Friday, October 16, 2015

Future of photography

A few recent developments have caused me to wonder what the future holds for photography. One of these is the announcement about the Light L16 camera. In case you haven't heard of this camera, it looks like a smartphone (but isn't) and has 16 cameras (geddit?).

Up to 10 cameras fire at the same time and using nifty software the images are combined to produce an image that is DSLR quality with up to 52Mb resolution, according to the company. According to their website you will be able to adjust the depth of field and focussing after you have taken the picture. In addition, you will be able to zoom in with the 35-150mm zoom function and take pictures in low light.

You can read more about the camera on their website at and reserve yours for $199 (but be quick and do it today). Delivery to US customers is planned for late 2016.

Another announcement that got me thinking about the future of photography is that of Canon's, revealing a sensor capable of distinguishing the lettering on the side of a plane around 11 miles (18km) away. In their press release, Canon say this about it:
  • 250MP CMOS Sensor: 30x sharper than 4K, Canon’s latest ultra-high resolution sensor has the world’s highest number of pixels for a CMOS sensor - it can even capture the lettering on the side of an airplane in the sky, from an incredible 18km away.
Think about it for a minute..... 250 megapixels! Just thinking about loading the images into Photoshop give me a headache, never mind the computer specification one would need to cope with editing such images. You can read more about at Canon Europe's website.

Several other recent developments relating to smartphone cameras and video also helped to provoke my contemplation on the matter. So, what, if any, are my conclusions? Well, here is a brief summary of what is, in reality, a work in progress, so to speak:
  1. Where will we draw the line over megapixels? One of my earliest cameras was capable of only 3MP but produced acceptable images. Its not that long ago that most phones (smartphones they were not - at least in the accepted sense) came with cameras that could barely do 640 x 480!
  2. For me, it seems that the biggest issue today is not resolution (in terms of Megapixels) but noise, as well as the speed and accuracy of autofocus. I would rather have a 12MP camera that could rapidly and accurately focus on a moving subject, which could have minimal noise in low light conditions than one that had 250MP and couldn't do all of these.
  3. Portability - I much prefer my Sony a6000 to my Nikon D3100 as even with two or more lenses I can it around all day without my arthritis flaring up in my shoulders and back. However, make a camera too small and it becomes difficult to handle and use. Larger smartphones (such as my iPhone 6 Plus) are light, relatively easy to hold when using the camera and produce very useable images that I can conveniently post to my social media accounts or share via text, email or an app. 
  4. Cost - although in real terms serious camera technology is now cheaper than ever, not everyone can afford thousands of pounds (£) for some serious kit. Maybe the Light 16 camera will be capable of producing DSLR quality images (certainly looks that way going off the gallery on their website) and at an affordable price. If so, then what will the likes of Sony, Nikon, Canon etc do - will we still want their expensive, bulky kit anymore?
One thing is for sure, there are major upheavals coming to the industry and don't be surprised to see some companies disappear (who remembers Kodak cameras?) and for certain types of cameras to disappear in the wormhole of history. Not many people buy film cameras these days and you can't buy a genuine Polaroid these days (yes I know Fuki have their own version but it's not the same IMHO). Also, the consumer will ultimately benefit (unless you have invested thousands in Nikon and Canon, or Hasselblad or Phase one for that matter) with better tech for less money. I can't wait!

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