Wednesday, November 21, 2012

... from Art to Experience? [part three]

Photography has become a means of experience sharing.  Photographs are no longer just objects that are viewed and sometimes hung on a wall for some small part of the world to admire.  How we approach photographic works has an opportunity to change.

Light ~ Florence

Image capture manufacturers seem to have taken notice.  I saw two items from the recent Photokina camera show in Germany that showed me this might be the case.  The first is a new camera offering from Sony.  The second is a new camera offering from Samsung.

For many years, images passed through a process (chemical or computer) before emerging as a final "work".  The final "work" was an "object" in the tradition of classic art "objects".

With the advent of mobile telephones, image making is suddenly connected directly to the vast network of information sharing.  The new image making process is one of 1) see scene 2) image scene 3) manipulate scene (using various creativity applications) 4) share scene across the internet.  No film.  No chemicals.  No computer.  No costly software applications.  No costly "professional" image making gadgets.

Mobile telephone cameras have not been of particularly high quality.  Yet some brilliant work has been done using these relatively simple low resolution image making devices.  I wonder what could happen if higher quality image could be produced using networked devices.  While I don't believe that higher quality images would have a significant impact on what we see on the web, good high resolution images might be made and shared between people who care about image qualities where large prints or publication is concerned. 

Light ~ Florence

Sony introduced two cameras this year that caught my attention.  They are part of their NEX camera series.  One is the NEX5r and the other is the NEX6.  What is significant about these 16.6mega-pixel cameras is that they can be connected directly to a LAN on the internet and Sony is promising software that allows for the creative manipulation of images before they leave the camera.

I love Sony's NEX cameras.  These cameras are small, light, and just as powerful in making quality images as many DSLRs.  Creativity and image manipulation can now take place right on the image making device.  I think this is a wonderful opportunity to ditch the computer for image processing. 

The second camera that caught my attention is Samsung's new 16mega-pixel Android-based point and shoot camera.  If I understand the capabilities correctly, we will now have a high quality image making device that is tied directly 3G and 4G telephone networks.  More importantly, if Samsung has built their new Galaxy camera correctly, image makers will have instant access to the thousands of already available mobile-phone-based image making creativity software applications.

Light ~ Florence

I like the idea of a camera company using Android as the base operating system.  It is based on Linux, the Open Source software that was started by Linus Torvalds many years ago.  The open standard means that the ability to create new software is nearly unlimited.

Up to this point in technology history, camera manufacturers have written closed system software that drives camera internals (menuing, metering, focusing, creativity selections, and the like) that is sometimes based on VxWorks (in high-end professional cameras), manytimes based on their own proprietary software solutions (for pocket cameras and low-end DSLRs with firmware that ingrates into company proprietary ASIC-based engines).  If you know anything about VxWorks, you will quickly realize just how limited it is in it's ability to connect seamlessly to quickly evolving network communications standards.  Proprietary software would be an even more challenging problem to try and network, particularly if the languages used to program these cameras is based on non-extensible standards where network communication software protocols are not readily available (as is widely the case).

Light ~ Florence

While the market may initially not know what to do with the Samsung Android camera/not-mobile-phone, I can see that on-camera image processing is currently at the front edge of a new and potentially exciting capability.  In fact, I just read a rumor that suggested that Samsung might move it's NX mirrorless cameras to the Android-based operating system.  I find this very exciting.

To my way of thinking, the new level of software integration on-camera can lead only to one thing: More creative images widely shared at the speed of experience.

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