You may have heard of the critically acclaimed documentary “Searching for Sugarman” which won an Oscar in 2012. The entire movie was shot on an iPhone with an app that costs a mere $1.99. It was one of the most cheaply produced documentaries ever made that turned out a major return on investment, a testament to how far camera technology has come. This has major ramifications. Over the past few decades, photography and videography have been going from an expensive hobby to easily affordable consumer activity. As cameras have been going down in price, in-camera technology has improved so much that people find themselves less in need of extra accessories that they once had to rely on. Further, as mentioned above, people can make decent-looking movies from the convenience of their own mobile phone. As camera technology continues to develop for both cameras and mobile devices, people will have even more easy-to-use filmmaking power at their fingertips. The obvious question that comes up is: how will this affect photography and filmmaking?
One of the most pressing developments of camera technology is artificial intelligence. Artificial intelligence is significantly improving both autofocus capabilities and now image stabilization. As of right now, professional videographers only use manual settings when pulling focusing on people and objects for shots. In fact, a person caught using autofocus on a Hollywood or News set is sure to be fired immediately. That being said, auto-focus capabilities have been getting better with the development of more powerful lenses, sharper sensors, and better AI algorithms that detect what the user wishes to focus on. Consumers can now make very good-looking videos with these new autofocus capabilities but there may even be a day when professionals begin to rely on them too for efficiency’s sake. AI has also been helpful in keeping cameras smooth. Small GoPro cameras have made remarkable strides in this area by providing their users with in-camera stabilization for people to attach to themselves while engaging in extreme sports that would regularly be shaky for a bulkier camera. With each new GoPro camera, in-body stabilization has gotten better and better. Many other cameras have followed suit offering similar in-body stabilization. It is possible that one day, videographers will no longer need sliders, dollies, or even gimbals to keep their cameras stable. One day everything needed in a good camera may be built right into the camera itself.
Another big factor that should definitely be mentioned is drone technology. Gone are the days when people would have to get up in helicopters to get good aerial shots. With a drone, even just a hobbyist can get a shot that once took thousands of dollars to make. Many drones have gimbals that allow users to get perfectly smooth shots and lock-on technology that keep the drone and camera on a moving object automatically. Drone technology has even been able to lower the need to put cameras on a crane since drones are also able to get close-up aerial shots with careful piloting. While increased camera capabilities on phones may end up lowering the need for professional videography and photography, drone technology may be providing videographers new opportunities for professional work. Many new doors have opened for professional drone videographers to fulfill practical purposes such as doing drone inspections and drone 3D mapping.
People like to say that photography is a dead profession. Although the demand for photographers has gone down due to easier access to photography, photographers have still been able to keep themselves afloat professionally in certain niches such as live events. As camera technology evolves, new doors are sure to open for photographers. One of these doors is immersive photography. 3D images are photos that give the illusion of depth by having the background of an object move around when you rotate your phone. They, therefore, give the viewer an immersive experience, as if they were actually in the photo looking at the object. 3D phots are beginning to gain popularity on Facebook and are turning into more than just a cheap gimmick. Some businesses now use 3D images to showcase products such as shoes and fashion. As the cost of making 3D images come down, many photographers, both old and new, may find themselves a new niche to fill. This is just one example of a new door opening for photographers but there are many more.
Both professional photographers and professional videographers should be hyper-aware of the advances in camera capabilities that more non-professionals have at their fingertips. But photography and videography are still alive and well as more doors open with this new technology. It is therefore important that every photographer and videographer keeps themselves up to date on certain trends, works on their skill level in certain niches, and seizes the opportunity for business whenever they can. The exciting thing about these developments is that the ever-increasing ease of access to camera technology may end up generating fresh new minds into the field, propelling visual art and communication to new frontiers.