D-SLRs And Video: The Multimedia Trend

Multimedia usually means a device that does a lot of things for you; experience shows that in such devices some are done better than others. We are seeing more and more multimedia coming to photography. Sony, for example, just announced a digicam that you can use to connect to the web, and not just an online storage server. Epson, HP, Canon, and other printer companies tout “all-in-ones” as the ultimate printer, copier, scanner, faxer devices. Cell phones have been loaded with picture-taking, MP3-playing, texting, etc. capabilities for years. And now multimedia has come to the once sacrosanct D-SLR in the form of video, motion images that in some models even offer “HD” format.

I enjoy making the occasional video clip using a digicam; on a recent vacation I shot stills and some short clips with a Canon G9 and had fun doing it and watching those clips later. They are great for the moment when the candles get blown out on the cake or when you motor under the Brooklyn Bridge on the Circle Line tour. But there’s a good reason why I work in stills and not video; motion images are just not my thing and I have always considered trying to get one form of visual expression right at a time to be enough, given the study and craft required.

But along with multimedia devices comes expectations that you will become a multimedia person. Perhaps weddings will now be only covered by one image-maker, expected to do both still and video using one camera. We know that news stringers are now expected to both file verbal and visual reports, like the satellite uplink guy Al Franken used to play on SNL. And the proliferation of video-sharing sites and “citizen journalists,” as CNN calls passersby and bystanders with a camera, makes having a video clip maker on you at all times seem attractive. Cell phones seem ideal for this, however, rather than a bulkier D-SLR.

I don’t question the flexibility and facility these multimedia devices afford, just the trend that has made us expect that capability to be part and parcel of everything we buy. Have something do just one thing? What a waste of space and expense. And certainly having video in a D-SLR can only add to the enjoyment of its use. Does that mean that we at Shutterbug will start covering digital video tips and techniques? Don’t count on it, unless this trend goes so far that frame-grabbing, as pulling one moment from a continuum of video is called, becomes the only way we can obtain still images. And that seems pretty unlikely—but hey, you never know.

As this issue goes to press we are heading out for the biggest US show, PMA, with a team of reporters to cover the beat. While there has been lots of product news recently, what with the delivery of many items to stores that we covered in our comprehensive coverage of photokina in our January 2009 issue, it will be interesting to see what else the photo industry has up its sleeve. We have to wonder whether the recession is going to slow down the pace of introductions and technology that has been quite blistering in the last couple of years. But that also seems pretty unlikely. What we will probably see are even more “connectivity” and multimedia products. Anyone want a cell phone, mini fax, web-connected D-SLR?