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January 29, 2008

Digital Camera Imponderables

Categories Digital Photography 

In honor of PMA '08, I've prepared a Pogue inspired list of Digital Camera Imponderables.

  1. If an iPod can charge via USB why can't most digital cameras?
  2. What actually changes when you adjust the ISO setting on a digital camera?
  3. Why are memory cards included with digital cameras so pathetically small?
  4. Why is there so much digital camera product spam?  It seems within any manufacturer's product line are a couple cameras that are almost the same price but one is significantly worse than the other, or one is way more expensive than the other but only offers trivial benefits.
  5. Why didn't Polaroid, a huge innovator in mainstream photography, become a major player in the digi-cam market?



Here's what I think:

1. Most cameras have a removable battery, which is more convenient than having a computer nearby for most photographers.

2. Film speed, apparently.

3. The retailer doesn't want to go to the extra expense, seeing as most people have an SD card already.
If you have an 8gb card for your old camera, and the new camera you want comes with a 4gb card, why would you want to pay for a big card you won't use?

4. I have no idea. It bothers me too.

5. From Wikipedia:
"The company entered the digital photography market late in the game, and as a result has neither a significant market share nor significant innovation in this area."

Excellent questions! My thoughts:

1) Which is better for charging: a removable battery or a USB port? Answer: it depends on the removable battery. If the removable battery is a shitty throw-away battery, I would definitely prefer to have a USB port charger. But if the battery is a chargeable battery, I'm not sure which is better, because both of them require recharging, which requires either a computer or electrical power. I end up preferring the re-chargeable battery because it doesn't require a computer.

2) Exactly! In fact, as your question suggests, ISO/ASA makes little sense when transferred to digital cameras, because it's all about the speed of the film and therefore its sensitivity to light. Someone decided that it as important to adhere to the ISO/ASA institution in digital cameras, which basically ends up meaning that you can determine how much light the camera can pick up on. But I'm not sure how much sense this makes, when you can also control for aperture and shutter and all that good stuff on manual digital cameras.

3) My theory about this is that they provide a card with a too-small amount of data so that people realize how small the data is and are forced to go back and put a lot more money down for a card that is a better size.

4) I don't know enough about a wide range of digital cameras, but I agree that there are a lot of really crappy cameras out there and they cost about the same amount as the good ones.

5) It's sad.

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