The question I used to be asked all the time, “Is digital photography going to replace film?” is now being replaced by the audio version, “Will online music replace CDs?” If you’re in a hurry and don’t have time for the rest of this post, the answer to both questions is “No.”
I’ll start with music because thanks to the Apple Music Store, many of us are all a buzz about legally buying single tracks online without having to bother with a subscription service. (Although, realistically speaking, Mac OS X is a subscription service. I seriously doubt that the next release, Panther, will be free.)
Aside from that, the convenience of buying music online through the Music Store is unmatched. It’s terrific. But it’s not CD quality. I read a nice little article where Gunnar Van Vliet, self-described Mac user and music lover, wanted to know how good AAC was in comparison to MP3, and finally to see if it could come close to standard CD. AAC is the codec that Apple is using for its Music Store. It’s very good, but according to Gunnar, it’s not CD quality. And my ears agree.
My view is that online music is a different way to acquire and listen to music. It sounds great when you plug in your earphones; it’s good over a DJ’s PA system, but on a high end stereo system in your living room, you can tell the difference between AAC and the original CD. Both versions are going to be around for a long time. They serve different purposes.
It’s the same with digital photography. I have a 6.3 megapixel Canon EOS 10D. This is a great camera, and I enjoy shooting with it more than any other right now. So am I going to toss my Contax RX and Elan 7 35mm bodies? No way. Film is different than digital. I like both. And to be a complete photographer, I need both.
VHS did not put movie theaters out of business, AAC won’t hurt CD sales, and film photography is here to stay. We have parallel universes right now, and I’m digging it. What a great time to enjoy and create movies, pictures, and music.
You want 5,000 songs in your pocket? You got it. Want the clarity of CD on a high end stereo. Enjoy. Store all of your photos on a FireWire drive, or make fine art enlargements from film — it’s your choice. And I didn’t even have time to get to digital video…