Digital photography ? It’s still the glass which makes the camera

Everything is going digital over the last couple of years. Which revolutionizes the way we work with information. But digital is not a substitute for everything. Take digital photography. The number of mega-pixels of the camera (in your phone) is rising by the month. But when I see the loads and loads of visual creations published on the web it makes me scratch my head. So many pictures are of a quality which makes it hard to see what you’re actually looking at. Despite the 1M+pixels shapes are vague and colors pale.

When it comes to taking a picture you are working with light. When catching light you need a lens to project the image on the sensor. The larger the diameter of the lens, the more light is projected on the sensor. Lens diameter is expressed in its aperture. This is the ratio between lens surface and focal length; a smaller number will catch more light. The specs of most digital cameras focus on megapixels and zoom factor, the aperture is usually named last or even omitted. And when you take a look at cameras you’ll see that most of them have a pretty large maximum aperture (= small lens), especially when you compare them with the “old” analog devices. The lenses of phone or pda cameras are just (too) tiny.

Not all cameras are like that. For a couple of months now I am a happy user of a Sony DSC-F828.

Which it a giant piece of glass with some electronics attached to it. Not a SLR but it beats most of them when it comes to aperture size and all of them when it comes to price. A very good review is on the DPreview site.

Yes it’s a Sony. I have a lovehate relationship with this brand. Their hardware is just absolutely great; this camera has loads of smart features. But Sony software can be quite a disaster. Connecting the camera with an USB cable works fine out of the box but after installing the supplied USB driver all USB connections are messed up. Which reminded me of some trouble with drivers for the buttons of a Sony notebook. Which work fantastic under XP but completely crippled a Server 2003 setup. Their recent DRM rootkit fiasco was not much of a surprise to me either.

But their hardware is great and keeps reminding me of the fact that there is more to information than just the bare digits. I leave it to your own imagination to transpose this little rant to other aspects of Information Technology :)

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