Gear and Software Innovations Photographers Want Now: Part 1

July 13, 2016

By Greg Scoblete


Part 1 of our 3 part “Gear and Software Innovations Photographers Want Now” feature reveals many of the yet-to-be-invented equipment, software and other tools that would make photographers and filmmakers more productive in the studio, on location or in transit. PDN asked image-makers who work in various genres what innovations they would like to see in the future, and we also asked PDN Technology Editor Greg Scoblete to weigh in where alternatives and workarounds might already by available. Here’s the first bunch of responses we received; click here to read part 2 and part 3. (And for any manufacturers or developers reading this, remember to give credit—and stock options—where they’re due.)

“I have a love/hate relationship with booms,” says sports and portrait photographer Alexis Cuarezma. “I love using booms because I love lighting from overhead. However, I dislike their size and the need for a counterweight. A long boom/stand that wouldn’t require a lot of weight to be stable would be a great invention. I would bring at least two or three to every shoot and not worry about space/weight restrictions, and it would help out tremendously when traveling!”

“One of my favorite cameras is my Hasselblad 503CW,” Cuarezma says. “I love the square format because you don’t have to think about orientation when shooting. There are plenty of digital backs available, but if any manufacturer made a full-frame 54mm x 54mm digital back anywhere from 50-100mp with a CMOS senor, I would use my 503CW for nearly all my portrait shoots! I love everything about that camera except the fact that there’s no full-frame, square-format digital back for it.”

Kate Woodman, a commercial and editorial photographer and former engineer, wants some kind of containment or air-tight protective system that would protect a sensor during a lens swap. “I find myself constantly having to remove sensor dust artifacts in post, so having the ability to swap lenses in the field without having to expose my sensor to the elements would cut down on a lot of that—perhaps in the form of an automatic shutter that covers the sensor as soon as the lens is removed.”

“Since I do a lot of composite photography, it would be great to somehow see an overlay while shooting my subject,” Woodman says. “Being able to see it directly through the viewfinder, maybe at about half opacity, would really be beneficial in helping me correctly position and align my subject and ensure I get correctly matching angles/perspectives. This would save me the trouble of having to measure camera height and distance to the subject in the field, and would take a lot of the guesswork out of post production.”

Hawaii-based surf photographer Daniel Russo wishes he could download images directly from his eyes via Bluetooth. “Everything I see through my eyes would be Bluetooth transferable to phone or cloud, where clients could access it and I could post to Instagram.” Russo would be happy to test the prototype, he says. “I would be the only one in the world with it, so I would become semi-special. And my equipment would never be outdated or need any updates… I would eliminate having to travel with excess baggage and I would be able to swim freely—with no 30-pound camera and water housing—in dangerous surf.” 

“I would like to see what my camera sees,” says science photographer Anand Varma. “Ok, that sounds like a dumb request because you can just look through the viewfinder, right? Actually, my photo setups often involve situations where the camera is positioned in a place that is inaccessible. In other cases, I have to be paying attention to the behavior of my subject and need to react before it enters the frame. For example, if I am photographing hummingbirds or bats, there is no way to capture them in flight if I am relying on my viewfinder alone. There are many methods of tethering a camera to a laptop or monitor, but all of these are glitch-y, low resolution, and slow down the response time of the camera. One solution would be some kind of goggle that allowed me to split my vision between what’s in front of my eyeballs and what’s in front of the camera. Another approach would be some kind of laser projection system that originated at the front of the lens and showed the limits of the camera’s frame in space.”

“The worst part of any assignment is packing up,” says photojournalist Patrick Smith. “Some days you use less gear, but other times it’s overwhelming looking at all that needs to be packed up before hitting the road—especially when shooting sports when you have remote cameras. I wish camera manufacturers would somehow build lens caps and body covers into their gear. It would make the process of packing up much easier by simply pressing a button that dropped a cover over the mounting points so you could drop the gear into a roller and roll out of the building quicker! 

Olympus makes automatic lens caps for some of its Micro Four Thirds lenses; built-in lens caps are pretty pervasive on point-and-shoots, too.

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