Perspectives on the Past to Now

Not to long ago, my wife requested me to archive some stuff from some 1.44 MB floppy disks she found for one of her volunteer groups,  to a CD or DVD.  To make matters worse, it turned out that I didn’t have a system at home that even had that technology anymore!  I actually had to buy a USB floppy drive so we could even look at what was on there :-)  As I thought about this a little more, I got wondering just how many people would even remember these….

Sooo… it then dawned on me that literally ANY photo I took with my “new” cameras wouldn’t fit on this disk :-)  More to the point – why would I 🙂 To put this into perspective for those who may not have even seen these.  And in their day, remember, they were an advancement :-)  These were 1.44 MB in capacity.  Disk diameter was 3.5 inches.  So… to put things into perspective a bit.  IF I took a photo even on my pointy shooty at say 12 Megapixel off my Nikon S3000 (I do as a default anyway), the jpeg is about  2.7 MB which is pretty close to 2 of these babies.  And that’s only my pointy shooty!  At the other end of the spectrum, a take a shot with my Nikon D3200 at 24.1 Megapixel in jpeg fine mode and now we are at about 12 MB per photo!  We won’t even chat about RAW…..

I wasn’t even sure if the data could be read off the floppies 🙂 In the end, I could read the disks, but what was even funnier (or not…), was the fact that there are about 10 of these things and more to come, and I could fit everything onto a CD.  A CD, which is now getting obsolete would hold roughly the equivalent of 520 floppies or 750 MB, give or take.  To make an even bigger point here – 1GB = 694 floppy disks.  When I  look at today’s technology, only my pointy shooties use 4GB SD cards.  My travel cams and heavier duty equipment are at 8 to 32GB depending…. Wild stuff….

Wandering a bit from photo and more from the technology side, in today’s world, I don’t  even blink at the photo size anymore.  I’m also guessing that many folks out there who are shooting have any concept of the size of photos. Processing power has hit a point where even the more simpler PC’s/notebooks/tablets/phones even, don’t have too much of an issue.  Storage is cheap compared to 35mm film.  We’ve moved from 35mm film to digital “film” which is in the form of SD Cards or equivalent.  Storage has gone from 35mm negatives to floppy disk to CD-ROM to DVD to Hard Drives to USB Flash Drive and now the “cloud”.  We are used to previewing our photos and even manipulating the image a bit on the camera.  Storing information in the cloud allows us to access information from any one of our devices if we need to.  Amazing to me.  I’ve been kind of avoiding the cloud stuff for personal use, but as I do more and more blogging from several machines, the cloud makes more and more sense.  I’ve typically been using either a hard drive or a USB flash drive to shuttle photos back and forth.  I’m still a little leery about cloud and trusting data to a source out of my control :-)  As a consultant, though, I am pretty well forced to use the cloud (Dropbox) as I work remotely the odd time and this is an easy mechanism for moving large amounts of data to various people that I work with.. 

I also wonder if my grandkids would ever understand about the old days where they might have to wait a few weeks or maybe even months before they could see their photos :-)  They are so used to running up and seeing their photos displayed on the camera :-) 

The last couple of notebooks, well, ultrabooks, have no CD/DVD drive in them – they do have SD card slots, though.  They too have shrunk and gotten more powerful.  I’m typing this blog entry on a Lenovo U530 which has an i7 Intel Processor, 8 GB of RAM and a 500 GB hard disk.  I remember the day (aging myself here), when we unpacked an IBM PC XT at work and it had a 5.25 inch floppy disk and this thing called a hard disk.  Memory check revealed 64K of RAM and the hard disk capacity  was 10  MB!!!  I remember our initial thoughts to this day – “What the heck would we need that kind of space for? “  Portable back then was what I would call luggable – I think back to those first ones back then – Compaq and Hyperion were the ones that I was peddling and they ran around 30 lbs.  When you stop and think that my ASUS Zenbook is around 3 lbs, wild….  Even my BIG Lenovo is at about 4 lbs.  Get this – for being a “specialty” machine I already have sucked up about 50GB of disk!.

Another perspective on this – despite the fact that I’m a “boomer”, I am an IT consultant (Sr. Business Analyst) and don’t think twice about leveraging this technology.  We’ve been involved with this ever since the beginning of PC in 1983 so it’s not unfamiliar to us.  We are very comfortable in using the technology on a day to day basis.  We brought our children up in this technology and they were using technology as soon as they could understand.  On the flip side of this – I have run into and met many people who have little or no interaction with technology in general.  Before my mother passed away – we showed some photos of the grandkids to her on the iPad and she was just amazed that this could even be done.  We do internet banking and yet I’ve seen a lot of people roughly my age and slightly younger (definitely older) who have never used a browser. Email is something they’ve heard about but never used. 

Not that long ago, I was at a retirement party for a close friend and I was asked to take photos.  I took the photos and transferred the photos to my  iPad and passed the iPad around.  Actually it was a couple of years ago as it was on my newly acquired iPad2, and it was amazing that the majority of the folks there had never seen one!!  Yes, they had seen the iPad on TV but never touched or used one. Something that was second nature to me, was totally foreign in one sense to them.  We think that the iPad interface is easy to use – Ha!!  Have someone whose never used one and let them go at it!  Not as intuitive as one might think :-) 

You see, I almost think that we take technology for granted and if you are using things like this on a day to day basis, we do.  If we spin this around again – for those who do use this technology.  Do you panic if you leave the house without your phone?  :-)  I know I do :-)  AND if there’s one person who shouldn’t, it would be me :-)  It wasn’t that long ago that I didn’t even have a phone and I would get my messages on our home answering machine.  Today, my voice mail is accessible via my cell.  I found that technology if you are involved in it to any degree, there’s this sense of “staying connected”, which I think may get in the way of other things.

Back to photo stuff – social media and the internet.  Wow – has this space evolved!  In one sense, social media, I feel has been a good thing from the photography side of things.  If anything, I feel it’s encouraged picture taking to a whole new level.  We have Facebook, Instagram and a pile of others.  Pinterest is a neat space in it’s own right, but there are oodles of others out there.  The internet has allowed us access to both information and photos that we would never have thought possible.  AND it’s growing.  For me and my wife, this type of stuff is neat and fascinating and worth taking the time to explore.  To others – they don’t even know this space exists.

When I jumped back into photography a couple of years ago and started to get a little beyond the “snapshot” mode, I was amazed at what I had found.  Don’t get me wrong – we’ve always had some sort of a camera around but just for snaps more than anything.  You know when you get too much of something, one simply finds something else?  I was like that.  I turned a hobby into a career path and ended up dropping photography literally altogether.  I had a 35mm SLR or two with a bunch of lenses and went from serious amateur to owning my own photo store and then went on the road as a rep.  At the end of it, the last thing I wanted to see was a camera :-( 

When I decided to “jump back in”, a lot of thought went into how I was going do this on this pass.  The toughest piece – time and how much of it I had.  Interestingly enough, it wasn’t the money so much as the time available – I simply couldn’t devote that much time to it.  To make it even worse, even in the present, I have just enough commitments on my time, that I simply can’t block out the time to go take photos.  It took a vacation or two for me realize I needed better gear but one key factor at the time was mobility.  As nice as it would have been to get a DSLR and some lenses, the only time I had was during noon hours, so mobility became the base foundation.  I had no doubt in my mind, that a DSLR would creep into my life, and it has (late last year, I acquired a Nikon D3200), but not until mobility became less of a factor.  I started to do a bit of research and experimenting which has now resulted in more than a few cameras and a stronger understanding of what is in the digital space.  I’m at a time, now, where the time factor is allowing me to exploit a bit further. 

When I look at what’s available  for cameras and software, for that matter.  It’s really amazing at what is out there.  Considering that I have something like 10+ cameras that get used a lot actually, when I stop and think about this – all of them can capture a photo pretty well.  If you look at it from a content perspective – even a phone can get the shot.  Getting the shot being the key here.  For me, when it comes down to the crunch, getting the shot is everything.  If you don’t have a camera with you, you can’t get the shot :-)  To get better, you need to take the shots – lots of them and you need to learn the “art”, ultimately.  It’s also important, I think, to keep the quality side of things in perspective :-) 

The one thing I find from the past to now, is that the more serious you get about photography, the more quality driven you get.  It’s a natural thing.  DSLR’s in today’s world are considered to be able to obtain the highest quality photos.  BUT, it comes at the cost of well, cost and bulk.  I know a lot of people who went out a bought a DSLR and then had it sit in the closet because it was too bulky to carry around.  Why, you say?  Their “friends” told them they should have one :-)  Sooooo…they go out and get one and find out that you pretty well can’t just start taking pics – good heavens – I’ve got to learn “things”.  So they go out and spend a fair chunk of change to basically take NO PICTURES.  In reality, a pointy shooty for under $100 probably would have more than served the purpose.  There’s also, to me, the “ego” factor.  You see, a DSLR implies serious amateur  or “pro” so they want to “look the part”.  OK – fine.  But how many photos got missed because you didn’t have a camera with you?

For me, I’ll use whatever I have with me to get the shot.  Usually, it’ll be one of my travel cams but the bottom line is the fact that I have a camera with me.  The majority of my photos are on impulse.  By that I mean, I might be walking down the street or somewhere and see a shot.  I want to be able to get that shot in the easiest manner – it doesn’t get any easier than a pointy shooty of sorts in my pocket or my “man purse”.  I typically have two cameras with me – a travel camera of some sort plus one that can handle low light easily.  That would be something like my Fuji X10 or XF1 or my Panasonic LX7.  My other camera is usually something like a Panasonic ZS25 or Nikon S9400 or something in that range.  I also have a Fuji F800, Sony HX30V and Canon SX270 in this range :-)  For image quality – you know, when it gets right down to it, for what I do, these cameras they work fine.  I’m not going to be doing too much cropping or post processing.  They might get transferred to my iPad for others to view and if they look good there, I’m good with it. 

I had a chance to pick up a Compact System Camera on sale and that resulted in my Nikon 1 J1 with two lenses.  Nice unit if you like full auto type shots.  In it’s own way, this is actually quite a neat camera as it does a pretty good job all around.  This, for me is a limited use camera but it got me into this range.  I went out and got the Panasonic GX1 a month or two later.  This camera, I do like using :-)  It’s got a couple of quirks about it – close ups for one – it doesn’t quite work as well as I’d like for certain types of close ups but all in all it does a lot of things I want to do.  In this range – both the J1 and GX1 have the quality level for the more serious things I do.  The GX1 has a Micro Four Thirds sensor at 16 Megapixel and when I’m out and about with it, simply fun to use.  Downside?  Battery power – on a couple of event shoots where I’ve needed to use the built in flash, I’ve had to swap out batteries. Now bear in mind, these are pretty photo intensive events where I’m taking several hundred shots with just the flash.  These are mostly groups around tables, etc.  I normally don’t need an external flash for this type of shot but it did prompt me to look closer for future.  What it did prompt me to do though, was to look closer at DSLR’s.  I’ve had just enough occasion to require a couple of things – faster access to controls and battery power to warrant looking at a DSLR. 

When I looked here, I really really wanted a Nikon :-)  I caught the turn of technology and decided on a D3200 with the kit zoom.  This was more to “get my feet wet”, so to speak.  I don’t use it a lot, but for certain things, it’s got the controls I want.  When I’m doing object stills for instance – I can bracket exposure, etc. faster.  Essential when I’m cataloguing.  My GX1 works well here, but it’s not as fast.  Quality wise – it’s hard to fault photo quality here.  Even with my X10, XF1 or LX7 for that matter.

Onward…..

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About gkamitomo
IT Busines Analyst

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