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Digital camera revolution

A PERTH company is hoping to revolutionise digital camera technology after spending six years and $1 million developing an electronic filter that overcomes one of the most common problems for photographers.

Live Technologies Pty Ltd’s SmartFilter, according to its inventor and company chief executive officer Roland Butcher, removes the risk of over or under exposure of an image in normal light conditions by using technology usually associated with digital watches – liquid crystal display.

The concept is to shade out areas of overexposure using liquid crystal before the image is stored, using techniques normally applied in post-production or even the darkroom.

Mr Butcher said the company recently showcased its technology in the US and was seeking about $US1 million for the next stage of research, preferably through one of the established photography players, such as Kodak.

“We are targeting them because we think the easiest or most natural mode is to find a partner who already has research facilities at their beck and call,” he said.

A photographer and graphic designer with his own company Chemistry Design Pty Ltd, Mr Butcher said he held the majority stake in Live Technologies but had attracted investors, including intellectual property lawyer Robert Garton-Smith, Alan Bond’s son John, venture capitalist Paul Kristensen and Dynamic Digital Depth R&D director Phil Harman.

Mr Butcher said the idea came to him after he became frustrated with his inability to photograph a gathering of friends in his backyard because of light conditions.

“It came out of a moment of stubborn refusal to accept I could not photograph a scene I wanted to shoot,” he said.

“That problem ruins billions of photos every day around the world.

“This makes a real point-and-shoot camera because it can deal with the entire range of daylight.”

The concept was patented in 1995.

Mr Butcher said he was aware that Sony was trying to defeat the same problem, effectively by adding a second processing unit to digital cameras, a move he said would prove expensive.

Live Technologies initially was looking to address digital still and video cameras but saw a wider range of applications, including traditional cameras, cinematography and even sunglasses.

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