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Tracking the Hottest Trends in Image Capture

(March 2007) posted on Wed Mar 21, 2007

A look at the latest trends in image capture and where the technology is heading.

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By Jeff Dorgay

Digital-specific lenses, Photoshop add-ons, and additional features
A few years ago, Olympus introduced its Olympus E system, a line of lenses designed for a digital sensor from the ground up. Taking advantage of the flatness of a digital sensor-instead of the compromises that come with designing around the curl in film-Olympus was able to create lenses that had superior edge-to-edge sharpness. Another side benefit of this technology was a group of lenses that were more compact than legacy lenses, which had to accommodate the larger image circle of a frame of 35mm film.

Now, all of the major lens manufacturers have jumped on the bandwagon and we all benefit. In addition to a couple of aftermarket lens manufacturers adopting Olympus’s four-thirds system, Canon, Nikon, and Pentax also have created their own lines of digital-specific lenses for their cameras with APS-sized sensors.

The obstacle to this approach is of course, standardization. Until the major manufacturers choose to abandon legacy product lines, this technology will not be fully implemented. Even Leica has a digital rangefinder now, however, so there is hope.

Software, too, is becoming more and more powerful. A number of great companies are creating products that can tremendously expand the capabilities of Photoshop in a number of areas. Whether you want to make some minor color adjustment, sharpen your pictures, or compensate for lens distortion, there are more options than ever.

A lot of these companies also offer a number of great ways to creatively alter your images, going way beyond what we used to be able to accomplish via filters and darkroom magic. Nikon, for instance, has worked with Nik to develop some exciting things with its Capture NX program; Capture NX takes a completely different approach to image editing and the interface to perform these tasks. Again, all of this technology is getting much more user-friendly versus the products from 10 years ago.

Another example is the latest version of DXO Optics Pro (v 4.1), which corrects for optical anomalies as well as performing color and sharpness correction. DXO offers it in three different versions, depending on what kind of camera you use. Regardless of whether you use the best digital SLR or a point-and-shoot, DXO Optics Pro works wonders on an image.