Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Misinformation: Gear Tech
New cameras couple smartphone abilities with dedicated image quality
There's not a lot available just yet, and the technology is so new that it's only found in three cameras as of this writing, but pretty soon you'll be able to control your camera from your smartphone. What's more, Android and iOS operating system compatibility implies that all those neat filters and all those seemingly consumer-oriented applications that are able to access and improve upon the capabilities of your iPhone are soon going to be able to do the same with your camera. Although it's sadly lacking in professional offerings, WiFi has been around for a while now, but the broader implications of third-party OS compatibility over traditional menu structures are absolutely tremendous. Do you like apps on your smartphone? How does apps designed for your camera sound? How does touch-screen navigation of settings and controls sound? What about fast filters that can be added to pictures and uploaded to social media? Alternate frame rates and other video features? Digital intervalometers? Menu customization? FTP and cloud uploading right from the camera? Extensive HDR possibilities? Searchable manuals? Remote printing? How about unlocking functionalities without having to hack the camera, thereby stripping it of warranty coverage? The possibilities are endless.
Myth: The Digital Revolution Is OverThe very first dedicated camera to be announced with Google's Android operating system was the Nikon Coolpix S800c running Gingerbread (2.3) on August 22. Only a week later, it was followed by the announcement of the Android-based Samsung Galaxy camera, which features the very latest Android OS, Jelly Bean (4.1). The Galaxy also sports your choice of 3G or 4G for cellular carrier compatibility, though it does lack a phone. Adding Android support is more than just the compact market taking a stance to keep Apple and Android handset makers from cannibalizing yet another market, however. Sharing images and behind-the-scenes shots to social media right from the camera sure seems a lot more inviting when you're not constrained by the severely limited camera of your smartphone.
The iPhone offers a great camera, and it only has improved with the announcement of the iPhone 5, but there's still a large segment of the market that prefers minimal shutter lag, fast low-light performance, sustained burst rates and optical zooming over digital cropping.
So what does a budding technology in consumer compacts mean to professionals? In photography, it's often "trickle-up" technology, where bells and whistles that are found to be popular or effective in the consumer space eventually will see themselves incorporated into the far more sophisticated systems of pro cameras. In this case, Nikon has already announced the full-frame D600 with optional WU-1b Wireless Mobile Adapter ($59 list price) that will interface with smart devices running the companion Wireless Mobile Adapter Utility app, which is available free of charge. The D600 already offers wireless image transfer and remote-control operation of shutter over network connections (movie recording isn't currently supported).
Nor is it a secret to manufacturers that amateurs and pros have been clamoring for better connectivity. Reports that Samsung was exploring an Android-based camera surfaced all the way back in March, so it's likely that 2013 will prove to be a very exciting year for camera tech.