Why Software is the Future of Cameras

Kyoto, 2016

All the cameras we have are good enough — the limiting factors are the software (how good is the user-interface, helpful features, as well as ease of use).

Fujifilm innovation

One of the things that has inspired me with Fujifilm cameras is their insistence on focusing on software— upgrading the firmware of older cameras, continuing to iterate and make their menus simpler, and adding interesting software functions like film-simulation, grain-simulation, and their JPEG functionality.

Innovation is subtraction

Perhaps the future of cameras is to create simpler cameras, that have fewer functions.

The best example of this is the Leica M-D camera (the digital camera with no LCD screen). This way you can focus on the experience of just shooting — with no distractions. When I tested the Leica M-D, there was a sublime feeling of just having a few functions to the camera (focusing, aperture, shutter-speed, and the shutter-button).

So ironically with the Leica M-D, having no software was the ultimate software.

Advice for camera companies

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If I could give any advice to camera companies, it is to not worry so much about the hardware (increasing image quality, reducing high-ISO noise, or adding more bells and whistles). We need fewer buttons. We need fewer distractions. We need fewer settings in the menu.

What I would encourage camera companies is to make better-looking JPEG images that come out of their cameras (so shooting RAW is redundant). To have less complicated menus (to remove functions, rather than adding functions to their cameras). To have fewer buttons, fewer levers, and fewer dials on their cameras.

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I hope future cameras are less complicated to use, which means more opportunities to be creative.

The future camera will be very much like an iPhone — one button to take a photograph. The less we worry about the camera, the more we can focus on framing, composition, and making meaningful photographs.

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