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Old May 16th, 2009, 08:54 AM   #1
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Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: London, UK
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Daydreaming about my ultimate camera

OK. It's been a busy week and now I just want to wallow in an utterly absurd day dream. This post is completely useless. My ridiculous ambition is that Nikon/Canon/RED/Panasonic/Sony etc will read this post and think "ah, gosh - THAT's what we need to do". Of course, that won't happen.

Basically, what I want is a RED Scarlet with high-tech autofocus.

Here goes...

sensor-size: somewhere between full-frame 35mm SLR size and micro-4/3rds size

lens: interchangeable lenses an absolute must. The ideal would be interchangeable lens mounts, each with full control over the electronics in the lens. That's almost certainly not possible. So, um, please can I have a Nikon mount?!?

ideal: compressed raw (like RED RAW or Cineform RAW)
Great but not ideal: low-contrast 10bit AVCHD, don't crush or clip anything the sensor is able to resolve, use log if necessary

storage medium: ideal: non-proprietary solid state or HDD

multi-angle high res LCD with the ability to zoom in to check focus & lots of nice features for objectively checking exposure and focus (histograms / waveform / false-colour exposure maps / edge detection etc). The camera should come with a black monitor hood for using the LCD in bright sunshine.

Before May I probably wouldn't have considered AF a must-have. But two things have changed my mind: reviews of the GH1's face-tracking and my new camera stabiliser. AF during movie recording is now pretty high on my wishlist (and could be the deal-breaker on the Scarlet if it doesn't have AF with object tracking). The absolute ideal would be a trainable object-tracking system which optionally drives the AF and/or the auto exposure, with controls over how swiftly the system pulls focus. The dream is to be able to shoot with really shallow DOF with the camera moving on a low-cost stabiliser while filming a walk-and-talk through a busy crowd and have the camera automatically track the lead actor, even if other people briefly walk in front of the actor. Being able to train the system to recognise objects other than faces would be lovely too!

software plug-ins on camera:
Allow 3rd party developers to write "plug-ins" to run on the camera. The camera's OS must isolate the plug ins so a crashed plugin doesn't crash the camera. Heck, if the camera runs embedded Linux (or Android?) then allow users full root access. If plugins aren't acceptable then maybe open-source the entire firmware.

frame rates:
24,25,30,50,60. Really high frame rates would be nice, as would low frame rates for timelapse. To be honest, I'd probably still buy the camera if it only shot 25fps.

ideal: digital audio input plus dual XLR inputs with nice mic pre-amps and 48v phantom power.
it wouldn't completely kill the deal if the camera only recorded crappy audio from an onboard mic though as I'm happy to record dual-system in most situations.

video out during movie recording (for running a remote monitor) is fairly essential. Streaming a 720p image over 802.11N would be fantastic!

remote An elegant form of remote control over stop/start, iris, focus, shutterspeed. Ideally using a non-proprietary comms system like WiFi / Bluetooth / CAT5 / USB / firewire. Controlling the camera from a smartphone/netbook is the dream. Control over which object to focus on would be awesome (e.g. "now focus on George... now pull focus to Fred").

stills: option to save stills as RAW or JPEG.

cost: <$5,000 (!!!)

So yes... basically what I want is a cross between a GH1, a RED Scarlet and a computer-vision PhD project!

I know, this is a silly dream... but hey... it's been fun!

*edit* quick random thought: use "standard" components. Like a fast laptop CPU plus a couple of powerful GPUs for doing the debayering plus a standard OS like Android etc. Not only would this keep the hardware a dev costs down but it would also mean that 3rd party coders could write plug-ins without having to relearn a whole new architecture.

Last edited by Jack Kelly; May 16th, 2009 at 09:43 AM.
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