It’s early days, but that leaked Nikon roadmap has been fairly accurate so far. Hoax or not, they managed to predict the D300s and the D3000 which were both officially announced today. Check dpreview.com for the info on the D300s and the D3000. I’m not exactly in the rumour game, so I can’t say if this was well-known information or not, but the accuracy of it does strike me as interesting.
Where the roadmap missed the mark was with the lenses that would be announced today. The ever-so-tasty AF-S 70-200mm F/2.8G ED VR II telezoom and the AF-S DX 18-200mm VR II superzoom got time in the spotlight too. The 70-200mm is immediately on my wish list. Too bad I don’t have any wealthy benefactors willing to flip the £1999 bill for that one.
The D300s, of course, continues the photo/video convergence trend with it’s HD movie capabilities, stereo audio input jack and ability to auto-focus while recording. When it comes time to upgrade my camera, my next one will likely have video and I will probably tinker with it. I doubt, however, that it will become my number one source of entertainment or income, so here’s hoping that Nikon and the other manufacturers keep pushing out great cameras for those of us that are satisfied with stopping a brief moment in time. Based on what that (accurate-to-date) roadmap says, there’s not much to fear on that front.
New Scientist has this article that discusses a new invention by computer-science student Dilip Krishnan and assistant professor Rob Fergus. Their invention is something they call dark flash photography.
Dark flash photography involves a flash that will produce a burst of light outside the visible spectrum and a camera that will be able to both read that information then be able to accurately interpret the visible colour in a scene. The result will be the ability to use a camera flash that will be invisible to the human eye. This invisible flash won’t dazzle, disturb or be intrusive to photographic subject.
The flash in their system has been modified to produce light in a wider spectrum than a normal flash. It emits both infrared and UV light, but at the same time, visible light is filtered out. Normal cameras have filters that prevent infrared and UV light from hitting the sensor, but the pair have modified a camera to be able to pick up both of these forms of light. The resultant image will have strange, unnatural colour, but Krishnan and Fergus have a way around this problem.
Their modified camera will take two exposures in quick succession to get one shot. The first exposure will record the luminosity generated by the invisible IR/UV flash. The second exposure will be used to record colour information using only ambient light. This second image, taken immediately after the first, will lack the detail of the first and will inevitably be unusably dark. But between the two images, all the necessary information. The first has the luminosity information, the second has the colour information.
Using software, the two exposures are combined and the result is a normal-looking photograph produced using the invisible flash.
The New Scientist story says there are still some bugs left eliminate. Certain objects and materials (freckles, for example) absorb the IR/UV light burst. Based on this article at sportsshooter.com on taking infrared photos of basketball players, I suspect there may also be some issues with certain materials reflecting IR/UV light more than they should as well.
I would guess, also, that there would be limitations to what you can photograph based simply on the fact that you are taking two exposures. Fast-moving subjects will be problematic because they will have changed position from one exposure to the next.
There is, however, a variety of applications for this invention. What immediately jumped to my mind was to be able to take flash-lit photos in venues where it is not permitted (usually because it is distracting to other visitors). Perhaps wedding photographers will soon have the option to flash light a ceremony and not disturb the bride and groom with flash pops during their big moment.
As the title of the system suggests, we’re not just looking at another video camera here, the specs on the higher end sensors promise to rival those of current DSLRs. As with the Nikon D90 and the Canon 5D Mark II, digital stills and digital video are converging, but this particular thrust comes from the video side.
The infinitely-configurable system from RED is so different, it’s almost confusing. The RED Scarlet and RED Epic sensors (with funny names like Mysterium Monstro) can be combined and interchanged with different lens mounts (including Canon and Nikon mounts), batteries, recording modules, lenses (of course) and so on. The idea is that the camera can be configured and tailored to your needs in a myriad of ways. Further, as technology advances and new components become available, they will integrate into this system and you won’t have to upgrade the entire camera.
All of this, of course, comes at a price. A lot of it is pretty costly stuff, but perhaps the less expensive options will allow budding filmmakers to buy into the system and upgrade into the more high-end options as their needs may advance. The lighter weight versions, however, do seem fairly affordable for the ability to get good quality HD video.
On the photography side of things, I’m not sure the specs / cost will win over too many DSLR shooters. The higher-megapixel options are a lot more pricey than their DSLR counterparts. What we have here is the reverse of a camera like the 5D Mark II. RED’s system will allow filmmakers to branch out into still photography where the Mark II will give photographers the option to try their hand at making some moving pictures.
Though it will likely be a long while (if ever!) before I get to play with one of these (especially since it doesn’t an official release date yet) it’s still fun to watch the technology blossom and to imagine where things may go next.