One of the biggest challenges film photographers face is developing their images only to find extraneous elements in their photos that distract from the composition. Four-One industries, a Los Angeles-based startup that specializes in film camera accessories, has developed a new device that eliminates this problem: The Irrelevancy Filter.
The Irrelevancy Filter uses technology based on the multi-zone exposure systems found in modern digital cameras. Using a proprietary pattern-analysis algorithm, the Irrelevancy Filter analyzes the image to determine which zones contains the primary subject, then scans the other zones for objects in the foreground that do not match the rest of the composition. It then fires negative photons directly towards the film plane to eliminate these unwanted elements, relying on the average density of the surrounding image elements to fill in the space with patterns similar to the background.
The Irrelevancy Filter screws on to the standard filter mount found on most 35mm SLR lenses. A single board houses the electronics, photon inverter, and a tiny lithium-ion battery which can be charged via a micro-USB port or a built-in solar panel.
Four-One’s chief engineer, April Fulzdae, says that while the technology is still a work in progress, the company feels that it is now advanced enough to be released to the public. “Speed is still the limiting factor,” she said, “but for now the device works at shutter speeds up to 1/1000 of a second, which is fast enough for most mechanical film SLRs.” Ms. Fulzdae says they expect to release a version 2.0 with a smaller electronics package and 1/4000-sec capability in the next six months.
“So far the device has worked well with nearly all of the black and white and color films we’ve tested, removing all irrelevant elements with no adverse effect on the rest of the image,” says Ms. Fulzdae. “Our only challenge has been Lomochrome Purple. For reasons we can’t quite figure out, about half of our test photographers find that when they use it with the Irrelevancy Filter, all of their pictures come out blank.”