Looking forward to the impact the android-camera from Samsung may have...

Started Jun 21, 2013 | Discussions
call me Skippy
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Looking forward to the impact the android-camera from Samsung may have...
Jun 21, 2013

I was just glancing through the hands-on of dpreview: sure, I would never buy it at this stage, because of lack of control buttons and stuff. But, I really hope, Samsung thinks this through to the end and delivers a NX with android which is "a bit more camera". I dont mind using the camera to navigate or recieve e-mail - I have a phone for that- but in the future it might set a new standard for firmware and force other manufacturers to open their software. For example: Focus peaking is purely a software-thingie, if I understand correctly. I have to admit: I miss it on my OMD. Olympus will NEVER put it in a firmware-upgrade. And why should they: Better to keep it as a selling point for future cameras. So: the motivation grows to buy a new one. Which is quite annoying and makes me feel like a victim of marketing mechanisms. But with android I guess it would only be a matter of time, till someboy develops an app for it. Software-wise, the sky might be the limit in the future and your camera may gain new photography-related abilities during its lifetime. Like a smartphone, which really benefits from every android-upgrade.

The whole android-concept might have quite far-reaching consequences...I have to admit: If all goes well with this new concept, I might even be tempted to switch systems or let MFT fade out... The whole idea just seems so "consumer-friendly". I even would go so far as to call it a "game-changer" - IF Samsung sticks with it and really thinks it through...

Any thoughts?

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Ben Herrmann
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Actually, I'm looking forward to the continuous....
In reply to call me Skippy, Jun 21, 2013

impacts that m43 will have in the near future.  If I want Android, I'll reach for my Samsung Galaxy S4.

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Have a great one....
Bernd (Ben) W. Herrmann
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DLBlack
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Re: Looking forward to the impact the android-camera from Samsung may have...
In reply to call me Skippy, Jun 21, 2013

Android OS on a interchangeable lens camera is an interesting concept.  Frist generation camera might mean there will nt be a lot of apps.  I am more interesting in just having a camera that has great connectivity with mobile devices like smart phones or tablets.  Panasonic cameras this year has good connectivity and the E-P5 is a good first attempt.  So I would rather have a very good firmware and physical controls in the camera and good connectivity to my phone or tablet to process the photos.

Dave

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alcelc
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Re: Looking forward to the impact the android-camera from Samsung may have...
In reply to call me Skippy, Jun 22, 2013

call me Skippy wrote:

I was just glancing through the hands-on of dpreview: sure, I would never buy it at this stage, because of lack of control buttons and stuff. But, I really hope, Samsung thinks this through to the end and delivers a NX with android which is "a bit more camera". I dont mind using the camera to navigate or recieve e-mail - I have a phone for that- but in the future it might set a new standard for firmware and force other manufacturers to open their software. For example: Focus peaking is purely a software-thingie, if I understand correctly. I have to admit: I miss it on my OMD. Olympus will NEVER put it in a firmware-upgrade. And why should they: Better to keep it as a selling point for future cameras. So: the motivation grows to buy a new one. Which is quite annoying and makes me feel like a victim of marketing mechanisms. But with android I guess it would only be a matter of time, till someboy develops an app for it. Software-wise, the sky might be the limit in the future and your camera may gain new photography-related abilities during its lifetime. Like a smartphone, which really benefits from every android-upgrade.

The whole android-concept might have quite far-reaching consequences...I have to admit: If all goes well with this new concept, I might even be tempted to switch systems or let MFT fade out... The whole idea just seems so "consumer-friendly". I even would go so far as to call it a "game-changer" - IF Samsung sticks with it and really thinks it through...

Any thoughts?

Have watched the video on FT rumor site demonstrating its operation. Not impress at all and IMHO, I couldn't even know how to frame, adjust exposure etc etc as normally do on a camera. Its just a direct copy cat from a tablet/iphone. It may only be able to take picture on very still object!

Open system is always good. But have we really ask ourselves what is the practical use of a open source camera. Are we talking about the benefit like a film slr (can use any film to shoot)?

Camera is to take picture. Taking a picture just need a photographer's eye to compose and frame (good or not), set the desired A & S with the help of ISO for lighting control to obtain a final result as we like. What else? What is the use of using Android in a camera? Add picture frame? Apps for special effect? Add Dof? Add a Micky mouse? IMHO all these canned result are going the wrong way. Yes, it help to promote photography among beginners, but not guiding people to learn. Soon or later people would no longer know how to shoot without IBIS/OIS, without auto ISO, without AF, without in-camera guide for the setting, without touch screen, without ........

Focus peaking is a nice feature, but back in the old film day before AF, and now there are still many good fellow members here enjoying legacy lenses without it. May be back to the basic would be better for our self improvement.

Samsung is just simply try to fight a way to survive as its first generation DSLR camera died with Pentax's failure and now its mirrorless is also going nowhere in this market. IMHO can't see much future of it.

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call me Skippy
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Re: Looking forward to the impact the android-camera from Samsung may have...
In reply to alcelc, Jun 22, 2013

I understand what you are saying - but it is besides the point I tried to make: For me the innovation here is not about having some "crazy apps" on the camera. I totally agree with you that my camera is supposed to take good pictures and it is not meant to be able to cook coffee or whatever.And of course, as I said: I wouldnt buy it right now - exactly for the reason you mention. I also want the physical controls and stuff.

The possible benefit for me is, that the android-concept might end a tendency to bring out new cameras with "new features" which basically the camera could have had before. You can get more out of the camera you have. For example: I love my OMD - beautiful machine. But - focus peaking aside - there are some quirks which would be easily fixable with a software update (which Olympus will NEVER deliver): Why the heck isnt there a quick access to meter-mode via dedicated button? I mean: Cmon, you can program many buttons with many functions but for some reason whatsoever, meter mode doesnt seem to be among them... Or the sometimes ridiculous menu-structure. What is up with that? Or think about the often critized large focus area - which is a very good example, because now Olympus is proudly announcing the smaller focus area on the new Pen as a "feature". Many quirks of the OMD would be easily fixable.

But right now the system is closed. You can hope that some enthusiastic code-warriors might crack the firmware and you might be able to use a third-party firmware on the long run - if you are lucky. With android this might get easier: think about the process of updating your firmware alone! No more: Dont touch it under any circumstances while it updates. No more: Darn, now it is a brick (or at least less chance of it happening)!

I suppose you could even use several apps in parallel. If the third-party app isnt your taste: Just dont use it. It is just an app - just use the "original" one.

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alcelc
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Re: Looking forward to the impact the android-camera from Samsung may have...
In reply to call me Skippy, Jun 22, 2013

call me Skippy wrote:

I understand what you are saying - but it is besides the point I tried to make: For me the innovation here is not about having some "crazy apps" on the camera. I totally agree with you that my camera is supposed to take good pictures and it is not meant to be able to cook coffee or whatever.And of course, as I said: I wouldnt buy it right now - exactly for the reason you mention. I also want the physical controls and stuff.

The possible benefit for me is, that the android-concept might end a tendency to bring out new cameras with "new features" which basically the camera could have had before. You can get more out of the camera you have. For example: I love my OMD - beautiful machine. But - focus peaking aside - there are some quirks which would be easily fixable with a software update (which Olympus will NEVER deliver): Why the heck isnt there a quick access to meter-mode via dedicated button? I mean: Cmon, you can program many buttons with many functions but for some reason whatsoever, meter mode doesnt seem to be among them... Or the sometimes ridiculous menu-structure. What is up with that? Or think about the often critized large focus area - which is a very good example, because now Olympus is proudly announcing the smaller focus area on the new Pen as a "feature". Many quirks of the OMD would be easily fixable.

But right now the system is closed. You can hope that some enthusiastic code-warriors might crack the firmware and you might be able to use a third-party firmware on the long run - if you are lucky. With android this might get easier: think about the process of updating your firmware alone! No more: Dont touch it under any circumstances while it updates. No more: Darn, now it is a brick (or at least less chance of it happening)!

I suppose you could even use several apps in parallel. If the third-party app isnt your taste: Just dont use it. It is just an app - just use the "original" one.

You are right. But wondering industry players might have interest to open up their system as we want. Actually I am 100% supporting non-proprietary products after a very disappointed experience on selecting the Apple IIc as my first PC in the old days. Now I rather pick up parts and assemble one for myself......

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s_grins
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Re: Looking forward to the impact the android-camera from Samsung may have...
In reply to call me Skippy, Jun 22, 2013

It does not matter to me, it is only operating system.

I can switch easily between computers with different operating systems, I believe I can do it with cameras.

Now, about apps: they can be written for most (if not all) OS, so this is the matter of the determination of a manufacturer

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TrapperJohn
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It's not that easy
In reply to call me Skippy, Jun 22, 2013

I don't know exactly what Samsung has done, but I'm working on Android apps right now, and I suspect that Samsung probably hasn't given access to the very low level/realtime basic camera functions like control of the display or EVF. (does it have one?) That would be a self contained app, not something that can be easily replaced, unless Samsung has provided API's into that app to modify behavior.

Processing images in realtime with very limited processing power and storage is a tricky art. I've done it on the raster image processor of a color laser printer, and the result was downright convoluted, to keep speed up to snuff. The code was very inline - so processing intensive that even adding a function call could slow it down, and there wasn't enough RAM to hold the entire image uncompressed in memory, so you had to work in bands - decompress a band, do your thing, then recompress it.

No buttons at all... not sure I like that. Especially in lower light, I work the OMD's buttons on feel as much as look. Small as they are, you can do it with practice. Personally, I'd prefer the E620's backlit buttons - not sure why Oly didn't extend that to other cameras. It worked very well in lower light.

Android on camera has some interesting possibilities: a time lapse app, remote operations, but other than control of the camera, there's nothing as regards images that can be done in an Android app in camera that can't be done better on a dedicated desktop with a powerful processor and bags of RAM.

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call me Skippy
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Re: It's not that easy
In reply to TrapperJohn, Jun 23, 2013

I agree: it is not that easy. Also totally agree on the buttons. But: Allthough I am not a coder, I would think that using an operating system like android, might make it easier to develop an app to handle the camera. If I understand correctly, with android, handling the usual "camera-stuff" like aperture, shutter-time, function of the buttons etc, becomes an app. In the past there were some open-source projects to replace the manufacturers firmware (I think it is called "magic-lantern" - mostly for canikon). But these projects had the problem that they needed to reverse-engineer a lot of stuff. They had to de-code the original, find out how to adress the buttons and hardware components etc. They still might have to do this, but I suppose this might become easier, because of the operating-system which restricts and standardizes these aspects. Most importantly: There is money in it and the operating-system makes it less of a hassle to install third-party software to handle the camera. I would definitley pay 50 bucks for a good app for my OMD which improves menus or other aspects. Furthermore: I dont even need Olympus' algorythm anymore for jpg, because these days I tend to shoot raw. And: If it were android, there would be no harm to have another software on the camera, because if I would need apsects of the original, like art-filters or other fancy stuff, I could just switch the app.

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Martin.au
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Re: Looking forward to the impact the android-camera from Samsung may have...
In reply to call me Skippy, Jun 23, 2013

Is the Samsung forum really quiet or something?

Anyway, somewhat similar in topic. I use a variety of instruments. The very best of these was an earlier model, which had a custom built OS and apps designed to run on the hardware.

The very worst of these instruments is the one that followed, where they switched to Windows Mobile and rebuilt the apps to run on that OS. The hardware was much faster than the earlier instrument, but most potential performance gains were lost due to buggy software.

Conceptually there is a lot of potential in using an accessible operating system to drive a camera, however I'm not convinced that we'll see that potential achieved anytime soon.

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baxters
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Re: Looking forward to the impact the android-camera from Samsung may have...
In reply to Martin.au, Jun 23, 2013

Well, with the right App, I could see how far I need to hit my golf ball over a pond and take a picture if I made it. I could sit out a downpour in a coffee shop in New York city and use their free WiFi to watch a movie on Netflix. At night, I could order the latest Connelley or Sandford crime novel from Amazon and read it on the camera.

Back in New York City I could even use the camera's GPS to direct me to BH Photo to buy something smaller to take pix.

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alcelc
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Re: Looking forward to the impact the android-camera from Samsung may have...
In reply to baxters, Jun 23, 2013

baxters wrote:

Well, with the right App, I could see how far I need to hit my golf ball over a pond and take a picture if I made it. I could sit out a downpour in a coffee shop in New York city and use their free WiFi to watch a movie on Netflix. At night, I could order the latest Connelley or Sandford crime novel from Amazon and read it on the camera.

Back in New York City I could even use the camera's GPS to direct me to BH Photo to buy something smaller to take pix.

Oh dear, would you like to use a iPad instead? How many extra batteries would be needed?

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inti4444
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I totally agree
In reply to call me Skippy, Jun 23, 2013

At they open the market for software developer, to improve the system.

We have had great systems, but to change you were dependent on the developer.

A better camera means a better sensor, it doesn´t mean a new camera.

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Impulses
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Re: It's not that easy
In reply to call me Skippy, Jun 24, 2013

I agree: it is not that easy. Also totally agree on the buttons. But: Allthough I am not a coder, I would think that using an operating system like android, might make it easier to develop an app to handle the camera. If I understand correctly, with android, handling the usual "camera-stuff" like aperture, shutter-time, function of the buttons etc, becomes an app. In the past there were some open-source projects to replace the manufacturers firmware (I think it is called "magic-lantern" - mostly for canikon). But these projects had the problem that they needed to reverse-engineer a lot of stuff. They had to de-code the original, find out how to adress the buttons and hardware components etc. They still might have to do this, but I suppose this might become easier, because of the operating-system which restricts and standardizes these aspects. Most importantly: There is money in it and the operating-system makes it less of a hassle to install third-party software to handle the camera. I would definitley pay 50 bucks for a good app for my OMD which improves menus or other aspects. Furthermore: I dont even need Olympus' algorythm anymore for jpg, because these days I tend to shoot raw. And: If it were android, there would be no harm to have another software on the camera, because if I would need apsects of the original, like art-filters or other fancy stuff, I could just switch the app.

Have you used Android or gotten involved in the development process of an app/ROM (even if as a bystander)? Just curious, no offense meant. Xda is a really good place to get immersed in that...

I'm a huge Android famboi, and I think the concept holds *some* promise, but I doubt it'll have meaningful impact for quite a few years unless Samsung or another manufacturer is exceedingly proactive and even self-sacrificial. Basic tweaking and adding non-core features like re-arranging button functions or adding a time lapse feature would be very trivial; former would have to be at the ROM level tho which would mean rooting or jailbreaking your camera tho, the latter could be done at the app level. Altering core imaging functionality within the existing camera app as it were would probably be all but impossible tho, regardless of how good of an API Samsung establishes (if they put one out at all, there's 0 incentive for them to do so). Doing things like adding focus peaking or altering the image processing are all but a pipe dream.

Right now it's not always easy to gain root access on modern Android devices outside of the Nexus line and obscure non-phone/tablet stuff (think of routing like gaining admin privileges over your PC, something everyone tends to have, and more empowering than an iPhone jailbreak). That's a fact, even when the OEM releases the source code, which contrary to popular belief doesn't include every line of code in the device.

In fact, source code releases often lag device launches by months, depending on how compliant the OEM is, and they're not required to include anything proprietary... It's more about giving access to the pre-existing parts of Android that are already freely available, as it were. Things like drivers for the newest phone camera/processor or audio output are usually never released. No OEM will ever grant you code-level access to their custom skin either, which means no one can significantly modify the custom camera interface on a phone, or even something as basic as the skinned Samsung calendar etc.

At best, most mods within custom Android ROMs (the firmware as it were) will get you some UI tweaks and performance improvements. The most comprehensive ROMs will eschew all custom manufacturer skins, apps, and mods to run a pure version of the OS based entirely on open source code (e.g. Cyanogen Mod); and that always comes at the cost of custom camera interfaces or any features added by the OEM on top of stock Android (pretty much any gimmick in a Samsung ad for instance). There's some very rare exceptions to this, like HTC opening up an API for devs to add skins and features to their custom UI or lock screen... But those efforts tend to be very limited in scope and gain very little traction with developers since no one wants to write something that's only gonna work within the limited framework of a couple of specific phones (and may stop working entirely on future ones if the manufacturer gets bored etc.).

Backwards engineering certain non-core features like Voodoo audio mods for phones with Wolfson DACs or adding USB OTG support and that kinda thing are other examples of this, but none of that is as simple as downloading an since even that kinda stuff tends to require root access and some technical know how to install/apply. It's often only possible after a driver leak or tons of effort too (which only the most popular devices garner).

I'm not trying to rain on anyone's parade nor bag on Android, I tried to keep the geek speak to a minimum too... Like I said, I'm a huge fan of Android. Closed approaches have their place I'm the market too tho... I owned an iPod touch (2nd gen) before I ever had an Android device, quickly realized it wasn't for me, but I don't look down on people using iOS devices or anything like that.

There's a lot of stuff that would be realistic and exiting at an app level on an Android camera, or thru a decent API, but I think most of it falls far short of what some are thinking... Personally I think there's very little that could really be added thru Android on such a device that couldn't be done on a regular camera and/or couldn't be done better on another device (e.g. your phone, tablet, or PC). I'd love to be proven wrong with someone with more imagination, but it's not gonna happen with a camera that fails to gain traction because it doesn't attract photography enthusiasts due to other issues (lack of buttons, large form factor, etc) and doesn't garner mass market appeal for a whole host of other reasons (price, lack of certain standards, etc.).

You have to understand that even if Samsung has the best of intentions about shaking up the photography status quo (and it could really use it), they still have to balance the needs and safety of the masses vs the enthusiast. If the device or camera is way too open and easy to mod it's also exceedingly easy to break it or completely hamper core functionality, which leads to more support calls, unhappy customers, etc. This is already a reality on phones and tablets and they're exceedingly locked down... You definitely can't touch an Android device while flashing a new ROM after having rooted it btw, it's not Windows Update. Android devices tend to behave more and more exactly like a computer, one you don't have a full admin account access to out of the box (but potentially one that's safer and more resilient for the average user).

Even if I'm wrong and reality turns out far more pleasant, be prepared for the dark side of a more PC-like experience. Software is never finished, purpose built devices like a camera or a DVR tend to go thru better QC and testing... When the device can be treated like a PC (or increasingly, a smartphone) the mantra soon becomes to ship it in a "good enough" state as far as bugs etc with the tenuous promise of future updates. I realize that happens to an extent already, but it's not nearly as common or prevalent as it is with something like phones... Even manufacturers like Apple who are supposedly all about the user experience aren't exempt from this (new Maps app/service anyone?).

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