A college friend asked me recently if I had ”noticed iPad owners using their tablets as view cameras?”
The question made me pause and think. When I imagine a view camera two pictures pop into my mind; Civil War photo journalist Mathew Brady and landscape photographer Ansel Adams.
View cameras are bulky things with ground glass backs that recorded images on plate film. Photographers had to carefully position the cameras and themselves to control focus, image composition and squint into the glass back of a camera to make sure they had the picture they wanted. One of the defining accoutrements of view camera photographers was a black cloth drape—used to stop sunlight from glaring into photographers’ eyes as they checked he composition of their photo. Equally important, drapes also helped to insure glass and film plates from being accidentally exposed.
But “no, I had not noticed iPad users dancing around blindly covered in a drape, trying to compose a photo on the screens of on their tablets. But at Demo 2011Fall, I did see a lot of attendees taking pictures using the forward facing cameras on their iPADs. But no one was using a drape.
All of this is prequel to what I think could be the next evolutionary step in tablet computing-- the increased of tablets as digital imaging devices. Most tablets are now shipped with two cameras, one of which generally has a resolution of at least 5 Mpixels. The cost of digital imaging hardware is dropping precipitously and it’s not much of a stretch to imagine third-generation tablets with 12 or 14 MPIxel forward facing cameras and 9MPixel user-facing cameras. Latter-day Ansel Adams may want new features on tablets. Some for examples: threaded sockets to attach tablets to tripods; and software- based delay shutter release software for triggering single or multiple images. Digital imaging also requires memory, and I suspect that any tablet maker who tries to carve a nice in this market will make 32Gigabytes of memory part of any standard configuration that includes a high resolution forward facing camera.
There’s much more to digital imaging than charged couple devices (cameras) that capture high resolution images, self-contained and cloud-based Image editing software also figure into the equation. This is why I expect the further migration of tablets into digital imaging will drive companies like Apple,Google ,Microsoft and sites like Shutterfly into new markets and expand tablet computers more firmly into digital imaging.
Tip of the hat to college buddy and Puget Sound based corporate communications consultant Dale Gluck for the “ have you noticed” tip off.
And while enjoying one of my guilty pleasures today—watching and listening to laden freight trains powering up the Cajon Pass grade adjacent to I-15, I saw a tablet computer user standing on an overwatch drape his head and carefully compose s shot of a four-engine lash-up chugging up the rails. Damn it, I didn’t have a camera, my cell phone or my Sony tablet S to record the moment.
You never really need a digital camera until to you really need one.—Jim Forbes on November 20 ,2011.