Are Cameras Designed to Age Gracefully?

design mind has an interesting post titled “Aged to Perfection” that explores the issue of whether or not consumer gadgets age gracefully as time and use wear them down. They specifically compare a 3-year-old iPhone with a 7-year-old Canon compact film camera:

The camera’s emulated metallic finish is only surface-deep and its wear tends to emphasizes awkward artifacts of the injection molding process used to create it. At this point the Canon camera’s shell looks like garbage while the iPhone’s is starting to resemble something more like an heirloom pocket watch.

They also make the point that a product’s original “new” look normally only lasts a brief amount of time, while the user is forced to live with the “aged” look as the product decays. It would be interesting to see how modern cameras compare in terms of their “aged” look rather than what they look like out of the box. Have your cameras aged well?

Aged to Perfection (via Wired)

Image credit: Photographs by Remy Labesque of design mind

  • DIY Film

    Mine seem to have aged pretty well (that is to say, they haven’t really – other than the design concepts, of course), except for the Canon PowerShots that I run CHDK on for timelapse – mostly because they’re cheap, so I put them in situations where they’re likely to get banged up or crushed anyway.

    But, I’ve still got my almost 9 year old Nikon D100 body that looks in pretty tip top condition aside from a bit of rubbing off on some of the text. Still works, shutter still going strong, and I still use it at least a couple of times a month. :)

  • Johannes

    As long as digital cameras are evolving at the rate that they are still doing, there is really no need to have them age gracefully. Sure the iphone looks like a heirloom that has been in a family for centuries. After what? Not even five years?
    Nobody is going to touch a contemporary digital device in 30 years unless he is a in a museum or a vintage electronics geek. So why spend money to make them look good in five?
    As long as the technology has not matured, there is no reason to spend money on making these things age gracefully.

  • Steve

    I have a very well used and not always well treated Canon powershot A550 and it looks nothing like the camera in the photograph. You’d have to work pretty hard to get one to look like that. Maybe someone should tell the owner that the case should be wipes with a soft cloth as opposed to emery paper!

  • Azalea Wynters

    My current camera (a Canon) is about 5 years old and it still looks perfectly new though I’ve been using it quite heavily. It all depends on how you treat it.

    And the iPhone looks like it’s 30 years old and not 3… I don’t know what the owner was doing with it (scraping it with a nail file? beating against walls?). There are phones which are much older but look much better.

  • Anonymous

    I miss the brassing that you used to find on cameras of old. With today’s throwaway society that’s no longer the case.

  • francis’ foto

    LOl Pocket watch my a$$. It looks just like the cam to me. Not my mid 40s Brownie, that aged awesome! And still works!

  • Adam Solomon

    My AE-1’s look great. ;-)

    The i-phone looks like an heirloom? Sounds more like the writer’s Steve Jobs’ brand iTurtleneck is a couple sizes too small.

  • Patrick Potts

    Really? They both look like garbage. Good god, I wish the writer would stop blowing Apple and take a damn look around. :P

    You know what doesn’t look like garbage? My Yashica. My Minolta. My Canon. :P Please, I have a 25 year old pocket watch that looks new, that iPhone looks like any other result of globalized manufacturing.

  • cyclone
    My D80 after 100k actuations. Looks pretty much the same now and died after 132,810 clicks, I was impressed.

  • carlobambino

    They don’t build them like they used to.  Cell phones don’t age well.  Point and shoot digicams made of plastic are doomed.  Only things built to higher standards and with better materials will withstand hard or prolonged use.  It matters how you care for them also.  Many professional photojournalists are proud of their battered equipment, and rightly so.  If the equipment functions well after hard use, it is a dependable and valuable tool for the job.  I have a 1937 Leica IIIa.  I use this camera quite a lot.  It works like new and looks it too.  This machine HAS aged gracefully.

  • carlobambino

    I can understand that you are impressed that the shutter lasted that long, but doesn’t it disappoint you that the camera is useless now?  It looks like you took care of it.  Right?  It should continue to work.  I mean, it’s only five years old, man!

  • cyclone

     No not really.  It’s paid for itself many times over and the newer generations of camera are much better.  It’s a pretty cool and different ornament now.  My D700 will probably hit 90k today, I wonder how long it has left!