Canon appears to be betting that the days of the DSLR with interchangeable lenses are numbered! Well, not quite numbered, but you'll see what I mean...
With everything in every frame in-focus and with unimaginable levels of definition, the Canon Wonder Camera could change the paradigm of photography if it ever comes to market. If everything you point the camera at is captured in super-high-definition video, then it raises the question of whether still picture photography, as it exists today, will soon become consigned to history. If you want a still picture, you would simply select the frame at the precise moment that interests you. The Canon concept camera selects all the frames where people in the crowd are smiling. The massive resolution then allows the user to crop the picture as tight as desired without an apparent loss of definition.
Yes, this camera is just a concept, but who would be brave enough to scoff at such a concept? Simple extrapolation of the speed of technology innovation would predict that such a camera will be with us in less than 20 years.
New technology always opens new opportunities for those capable of embracing it, but it also brings about crisis in the professions it affects. For a few years I’ve been predicting that those sports photographers you see on the sidelines will soon be history. Super-high-definition video will simply vacuum up all the action and a few technicians will use software to sift the frames for the exact moment that the point, goal, or touchdown was scored. These technicians will probably sit far away from the action in a country with competitive salary rates.
Photojournalists are already feeling the pinch big time. When everybody has a relatively high definition cell phone camera and sharing of images across the world via the Internet is so fast and easy, there’s no wonder that the value of original photography is dropping. Selling an original image to a news organization is becoming like trying to sell a handful of sand to someone sitting on a beach. With the next generation of Internet search engines that can identify and categorize images, photography prices will drop even more. I see the battle will then be over exclusive access privileges to places and events by news companies, who will then send out their low paid technicians to collect the images.
The technological changes won’t all happen overnight, in that one day we will be using a DSLR with a heavy lens and the next we will use the Canon Wonder Camera. (I’m hoping there’ll also be a Nikon Wonder Camera, but if I never have to change lenses again, maybe it doesn’t matter.) Instead, incremental changes are happening with every new camera release. For example, it wasn’t very long ago that no DSLR had live view and DSLR video capture was unheard of.
I think some of the incremental changes will include even better high ISO performance, making it possible to capture very high quality images in very low light. I also think that high dynamic range (HDR) image capture will be possible in all DSLRs, with multiple processors or sensors that will capture all tones in the scene within one shutter cycle. Also, advances in liquid lens technology are moving along. Lenses that use the refractive power of liquids are already being used in cell phones to some degree. Maybe one day we will no longer be carrying around lenses fashioned from heavy glass.
I owned my first film SLR for twenty years. These days, a camera over three years old is an antique!