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Thanks for the memories  July 26, 2012

About The Author

CNET Editor

Lexy spent her formative years taking a lot of photos and dreaming in technicolour. Nothing much has changed now she's covering all things photography related for CNET.

Focal Point

Camera versus camera: why we love a fight

(Screenshot by CBSi)

Like any lover of technology, I'm always one to closely follow any debate that challenges how the existing gear fares when compared directly with the new toy on the block.

Over recent years, there have been some prime photographic examples that make this a really interesting area to keep up to date with. Take, for example, the furore that erupted just a few years ago, when a Nokia executive rather boldly declared that mobile phones would be good enough to replace SLRs in the near future. It's a contentious enough topic that just about everyone — photographer or not — jumped on-board to declare the short-sightedness of the claim.

Then there was the gauntlet laid down by Olympus recently: could a Micro Four Thirds camera hold its own against a full-frame SLR?

The photography community has a voracious appetite for challenges that pit a David against a Goliath. It's even more intrigued (and infuriated) by claims that one piece of equipment will relegate another into digital obsolescence.

So it was with great interest that I looked at the latest test by photography site Fstoppers: could a video camera match and beat a still camera for portraits?

The cameras in question were not your run-of-the-mill models. They put a Red Epic and Hasselblad H3D-22 up against each other, and extracted frames from the Epic's video to see if they could hold their own against the Hasselblad. The theory was that given the advancements in high-end video technology, such as in the Epic, still photography could easily be relegated to the tech dustbin.

I won't go into the testing methodology here, as it's inherently flawed (as with most of these sorts of challenges). You can watch the video below to get an idea of the smackdown's proceedings.

So does it really matter who won this challenge, or any of the others? Nope, not one bit.

What does matter is our love of a good photographic fight. We've seen it countless times before on the well-trodden path to brand loyalty. You only have to hang out in the forums of DPReview to get an idea of the level of enthusiasm that some photographers show for their tool of choice.

"But really," I hear you say, "which camera won?"

I don't mean to sit on the fence intentionally here, but if you're not shooting medium format in studio conditions, then you'll probably never need to know. Video cameras won't make still cameras obsolete, at least not in the foreseeable future, because the two cameras in question are prohibitively expensive for most photographers, for starters. Also, the shift from one tool to another happens organically — think VHS to DVD or Blu-ray.

It's entertaining watching one tool defeat another, but, really, it's not going to make everyone start shooting on the so-called "superior" technology.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to see if my Holga stacks up to a Leica M9.

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Im Batman posted a comment   

That Red Epic is a beast, looks more like a weapon.

Interesting comparison, but a very high end one.
It really comes down to workflow and the changes to it that digital brings.
Much like the transition from film to digital... film you took 1 photo, then with digital it was 50... to the, thousands of frames in digital film.

Interesting to see the challenge described here of the film encroaching into the still image arena... when there is a similar challenge in the reverse direction with DSLRs producing movies. Its going to be an interesting mash up in this space.

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