Why Do We Treat Electronics As Disposable Items?!

It doesn’t seem so long ago I was the proud owner of a Nikon D5100. I worked at a very small documentary film studio as a video editor, and wanted an entry-level camera for personal photography, as well as for the occasional video. Takes pictures? CHECK. Takes videos? CHECK. But it was the things it lacked that began to grate on my nerves. All too soon I realized I was locked into a pre-set auto white balance system. The flip out screen was nice, but a bit low resolution. So whats a guy to do? I had out grown the thing in like a month! Well I begged my poor wife (Lord bless her soul) to let me upgrade again.

Before you knew it that thing was sold on Amazon (part of the deal with my spousal unit to upgrade was get my money back) and we were welcoming a brand new Canon 7D into the family. Now lots of people love the Canon 7D. I loved the Canon 7D. Its pictures were amazing, and I enjoyed it throughly…  Only problem was I was still learning too fast. I hadn’t out grown the photography side of my Canon 7D, but wouldn’t you now it I had out grown the video side. The thing only had a 12 minute recording limit on video clips! Come on!!! So once again (this time after about 3 months) I was in the market for an upgrade.

By some miracle, I had purchased the Canon 7D from Best Buy around (not exactly on the day of but near) Black Friday. So for some reason one of their perks last year was an increase in when I could return it from 30 days to 45, and I came back to Best Buy on THE LAST DAY POSSIBLE!!! Whew! What a relief that huge purchase wasn’t for nothing! So I started to do some research and of course, being Technical Director at a small documentary film studio, I had my ear to the ground for some alternatives. I had hope the Nikon 1 wouldn’t end up a steaming pile of hooey, but was sorely mistaken when reviews threw it under the proverbial bus. And it seemed like my focus was more on affordability and video production, not so much on photography (although it would be nice to be able to take pictures for this or that). After much heartache and deliberation I found myself looking at the Canon 6D. I marched triumphantly back into Best Buy and announced with zeal that the Canon 6D was the camera for me. No one applauded.

They didn’t have any in stock and would have to special order it. Little did I realize that I was getting an amazing camera! It arrived at my doorstep, delivered straight from a warehouse in Lord knows where. I discovered that I was getting a camera that could do things I didn’t even know I wanted it to do! And I fell in love with it (the shallow kind of love you get for disposable electronics of course). It took even better pictures than my Canon 7D could and the video seemed better too. There was a Wifi module built-in that would let me use my iPhone as a 2nd screen to my camera, and I could even use my phone to trigger the shutter or transfer pictures directly to my phone (tiny versions of picture though, not the full-sized thing). I loved it, and yet something wasn’t quite right.

I need the highest quality video I can afford and while the Canon 6D was great, its video quality suffered. Sometimes it was just a mushy looking mess and I wondered if maybe I’d been foolish. Maybe I should just get a real video camcorder like the big boys use in the indie film scene. Should I consider a Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera? Perhaps a Canon EOS C100? No the 1st option was not ready for primetime, and the 2nd option was too pricey. So once again we turned and burned that camera into my current one. This time it finally caused me and my wife to have a fight. In the end the “squabble” lasted about an hour and we made up and were laughing and having fun together again. Our 6th anniversary was coming up and I wanted a camera to record some memories before we left for San Francisco to celebrate. I sold my iPad and a few other trinkets to make this exchange for an as yet unknown device, but was always certain I was only selling off my own personal property and not anything my wife would feel was hers as well. I didn’t want her feeling upset. I had become too disposable in my thinking. By this point I had lost my job at my studio because budget cut-backs required them to let me a few others go.

So what would I settle on? The Sony NEX-FS100. Now I love this thing, but in a moment of personal clarity I have to admit that everything is disposable to me. Even things that shouldn’t be. Why is this? I buy an iPhone, and in 2 years I get rid of it for a new one. We get an Apple TV and its work in 720p HD. Whoops, Apple just released a 1080p HD version. They made these things to be disposable. But should they be? Didn’t I use to value my property growing up?! I used to get YEARS of use out of something before I moved on. But Amazon is like my own personal online yard sale, I can trade up and down to my little hearts content and somewhere there is a landfill with my name on it filled with all the stuff that I’ve been given for Christmas over the years! I’ve learned a LOT about cameras in the process, and could (and intend to) make reviews on them from a “Post Ownership” perspective.

To quote an article on flyingmag.com which is linked here, “A disposable product is one designed for cheapness and short-term convenience rather than long-term durability. Paper napkins are disposable. Toothbrushes are disposable. Electronic devices shouldn’t be.” In future posts I will write about my experience with these devices, why I felt they were short-term conveniences and how that plays into life for me. Also I’ll talk about what I want in a camera from this point on and maybe post some of my work with these cameras I’ve owned. Perhaps even a preview of what I’m working on now? The name of this site is “Shoot Sharp” and as such I believe in clarity, clear thinking. Not just in my work where as a videography/cinematographer I want to know exactly why I’ve made the creative choices I have made, but also in my personal endeavors. I really made my wife quite angry at me and it made me think about my actions and how I look at my work, my marriage, and even my job. I have disposable friendships on Facebook and post disposable statements on Twitter. I want to make this that have more value than that, so why don’t I treat life more like it is valuable?

So this article isn’t so much my philosophy on why we treat electronics as disposable, its more a question. A question that I ask myself and I challenge myself to give serious thought to. Does anyone else recognize the same thing? Is it just me? Do you get a Kindle Fire only to lust after a iPad a week later? Have you acted on such an impulse? If anyone feels they have something to add please let me know in the comments. Maybe later today I’ll share some of my work with the world with my cameras of days past. Until next time.


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