Photography and Art

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Blog Burnout

There seems to be a lull in the photoblog biz. Perhaps it's because there's not a whole lot going on right now. The digital camera market seems to be settling down and maturing. Perhaps it's because my fave blog writers have been going hard at it for a few years and just need a rest. Or perhaps photographers just want to get out and take pictures instead of writing about it.

The one that really hurts is Alec Soth. He seems to be permanently off the air. The suddenness of his departure reminds me of those mystery novels where the detective arrives to find the kitchen table set, the food on the plates still warm, but everyone gone. Alec will be missed - he nearly always managed to turn up really entertaining posts about the art of photography.

I've noticed a slowdown on Michael Reichmann's Luminous Landscape as well. Granted, Michael has often travelled in the past and he's now off to Madagascar. But, is it my imagination or has the frequency and size of post declined in the last few months, coincident with the opening of Michael's studio?

The maturity of the DSLR product category is impacting some of my camera hardware blogs, like Bob Atkins and Rob Galbraith. It looks to me like consumer-level DSLR's are reaching a natural limit of 10-12 megapixels. Even the move from 8 to 10 megapixels with APS-C sensors seems to have been accompanied by more aggressive noise reduction and sharpening. Don't get me wrong, 10 megapixels is a very usable resolution, quite capable of handling prints as large as 16x24. The pro DSLR's are reaching a natural limit around 16-20 megapixels using full-sized sensors. Even the digital medium format cameras have stalled around 30 megapixels. There is a natural limit, based on today's technology, to the ratio of signal to noise that seems to have been reached at today's pixel densities. Cramming pixels tighter together just seems to create too much noise. This can be easily demonstrated by reading the reviews of any 12 megapixel point and shoot camera. Images shot at anything over ISO 200 are unusable unless a significant amount of noise reduction and sharpening have been applied by the processor inside the camera. The post-processing creates halos around edges and moire patterns galore.

With blogs either falling by the wayside or becoming quieter due to the absence of camera news, it is really nice that Mike Johnston keeps on truckin'. Perhaps it's because Mike was a professional journalist and is used to cranking out a daily column or maybe it's just his dogged persistence, but I don't care. He is the best of the web for photography, bar none.

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