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YellowJersey

Where can cameras go from here?

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Posted · Original PosterOP

So I got myself a Sony A7rIII back in the fall to replace my 5D mkIII and it got me thinking: where can cameras go from here? By which I mean, what major new improvements/features can be added to improve existing cameras? I'm not talking about incremental increases in ISO performance, resolution, and dynamic range; those are a given. Same goes for incremental improvements to EVF/rear screen resolution/brightness, weather sealing, autofocus, etc. I'm talking about major improvements that aren't just improvements on things we've already got. I'm thinking that in order to drastically improve camera technology, we'll need fundamentally new technologies.

 

What do you guys think? Obviously, I'm kind of stuck in the position of "if you ask people what they want, they'll tell you they want [improvements] on what they already have." I don't think many people knew they wanted smartphone until smartphones became a thing.

 

But, here's what I can come up with

 

Global shutter (probably more important for video)

 

Curved sensors

 

Organic sensors

 

Water proof up to x metres

 

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2 minutes ago, YellowJersey said:

snip

4k full frame sensors with no rolling shutter, photo or video

Hows the A7iii?
Ive got the a7riii lol

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Mini DSLRs. I want those mirrors, thanks.


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Posted · Original PosterOP
13 minutes ago, Bajantechnician said:

4k full frame sensors with no rolling shutter, photo or video

Hows the A7iii?
Ive got the a7riii lol

Well, we've already got that with the A9 for stills. For no rolling shutter for either, that's where a global shutter comes in.

 I think you may have misread me. I got the A7rIII. I am pretty impressed with the A7III, but the A7rIII suits me better as I shoot mostly landscapes. I wouldn't mind an A7III for shooting the stars, though.

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7 minutes ago, YellowJersey said:

Well, we've already got that with the A9 for stills. For no rolling shutter for either, that's where a global shutter comes in.

 I think you may have misread me. I got the A7rIII. I am pretty impressed with the A7III, but the A7rIII suits me better as I shoot mostly landscapes. I wouldn't mind an A7III for shooting the stars, though.

Oh shoot... I did read it wrong haha.

Hello fellow A7riii'er LOL

The A9 is $2000 more than the a7 series. I hope in the future 4k large format camera can come down in price. Thats one of the downsides. I crop a lot for portraits, hence the a7riii haha

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I just wish the sharp lenses would become cheaper tbh. 


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While it's certainly interesting to dwell upon what might come in the future, I think that nothing matters less in photography than what camera you're using and which features it has that other cameras don't. Don't get me wrong, I like features and little things that help me "get the shot" as much as the next guy. But when it comes down to it, all a camera has to do in most situations is take a picture.

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Something that has been popping up which is interesting and I'd like to see more of would be dual ISO sensors. That way you could get cleaner images in low light and still have the great performance with lots of light available.

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4 hours ago, FStopDesigns said:

Something that has been popping up which is interesting and I'd like to see more of would be dual ISO sensors. That way you could get cleaner images in low light and still have the great performance with lots of light available.

Of course this would be nice but I think it feels like all the money is put into more sensitive and higher res sensors. Not that that is a bad thing but the sensors are so good now that maybe more money should be put on other things like reducing rolling shutters, better colors, faster AF (things like Sony’s Eye AF) smaller things like that. Faster image processing too maybe. 


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1 hour ago, xQubeZx said:

Of course this would be nice but I think it feels like all the money is put into more sensitive and higher res sensors. Not that that is a bad thing but the sensors are so good now that maybe more money should be put on other things like reducing rolling shutters, better colors, faster AF (things like Sony’s Eye AF) smaller things like that. Faster image processing too maybe. 

Thats all already there in the professional cameras (Sony FS7/FS5, Arri and so on) Unfortunatley I don't think we'll ever see it in such small cameras like the GH5 or one of Sony's Alpha cameras. Mainly because the manufacturers will want to keep it to their expensive models and don't make them obsolete. And secondly a lot of the internal processing required for that needs more room than a GH5/A7III or so could provide

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The single most important part of the camera....is the twelve inches behind it.

I knocked an editor out with a series of shots I did on a 15 year old Canon 10D this past summer.

So much so, he paid for all all expense trip to the beach and beach house (and food and transportation) for myself and the model to do another set.

 

It ain't the camera that needs improvements....

 

Now having said that, I am looking forward to the price and general quality of digital medium format backs.

 


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21 hours ago, FStopDesigns said:

Thats all already there in the professional cameras (Sony FS7/FS5, Arri and so on) Unfortunatley I don't think we'll ever see it in such small cameras like the GH5 or one of Sony's Alpha cameras. Mainly because the manufacturers will want to keep it to their expensive models and don't make them obsolete. And secondly a lot of the internal processing required for that needs more room than a GH5/A7III or so could provide

You are saying you can’t fit the processing power in a smaller body now to improve the processing tasks in the camera. And that may be true, but if you dump more money on the development on that I can promise that they will become better. Just look at the flagship chips inside the mobiles. They are crazy fast and they are sure as hell not large. The day a DSLR and mirrorless feels as fast and snappy as a flagship phone I will be so happy. Same with flawless UI systems. 


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4 hours ago, xQubeZx said:

The day a DSLR and mirrorless feels as fast and snappy as a flagship phone I will be so happy. Same with flawless UI systems. 

Define snappy, Tho I do agree with the UI... Because what the phones lack is the abilities that DSLRs or even their film counterparts can do. Comparing even the best camera in a smartphone shouldn't be done even if it can produce superior quality for one common use, because it lacks in so many other areas.

 

On 5/17/2018 at 10:31 AM, FStopDesigns said:

Thats all already there in the professional cameras (Sony FS7/FS5, Arri and so on) Unfortunatley I don't think we'll ever see it in such small cameras like the GH5 or one of Sony's Alpha cameras. Mainly because the manufacturers will want to keep it to their expensive models and don't make them obsolete. And secondly a lot of the internal processing required for that needs more room than a GH5/A7III or so could provide

Imo too small of a camera is not necessarily be a good thing, I like the bulkiness of my cameras even the new T6I, I know I won't drop it, the second you put a SLR in say a picket camera size is time for me to worry about breaking it, also dropping it esp if it fails to have decent holding areas. I have started a habit of not buying smaller cameras.

 

For me I would love to see more full frame cameras on the market, with better prices instead of either settling with APC-S or older used cameras.

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I've enjoyed the old DigitalRev Pro Tog, Cheap Camera series. While you can get artistically great shots with even low end gear, you will be limited in what you can do, or it becomes exponentially more difficult. I see technology as an enabler. Let it allow you to do more new things, more easily.

 

On sensors, lightfield technology interests me, but existing offerings need a ton of refinement to become useful. Imagine the day when worrying about focus before the shot becomes irrelevant.

 

The bayer colour pattern has also been a bane of my more technical photography. Don't know how you'd do it, but imagine if you have spectrum sensing capability, not just RGB filters. Overkill if you want a random snap of your pet for facebook, but there are use cases for it. I don't expect every scenario to need it, the point remains it will enable more things to be possible.

 

I also think in future, cameras will be less about the hardware and more about the software. It is kinda happening on some mobile phones already, using composites from multiple sensors. Taken much further, it could get really interesting. 

 

Another scenario I'm imagining takes the rewinding time concept a step further than some phone implementations. Didn't get timing of a shot perfect? Don't worry, go back to the best moment. I think I've seen some phones that either take video, or a sill burst, but I think they can do much better than that. Imagine scene and subject reconstruction from movement, allowing you to model and integrate potentially dissimilar frames to enhance that output. Individually the technology to enable this already exists, however the computational cost is still a bit much, especially in a portable format.


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4 hours ago, Egg-Roll said:

Define snappy, Tho I do agree with the UI... Because what the phones lack is the abilities that DSLRs or even their film counterparts can do. Comparing even the best camera in a smartphone shouldn't be done even if it can produce superior quality for one common use, because it lacks in so many other areas.

 

Imo too small of a camera is not necessarily be a good thing, I like the bulkiness of my cameras even the new T6I, I know I won't drop it, the second you put a SLR in say a picket camera size is time for me to worry about breaking it, also dropping it esp if it fails to have decent holding areas. I have started a habit of not buying smaller cameras.

 

For me I would love to see more full frame cameras on the market, with better prices instead of either settling with APC-S or older used cameras.

I mean I want a DSLR or mirrorless with the processing power of a phone, as those are crazy fast nowadays but are of course not specialized in taking images so they will never compete with the quality a camera provides. As far as defining ”snappy” I’d say I don’t want too see buffer issues, like only be able to take 15-20 shots before the buffer fills and everything slows down. It should be in the 200+ images range like the pro bodies, but in the mainstream ones too. UI is obvoulsy lacking in many, especially Sony. Also probably from there I mostly complain about it not being ”snappy”. Slow startups should not be a thing, image viewing should be fast easy and so on. I haven’t tried super many cameras, mainly Sony and Canon bodies but I find both lacks in the software department along with processing power. If we can run W10 or Doom on a small raspberry pi a camera for $1000 should have almost unlimited buffer, good UI and just almost be as fast as a modern flagship phone imo. 

 

I also find that the screen on the back often leaves a lot to be desired compared to the phone in your pocket. I mean, an IPS monitor would be nice that is somewhat color accurate. I’ve used the Sony bodies and those screens are pretty bad. I’ve used the Canon 6D and was not that much better on the screen department either. Not compared to my iPhone 6s at least that is a few years old now. 


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5 hours ago, porina said:

The bayer colour pattern has also been a bane of my more technical photography. Don't know how you'd do it, but imagine if you have spectrum sensing capability, not just RGB filters. Overkill if you want a random snap of your pet for facebook, but there are use cases for it. I don't expect every scenario to need it, the point remains it will enable more things to be possible.

Already been done years ago. Look at Sigma's cameras with Foveon sensors. They use the different penetration depth of lightwaves instead of bayer colour pattern filters.

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25 minutes ago, bowrilla said:

Already been done years ago. Look at Sigma's cameras with Foveon sensors. They use the different penetration depth of lightwaves instead of bayer colour pattern filters.

That's not what I'm after. The original Foveon still captures RGB, the difference being it does so at each site at least in the earlier versions. More recent ones running are binning some colours so you're back to having some problems of bayer, of mixed resolution per colour channel which also means anti-aliasing can't work correctly.

 

As I said, I'd like spectrum capture at each site. For example, there could still be some colour quantisation so you might have for example output for NIR, deep red, mid red, red-orange, orange, orange-yellow, yellow, yellow-green, green, blue-green, blue, indigo, violet, NUV. Arguably, an extreme version of the Foveon method could do that, but it is probably beyond current manufacturing to do effectively. Even with the current binning into three colours the sensitivity has a reputation of being not great. Splitting it further would end up a noisy mess if used as we currently do. It might take more advance usage and/or processing to make it viable.


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Posted · Original PosterOP

Funny thing as I was reading all the posts thus far, I noticed that most people want what they already have, ie better/cheaper versions of technology already available (not throwing shade or anything, just an observation). There was one mention of AI, which I think will be one of the next big things in photography, particularly as I was struggling to mask out a tree while stacking Milky Way photos yesterday.

 

 But if kind of illustrates my point: people want what they already have. We, the consumer, seem really bad at coming up with novelty but are really good are identifying what existing features we want implemented or improved upon.

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1 hour ago, xQubeZx said:

I mean I want a DSLR or mirrorless with the processing power of a phone, as those are crazy fast nowadays but are of course not specialized in taking images so they will never compete with the quality a camera provides. As far as defining ”snappy” I’d say I don’t want too see buffer issues, like only be able to take 15-20 shots before the buffer fills and everything slows down. It should be in the 200+ images range like the pro bodies, but in the mainstream ones too. UI is obvoulsy lacking in many, especially Sony. Also probably from there I mostly complain about it not being ”snappy”. Slow startups should not be a thing, image viewing should be fast easy and so on. I haven’t tried super many cameras, mainly Sony and Canon bodies but I find both lacks in the software department along with processing power. If we can run W10 or Doom on a small raspberry pi a camera for $1000 should have almost unlimited buffer, good UI and just almost be as fast as a modern flagship phone imo. 

 

I also find that the screen on the back often leaves a lot to be desired compared to the phone in your pocket. I mean, an IPS monitor would be nice that is somewhat color accurate. I’ve used the Sony bodies and those screens are pretty bad. I’ve used the Canon 6D and was not that much better on the screen department either. Not compared to my iPhone 6s at least that is a few years old now. 

I also find the buffer size way too small, I understand taking RAW and JPEG consumes a ton of space, but having only 8 then 1 every 0.5-1 second at a time is poorly designed imo. My SX40 has a HQ burst mode that takes I think 10 pictures per second, however not in RAW.

 

The cameras UI is deplorable... I also own 2 superzooms which have seemingly a far better setup. I also only own Canon products because they have not failed me yet, tho I just found out I do have one dead pixel on the 300D in a bad spot... But I over all I do agree the logic behind the camera makers not putting in the functionality they should be able to. The day we see a reasonably priced Octa core camera I'll buy it xD ($2500 tops I'd say), tho it might need a big battery... (but I'm ok with that if it means the video below)

 

At first I loved the idea of a "touchscreen" panel, till I used it...

 

1 hour ago, YellowJersey said:

Funny thing as I was reading all the posts thus far, I noticed that most people want what they already have, ie better/cheaper versions of technology already available (not throwing shade or anything, just an observation). There was one mention of AI, which I think will be one of the next big things in photography, particularly as I was struggling to mask out a tree while stacking Milky Way photos yesterday.

 

 But if kind of illustrates my point: people want what they already have. We, the consumer, seem really bad at coming up with novelty but are really good are identifying what existing features we want implemented or improved upon.

I don't technically have what I want... I could get it by buying used but I lose a ton of new features.

 

Also for "AI"

Beyond something that assists like this unit I personally don't want it. Because it's opinion on a good picture might not be what I'm after.

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The thing with photography is: the principles never really changed from the very beginning on. You control shutter, aperture, you focus and frame your picture and then just take the shot. The principle is dead simple and while there were several revolutions like the first twin lens reflex camera, the first single lens reflex camera the first 135 film camera, colour films and digital photography. The fundamental mechanics never changed. New features emerged like autofocus, automatic exposure, but they didn't change a single thing. Pictures did not get better because of those features. It was always the photographer who made a picture great or crappy. No matter the tools, it was always all up to the photographer.

A few years ago we saw the first light-field cameras – a concept that was first proposed in 1908, so not really revolutionary new concepts, just the first time those ideas were actually implemented. The question remains: if the principles of photography never changed in over 200 years, can light-field photography actually be photography? Personally I don't see the point of it and obviously most photographers agree on that point or otherwise Lytro wouldn't have gone bust. I'm not saying it's useless technology, in my opinion it was the wrong marketing: light-field cameras are great for VR. But is capturing scenes for VR still photography? By that logic we should skip on words like videography or cinematography – just moving photographs.

So what do you want to change about your cameras? What revolution are you waiting for? AI autofocus? Well, that's rather evolution than revolution and won't make a significant change or is any serious photographer actually using that face tracking features on their big DSLR? AI auto exposure? No serious photographer uses full auto. Aperture and shutter speed have an impact on the visual style of your picture so screw auto exposure. @porina mentioned different sensor technologies. Fine enough. Sensors are by default colour blind, they need a way of filtering in order to see colours. Side fact: our eye works just like that as well with 3 different cone cells being sensitive for different spectrums of light waves. The regular pattern of a bayer filter is indeed an issue and there's never full information for every pixel. That's what Foveon sensors can offer if you go with the smaller, native resolution: full information for every pixel. Not sure why those sensors aren't everywhere nowadays.

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Posted · Original PosterOP
On 5/18/2018 at 7:27 PM, bowrilla said:

So what do you want to change about your cameras? What revolution are you waiting for? AI autofocus? Well, that's rather evolution than revolution and won't make a significant change or is any serious photographer actually using that face tracking features on their big DSLR? AI auto exposure? No serious photographer uses full auto. Aperture and shutter speed have an impact on the visual style of your picture so screw auto exposure. @porina mentioned different sensor technologies. Fine enough. Sensors are by default colour blind, they need a way of filtering in order to see colours. Side fact: our eye works just like that as well with 3 different cone cells being sensitive for different spectrums of light waves. The regular pattern of a bayer filter is indeed an issue and there's never full information for every pixel. That's what Foveon sensors can offer if you go with the smaller, native resolution: full information for every pixel. Not sure why those sensors aren't everywhere nowadays.

 

 And you've glanced off if not hit the nail on the head there. My dastardly between-the-lines reason for posting this was to pose the question: are we reaching the end of revolutionary improvements and only have evolutionary improvements to look forward to? Revolutions are kind of hard to predict until they're already happening. I have no problems with my camera from a revolutionary aspect. There are a few evolutionary tweaks I'd like, but nothing major.

 So when it comes to "where can cameras go from here?" I'm thinking more from the manufacturers' point of view. Have we hit a kind of ceiling where there will be fewer mind blowing innovations? Or are said mind blowing innovations extremely difficult to predict?

 I originally thought about this in the context of mobile phones. It kind of feels like phones have reached a certain ceiling where they're good enough at what they do that it feels like manufacturers' are struggling to come up with something that will really wow the buying public aside from just incremental improvements. Like cameras, I think phones are in a stage of refining an already good experience rather than pushing the envelope of technology. The things meant to wow buyers these days seem increasingly gimmicky to me.

 

 

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2 hours ago, YellowJersey said:

So when it comes to "where can cameras go from here?" I'm thinking more from the manufacturers' point of view. Have we hit a kind of ceiling where there will be fewer mind blowing innovations? Or are said mind blowing innovations extremely difficult to predict?

Actually I do think so, yes. Camera technology has reached a level of quality that rarely needs much improvements. Just have a look at Canon's 5D series. The steps between models became smaller and smaller (imho). Sure, they did improve some things each generation but ultimately none of those generations was revolutionary (at least not for photography itself, the mkII made film-look videography accessible with several limitations though). We're now at 30MPixel with a maximum resolution of 6720x4480 Pixel. That means you can without bigger tweaks and without resizing go for 85,3 cm x 56,9 cm (at 200 dpi). That's nice. With some tweaks and a good program you can push that to 1,5x the size. So what else do you really need? After resizing that's basically what a decent 645 medium format analog camera can give you. None of those improvements (like quicker autofocus or resolution) made me sell my 5d mkII though. It does the job I want it to do and the pictures are absolutely big enough for my use.

From a manufacturer's point of view I'd be more into full format mirrorless cameras with optical viewfinder. They're smaller while still offering the same quality. Is that a revolution though? Not really, those cameras (at least with APS-C sensors) are around for quite a while. Even on the mid-premium market you have options like Fuji's X-series (imho the "poor" man's Leica in a way – even though Fuji's lenses relaly do come at a premium). I do doubt though that photography will change significantly. There will be other *-graphies that are related but photography itself? Won't change that much.

 

Even in 2018, enthusiasts still worship Leica's M series as the holy grail of cameras: small, stripped of unneccessary bits, manual focus, built like a bomb and lenses that count as pornography among photographers (still can't pronounce noctilux without a shiver … yep, there it was). A pro or semi-pro won't go the automation route, they (we) want full control – maybe with the exception of sport photographers, they might like a clever follow focus system. Could you imagine a Magnum photographer using all automatic modes on his or her serious work? I can't. Sure, they have day to day lifes as well and surely they do use smartphones and their cameras but not for professional work. I've met some of their associates back in 2009 during a photography workshop in NYC – quite a lot were still shooting good old film next to digital. I can't imagine anyone of them using a lightfield camera like a Lytro. It's something else but not photography – now that Lytro is bust we may even call it lytrography or VR-graphy. 

The mass market won't go that route for sure but they haven't made the step to DSLRs either. Since the dawn of the compact camera, people chose those over big, bulky, heavy, complicated cameras (including analog times). Thing is: modern mobile phones got so bloody good that they're just good enough for day to day snapshots. I like my Fuji X-E1, I worship my old Canon AE1 (first SLR, sort of inherited it from by dad) and I did like my Mamiya 645 (even though I realy don't use it anymore and am about to sell it). But on a daily basis I use my Pixel's camera because it is damn good. Some tweaks with Pixlr on the fly and it's good to go. Totaly enough for Instagram or other Social Media and the cameras of Pixel 2 or iPhone X are even better. Some smartphones even come with multiple lenses. A smartphone with two good lenses, one with 35mm ff equivalent and one with 85mm ff equivalent would be brilliant. 

 

But again: I don't see any revolutionary features ahead that might change the whole genre of photography. Wow … that post escalated quickly to one hell of a text… sorry

 

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