Innovation and the digital camera

There’s an interesting BBC piece at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-16483509 on the emergence of the digital camera – and the development now that the simple camera could yet be made obsolete by the cameraphone.  One notable point alluded to in the piece is the steady improvement in the technology for automatic focusing.  However that had an effect in the last twenty years at least of widespread use of film cameras – and was a consequence of the cheapening of electronic components.  From the 1980s that led to the emergence of a whole range of powerful, compact, and user-friendly film cameras which simplified the process of taking good quality photos.  From a business strategy perspective they filled a gap between very simple point-and-shoot cameras, and much more elaborate SLR (single lens reflex) cameras.  But so long as cameras used a storage medium which could only carry 36 pictures at a time, and where you couldn’t see the pictures until you’d taken the film to be developed, these improvements didn’t change the nature of photography in the way that digital cameras have done so.  In fact the ability to take lots of pictures, and to select the one which works best, and the ability to touch up pictures using photoshop or the equivalent, are both examples of things that professional photographers have always done, but are now available to almost everybody.

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