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July 6, 2010

In the Future, Cameras Will Look Like Giant Ear Scopes: Canon Shows 'Wonder Camera' Concept

Canon, Panasonic, and other electronics companies are showing "concept" cameras in Shanghai right now as part of World Expo 2010, and Canon has seemingly made the biggest splash with their vision of what a camera will look like in 2030. Camera technology is changing so rapidly these days that it's hard to imagine what video and still cameras will be capable of in five years, much less twenty. But here's Canon's concept -- which looks an awful lot like the tip of an otoscope -- which they've dubbed the "wonder cam:"

Conceptually, and not surprisingly, Canon's concept of the future is one wherein still cameras and video cameras are one and the same. Along the same lines as RED with their DSMC, Canon foresees a future of convergence, where still photos are simply extracted from video footage. I've written about this in-depth before, and I do believe that as datarates, resolution, and dynamic range increase, photography and cinematography will migrate increasingly towards data acquisition tasks. But while the above video, posted by Gizmag, includes more technical details about the concept camera, I'm going to refrain from getting into specifics -- this is a theoretical camera designed for the year 2030 -- any "details" are mere hype. For example, in the demo the camera is tethered to a backpack computer -- while this is feasible for professional film-style shoots, I'm sure by the time 2030 rolls around the camera will be not only freed from the backpack, but will be built into our heads or something instead.

Canon is also touting "proprietary technology" that allows everything in the frame -- independent of distance-to-lens -- to be in focus. For narrative filmmaking, this would be quite the departure from the "larger sensor, shallower depth of field" quest many of us have been on for years, but then again it could enable the next generation of deep-focus exercises ala Citizen Kane. However, given Canon's "proprietary" label, it seems as if this deep DOF is due to software rather than optics -- sure, they could achieve an infinite DOF with a tiny sensor, but if they're using some sort of software magic, that might lend the camera more flexibility -- say, the ability to choose a depth of field.

The display in the background of the demonstration is Panasonic's LifeWall, which, along the same lines as the Microsoft Surface, is itself the future of computing:

In Gizmag's excellent article, they state the expo cost China $60 billion dollars to put together. I thought that was surely a typo until I looked it up: yes, China spend more to clean up and reorganize Shanghai for the Expo than they did to ready Beijing for the 2008 Olympics. To give a better idea of what this year's expo (which runs May through October) is all about, here's Gizmag:

The latest World Expo in Shanghai has a theme of urban living – Better City, Better Life. The focus of this event is hence largely on sustainability, and green technologies are on show in abundance because it’s fast becoming obvious that if three quarters of the world’s people are to live on top of each other in cities, as will be the case in less than 100 years, we’re going to need to be far more respectful of the environment and tread far more lightly on Mother Earth than ever before – one of the messages from Expo 2010 is that sustainability is now an imperative.

There's some refreshing perspective. Sustainability: more important than camera specs.

[via DSLR News Shooter]

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4 Comments

Infinite DOF could also be acquired by something like this:
http://graphics.stanford.edu/papers/lfcamera/
and
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plenoptic_camera

July 6, 2010

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Ringo -- that is AMAZING. From your link, this is an incredible video:

http://graphics.stanford.edu/papers/lfcamera/lfcamera.avi

Thanks again for adding very valuable content to this post.

July 6, 2010

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Ryan Koo
Founder
Writer/Director

Ya, and we'll take those shots while flying around in our Jetpack. Who gives a shit about 2030? Why dont you do something with the camera in your hand - you know - today?

October 21, 2010

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DP

damn you beat me to my own comment. Yeah what he said.------->

February 2, 2012

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Gary