Coming Down The Pike: Changes Ahead In The Photo/Imaging World

One of our feature stories this month, Jason Schneider’s “The Shape of (Digital) Things to Come,” got me thinking about just what might be ahead in the ever-changing world of photography. In the past few years we’ve seen pretty much variations on the theme, with every feature manufacturers can think of being added to digital cameras. We’ve seen GPS, more in-camera processing options, in-camera HDR and tone curve control, and of course the update of virtually every camera line to incorporate HD video. All of this is to the good, but only if it gets you where you need to go.

Consider the changes in the form and functioning of our cameras. We’ve seen the evolution and growth of what we call “compact system cameras,” with even Nikon getting into the new design game, which means new formats, new lenses, and new options in so-called “mirrorless” interchangeable lens cameras. And now the flavor of the week includes Wi-Fi, which means the ability to upload images, and video, to sharing sites and “cloud” picture storage servers, right from the camera. In addition, as reported here, a new crop of wireless memory cards, with Wi-Fi built into the cards themselves, is also about to come into play as a part of even older cameras’ functionality.

While many camera makers are still making point-and-shoot digicams, there’s no question that camphones are making a big dent in those markets. New digicams are following the iPhone and Android leads in design and size, and we see many more “apps” for camphones coming soon. There’s no question that there are many more images made with phones than digicams these days, and we have to wonder how this bodes for the portable camera field.

In higher-end cameras video has become the watchword, with the newest Nikon and Canon pro cameras being as much video as they are still image picture making machines. It seems that any borders we thought existed between still and motion photography are now gone.

In terms of image backup and storage we have seen many clouds forming on the horizon, if you will, with camera makers, software companies, and free-form storage groups clamoring for us to put our images into the hands of their server “farms.” There’s no question that more and more photographers will be sending off and beckoning their images back from these sites for sharing and even processing and printing. And in terms of image usage, there’s a growth in making images for social sites more than personal albums, and of course the growth in the ability to make personal photo books in the DIY publishing industry.

At Shutterbug, we look at all this with a bit of a grain of salt (and sometimes a shaker full) and keep our focus on image quality, knowledge of the craft, and a dedication to sorting out all the hoopla and hype. Throughout all the changes photography has undergone we still see the most important thing as the power of the image to stir the mind and enhance the creative life of those who engage in photography as a hobby, a profession, and/or as a passion. Changes in technology come fast and furious, and keeping up with it all can make any image-maker’s head spin. But as long as we all keep what is important in mind then it becomes easier to choose the tools and means of expression that will get the job done. Whether it is a simple or a complex camera, an enhancement or abstraction of the image, or a new gimmick that might momentarily catch our eye, the image and how we interpret the world through it remains paramount. That’s what we see as a constant that will not change, despite all the distractions that might be coming down the pike.