Could Still Cameras Ultimately Become Dinosaurs?

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by M4/3, Jan 23, 2014.

  1. M4/3

    M4/3 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 24, 2011
    This image quality of this $2,000 Sony 4K Camcorder takes my breath away: Select 1080p and full screen.
    Now just imaging what this video would look like if played at 2160p on a 4K monitor or television.
  2. tosvus

    tosvus Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jan 4, 2014
    I'm not sure why the title is asking about the future of still cameras though. 4K is approx 8MP. Regardless how nice a video looks, screen-grabs from it will look far inferior to even a 8MP picture a still-camera takes. (and of course, higher end still cameras are 16MP-36MP resolution, interchangeable lenses in many cases etc)

    Yes, camcorders are coming out with great looking 4K video (and so are DSLRs). Yes, playing back actual pictures (not pictures put into video slideshows though!) in 8MP/4K resolution on a screen is good for family viewing of course. Actual 8MP stills are of course also great for printing out, even fairly large.

    Even phones will start having 4K soon, and as we know, they have cannibalized the low end still-market, and will do similarly to the video-market I'm sure. I always think there is a place for higher quality video and still pictures, that neither camera-phones, low end point&shoots nor camcorders can replace.
  3. nickthetasmaniac

    nickthetasmaniac Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 11, 2011
    I'm curious what your actual argument is?

    Are you saying that still cameras may become dinosaurs/obselete because of very high resolution video? 4k is 4000px horizontally. My GR and EM5 are both nearly 5000px wide, the D800 is over 7000px and the Phase One IQ180 digital back is over 10,000px. Presumably these will all increase as (U)HD video increases - such is the nature of technology - so it will remain much of a muchness. Is 4k 'enough'? Perhaps, but people have been saying this about resolution for as long as I've been involved with digital photography, and I started with a <5mp Olympus...

    And that's assuming it's all about resolution, which we know it's not. Still photography and videography are vastly different beasts requiring very different technique and hardware. Regardless of the ability of the sensor and software, they place very different needs on hardware. Look at the ergonomics and user interface of a Leica M or Olympus EM1 and then compare it to the FDRAX10; they are completely different for a reason. Hence the plethora of workaround accessories that popped up when interchangeable stills cameras like the GHx and 5Dx started offering high-quality video. Hence why companies like Blackmagic can exist.

    So thats the technilogy, what about the art?

    Are you saying that still images may become dinosaurs/obselete because of very high resolution video? I doubt this. Still photography and video are very different ways of interpreting and documenting the world around us.

    I read an interesting book recently called First views of Lake St. Clair. It looks at two artists; John Skinner Prout, a painter, and Morton Allport, a photographer, who were two of the first Europeans to document the country around Lake St Clair, in Tasmania. Allport actually studied under Prout as a student, before turing to the (at the time) new medium of photography in his professional life. At the time, I have no doubt that people had the same discussion we're now having regarding painting becoming obsolete due to photography.

    150 years later and painting is still one of the world's most significant artforms, as is photography, as is becoming videography.
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  4. phigmov

    phigmov Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Apr 4, 2010
    I guess while there are photographers there will still be pictures regardless of the medium.

    I have to admit the super-slow-mo of these recent Adam Magyar movies (50fps) were really compelling - soon fps will be able the new megapixel - you'll be able to pluck out any frame you like with decent quality.


    Having said that, in some way shape or form cameras and still photography will still be around for people that enjoy taking them.
  5. RnR

    RnR Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 25, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    Real Name:
    Photography /= film :agree:

    Or am I missing something in photography?
  6. nickthetasmaniac

    nickthetasmaniac Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 11, 2011
    I'm not sure about this, otherwise we'd already be shooting in drive mode all the time...
  7. phigmov

    phigmov Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Apr 4, 2010
    I'm thinking a bit more in the future I guess - the Nikon 1 started that high FPS thing - soon when you get to 100+ fps in a consumer device (3 years away?) you'll have film and stills all in one.

    I still don't think it'll replace intentional photography for people that are serious about it as a craft/hobby but it'll be there for people to use in a form thats just good enough.
  8. speedandstyle

    speedandstyle Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I highly doubt that stills cameras will go away but camcorders are all but gone! With the exception of action cams like the GoPro and high end "pro" cameras, video is dead. Everybody is either using the video feature of their stills camera or their smart phone.

    4K is a bit of a joke! The video is going by at least 24 fps so your brain does not have the ability to fully process the high resolution. Tests have been done and very few people can tell the difference between 2K and 4K. 4K is very useful for some post processing and special effects{the computer can tell the difference!} but unnecessary for general viewing. A lot of pros are screaming for the companies to stop pushing the resolution and instead give more control over frame rates, dynamic range and chroma sampling. I personally think a camera shooting regular 1080 HD at 4:4:4 sampling looks better than 4K at 4:2:2.
  9. madogvelkor

    madogvelkor Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 22, 2013
    I suppose at one point the distinction between camcorder and camera will be gone. It's fairly likely really -- eventually camcorders will be recording in 8k, and larger sensors will become common.

    But you still have form, even if function is identical. In still cameras we basically have DSLR syle bodies and rangefinder style bodies. A camcorder could be yet another style body. Or modular bodies may be the way to go, you buy a square and add the features you want.
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  10. drd1135

    drd1135 Zen Snapshooter

    Mar 17, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    Real Name:
    Technically, sure. Eventually video will be easily good enough to pick arbitrarily high quality stills. Since many of us don't use video, however, the cameras will probably have a still mode which just uses the "video" chip. I guess folks could be picking their still from a short video since this could deal with eye blink, etc. I don't think the desire for still photography will go away however.
  11. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    The only way video could replace dedicated still image capture is if sensors get ludicrously good at insane ISO, and we get heaps of super fast storage space.

    The first is a matter of exposure and light capture - a video at 25 fps is bounded to capture each frame at 1/25s equivalent shutter speed, no slower. To get longer exposures, you need a lower frame rate, at which point it's no longer smooth video. You can get longer exposures up to a point by exposure stacking video frames, but you're ultimately still limited by the sensor noise performance as each frame will be quite underexposed. On the other hand, to eliminate motion blur, we need shutter speeds like 1/250s. Ever taken a still frame from nice, smooth video of stuff moving around? It's usually has motion blur. But never fear, we can shoot video using higher shutter speeds too. If it is too dark, we bump up the ISO, or for stills, we can use flash. Video is forced to use continuous lighting, which requires far more energy than a flash - you need bigger batteries.

    The second, well... a raw from the E-M5 is about 16 MB, one from a D800 is like 75 MB? Even JPEG on a D800 is like 20 MB. Imagine that at 25 fps or higher... that's a data rate in the order of GB/s!
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  12. WasOM3user

    WasOM3user Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 20, 2012
    Lancashire, UK
    Real Name:
    I sometimes struggle to get one "good" frame - How on earth I am going to get 24 good frames per second!!!!

    I am looking forward to 4K being accepted for PC and TV display use - at least we will have something that really starts to show others what our existing cameras are capable of without having to print :biggrin::biggrin:. The iPad retina series is good for this but 27"+ would be better.
  13. tosvus

    tosvus Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jan 4, 2014
    A bit OT, but it is actually not correct that shutter speed is bound to framerate. The norm is to run about twice the shutter speed to framerate (i.e. shutter-speed 1/50 for 24 fps, or 1/120 for 60 fps) but it is perfectly possibly to run say 1/15 at 60 fps. It will give an odd effect with a lot of blurring of course. It certainly is not usable if anyone plans to take screenshots and use as photos, but for video, there are times when it makes sense to do it.

    Other than that, even if you had a ridiculously fast camera that could store say 60 raw pictures/second in 8MP and you have enough light to do a proper shutter-speed for sharpness, it doesn't mean any of the photos will necessarily look like a photo taken with a still-camera. For instance, in portraiture, flash is commonly used for lighting. There is no way to replicate that with video..
  14. speedandstyle

    speedandstyle Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I like the way you think! This is the problem I have with DSLR style bodies for video use, the ergonomics are all wrong. A modular body with various accessory parts would be a great idea. So far this has not been done on a hybrid although Red and now Sony have done it on pro video cameras.