As a professional photographer, I’m used to having to use my hands a lot. Changing lenses, moving from one DSLR body to the other, swapping memory cards and sometimes executing a perfect catch when that expensive lens slips from your grasp(!). It’s interesting how technology has evolved where the act of using your hands for much more than turning knobs and levers — and actually using menu driven software to “touch” what you want — therefore making it much more intuitive and effective.
I’ve always been fascinated how technology evolves with how we want to interact with things that we love and use a lot. Touch screen technology used to be the domain of science fiction till not very long back — something that slowly invaded our lives when Apple first introduced the iPad a couple of years back. Today, mobile phones and tablets thrive on touch technology. Everywhere you look, your everyday device now has some form of touch technology built in — whether it’s an ATM machine or even a printer.
Photography wasn’t far behind – and consumer point and shoot cameras soon entered with completely touch screen driven UIs which made taking that perfect picture that much easier for the general customer — who couldn’t be bothered with technicalities like aperture speeds, shutter speeds and the rest of all that mumbo jumbo. The technology behind it is SO intuitive, that all a user needs to do is touch what you want to focus on, and the camera does the rest! For example, the Nikon S70 features an almost completely touch driven system – where you can move between banks of menus with a simple swipe of your finger!
What remains to be seen now is whether touch based devices will enter the hallowed realm of professional photography. The shift has already started — and camera manufacturers are carefully experimenting and pushing the boundaries of technology to introduce touch based devices. For example, the new Canon700D features a touch driven menu system. I haven’t used it yet, but I’ll be interested to know it makes a difference in a photographer’s workflow.
But will touch-based DSLRs work the same way they do in the consumer space? The difference here is that most professional photographers are purists – they love the way their cameras look and feel, and they are so sure about what these devices can do for them, it’s hard to say whether touch based technology will be adopted or not. To draw a paralell, it actually took years for professional photographers to embrace digital technology and move away from film. It took years of advertising for digital camera companies to be able to convert photographers who had been using film for years and years. Will this same lot not move to a touch driven digital SLR? Well, only time will tell! Personally speaking, if a device can help me save time and effort while on the field and help me get that perfect shot the client expects — I’m going to be all for it!