The Future of Imaging

Remember when Nikon president Makoto Kimura in 2013 confidently said, “We want to create a product that will change the concept of cameras.” The company, under pressure by the proliferation of mobile devices, was working to “find an answer” to the rapidly changing photography. Not that Nikon launched a game-changer technology since, but maybe they’re onto something.

Nikon just published the first part of a new series on The Future of Imaging. The report, written in collaboration with The Future Laboratory, explores how people will capture, share and use imagery over the coming decades.

Photography is changing at a rapid pace. Geo-tagging images and Wi-Fi on the go — these are just some features that are common today but would have been unthinkable just a decade ago. This got Nikon wondering, “What might the world of imaging look like in decades to come?”

Tomorrow’s trends are, just to name a few, that cameras can read a photographer’s emotions, devices that enable continuous, spontaneous hands-free image capture and visuals that deliver a full multi-sensory experience.

Those are not just fantasies, but the conclutions reached by interviewing a range of experts including academics, scientists, authors and thinkers, as well as leading figures in Nikon’s global strategy and development departments.

One of the concepts is that future cameras could detect your emotions and convey them in your images. For instance, the picture of the surfer will have brighter colors, sharp focus and higher contrast levels. It will show the intensity and excitement you felt at that very moment. Or somber mood, somber camera delivers more somber skies…

"Contextual functionality" --  part of the future of imaging, says Nikon.
“Contextual functionality” — part of the future of imaging, says Nikon.

A new generation of sensor technologies will be capable of analyzing the environment and matching it to the emotion you’re trying to get across. They will adapt to the situation you photograph and enhance the colors, tones, exposure and contrast based on your intentions.

That’s just one of the visions ahead, something a good photographer already manages to implement without thinking twice about feelings and intentions. Still, this “contextual functionality” deserves some merit because it approaches the concept of a more perfect shot: an image making you feel as if the moment you captured is right back.

Interested in finding out more about the future of photography? You can download the full report here. The truly worth-reading report consists of the chapters Executive Summary, Multi-Sensory Sights, The New Connected Self, The Quantified World and Methodology, asking how to capture the emotional moment of an image, or how to surprise people with new stimulating visual content.

Or how about “live visualization”, Narrative Clip or Autographer? One of the authors is stating:

Images on digital screens do not capture the amount of information people want from a shot, and we have forgotten how important time, distance and perspective are in capturing real emotions in a single image.

BTW, talking about the future: the decline of global camera sales continues, in 2014 almost all numbers were down again. The market will continue to shrink in 2015.

Here’s an analysis by LensVid:

  • Omer

    So what comes after film simulation filters, connectedness and sharing. Are our lives going to have even more stuff? It appears so.

  • The absolute future? Built-in camera contact lenses mimicking the eye with seamless interconnectivity…