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A Speculative Look at the Future of Photography

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By Mark Anderson 2 years ago 1448 Views No comments
My camera – along with a lot of other cameras these days – allows me to shoot 30 frames per second, but limits the image size to be 8 megapixels in that case. This technology is the result of the camera’s ability to shoot 4K video, and to extract still images from video shot at 30 frames per second. There is a rumor out there is that the much anticipated Panasonic GH5 will release with 6K video, and in another year or so, an 8K video is seen as likely. In digital photography, a pixel is the smallest discrete element of information in our digital images. So each frame of a video shot at 720p contains 720 pixels along its longest edge; at 1280p, 1,280 pixels; and at 4K, 4,000 pixels in one dimesion. A theoretical 8K video would have 8,000 pixels in the longest dimension of each frame. I’m no math whiz, so I don’t know if you double the pixels along that one dimension, if that means that extracted stills from an 8K video feed would now be 16 MB – I figure if everything else stays the same, that is if the frame rate is still 30 per second – that the extracted still files will certainly be larger, but I still don’t know the coefficient to apply to that calculation. Nor do I much care. The point, though, is that apparently the pixel density of video available to the average consumer will continue to rise for the foreseeable future. In another 10 years, will we be able to shoot 20K video, or some such? At that time, which seems to be coming in the foreseeable future, why limit yourself to shooting stills? Why not just shoot short-burst video clips of any scene in front of you, and then select the best images from that stream of 30- or 60- or 120-frames per second? As the technology of pulling stills out of a video feed continues to develop, we may see this method become the default way to capture still images. No need to wait to make sure everyone in a group shot has their eyes open – just shoot at a very high frame rate 5 or 10 seconds of video – and chances are very good that you’ll have a number of acceptable images to choose from. I saw a software program that has recently hit the market that purports to select the best images from all images that it is asked to review. If indeed in the near future a photographer can capture 120 frames per second of still images via a video feed, less than 90 seconds of video would result in over 10,000 discrete still images…..who in their right mind wants to look at all those images to pick out the best of the lot? Is video the future of still photography? Perhaps, but I would comment that advancements in technology are neither a good or a bad thing – humans will still make the decision of whether or not to support a new technology. So while an early form of this technology is already in many of our cameras, have you even used it? I admit that I have not…..at this point in the development of the technology, it still sounds like a gimmick to me. How about you? Does your camera have this capability, and if so, have you used it?