Everyone is Making a Good Camera, but No One is Making an Exceptional One

In case you’ve been hiding under a rock, there isn’t a single camera out there that isn’t good. They’re all good. They’re all great. They all have loads more megapixels than you need, they all have more than good enough high ISO output for images going on the web, they all have pretty darned good autofocus capabilities, they all have just overall fantastic features, they can all take pictures, they mostly can send images to your phone with ease, and they can all also take better photos than your phone can.

And maybe that’s the problem here.

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Over the past few nights I’ve been speaking with members of my staff thinking about one big thing: No one is making a bad camera, but no one is also making a truly exceptional camera that stands out from the rest and makes me want to switch systems immediately. Then I started talking to other photographers–some of whom are sponsored by some of these very companies. And they tend to agree. In general, the engineers of most companies are so far removed from what photographers do and think due to what DXO scores and DPReview lab tests say, because most people understand numbers far better than they understand art, emotions, feelings, etc.

The bigger problem: so too do the masses. The creative photographers that honestly produce the creme de la creme of the work out there don’t sit and think about numbers all the time when they shoot–they try to figure out a way to capture what they feel in an image or scene. If they can’t, then they figure out a way to create it.

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I generally feel it’s a problem with the industry overall right now: even Adobe is hopping on board. Earlier on this year, we were treated to Project Felix: a service that is letting designers create photo-realistic images without needing to spend money for expensive photo shoots, as they coin it.

Really?

Why can’t you help photographers create more photo-realistic composites?

Or, why can’t we find a way to do this in-camera better?

Now don’t get me wrong: companies are surely innovating and that’s good. But no company is doing something super exceptional that will advance the capabilities of photographers. They’ve been doing a lot thus far and we’ve seen quite a bit. Don’t believe me? What about multiple exposure mode? Or a cross processed look? Or being able to handhold a camera for up to 15 seconds? That’s all some crazy innovation; but it doesn’t majorly progress how we do things as photographers.

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Some suggestions:

  • Using touchscreens to be able to clone out certain things in images
  • Emulating the look of various film emulsions
  • Emulating the look of alternative processes
  • Legitimate pinhole modes
  • Legitimate abilities to composite images together (it’s sort of there, but not in the post processing phase)
  • Augmented reality, sort of like snapchat
  • Livestream abilities
  • Artistic filters like Prisma, paintings, 90s filter/VHS looks
  • Tungsten white balance (no seriously, bring it back in more cameras!!!)
  • In-camera tilt-shift by moving the sensor
  • Wireless radio flash capabilities built into the cameras. If you can put bluetooth, wifi, and GPS in a camera then you can surely put this!
  • Basic in-camera editing functions that are more advanced before rendering the image as a JPEG (converting to JPEG and extremely basic edits are already available, but I’m talking about Lightroom’s basic editing functionalities like clarity, highlights, shadows, black levels, saturation of specific colors, etc.)
  • In-camera ND filters that are graduated and or variable

There are loads and loads of options are available that can literally change the way  we create photos and deliver the final products. But in general, lots of cameras and manufacturers are only doing basics just to be safe.

It’s time to play risky and excite people about the still image even more. But it’s also time to tell photographers to stop simply capturing events and moments–and instead start to create them. Everyone has their own personal and unique opinion or vision on something.

So why can’t we make it manifest in the camera?