I am not ashamed to admit that I don’t mourn the passing of film. The hollow, pissing-in-the-wind wails of those who claim a resurgence of the medium, cut no ice with me. One of the complaints of the old-hand film devotees is that in days gone by you could buy a camera and it would be twenty or thirty years before it needed replacing. I fail to see the merit of the argument. When I used a Speed Graphic, I welcomed the move to a twin lens TLR, When I used a rangefinder camera, I embraced the arrival of the SLR, then in-camera exposure metering and motor-winds.
One of the greatest joys of the photographer is opening the box of a brand-new camera and lifting out a pristine machine, full of potential and possibility; breathing in the new camera smell, so sensual and full of promise. I delight in the upgrading of my digital cameras as now I can get that new camera hit every year. If they could package that smell as an after-shave, I’d buy it.
I don’t splurge on the top-of-the range, $5,000 models, preferring mid-range professional cameras. Cameras that will do the job without breaking either my back or my bank. Pragmatic and unsentimental, I look at it from the point-of-view that a new digital camera can pay for itself with a single day’s work or the licencing of a few good stock shots. After that it’s all profit.
This month, I’ll enjoy that new camera charge twice. Two weeks ago with Canon’s beautifully rugged point-and-shoot, the G11…and next week opening one of those beautiful golden boxes and inhaling that heady Nikon smell with the delivery of a new D90.
I still recall the pleasures the darkroom gave me…but like old loves, I don’t want to revisit them. I’m content with replacing the smell of developer, stop bath and hypo with the more subtle and sophisticated aroma of new digital hardware. The odors of the darkroom were always about the past, of pictures already made; the smell of a new digital camera is about the future, it is the promise of pictures yet to come.
“Be not the first by whom the new are tried, nor yet the last to lay the old aside.” Alexander Pope