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For Bird Watcher's Digest, September 2011

by Michael and Diane Porter

Michael and Diane Porter wrote the following review, which appeared in the September, 2011, Bird Watcher's Digest. It discusses the necessary design principles of a binocular-camera. It also gives an in-depth look at the Bushnell Image-View SyncFocus binocular-camera.

What's coming in the future?

What’s sure is that digital imaging technology will rapidly improve. Just as Moore’s law predicts a doubling of computing capacity every two years, similar growth is likely in digital imaging technology. The growing market for electronic consumer devices is a powerful economic engine. It’s certain that future camera sensor resolution will greatly exceed what we have now.

Already there’s a trend in camera technology to replace the SLR mirror and prism mechanism with a high-resolution electronic viewfinder. Just as the SLR let you see what the lens sees, the next logical step in digital photography is to let you see what the sensor sees. Panasonic did this with their micro 4/3 format cameras with good results.

We predict that future camera-binoculars will replace optical viewing with high-resolution electronic displays. Advanced image stabilization will let you handhold highly magnified images. You’ll digitally zoom in to see more and more details, because the images will be gathered and recorded at very high resolutions.

We think future digital camera-binoculars will be able to process and analyze images in various ways. For example, you may be able to amplify and see owls by starlight, or switch to infrared mode and see where birds are hiding behind foliage.

A larger sensor, with larger pixels, will allow shorter exposures without causing that grainy look. The problem for binocular-cameras is that a larger sensor requires a larger lens. The lens has to be big enough to create an image that fully covers the sensor. That’s why you see those fat, long lenses on the sidelines at football games where photographers, like birders, are trying to capture close-ups of subjects in motion far away.

If all this sounds fantastical, you might want to Google “Canon Wonder Camera.” You’ll find out what Canon presented at Expo 2010, in Shanghai, as the future of digital photography.

In the meantime, until the wonder camera comes, if we were paddling in Arkansas, we’d be grateful to have a Bushnell ImageView SyncFocus camera-binocular along.

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