Is It Time for High Definition Photo Viewing?

HDTV Photo Viewing

Last Tuesday, Sony Corporation announced 7 new cameras in its Cyber-shot line, featuring a set of features that at first glance could be interchangeable with other manufacturer’s offerings.

But in the chorus line of Sony’s new features – almost faceless – is a new facet of the new arrivals: high definition TV viewing of photos.

Up until now, photo viewing on the TV set is a mildly disappointing experience, to say the least. You connect your camera to the television set and you scratch your head why the magnificent pictures you took would look flat on the TV screen.

There are two reasons for this. 1) Most consumer TVs would scale down photos regardless of its megapixel content and would only project pictures in its native VGA (640 x 480) resolution, and 2) Even if you connect your digital camera to a high definition TV, most cameras today cannot handle HDTV’s signal requirements.

Now comes Sony. Its new Cyber-shots – DSC-H9, DSC-H7, DSC-W200, DSC-W90, DSC-W80, DSC-T100 and DSC-T20 – all have the capability to show high definition photos on 1080p HDTVs using the optional high-def cable. This means photos come alive with crisp clear images very much like those you see in TV showrooms. You have to see to appreciate this. A dew drop about to fall from a flower’s edge, or the natural skin tones of a model’s face, they just come alive on HDTV.

Sony credits the Bionz image processing chip for the wondrous detailed photos of the new Cyber-shot cameras. This is the same chip powering Sony’s Alpha-100 DSLR. But it’s software that enables the new cameras to beam high-def photos to 1080p HDTV screens.

With this development Sony has demonstrated that point-and-shoot cameras are still a league above camera phones which are trying to overtake with their growing megapixel arsenal. This could also raise the profile of TVs over PCs in the digital home. The ability to show what you have shot with your digital camera over a high definition TV screen truly adds a new dimension to consumer electronics.

So, is HDTV photo viewing upon us? It is. But there are a few steps to hurdle. The main hurdle, though, is simply cost. HDTVs are expensive. The stratospheric prices of today’s high definition TVs put them out of reach of most consumers. Only a few rich people could afford them.

Happily, however, consumer electronics have a track record of coming down to earth after enjoying the limelight of being in the cutting edge of technology. After all the puffery of being the best and the brightest – and so worthy of very high prices – consumer electronics always come down to earth to meet its master, the consumer.

We just wait a little while, and HDTV too will be for the masses. Then we can view our slideshows and photo albums in all their high definition glory.

[Links: Sony Cyber-shot H-Series, W-Series, T-Series]

Published by Chris Malinao

Chris teaches Lightroom as workflow software to photography students at the FPPF, Federation of Philippine Photographers Foundation. He also teaches smartphone photography.