Listening To The Technology

What is it saying?

Andy Grove, former Chairman and co-founder of Intel said, ‘listen to the technology. The technology wil tell you what to do”

We are in an industry created by and dictated by technology. As the technology shifts, so does our industry. To fail to shift with the technology is to set a path to oblivion.

Grove’s partner in founding Intel was Gordon Moore.  Moore is most famous for his observation of what has come to be called ‘Moore’s Law”.  It states, in simple form, that the number of transistors that can be placed on an integrated circuit will double every 18 months. In effect the speed will double while the cost is halved. Every 18 months.

This ‘Law’ has proven true since Moore first published it Electronics Magazine on April 19, 1965, and seems likely to continue for at least another decade, if not more.

This doubling of speed while halving cost has had enormous, if not seminal impact on our own business.  Computers were able to process words… then audio… then video.  Editing went from half-million dollar CMX rooms to software that is almost free and yet incredibly powerful.  Video, once having to be pushed through the air at almost incomprehensible cost is now transmissable to more than 2 billions homes over the web for free – opening broadcasting to anyone who wants to play.

When it comes to cameras, video cameras have become increasingly faster, better, cheaper and easier to use. This too has lowered if not destroyed the barrier to access for those who would like to make video content.

The lowering of the barriers to access to video production, compounded with the web’s capacity to carry video at no cost, has of course, provided a strong attraction for newspapers to incorporate video in their online product.  The task of capturing and delivering that video has, quite often, fallen to those who were traditional photo journalists.

Now that blending of photography and video takes another step forward, much in keeping with the impact of Moore’s Law.

The Nikon Company, long known for its outstanding stills cameras, today releases D90.

This is a high-end still digital still camera that also captures video.  Hi Def video.

And it allows the photog to use Nikon’s vast range of high-quality lenses, married to video.

12.3 megapixel, Hi Def video, 32 gigabyte SD cards, Nikon lenses – $1000

What this means is that anyone can now record for video a range of images from macro shots of insects at work for Discovery to extreme close-ups of sporting events for ESPN or wild animals for Nat Geo.

The audio still has a distance to go, but you can see what is coming.

Nikon has never been a serious player in the world of video before, but you can see where the technology is taking us. The separation between ‘stills’ and ‘video’ is being blown away. And as the difference between acquiring stills and video go away, so too will the differentiations between publishing video and stills go away.  Soon online newspapers will not care. It is all the same.

And who will be out acquiring all that video?

The guy who has been carrying around Nikon on a strap for years.

Just push the button.

7 responses to “Listening To The Technology

  1. It was bound to happen – only a matter of when. All my colleagues who have been complaining about having to carry a separate video camera may have just had their cries answered.

    I bet the workaround for the time being will be to work with a portable audio recorder to capture high quality audio and synch it accordingly in post.

  2. The audio doesn’t have far to go — you can imagine Nikon releasing a vertical grip-style add-on that includes a couple XLR jacks, or even an integrated shotgun mic & wireless receiver.

    There are really 3 firmware issues that keep the D90 from being a Canon camcorder killer — maximum recording time (5 min per clip), audio (mono, no input), and frame rate (24p only).

    My money is that Nikon has that fixed within a year… and suddenly every still photog with a bag full of Nikon lenses can shoot BETTER quality video than a standard “professional” TV camera.

  3. XLR isn’t nearly as big an issue IMO. I purchased a German made Ambient Recordings TinyMic and the sound quality is as good if not better than a Sennheiser ME66 – and comes in either mini jack or XLR plugs. The mini jack would be more conducive to a DSLR form factor for the kind of content that would be shot by photojournalists for the web. Fix the recording time and pretty much, what we currently know as small video cameras are dead within a few years IMO.

  4. It’s long overdue for Nikon to enter the video arena.

    However, I think people are a little naive if they think their old lenses will fit on some future version of this camera.

    Maybe I’m being too cynical but I’m betting Nikon makes a new camera with a whole new set of lenses that only fit on it.

    Look at all the photogs stuck with old style “analog” lenses that won’t fit on their new digitial still cameras.

    Many of us who have been shooting television news for a long time have spent money on adapters to enhance the properties of our existing television zoom lenses.

    Wider or more magnification.

    HD lenses that you can zoom through are even pricier.

    The glass has always been what separates the quality of the finished product whether it was still or video.

    Add me to the list of those excited to get my hands on a camera similar to this once they work out the audio and maximum record time issues.

  5. I held off buying a digital camera for years, waiting for Leica to finally produce the M8 so that I could use all my Leica lenses on the digital body. Thank God Leica kept the mounts the same. Alas, the M7 body was suddenly worth next to nothing, but that’s the price of progress. I agree, its all in the glass.

  6. I have to disagree Stephen – Nikon has retained their “F” mount since the Nikon F SLR. You may not get all the bells and whistles, but you can still mount an AIS mount lens from the 80’s onto the latest D90 from what I understand – albeit with limited functionality. A Google search shows many who are doing just that. Nikon has a loyal user base due to that very feature.

    I would venture that any Nikon manual focus lens that is ED glass is going to be quite sharp on todays bodies – but I could be wrong.

  7. Check out what Red is doing moving into the still camera space from their motion picture industry changing Red ONE product.

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