Photography: the next wave

This morning’s Observer column

Just over a month ago Canon launched the second generation of its full-frame camera, the EOS 5D Mk 2. This not only does traditional still photography, it also records HD video at 30 frames a second. I’ve seen footage shot with this camera and it’s stunning: high-definition movies shot with the low-light capability and optical quality only available on lenses that come with high-end still cameras.

This new camera obliterates the distinction between still photography and cinematography. The guys who sit on touchlines with long lenses will be able to produce not just action stills but video footage better than anything the TV cameras can capture. When billions of dollars rest on the distinction between photography and TV rights, you can imagine the implications.

Already there is talk that the new Canon camera will be banned from the 2012 Olympics because the TV companies won’t stand for it (after all, they pay nearly $1bn for the rights). And one day all photographs will be merely stills from a HD movie sequence…