Pragmatic 14A: The Worlds Most Popular Camera Follow-up 1

24 March, 2014


Follow up (Part A) to The Worlds Most Popular Camera where we look into printing photos and when SLRs will still have the edge but are destined to still be a niche product.

Transcript available
This is Pragmatic Follow-Up Part A for Episode 14, The World's Most Popular Camera. I'm Ben Alexander and my co-host is John Chidjie. Hey John. Hey Ben, thanks for that. So I had a very good piece of follow-up from this episode about the world's best camera, most popular camera I should say. I'd make sure I get that correct. And I'm going to try and pronounce his name. And I think it's something like Ivind Hurtnez. I hope I did that okay. Anyhow, so he's written in to say, to talk about his experiences with a camera, learning to shoot with analog SLRs and compact cameras and now DSLRs and of course, the different models along the way and one of the models he mentions is a Panasonic Lumix DMC of which I actually do have one of those and yes, it was an excellent camera. However, his key point and the one I wanted to address was with respect to printing on paper and it's something that I didn't cover in the episode and I'm kicking myself that I didn't. So, Here we are now. The issue with printing on paper, predominantly in my opinion, comes back to the quality of and the quantity of megapixels that the camera is capable of taking. Clearly when you are printing it out through a printing process and you can get several hundred dots per inch, the higher the resolution of your original 24 megapixels, let's say, obviously is going to produce a far better print than an image that is only 4 megapixels of the same object. That's simply a function of resolution, you'll never beat it. So there's no question at all that high megapixel cameras like those in point and shoots and DSLRs are going to produce a much higher quality image that's more comparable to a traditional photograph. However, smartphone camera, well, pixel densities are increasing. The CCD pixel densities are increasing. So I believe the iPhone 5S is an 8 megapixel. We talked about the Lumia 1020, that was 43 megapixels, huge. However, the quality and the size of the sensor and everything would not be comparable to, you know, say a 24 megapixel DSLR most likely, but that's more for optical reasons. So I guess from a megapixel's point of view, it's actually changing. But to me that's not really the point. The point is why are you printing it on paper? The thing is printing on paper is very slowly but surely disappearing, not just for photos but for a lot of things. I remember them saying in the 80s we were moving towards a paperless office and it's It's like that was the gag in the '90s, like, "Oh, yeah, paperless office, right?" Photocopying, double-siding of pieces of paper, reams and reams and reams of documentation, just an unbelievable quantity of paper being used despite the fact that we had computers, we had soft copies, we had WordPerfect and then eventually Microsoft Word and Excel. Everything was going to soft copy with emails as well. People print emails. I don't get it. And why? Because the desktop was stuck in a location and you couldn't take it with you. So how can I show you this email in this meeting unless I print it? But that's changing thanks to smartphones and tablets. I almost call them iPads. Oh boy, tablets. See Apple, you've done it to me. See? Yeah. Anyway. So here I am in a meeting now and this is happening more and more. I go to my meeting now with my iPad and my smartphone and that's it. I don't take a pen anymore. I take all my notes on the iPad, they sync up to iCloud and I don't have to think about it. I get back to my desk and they're there on my desktop and I can then copy paste into an email, like so, meeting minutes. That's how I do meeting minutes now. If I want to mark up a PDF, I just mark it up on the iPad. If I want to make notes, I make notes on the iPad. If I want to show someone a photo, an email, a PDF, anything that's relevant to the discussion in question, I show them on the iPad, I don't have to print it anymore. As a consequence, my desk is no longer littered with paper everywhere. Well, okay, hang on, check that. It is still kind of littered with paper, but that's just because I'm really bad at organizing paper. Anyway- What kind of papers though? Well, yeah, drawings, specifications, things like that. So, things that you maybe still like to make sense to use a pen and paper. There are cases where you're dealing with other people where they insist on being on paper. There are still things in engineering that require wet signatures which drives me out the wall. That's another topic for another episode. Wet signatures. Wet signatures. Oh my God. Anyway, I'm not going there right now, Ben. I'm not going there. Okay. All right. All right. So, now bringing us back to photos, people are showing people photos on their phones. They're showing people photos on their iPads. They're putting them on Facebook. They're tweeting them. They're putting them on Instagram through some crummy filters to make it look like it was taken from a ye olde camera. All that sort of stuff, they're doing it and they're not printing them. So yes, I hear the argument, sure, a standalone DSLR compact camera is going to give you better printed results. That's true, but why are you printing it? Sure, there are reasons. Because let's face it, if the world had a massive EMP tomorrow, all of my photos that I've taken in the last eight years would be gone. But you're printing it because you don't want to put screens all over your house, but you would like to have photos of the kids. Yeah, but you don't have to put screens all over your house to get photos of the kids. You just got one iPad to take it to the next room. Well, no, I'm saying, I mean, people want to put photos on their walls. Sure. That's it. I mean, we've got tons of photos of Elizabeth already, six months. But you know what we did? We went to a photo studio and paid them 200 bucks. They have and they have industrial strength, real crazy printers and a pro who helped do it all night. Well, there's more than 200 bucks, but the end they upsold us from a $12 deal to whatever it ended up being in the end, because they know what they're doing. And they know how to manipulate us. But you know what I was happy with it, because like, hey, you know, these are great. And I don't have to learn how to do it. And it solved the job to be done was to get great photos of Elizabeth and us for Christmas. and then we just went with it. So, I was happy with it. And we don't have a printer. Do you have a printer at home? - Yeah, I do actually. I got a multifunction scanner, copy of facts printer. - And we have one, but it just, yeah, I guess we do have one. I just haven't had ink for it for like three years. So, and it hasn't been a problem. - Well, my problem is that I often get requested to, you know, like work, I have to work from home on some dates. I don't have a choice. And sometimes, unfortunately, you know, I have arguments with different people in the bigger companies because in smaller companies it's easy. We're going to use PDF pen or we're going to use some software we all agree on and we're going to mark up our PDFs and we're going to email and back and forth. It's purely soft. There is no hard copy at any point in the chain. However, we're at signatures plus I'm sorry you need to scan into a PDF but I want red line markups. So what tends to happen a lot in engineering, a lot of the bigger companies is they say you still got to do that. I find myself printing off at home, marking up in red pen, scanning it and emailing it back to them which is just so stupid but that's what they say to do. Anyway, my point about the photos though, I hear what you're saying but honestly, that is a very rare occasion where you want to do that and even so, that lends back to the other argument, just how big a photo are you talking about? If you're talking about a big, big photo that's like 10 inches square or something or one foot or more, like the big decent size family portrait style, well obviously you're going to have to go to a professional photographer to get one to look that good anyway. So if you want to get the ones in between, a smartphone camera these days at 8 megapixels will do a pretty decent job and you'll be hard pressed to tell the difference, especially from a distance where you're usually looking at these photos. So I sort of hear what he's saying but at the same time I more or less disagree because in the end, it's a shrinking business. Just looking at the way photos and photo printing and everything works these days, I go to Kmart or – well, let's just run with Kmart because that's common to both our countries. But there's a Kmart and they'll have a section there where they've got eight maybe of these machines where you just walk up with a USB stick or whatever kind of memory card, those 3000 in one slots where you shove it in and pray that you've got it the right way up and you don't push too hard because you don't want to break anything or if you don't push it enough, it might not make contact. You know the ones I'm talking about, right? I know the ones you're talking about. I either use Apple's thing or I mean Walmart does a good job too. A friend of mine actually did a pretty thorough test on that and it was down to Apple and Walmart. Your minds may vary. Yeah, of course. But I guess what I'm getting at is that I will walk past there and most of the times Sometimes I walk past there, they're all vacant. No one's using them. I remember there was a time, go back five years ago when they first came out and they were busy most of the time. Recently, I've hardly seen anyone printing their damn photos. I put that down to the fact that people are simply using iPads to show their photos, especially – I was a big – I didn't get it with the retina screen. I'm looking at the retina screen, I'm looking at a normal screen, I'm like, "What's the big damn difference?" Frankly – You don't see it until you look back. Well, no, but so the thing is I even looked at them side by side. I didn't see the damn difference Until I got a high-res photo on there Yeah, right and and especially it's above your kid then boom and then it was just like it was like it was whacking me in The eyeballs. Why do you think all of Apple's ads for that are happy families and people on vacation? And it's oh sure. They know exactly how to sell that. Yeah, but I mean it just it hit me so hard Oh my god, that is beautiful and it glows right? It's glowing It's something that you can't... It looks alive. It really does. It is that good and I'm like, now I get it. Took me a while, now I get it. People go on about fonts. I don't give a... I don't care about fonts. All right, it's a bit blurry around the edges. Who cares? I don't care about that. I can read the text, that's what matters but that's just because I'm an engineer, that's why I see a lot of things but when it comes to a photo, that was photo real. It looked real and I get that and it's like that's amazing. So with that proliferation of that sort of technology and putting that into a lot of people's hands, why would you print it? And the answer is I don't think people are and I think that the whole printing of photos is going to die. It will always be around as a niche, absolutely, but it's no longer mainstream. I mean I remember it was really not that long ago, only a decade where I still had a film camera. I was taking photos on film and you put them in this stupid black canister with a grey lid and you'd pop them in a bag at the local Kodak and they would be sent away and you'd get them back a week later. You could pay extra to get it done the next day or even the same afternoon with one hour photo processing which was never quite an hour. Then of course there were all the – like when I was in Canada, I remember that London and drugs had a service and there are a few different places that the bigger, I imagine like you say, Walmart probably did it. And over here, Big W started doing the photo processing as well. It was never one hour. It was next day but it was cheaper. But none of that anymore, none of that. You take a photo, you can see it straight away. No waiting, none. You take a photo on film, you have no idea if it's any good or not until you get it developed. such an idea now, you tell the child that and they're like, "That's stupid." Ask someone. Ask someone that is 10 years old that has used an iPod, iPhone, a smartphone, any kind of device, take a digital camera and tell them, "I want you to now take a camera with film in it. You can't see the quality of the photo until you process it the next day." That seems insane. And they'll look at you like you are insane. is like, we I found an old insta, the, you know, the disposable instant film ones and drink digging out of drum like what is in this? You know, it's, yeah, everything's been taken. It's like this, it's locked up there. It's, well, I think, you know, I think the, I think the argument that he was making is is valid, but was kind of missing, I made some qualification, all the things he's worried about make total sense. If you're a pro, right? you, if you're taking photos, because you work at an ad agency, and you need to get a shot of the product, I mean, if, if you're working for a magazine, if you're a journalist, and there's, there's all kinds of reasons why you want that performance, you know, that you want a good lens, right? I mean, that's if you need a good lens, and you need to do that. If you're a sports photographer, you need to do I mean, there's tons of reasons for that. It's just, it's a different job. It's not the same thing. is the smartphone camera is the camera you have with you. Yes. It's always there and it's to take quick shots. And I refer you back to the title of the episode and the title of the article, which is not the, and I corrected myself earlier in the follow-up when I said the best camera. No, no, no, no, no, it's not the best camera. It's the world's most popular camera. Well, it was funny when I was writing the paragraph to intro that I actually struggled and I'm like, "Yeah, how do you word this?" Right? I don't like to use a bunch of questions. I'm trying not to do that. Like, is it this, is it that, is it this? But I'm like, it's the most popular, but is it the best? And that's the question to ask is like, what is the best thing for me to do? And look, I mean, it's people's behavior indicates, right? Like they've made the choice and people know what they're doing. - That's it. Alrighty, that's about all I've got to say about that. - Cool, thanks Dan. - Thank you.
Duration 15 minutes Direct Download

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Ben Alexander

Ben Alexander

Ben created and runs and Fiat Lux

John Chidgey

John Chidgey

John is an Electrical, Instrumentation and Control Systems Engineer, software developer, podcaster, vocal actor and runs TechDistortion and the Engineered Network. John is a Chartered Professional Engineer in both Electrical Engineering and Information, Telecommunications and Electronics Engineering (ITEE) and a semi-regular conference speaker.

John has produced and appeared on many podcasts including Pragmatic and Causality and is available for hire for Vocal Acting or advertising. He has experience and interest in HMI Design, Alarm Management, Cyber-security and Root Cause Analysis.

Described as the David Attenborough of disasters, and a Dreamy Narrator with Great Pipes by the Podfather Adam Curry.

You can find him on the Fediverse and on Twitter.