Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Did the Digital Camera kill the biz?

Has the digital camera killed the photography business?  

The Federal Bureau of Statistics states that "pro photography is one of the the only professions that has not had any income growth in 14 years. Only 5 percent growth in 27 years. Equipment costs 10 times what it did 30 years ago".

Since the digital camera has come into main stream hands, there has been a lot more competition with the average amateur.  That has also driven down the fees.  Should professional photographer be worried?  Yes and no.  I think digital camera has killed the "traditional business" of photography.  Meaning on time you had to know how to light a subject, product, interior or whatever.  You had to estimate the number of polaroids in your bid.  The more polaroids you used the more it was charge to you or the client.  Now with digital there is none of that.  You can keep deleting the file until you get it right.  You could shoot 200 frames to get it right from one shot.  Imagine 200 8 x 10 polaroids or 4 x 5 polaroids for on shot.  Cha Ching.   Not only do you have to know about the cameras, but the editing programs that go along with it.  

Personally, I find it a very exciting time.  With more people going after the same work it makes you step up your game.  For me, I feel I have an advantage....experience.  The longer you have been doing something , the more comfortable you become.  Can I handle 20 person production in several locations, of course.  Could I have handle it say 10 years ago.  Not on your life.  

So has the digital camera killed the business?  It has just changed it.  The camera is just a tool.  Same with all the all the other software programs.  You have to know how to work the tools,  of course.  But talent trumps all.  My experience has been the longer you are doing something the better you become.  Which in turn is the experience.  Having the new latest camera / program is not going to make you a better photographer.  You taking more pictures is going to make you a better photographer.

I write this to remind me that I need to practice what I preach. So off I go and shoot to become a better photographer.


Susan Frost said...

In some ways, yes. I believe that because anyone can buy a digital camera and say they are a "photographer", then it has impacted the professional photographer's business. Clients are asking for cheap, cheap, cheap and emerging photographers are offering their services for next to nothing. This lowers the pricing expectations of the client. However, the clients that are aware of how a poor image can impact their message are willing to pay an appropriate price for a professional photographer. The key is developing your brand so that you stand out as a professional photographer that will deliver outstanding images in all aspects--technical, composition, and understanding of the client's needs. A clear understanding of your distinctive competence will help you rise above the beginning photographers.
Susan Frost
ASMP, PPA member

The Camera Fanatic said...

Outstanding blog. My personal favorite camera is the Canon PowerShot SD1100IS. I wrote a review for it, please let me know what you think:

UPDATE: This camera is currently on sale at Amazon. You can find the link here:

If you need a solid, reliable, and stylish point-and-shoot ultracompact digital camera that produces high-quality images, then the new Canon PowerShot SD1100IS may be right for you.

I am an advanced amateur photographer and own 2 Canon digital cameras (G2 and 20D). Both have served me well over the years but recently I have found myself needing a decent ultracompact camera that I can easily carry with me at all times for unexpected photo-ops.

Other current Canon models that I also researched before my purchase of the "bohemian brown" SD1100IS included the SD950IS and the SD1000.

Here is my take on the SD1100IS:

- 8MP CCD sensor with DigicIII processor (excellent resolution images with good dynamic range)
- Solid construction (most of body made of anodized aluminum)
- Feels sturdy and well-balanced in the hands
- Easy to use (logical user-interface) with minimal need to consult owner's manual for basic operation
- Multiple shooting modes to fit variety of situations (action/sports mode is a glaring omission but read section below to see possibly why)
- Advanced metering system with accurately exposed pics in even "tricky" situations (great balance of highlights and shadows)
- Tack-sharp images (much more so with sufficient lighting and use of built-in flash)
- Macro mode can result in stunning close-ups with outstanding level of detail
- Optical IS feature helpful when shooting in either low-light conditions with flash off or at telephoto lengths
- Fast start-up with acceptable shutter-lag (when not using flash)
- Bright 2.5" LCD monitor (100% coverage, 230k pixels) made of polycrystalline silicon; fairly scratch-resistant (can't vouch if this applies to keys and coins)
- Optical viewfinder (though only a tiny peephole, it is essential when LCD glare and washout become an issue shooting in bright sunlight or when LCD cannot be used as battery power is nearly depleted)
- Camera made in Japan (at least those from the 1st shipment; this easily may be subject to change)

- Lack of manual control over aperture, shutter speed, and focusing (for the obssessive control-freaks)
- Noise is noticeable beginning at ISO 400 (ISO 800 still useable but probably for only 4x6 images; ISO 1600 mostly unuseable)
- Fastest shutter speed is 1/1500 sec (not fast enough to stop action for some sporting activities)
- Auto-focus speed inadequate to follow fast-moving subjects
- Shutter-lag accentuated with flash on (precious Canon moments lost while waiting for flash to recharge)
- Cannot adjust focus or optical zoom while shooting in movie mode (focus is fixed for distance selected at first frame, and digital zoom is permitted instead, resulting in significant image quality deterioration)
- Battery/memory card cover and hinge made of plastic (no safety latch that needs to be de-activated first before sliding cover out, in order to prevent accidental opening)
- Minor vignetting and chromatic aberration (albeit, difficult not to expect from compact p&s)
- Pincushion and barrel distortion at the extremes of the focal lengths
- No RAW shooting mode

Battery power in camera mode with LCD monitor on is mostly as advertised, allowing for approximately 240 images. If your budget permits, I recommend investing in a few spare batteries as backups and replacing the supplied 32MB memory card with a pair of 4GB SDHC memory cards--vital purchases if you plan to use the movie mode frequently.

Overall Impression:
Even with some serious limitations inherent to virtually all digital cameras in this class, I am recommending the Canon PowerShot SD1100IS. It does what it's supposed to do. This camera allows one to take beautiful photographs in an ultracompact, reliable, and elegant device that is both easy and fun to use.