The Perfect Camera

October 19, 2010 | Mark Goldstein | Photography Techniques | Comment |

Let's start with sensor sensitivity. Now I know a sensor is designed to work at an optimum sensitivity; typically ISO 100. I cannot believe the brains who enable them to work at ISO 12800 can't apply some of that ingenuity in the opposite direction. Very few of us save a few MI5 surveillance specialists or dodgy voyeurs need these sky high ISOs. What we do need fairly often is the option of slowing things down to record movement. The lowest ISO available is 50, not slow enough by far so we have to resort to putting expensive opaque bits of glass in front of our lenses to achieve exposures of several minutes. 10x ND filters have become like gold dust. Surely the boffins can manage a low sensitivity below ISO 5? Ideally we would determine the long shutter speed we desire to optimise movement and sensor sensitivity retardation could be applied to suit. And on the Perfect Camera we could apply that retardation selectively to sectors of the image area like the sky to make neutral density graduated filters redundant. Think of it; using our finger, stylus or cursor we could select the sky on the camera back, apply the degree of graduation and density required and away we go. Now that really would be useful. Dream on? We'll see.

The Perfect CameraThe Piano Grande in winter, Monti Sibillini National Park, Umbria, Italy. With a sensor that we were able to vary the sensitivity of over selective areas of the frame neutral density graduated filters would be redundant. Canon 1Ds mkIII, 16-35mm lens @ 24mm, 1/125 sec @ f9, 0.6 ND grad filter.

Sticking with sensor performance cameras with a built in High Dynamic Range facility are now available; Apple's iPhone for one. As it stands this will be of interest only to those who like the gruesome “Harry Potter” look of multiple exposures merged using HDR software. But any development which lets us hang on to more highlight and shadow detail is going to be useful. Please could we have the option to make multiple auto bracketed simultaneous exposures? I hate HDR pictures but I sometimes use subtle manual exposure merging. This way we could make perfect merges from hand held exposures of moving subjects. It's going to test the cameras processor and buffer but that's not my problem.

The Perfect CameraPoppy field at dawn, Corton Denham, Somerset, England. Two exposures merged manually in Photoshop. Canon 1Ds mkII, 16-35mm lens @17mm, f16.

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