It seems every day that cameras are getting better: camera phones and digital cameras keep improving – higher resolutions, better color, better low-light performance. But none of these improvements are really game changing. What does the future hold for cameras? Is it more of the same, a revolution, or a bit of both?
A Look Ahead with Apple
Just a few years ago, Apple’s iPhone 4 took 5 megapixel (MP) pictures, and 3MP selfie pics. The camera on the iPhone 6s is expected to take 12MP pics and 5MP selfies. A vast improvement in only a few years.
But what’s even more exciting is Apple’s $20 million acquisition of LinX Imaging, an Israeli digital photography tech firm. Linx develops a technology known as ‘multi-aperture photography,’ which is the use of software, data, and multiple cameras to produce a picture far better than anything that could be produced using a single lens.
Camera Phones More Powerful Than A DSLR
Why will these pictures be better? Single lens cameras are inherently limited by physics. To resolve a sharper image, the lenses have to get thicker – too thick to fit in a point-and-shoot or camera phone. Hence the ‘camera bulge’ on many phones. Camera arrays can, in theory, get around this limit, by combining information from many thin cameras next to one another. So far, this potential has been hamstrung by difficulties combining the images.
LinX thinks it can solve these problems, and make a tiny, cheap smartphone camera that can go head to head with any digital single-lens reflex camera (DSLR).
RT Apple Acquires LinX, A Camera Maker That Promises DSLR Performance in Phones https://t.co/OJqrk948Yu pic.twitter.com/O6VpxfMNAD
— Kevin Green (@RockTheReTweet) May 15, 2015
The camera array tech created by LinX as seen in a presentation to Apple in 2014, which compares LinX 8 vs. the iPhone 5s, appears to show sharper objects, stunning images at lower light levels, and better, fuller color.
What makes this exciting is that LinX promises to do this with cameras that are smaller in size, weigh half as much as current cameras on the market, and require shorter exposure times.
What LinX cameras also promise to do is provide better auto-focus.
Nowadays you can focus on an image before taking a picture. The focus is expected to provide for a better picture as it brings light and color “forward” or “backwards” in the picture.
LinX’s tech aims to provide better auto-focus not only before a photo has been taken, but also after!
This is possible because of the parallax between the images – the difference in perspectives between the many lenses. This is similar to how light-field cameras like the Lytro work.
Apple buys LinX, will future iPhones lose the ‘camera bulge?’ http://t.co/ZKPnqRq5Ol via @jeffwardbailey pic.twitter.com/GycZDFnSOb
— CS Monitor (@csmonitor) April 16, 2015
Imagine taking a photo, not liking the resolution on a certain area, and then refocusing on where you want to the image to be improved. It’ll be that easy.
Better Facial Recognition
This technology will also enable better facial recognition. The parallax between the cameras gives a lot of information about depth. This info can then be used to determine much more accurately which feature is which, and where it’s located. It also allows the background to be dropped, to reduce error rates.
Apple’s Acquisition of LinX Imaging May Lead to Thinner Cameras, 3D Imaging for Next iPhones – http://t.co/7R1wmSOaTy pic.twitter.com/eGwlVDaee4
— 3D Printing News (@My3DPrinting) April 27, 2015
For the Digital Camera Lovers
While camera phones are doing their best to catch up with digital cameras, DSLRs are doing their best to keep their distance. And in fact, digital cameras have come a long way.
Qualcomm Imaging Recognition
Imaging recognition is also getting better for DSLRs. Instead of waiting for your photo to be uploaded to Google or Facebook for automated recognition tags, Qualcomm is developing tech that will tag images in real-time.
Even better, the tagging software will learn and adapt when more pictures are taken.
Canon’s 250 Megapixel Camera
Once every five years, Canon holds an expo that provides a glimpse into the camera future. The Japanese photo manufacturing company did so once again and showed why the world of camera tech is something to be excited about.
Megapixels are a big deal, although not the only key factor in camera quality. And while 8, 16, and the industry leading 50.6MP are nice, 250 is a whole lot nicer. The big upshot is the ability to take photographs from far away (up to eleven miles), and still zoom in far enough to see fine details.
Recommendation: don’t take a selfie.
Taking Color Videos in the Dark
According to Canon, their new full-frame 35mm camera can practically see in the dark. Their site says,
“the ME20F-SH camera achieves impressive high-sensitivity performance enabling the capture of color Full HD video with reduced noise in low-light conditions without the need for infrared illumination.”
Prior technology, which required infrared illumination, produced mostly black and white images. But with this tech, a whole new, colorful world might become available to our cameras.
What Will the Future Look Like?
It’s impossible to know the future for certain, but we can certainly make some enlightened guesses. These technologies depict a future that will look much more clear, colorful, and life-like with the help of future camera tech. I’m excited. How about you?
Are you excited about camera tech in the future? Do you see yourself using future gear for better results?
Image Credit: gadget with zoom by Ociacia via Shutterstock, 1000 Words via Shutterstock.com, Maksim Ladauski via Shutterstock.com