I just bought my wife a new point and shoot digital camera. The trusty Kodak 3 megapixel was getting a bit long in the tooth and more often she was lugging her 35mm SLR to take high quality shots. Since it's summertime, the Olympus Stylus 850SW seems like a nice, affordable choice. It's shock, water, and freeze resistant, so you can actually shoot stills and video with it to a depth of about 3m. Pretty slick for trips to the beach. A bit of shock resistance with 4 boys running amuck isn't a bad idea either.
Here's my real point, though. As I noted, my shutterbug wife still loves her single lens reflex and I haven't been able to get her to make the fully digital jump. She's invested a decent amount of money in lenses and still prefers to break out the SLR for family portraits, pictures of the various critters that make their way into our yard, school events, and the like. I think this will change a bit now that we have a better point and shoot, but the SLR isn't going anywhere anytime soon (unless I just happen to drop it around Christmas time and just happen to pick up the the new compact Olympus digital SLR that just happened to be displayed next to the 850 yesterday at the store).
OK, so the last paragraph wasn't really my point. This is really my point. Is 35mm really dead? Photography used to be the junior or senior elective of choice, along with pottery (or journalism for the really studious). Yet the darkroom even at little old Athol High School now holds the popcorn machine and coolers for sporting events. I stumbled across a few boxes last year of aging, but very usable Pentax SLRs.
Lots of people still use film, whether because they're stubborn, cheap, and technophobic like my wife (she really has a lot of redeaming qualities, but her love of technology is not among them) or because they value the organic quality of film. So is there any value in teaching 35mm photography in schools?
I'm inclined to say no. I'd rather see kids learning the ins and outs of photography from shutter speeds to white balance, but using digital tools to enhance, present, and share what they do. There's no nostalgia here and I can live with my kids never setting foot in a darkroom if they can use the GIMP. But that's me. I'm sure you'd have a very different conversation with my wife or with our old photography club adviser.
What do you think?