(Source – pixabay.com, used under CCO license.)
I saw the following article on the online magazine Wired recently.
Panasonic has introduced a feature in some existing cameras via a software download that lets you take a single picture at multiple focal points almost simultaneously so that the person can pick a desired focal point for presentation to the viewer after the fact. Some existing cameras have had this kind of a feature in the sense of taking a picture at a few (two or three) focal lengths one after another, but this Panasonic feature apparently takes this kind of capability to the next level. Indeed, what is needed in existing cameras to implement this kind of a feature is plenty of speed and a lot of storage.
I somehow feel that this is a half-baked solution to a very interesting problem of capturing pictures in their truest form so that they are suitable for post-processing to any desired set of parameters for presentation. In fact, this is the technology that will eventually revolutionize the field of photography and allow even devices like smartphones to take pictures that in presentation will far superior to those generated from traditional cameras. They will allow a much greater level of creativity than with the existing optical technology.
Welcome to the field of plenoptic or light-field technology! There are experiments in this realm that are still not completely mature or suitable for use by consumers at this time, but I think that something along these lines will be coming some time in the future.
And then there is Wavefront coding….
Perhaps I was very naive about what it was all about when I took up photography, but years of experience have taught me that this hobby is not just about capturing the image as seen by an observer. It is about creating the visual and mental impact that you desire with the picture that you present. Towards this goal, today, you end up using all kinds of technology in the camera, and outside of it in post-processing, to create the impact that one wants. Even the most basic picture that you see today has probably undergone some kind of “processing”, either optically, or electronically, or in software. What we call artistry is trying to use the technology that is available to us, be it the simple paint-brushes, or the cameras, or the electronic devices, or the software, to create the impact we wish. Of course, we will always argue about the amount of “reality” in the product that is being produced based on the amount of creativity that is used in the presentation, but I think it is becoming more and more an argument about the degree of processing, not about the presence or absence of processing.
When you look at the possibility of new technologies emerging for capturing images, and then this technology becoming a part of the mainstream, such events will actually open up the field of photography to new techniques for artistry in picture presentations. We will have a new generation of artists using newly invented image capturing and processing devices and techniques who will call themselves photographers, who will have no concept of what photography meant to the pioneers in this field. Photoshopping is just the beginning. Even the term “camera” may become passe. Analog cameras anybody?!