Why we should love USB-C. Apple, Android, Sony and future possiblities

Not every thought is a diamond and perhaps this post is a bit crazy.

Part of wanting to hike the Pacific Crest Trail in Northern America so badly has made me research countless technological items, especially camera storage methods and anything to do with cameras or phones. USB 3.1 and USB-C has made me think about various future possibilities for both phones and cameras.

Initial thoughts

At first, I thought how useful it’ll be to backup SD cards at incredible speeds using USB 3.1 with a mobile phone. I got a phone suitable for the job, and it confirmed my theory–they make incredible backup solutions.

Then I came to the realisation that Sony could implement something similar with a future camera of theirs such as the Sony a7rIII. USB-C is far more durable than its predecessor.

Sony possibilities

Sony use a very simple linux operating system with an additional operating system–a modified version of an Android operating system. It’s arguably overly complex but it does mean that dual SD card slots aren’t necessarily the end to camera storage and they’re not necessarily essential all of the time. Before you wince; imagine a device that plugs into a USB-C socket on the side of the camera. When you take a photograph, the data goes to the SD card slot and also to the USB-C port of which a small external storage device is connected. USB 3.0 is sometimes frowned upon for smaller devices because it can cause Wi-Fi issues, but many modern USB 3.1 devices seem to overcome this issue. It’s already possible to tether cameras to a computer and access the camera’s storage through the USB port (it has been this way for years), so clearly the port can do more than help charge the camera.

This might even be better than a second SD card slot for videography because you could choose your own secondary storage medium e.g. a Samsung T1 drive (or something like this).

Looking into the future

Of course my idea makes it sound like digital cameras are fully fledged laptops or that they’re turning into mobile phones. The truth is, it is getting closer to reality. Once this is universally accepted, we become closer and closer to having more useful features–gimmicks too. Imagine external Bluetooth devices such as GPS units that do not eat into the camera’s battery life too much,  whitebalance or exposure luminosity devices that function in a more accurate manner because they would be like a stand alone light meter. Lumu power has already made a device comparable to this idea–it’s for the iPhone but there’s no reason something like this couldn’t connect to a camera via bluetooth.

USB 3.1 is faster at transferring data to a display than a displayport, dual dvi or HDMI. If implemented correctly, a future digital camera might not need a headphones, microphone or an HDMI socket or any other sockets that manufacturers like to implement. One plug and the right adaptor would be fast enough for them all. I am starting to believe that Sony had the right idea by not implementing a USB 3.0 microport with the Sony a7rII but they should definitely start to look at a USB-C port for future models.

I am extremely happy with my Sony a7rII, and I have no intention of buying the Sony a7rIII, but I am interested to see what advancements they’ll make with the ports or if they’ll keep them the same.

The standard, fairly inaccurate way of measuring exposure or colour temperature is fine for most people. Especially as you can change most things in lightroom with little effort. For landscape photographers, they might be pleased with a device that offers a far more accurate colour temperature reading. On the other hand, it’s yet another doodle to bring along with you. Studio photographers would benefit from this too. While grey cards can be useful, they do not take into account the colour temperature change from a flash. An external sensor which reported information per shot would theoretically be far more accurate. I’m not suggesting these “sensors” should be used all the time. Just as I’m not suggesting you have to bring a 24-70 f/2.8 GM lens to every event. I like modular designs. That’s the joy of mirrorless cameras. We can use small lenses or larger lenses.

Stand alone light meters can be expensive, and they’re not always that accurate. They measure f-stops and try to make calculations based on perfect equipment, but they do not factor a lenses design. Transmission and f-stops are not the same.

The Angry Photographer once said (ok, that’s a lie, he never says anything “once”, especially when it’s Sony related, haha) “Sony is not a camera company, they are a consumer electronics company.” This isn’t true, especially at this point as Sony have a subsidiary solely for cameras and whatnot but it’s a statement worth thinking about nonetheless. What are modern cameras? What do they have inside of them? Do you have any ideas that could be achieved if we learn to accept modern cameras are closer to computers than they are to a film camera?

What do you think of my ideas? Are they stupid? Food for thought.


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