This image of my friend Adam shooting pictures last weekend got me thinking about how digital cameras have evolved into one of the most popular items carried on mountain bike rides. I’d rank mine right behind water, food, repair tool, pump and spare tube.
It didn’t used to be this way. Ten years ago, virtually none of my riding partners carried cameras, and I did so only occasionally. Good SLRs were (and still are) so heavy that carrying them was a pain in the ass, and so expensive that the idea of destroying one in a crash was worse than the thought of getting hurt. Point-and-shoot film cameras weren’t much lighter, and the quality of images they produced could be pretty marginal.
Today I carry a camera about the same size as a deck of cards. Its 2GB memory card isn’t much bigger than a corn flake, but holds something like 600 or 700 high-resolution images. I bought the whole damn setup for $200, which is less than I used to pay for enough film, processing and printing to get 600 snapshots.
Although it doesn’t allow me the full manual control of a digital SLR, my digital point-and-shoot gives me an amazing number of microchip-assisted frills that no film camera ever could. And it’s so light that I can attach it to the chest strap of a Camelbak and forget it’s there.
And maybe best of all, it’s cheap enough that if I smash it to pieces in a crash, I'll be a little bummed out, but I won’t lose any sleep over it. Every year, these little cameras get better and cheaper.
I wish we could say the same thing about suspension systems.