I recently wrote an article on the future of photography, and although that future isn’t quite here yet, this year’s CES show had some promising gadgets to keep you excited for what’s to come. What I really love about our industry is that we care about all camera consumers, from the beginner all the way to the most experienced photographers. Allow me to take you through a tour of what you can expect this year.
Polaroid makes a phone?
If you’ve done anything with smartphones and photography, you know your options are limited. The lens is okay at best. It doesn’t zoom, and the image quality could stand to be better. Most smartphone photographers simply accept this and move on, using post production techniques in Photoshop Elements to cover for the loss in quality. Well those days are long gone. Polaroid is releasing a camera that also happens to be a phone, not the other way around. It runs the Android operating system.
This is the best of both worlds. You get a camera that’s just as good as most dedicated point and shoot cameras, but it’s also a phone. You can zoom in and out, gain more control over the settings, and produce higher quality pictures than the ones you would get with a standard smartphone. What I like best is (like most smart phones) it includes WiFi, so you can share your images directly from the camera. No more connecting your camera to the computer to transfer images. We’ll start seeing a lot more cameras like this one in the coming years.
Better Bridge Cameras
This year, camera companies are paying more attention to the special niche that exists between point-and-shoots and digital SLRs. I like to call this niche the bridge camera, the one you own for a few years before you make the next big leap. The bridge cameras of 2012 will include bigger sensors (i.e. more megapixels) and the option to shoot in RAW.
What a smart move. For years, I’ve believed most people don’t really want to upgrade to a digital SLR. The commitment is simply too much at once. You have to buy lenses, and you have to worry more about the extra maintenance. It just makes sense for companies to build the best possible camera short of being a digital SLR. I am sure there are tons of people chomping at the bit to buy it.
Light Field Technology
The Lytro camera is already on the market ($399 and up), and it is revolutionary. You can actually adjust the focus after taking the picture. It works by capturing all of the light coming from all different directions in a scene. The result is a picture that you can tweak to your heat’s content, getting maximum sharpness and depth every time.
I also love the "What's missing?" section of their website: "Nothing you'll miss. No auto-focus, no shutter lag, no unnecessary modes, dials, or settings. And no flash, because Lytro can handle many low light settings. So, no obstacles to the perfect shot." That eliminates most of the major headaches we have with cameras these days. All we have to worry about is composition. Great!
I haven’t had a chance to play with one of these yet, but the prospect of it is very exciting. Do bear in mind that the Lytro camera is a first generation model, and most first generation products tend to have flaws. The main flaw of this model is the resulting image size - 1024x1024 pixels (just over 1 megapixel). This is the size of the image that the software generates once you determine where you want the focus to be (remember, this can be long after you took the original image).
Bigger Zooms and Onboard WiFi
Even if your point-and-shoot camera isn’t an Android phone, chances are it will still find some way to connect to the Internet in 2012. The Samsung WB850F does just that, and it boast a bigger zoom to boot. How big? A 21x optical zoom is something I have never seen on a point-and-shoot camera before. With lenses like these, who needs digital SLRs?
I suppose today’s new cameras foreshadow a world where the digital SLR eventually goes extinct. I know it’s a sad thought, but everything seems to be moving in that direction. The cameras at this year’s CES show have so much more integrated technology that it’s only a matter of time before they debut a camera that communicates directly with an external lens. You’ve already seen the concept video. I’m wondering if 2013 will be the year of the SLR’s demise.
2012 looks to be an exciting year for cameras. Will you be purchasing one? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.