DIGITAL cameras are getting the wireless treatment as manufacturers try to keep them relevant in an age where they have been largely absorbed into smartphones with sophisticated imaging capabilities.
Shoot-and-share camera makers are now mimicking the absorption of cameras into phones and taking wireless mobile technology and incorporating it into their devices.
Social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have seen a boom in the sharing of pictures but camera groups are only now responding.
It has been just over a decade since digital cameras entered the consumer market in significant numbers, ending demand for film cameras. Recently, digital cameras came under threat from cellphones with built-in lenses and photographic software. The latest high-end smartphones have specifications that match or exceed cheaper point-and-shoot dedicated devices.
The latest consumer cameras from the likes of Sony, Panasonic, Olympus, Canon and Nikon incorporate Wi-Fi transfer technology as well as GPS tagging. With Wi-Fi you can send pictures from the camera wirelessly to a device like a smartphone for sharing via social networks. But a “smart” device to move pictures around is still required.
Samsung has come up with its Galaxy Camera, essentially a plump Galaxy S3 smartphone grafted onto a zoom lens.
It is the first step in a major overhaul of cameras that will further blur the lines between smart devices. The Galaxy Camera runs Google’s Android operating system, so photographic editing apps — and all the others available on the Play store — can be downloaded directly to the camera.
One can use Google Maps to get to where you are going to take a picture, “geo-tag” it using the GPS function, shoot the photo and share it via any social networking app, from wherever, straight off the camera.
Older cameras that take SD flash memory cards can be upgraded to perform limited wireless transfer through a technology called Eye-Fi. The SD card includes a small trans-receiver which connects it to apps on a wireless network. It is primitive, but indicates where camera technology is headed.
Optics, processors and dedicated controls on cameras make the most out of capturing digital images. The race is on to make sharing pictures effortless.
We can expect to see a new generation of cameras with even bigger touch-screens, better sensors and running the kind of software found on the latest smartphones. Smart cameras with shoot-and-share capabilities will keep dedicated devices alive for a new generation of connected photographers and happy snappers.
* This article was first published in Sunday Times: Business Times