What if people like the new normal?

2020/07/03

There is now a push everywhere to end the lock down arguing “lets get back to normal“.

But nobody is asking the question whether old normal is the best normal.

So what is the “normal”? Was commuting in packed trains a normal thing? Or getting stuck in rush hour traffic is normal? Rushing to school every morning is the normal?

There is no denying the fact that overall creativity of the population has flourished. I observed this empirically based on how many in friends and family circle started writing poems, stories, paintings, drama and much more.

I myself wrote an app for the masses (download link in the right hand side) of this blog.

All these could have been very difficult, if not impossible, during “old normal” way of working. By no means people are working less productively. In fact, productivity of people have increased because people are wasting less time in office (well they can’t as they are not travelling to offices).

Not all work can be done from home. True but there are plenty of works which can be done remotely.

Those who are advocating loss of productivity when working remotely, are actually fearful of few things:

  • Office based politics – often the perception of hard work is more important than actual metrics of the output. In a physical office, it is much easier to show off your input. This gives an extra advantage for extroverts. Whereas in lock down, introverts are in slightly better position as they can flourish their creativity (both work and personal life) without interruptions.
  • Lack of team building / socialisation with colleagues – yes, this is missing while WFH. But why the assumption is most people actually enjoyed it? After work socialisation is often enjoyed by younger crowed in large towns (e.g. London). There are plenty of online socialisation meetings happening. Though I admit not everyone enjoys online socialization.

Now we must tackle the big issue – the loss of jobs. Corona virus pandemic has led to unprecedented job losses around the world and worst is yet to come.  Some industry segments (like hospitality, travel etc.) are affected more than others.

When a big change happens, there are usually 2 ways to counter it – either adapt or resist. Most people are in resist mode and argue everything should go back to old normal mode.  But the winners would be who are ready to adapt and embed new normal culture.

Plenty of businesses have adapted very well. Most desk based jobs are already happening remotely. Many schools have started teaching remotely. While the experience is slightly different, there is no proof that it is worse than old normal.

If in real life people work from home, why not make it mandatory for schools to also teach remote at least 1-2 days per week after life goes back to old normal?

Why people who started to like the new normal should be forced to go back to old normal?

One big issue of accepting new normal is the way we measure well beings. It is roughly on money also known as GDP. But GDP is detached from human wellbeings. One can earn a lot and still be miserable. Many of the high earners actually discovered how they enjoyed being out of rat-race.

I appreciate this is a sensitive and somewhat controversial issue but Darwin said it is not the most intelligent who survives but the most adaptable create survives on the cycle of evolution.

So let us be realistic and assume that life will not fully go back to old normal and better not to force people to go back to old normal. Let us focus on rebuilding our economies and well beings be embracing the new normal.

Everyone should be given a choice of whether they want to go back to old normal or enjoy new normal (or even best of both worlds by mixing old and new normal).

All the best to humanity.

 

 

 

Why A380 failed?

2020/06/15

In spite of being an engineering marvel, the mighty Airbus A380 was a commercial failure.

This is because A380 was designed for hub-and-spoke aviation model. In this scenario, it was envisaged that passengers from smaller airports (= spoke) would fly to larger (= hub) airports and from there they would fly on A380.

But this operating model is no longer popular. Passengers now prefer to fly from point to point directly. Comparatively smaller aircrafts like Boeing B787 or Airbus A350 are suitable for this model.

In fact, the operating cost of A380 is more than two B787 combined operating cost! This makes B787 lot more sensible to run compared to A380.

The aircrafts like B787 has very long range too. This makes long distance point to point flying model commercially profitable.

Work From Home (WFH) – boon or bane?

2020/05/26

Following the pandemic, there has been lot of discussion on remote working. Some are predicting end of office working culture while others are arguing we shall be back to offices once lock down is over.

Let us examine this using an analytical perspective.

In most IT organizations, work from home (WFH) is already common. Many workers work at least 1 day/week from home already (pre-pandemic). So we can say 80-20 office:home culture was already there. Now the big question is, post lockdown whether it would be one of these:

[1] 80-20 i.e. pre-pandemic level commute
[2] 20-80 i.e. 4 day WFH + 1 day office
[3] 0-100 – WFH = current lock down model

There was a pre-lockdown perception that WFH model is not efficient for productive working. However, the forceful adoption of WFH has proven it wrong. More or less people’s productivity remained the same in 100% WFH model. Businesses have adopted very quickly to the new model. IT industry is no stranger to remote working, especially those with large offshore teams for last 20 years.

There is no research showing people work less productively when working remotely. In fact, not having to do a long commute (either driving or using crowded public transport) makes employees more charged up. The 8-hour work day was based on industrial age. In current service based economy, it is the outcome that matters – whether someone produces it in 4 hours or 8 hours is irrelevant.

In fact, WFH may increase productivity. While working in offices, employees often tend to show off work. A lot of time is wasted in schmoozing in kitchen area. People stay late to feign being busy. Hang on too long to submit output even when done, because they don’t want to show it delivering before deadline as next plannings would be based on current delivery timelines.

WFH is very different. Since no one is actively watching employees, if one can finish the work off in 6 hours, s/he would get 2 hours spare time to do his/her own work. As long as output is of professional and acceptable quality, employer has little to complain if workers are working less than 8 hours. This would drive employees to be more productive.

In many cases, one simply wait while waiting for feedback on previous delivery. While sitting at office desk, this time could be hardly used productively. While WFH, employees can do lot their own stuff and then get back to work once the feedback lands on their inbox.

Some employees prefer to work from office because they are better at climbing corporate ladder easier by just being there. Many employees want to be in the forefront of decision makers/higher management so that they are in the front line for promotions. In general, it is harder for remote workers to get appreciations. This is because decision makers tend to believe (not always a logical thing) those whom they can see are working harder. So in short term, this will cause some impact. However, once WFH embeds in culture this issue will diminish over time.

From employers’ point of view, an immediate cost saving is not having to maintain large offices at expensive cities like London. If WFH becomes mainstream, workers do not need to live near to offices as they would not commute during rush hours any more. This can help them moving to country side where they can afford larger homes with gardens – thus improving overall well-being of their families.

Some people might miss the after work hang-around-to-pub culture though – but that varies from person to person.

Covid19 – potential exit strategy

2020/04/24
Disclaimer:
Please note that things are changing very fast on Corona virus. Scientists are working hard to find a vaccine. Hence, the content of this blog could become out of date very soon. This blog is for information purpose only and does not constitute as medical advise. Always follow the advise from your doctor and relevant medical authority in your country.
How can lock down be lifted?
The key question for most part of the world is now how to end the lock down without a massive risk of life of citizens.

As of this writing, there is no known cure for Covid19.

If nothing is done, entire population will eventually catch the virus and around 1% of them will die.

If we could confirm who are immune to the virus then we can easily identify the vulnerable and ask everyone else to carry on with life as usual. However, the problem is, other than identifying aged people (e.g. those with 65 years and above) and those with existing health conditions (e.g. obesity, cardiac issues, diabetes etc.) there is no finer way to identify the risk group. Even them, some young and healthy people are randomly affected in a serious manner, even resulting to death!

Millions of people around the world have got infected with Covid19. Some have suffered no or mild symptoms only. However, due to very little testing carried out, majority of people who think they have got Covid19 and recovered, have no way to confirm that that is actually the case!

The crux of the problem here is how to identify people who got Covid19, then recovered and thus assumed immune to it. These people can then come out of lock down and start leading a pre-Covid19 life.

So how do you confirm this? This is where the difficulty lies.

Presence of the virus can be confirmed in 2 ways – swab test and antibody test.

The swab test shows if the virus is present at the point in time (when patient is tested).

WhatsApp Image 2020-04-24 at 12.08.57
The antibody test can detect patients who suffered and recovered but up to a certain period of time. The big unknowns are [1] how long antibody will remain in the body [2] whether the antibody is due to Covid19 only or for some other viruses.

Although there are cases for person being affected again after recovery, but in this writing we are assuming subsequent infection would not be fatal .

Now if we take a person A, who got infected by Covid19 but suffered only mild symptoms and recovered after 21 days, then the question remains how to prove it? He can be tested for antibody and if IgG antibody is found, a reasonable conclusion can be drawn that person A is immune from Covid19 going forward.

But this approach has a major hurdle. Firstly, antibody test is not yet available to everyone. Secondly, by the time antibody test is available to everyone, the concerned person may have lost the antibody from his blood stream. In this case, it is back to square one!

WhatsApp Image 2020-04-24 at 12.12.16
This person is now in same position like one who has never caught Covid19 before (say person B).

To the public, person A is having same risk of person B. But in reality person A is possibly immune and carry far less risk than person B. But there is no way to prove it.

For person B, there is a risk that he could suffer mild symptom or sever symptom and could even die.

If the immunity can be proved beyond doubt, then it is a valid exit strategy.

Without proper tests, we have to adopt any of following situations.

[1] Lives saved but economy damaged

Continue lock down indefinitely. If everyone remains isolated, no one will get infected, hence no one is contagious and no new person gets infected. But this will destroy the economy and livelihood of billions of people. This is not acceptable solution to public – even though this is actually best solution for saving maximum amount of lives. After sometime public may revolt and might just start their normal life anyway.

[2] Economy survives but high number of casualties

Allow people to carry on as usual and achieve so called herd immunity. This means allowing everyone to catch the virus and accept 1% death of overall population. Effectively a situation a very large number of random people will die. This scenario does not try to prevent infection, rather relies entirely on individual’s body immunity to tackle the virus.

What is the future then? Well, only time will tell.

Thanks to Dr Somnath Mukherjee and Dr Shyam Das for their inputs.

How life changes pre and post pandemic

2020/04/14

How the world is changing post Corona virus pandemic?

The table below and the attached PDF presentation explains the life before and after the Covid19 pandemic.

View this document on Scribd

Post Pandemic World

Parameter Pre pandemic Post pandemic
Way of working Work from office Work from home
Learning, teaching From school, university etc. Online learning
Meetings Face to face Online
Seeing medics Doctor examines patient physically Doctor examines patient over video conference for basic diagnosis and prescription
Shopping Physically in store (especially for grocery) Online grocery shopping
Commuting Car, public transport – more fuel use Not necessary due to home working – less fuel use
Social visits More Less
Events – concert, sports, movies Mostly physical visits Less physical visits or watch online only
Perception of prestigious professions Celebrities, politicians, high paid jobs Key workers e.g. medics, delivery drivers, supermarket workers etc.
Healthcare Less focus on national healthcare More focus on national healthcare
Healthcare – personal Gym Gym at home, walking, running, cycling
Political beliefs Predominantly capitalistic Shifting towards socialism
Personal freedom More Less – movements could be legally tracked

This blog was written during lock down period and reflected what happened during the lock down period, but some of the trends mentioned below likely to continue once lock down is lifted.

 

Post pandemic economic recovery

2020/03/26

1. The Problem – micro view

1.1. Theory

Let us explain very basic economic theory first. Below is Cost Volume Profit graph.

Pandemic1

Figure 1

Every business has cost, with 2 main components – fixed cost and variable cost. Fixed cost includes things like cost of machinery, premises, staff salary etc. Crucially, it also includes interest payment on loan – assuming all businesses have some debt which is loan taken from bank and/or investors to raise the capital. The variable cost is often proportional to revenue or sales.

Here we shall use the term sales and revenue interchangeably, to denote earning of the business.

If a business procures more number of product units, higher quantity raw material needs to be purchased – so this is how it linked with revenue. So this is the variable part of the cost.

The earning is shown by blue line. The expense is shown by red line the above graph.

We know the simple formula, Profit = Revenue – Cost

If profit is negative, then it becomes loss. This is same as saying, Savings = Income – Expense.

A business needs to pay tax on profit – so tax is also a cost. But for simplicity, we leave tax out of our discussion.

The point, where revenue becomes more than cost, is known as breakeven point. Until the business reaches this point, it is loss making. Once business is way past breakeven point on the right, it is profitable. In fact, all business tries to move as much right as possible for sustained growth and profit.

A business can borrow more (cost goes up as interest payment) to increase revenue (more sales), resulting in more profit. Now, how much a business needs to borrow in order to increase profit is a complex calculation which depends on type of industry, business strategy, market condition and many other factors.

At normal time, all businesses operate in an equilibrium. Business pays interest to bank, buys the raw materials from suppliers, manufacturers product in factory, pays salary to employees and sells products to customers who pay the price and so on. For a service based business, the theory is still the same. Here, instead of producing items in factory, the company sells intellectual expertise of their employees.

1.2. Recession

Let us see what happens in a recession. The pandemic has led to people being fearful and cities have been locked down to encourage social distancing. As a consequence, all sales have gone down (except very few like supermarket shopping where people are stockpiling for the Armageddon).

Due to very low (or nothing at all) sales, the revenue curve will flat out. However, the fixed cost component will remain mostly the same. This means, for a long time, the business will not make any profit.

Pandemic2

Figure 2

This is shown in above figure. Note that we are now showing time on horizontal axis.

While cost of the business also falls due to less sales, the revenue falls rapidly as people are scared away from purchasing. This will drive down the businesses into further loss.

How quickly a business comes to grinding halt, again depends on industry, geography, mitigation factors etc. For example, airline industry, which has a high fixed cost (as the cost of flying a plane with one passenger vs 300 passengers almost the same) are already near bankruptcy.

For a person, disaster does not strike as soon as he or she loses job (i.e. salary stops coming). This is because the person can still sail thru troubled times using own savings. Here savings is the money in bank saved during good time.

However, a person becomes bankrupt when his/her savings become zero and cannot pay for anything anymore.

Similarly, a business does not go bust just because it is making loss. A lot of businesses, especially those like start-ups, make losses during initial years. However, they carry on as long as investors pump out money to them. This is cash flow.

A business goes bust only when it runs out of cash.

In normal time, a business can increase their cash reserve by adding the profit to their cash reserve.  Every business has a finite amount of cash reserve. The amount again depends on industry, strategy, demand etc.

Also as the demand falls during recession, the supplies must also go down as more competitors now try to get a slice of same shrinking market. This further drives many businesses into downward spiral of lower sales thus more losses.

As businesses go into losses, they start laying off employees, which collectively reduces further demand on the market, leading to panic and mayhem.

2. The cause – macro view

2.1. Pre-pandemic

Here we shall take a step back and discuss how the world economy (mostly capitalism or market driven economic model) works.

Our economy is underpinned by the banks and the government. The depositors (i.e. common people) deposit money in the bank. Let us say a bank collected £1000 from depositors. The bank will pay a tiny interest to the savers. Bank will earn money by lending money to borrowers (for starting business, buying house etc.) at a higher interest. The different between interest earned and interest paid (from bank’s point of view) is the profit for the bank.

But the twist is fractional reserve. This is adopted almost universally worldwide. Under this model, if a bank has only £1000 deposit it can create more money out of thin air, while lending. So basically the banks are allowed to lend more than the actual money they have. In our example, a bank can lend £10000 to borrowers! This means, the bank has created 9 times more money (1000 + 9000) than the real deposit amount. This fictitious money is then lent to people and businesses. This fictitious money is the debt.

Our economy is debt driven economy.

In olden days, when gold was used as currency, fictitious money was not possible. Once the banks introduced fiat currency, by abandoning gold standard, banks got the freedom of create fictional money and debt.

The fiat currency is what our bank notes are. These have no intrinsic value (unlike gold etc.) but people use it as if it has purchasing power purely driven by trust as guaranteed by the government.

Creating this fictional money is not necessarily evil per se. Had the bank not created fictional money, it could have lent only £1000 (in our example) to people who wanted to buy houses or start businesses. However, by creating fictional money of £9000 more, bank is able to lend to more people, enabling more people to buy their dream houses or fund their own businesses. In theory, it actually elevates more people into better life. When we say better life, this is by more consumption of goods and services. With more transactions, nation’s GDP goes up.

As long as continuous growth is happening, everyone is happy in this model. This is why all politicians and big businesses love growth. It makes everyone feel good.

Thus, in a debt driven economy, more money is analogous to having better life.

2.2. Post pandemic

Things become dramatically different during and after pandemic!

As everyone borrows more and more, the debt burden increases. Remember, all debts are to be paid off someday! In normal time, people do not think much for paying of debt. The house price mostly goes up. So even if house owners default on mortgage, the bank can repossess the house and can sell at a higher value than outstanding mortgage amount. So even if individual business or people are bankrupt, the country level economy (known as macro economy) pulls thru as usual.

During pandemic time, the revenue of most businesses fall so low, that most business cannot make profit at all. The business will also default on their loan payments and soon become bankrupt. With millions of people becoming jobless it will be a national calamity.

The government, as in any recession, usually intervenes. This is done by financial stimulus like printing money (known as Quantitative Easing) and reduces interest rate to encourage business to borrow money and sail thru the cash flow issue.

The important part is, government will give further loans to businesses. These loans are meant to be paid back when situation improves.

This will lead to a situation depicted in the next graph.

Pandemic3Figure 3

The key message here is that with even more debt (on top of existing debt) most businesses will not be able to see profit for a very long time. So they are going to see cash flow problem again after some time, requiring another bail out. This will lead to even more debt – which will increase the fixed cost even more as interest payment will also go up and this cycle will continue for foreseeable future.

No business can run in loss forever (only exception is some nationalized public services). Unless the shareholders/investors see some return on their investment, they will not be interested in paying money to the business.

This is a deflationary economy, dreaded by all. Whereas deflation did happen in the past, this time, clubbed with the pandemic (i.e. loss of lives) the blow will be huge.

The philosophy of the capitalism is survival of the fittest. In capitalism, people with more money are considered better off. People with more money can have a better life. But a pandemic, affects rich and poor equally. Hence, if money does not improve people’s lives, people may not be willing to increase their earning more. Thus the fabrics of run after money philosophy fails!

Although, even during pandemic, the rich and powerful in somewhat privileged as they are able to get tested for COVID19 whereas normal people cannot unless they are serious ill and rich people can still buy essentials at an inflated price from black marketeers.

3. The solution

I admit that I do not know what the solution is. If I were that intelligent, I would have received Nobel prize by now. But still, we can make some attempt to find a solution that may work.

One option could be writing all the debt off for everyone. This means everyone can start with a clean slate. This will help majority of the people. But this will not go very well with the banks and the government. Why?

Because in debt driven economy, the control of economy in the hands of privileged few, namely the banks and the government. If debts are written off, their own flow of income will stop. They will also not be able to control the population saying work hard else you will die starving.

From historical times, society has mostly been unequal rather than equal. Even in Ancient Egypt, there were rich and almighty pharaohs and slaves who served the riches. As the folktales say, when Moses tried to free the slaves, the pharaoh refused. Among many other tricks, the God of slaves unleashed a plague which affected pharaohs’ family only and spared the slaves’ families.

The analogy here is illustrating that rich and powerful always controlled the masses – in olden days with fear of death and in modern days’ fear of (lack of) money!

Usually in recession the government often bails out (i.e. provide cash to big businesses as loan) but this seldom goes to employees. Big corporations claim these saves the jobs, but alternatively, government can help everyone by giving them money directly in the form of Universal Basic Income (also known as Unconditional Basic Income i.e. not means tested). The unconditional basic income is claimed to be easier to manage than means tested benefit system. If this scheme is adopted, the big corporations can simply fail if they cannot run their business efficiently.

The other path could be gift economy. It mode of exchange where valuables are not traded or sold, but rather given without an explicit agreement for immediate or future rewards. This is like catching fish to eat but not catching too much to make a big profit. This model already works in Open Source Software where people write software for others for free and users can donate if they wish. Couch Surfing as another such example where people stay in others’ homes during holidays without paying anything.

Designing an alternate economy model is extremely complex and beyond the scope of this article. My aim here is to drive the thought process of everyone so that collectively we may invent something more egalitarian than greed driven economy.

 

Why the Great Pyramids are still standing?

2019/06/24

The Great Pyramids at Giza, Egypt are 5000 years old. It is astounding that such old structures are still standing. This is why they are considered among the most notable ancient wonders of the world.

A common question asked by public is that how come such old structure is still standing today yet some modern structures have fallen apart.

Let us understand the engineering principle and philosophy behind these legendary structures.

The pyramids were built as tombs – the resting place of mighty pharaohs!

These pyramids are built of lime stones and granite. Effectively these are huge rocks weighing 2500 kg each on average.

From the engineering point of view, the pyramids are built using compression elements only. A modern concrete building consists of columns, beams and slabs. The columns only carry compression force. However, the beams and slabs carry both compression and tension forces.

If you take a beam, for example, which is subjected to a load on its top, the areas above the center line will experience compression where as the area below the center line will experience tension. Concrete is weak in tension so reinforced steel bars must be placed inside concrete the carry then tension force. Any bending force on any structural member will introduce both compression and tension forces.

Rocks cannot carry tension forces. They will be break if they are designed to carry tension. But, they are extremely good at carrying compression forces! The blocks in pyramids were designed to carry compression forces only. They do not experience any kind of bending force, hence no resultant tensile stress because of this.

Also, as pyramids housed the deads only (excuse the pun), there are no moving mechanisms inside them. A modern house has lots of moving parts like doors, windows (opening/closing), water flowing thru pipes etc. The act of people living inside houses causes some wear and tear.

The pyramids experienced no such wear and tear arising from its inhabitants – because they were dead anyway. However, we need to keep in mind that pyramids experienced great forces of nature in the form of erosion and vandalism by humans over thousands of years.

The other important aspect contributing their longevity is the arid weather in the desert. The lack of moisture in the atmosphere meant there were no water trapped between joints in the structure. The blocks were placed so that they kind of attached to each other like Lego. They did use some mortars though. In other parts of the world, some water would have invariably trapped inside those mortars and would have expanded causing cracks. But in arid weather, there was no such thing of water expansion – because there were no water in the first place.

So to phrase it differently, if the pyramids were built in tropical area, say inside Amazon rain forest, it would have been experienced a different kind of destructive forces like water ingress and roots from trees. In fact, this is how a more modern (comparatively) Ankor Wat temple complex got deteriorated over shorter span of time.

In spite of all these, there is no equivalent yet for the Great Pyramids.

Can phone camera photo quality is same as those from bigger cameras?

2018/05/02

With nearly everyone on the planet now shooting with phone cameras and standalone camera sales falling gradually, there is question everyone is asking whether proper camera takes better photos!

 

The, short answer(s)

In bright daylight and in outdoor, a good phone camera takes nearly as good photos as more expensive proper camera (with some caveats).

In low light (e.g. night) and some challenging situations (e.g. sports, wildlife etc.), a proper camera takes much better photos than phone cameras.

IQ

Now lets us delve into the details.

Phone cameras have tiny sensors. Sensors are analogous to films in flim cameras (if you can still remember them) which actually receive the light and capture the images. Thumb rule is that, bigger the sensor, better the light gathering capability and better the image quality. However, besides sensors, the lenses play a big role too. A better lens gathers better light without any distortion which makes images sharper. A larger lens with larger opening (known as aperture in photographic terms) will gather more light which would result in better photo – especially at low light.

 

Different cameras have different sensor sizes. This is shown in following table.

Sensor type Sensor area (sq. mm.)
Full frame/ 35-mm equivalent

High end DSLR/mirrorless cameras

Nikon FX, Canon D, Sony A7

860
APS-C (Advanced Photo System – Crop)
Most entry level DSLR cameras like Nikon DX, Canon EF, Fujifilm X, Sony A6
368
Micro Four Third (MFT or M43)

Panasonic Lumix, Olympus PEN/OM-D

225
1 inch

Sony RX, Panasonic FZ etc.

116
appx 1/2.5 inch
Many compact and phone cameras
incl. Apple iPhone, Samsung Galaxy etc.
25

Note: Often same manufacturers have cameras with different sensor sizes. So, always check the spec sheet before buying a camera.

 

As you can gather, a phone camera typically has sensor size (area) which is 10-15 times smaller than sensors in typical DSLR (APS-C) cameras! Thus, a phone camera will gather that much less light compared to an APS-C sensor size camera.

 

Now, considering larger cameras have bigger lenses, field of view i.e. how much you can capture in your frame, is also larger. With a phone camera you may find struggling to fit all of your friends in a group photo but with a proper camera and wide angle lens, you can easily push your friends back (optically – no physically) to get the shot. Phone cameras are useless for wild life (unless it is stuffed animal). Larger cameras with telephone lens can bring animals closer (optically) to you for the great shots. This is indicated by the crop factor in above table.

 

For normal travel photos, phone cameras are find in 80-90% of the cases. People usually visit famous landmarks in daylight where phone cameras do good enough jobs.

 

If you view your photos in iPad size screen, you may not see the difference between phone camera and proper camera photo quality. But if you view in large screen HD TV screen (e.g. 50 inch and above) you are likely to see the difference. Phone camera photos are likely to demonstrate visible grains.

 

Are prime lenses over hyped?

2018/05/01
In case you are not aware, a prime lens is a fixed focus lens i.e. not a zoom lens.
Your phone camera is a prime lens. If your phone has 2 lenses then each of those are prime lenses.
Many older film cameras and some modern digital cameras come with a fixed prime lens.
Photographic world is mad about prime lens and often you will be crucified if you speak against prime lens and in favour of zoom lens :o)
But in this post, I shall explain why prime lens is not for everyone.
The prime lens is adored by photographers because of its simplified optical construction (compared to a zoom lens) resuting in better image quality i.e. more sharpness etc.
That claim is true – prime lens does produce better image over most zoom lenses. They also have larger aperture like F/2.8 or even F/1.4 (but not always). Larger aperture allows you to take better shots in low light.
Purists also claim that a prime lens will make you a better photographer as you have to move around for best composition/framing.
Then everyone should only shoot using prime lenses – right?
Well, not always – especially if you are an amateur photographer and use your camera for shooting travel photography with family.
  • Loss of flexibility – A zoom lens provides flexibility. Most of the time zoom lens come with your camera (kit lens) and is good enough for general/travel photography. It allows you to successfully frame a wide architectureal shots and also a portrait when needed – without changing lense. Most kit zoom lenses are 18-55 (in APS-C cameras) or 27-70 (in full frame) which offers both wide and medium telephoto ends. A zoom lens is way more versatile.
  • Price – While some prime lenses are cheaper they often cost more than kit lenses. So buying a prime lens (unless you have specific use in mind) purely based on internet forum advice, is an unnecessary expense.
  • Image Quality – Yes, prime lenses take better shots than kit lenses. But not to that extent as purists in internet forums make you believe. If you view photos side by side (prime vs zoom) with 100% blown up in large computer/TV screen, you would most likely see some difference. But for most folks who views photo no larger than iPad or 50-60 inch TV screens or prints at most A4 sizes, such image quality improvement would be visible. Purists often compare by shooting charts and brick walls where defficiency of zoom lens is more visible. But in real life, such quality difference is hardly noticable – especially where what you shoot is more important than little bit of extra sharpness.
  • Confusion – With a zoom lens, on an instant you can choose your focal lenth by rotating lens dial. But with prime lens you will have following confusion:
    • Which focal length (of prime lens) to buy? Should it be 16 mm, 23 mm, 35 mm or 85 mm?
    • Purists will advise you to buy all of those for different situations.
    • You will end of spending a lot of money to buy all those.
    • You will carry lot of weight by lugging all those lenses on your shoulder bag during holidays.
    • You will end up missing scenes and getting dust in sensors while changing lenses in outdoors.
    • You will end up wasting time on internet forums to analzye whether sharpness is as it should be in your photos.
    • By doing all the above, you will shoot fewer photos and enjoy less during holidays (OK – not for everyone but for most).
  • Variation – If you shoot all your holiday photos with same focal length (assuming you carry only one lens) then your shots could become boring to look at. Now this is somewhat contentious. Many people do shoot amazing photos with their fixed lens smartphones. A good photographer can produce masterpieces with any camera. But an average photographer will do better with zoom lens. Also, often you can’t physically zoom with your feet (as purists often advice) due to structural constraints. Again, purists will argue to that this should force you to shoot creatively. But for most people, bringing back memories of family standing in front of whole Taj Mahal is propbably more important than shooting only one minerate (depending on your fixed focal length) with one kid outside the frame! You can simulate same creativity by locking your zoom lens into specific focal length and by behaving as if you are shooting with prime. If you get frustrated and feel the urge to rotate the zoom lens for desire focal length, then prime lens is not for your. Purists will mock you by saying lazy if you don’t move around for getting best angle, but I think there is nothing wrong in being lazy.
  • Fast lens can be counter productive – You can get some amazing background blur (bokeh) using large aperture like F/1.8 but it will also turn your depth of field very narrow! You can shoot candle light portrait using that aperture but to keep your kids as well as Eiffel Tower on background in focus, you need to shoot using smaller aperture (e.g. F/8 etc.) where prime lens has not much advantage over a zoom lens on same aperture.
I understand I shall be frowned upon by purists but this is my opinion based on experience.

Why film cameras are making a comeback?

2018/04/26
Film cameras at the moment covers only a niche corner in photography market. However, in recent years, their popularity has gone up for the first time after the mass consumption of digital photography.
The major disadvantages of film photography are:
  1. Not being able to view the photo immediately after shooting. So no corrective action is possible while being on the spot.
  2. Film speed (ISO) is fixed for the whole of shooting. In digital cameras, it is possible to change ISO for every photo depending on lighting condition.
  3. Limited photos that can be shot from each roll of film.
However, there are advantages of film photography:
  1. Due to limited photos available in each film, you will be forced to think about composition as not to waste film. This can, subjective though, can turn into a better photographer.
  2. 35-mm film cameras are cheaper than full frame digital cameras.
  3. 35-mm film cameras are often smaller than full frame (or even APS-C) digital cameras. This is because image processing happens outside film camera (during negative development) whereas in a digital camera, manufacturers need to put an image processing mechanism inside the camera. This makes digital cameras larger than film cameras.
  4. Flim photos last longer. Printed album is less susceptible to file corruption than digital forms.
  5. People are more likely to browse their printed photos compared to digital photos.
  6. Some people find hands-on film development more rewarding as hobby.
  7. Film cameras have nostalgic values to some people and they feel proud of that. Some shooters also feel film cameras can differentiate them from the digital camera mass crowd.
  8. Mechanical film cameras can operate without batteries.
  9. Longevity – digital cameras have typical life of 10 years whereas mechanical film camera can lasts over 50 years.

Happy shooting.