 1960s or 70s can still take great photographs. True, film has a lot more resolution than even the newest digital cameras have, but the camera itself is old, and probably doesn't get every last ounce of performance out of the film that a newer film camera and newer lens might.

Great photographs don't have to be taken on the best film or best, camera, nor do they require the latest and greatest technology known to the world. They require only skill and artistic ability. The worst crime would be if they were not taken at all. So find a camera that lets you do your job and do it well. If it happens to be a used camera, oh well, just don't pay a lot for it.

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