Observations & Questions

 

K Madhavan Pillai, Editor, Better Photography, looks back at photokina and ponders over where we’re headed.

I am writing this editorial note on the second last day of photokina 2014. Photokina in Cologne, Germany, is still the biggest of photography expositions in the world. There have been several significant launches and a few expectations that were not met. It was the launch of the Samsung NX1 that got me thinking about where it was all heading. How many fps would be enough? At what point will we be truly satisfied with megapixel counts and numbers of focusing points?

While Samsung is talking about 15fps at 28MP, Panasonic on the other hand tells us to simply shoot 4k video in-camera at 30fps with their new FZ1000 or LX100 for as long as it is necessary to capture the action, and simply grab a perfectly good 8MP still photo out of it. I am always thrilled to see significant advancement in optics and sensor quality. It almost always means that the lower end lineups of the companies releasing these products get better and less expensive in the inevitable trickledown.

THERE IS STILL NO DIGITAL REPLACEMENT FOR THE KODAK KB10 THAT WAS BARELY A FEW HUNDRED RUPEES, CAME WITH A ROLL OF FILM, AND WAS READY TO MAKE 36 EXPOSURES. IT SOLD OVER A MILLION UNITS IN INDIA ALONE.

Yet, somehow, I cannot help wondering… are we being over-serviced by technology? Worse still… are we being too greedy and biting off more than we can chew? Can the worldwide decrease in camera sales be attributed to the emergence of smartphone photography, economic slowdown and natural disasters, or could there be a more poignant reason?

At photokina 2014, I learnt that the total number of images floating in cyberspace number 880 billion or about 125 times the population of our planet. While I admit that most of these images are personal memories, how many of them really required an expensive camera to shoot. On the other hand, the number of amazing photographers with significant lifetime bodies of work have not increased in the same ratio. Perhaps, we all need to go back to the drawing board for a bit to reexamine what is really needed.

Tags: Editorial, K Madhavan Pillai, photography, photokina 2014