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The Digital Deception

We are being cheated. Not many of us seem to care.

First it was music. The vinyl records and audio music tapes were replaced by the Compact Disc and, more recently, by Digital Audio Encoding and compression. Then it was film and the movies, going from 36 mm and 16 mm to magnetic Video Cassette Recording, before going to Digital Cinematography. The computer revolution, almost 30 years ago, brought us all the wonder-world of digital excitement. Now we could listen to music on our computers and iPods, watch movies or clips on our PC and YouTube. Then came the new era in photography.

Analog photo material used to be sold in rolls of 35 mm and for professional users, in large imaging formats. Now it is all digital cameras, digital photography and digital photo editing. What used to be done in the darkroom and manually is now being done in PhotoShop or LightRoom and keyboard and mouse.

The truth is that the digital format in music, film and photography gives us an inferior result. The analog music recording gives us better sound of a much higher quality. The analog film production gives us better grain and much better skin tones. The analog photography gives us better photos by far, and yes, thank you very much, Mr. Eastman. I’m sorry to hear that only yesterday, Eastman Kodak Company had to file for bankruptcy protection. I am sorry to see photography on film material disappear, just as much as I regret that black and white photography has little hope of surviving as a craft due to increasing scarceness of negative film and paper material. I do miss Polaroid instant photography. I do miss quality.

Today’s photo may not be the best example for analog photography, especially as I used LightRoom, a digital photo editing programme, to import the image onto my blog platform. But still, the photo was taken on 35 mm Kodak negative film material, and all I can say is that I cherish my negatives, just as I cherish my old 8 and 16 mm films and my vinyl record collection. Surely, I must be indecently old if I prefer quality over convenience, any time.

The photo was chosen from my archive. It was taken in Palma, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: October 10th, 2002. The time was 12:16:49.

3 replies »

  1. Hi Klaus, This is an argument that one hears often, digital vs audio, especially where audio is concerned. Not being an audiophile I am not qualified to make a judgement, however I am prepared to accept that analog may be better in many cases. I have always advised caution with regard to tv broadcasting after digital came along – it is very easy to manipulate digital tv images, almost impossible in analog.
    For both images and audio digital has created a market that is cheaper and more accessible for millions, and cost is the key,
    No one will deny you your black and white film, vinyl records or printed books – just as long as you are prepared to pay the elevated cost of producing those low volume items.
    I would maintain 95% of the population could not tell the difference and would not care as long as digital stays cheap.
    Power to your (analog) pen – keep up the good work
    John

  2. Hi Klaus,
    Sorry for contacting you via de comments section, I don’t have your email address.
    Although you surely have an enormous inspiration, I just wanted to hint you to some pictures of weird places on Mallorca where you probably would capture original analog or digital photos:
    http://www.elmundo.es/albumes/2012/01/19/patrimonio_mallorca
    Especially the “central térmica de Alcúdia” seems an impressing building.
    Greetings from Esporles,
    Johan

  3. Like you Klaus, I regret the slow passing of analogue recordings, of printed books, of film stock, because I am familiar with them and have collected and used them all my life. However I have to confess that I welcome and embrace their replacements with open arms.
    I cannot detect the difference between analogue sound recordings and digital, but nowadays I barely have a record collection – I use Spotify which gives me virtually any record at any time of the day or night that I wish to listen to. Anything else I download and pay a few pennies for. I listen to the same music that I have always liked, except nowadays I have extra space in my home.
    I have shot on film for stills all my life but the versatility of digital is phenomenal. I now not only use a high quality camera in my phone, I print the results, photoshop them, enhance them and was told by a Spanish professional recently who looked at them that I was “a photographer, no?” I said no, I just take my own snaps, but if I am to accept his complement without being conceited he was pointing out that tools are simply tools, it’s the human in control that matters. My house is filled with books, of which master photographers take up a good part – ironically they belong to the younger members of the family with art degrees who will only shoot on film! – but exploring new technology reaps rewards.
    I am involved in film making and the craft of cinematogrophy, from the shoot to the edit, still has ‘film’ fans extolling the virtues of reels of 35 and 70mm, which I applaud and appreciate, but the bulk of film making is now in the hands of digitally savvy people who make the masterful cinema of the modern age.

    Just think, only a few years ago I would have been unable to read every morning, with a degree of delight, the comings and goings of the people of Mallorca, which thanks to new technology I now can!

    Best wishes
    Derek

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