Sunday, April 17, 2005

Is Digital Ready for the Outdoors?

Now my Canon 20D camera is back at the factory, being cleaned. After ten days in the outdoors in some wet weather, out on the Coral Pink Sand Dunes, and then more activity at Death Valley, and at various points along the road, the camera is producing nice pictures -- but with spots from some miscreant on the sensor. Despite following the suggested cleaning method -- blowing it off with a sucky ball -- the spots remain in all my images to varying degrees. It has been gone for roughly ten days now and really -- I am ready to have it back.

This really begs the question "Is digital photography really ready to do things like backpacking, and still be counted on to produce professional results?" I think today the answer is a resounding no. When I called Canon Customer support they asked me if I had changed lenses in the field -- to this I responded yes, about 10-20 times a day. They asked if I had been in any unclean environments -- and I was wondering is snow or sand or rain or pollen dirty? I said -- just in the field.

I have only had this camera for three months -- I have used it a lot. I have several thousand images. But the truth is -- 10-15 days is a long time to go without a camera -- especially if you are using it, and to anticipate this after 5 days of a ten day trip -- or even once every three months, is entirely too frequent to call it reliable.

As it turns out -- I have other cameras -- that use film. Never mind the nuisance of processing, waiting for the results, and having to manage all the film. The film is always clean when it comes off the roll. The process of waiting for the results to return from the lab is nothing compared to manually cleaning little spots off several hundred otherwise worthy images

So if my 20D isn't back by the time I leave for my next event, I am sure I will pull my F1n out of the mothballs and load it -- *it* is a reliable camera.

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