The Future of Still and Video Technology

Every once in a blue moon, there are so many changes in current video technology that I feel it is worth my time to imagine what the future with this technology will be. Now I know it’s usually a rookie error for someone to write about what’s coming in the future since it changes just about every minute of the day, but honestly, it’s too fun not to try. Besides, when the pace of technology only grows more rapid with time like it has, it’s probably a good idea to throw one’s hands up and realize that time will most definitely make anyone who dares to presume about the future look foolish.

There was a time when a person could buy a piece of technology and expect it to be at the relative top of technological advancements for almost a year, but alas, those days are far behind us. This is not all bad however. Even though I might have to endure buyer’s remorse within a week of having bought a new piece of video equipment, I also know that by the time I buy my next camera or computer I will have already seen the good and the bad of two generations worth of technology. This means that I have a great chance at buying a real solid piece of advanced equipment by the time my old one wears out. Plus, nothing beats that feeling of knowing you finally have the ability to do what others around you have been doing for years. In light of these facts, let’s take a close look at what is coming around the corner in the world of camcorder technology.

Everyone knows that the more megapixels in an image, the sharper and clearer it is. Given these facts it is exciting to note that Canon recently announced that they have developed a sensor that can pick up 120 megapixels of data in one image. This means there is definitely 13,280×9,184 pixel images in our future. With this kind of clarity, you may actually be able to take a picture of the Eiffel tower and zoom it in to see your friend’s face clearly from the top. Unless you’re making a billboard there may not seem to be a valid reason for a 120 megapixel image for now, but with rapid advancements in the space on hard drives, the better question might by why not?

We truly live in an advanced age in which camera companies are putting video functions in their DSLRs. With this revolution, camcorders suddenly went from sensor sizes of 5 mm or less, to sensor sizes of 24-35 mm or more – not to mention the addition of interchangeable lenses. While this has been a real boon to image quality and shallow depth of field capabilities, some camcorder companies are not satisfied with just that. Instead, companies such as RED are making sensors that are 186×56 mm across allowing video shot at 28K and stills shot at a whopping 261 megapixels. Now granted, there are no televisions in the world that can view the entirety of a 28K film and there isn’t even a 28K camera out yet (as RED loves to tease with information well before they actually produce a product) but you can rest assured that the day is coming. Already we’ve seen 4K and QuadHD televisions at tradeshows like CES with resolution so fine that you can count the amount of noodles in the Ramen a man is eating far off in the background of a scene.

Even the camera and camcorder companies are beginning to give us a glimpse into how they see the future. We reported in an earlier blog that Canon believes the future will hold cameras that can go from macro focus to 500 mm zooms all with one lens while taking such high resolution video that you can simply use a frame from the video and zoom and crop it in Photoshop on your computer at a later date. While this sounds fantastical, at the rate that technology is changing now, it’s not hard to imagine that a camera like that is not too far off in the future. Simply put, there seems to be enough demand for higher end products – and technology is quickly catching up. So here’s to hoping that it’s only a matter of time before pictures and video become so high in quality that it almost won’t matter how wide you shoot a scene – it can always be scaled up and cropped later.

Daniel Bruns
Daniel Bruns
Dan Bruns is an award winning cinematographer and editor.

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