A fun thing I saw online this weekend was this Petapixel article: Here is a Collection of Camera Commercials from the Past 20 Years.
These ads are fun to look at, and the early ones are kind of funny at times, but one thing really hit me: A bunch of the older ads were pushing cameras really hard based on kind of gimmicky things, or things that turned out to not really help image quality that much, and I’m sure none of us could be paid to use those cameras today. For instance, the Polaroid Talking Camera was a novel idea, and the ad with Sinbad was fun (somehow still holds up as funny even), but I’m sure the pics looked kind of blah, like from any other consumer Polaroid at the time. I remember there was also a Polaroid in the 90s, which I owned, that printed out extremely small photos, (and maybe had the option to buy sticker-backed photo paper for it?) While it was also fun, the pictures were pretty bad.
The Tyco Video Cam in the article no doubt looked incredibly cool and fun to kids at the time, but I’d bet a trillion dollars that 99.9% of footage from every one of those is gone forever. I know there’s a big group of people who do stuff with old Gameboys (and any Nintendo stuff), so maybe there are some Gameboy Cameras still in operation, but honestly, ugh.
So what hit me was this: Camera makers sell cameras based on new stuff, they love to do this, but clearly not all the new things stand the test of time or hold up. In the end, image quality is still the main thing and will always be. Other things count, but that’s the bottom line – getting great photos that hold up over time and don’t look dated, etc.
What cameras, or features, are widespread and heavily marketed today, but we’ll look back on in 20 years and scoff? It’s hard to tell for sure, but I know one thing: Just saying “No no, everything is perfect now, what we’re prododucing now is the height of quality and will never look dated” is short-sighted. We might well be looking back in 10 or 20 years and shaking our heads at our puny 18MP pics with mediocre dynamic range that don’t look good at all when projected on our 150 inch LCD screens that we all own or something.
And don’t even start me on iPhone photos.