Analog Photography in a Digital World: The Phenomenology and Contemporary Status of the Single Lens Reflex Camera

Angjelin Hila


Digital photography has eclipsed its analog form, yet films cameras such as the Single Lens Reflex camera remain in use. This essay interrogates the status of the SLR camera in contemporary culture through a phenomenological lens to interrogate how, as a tool, it alters the user’s relationship to the world. It then situates the SLR camera in the broader historical narrative of photographic technology and explores the contemporary relationship of the SLR camera to digital infrastructure. The essay proposes the notion of the “equipment-context” to refer to the broader cultural and institutional infrastructure that sustains SLR technology in the present environment. It contends that present interest in SLR cameras arises in context with an interest in film photography as a marginalized technology and aesthetic fetishization of the limited flexibility of older photographic cameras, and that the resuscitation of the SLR camera in contemporary culture brings it into dialogue with digital devices resulting in a hybrid of analog and digital. 

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