Friday, January 6, 2012

New Camera Form Factor?

Yesterday Nikon announced their new D4 DSLR camera.  It looks really nice, but in addition to the fact that I have a significant investment in Canon lenses (not Nikon), at $6000, this camera might as well be made of unobtainium.  I'm not likely to own one.  However, in all the hoopla about the specs of the camera itself, some have overlooked a nifty new little accessory.  It is called the WT-5 and it is a remote control for the camera.  It seems to be a WiFi interface and a web server that run on the camera.  It lets you completely control the camera from an iPad or iPhone as well as  compose shots and preview images.  I think this could be a move in an interesting direction toward a sort of decomposition of the camera into two parts.  Your camera can be a combination of a remote imager and your phone or tablet.  See the video below for info.

Already, many people find they are using their phone for photography most of the time, but because of size constraints, the camera function often suffers.  For example, I don't know of any phone that has a decent optical zoom, and even the iPhone 4s (current best of breed in phone cameras) can't hold a candle to any of my dedicated cameras in low light.  But the combination of the mobile device and the dedicated imaging device is exciting.  Your next fancy camera may just be a high quality imaging device for your tablet or phone.  There are a lot of details to work through with the form factor, but I think its a quite interesting direction.  Right now this is a $500 accessory for a $6000 camera, but you know how these things go... the technology will just drop in price until we all have one in our pocket.

If you are interested in getting a glimpse of what this future might be like, you can get an Eye-Fi card.  It is a SD flash card that you put in your existing camera, and it will automatically download your pictures over WiFi.  I've used one for some time and would recommend it.  It doesn't quite give you a complete tablet or phone interface, but it does wirelessly copy your pictures to your phone or your computer as you take them.

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