Saturday, April 7, 2012
Evolution of digital photography
The camera industry used to be much quieter, and predictable. The biannual Photokina held at the Koelnmesse in each even year since 1950 has been the focal point in the photographic industries and all the major photographic equipment suppliers which they plan their product development cycle and introduction accordingly – until the flourishing of World-Wide-Web and the increasingly popular of camera rumor sites, today, hardly the major camera maker can stick to the 2-years cycle of development and introduction, rather, built along with the public anticipation from the internet traffic, they release the product utilizing the latest technology before their competitor do. These are all good news!
Like what I have covered in previous posts, carry over the so-call film format made little sense anymore. It was said 6 million pixels will be roughly meet the quality of traditional 135mm film (O.K. many people argue over this, it is not the purpose of this post) and now we are at 36.3 million pixels as the case of Nikon D800, or 22.3 million pixels as the case of Canon 5DIII.
The real point of discussion is that today the traditional of one model replacing the previous generation is no longer the case – at least for Japanese makers. For example I recently bought a Canon 5DIII – in all public materials say it is meant to replace 5DII but I rather to think it is replacing 5DII and 1DsIII at the same time. 5DIII has improved its built and most importantly the ability to focus swiftly and accurately – particular in studio – thanks its adaptation of using the top of the line 1DX AF engine – finally. And it now allows me to use the 5DIII in studio. The Japanese has started to learn the artificial marketing practice in last century may no longer apply today – at least in the magnitude it was before. The Apple model works successfully to have virtually identified phone that varied by only the memory capacity, and open a large possibility to the app developers to allow user to customize each of their phone.
Are we going to see this happened to camera, I bet, and not for long, I believed. I think we are about to see some revolution in cameras that is more modular – the AF engine should be unified, and an entry level of camera may just have lower level sensor with less memory buffer. The higher model will not have better focus engine but due to more computation power it will perform better, so as use of higher-level sensor. Doing so the camera maker can focus on their R&D just on what’s best than try to develop something better and something less at the same time. And the camera capabilities? Are we going to see apps stores for cameras? I certainly hope so. Can we add the time-lapse feature on Canon as it is on the new Nikon? Can we add the sweep-panorama as it is on SONY NEX cameras to other cameras?
Image of inner Mongolia, taken with SONY NEX-5, use of its sweep-panorama mode, original size 8,192 X 1,856 pixels.
Ejina Qi, Inner Mongolia, 2011