Old Tech. Sweet Tech.
I'm always interested in what's next but maybe to the detriment of "what's now". Cameras are a good case in point. I love the new stuff. And there's a thousand ways to rationalize it. Most rationalizations have to do with how much easier it will make my job or how much more accurate the screens on the backs are. But sometimes I veer over the line and start pontificating about how much better the files are. And it's true. Camera files have increased in detail and resolution, and much of the noise and banding that plagued earlier digital cameras has been dealt with.
I've been shooting with a Canon 5dmk2 for the past few weeks and the files are, indeed, pretty spectacular. (not out to start a camera war so I'll pre-emptively say that the Nikon D3x files are probably even better!) So, just when I'm thinking everything makes sense and I've got it all figured out I do something silly like rearrange my equipment cabinets and stumble across some old tech.
I pull it out, charge up some batteries (yes, in days of old a walk in downtown was usually a 3 battery adventure with many cameras and not just a 20% on one charge kind of thing) slap on an old favorite lens and head out for some shooting. In this case the camera I stumbled across was the first really reliable, affordable (by some standards) full frame DSLR, the Kodak SLR/n. Nice specs. 14 megapixels. Lotta bit depth. Good raw files.
Lots of downside too. Horrible, horrible LCD screen. Bad hump below the eyepiece made for an ergonomic nightmare. The electronics sucked down battery charge like you wouldn't believe, even when the camera was turned off. The ISO's above 200 were plenty noisy. Over 400 they were unusable. There was sometimes moire. And color shifts across the frame.
But.....it was a great camera. Not to many menu choices. And in its narrow window the colors and sharpness were superb. I shot with it a couple weeks ago. A bit downtown and a few portraits. Toe to toe with the 5dMk2 for flesh tones and color. The Kodak actually had deeper and richer color but I guess I could match the Canon to the Kodak with enough saturation, hue adjustment and steeper contrast curve. But, the fun thing is that it really is toe to toe in its narrow band of capability. And this is a six year old camera in a field that changes every six months.
Not saying I'm going to head backwards to 2004 or that you should abandon your D3's or A900's. Just a nod to some engineering that did a good job putting food on the table and making big, brilliant photographs for a couple of years. I've sold a lot of cameras as the digital bus has lurched forward from pothole to pothole but for some combination of nostalgia and historical appreciation I've never been able to sell my two favorite Kodak cameras: The DCS 760 and the SLR/n. In a sense, the DCS 760 and it's ancestors going back in the fog of time, invented and codified our idea of professional DSLR's.
Sometimes it's fun to see how far we've come. And all the ways in which we really haven't.
Photo with Kodak SLR/n and 50mm Nikon 1.1.2 lens.