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Tele-Photo

A robotic station for taking photos. This station, in particular, was used at the recent US Presidential Inauguration. Image credit: MRMC

Telephoto in a photographer lingo is about using a special lens to get closer to a subject still keeping your distance, It can be an artist on the stage or a lion in the savannah. In the first case you may not be able to get close to the artist, in the second case you may not want to get close…

MRMC, a Nikon owned company based in UK, gives a different meaning to telephoto: getting a photo from a digital camera that is far away from you. How far away? You may be at your home in New York and the camera may be in Sydney Australia (is that far enough?).

The inside view of the robotic setting showing the camera and the lens control mechanisms. Image credit: MRMC

MRMC provides a robotic setting that embeds the camera with a lens (up to 500mm focal length) and software to control the whole setting and the camera. The robot is wireless connected to the internet and can be controlled from remote. The software controls both the robot (so that the photographer can point the camera in any direction for the right framing) and all camera settings (focus, ISO, aperture, shutter speed, …). The photographer sees on a screen what she would see through the camera viewfinder, including all data that are normally displayed in the viewfinder, can set the desired values and of course can press the shutter.

As shown in the first figure once positioned the camera does not require any local operation being fully controlled from remote. In particular that installation was the one at the last US Presidential Inauguration. In that case the photographers (there where three installations, each one operated by a photographer) were in a room  a few hundred meters from the site.

These settings are being used to take photos from angles that would not be possible for a photographer, as an example from beams over a baseball diamond.

So far it is just a way to snap pictures from remote, with the settings and framing (and shutting time!) under the control of a human photographer. In the near future an AI software might take over replacing the human photographer.

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the New Initiative Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He is a member of the IEEE in 2050 Ad Hoc Committee. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.