Reassessing my Digital Position

I tell myself I’m a big fan of physical media and large cameras. It’s true that I am sweet on those things. But if I’m being honest with myself, truly, I may like those things, but I barely use them. A lot of it is just living out nostalgia. I grew up with SLR film cameras and VHS tapes and cassette tapes and CDs, among other things. It reminds me of my younger years. I’ll always have a special place in my heart for those things. But by the end of the 1990s, I was ripping my CD collection to MP3 format to store on my computer hard drive, and later to load onto my iPods and eventually iPhones. Today, outside of using my car stereo, I don’t really touch CDs. Most of the photography and even video recording I’ve done over the last six to seven years has been on my iPhones or other smartphones. I shoot a lot of random stuff. I’m noticing just how much at the moment now that I’m in the process of uploading them all to Google Photos for the first time.

As for DVDs, Blu-rays and UHD Blu-rays. I do still pop them on every so often, but I’ve also spent the last couple years ripping discs to my computer for use with my Plex server and before that my PS4 as a media player. I’ve also been doing the whole video streaming thing since I first signed up for Netflix back in 2011.  Though currently I don’t have Netflix. I cancelled it at the beginning of this year. Just have Prime now and Apple TV+ that I got for a year for free with my new iPad. Which I just started a couple weeks ago. So I’ll have that until next August. But I did have Netflix for nearly a decade. I’ve had Hulu once or twice and HBO a few times. As well as HBO Max recently. Also Funimation a couple times. But the streaming service I use the most is Youtube. Just regular good old (free) Youtube.

I use these services (along with my Plex server) way more than I touch discs these days.
In fact, just a few days back I put on my blu-ray of the movie Oblivion. The reason I watched it on blu-ray rather then Plex, was because I was testing out the audio. Turns out Roku (my Plex player of choice) doesn’t support any uncompressed audio standards. It only supports Dolby Digital and DTS, no Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD MA, which my AV Receiver supports. So that’s a downer. That said, considering I’m just noticing it now and I’ve been using this setup for the last couple years, that means it’s not such a big deal to me. Though, now that I know, it does give me reason to pop on the Blu-ray if it’s a movie with one of those surround sound types. So I may be doing that more often.

I also have to watch my UHD Blu-rays off the disc because I don’t have a way to rip them yet. My Blu-ray burner doesn’t read them. I would need to drop some coin on a new drive. But I also only have five movies and two seasons of Stranger Things on UHD Blu-ray, so it’s not like I have a lot of movies on that format. Which is why I’m not running out to buy a new drive. In fact after buying that initial handful of movies, I stopped buying the UHD Blu-ray format because of the added cost and the inability to rip them… yet. Mostly the cost. While some movies look better with HDR, 4K UHD doesn’t do a lot for me. At this point the cost-to-benefit ratio isn’t right for me. The quality isn’t that much better to pay that much more for the 4K UHD version. Once the cost of those discs drop to where current Blu-rays prices are (if they do, I hope they do), then I will start buying more. In fact, for the moment I’ve stopped buying altogether unless I find a good price on a used Blu-ray. Nothing brand new for a while. I think the last brand new Blu-ray I bought was Legend (1985) and that was September 19, 2019, almost exactly one year ago.

The point is, I use digital files way more than I use physical media. I also use my smartphone as a camera way more than I use dedicated cameras. Pretty much all of my family photos and home videos are shot on my current smartphone and have been for over half a decade or more now. It’s just easier and the quality is good. At the moment I’m using an iPhone 8+ which is a model that is a few years old at this point. It shoots great 12 megapixel photos from one of two lenses and it shoots 4K video at 60fps. Which is the frame rate I prefer to shoot home videos at.
Stereo audio might be nice and maybe a few other features. Much of which I could get right now by just buying one of the newer models.
As it is though, the quality is great given enough light. So I use it and love using it. I’m also a big fan of the portrait mode it offers.
In truth, the iPhone is just more fun to use than my bigger cameras and certainly more handy. There, I said it.

[Update: December 4th, 2020]
I think it’s hilarious that not even twenty days after writing this I pick up five new blu-rays from the dollar store. Granted they were only a dollar and I mentioned price was a factor in whether or not I purchase physical media. Yesterday I also made it to my local Best Buy and picked up the steelbook of Transformers The Last Knight. I own all the other Transformers movies (yeah I like those movies, even if they aren’t great) on blu-ray that I bought used or new on sale. That was the last one I needed to get. At only $8 to complete the collection, plus being a steelbook (which I like), it was hard to pass up. So apparently yeah, I’m buying blu-rays again. At least when the price is right.

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