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Thread: Has technology really made the hobby (and your life) better?

  1. Default Has technology really made the hobby (and your life) better?

    Ok, this is not a new or very profound topic. But as I was sitting here looking at old photos in the "nostalgia" section on trainorders, I got to thinking that the railfan hobby was just as fun, and maybe more fun, back before digital technology invaded our lives. Digital cameras are fine, but I recall having a great time shooting slides 20 years ago. And the anticipation of waiting for them to come back from the processor made me feel like a kid before Christmas. One thing for sure, I took way more care making each individual photo back then. With a digital camera today, I use the camera like a semi-automatic weapon, knowing that one of the random shots will hit home. Anyway, is it just me or was the hobby more fun back then? Honestly, as far as all this Bill Gates technology goes, I can take it or leave it. I know I was just as happy 20 years ago without technology -- and probably happier!

  2. #2


    NO. Computer has been down -couldn't reply earlier

  3. #3


    I was just happier period 20 years ago technology or not. But 20 years ago I didn't have the foresite to photgraph everthing, i always assumed it would be there. Now i wish i would have. Thats why I like the technology today, cost almost nothing to take 1000's of pictures.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    SW Michigan


    Yes. Digital cameras that let you shoot what you want, make test shots without Polaroids. 20 years from now I'll have stuff I wouldn't have shot without digital. ATCS Monitor that lets me anticipate the next movement and plan a shot. A cell phone to carry in the winter. Discussions groups. yes, better.

  5. #5


    Yes, I probably wouldn't do much if any rail fanning if I didn't have a digital camera. The ease of use, cheapness after the intial cost of the camera, and the edibility of the pictures makes it a win for me. Not to mention the message boards and websites that allow me to learn about what is happening and other odd projects going on. No magazine would have the coverage about the Mo Valley upgrade as in depth as on this forum. The only thing I wish is I could go back in time and have the technology to take tons of useless pictures that would become interesting now.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    MP 163.1 UP Salina sub


    My scanner,and camcorder has made My life easier, and with out access to ATCS
    The Trainmaster
    Port of Abilene Kansas
    Have camera, will travel :D
    Heritage units seen:
    UP 1982 4/30/16
    UP 1983 8/7/15 & 8/12/15 & 11/2/16
    UP 1988 7/5/11 & 12/27/14
    UP 1989 7/10/11 & 10/10/15
    UP 1995 8/1/11
    UP 1996 10/2/15

    UP 2002 8/15/16 & 8/26/16
    UP 2010 7/19/11
    Have all the unpatched SP AC4400CW's on video
    MP 163.1 UP Salina Sub
    MP 58.1 BNSF Strong City Sub

  7. #7


    Yes my photography is better with digital technology, I have the power of the darkroom at my finger tips. I can print my shots any size with ease and predictable results. Ever try to to get a decent print of a slide?
    How about instant results for night shots to make adjustments to rather than waiting for your slide to come back?
    Info sharing on forums is invaluable for planning trips.
    I have a great platform to share my trips.
    I can put together multimedia slide shows on my computer and project them at events like GorgeRail. Lots easier than projectors sequencers and tape players.
    Editing Video on a computer is a snap compare to using VCRs and edit controllers. Don't even get me started about audio editing.
    How about how handy it is to whip out your smart phone and pull up google maps to assess the tracks layout and look for access roads or trails.
    Yes my Railfanning life is much better.
    A bad day of train chasing is better than a good day at work!
    Check out my shots at.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Cypress (Houston), Texas, USA


    in addition to the aforementioned digital cameras, which I believe has truly made me a better photographer since I can learn faster, I would add some things not listed:

    -GPS and computer mapping for planning my shoots. And onboard GPS on 844 et al to let me work as long as possible before I skip out….

    -Maps on the phone with sun angle data to determine where the sun will be before I get there and find out that shot I’ve planned for a month won’t work….

    -Internet audio stream to eavesdrop on RR communications.
    More pics in Kenw's Gallery

    Have you broken any rules today? .....why not?

  9. #9


    I enjoy the ability to share the photos with the rest of the world. The photos I took back in the 1970's are fun to see again, but it takes alot of work to put on a slide show or to have the space to keep 1000's of slides and prints. I also think I am a better photographer. I have the ability to work with a shot a bit before I take the final version. I also have the freedom to shoot a shot of something that I may not have taken in the film days because I new something really important was coming I didn't have enough film. All in all I like the technology. I also take a lot of sound recordings of trains and the technology advances in that area are phenominal. Reel to reel to flash drives. If I had a time machine It would be super to back to the 1940's and record the steam trains from that era. TZ
    Tom Zorko
    "She was a tall girl, could hunt geese with a rake"...Sheldon's mom

  10. #10


    I look back 15 years and wonder how on earth I got along without some of the stuff I have today. The GPS, good radio and optical scanners, digital photography, ATCS, pervasive wireless, massive hard drives and computers, and above all the internet. (Not to mention, of course, such technological wonders as multiport fuel injection that indirectly make railfanning so much better - carburetors are something that belong in a museum, not under my hood.) Honestly there's no way I'd want to revert to the technology of 1992 or even 1997.

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