Two major announcements have been made recently that promise true innovation in photography land. The responses to them show a startling lack of imagination and open-mindedness.
The first is the Pentax Q system. Smaller than a credit card, the Q is an interchangeable lens camera with a tiny point and shoot sized 1/2.3″ sensor. Looks like great fun to me. The lenses must be about the size of an Altoid. At $800, the camera is not cheap, but niche products rarely are. The internet reactions to this camera range from “it’s way overpriced” to “what’s the point of changing lenses when the sensor is so small” to “Pentax is a bunch of Nazis!” Ok, I made up the Nazi one, but you know that comment must be out there, right? It seems that the overwhelming response to the announcement of the Q is negative. Why? Nobody is forcing you to buy one. I probably won’t buy one because of the price, but the concept looks like fun. I’d love to play with one for a week.
The other announcement is from Lytro, a new company promising to eliminate the need for focusing before taking a picture. Their product uses an array of micro-lenses to capture the entire light field and reconstruct an image where the focus plane can be chosen during post-processing. Unlike the Q, the responses to this have been mostly positive. Of course there is the predictable grumpy photographer response of “great, how easy does picture-taking have to get? Now NOBODY will need a professional photographer.” If the only thing you offer over amateur photographers is correct exposure and focus, then you aren’t worth your price. The other reaction is a complete misunderstanding of the technology. I’ve seen several comments from people hoping to use this to fix their blurry film photos from the 80’s. Not going to happen. The comments that actually bother me are the ones asking “what’s the ISO? What’s the focal length? What’s the f-stop? What’s the shutter speed? How many megapixels? Isn’t Lytro just a bunch of Nazis?” Seriously? Are we (photographers on the internet) that blinded by spec sheets? You’re being presented a revolutionary new imaging technique at a reasonable price (supposedly) and your reaction is “how many megapixels?”
Come on, Internet, get your excitement on like you did for the Fuji X100 before it was released and you realized that it was imperfect just like every other camera. Photography is a fun activity and cameras are fun to play with. Let’s encourage innovation because we have more than enough megapixels already.