Musings on Photography

The Trailing Edge

Posted in equipment, hardware, software by Paul Butzi on January 21, 2009


There was a time when I lived on the leading edge, or as some would put it, the bleeding edge. For reasons that mostly had to do with making money, I spent a lot of time running software that was not only not shipped product, nor beta versions, but software that was not even ready for alpha status. Same thing, really, for hardware – I had a lot of bleeding edge hardware. Fast computers – among the fastest available – I had’em.

Somewhere along the line, though, I lost the taste for it. I just wanted things to work. And so I relaxed a bit, feathered away from the leading edge. I still had fast computers, but they were no longer the fastest possible. I didn’t run beta software, just the current versions.

And today, somehow, I find myself on the trailing edge. I’m not running on the latest hardware (although everything got an upgrade when we switched to Macs). And I’m not running the latest software.

Apple is making noises about releasing OS X 10.6. We have six Macs (Oh, god. Don’t ask why so many. Just don’t. It’s an addiction.) and only four of them are running 10.5, the current version. Two of them (two of the most heavily used, in fact) are still running 10.4. And I’m running Adobe Creative Suite CS3, one version back.

My main camera (a Canon EOS 5d) is one generation back. My handy camera (a Canon G9) is one generation back. My favorite lens is so old, it’s not even a USM lens. That’s old, and although I’m often tempted to sample the current version, I’m afraid it won’t live up to the excellence of the one I’ve got.

Somewhere along the way, computers got fast enough, and operating systems got powerful enough, and the constant urge to have the latest and greatest drained out of my body. Somewhere along the way, the cameras got good enough, and lenses got good enough.

I still upgrade stuff, to avoid that ugliness that you get when you fall off the trailing edge. But, I have to say, life is a whole lot less stress when you’re not constantly banging your head against leading edge problems.

8 Responses

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  1. Anthony said, on January 21, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    You know, I couldn’t agree more. Someone told me once, that before blogs, people used to write to each other!

    I’d be absolutley lost without digital film! How quickly we forget.

  2. Jerry said, on January 21, 2009 at 5:05 pm

    Perhaps we are getting too old to bleed. Technology has simply surpassed my requirements, and I’ve tired of the endless application upgrade expense—dumping at least half of them. I prefer the creamy signature of the 5D over the 5D II, the display of my older MBP, and Lightroom 2 over Photoshop, staying at CS3 for those have to cases. Can’t wait however for OS 10.6, 64Bit Cocoa.

  3. Paul said, on January 21, 2009 at 6:14 pm

    Amen, brother Paul. Amen. The only other upgrade I’m looking forward to is to get off of the Windoze platform. I should have my Macbook Pro in about 1 month!

    There’s a lot of stress to be had on the bleeding edge, not to mention the high cost of constantly needing Band-Aids!

  4. Seinberg said, on January 21, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    Paul –

    Is it less stressful, or just less frustrating? (Or are they one in the same?)

    I’ve also slowed down a bit on bleeding edge software too (except for programming languages!), but admit I’m intrigued by the Windows 7 Beta. I may install it in a Linux VMWare installation to see how Lightroom and the CS3 suite run on it. I’ve heard good things, even from Mac users who — no offense — tend to be a teensy bit pretentious about their OS 😉

  5. Amy Sakurai said, on January 21, 2009 at 8:40 pm

    Coincidentally I was just now talking with my daughter about an upcoming freeze on software versions on our Macs. My PowerMac G5 is 5 1/2 years old, and my PowerBook G4 is 4 1/2 years old. Neither one will be able to run OS 10.6, and we’ll have to decline application upgrades if 10.6 is a prerequisite. I should buy a copy of iLife just so I’ll have a copy of iDVD that will work under OS 10.5. I can’t afford to upgrade to CS4 right now, but CS3 is working just fine for us. We’re actually current on Microsoft Office, but the significant software where I’m sure to keep up-to-date as long as I can is Lightroom. I pretty much live in Lightroom.

    As a Mac owner since February 1984, I can say that as long as your Macs are running fine, you can just freeze the software and go along merrily, productively for years. My Macs are usually 7 or 8 years old before they get retired. And they’re retired only because I’ve bought a new system – not because the old software and hardware weren’t working well for me.

    Pretentious and Proud to the End (^_^)

  6. matt said, on January 22, 2009 at 8:22 am

    I recently got a new computer and a new version of photoshop, but that was replacing four year old gear. My scanner is older than that, and the average age of my cameras and lenses is closer to 10 years, but I’m shooting film, so I guess that’s to be expected.

    I’d upgrade if there was anything to upgrade to, but for the most part, the advantages of the newer kit seem pretty marginal, and I’m not sure those margins exceed the cost/time of upgrading.

  7. Howard Slavitt said, on January 23, 2009 at 1:30 am

    I was going to hold of on updating my 5D original to the 5D II, to wait until prices dropped a bit, but bought one in a moment of weakness when one popped up for sale on the B&H website. I try to stay off the bleeding edge, but to be a reasonably fast follower when funds permit. I also don’t see a need to upgrade from Photoshop CS 3 to 4. The 5D II is a worthwile upgrade, but familiar enough to the 5D original that it doesn’t feel at all like you’re on the bleeding edge. The extra resolution is substantial, even using it with the 24-105mm lens, which, although not perfect is very very good — I always use DXO Optics Pro for images before I print them — it draws out the extra bit of sharpness that I can’t get in any other way. The LCD screen is fantastic on the 5D II. The other changes to interface, especially the 3 custom function settings on the mode dial, and the My Menu screen for frequently changed settings are also very nice. The 5D II is a great upgrade, while still keeping all the things that I love from my 5D original. I’ll keep both — they’re close enough in operation to use both at the same time when I want two different lenses for a particular setting. . . BTW, I do often hear about how the original 100mm macro is better than the USM version for bokeh — I may pick one up some day.

  8. mark a. said, on January 24, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    The quest for better, faster, newer, more improved is ultimately delusional. One would spend more time pouring over specs of the latest and greatest, when instead one could be out taking pictures. Or processing pictures. Or printing pictures.

    Our cameras, lenses, computers and software should be a means to an end and not the end themselves.

    It’s a lesson I am trying to learn myself, but it’s not easy.

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