by Edward Crim

Occasionally one of my customers here at Schiller’s Camera (the best darn photo & video center in the whole Midwest) will say to me, “Why are these cameras so expensive?”
“Are you kidding me?” I reply, “These things are ridiculously cheap! An entry level SLR costs almost the same dollars today as it did when I bought my Nikkormat FTN with a 28mm f3.5 lens in 1972! And I had to get up at 4 every morning and deliver a lot of newspapers, on my bicycle, to earn the $400 it cost me.”

It’s certainly true, in every aspect of photography, from the cost and features of today’s cameras to “developing” our images and even to printing photographs, that we’re living in the Golden Age of photography.

Let’s compare my first SLR to the Nikon D3200 you could buy today for the same dollars (and you only have to work 15 minutes to come up with the green ;-).

Nikkormat FTn with 28mm f3.5
– Lens angle of view – 74°
– Shutter Speeds – 1 sec ~ 1/1000 sec
– Aperture control – full f-stops
– Manual focus
– Manual exposure control
– Manual advance
– Manual flash (add-on)
– Still photos only
– ISO available 25-400
Nikon D3200 with 18-55 3.5-5.6
– Lens Angle of view – 76° ~ 29°
– Shutter Speeds – 30 sec ~ 1/4000
– Aperture Control – 1/3 f-stops
– Automatic focus
– Automatic and manual options
– Automatic advance
– TTL Auto flash (built-in + add-on)
– Still images and HD video
– ISO available 100-3200

And these are certainly not the only differences! In this age of digital instant gratification, you no longer have to wait days to see your images in brilliant color (as I did when I was shooting Kodachrome). There are a lot more lenses (with better optics) available for Nikons (and Canons as well) now, and a wider range of great accessories expand your photo options.

Let’s face it, lighter, smaller cameras are eliminating all excuses you may have had for not having one with you, while their ease of use destroys your justification for bad photos (in fact, now even your dog can take perfectly exposed, in-focus photos)!

But the taking of the photos is only part of the picture! It’s easier to share photos now, easier to edit them, easier to print them (I made thousands of prints, both color and black & white, while moving negatives in and out of an enlarger and squinting at a dimly projected image on a dingy yellow easel in a dark room filled with chemical fumes), and easier to organize them. Everything is easier, everything costs less than it used to and the quality is at an all time high!

So, what are you waiting for? If you’re not into the swing of photography today, carpe diem! Look no longer, just leap into the wonderful world of photography’s Golden Age!