iPad : Mac :: Digital : Film?

I love a good analogy. They clarify my thinking in a way that few things can.

While listening to this week’s Analogue a thought popped into my head about how to potentially frame the discussion around doing ‘work’ on iPads. It isn’t perfect (no analogy is) but the more I thought about it the truer it felt.

Using an iPad for work today is what professionally using a digital camera was when they were new.

While I wasn’t a professional photographer during the transition from film to digital, I was an earnest amateur. Many of the discussions today about the role that an iPad can play in a professional context remind me of the same arguments I watched on bulletin boards back then.

Professional photographers were extraordinarily proficient at using film. They had developed incredible workflows (both in camera and in darkroom) for handling film. The results they could get from film were initially objectively better than with the digital cameras of the time. Yet, over time digital overtook the industry and film is now used mostly for novelty rather than benefit.

I have no idea if the iPad (or similar devices) will ever have the same sweeping dominance that digital has over film. Though I wouldn’t be surprised if eventually it did.

David Smith