What Future Camera Technology Might Be Like

Barn by the Tetons – Grand Teton NP, WY – Fujifilm X-E1 – Nik Silver Efex edit

What will future cameras be like? More specifically, what do I think they’ll be like? This is an odd topic that has come up a few times recently in various places. I don’t have any inside information. I’ve never laid eyes on any top-secret still-in-development cameras. I only have my own ideas and opinions, which are probably inaccurate. I’ve certainly been wrong before, and I’m probably wrong now. Still, it’s fun to speculate.

I think, in the not-too-distant future, perhaps beginning in roughly five years, we’ll see camera manufacturers team up with software companies to offer more (and better) in-camera filters. We’re going to see more software built into cameras, and with that, I think we’ll start to see VSCO, RNI, Alien Skin, Nik Collection, and others, partner with camera manufacturers to include their popular presets integrated into gear. This will also allow RAW files to match straight-out-of-camera JPEGs (and TIFFs) simply by applying the same preset in-software as in-camera.

Mirrored Mountain – Mirror Lake, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 – Alien Skin Exposure edit

The Zeiss ZX1 camera has Lightroom Mobile built-in. The Pixii camera can be programmed with LUT profiles. It’s not even close to mainstream yet, but you can see the very beginning of this shift start to build. I think it is only a matter of time before you will be able to capture in-camera with (for example) the RNI Kodak Gold v.3 preset. I don’t think Canon, Sony, Nikon, or Fujifilm will be the first company to do this. Maybe Leica. Perhaps a future Panasonic S-series model. I’m not exactly sure, but it will definitely be a marketing strategy for whoever does it first.

I believe that in the beginning it will be collaborations between specific manufactures and software companies. For example, Sony might partner with VSCO, and perhaps Nikon partners with RNI. I personally hope Fujifilm partners with RNI or Alien Skin, but my guess is that Fujifilm will hold onto their film simulations, which, let’s be honest, is a similar concept. Film simulations are kind of like presets, especially since they can be customized with film simulation recipes; however, in its current state film simulations don’t go as far as what I believe is coming. I do think Fujifilm can accomplish in-house their own presets, since they do seem to have a nice head start, but I don’t know if they have the foresight to take it far enough or the R&D resources to keep up once it takes off. We’ll have to wait and see how it all plays out. Currently, Fujifilm’s Film Simulations, with the help of custom JPEG recipes, are the closest thing right now to what I believe is coming.

Eventually I see it morphing into more of an app model, where you can buy any company’s presets and use them on your camera, no matter the brand. Buy a Canon and download the RNI app if you want their presets, or VSCO if you want theirs. If you have a Fujifilm camera, you can use the exact same presets on that camera as you can on your Sony. This might be 10 or more years down the road, but it seems like it is inevitable that it will happen someday.

Whitefish Lake Infrared – Whitefish, MT – Fujifilm X100V – RNI Aero edit

Why do I think all this is the future of photography technology? What I believe is going to happen is a stronger movement towards straight-out-of-camera. Not for bragging rights, but for three reasons: 1) it saves so much time, 2) it can be more fun, and 3) it opens up photography more to those who don’t have the desire, skills, or time to post-process their pictures. Technology will make getting post-processed-like-looks more accessible without the need to actually do it. It’s going to be easier and more automatic. You, the photographer, will have to select which look you want, and the camera will do the work for you and will deliver to you out-of-camera that look without any need for Lightroom, etc., to achieve it. Upload the picture to whatever social media or cloud storage you want right from the camera. No need for a computer, as it’s all handled by the camera. You won’t even need your phone, unless camera companies figure out that they can harness the phone’s computing power to do the work for them, and the phone becomes (wirelessly) integrated into the camera.

I could be completely wrong about all of this. I’ve certainly been wrong many times before. Nobody knows the future. I do see things moving in this direction, and in a very small way, because of my film simulation recipes, I’ve had a hand in moving it.

Sentinel & Merced – Yosemite NP, CA – Fujifilm X100V – SOOC “Vintage Color” unedited

22 comments

  1. Marc Beebe · 12 Days Ago

    I expect they’ll have more cup holders, and less photographic ability. :p

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Brett · 12 Days Ago

    “Eventually I see it morphing into more of an app model, where you can buy any company’s presets and use them on your camera, no matter the brand. “

    Spot on. Camera companies are already trying to get on the subscription bandwagon with monthly fees. And users hate having to go to a second device to edit and do post processing. It will take a while to get enough spare CPU mojo into cameras but that day will come sooner than we think. Screen real estate is a bit of an issue too for editing but if they whack a few controls off of the back they can manage enough.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ritchie Roesch · 10 Days Ago

      I think it’s only a matter of time before cameras utilize phone hardware within the bodies. They don’t need to reinvent the wheel, they just need to partner with someone who already has a wheel they can use.

      Like

  3. Francis.R. · 11 Days Ago

    As a hobbyist I think the use in presets in cell phones exploded because filters are fun to play in light cellphones for social media; and you could get artistic, artsy, bold, or interesting photographs from photos that otherwise were mostly desechable. Smartphones today sometimes can produce by default photos that don’t get better by using fillters. Good cameras with bigger sensors are, in my opinion, just too big to have fun playing with filters (from the beautiful recipes you do I tend to go to just five at most to get what I like, and seeing your last photo I would love to try Vintage Color!), and their big sensors and lenses already produce something pleasing and similar to what one sees, there is no ugliness or limited dynamic range to dissimulate under a filter, and color is a preference of brand, in my case Fujifilm and Canon, rather than a preference of settings. Said that is interesting that Fujifilm profiles are worked directly with the Fujifilm staff that worked in the Fujifilm films themselves, I wonder if the presets are, in a digital medium, the closest we get to the ideal by the engineers and technicians that worked on film; and if the filters by software to emulate film are insted closer to prints made by labs.
    Of course I could be wrong in what I see, but I think cameras are turning more into a market of niches (the tourist with a camera in the neck, the sports photographer, the street photographer, the collector); photography as a popular way to document life is already in the smartphone realm and to see the future is enough to see the flagships. Sorry for the long comment, is a very interesting topic : )

    Liked by 1 person

    • Khürt Williams · 11 Days Ago

      Yep.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Ritchie Roesch · 10 Days Ago

      It is an interesting topic, isn’t it? What I see is the need to post-process to achieve whatever look you want will be optional, as you’ll be able to achieve it in-camera just as well as in-software, but it will be more automatic. Thanks for the comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. LAURENT CLERY-MELIN · 11 Days Ago

    Thanks for this great article. Nice to see that there is still a way forward with real cameras. We hear so much about phones bering the future of photography. Even though I don’t believe this is true, as I there will always be a place for passionate photographers.
    Have a nice weekend. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ritchie Roesch · 10 Days Ago

      I appreciate your comment! I think some of that cellphone technology will trickle up to the bigger cameras, and make them even better.

      Like

  5. Lars · 11 Days Ago

    Interesting topic. Even my “older” Canon 6D mark ii has three slots which can be programmed with custom picture styles. A couple of months ago I downloaded a picture style named Cinelook from VisionColor to the camera. Wow, finally a picture style (film simulation) that I really liked straight out of a Canon camera. A very cinematic and great look that reminded me of some Fuji recipes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ritchie Roesch · 10 Days Ago

      With Canon, these picture profiles are pretty limited, from what I understand, just a curves adjustment. But it’s better than nothing. I think it’ll get a lot more robust and lot more integrated and overall a lot better.

      Like

  6. theBitterFig · 11 Days Ago

    I think a lot of the mobile features from the ZX1 will eventually be adopted.

    Why not have a built-in Android device in the camera? Maybe you still have your standard ‘photo’ image processor whether that’s a X-Processor 4 or Digic 8 or whatever, plus a Qualcomm Snapdragon or such, and integrate the two somehow. Maybe more of the menus are handled through Android, and certainly some amount of file management. But I wouldn’t say that filters and image preset and film sims would all be handled by the Android side. Fuji’s X Raw Studio continues to use the camera’s specialized image processor, despite being controlled from the computer. Having an Android app that uses a camera’s image processor for faster RAW processing would make a tonne of sense.

    Include perhaps some fixed storage. Sure, SD cards, but perhaps a smallish SSD for faster write speeds, kind of like a giant buffer. Some amount of build-in storage would also be great for adding apps and potentially allowing more involved firmware updates (actually get the latest film simulations on older cameras? Shocking!).

    //

    If I have a wishlist, however, there is one item I really want: Allow more options for aspect ratios. Sure, it’s all just a crop and can easily be done in post. But being able to crop with black-bars (or custom digital brightlines) to whatever aspect ratio you wanted would be fantastic. It’s just a lot easier to compose images if you can see that aspect ratio crop through the EVF or on the screen.

    I want to be able to get 65:24 on every camera with a few clicks. Maybe easily display golden ratio spirals. Maybe brightlines for a 1:1 crop that’s reduced a further 10%.

    Ideally, a fully custom setting system. If I wanted to have a 3.14159 by 2.71828 aspect ratio, why not? It all should be pretty trivial to accomplish. Enter custom aspect ratio, enter if there’s a % crop, toggle the full-image-plus-brightline vs black bars switch.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Khürt Williams · 11 Days Ago

      I agree. We have these super modern cameras, and yet we are stuck shooting in film era aspect ratios. Why?

      Liked by 1 person

    • Ritchie Roesch · 10 Days Ago

      It’s amazing how incredibly powerful yet small the computer inside your phone is–way more advanced and powerful than what is inside your camera. If Fujifilm (or any other camera maker) could harness that–integrate it and take advantage of it–they could do soooo much more with their cameras.
      Regarding aspect ratios, I 100% agree! There’s no reason why you can’t do custom ratios, and make them whatever you want.
      Thank you for the comment!

      Like

  7. Khürt Williams · 11 Days Ago

    I think the focus on in camera filters and priests is too short sighted. I think computational photography like hat we see in smartphones is a more significant advancement.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ritchie Roesch · 10 Days Ago

      Oh, absolutely. I think that these innovations that are currently available (or are in the works) for cellphone photography will have to trickle up to the bigger cameras. It’s just a matter of time.

      Like

  8. diversithib · 4 Days Ago

    Something i would love would be the color grading wheel from Lightroom in my x100v, this would be insane. Even the old split toning tool ! future of photography look exciting 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ritchie Roesch · 3 Days Ago

      Something like that should definitely become integrated into the camera.

      Like

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