Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Taking advantage of digital

There have been quite a number of online discussions on the differences between film & digital cameras and, indeed, the similarities. Most commentators who use DSLRs bemoan the lack of original thinking in layout or function. They seem to be just film cameras with a sensor. I'd tend to agree.

Reading the recent review of the Olympus E-510 at dpreview, I realised that there is another mode that would be really useful: focus brackets, especially if used with exposure brackets. Here's how it would work:
1. preset the focus points manually with a "record" button (i.e. focus, record point, do next)
2. switch to shooting mode
3. Fire off the bracket. may 3 or 5 brackets.

This means you can stick to optimal aperture (around f/8) and still get large DoF. Even better would be in-camera blending.

Combine with exposure brackets for an automatic 9-shot sequence. Use a timer remote release, as I do, and you can leave the set-up to it's own devices. gives possibility of HDR/super-resolution combined with large DoF.

With a little imagination, there's a whole bunch of useful new ways to incorporate technology into cameras, and I'm not talking face recognition.


  1. I would agree... but how ugly would the user interface become? We can't even get a dedicated or customizable mirror lockup button! (grin). And then there's the fact of manufacturer's running after megapixels since consumers think 'that has to be good'.

    Yes, so many things could be done if the user could also be trained to use them (rather than being transparent to the user):

    1) Large DOF
    2) HDR
    3) Noise elimination, etc.

    But again this would require a lot of horsepower in the camera... or would this be done on the desktop using a 'multi-raw' format?

    Les Richardson

  2. It could go either way: in camera or out of camera. With the processing power now incorporated in cameras, I don't think there are too many limitations on this sort of thing.

    What I'm trying to get at here, though, is that there are a host of different things that could be done, if only camera makers would think a little differently.

  3. I would like to add to the list a true black and white camera where the camera only records luminosity values, not RGB values. The camera could have different modes, or tone curves, to emulate different types of 'film', if you will. I know that this is probably not likely, as the market for it would be very tiny, but it would be nice, IMHO.

  4. Paul, I had thoughts on B&W only cameras a while back. Certainly share your sentiments.

  5. Martin,

    Your comments about Focus bracketing reminded my that my Canon Pro1 and Canon S3 IS both offer Focus Bracketing as a function. 3 shot brackets and 3 degrees of adjustment.

    One day I may find a situation that would allow me to make proper use of the feature. I guess a tripod or equivalent would involved.

    I have used it on the Pro1 iirc just to see what it would do but I don't remember it being especially useful for my purposes.

    Maybe if I was big on PS (or equivalent) and layers it could be more useful. But I think the natural DoF for a prosumer sensor means that in most situations the effects of focus bracketing are likely to be very 'subtle', even with closeups.

    Actually, thinking back, I think I set up one experiment with a 3 frame exposure bracket as well. So 9 frames in all.

    The Pro1, being venerable in terms of digital camera technology is a bit too slow writing 8Mb RAW files to get away with that!

    However, it is a cracking camera and available for next to nothing these days, so if you wanted to play with the idea you could try one.


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