ADP Photography | In-Camera Filters???

In-Camera Filters???

February 07, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

In-Camera Filters???  Let's call them ICFs (As there are so many acronyms in photography already, another won't hurt!)

Mr Frustrated Photog., what are you talking about?

Well, let me explain.  Over a year ago I sent this thought to Canon via there 'contact us' web link. I have had a stock reply thanking me for contacting them...Nothing else, maybe not surprising as this is perhaps the insane musings of a frustrated photog's brain.  Anyway...

Filters, they're something extra to carry.  On a photo mission maybe you have your standard zoom, a wide angle, perhaps even another zoom, (like a 70-200), to help you pick out details and composition in a landscape.  So carrying filters as well, that's extra weight and something else to hang round your neck or pack in the bag.  Not to mention more glass to try and keep spot and blemish free.

We know that most effects that filters give us can be applied in post-processing, though purists like to capture the scene in camera, by using filters:  

  • ND filters to reduce the shutter speed and block out light by a few stops
  • Graduated (hard or soft) with 1, 2 or 3 stops of graduated density  
  • There's even a reverse grad, placing the darkest point on the horizon and becoming light towards the top, for sunrise and sunset images when the sun is on or very near the horizon.

So, carrying all of these? 

  • Polarizers, we'll talk about those in a minute

The grads are less than perfect unless you have a completely flat horizon.  Even with a soft filter there'll be some degree of overlap on hills, tree lines or what-have-you, maybe only visible to the pixel-peepers out there.  The ND filters apply the same effect across the scene.  E.g. to the river as well as trees.

The shots below of Sgwd Ddwli Uchaf in Wales were merged to allow me to use the silky water, but stationary tree detail.  In the first you can clearly see movement in the trees, movement I didn't want.  Of course, I blended these two images to make a composite.

How cool would it be if we could just affect the water in a single image?

Most enthusiast level cameras already have some 'effects'.  They also already take and blend multiple shots in their HDR function. All cameras change an image with white balance or some form of picture styling (neutral, mono, landscape etc). Are ICFs just a step on? Most digital cameras now have a rear screen and many are touchscreens. 

How about using all of this to apply a filter when looking at the live image of the scene in front of you?  

For example:

  1. Display the live image on screen
  2. Draw a line from any point on the LCD with a fingertip to select the area that the effect should be applied to
  3. We then adjust a tonal range and/or colour tolerance parameter that tells the camera to only apply the effect to certain tones/colours within the selected area and whether it should be continguous or not
  4. We choose how many stops we want to apply to the effect
  5. We choose how much we want to feather the result, i.e. how soft the transition should be
  6. The LCD would display, in real time, what the finished image will look like (updating as we change the parameters) 
  7. The camera would fire the shutter two or three times, similar to HDR functions, one for the normal shutter speed at the standard exposure, and one or two for the filtered area. 
  8. The images are then merged together by the camera and displayed as a single image.

Why stop there, why not apply multiple filters to different parts of the image, maybe even spot lighting via radial filters with feather control?

Maybe some bright spark in the R&D dept at Canon, Fuji, Nikon, Sony or whichever are already tinkering with the idea.  With faster, better processors, could this happen?  Holding back the ND grad from the leaves covering a waterfall could take a bit of clever thinking, but our digital camera are already pretty blumming amazing machines when you think about it.  Why not?

The polarizer is perhaps the only filter that has to be a physical object, I guess that lens technology to ignore light coming in at a different angle would make lenses even more expensive and heavier.  Grad filters; Ok, perhaps not as good in post-processing as when applied to the front of the camera, but is it so different? 

ND filters, like the big stopper, can be imitated by applying blur to selections, though I find using the physical ND filter much better and smoother than the post-processing route.

Could in-camera filters mean we only need to buy and carry a polarizer in the future?

What do you think?  10 years?  20 years?  Never?

Let me know, write a comment!

Best wishes

The Frustrated Photog.


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