Imaging Computer vs. Digital Camera

Discussion in 'Sony Alpha E-Mount Cameras' started by storyteller, Jan 11, 2016.

  1. digital camera

    1 vote(s)
    25.0%
  2. imaging computer

    3 vote(s)
    75.0%
  1. storyteller

    storyteller TalkEmount Veteran

    322
    Sep 25, 2011
    I know this isn't a new topic or idea but I'm curious what the regular users here think. Most digital cameras on the market operate much like cameras have for several decades. A new device is released and all of its quirks and capabilities stay the same until a new model is released. There are occasionally updates—usually these are software only updates—that requiring servicing the camera but these updates don't drastically change the platform or (usually) cost money.

    I'm going to call this the digital camera. It is a camera. With digital film.

    An imaging computer has a hardware base that is unlikely to change but its software may go through many, and sometimes drastic, software iterations. Laptops and desktops are an example but smart phones and tablets may be closer. Newer hardware may offer better capabilities but old hardware is supported with all the software updates the older hardware can handle. Often large updates that add features instead of just fixes are a paid upgrade unless that cost is rolled into the price (Apple) or paid by divulging user data (Google).

    What would you prefer?
     
  2. WestOkid

    WestOkid TalkEmount All-Pro

    Jan 25, 2014
    New Jersey, USA
    Gary
    Maybe it's just me, but I don't understand this survey. I view these devices as complementary devices when it comes to digital photography. I don't see them as one or other as they are both important to the workflow.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  3. chalkdust

    chalkdust TalkEmount Veteran

    285
    Sep 25, 2015
    Bert Cheney
    If you are asking which device I prefer for image capture, then I strongly favor the digital camera. This is primarily because an imaging computer, since it is designed to support applications not related to images, generally has only menu based control of the photographic variables (focus, aperture, "shutter" speed, sensitivity) or no control at all. The digital camera that I will use is designed to make those variables easily and quickly adjusted.
     
  4. quezra

    quezra TalkEmount Top Veteran

    916
    Aug 22, 2012
    I'm also a little unclear what you're getting at here.

    Maybe to clarify, where would you class the following?

    Samsung Galaxy NX: MILC (part of NX-mount) with full Android OS
    Fuji X 'kaizen' philosophy: constant updates in firmware to existing cameras that add functionality
    Canon 'Magic Lantern' hack: third party hacks to change the functionality of Canon cameras, often drastically
    Sony Play Memories appstore: additional functionality added through paid purchases

    Personally, between all the variable options I simply prefer 'open source': ability for others to tweak an open and transparent operating system within the camera, like Magic Lantern but manufacturer-endorsed/supported. Android might be going a little too far in that you inherit some of the non-camera baggage required for that OS to work. And kaizen is the best of what mainstream cameras are offering, but it doesn't seem to have helped Fuji much in terms of gaining market share.
     
  5. WoodWorks

    WoodWorks Super Moderator

    Dec 12, 2012
    Ashland, OR, USA
    David
    Not sure I understand the difference either. I mean, if Sony (or any other camera manufacturer) offered us regular and substantial firmware upgrades, wouldn't that turn their digital cameras into imaging computers by your definition?
     
  6. Mus Aziz

    Mus Aziz TalkEmount Top Veteran

    575
    Sep 3, 2015
    Mus
  7. bdbits

    bdbits TalkEmount Veteran

    416
    Sep 10, 2015
    Bob
    Not sure this is it, but there has been talk for at least a couple of years now about enabling users or third parties the ability to modify the software-driven aspects of a camera - the menus, interface, even actual viewfinder/lcd layout, etc. This goes beyond something like the Sony app store, and is open to anyone not just a select few that Sony chooses to work with; more like the smartphone app stores.

    While I think this is an interesting concept, cameras are really rather different in some respects than say a smartphone. I suspect the shooting UI and controls in particular are I think rather tightly coupled to the underlying hardware design, and it may be non-trivial or sub-optimal for the user to decouple them. That said, I do very much wish Sony would open up the APIs and development more to third parties. Imagine an open app store like you have with a smartphone, dedicated to photography. Look at the variety of camera apps on smartphones with differing capabilities and interfaces. This could really open things up in terms of innovation, I think.

    There is a project out there currently hacking at the Sony cameras to enable these kinds of things, with some limited success. There are also a few apps on the Google Play Store for controlling Sony cameras (beside Sony's own of course), and moving some things to the smartphone (e.g. timelapse). I hope Sony builds on this as it could ultimately help propel them past the Canikons if done well. It's not essential but could be a game changer.
     
  8. chalkdust

    chalkdust TalkEmount Veteran

    285
    Sep 25, 2015
    Bert Cheney
    I obviously missed the point of this question entirely. :) But I get it now, I think. I lean toward open source. But it could be somewhat limited. It could be limited to control of operations of the camera so as not to disturb any "tightly coupled" functions, as dbbits mentioned.
     
  9. Amamba

    Amamba TalkEmount All-Pro

    Apr 13, 2013
    SE MI
    I think I understand the question, and I believe the future - at least in the consumer market - belongs to computing devices where the lens is fixed, having the maximum resolution and the maximum DOF practically possible, with a superhigh (by today's criteria) resolution sensor, and everything else - bokeh, background blur, different "feel" of the photo normally associated with a particular lens - is added via post done on the device itself using complex predefined criteria. E.g. "I want these two people in focus with a background bokeh simulating a 135mm tele prime and Minolta-like colors, and remove this lamp post and that billboard and replace them with sky".
     
  10. chalkdust

    chalkdust TalkEmount Veteran

    285
    Sep 25, 2015
    Bert Cheney
    Amamba, I think you may be right. There seem to be many more people today making images, people who are not interested in the photography techniques generally used in the last half of the 20th century and now applied to digital capture. Though I am not personally supportive of this trend, I think you are right in pointing it out.

    And I should not be too dismissive, I suppose. Expressing the diverse complexity and wonder of life through two dimensional images is commendable in any technique regardless of my own use or skill in it. And who knows? Maybe someday I will become interested and develop skill in this newer technique.

    To return to the main point of this topic, for this newer technique obviously an imaging computer is more useful.
     
  11. WestOkid

    WestOkid TalkEmount All-Pro

    Jan 25, 2014
    New Jersey, USA
    Gary
    Hmm. I'm still interested in the OP explaining what he was actually trying to say. I still have know idea what this is about. I see everyone coming up with their own view of what he means.

    The OP said laptops, desktops and cellphones are examples of imaging computers. What does that mean? He said nothing about the stuff people are talking about. You all may be reading his mind correctly, but maybe not. I think he needs to clarify for a meaningful discussion. IMO
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2016
  12. WNG

    WNG TalkEmount All-Pro

    Aug 12, 2014
    Arrid Zone-A, USA
    Will
    My interpretation is the cloud computing mentality. Instead of camera with ASIC and firmware, that is ported off to the 'imaging computer' platform.
    Software is easier to update, and architecture independent.
    The hardware to capture the image (ie. lens, sensor, data bus controller), is now its own entity, which can be any source, anywhere, any future upgrade.

    Just an assumption.
     
  13. bdbits

    bdbits TalkEmount Veteran

    416
    Sep 10, 2015
    Bob
    All three of those devices, in their current incarnations are programmable by someone other than the maker. This was not always true, in fact all three were "closed" to some degree in their early years. But this ability to modify the device beyond what it comes with is a large part of the reason they are now so pervasive. I took that to mean he was wondering if the same could or should be applied to cameras.

    Of course, I could be totally wrong, so perhaps clarification is in order. :oops:
     
  14. chalkdust

    chalkdust TalkEmount Veteran

    285
    Sep 25, 2015
    Bert Cheney
    I chuckle with joy to find myself at home in a group of people who do not need to understand a question in order to express their fascinating opinions about it. :)
     
  15. Nexnut

    Nexnut TalkEmount Top Veteran

    13 replies and no bloodshed (so far :biggrin:) - not bad for a photo forum. I like it here!
     
    • Agree Agree x 3
  16. bdbits

    bdbits TalkEmount Veteran

    416
    Sep 10, 2015
    Bob
    If this discussion was over at another site I used to lurk around, by now there would be 200 replies by the same 5 people who would be into a verbal fist fight to prove the other one was totally wrong. :shakehead:

    I like it here, too.
     
    • Agree Agree x 2
  17. Mus Aziz

    Mus Aziz TalkEmount Top Veteran

    575
    Sep 3, 2015
    Mus
    :026: :drama: :hide: :shakehead: :mad:

    Lol....
     
    • Funny Funny x 4
  18. Andromeda143

    Andromeda143 TalkEmount Regular

    47
    Dec 19, 2015
    Melbourne, Australia
    Clive Dickinson
    Back to the question of software and open source, there have been Android-based cameras and there are now many so-called smart TV's, which use Android instead of a proprietary operating system. So far they have not been very successful. The reason is that as soon as you start to abstract the hardware in software the performance degrades considerably. It is like the old question of using machine language in a computer or using an abstracted operating system. I remember back in the seventies working on both micros and mainframes and how much the systems were slowed by the introduction of graphical user interfaces (gui's like Windows and OS/2). Eventually the hardware caught up, but it took a long time. I would love to be able to customise my camera menus and manage loaded apps better than the rather primitive system offered by Sony. It would be great if Sony would just offer what Canon has for a while (customisable extra menus) in the meantime while the hardware is given chance to catch up to using OS's like Android. At the moment my 'smart Android TV' sucks big time and I wish I had bought a traditional dumb type.
     
  19. bdbits

    bdbits TalkEmount Veteran

    416
    Sep 10, 2015
    Bob
    Part of the problem with "smart" TVs is that the manufacturer's of such devices are not accustomed to functional updates after the sale. Android smartphones have the same problem with carriers; although it has improved the carriers dislike spending any money supporting something after the sale. (Not bashing Android, I am a devoted Android fanboy.) In my opinion, anything with reasonably sophisticated software has to be updated from time-to-time or it grows obsolete too quickly, for example a TV that can no longer use a service because the host protocol changed.

    By the way, there were lightweight GUIs that performed much better than Windows and especially OS/2 at the time, but market forces overshadowed them.

    As far as menus, I did own a Canon several years back. I think Sony has offered a lot of button customization instead of menus. And on the A6000 at least, you do have the Fn button which pops a customizable menu of sorts. Different approach but I think it offers a similar level of functionality. Best of both worlds, perhaps?
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  20. pbizarro

    pbizarro TalkEmount Veteran

    358
    Nov 24, 2014
    Portugal
    What you describe does not make sense to me. A digital camera is an imaging computer.
     
    • Agree Agree x 2