It is entirely natural to want to look back and recap the year as it comes to an end. It’s just as natural to want to look forward as each new year begins. Like a newly unwrapped holiday gift, we look to the New Year with excitement and a natural curiosity to what lies ahead.
In the ever-growing world of digital photography, a year is a long time. It is not unusual for some new device or piece of software to be introduced and then updated twice, all within the span of a year. With no malice towards 2012, I would like to focus my attentions to what the world of digital photography might look like in 2013.
This is not a top 10 list, but just my impressions of what will be popular or new (or both) in the coming year. I think one of the biggest trends in 2013 will actually be carryover from 2012 – the explosion of social mobile photography. Images posted on sharing sites like Facebook and Instagram have been exploding in popularity. It is now becoming more popular to post a photo of your current activities than posting a sentence or two online.
Instagram has been particularly popular recently, and look for that to continue in 2013. Instagram’s big challenge in 2013 will be to manage its popularity, which means finding a way to monetize the app and handle all the spam that always takes aim at popular programs.
Instagram will have plenty of competition in the coming year. Apps such as StarMatic and EyeEm are making inroads with mobile users. If you are an Instagram user and have not tried these apps, you should.
Mobile photography is becoming more than just a fun pastime; there is now money that can be made from this type of photography. Websites such as Foap and Scoopshot allow members to sell their mobile images and earn money.
Look for 2013 to bring about the birth of the “mobile photographer” as a career position, as more companies look to gain a social image presence as part of the marketing efforts. Individuals who are skilled in the use of mobile devices will be able to leverage this talent and earn a living in the process.
Even Google is getting in on the act. With their recent purchase Nik Software, they now own the popular mobile photo editing program Snapseed. The first thing they did was make it free, and they plan to make it an important feature of their increasingly popular social networking site Google+.
Traditional camera-makers are well aware of this trend and will try and capitalize in the coming year. What makes mobile photography so popular is not the photographic image quality; rather, it lies in its ability to instantly send that image anywhere. Nikon has just released its first compact camera using the Android operating system. The Coolpix S800c allows you post your photos to any social networking site right from the camera. You can also download and run any apps available to Android devices at the GooglePlay store. You can’t text or make phone calls with this camera, but your images will benefit form a 16 MP sensor and a Nikon lens.
Other camera manufactures will soon release their Wi-Fi-enabled “smart” cameras, and by the end of 2013 there will be plenty of models to choose from. Manufactures know that connectivity needs to be a part of cameras going forward because instant sharing is here to stay. All the attention is now paid to what happens after the image is captured.
Camera manufactures will continue to stress those features that set them apart from digital devices – features like long zoom ranges and point-and-shoot cameras with large image
sensors. Sony’s new CyberShot RX100 is getting a lot of press because of its point-and-shoot size but offering a large image sensor comparable to the size you would find in a digital SLR camera.
Digital cameras also are far better at taking photos in low-light situations; smart devices have never been that good. As I received photo greeting cards this holiday season it was quite evident to me which were taken using a smart phone – they lacked details in the low light.
The “big things come in small packages” theme is accelerating and will be important this year. I recently purchased the newly available Nikon Coolpix S01. To say that this camera is small would be an understatement. At 2-inches high and 3-inches long, this 10 megapixel camera not only fits in your shirt pocket, it can get lost in your shirt pocket. It does everything a point-and-shoot camera can do without the bulk, and a price around $99.
Camera and device makers will also make great strides this year in making products that will have great computational features. That means you will be able to do more editing of your image within the camera itself. Edits and adjustments currently needing a computer to complete will now be available to you via the camera’s menu set. There will even be features added that can’t be done in a computer currently – how would you like to apply focus after the photo has been taken, to any part of the photograph you choose? Well that’s already here, but needs more work.
Keep an eye out for the Consumer Electronics Show this month and you will get a glimpse into what the world of digital imaging will look like in 2013. In a word, it will be amazing.