The next several years will likely be an enthusiastic era of experimentation as photographers and filmmakers try their hands at creating new visual experiences with 360-degree
cameras such as the KeyMission 360.
There’s reason to believe the world is primed
for 360-degree visuals. In a recent consumer
survey, Nikon found that 90 percent of respondents said that some content would be better
viewed in 360, and nearly three-quarters of
those surveyed said they were interested in
trying 360-degree cameras for themselves.
What’s more, people are rapidly scooping up
virtual reality headsets. The market research
firm Futuresource Consulting expects VR
headset sales in 2017 to more than double
their 2016 totals.
As interest grows, 360 cameras will grow in
sophistication. Improvements in video compression and processing power will enable
camera-makers to create devices with far
more than two lenses and image sensors. The
more image sensors and lenses you can pack
into a single camera, the more visual information you’ll be able to capture. Aligned correctly,
these lenses will be able to capture stereoscopic 3D video in 360 degrees, giving footage
a sense of dimensionality and an even greater
sense of realism. Toss in advancements in
360-degree audio recording and you have the
makings of a media revolution—or The Matrix.
Getting in Sync
If there’s a common lament among many photographers, it’s that they have to endure the
often-arduous process of transferring images
from a camera to a mobile device for sharing
on social networks. While Wi-Fi is just about
standard on any new camera, it still requires
a few steps to pair a smartphone to a camera
and get transfers initiated.
Enter Bluetooth Low Energy—BLE, for short.
Originally developed to enable so-called
“Internet of Things ” devices, BLE is also making
its way into digital cameras. Using BLE, a camera can maintain a constant pairing with your
mobile device whenever the two are in range.
It can also automatically begin transmitting
images as you take them—even if your camera
app is closed and your phone is in your pocket.
This “always on” connection means that when
you’re done shooting, you can pop open your
phone and see shareable JPEGs on your device.
Nikon was the first to promote this capability under the rubric “SnapBridge,” and other
camera-makers are quickly following suit. In
SnapBridge, you can pair a single camera with
up to five different mobile devices. This connection not only facilitates image transfers,
but also ensures that date, location and time
data are synced on your camera automatically.
SnapBridge can perform another useful trick:
once images are loaded onto your mobile de-
vice, they can be automatically uploaded to
Nikon Image Space, where you’re allotted free,
unlimited storage of 2-megapixel images.
With the advent of ultra-high-resolution cameras, 4K and 360-degree video, moving these
bountiful bytes back and forth between camera, computer and storage drives can become
a huge workflow bottleneck. Fortunately, a
pair of new connectivity standards—USB-C
and Thunderbolt 3—are coming online that
can ease the pain. Both are fast—USB-C can
clock in at up to 10 Gbps while Thunderbolt 3
tops off at a blistering 40 Gbps—and both are
capable of delivering enough power to run ancillary devices, like hard drives, without extra
But perhaps the most promising potential,
particularly for Thunderbolt 3, is that it paves
the way for speedy external GPUs. Much like
external hard drives provide extra storage for
your laptop without requiring a screwdriver
or DIY tinkering, external GPUs add processing power to older computers that can’t quite
keep up with the demands of modern video or
image-editing applications. With an external
GPU tackling processing-intensive tasks, you’ll
be able to hang onto your aging laptop a little
longer, freeing up cash to splurge on that nice
prime lens you’ve been eyeing. EDU