2011 has been quite a happening year in the digital imaging market. Along with the maturing of technologies and trends that were showcased in 2010, the year saw all major brands putting their best feet forward to come one up in technology and taking the fight to the next level.
A major shift in the Indian imaging market was brought about by the wider adoption of the Interchangeable Lens Compact Camera (ILCC) segment. While Panasonic and Olympus built-up on their existing Four Thirds ILCCs—the PEN series and the G-series respectively, Sony and Nikon followed suit with their own versions of sensors suitable for their respective ILCCs. While Olympus and Panasonic opted for the Micro Four Thirds format, Nikon chose to put their R&D on an overdrive and came out with a smaller sensor system with the launch of the Nikon 1 system. Sony, on the other hand, stuck to an APS-C size sensor, which put them at a disadvantage when it came to compact lens designs. Nevertheless, the Sony R&D lab was busy with the creation of another breakthrough in sensor design, the Translucent Mirror, used in their SLT (Single-Lens Translucent) cameras. Though this system did not get rid of the mirror, the reflex system was eliminated, resulting in smaller, lighter, and faster cameras. The year 2011 also recognised the superior video capabilities of D-SLRs.
With social media stealing the spotlight, competition started in the social media sphere too. Direct printing from Flickr, Facebook and Picasa became standard features of web-based printing services, along with photo books and customised printing options. Mobile phone cameras also matured to provide images that more or less match the quality of compact cameras.
Internationally, most of the buzz revolved around Lytro and Red Epic cameras. The Lytro Light Field Camera is a breakthrough in technology. The main feature of this camera is that it allows the photographer to bring into focus, any part of the image, after it has been shot. The camera achieves this by capturing the entire light field emanating from the image. This means that instead of capturing only the light rays reflected directly off the image onto the lens, the Lytro’s Light Field Sensor captures the light reflected in all directions. This also eliminates focussing delays since there is no need for an AF motor.
Another innovation, the Red EPIC Digital Still and Motion Camera (DSMC), boasts unparalleled speed of up to 120 frames per second at the full resolution of 14 megapixels along with unmatched dynamic range.
The above innovations come at a time when the megapixel race came to an end and everything seemed to have been approaching a black hole with no clear indications of the things to come. But the new technologies prove otherwise. The future looks bright for the early adopters of technology.