John Koontz has an interesting short commentary asking what convinced you to go digital?
When I went digital
The first obsession with digital was when I got a security camera digitizer and a Thunderscan for my “fat” mac. That was 1986.
I’ve been into digital photography since I saw the Apple QuickTake, it took a 640×480 color shot and was tethered to the computer. I thought it would replace the Polaroid. That was 1994.
My first digital camera was the Olympus C2500L, a bridge camera design with a pretty large sensor. That was 1999.
My current camera is a Nikon D70, a dSLR design. That was 2004.
What convinced me
I guess I never needed to be convinced.
But while the first few were just passing obsessions, the last two were, I felt, very rational. They were based on Nyquist sampling, as I have talked about earlier.
I felt that a digital camera be a coincidence of affordability and quality. How to set the quality bar?
A Sunday Afternoon at the Art Institute
My first spring break in graduate school (1996), I went up to Chicago and spent the day in the Art Institute and must have spent half my time looking at “Un dimanche après-midi à l’Ile de la Grande Jatte” which I put at the head of the article.
Mostly, it reminded me of a problem from wave mechanics my sophomore year in college. The question asked how far you had to stand back from a pointillist painting (of which I was now staring at the quintessential one), before the dots blended together to form a single tone. It was simple physics caused of diffraction through your pupil hitting the back of your eye.
This reminded me of how the the cells in the eye are just a big digital->analog processor, how processing is done in the eye to encode this in a small enough space to send down our optic nerve, and how understanding that and Nyquist Sampling allowed Hubel and Wiesel to win a Nobel Prize for explaining what our primary visual cortex does. In other words, the basics of what we see and why.
What’s weird about all this is how the biology and the physics/math agree. You can measure your own acuity and compare it to the Nyquist-Shanon Sampling Theorem. You can predict how the convolution should be and see it measure it electrically in the back of your cortex.
The question of when to buy a digital camera became simply a physics/math problem for me: at what point do the dots in the digital sensor become indistinguishable from a analog print of the highest resolution viewed at one foot.
The answer to that question has always been with us. It is what creates our hyperfocal distance and depth of field tables.
The answer was when the viewing distance is one foot, you needed 300dpi of resolution before Nyquist says that the dots merge together in our eye so as to not be dots at all—it was Seurat to the extreme. A 5″ print? you needed 2 megapixels. A 10″ print? 6 megapixel.
My C-2500L? 2.5 megapixel. My D70? 6 megapixel.
Here is something for you. 35mm film came to the photography world from cinema. At first it was deemed too grainy for serious photography, but chemistry kept improving. By the end of the film era, nature photographers (always a sticker for quality) were shooting most 35mm on Fuji Velvia 100.1 The size of the grains? The same as the size of a photosite in a D70 sensor.
That can’t be a coincidence, can it?