Smile please, you're on electronic camera: No winding on, no waste, no mess . . . Christine Hewitt glimpses the future of photography

WITH your mediocre holiday snaps now safely in the album, you may think of adding a new camera to your Christmas list. But wait - a photographic revolution is quietly taking place. Electronics has just reached into another corner of our lives.

Dr Brian Iddon, from Salford University, claimed in a recent lecture that 'by the year 2000 electronic photography will have completely replaced current photographic techniques'. And it is British chemists who have scored another first by inventing the special dyes needed for the printing end of the process.

'The new technology will give very sharp colours and extremely precise pictures,' said Dr Iddon, demonstrating the invention by taking a picture of his audience with a charged-up 'filmless' camera. A reusable magnetic disc cassette replaces the usual silver halide film, avoiding all that fiddly winding on. Dr Iddon placed the cassette into a printer looking much like a video recorder and linked to a television screen. Within a few seconds he showed the picture on the screen.

This means that you do not need to develop and print all exposures on a film, only to find that half are worthless. If landscapes are over-exposed or portraits have granny's head missing, you can spot this on the television image before developing and printing. Waste and expense can be avoided. You can even rewind the electronic tape and take the shot again, or alter the colours or contrast on the screen.

To turn a passable screen image into a colour print, a heat- based technology - 'dye diffusion thermal transfer', or D2T2 - is used. This is a hi-tech version of the iron-on system used to print motifs on T-shirts, in which the heat transfers a pattern of dyes from thin paper on to the cloth.

According to Dr Iddon, D2T2 needs a much higher transfer temperature - about 400C - than that produced by a household iron, so conventional dyes were unsatisfactory. 'Out of over a million known dyestuffs, none was found to be stable enough,' he said. ICI's Colours and Fine Chemicals business in Manchester came up with dyes to fit the demanding bill for stability, colour quality and fastness.

In D2T2, a colour ribbon and the print receiver paper are pressed together under an array of 'thermal heads' in a printer resembling a mangle. The ribbon holds panels of yellow, magenta and cyan dyes which are transferred in the required pattern - programmed by an electronic message - to the print. The finished print paper feels similar to normal photographs.

Dr Iddon also stressed the environmental advantages of electronic photography: it is a clean and dry process with no used developing or printing solutions to be poured away.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
The 67P/CG comet as seen from the Philae lander
scienceThe most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
film
Sport
football
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Koenig, creator of popular podcast Serial, which is to be broadcast by the BBC
tvReview: The secret to the programme's success is that it allows its audience to play detective
News
Ruby Wax has previously written about her mental health problems in her book Sane New World
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £60,000

£25000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Care Workers Required - The London Borough of Bromley

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This homecare agency is based in Beckenh...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas