Photography has undergone many changes in its relatively short history. For the first 150 years it was a purely analog art form in which latent images were exposed on to film. The technology advanced but the general principle remained the same.
During the 1990’s the digital camera started to take shape. Although this has made photography much more accessible to people (the most common digital cameras are the ones built into mobile phones) the principles have remained the same. Photographic technology has changed but the resultant work is very similar to that which can be created using analog equipment.
Image by cogdogblog on Flickr
However, we are now seeing some exciting new changes in the world of photography. You may already be familiar with one technology that has literally changed the way we see the world. It is the technology used by Google to create its Streetview images. 360 degree panoramic images from a moving vehicle that has now traveled along almost every single lane, road, street and motorway in the developed world and has also covered many areas of the developing world. However, this is not the only advancement in photography in recent years. Let us take a look at a few, starting with the “Streetview camera”.
Spherical Video Camera
This is the technological used by Google Street View. It is a camera that consists of 11 lens on a soccer ball sized sphere. The main camera used by Google is Immersive’s Dodeca (PDF) 2360 (PDF). It can record at 30 frames per second. The images are joined together to make the infinite and navigable image as seen on Google Streetview. This technology is not cheap though, camera retail at around $45,000 each. The mount and computer to process the images costs an additional $45,000 and you spend around $400 per mile of filming.
Throwable Panoramic Ball Camera
This new camera is based on the same principle as the Dodeca 2360. The main differences are that it is designed to be thrown in the air to take panoramic shots and it is also priced for the mass market. The camera is designed to capture an image when it is at the highest point in its flight. The ball has 36 fixed-focus cameras to capture the image. It utilizes an array of modern technology including an accelerometer so that it can predict the exact point that it will reach its apex and the casing is constructed with a revolutionary 3D printer. The biggest downside is that these cameras are very bulky. For more information on the Throwable Ball Camera see http://jonaspfeil.de/ballcamera.
Photojojo’s Double Exposure Digi Cam
Photojolo’s new photography concept consists of a 3.2 MP sensor. The key feature of the camera is that it allows you to take a double exposure, i.e., take two photographs on the same image. It is a way to layer photos to create a more artistic image. It is a little gimmicky and the same process can be done in good photo editing software. It is a very compact camera though and currently retails at $130. If you are looking for something a little different that you can carry with you at all times it is certainly worth a further look.
Panasonic HDC-Z10000 3D camcorder
This is the a candidate to be the first commercially available 3D camcorder. It is currently a concept camera with a twin-lens that can film in 3D and take 3D photographs. The camcorder records in 1080p / 1080i AVCHD video. It can also take 3D macro images. The camera was announced by Panasonic in August 2011 and started to appear in shops at the end of October. It is retailing at around $3500, so you can now make your own HD movies in 3D.
Prosthetic eye digital camera
This is the ultimate tool for one-eyed spies – the Prosthetic eye digital camera. This is no joke though. Tanya Marie Vlach may be the first person to have a digital eye installed. She lost one eye in a car accident and is currently raising funds to Grow a New Eye. The idea is the create a digital eye that will use Bluetooth wireless technology to transmit data to a computer. You can find out more about Tanya Vlach on her website http://tanyavlach.wordpress.com/
Phantom v1610: One Million FPS
The new Phantom c1610 range video camera by Vision Research can take one million frames per second. What can you do with a million frames per second? Well, not a lot. To actually manage a million frames per second the images are so small that they can hardly be viewed with the naked eye. However, with fewer frames per second it can produce some stunning stop motion photography. The camera can be equipped with up to 96GB of high-speed memory to store the thousands of HD images required to create a stop motion film. You can see what the camera is capable of producing on Vision Research’s gallery, http://www.visionresearch.com/Gallery/. Poetry in Motion is certainly worth a viewing.
Lytro Light Field Camera
Lytro has developed a camera that literally takes photos in a new and revolutionary way. Rather than focusing at a fixed distance the Lytro captures the image across the entire light field. An image is made up of multiple layers which can then be individually manipulated. You can take a photo with everything in perfect focus and then chose which parts to blur later. Learn more on their website, www.lytro.com.
3D and dynamic panoramic photos are changing the face of photography. This change is driven entirely by advancements in technology. Digital storage is possibly still the biggest hurdle as HD cameras capable of taking hundreds of frames per second require a huge amount of storage space. Also processing demands a lot of computing power. As memory expands and computer chips get faster we are set to experience many new advancements in photography in the coming years.
Gary Dean is a full time photographer and part of the writing team on a popular free photo prints website. When not working with cameras he collects them and has a particular love of old folder cameras.