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San Jose City Hall DetailWould it not be great if photographs always came out level? Never see an accidentally tilted horizon again? Looking through a viewfinder, horizons do not always come out level. Holding a camera at arm’s length, chances are even lower. It can be very frustrating when an otherwise perfect photograph comes out tilted!

What can be done about tilted images?

  • Deleting the image is easiest.
  • Software correction is possible but dramatically reduces image quality.
  • A tripod with spirit-level works well but is limiting for speed and composition, not to mention cumbersome.
  • A hot-shoe spirit-level is more flexible but it is tedious to keep it straight while framing.

It would be great if the camera could do the work and automatically keep the picture level for the photographer. This would certainly be a fantastic feature. From the current state of technology, it may not be so difficult.

Remember CCD-shift stabilization? It works by moving the sensor to compensate for camera movements. When Pentax introduced the K10D, it declared that its Shake-Reduction system was superior because it compensates for rotational motion as well as horizontal and vertical motion. The Pentax K10D also has an orientation sensor to record the orientation of images.

With the capacity to slightly rotate the image sensor and detect the camera’s orientation, one could easily imagine an automatic image leveling system. If the K10D’s orientation sensor is precise enough, this may even be possible via a firmware upgrade. If it is not, then introducing a new orientation sensor is probably not too difficult.

Neocamera Blog © Cybernium.

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