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Monday, 22 July, 2002, 14:38 GMT 15:38 UK
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Your comments on this Dot.life article on the potential for loss of pictures taken with digital cameras,
Simply produce a camera that has dual technology on board, i.e. it takes the photograph and stores it on a roll of film and as a digital image. People would then put the film in for processing, which is what the producers want as this is where a lot of money is made and the digital ones can be downloaded on to computers for storage and emailing. Processing is relatively inexpensive and it ensures that an archive of moments and memories are always accessible without the need for special equipment and they can't accidentally be deleted either.
It can't be too difficult for the boffins to create a dual capture camera, can it?
Whilst it saddens me to read this item, hopefully by flagging up the problem now, people will become aware of it and start taking action now.. In my experience, most people do print off copies of the pictures they've taken simply to be able to show them to others, but I can see as more people go on-line this will drop, with the pictures being sent to friends electronically.
I have avoided buying a digital camera for the reasons stated above. I have my own photos and negatives that go back 30 years, and my family's that go back over 100 years. Pictures of Kut-Al-Ahmara during WWI, my current house through the years from 1900 onwards. I also have many Betamax videos, all unwatchable including my wedding! And more VHS, the older ones steadily decaying!
Not only will many photos be lost over time, but also with digital cameras, many pictures are lost as soon as they are taken - if it doesn't very good or it's not very interesting, you can delete it while it's still on the camera. How many of those priceless memories of the future will now never even make it out of the camera?
This isn't really a new problem - remember 8" floppy disks, 5.25" floppy disks, mag-reel tape for mainframes, 5.25" cartridge tape, etc. ... and when it comes to obsolete technology lets not forget the 70s icon - the 8-track!!
I totally disagree. For a start, digital camera owners take many more photos, as they are free, meaning we'll have more pictures to choose from. They also make many more copies, through PC hard drive, email, print and of course recordable CDs. New technology normally means greater capacity, as we are now seeing with recordable DVDs. 'Mundane' photos need not be discarded.
If you feel that maintaining archives of any form of material culture is important, then somewhere along the lines you will have to invest in the necessary equipment to store it, the human expertise to manage it and the on-going costs of this maintenance. As a trained museum curator I cannot make a living doing the job I trained for. Instead I work in IT. Look at the crisis you have in the museum sector at present - look how badly paid our museum staff are and how badly resourced our museums, libraries and galleries are. Do you think there is the slightest hope that the present infrastructure could cope with the vast amount of digital material? I don't.
Surely the basic ability to read .jpg files will never be lost.
I think you are correct in saying that using internet technology is the way to go - whatever the net morphs into - the basic ability to see images will not change.
I lost my hard drive and along with it some 700 digital photographs taken over a few years, all because I was always 'going to back up'. I'm now finding I prefer the old SLR camera to get some real quality 7x5 snaps. Much easier to show them around too.
There are print services online, you download a program and can upload the images, specify what size and get a 2 day turn around... all for 15p a print. I've used this service and keep all the pics on my hard drive.
My father law seems to have found the right balance, somewhat by accident! He has a digital camera, but no computer, so he fills up his memory card with images he can review on the spot and retake if necessary, then takes it into a photographic shop and gets them printed off on to photo paper.
It is not just pictures! What about all the personal and public documents produced on 5", let alone 7" floppies. Historians may be interested in how public policy decisions were arrived at, and engineers need to know how a building was erected before they try to demolish it. This could be a problem if the original calculations are inaccessible.
Bear in mind that the projected lifetime of CD and CDR media is only between 30 and 100 years, so the original specs or "moth-balled" readers won't be of any use. To be safe you should re-archive your collection (maybe once every 10 years) on the latest, greatest storage technology of the time.
Don't worry. Star Trek, don't have any worries, as they seem to be able to interface with anything :o)
I have just come across several long forgotten boxes of colour transparencies of family holidays dating from 1957. Ok, not exactly ancient history, but I have never seen these family pictures before and the image quality is pin sharp and the colours wonderfully vibrant. I intend to scan these images and transfer them to a robust and non-volatile medium such as DVD ASAP.
Currently I have 2,000 pictures on three CD's. If I had to move them, I'm sure some would be left behind. The only other way is to always have them on a PC hard disc as well and then move them as the latest PC came around. I use JPG files, and if these disappeared I will be having problems - until then I'll keep snapping!
Nearly 30 years ago I bought an Olympus OM1-N. It's manual and I didn't pay a great deal for it. It still takes superb pictures and they are easily scanned to give better images for a web site. The joke is the camera is now worth a lot more than I paid for it! I do have a digital camera but I rarely use it!
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