Strolling Amok

Pops goes on tour.

New Photographic Capture Medium Announced

[This was originally posted on my now-deceased “That’s Obsolete” blog. Since it’s gone away and I like the post, I’m stickin’ it here. Now it’s your problem!]

New chemically-based image sensor will improve image quality without batteries.

New chemically-based image sensor will improve image quality without batteries.

Researchers at the University of California at Berkeley today announced their discovery of a new process for the capture of photographic images. Professor Irwin Cory stated that, “This new medium solves some of the problems inherent to traditional digital image capture and storage, and is entirely non-electronic in nature. The medium not only serves as a self-contained light sensor inside the camera, but combines that function with permanent storage which is removable and self-contained. Unlike current technologies, it is unaffected by static charges, power outages, magnetic fields, or any of the degradation or end-of-life problems associated with solid state drives or hard disk drives. Our tests indicate that its images can be safely stored for many decades. Further, there are no obsolescence or compatibility problems as with digital file archiving, since this new medium is purely optical in nature and is entirely free of coding and programs going obsolete.”

Battery-powered prototype is fully automatic in operation.

Battery-powered prototype is fully automatic in operation.

Asked about the physical nature of this discovery, Cory said, “It consists of a thin sheet of plastic which has been coated with chemical layers which permanently change appearance in the presence of light. It is a non-reversible change. Once exposed to light, that sheet is momentarily placed in a chemical bath process to prevent further change, and this allows handling of the medium in any light conditions without further effect.”

This non-electronic photographic medium, dubbed “analog media” and “photographic film” by speakers at the press conference, was claimed to have image quality and operational benefits in addition to its freedom from electrically-based problems. Professor Cory stopped short of calling it a “Green” solution, citing its need for one-time chemical baths which are toxic in nature. “But,” he claimed, “Neither the film itself nor the image capture device require any electrical power in order to operate. If desired, the camera can include a computer with sensors and controls, but there are both mechanical and solar-based means of doing the same things. No batteries, chargers, or plug-in power is required in order to capture, store or view the image. If you were willing to focus the lens yourself, a very quick and easy process, you could use such a camera out in the field for years at a time, and never need to tie back into the power grid.”

The potential of this discovery to end the need to manufacture and then recycle billions of both rechargeable and non-rechargeable batteries, along with chargers and similar accessories, has had considerable effects on Wall Street. The Chinese government downplayed the significance of the discovery, describing it as “a fad”. “We will continue to produce additional billions of batteries and chargers for decades to come, and a camera is a camera,” Manufacturing Minister Xwan-Chiu said, “We will manufacture those, too. And, I have no doubt that we will eventually make the film, so we have no concerns. In fact, if it makes the digital camera obsolete, we welcome it. Everyone will want one.”

Second prototype has fully manual operation and uses no batteries at all.

Second prototype has fully manual operation and uses no batteries at all.

Professor Cory presented what he called “benefits to the user”, such as the end of image file backups to prevent their loss, and the annoying pre-charging routine needed before capture. “You will be able to forget about not packing some device essential to the current process, or worrying about how strong your batteries are. In its elemental form, all you will need is a film cassette and a camera. Our second prototype had a built-in light meter and remained completely battery-less. An automatic exposure version of the camera will use a tiny button battery that can last for years.”

Cory went on to claim that the new medium is capable of capturing a greater range of light and dark than digital sensors can, revealing superior tonal detail within that wider range. “Photographers should go nuts for this, especially for professional use, where ultra-high image quality counts,” Cory told the audience. “It also comes much closer to capturing all the richness of color that the human eye can see,” he claimed, “It’s amazingly well balanced, particularly in the red spectrum. Film images can be transferred to digital media if desired, for modification, but the colors will tend to look comparatively washed out. But there is no need for a transfer, since modifications can easily be made during the printing process. Increasing the digital saturation merely makes the lack more obvious. There is a need to avoid electronic file creation or display in order to get these color benefits, as you can see here.” Viewers were treated to a non-electronic display created by the research team, consisting of light passing through the medium and projected with focused light onto a large white screen behind the professor. He then showed the same image on a computer monitor, and the audience reacted audibly to the difference in appearance.

Plastic light sensor strip (not shown) is pulled incrementally across exposure area rails to create multiple images.

Plastic light sensor strip (not shown) is pulled incrementally across exposure area rails to create multiple images.

Cory also claimed that the new film medium will end problems caused by dust sticking to the sensor inside electronic cameras, which creates consistent patterns of spots on all images captured. He explained that dust is pulled into the camera by the vacuum created whenever a zoom lens is moved, or when a lens is exchanged for a different one. “Our film medium moves progressively inside the camera,” he said, “going straight from its dust-free canister to the exposure area and then past, so each image is perfect as captured, even if there is dust inside the camera itself. Once exposed to light, the image is locked and dust makes no difference at all.”

When peppered with questions at the end of his presentation, some drawbacks to the new process were exposed. “The process is not instant,” he admitted, “You cannot see what you have captured until the entire cassette has been chemically locked. We do not see this as a critical drawback, however. Since wireless data transfer rates reached their current levels, digital images are rarely broadcast live anymore. Most people wait until they get home to utilize their photographs. Our new system adds no more than an hour to this.”

Cory claimed that the cassettes could be chemically locked or “developed” at home. “It’s even possible to use coffee as the agent, though the results are far inferior,” he said. In order to become popular though, he noted that the process would require the creation of localized sites like clubs or co-ops where photographers could either develop their film, or they could pay someone else to develop it for them. “We see this as a positive thing, since the potential for an increase in employment and businesses to service a sizable market would be significant. As far as the potential for commercial prospects go, such film stations would positively benefit the economy. We also have a related printing process which uses a special light-sensitive paper that produces ultra-high resolution prints. This new print technology maintains the tonal and color fidelity, and avoids all digital compromises. We are working on plans to license these technologies.”

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4 thoughts on “New Photographic Capture Medium Announced

  1. Mary A on said:

    heeheehee. I still use my film cameras as well as digital. Still have the old Canon I bought in 1968. and a nice 1.4 50mm lens for it.

    • 1.4? Nice. I’m actually carting around my twin 1984-ish Pentax Super Programs with gear for fear of what Yuma’s heat would do to them. I had them rebuilt and used them in my auto event coverage business until I began doing events at race tracks, about 2008-2009, and couldn’t often keep up with the manual focus. Too many pleasant memories to be able to part with them yet.

  2. know anyone who collects Nikon film bodies? I know, I should have unloaded them decades ago…

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