Resurrecting Polaroid, but don’t knock digital

The Wall Street Journal has a fascinating article about how an enthusiast has acquired the last Polaroid factory in Europe and started producing instant film again (monochrome now, colour to follow).

Great stuff.

But I would note that the piece is quite incorrect when it talks of  ‘those who prefer analog authenticity to the mathematical approximations of reality that define our whiz-bang digital age’. Well, I don’t dispute that there are such people. And of course I don’t dispute that digital signals are mere mathematical approximations of reality.

But what people of this mindset don’t seem to realise is that analogue signals are also no more than approximations of reality. In most cases, they are actually poorer approximations than digital ones, and they are far less robust, becoming worse with each subsequent copy.

Of course, film photography actually has little pretence of analogue authenticity anyway, compared to say audio. Film captures images by altering the colour of tiny dots on its surface. The only real difference is that the film dots are randomly scattered, while the digital ones (which, with 10megapixel+ cameras are generally more densely packed that film ‘pixels’) are in a regular grid.

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2 Responses to Resurrecting Polaroid, but don’t knock digital

  1. treblid says:

    Vinyl vs CD debate? 🙂

    A friend of my is so into analog photography now (the gear is cheap and the results are bloody good). But I still prefer digital, lazyness rules!
    For photography and for A/V. 🙂

  2. Stephen Dawson says:

    Vinyl has a certain charm, primarily from a certain phasey distortion brought about by the way the stereo is encoded into the groove, along with the coils of the good quality pickups. So if you don’t mind a percent or two of harmonic distortion, stereo separation of about 25dB, a noise floor (in a perfect world) of worse than -60dB, all kinds of regular and spurious noises (in the real world) frequently actually exceeding the level of the actual signal, and the fact that the recording deteriorates every time it is played (how good your gear is only determines the amount of deterioration, not whether or not it is happening), then by all means choose it over CD!

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