Photojournalist Steve Starr, a 1970 Pulitzer Prize winner, had been contemplating a slow transition away from traditional SLRs before ultimately deciding to simply jump off the pier and into digital photography.
"The big question in the industry was, 'When is it going to be as good as film?' It is already; I'm getting superb shadows, exposures, everything as good as with film, or better. It's amazing."
Starr uses the Canon EOS D60 (now replaced by the Canon 10D—see specifications), which, with its 6.3 megapixels and myriad manually controlled features, allows for professional-level control over image production and film-like image quality. This newfound creative power, however, comes at a steep price: Starr estimates that the initial investment for a photographer switching to digital is between $10,000 and $15,000.
"I have two D60s, which, at the time, ran about $1,500 each. I also had to buy a new laptop and computer, along with Adobe Photoshop 7, the industry standard, for editing. High processor speeds and lots of memory are must-haves for photo editing."
So what led Starr to take the plunge?
"Shooting with digital is much like shooting with traditional cameras: you still have to pay attention to lighting and technique. The biggest difference is how much more control I have over my images afterwards. After a shoot, I can go home and tweak my images or adjust exposures; the ability to do th!
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This added control, however, is a catch-22: he usually spends between eight and sixteen hours after a shoot working on his images.
"First, I transfer the images in the form of RAW files to my computer, then edit them using Adobe Photoshop 7. We all thought that digital photography would make things simpler—in fact, it's made my work much more complicated."
In the two years since Starr started working exclusively with digital, it has fast become the industry standard.
"Editors want images on CD. Almost all of my clients have embraced it and request it. The only time I use traditional cameras is on those few occasions when my client has not yet made 'the digital switch.'"
Starr advises consumers looking to make that switch to research more than just pixels.
"Pixel size is important, but overall camera design, software, lenses—all of that is important. I would stay with the majors—Canon or Nikon, possibly Olympus, when looking for a camera."
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.