Saturday, July 14, 2012

Camera trends

Photography has always been a evolving, but never quite a dramatic as at the present moment. It seems that every year or two brings yet another wave of improvements that makes for a very compelling reason to upgrade. The present crop of low cost entry-level digicams are more than capable of replacing a whole bagful of camera gear (camera, videocam, chargers, lenses, filters, etc.) that some of us can reminisce of carrying on a fondly-remembered family vacation. We still have the poorly exposed pictures and nausea-inducing videos as proof.

Here are some of the exciting trends I can foresee or hope to see in the world of photography.

A) Fast learning curve (scene-based shooting)
Of course this is not new, but it is getting better all the time. Unlike the physical components of a camera, software and processor speed keeps on improving. I guess we just have to use it to believe that even seasoned photographers may one day be using scene modes as comfortably as using manual mode. What is easier and faster than using scene modes in a constantly changing environment like shooting a wedding? Added to that, I would like to see advanced settings in scene mode for pro users to fine tune on the fly.

B) Perfect focusing (touch and shoot)
How many times have we sighed over an otherwise great shot, because the focus is at the wrong spot? With touchscreen coming to cameras, some cameras (e.g. Olympus OMD EM5) allow you to touch at the point where you want the focus to be, and also trigger the shot at the same time. I would love to see that in more cameras. This innovation comes from smartphone apps, which goes to show camera manufacturers have not been thinking outside the box. I would like to see a mini touchpad (like in a Blackberry phone) for the thumb to move a cursor quickly when shooting through an electronic viewfinder. This will enable a pro shooter to shoot faster while still holding the camera with both hands for stability.

C) One-touch post processing
Every professional photographer does post processing to a varying degree. Smartphone apps developers pioneered this. Many new cameras now feature art effects to attract the new generation of users. Existing post processing software like Lightroom and many others already have "presets" to do what I call one touch processing. What I would like to see is more finesse and sophistication, instead of the usual kitschy art effects like retro effect, pop art, film negative, etc. I would like to see each preset come with advanced setting sliders that allow the user to fine tune to his taste.

D) Tripod-free, flash-free shooting (super high ISO)
There was a time when you couldn't possibly shoot at night without a flash (read: film days). With a decent smartphone you can shoot a reasonably good image at night without a flash or a tripod. While lens technology is already bound by the laws of optics, sensor technology is still evolving.

E) Miniaturization (including full frame DSLR)
I believe a light-weight and slimmer full frame DSLR is bound to emerge. There is really no need for a reflex camera, the reason for the weight and bulk of a DSLR body. CSC's (Compact System Camera) such as Panasonic GF series, the Sony NEX, and many others have demonstrated that there is no advantage to hanging on to the reflex mirror.

Let's see what this year's Photokina will bring in terms of cameras. It will be held in two month's time!

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