It’s a lot than can be improved in modern digital cameras, each product contains technology from many different research fields and there are always new stuff in the pipeline from all manufactures. This article lists a couple of areas in witch I expect announcements of product improvements during 2012.

Better displays

A new generation of displays are on it’s way to the market, delivering better readability and consuming less energy. The largest practical difference will be touch control, which will be a better way to ease access to various functions and hopefully replace hidden features deep down in traditional menus. The touch display has an theoretically option of being very user configurable, but is is unclear if the camera manufactures will let the user move around buttons and/or create custom panels for fast access to the most used functions. I think that Android based cameras will come, but not until 2013, delivering extreme personalization and even options for added features by installing new application.

OLED has been in the pipe for many years and finally it looks like many models will have OLED technology which promise to improve the color fidelity and lower the power consumption. This flexible SONY OLED prototype was on display at CES 2009 and 2012 might be a good time for the first flexible camera display ?

Small but flexible prototype OLED

Quantum dot filters from Nanosysinc is another technology that improved the color accuracy of the displayed image. It is a filter placed in the normal LCD stack matching the backlight with the LCD color filters, resulting in up to 50% more colors than without. The filter contains embedded dots made from phosphor which convert light depending on the dot size, smaller dots emit shorter wavelength (towards blue) and larger dots longer (towards red). The dots are embedded in a plastics sheet which are tuned by mixing the dot size to generate new spectrum of light for best color accuracy and efficiency. This sheet is called a Quantum Dot Enhancement Film (QDEF) and will not affect thickness and other important manufacturing steps of the display.

Do not expect much larger displays because there is no room for larger displays, the limit is somewhere nere 3 inch.

Improved sensors

A clear trend is larger images sensors, even for cheaper cameras. In many case this means higher sensitivity which is converted into higher ISO numbers. Canon is leaving APS-H in their high end line in flavor for full format sensors and introducing larger sensors in their PowerShot G1 X. Many mid end cameras will switch from really small sensors to APS-C sized sensors. As an end user it is important to notice that this will increase the requirement of the optics and may force the consumer to buy more expensive lenses than before for the same image sharpness.

Full HDTV video capture

Another feature already in place in many products which will be a must during 2012. A resolution of 1920×1080 is very useful because most modern computers and television screens fit such video in native size. Available sensors and compression circuits deliver 1080p without much higher cost. SD card storage has also matured enough to support 1080p with good quality without reaching the critical write speed limit.

Higher frame rate

In most case it’s enough to capture video with 30 fps but there are many applications where for example 60 fps is much better. During 2012 there will be many products available that delivers 720p60 and 1080p60. It is also possible that we will see special modes to deliver even 120fps but with somewhat limited resolution. Sport action cameras already does 60fps but I think 3D cameras are in most need of higher capture frequency.

Mirror less

Mirror less and/or see-through mirrors using electronic viewfinder is a very strong trend. Changing one of the the basic property of an DSLR while trying to solve difficult problems, improved autofocus during video recording, smaller sized equipment and less weight. This trend expected to continue with more and more options especially among the cheaper camera products. Professional photographers are not so impressed with all new Electronic Viewfinder with Interchangeable Lens (EVIL) system cameras. But SONY is very innovative, pushing this technology very hard and there are both good and bad things which this solution. Cost, weight and size is lower but image quality as seen through the viewfinder does not convince any professional photographer yet, the resolution is too bad and the dynamic range another problem.

More processing power

New camera system on chip solutions contains more and more processing cores because it is very easy to just add some more gates. In all practical cases the real limit is power consumption and memory bandwidth, which is not that easy to solve.

GPS

Already a big trend but not yet available in many high end products.

Accelerometers

We might start to see new use of accelerometers during 2012, but most likely this feature will slide into 2013. Recording of camera shake with accelerometers and gyros for later post processing will be a very useful features in high end models to de-blur images destroyed by accidental unwanted camera shake. This can of cause not be possibly in all cases since the de-blurring operation comes with a cost – artifacts, but still an unusable photo might be useable after the cleanup.

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