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Despite believing that photography is all about the pictures we create rather than the tools we use, there is no escaping the fact that many photographers enjoy a relationship with their tools which is very different to that which a plumber or car mechanic enjoys with theirs.
Those of you who have read some of my earlier blogs (and if you have, then thank you!) will know of two subjects that interest me. The first, the bossa nova of photography, is the mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The second, is computer hardware and software or, in this particular context, open source software.
Olympus and Panasonic have the micro four thirds system, Samsung have the NX range and SONY, the latest to join the micro technorati, have their own variation on a theme. Nikon are hinting something is coming and Canon would be extraordinarily foolish if they had not already invested R&D resources in this area. It offers the potential to change photography in as big a way as Contax did back in 1949 with the first use of a pentaprism.
It could, but most likely it won't, and here's why.
Already, this new segment has three lens mounts, and at least two sensor sizes. If Nikon and Canon join, then add another two mounts. With each manufacturer comes more mounts and possibly sensor sizes to the mix, along with unique interfaces, dedicated peripherals, and raw file formats. Each manufacturer ties the customer down to their way of thinking.
When I had time just to listen to music just for the sake of it, my hi-fi was a true component system - Linn, Naim, Arcam, Morduant Short - all unrelated brands yet all working seamlessly together to produce a sound fine tuned to my taste. With component hi-fi it all just works together... for you.
Imagine a world in photography where you could get the same seamless integration between individual components, tailored to your exact taste?
With an interchangeable lens digital camera body, the two most important components are the lens mount, and the sensor. These alone are the two components that matter. Imagine if all the specifications were standardised, and open. Imagine every single component being interchangeable, from the processing engine through to cable connections. Picture being free to tailor every component, knowing it would just work, from lenses through to raw processors. Now visualize if all the software was equally open. Fancy a bit of time lapse photography? There's an app for that. Focus stacking in macro? There's an app for that. Hyper focal focusing? Yup, there's an app for that also. The best you can afford, or that's good enough for you. A system as individual as you are!
With hi-fi, it's the sound that counts, just as with photography it's the pictures that count. It's just a shame that when we could be so close making a huge leap forward, we look set to remain tied manufacturer defined proprietary compromises.
Because that's the system that works for them.