Is it time to just call it “photography” again?

Alan Bullock
Feb 15, 2013

It has been more than 35 years since Kodak engineer Steve Sasson built what is widely regarded as the first digital camera, and nearly 18 years since Apple introduced the Kodak-built QuickTake 100, the first sub-$1,000 digital camera. For several years, it was important to note which cameras were digital and which prints were made from an image captured by a “digital camera,” often to explain away any image quality differences versus “real cameras” that still used film.

Much has changed since then. Film is but a distant memory for nearly everyone — except those who don’t remember it at all. Digital cameras are real cameras and digital photos are real photos, but for some reason the industry (InfoTrends included) continues to use the terms “digital camera” and “digital photography,” as if to differentiate them from something with which they would be easily confused.

Seriously – in 2013? Are we ready to talk about cameras and photos and prints again? Let’s find out:
  • Amazon.com’s site includes a product category called “Camera & Photo”. So far so good. But clicking through reveals subcategories “Digital Cameras” and, yes, “Film Cameras”. And get this – as of this writing, there are 2,821 items shown in the “Film Camera” category, 2,151 of which are listed as “New”. A closer look shows several Polaroid and Fujifilm instant cameras, numerous flavors of major- and not-so-major-brand single use cameras (film in a box), and an assortment of what I’ll call “specialty” and “novelty” cameras (pinhole, 3D, Holga, Lomography, etc.). There are even some honest-to-goodness 35mm SLR cameras listed there, but if some of them are really new, their Silica Gel might be safe to eat by now (but please don’t). Oddly enough, some digital instant cameras, such as the Polaroid Z2300 with its built-in ZINK printer, appear under “Film Cameras”. In all fairness, just 121 of the 2,151 are actually sold by Amazon.com and they appear to be categorized appropriately.
  • Over at Best Buy, there’s a “Cameras & Camcorders” category. Within, subcategories include “Digital Cameras”, “Digital SLR Cameras”, and “Compact System Cameras”. (Click here for some thoughts from my colleague Mette Eriksen on naming challenges for interchangeable lens cameras.) Alas, there is also a “Film Cameras & Accessories” category, but there are only 8 items listed, and it’s hard to argue against any of them being there.
  • Photo retailers bhphotovideo.com and adorama.com also sell both “Digital Cameras” and “Film Cameras”, and a site search for “camera” does not default to either.

Curiously, despite the considerable hype that preceded the arrival of high definition television, no one that I know sits down to watch their favorite “HDTV” shows – it’s simply “TV”. But there is considerable inertia behind the term “digital camera”, it appears to be with us for a while.

I think I’ll go “capture” some “images”. (Who does that?)

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