At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, Samsung had demonstrated a compact digital camera which has integrated 802.11n Wi-Fi functionality. It would have the usual benefits like uploading pictures to a computer or cloud-based storage service; and exhibiting pictures on a DLNA-compliant video-display device.
But this camera has a feature that has impressed me very much. It is to use the Samsung Galaxy S smartphone as an external viewfinder and control surface. This has been a function that I have been wishing for with digital photography and cinematography.
Here, this would work well with a photography situation that most of us encounter. When we are at a party or nightclub, we may want to take a picture of everyone on that dance floor dancing to that dance hit thumping through the speakers. Similarly, we may want to get a picture of the live band playing at that pub gig which is packed out. When we are outdoors, we may want to grab a picture of the floats that are part of the parade for example.
In these situations, you may need to lift the camera over your head but you won’t get a fair idea of what you are to photograph due to a small screen size or viewing the screen at an “off angle”. Here, you just end up taking a large number of “rough shots” that you will end up editing out for example.
Similarly, if you use your camera for wildlife photography for example, you will find it hard to take the right shot because the moment you get near the camera, you spoil the shot.
Here, Samsung has established a wireless link which uses the phone’s screen as a viewfinder and control surface for the camera. The user would have to download an app to the phone in order to achieve the functionality. This link is also set up so that pictures can be sent to the phone for sharing via the phone using MMS, email or Web-based services.
There have been further questions about other smartphones, whether based on Android, iOS or other platforms being able to have this functionality. What actually needs to happen is for device classes to be defined or existing device classes reused and amended for photographic / cinematographic applications. This is to provide remote viewfinder and status display as well as remote control of the shutter / recording start-stop and other aspects of the exposure. Similarly, the device classes also have to provide control of flashguns and other lighting in order to synchronise them with the exposure.
Here, the device classes should work with USB wired connections as well as wireless Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connections.
Similarly, cameras could implement USB “On-The-Go”, Bluetooth “Object Push Profile” or similar technologies to allow a user to upload a picture to the phone. As well, the phone could provide dynamic scale-down of high-resolution images when sending pictures by MMS or email. This would avoid me having to take pictures with the phone rather than my digital camera if I intend to use the picture for a picture message for example and I can still use the good-quality imaging attributes of the camera to yield a good quality photo.
At least Samsung has taken a step in the right direction by enabling a digital camera to work with a smartphone for improved photography.