Exponential growth is sort of what it seems the camera industry is going through currently. Actually, it can seem sometimes that the available tech is growing at a rate even faster than Moore’s Law, even if it doesn’t reach consumer hands as quickly. However, when we test cameras today and particularly when comparing them to their own contemporaries in terms of form factor, cost, and so forth, it is arguable that the abilities of each are rather in line with each other, and we dive really deep in to pixel peeping and measuring their abilities less on how the average image it captures turns out, but by numbers on a spec sheet.
This, I believe, isn’t always the best way to go about it and I can pretty much guarantee you that in most circumstances, you couldn’t tell the difference between a shot taken with a 5DSR or D810 or a7RII. But it is what it is, and we are all looking for details. Those details, however, need not apply when comparing cameras from what we can call different eras of digital photography, because the differences are blaring.
The first digital SLR I spent a good amount of time with was a Nikon D70 in the latter part of 2006. I took it to Virginia to document the final airshow and operations of the US Navy’s F-14 Tomcats, and to be honest, I made a bit of a hash of it. I was not used to how DSLRs handled any sort of heavy lifting, and having come from film and developing myself, I didn’t know if there would be defining characteristics and qualities of the digital rendering as you would get from particular film types. I also remember the Powerbook I brought didn’t even support the RAW format.
Anyway, looking at those old files now, it’s incredible to see how far we’ve come, and in an even more exaggerated example, photographer Jim Goldstein has pitted a Canon 5DSR against the Canon D2000. That’s effectively taking the Hercules of today and putting it against the Hercules of a different geological era, and in terms of tech, that’s not really fair. It’s not like putting Mike Tyson in the Ring with Ali, but more like putting them in the ring and arming one with a shotgun. So let me ruin it for you now by saying the 5DSR decimates the D2000 in every way possible, spare the fact you could play PONG on the LCD of the D2000.
That said it’s an interesting watch, and sort of makes you wonder what’s on the horizon for us now, and how much further we can go before it all changes beyond recognition. 17 years ago, the 2 megapixel 1.6x crop CCD sensored D2000 was on the throne, and today’s is occupied by a eleventy thousand megapixel full frame CMOS. Tomorrow?
P.S. – Canon still needs to work on dynamic range…
What was your first DSLR?