Gone are the days of loading film into cameras, of waiting until the roll is finished and then taking the canister to a shop to get developed. Today’s photography is all about instant gratification, seeing your images come to life in a matter of seconds. And then posting them on various social media sites, sharing the moment with friends, and showing off a little about where you have been and what you have been doing.
Digital cameras make photography so easy and accessible to all, and allow for the kind of experimentation that could become very expensive with film. If an image is bad, just delete it, no harm done. With the invention of cellphone cameras, and the growth in popularity of smartphones, most of us now have a digital camera at hand at all times. Sharing these images with friends via email or MMS and uploading these pictures to social media is as easy as the click of a button. Social media has not only revolutionised the way we communicate, but also the way we interact with those around us.
For most of the world, photographs are now not only about capturing memories, but about letting the world see these memories. Social media allows users to document their lives online, and since a picture is worth a thousand words, what better way to do this than through photos. However, there are some serious limitations of the cellphone camera, and in fact of most consumer digital cameras, which prevent them from meeting the needs of today’s socially involved photography.
Most cameras do not react well to being dropped, they simply are not rugged enough to live up to the user expectation of being able to document life every step of the way. Underwater photography is one area particularly that previously has involved expensive equipment and specialised cases, or failing that a disposable underwater film camera that takes a limited number of not very high quality photographs.
Taking consumer digital cameras into sub-zero temperatures or dusty desert conditions is also not an option, as mechanisms tend to freeze up or become encrusted with dust, and the cameras inevitably fail. In low light too many photographs tend to be grainy and the colours wash out, and the video feature tends to produce mediocre quality at best. Added to this, if photographs are not immediately uploaded, the location they were taken is not recorded, which makes tracking this back far more difficult.
A camera that truly meets the needs of today’s social photography world needs to do more than just take photographs and consumers need to look for a device that incorporates innovative features that fit their social world. Cameras should firstly be easy and intuitive to use, as there is no point having a host of features that cannot easily be accesses. They should be able to take great pictures in any lighting conditions, and have zoom capabilities that do not interfere with the quality of the image. They should also be rugged enough to resist moderate shocks like dropping, so that they can be taken anywhere and be easily to hand.
Point and shoot is the main objective for most users, so cameras should provide a feature rich set of automatic functionality that enables great images to be taken in a variety of scenarios. Video capability should be included, preferably high definition video, to enable both stills and video footage to be captured in the best possible quality for sharing your adventures. To keep up with the trend of social photography, cameras should also include a technology known as geotagging. This uses built-in GPS to tag images and video with the exact location when taken, helping you to accurately track and log your adventures around the globe.
Added to this, consumers of today demand choice and want to be able to take pictures anywhere, whether this is underwater, in the snow or even into the desert. Whether in the pool or snorkelling in the sea, on the ski slopes or riding a camel, social users want to be able to document everything, especially holidays and adventures, and their camera should be able to match their lifestyle
Finding a rugged camera that can handle dust and snow is one thing however, and taking great photographs underwater is another. Water impacts the light and colour of a photo, so to ensure photographs underwater look their best, cameras also need to have certain specialised features. These include underwater macro for close up shots, quick autofocus to make sure you can capture fast-moving objects underwater, and the ability to create a custom white balance setting, to ensure that the colour in underwater images is more accurate than the blue wash typically achieved by consumer class underwater cameras.
When it comes to photography in today’s world, a camera is not just a camera but a social tool for documenting life and all of its adventures. Make sure your next camera can deliver on everything you need to help you share more memories in more ways, no matter where in the world you find yourself.
By Heinrich Pretorius, Canon product specialist Drive Control Corporation