Sci-Fi Predicitions on the future of Digital Photography
Digital Photography has come a long ways since it’s creation. There are a lot of things both the professionals and consumers looked at carefully before deciding to buy that shiny new toy that plugged into their computers, each had it’s own purpose. First it was megapixels. The first digital cameras were around 1 megapixel, some were even less than that. Competition picked up and soon 3 or 4 megapixel cameras were popping up. At this point, digital’s image quality was vastly inferior to film – so the pro’s stuck with their 35mm and 120mm cameras to get much cleaner images. When 6 megapixels rolled around, the pros became interested. With megapixels climbing and resolution improving, it wouldn’t be long before they could go to a camera store and buy one of these fancy things and not get laughed at. At 8-10 megapixels some pros started to convert – Digital was far less expensive and far more practical than film was for commercial applications. Some photographers stayed behind but now there was no doubt that a digital age was upon us. Resolution and megapixels grew almost weekly – 10, 12, 14, 24! It happened so fast, and us pros started to feel comfortable with digital’s image quality, finally.
Video was introduced next, with both 720p and 1080p HD video recording capabilities that is allowing photographers to put “Video” on their list of services to their clients, and currently there are several films being shot with Digital SLR cameras. The RED Camera shocked the world with it’s still photo and video capabilities wrapped into one.
Next up, came ISO. It used to be that if you went anywhere beyond 400 ISO you would get crazy noise and artifacts in your images. Then that was pushed to 800. 1600. Now with the Nikon D3S and the Canon EOS-1D Mark IV ISO ranges are going into the hundred-thousands with virtually no noise or artifacts. It’s changing the way we photograph everything, and it’s revolutionizing Photojournalism.
The last frontier for digital photography was dynamic range. It was said that the human eye is capable of seeing detail in both high-lights and shadows, where a typical DSLR could only see detail in either one or the other. HDR photography has changed that significantly, but would require to use 2 or more images to gather enough information and then combine the images in photoshop. Astronomical ISO ranges and HD video was not going to solve this.
Old Technology, new application
Bear with me for a moment. I have a very active imagination, having grown up on Star Wars and Indiana Jones.
I am imagining a camera, tool or device that uses very old technology for something very new. Not necessarily just for taking photographs – it could potentially be used for making 3D models and it already has a military use – but the possibilities are endless.
Imagine a device that uses digital imaging with sonar technology. Of course, it would have to be more advanced than the blips you see on the sonars in The Hunt for Red October, I imagine that it could use some sort of low-frequency laser that could scan and recreate a scene rather than the sound waves produced by a typical Sonar. Think about it. It would solve the Dynamic range issues that have been the bane of some photographers existence, and it would make 3D modeling a breeze, at least for gathering information on textures and shapes. Photoshop would no longer be a 2D application, but would be an entire rendering program used for both photographic and 3D purposes. Digital media would truly come together in the same way that video and still photography came together, and it would be a good thing.
Of course, it would also bring bad things – I imagine that still photography would no longer be used in a court of law as evidence (Frankly, I’m surprised it’s still being used today) due to the amount of tampering that could be done with such a vast amount of data. It would be an age of 64 TeraByte compact flash cards, and Fire Wire would be up to version 25.2.
What I’m trying to say here is that the chances of this actually happening is very slim to none. But wouldn’t it be cool? And to be honest, I don’t think the idea is too far fetched with all of the 3D movie technology that is popping up or how we all gasped when it was first revealed that we could shoot images at ISO 2500. So maybe this won’t happen real soon, but the reason we are creative professionals in the first place is because we have active imaginations, and I’d like to keep it that way. Leave your thoughts and comments on the future of our profession!