Photography has come a long way in the last few decades. From the release of the first commercial digital camera in 1988 to the first mobile phone camera in 1999, there have been many major milestones in recent years that have changed photography forever.
And there’s no sign of this technology slowing down any time soon. Photography has been continuing to evolve at a rapid pace in the last 10 years, with some incredible new features being introduced and popularised. This post delves more into those latest tech innovations and how they have transformed photography.
Traditionally, all cameras have required multiple lenses to keep all the colours in an image focused. However, this may be about to change.
Researchers have recently managed to create a flat lens that is 1000th of an inch thick that eliminates the need for multiple lenses. The lens was created after a scientific breakthrough in which researchers realised that light waves did not have to be a particular shape to create an image – and therefore traditional lenses that turn parallel light waves into spherical light waves were not necessary
Such a lens could have many incredible applications. It could enable smartphone cameras to be thinner, as well as allowing more compact medical cameras for procedures like endoscopies. Overall, such lenses could reduce the cost, complexity and weight of cameras. Expect to see flat lenses making their commercial debut in the near future.
AI photo editing
Artificial intelligence is software that is able to keep learning by interpreting huge amounts of new data. Generative AI is currently one of the most exciting types of AI – using a text prompt this AI can create lifelike photographic images of practically anything.
AI is unlikely to replace photography – it is still necessary to capture real images of people and events in the world to convey the truth. However, we could start to see AI being more commonly used in photo editing to instantly tweak photos.
Adobe Photoshop recently released a ‘generative fill’ feature that allowed photos to be expanded by automatically new content around the edges. Such a feature could help to solve all kinds of issues, such as being able to restore the top of someone’s head that has been cut off in a photo, or expanding the sky in a photo to provide space for adding text without having to cover the subject of the photo.
AI background changer tools could also revolutionise areas of photography such as product photography and portrait photography. Product photos can be taken anywhere before adding any number of exotic backdrops. Portraits can similarly be taken with any background, which could then be instantly filled to suit any purpose (no need to stand in front of a white or green screen).
Taking aerial photos used to be very challenging. If there was no building or ledge nearby, a helicopter would have to be hired out. As you can imagine, this was beyond the budget of most people.
Drones have made this type of photography much cheaper. These remote-control flying robots can be positioned anywhere in the air to take photographs from angles that would previously never be accessible. This includes everything from birds-eye view photographs of buildings to photographs of people standing on a cliff ledge.
Drone technology has advanced a lot in recent years, allowing commercial drones to be more stable, easier to steer and more robust – all at a cheaper price. A few industries where drone photography has started to see more common usage include real estate, construction and travel. Such gadgets have also started to be heavily used by everyday consumers for everything from vacation snaps to unique photos of local wildlife. It is likely that drones will become even more common place in years to come.
A regular photograph displays a subject from a single angle. 360 degree photographs allow a subject to be displayed from multiple angles. The viewer can then interactively choose which angle to view a subject from by either using a cursor/tapping the screen, moving their device or wearing a VR headset.
There are multiple ways to capture 360 photos. For a 360 degree shot of the inside of a room, an omnidirectional camera with a spherical lens can be used. A growing number of these cameras have hit the market in recent years including handheld cameras and static cameras. Such cameras are heavily used in real estate photography and tourism (such as photos of hotel rooms).
360 photos can also be taken of products, allowing a product to be virtually rotated so that it can be viewed from multiple angles. This typically involves a different method of capture. Instead, products are often placed on a turntable and multiple photos are taken of the product (often every 5 degrees). All these photos can then be pieced together in a slideshow fashion. This gives the illusion of being able to spin the product around.
Separate domes can also allow products to be photographed from above. Such devices can take photos of a product from an even greater number of angles, allowing a true 360 degree view of the subject.
Camera manufacturers have been exploring new ways to extend the battery life of cameras. One solution is not to extend the life of the battery but to allow solar charging on-the-go.
Solar panels can be fitted to camera bags and rucksacks, which can then be connected to cameras stored inside, allowing these cameras to be charged using the free power of the sun. Static cameras can meanwhile be fitted with their own solar panels, which can allow them to be installed practically anywhere with sunlight without needing to be hooked up to mains electricity.
Of course, solar charging is only beneficial to outdoor photography. If you are a photographer that is often taking photos outside, it could be a technology worth looking into.