Could This

be the camera of the (near) future? Based on current trends and on our own reporting, we imagined it slightly smaller and much lighter than a typical DSLR—with an EVF, compact lens, huge, articulated touchscreen monitor, and extensive on-board editing tools.

toss in the air like confetti for a cloud of pictures—but how many people would actually buy one?

Small Is Big

Olympus' EndoCapsule camera is so tiny you could swallow it whole. In fact, you're supposed to. Says John Knaur, senior digital products manager at Olympus, "As you swallow it, it takes pictures all the way through your gastrointestinal tract and relays that data to a sensor outside the body that the doctor can download to see what you look like on the inside—without running scopes through you."

This is a cool invention for gas-troenterologists, but what does it mean to photographers? Just that our ability to get decent—though not necessarily print-worthy— pictures from a ridiculously tiny camera may be around the comer.

At least, that's the claim. And resolution is less important, since the images such micro-cameras capture are meant to be seen only on screens, not in print.

Take the Altera FPGA processing chips used by sensor makers AltaSens and Aptina, whose products are used in video security

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Shown far larger than actual size, the Olympus Endoscope is small enough to eat.

cameras. These increase the images dynamic range by using tone-mapping on two simultaneous exposures. The result is HD video with better detail in both highlights and shadows.

"The AltaSens sensor can take two exposures in one frame time. Half the pixels are set for one exposure time while the other half are set for a different exposure time," says Altera senior strategic marketing manager Judd Heap. "The Aptina sensor is similar, except it captures video at 720p resolution instead of 1080p."

As the cost of such processors comes down, over the next few years they could begin to be used in consumer cameras.

At the same time, camera makers are banking on smaller ILCs that offer greater flexibility and performance than true compacts or electronic-viewfinder (EVF) superzooms without the bulk of DSLRs.

The Micro Four Thirds system from Olympus and Panasonic, along with APS-C-sensor ILCs from Samsung and Sony, are gaining in popularity, and chances are good that the other camera makers will enter this market before long.

Market analytics firm IDC forecasts that ILCs could reach 7% of cameras sold in 2013, up from 1% today, while DSLRs will drop to 6% from 8%. IDC analyst Chris Chute believes, though, that DSLRs will continue to dominate the high end of the camera market.

As we went to press, Sony announced a new kind of

Shown far larger than actual size, the Olympus Endoscope is small enough to eat.


Ericsson's Xperia X10 (above) and Satio (below) flaunt their cameras' capabilities.


Ericsson's Xperia X10 (above) and Satio (below) flaunt their cameras' capabilities.

hybrid camera that seems to fall somewhere between ' an ILC and DSLR. It uses what Sony calls "Translucent Mirror Technology," a fixed mirror that reflects light to the AF sensor and transmits light through to the APS-C-sized CMOS image sensor, simultaneously. (For more, see Editor's Letter, page 6.)

Convergence, Finally?

Among the beneficiaries of miniaturization are the makers—and users—of camera phones. For instance, Sony Ericsson's latest smartphones emphasize their credentials as cameras. The Xperia X10 is an Android device with a 4-inch screen and 8. IMP camera that shoots stills and widescreen video. It has touch-focus and AF, flash and movie lights, macro mode, and a microSD card slot for up to 16GB of storage. The Satio boasts a 12.1MP camera with similar features, but it runs on the Symbian OS and has a front-facing camera for two-way video calls. And last spring, Nokia exec Anssi Vanjoki created a stir by saying that "in the very near future" cellphone cameras would make DSLRs obsolete. That served as background for Nokia's launch of its 12MP camera phone, the N8, which has a Carl Zeiss lens, high-res 3.5-inch touchscreen, and shoots 720p HD video.

That's a lot of pixels to cram onto a tiny cellphone sensor, so you can expect noisy images. And that kind of tiny lens doesn't approach the edge-to-edge sharpness, distortion control, and speed of today's lenses for interchangeable-lens cameras, whether DSLRs or ILCs.

That's the front on which convergence has gotten truly interesting. Adding

HD video shooting to DSLRs has enabled filmmakers to get a much higher level of image quality at a significantly lower cost than shooting with traditional motion-picture cameras. And it has allowed still photographers—notably photo-joumalists and event shooters—to move into video more easily.

What's next? Interchangeable lenses on consumer-level camcorders are coming very soon from Panasonic, Samsung, and Sony.

And at the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai this summer, Canon revealed a concept product, the Wonder Camera. It would capture extremely high-res video—every frame a usable photo. But it's more concept than product, and not a mere two or three years away.

Back to the Future

In the 1890s, stereoscopes were common in American homes, but their popularity declined rapidly after Kodak introduced the Brownie camera in 1900—possibly because people would rather look at their own two-dimensional images than someone else's stereoscopic ones. Since then, 3D, whether for movies or still images, has gone through numerous boom-and-bust cycles.

Now seems to augur another boom. Panasonic, Samsung, and Sony have all launched 3DTVs (and dedicated goggles). The Consumer Electronics Association expects unit sales to hit 2.1 million, or $2.7 billion in revenue in 2010 (they came on the market only last spring). In 2011, the CEA forecasts sales of 6 million units, for $7 billion.

Of course, those 3DTV makers also make cameras. To be more than a passing fad once again, 3D must become a popular format for consumer-created digital images.

Fujifilm actually got there a year ago with the FinePix Real 3D Wl, which has dual lenses and dual sensors. Just before we went to CONTINUES ON PAGE 13S


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To celebrate 60 years of optical innovation and excellence, Tamron has unveiled a superb extended-range telephoto zoom lens that covers full-frame and APS-C formats and has been designed to exceed established performance standards.

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Created for professionals and enthusiasts who demand premium imaging performance that matches the parameters of today's ultra-highresolution DSLRs, it delivers the goods, with best-in-class resolution and correction, BBAR multi-coating to tame flare, and internal focusing for optimum balance and responsiveness. To cut to the chase, the new Tamron SP 70-300mm Di VC USD sets a new class standard in precision optics. It captures the world in breathtaking detail to maximize your creative potential.

Get Paid to Take Digital Photos

Get Paid to Take Digital Photos

Reasonable care has been taken to ensure that the information presented in this book is  accurate. However, the reader should understand that the information provided does not constitute legal, medical or professional advice of any kind.

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