After viewing photographs by Christopher Burkett, which are not digitally manipulated, Peter Lewis wondered what place have digital cameras and image manipulations in the art of photography. And a question hit his mind. If Ansel Adams, one of the most famous photographers of the 20th century, was still alive, would have he gone digital?
Before going further, here is one of the fantastic photographs by Christopher Burkett, "Summer Heather Garden," taken in California in 1998 (Copyright Christopher Burkett). Burkett has a larger version on his site. And if you like it, you can buy a 30' x 40' print for $3,000 (check other prices).
Now, let's come back to the Ansel Adams question. Peter Lewis talked at great length with Richard LoPinto, vice president for SLR camera systems at Nikon Inc. to find an answer.
"Far be it from me to speak on his behalf, but since I did have contact with him in earlier days, I know that he was a smart and aggressive guy," said LoPinto.
"He shot with a large-format camera and had the patience to stand around waiting for hours for the perfect shot, but he also used our Nikon FM series cameras," LoPinto continued. "I would like to speculate, and it's purely my personal opinion, that were he with us today he would be really taken by the technology and would be at the forefront."
"So, Ansel Adams, yeah, I think he'd love it,' LoPinto said.
They also discussed digital camera resolution and how it could match film resolution.
"I recall from the early days of calculating an equivalency, it was thought that with 10 megapixels you would have a digital image that is competitive with a film image," LoPinto said. "But it was a long time ago when that speculation took place. Since then, digital technology has developed dramatically, and many of the artifacts that were associated with digital photography in those early days have gone away. The technology has changed so much."
"I like to say that at the onset of digital photography, ," LoPinto said.
Finally they looked at the future of the market, now that some industry analysts are predicting the extinction of film cameras.
"I find it hard to believe that film will disappear," LoPinto said. "There is still a very, very large audience that just won't do that kind of stuff [digital imaging], and film continues to it was the megapixel battle. Now it's the megapixel scuffleplay important role where time is not a serious factor. I will say, however, that digital will continue to grow. As digital grows in advanced technology and versatility, and as price points fall, digital cameras will gather a bigger and bigger audience. Even the most staunch film users will eventually add digital to their shooting scenarios."
Personally, I used both, a film camera for large prints, and a digital one for the Web.
Sources: Peter Lewis, Fortune, December 11, 2003; and various websites