Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Inevitability of Change

On a forum I frequently visit, I asked a question about wireless charging of our cameras.  I like the idea of wireless charging.  I have it on my smartphone and on my smart watch, and it is VERY convenient.  
The way I use my camera, is that there are weeks of idleness, that are punctuated by a few days of frenzied photographic activity.  Then more idleness as I sit down and try to figure out what I want to DO with the photos I have taken.
The problem I face is that the batteries in my idle Olympus cameras gradually fade until they are empty.  And I run the risk, at some point, where my custom settings cease to be.  When the capacitor that holds a small charge to keep the camera functional when the batteries are removed, also fades away.
A wireless charging system would keep the batteries topped off and eliminate the need for me changing the idle battery  for a fresh battery once a week or so.  This isn't a major problem for me, but it WOULD be a minor convenience that I would like to have.
Naturally, in that forum, I got all sorts of detailed explanations of why such a thing would never come to pass, why it was impractical, that the the technological differences between cameras and smartphones are too great, and why the manufacturers would never be so stupid as to even try such a thing.  I also got a lot of suggestions that I should just shut up and continue to rotate batteries the way God intended.
It is my belief that anything that sells cameras is good for digital photography in general.   We no longer have consumables that can drive the ongoing profitability of companies involved with photography.  We don't have film, or developing chemicals, for example.  We do have printer ink and printing paper, but in this online age of photo sharing, their value is greatly diminished.
All the photo industry has for ongoing profitability is new technology and gear churn, and that is why we see annual model changes in camera model lines.  This isn't greed or venality on the part of the photo industry, it is basic survival.
As a result, I think wireless charging is an inevitable feature in the quality cameras aimed at the consumer and professional users in spite of all the very valid and technological reasons as to why (some people think) it will never happen.
Perceived convenience on the part of the consumer is really all the justification that is needed for offering this feature and making an investment in the R&D.   I suspect that the minute it becomes do-able, or even kinda/sorta do-able, it's going to happen. 
The early models will no doubt be of marginal value, and all the nay-sayers will say, "See! I told you so!" But if there's any merit to the idea, and in this case, merit, means an affirmative answer to the question, "Will it SELL more gear if we make a few tweaks?", then the second and third generation devices will be produced and improved.
This is the same path that smart watches have taken. And is the path that Smartphones took from the original Palm Pilot, to the Apple Newton, to the Treo, to the iPhone, to the Samsung G7 which DOES have wireless charging, btw.  Please forgive the missing steps in smartphone development, but you get the idea, I hope!
It is also the path that Auto exposure, Auto focus, and image stabilization took within the camera industry.  I was there, back in the days of the dinosaurs.  There were people back then who also gave detailed and very well reasoned explanations as to why those things would never work either!
I believe that ultimately, the need to sell me, and you, new gear will overpower any technological reasons of why "it can't be done."  As a result, we will not only have wireless charging in the near future, but several new convenience features we haven't even thought of.
I don't care all that much what sort of engineering and technical design issues the Camera manufacturers face, so long as they give me the convenience I seek.   We are long past having to worry about basic image quality in cameras,  even the cameras with one inch sensors produce pretty good images, and the 4/3s and APS cameras produce downright outstanding images.
The future for photographers is going to be great and more convenient, I think!

1 comment:

  1. Surely the best way to keep your batteries charged is to use your cameras? I keep mine in my car, hot weather permitting. The best camera is the one you have with you.