1. Social Posts with Bluetooth
Instagram may be one of the most powerful photographic platforms in the world but for pros, getting images onto the social network from a DSLR is still a bit cumbersome. While pro-level cameras won’t be directly uploading to Instagram anytime soon, they can do the next best thing: automatically transfer images from your camera to a phone without needing to pull it out, open an app or press any button on the camera. This wireless magic comes courtesy of Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE).
Originally developed to enable small “Internet of Things” devices to talk to another, BLE can also be used to automatically pair mobile phones with digital cameras and initiate image transfers. Nikon was the first camera maker to truly embrace the potential of BLE, marketing its capabilities under the term “SnapBridge,” but others, like Fujifilm, have begun to follow suit. With BLE, all of your DSLR images can travel (in lower-res form) seamlessly to your phone so you can share them quickly and easily on Instagram, Facebook and beyond. Look for more BLE-friendly cameras next year.
2. Artificial Intelligence That Edits For You
Picture this: You return from a shoot with a memory card full of images, you drop them in your card reader and walk away for some coffee. When you get back, you’re presented with your best images from each portion of the wedding day. These aren’t just the images that you properly exposed and had in focus—though they are properly exposed and in focus. They are your “best” images as you, subjectively, define that term. Next, you watch as your software edits your images. It knows from watching you work how you like your skin tones, how much sharpening you apply to your landscapes, your tolerance for detail loss during noise reduction and how to handle areas of high contrast. Your images are tagged and keyworded, too. Heck, your album software is pre-populated with these edited selects. It’s just awaiting your personal tweaks and approval.
If this sounds fantastical, it’s not. Photo Lemur, a new Artificial Intelligence (AI)-powered software app that debuted this year, is an excellent example of a trend that will spread throughout the photo ecosystem. It ingests your photos and scans images to cull them based on objective measures (focus, proper exposure) but subjective ones, too: It takes a guess at what it thinks you want to save. If you agree with its decision, you reinforce your aesthetic in the program. If you don’t, it learns to improve for future selections. Adobe, too, has been moving quickly to build AI smarts into its programs. Auto-tagging in Lightroom and content-aware cropping tools in Photoshop rely on Adobe’s AI innovations, and more are on the way.
3. Film Cameras Reborn
It’s no secret that film is hot again, but much of the analog activity is focused on instant film and cameras. While there’s been some promising developments around new or resurrected 35mm film stocks, there hasn’t been nearly as much new film hardware. We’ll go out on a limb and say that’s going to change next year.
First, Kodak’s long-awaited Super 8mm movie camera should finally be ready to purchase. Photographer Bellamy Hunt, proprietor of the Japan Camera Hunter website, is developing a new 35mm still camera that could launch by the end of 2018. A company called Reflex is also prepping a 35mm SLR for a Kickstarter campaign. Film, it turns out, is alive and well.
4. The Electronic Shutter
In 2016, Nikon and Canon released DSLRs that shot at 12 and 14 frames per second, respectively. In 2017, Sony pushed the benchmark to 20 fps with the a9 and an incredible 24 fps with the RX100 Mark IV. The secret: an electronic shutter. While this isn’t anything particularly new, improvements in the technology mean they’re less susceptible to rolling shutter distortion and more useful for capturing blazing-fast bursts.
Beyond speed, electronic shutters bestow several other advantages over their mechanical counterparts. They’re completely silent, so you won’t be heard clanging away in the chapel as you shoot. Since there are no moving parts, they won’t introduce camera shake into your photos or wear down over time. We can all look forward to more cameras that take greater advantage of electronic shutters for super-fast, silent burst modes.
5. Busted by Blockchain
Most photographers know how endemic image theft is. In fact, in a survey by Pixsy, a whopping 64 percent of photographers said they had their images stolen at least once in 2016. While it’s very difficult to stop, a technology dubbed Blockchain will help photographers prosecute image thieves.
Blockchain is essentially a tamper-proof digital record that proves you own a given file. As the backbone of cyber currencies like Bitcoin, it’s impossible to fake. Services like ImageRights and Binded have begun to use Blockchain technology in tandem with copyright registration to create a one-two punch to track down and prosecute image thieves. Blockchain won’t make image theft impossible, but it will make it easier to authenticate a digital original and prosecute bad actors with stolen copies. More imaging services are likely to embrace it in the year to come.