A couple weeks ago, my manager at my day job gave me a stack of old photography magazines. I've still read only one, but it was really interesting.
Practical photography, October 1958 cover story was about, " Automation an eye-opening report on the future of photography".
An add for a pop-on rewind crank for your Leica M-3 made of "high grade 303 stainless steel" first caught my eye. I realize that in my day job, I deal with a lot of what some old-school machinists would consider exotic materials, but 303 is barely more than high-grade dirt, as far as that goes. It took me a while to remember that this was '58, and stainless steel as a whole was barely more than ten years old. I'd love to know what they would have thought of 440-460 series steels.
The part that I really found interesting was later on, with a bit about "what will your camera look like in 1970?"
To look at it section by section, and see how close they were:
Zoom type lens- I've never seen anything like this on a 1970's era compact camera, but by the eighties that had mostly been figured out, and today's compacts have an even wider zoom range. I was just looking at a review of the new Panasonic/Leica V-Lux 20, which has an equivalent of a 25-300mm zoom.
Parallax correcting viewfinder- not really available on a compact until the advent of newer digital compacts.
Ultrasharp color corrected... lens- never did quite happen. Ok, some of the new compacts come close, but you still get a significant depth of focus shift through the zoom range on most cameras.
Automatic exposure adjustment- Got straightened out by the eighties. SOLAR battery? Wow!
Acceptance angle of photocell- Once the shift was made to Through the Lens metering, this got MUCH better.
Electric drive motor- Again, not so much by '70, but... as far as automatic rewind of film, I know some cameras did this, but sometimes I found it a nuisance. I liked my first Nikon- I had to hit two buttons simultaneously to rewind the film.
Exposure button advancing film and re-cocking the shutter- pretty much followed the motor drive.
Drop in Loading- remember that god-awful APS film a couple years ago? I guess modern flash memory cards would also count.
Built-in ring flash- sounds like a good idea. I've never seen it.
Universal color balanced film- Never happened. With many of today's digital cameras, the automatic white balance setting does a reasonable job, but even my DSLR gets tripped up on occasion. I really don't see any way (chemically, or electronically) to get this right 100% of the time.
All in all, most of what they spoke about has come to pass, although not in the twelve year period they were thinking.
Something else about this issue: the letter from the editor was about how automation in photography would make [professional photographers] obsolete. This has not happened. I don't have any stats on this, but I would venture a guess that there are at least as many (if not more) cameras per capita now than ever, and a correspondingly obscene number of BAD photos being taken. Yes, there seem to be more "professionals" now, as well- also of varying grades. No, I do not yet consider myself a pro, although I think I'm getting there.