Saturday, June 11, 2011

Photographic innovation

click photo to enlarge
The development of cameras and photographs has never ceased since the days when the early pioneers first fixed their images on glass and paper. But rather than being a steady upward path, innovation has tended to progress in bursts followed by a quiet period of consolidation. I spent about 35 years using film cameras - compact, rangefinder and SLR. However, in the last two decades of the twentieth century I paid little attention to the developments that were taking place - autofocus lenses, different kinds of metering etc., because I was entirely happy with what I could achieve with my Olympus OM1n and my Ricoh rangefinder. In quite a number of respects the technology of these two cameras was little different from the cameras of ten or twenty - maybe forty or fifty - years earlier. But, they did have batteries to power their light meters which used selenium, so to that extent they were "modern".

Today, in fact ever since cameras have incorporated sensors and computers, the pace of change has been frenetic. And, just when you think things have settled down in terms of the megapixel count and the feature set offered by competing manufacturers, along comes another development. Often these are disdained by the purists, and talked down by people who use cameras that don't feature them, but widespread adoption by every manufacturer of the novelty introduced by one, seems to be only a matter of time. I've seen this phenomenon with image stabilisation, live-view, the movie facility in still cameras, "art filters" and more. The other day, as I watched this man take his own photograph near City Hall, London, I wondered how long it would be before every camera had a second LCD display on its front next to the lens. His camera didn't have the feature, so he took several shots, checking the rear LCD until he got something that satisfied him. But, surely it can only be a matter of time before second LCDs are widespread, can't it?

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 100mm
F No: f8
Shutter Speed: 1/125
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation:  0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On