The History of Digital Photography – Part 1

Three little news

The history of photography, from its birth in 1839 until today, has never stopped. We went from daguerreotypes to caliotipia, from caliotipia to the silver halide film, and from the latter ( and it took more than 50 years ) to digital CCD/CMOS. It is often not easy to find the precise boundaries between the end of a “phaseand the start of the next one, especially when the technology runs like today, but I think that three moments declare the end of analog photography:

Wednesday, January 11, 2006: Nikon announces that it will not produce film cameras anymore (and objectives for the medium format) with the exceptions of the F6 ( the top of the class and used by many professionals) and FM10 ( an entry-level full manual ).

June 2006: the  Epson company announces the printer Stylus Photo R2400 , the first (amateur) inkjet printer that “produces” high quality B/W prints…and the quality of these prints is very near to the quality of a darkroom’s print. The “in-house” digital color printing exceeds the quality of the photos of the classic laboratory since a couple of years … now, with this printer, even the darkroom, untouchable stronghold of the true photographer, begins to tremble.

October 2006: the Leica company presents the M8, its first fully digital rangefinder. The german company, that made the history of photography, had a very strong belief in the analogic technology over the years…it was attached with nails and teeth to a grain of silver halide.. but now it seems to change radically route ( it already produced a compact digital camera and a digital module for the SLRs R8 model )…but here we are speaking of the heir of the mythical Leica M7!

Today if we read a photography magazines, it seems to read a PC magazines that deals with IT technology and words like dvd, monitors, hard drives, pixels took the place of words like: coated paper, magnifying, negatives film, silver salts. The reader asks how he can make communicate his digital camera with his computer, instead of asking how he can improve his B/W print.

But when two giants, as Nikon and Leica, make the decisions that we have seen, it means that the world of traditional photography is definitely at sunset.

Three small announcements that mark pretty much the end of an era .. the analog photography will remain a product of niche. For many years in the future we’ll can still find slides and negative B/W films but their costs will be higher…and what about their quality? Today it’s impossible to print slides with the method of Cibachrome…we need to scan a slide if we want to print it.
An era ends up and, without crying too, another era begins: we have today the same revolution that we had two centuries ago during the transition from daguerreotype to the film…but, its the same story, the technology cannot stop itself.

…to be continued…with the Videodisk Camera ( do you know it ?? )

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