#586. The Monday Post – a news round-up (24 April 2017)

#586. The Monday Post – a news round-up (24 April 2017)

 

The photographic media everywhere has been awash this past week with news of Sony’s A9 camera. Here at DS, we’ve exchanged a lot of e-mails about this new and possibly groundbreaking (if it delivers Sony’s hype) camera. Some of them might even be suitable for publication.

 

In short, the extended DS team is 50% A7RII users and the feeling seems to be to wait to make any kind of purchasing commitment until it has shipped and been around a wee while. The lesson(s) learned with the original A7 clearly still rankle.

 

Sony do seem to have smartened up and are using the existing E mount and added some weather proofing, although just how -proof it may be remains to be seen.

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s one from the I missed this the first time around department; over at PetaPixel, there’s praise for M43, which seems to be enjoying something of a resurgence, despite the ongoing rumours of the departure of Panasonic – one of the format’s major supporters.

 

Contemporaneously, The New Camera reveals that Olympus E-M1 Mark II uses a sensor sourced from Sony. According to the piece, this enables both phase and contrast detect autofocus, a first for M43.

 

 

 

 

 

Photo buddy John Shingleton over at The Rolling Road posted a link to recent Pulitzer prizewinner’ Daniel Berehulak on the New York Times.

 

It’s a grizzly study of drug-related killings in the Phillipines; shot mainly in pouring rain, gritty and entirely on message, which is doubtless why he won such a prestigious award for his work.

 

 

 

 

 

The post processing debate rumbles on at DS. I’d really hoped to have something posted by now, but have failed miserably. With a looming trip east, it may be a while.

 

Making no small impact on my plan, was an article published on Friday by Patrick la Roque, called End of Hegemony. In it, he details much the same post processing issues we at DS – and doubtless most of the world’s photographers, too – face; which app to settle on and how to deal with the absolute necessity of using multiple processing methodologies.

 

Patrick has clearly thought about this a lot. His solution is (reasonably) simple, elegant and seems to be workable with just about any of the many post processing apps, from Photoshop to On1 RAW. There’s an excellent workflow diagram with the article and I for one, am starting to corral the necessary hardware and software to put this on an extended test.

 

I will report back. I promise.

 

 

 

Today’s images are harvested from a summer road trip up England’s east coast last year. Most were taken with the Fuji X100T. I apologise for a couple of images seen here before.

 

Pascal adds

 

My post on the A9 release my have brushed some the wrong way. The intention was clearly not to denigrate Sony’s hard work, quite the opposite. However, whether this makes me popular or – more likely – the opposite, let me highlight 2 possible outcomes of a Sony-dominated, technology-driven future for photography:

 

  • Artificial Intelligence is the next step. Already it is doing accounting, diagnosing illnesses and beating humankind’s finest at refined games such as Go. Soon, it will be taking photographs for us. If that sounds like a bright future to you, you’re not reading the right blog, right now 😉
  •  

  • The A9 can only be bad news for Canon and Nikon. Very bad news. Sports was one of the Sony-free segments and they are now playing more-expensive second figgle in it. While fanboys will celebrate, let’s not forget that monopoly has never been good news for users. We’re still a very long way from that, but …

 

Vincent’s room, Saint-Remy de Provence

 

Still, what we can look forward to, in the shorter term, is Sony now having the resources and strategic inclination to invest in more niches beyond video, action sports and geekdom : astrophotography, fine art, street … Maybe there is even hope for those praying for the revival of a simple, quiet, ultimate IQ machine, a digital successor to the Mamiya 7? (Sony, need a beta tester for that one 😉 ?)

 


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11 Comments

  1. Avatar
    The anonymous Grunter April 24, 2017

    Paul: great shots ! (same compliment to Pascal …)

    Pascal: a very valid point – a monopoly will always lead to prices driven by 1 player – mostly up. Furthermore – variety is the spice of life !

    So I hope that all current players will continue and Samsung will deliver their sensor tech to new 3rd parties to fill the gap in the arts/creative segment and create segments that we can’t even think of, now 😉

  2. Avatar
    jean pierre (pete) guaron April 24, 2017

    Monopoly? I am still mindful of the causes that led to the Revolution. And it was followed over the next century by several more revolutions. I am also in the middle of Stiglitz’s book “The Price of Inequality” because I’ve had a lifelong interest in the subject matter of it.

    No thanks – monopoly is BAD.

    Paul, I am really looking forward to Patrick’s article. I have come to a similar conclusion, but probably nowhere near the skill set he has, and I can only benefit from him sharing his knowledge.

    PS – Pascal – most of you guys love Sony because it weighs less and does the job. I do agree that buying the first example of a new style of cam is “adventurous”, and can backfire. I also agree that Sony has been seriously smart, this time, and I wish them well for thinking outside the square and trying to do something “better”, instead of teasing everyone with “a little bit more, but mostly more of the same”.

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy April 24, 2017

      Thanks Pete!

      I bought the A7rII for the very reason you mention! While others were messing about with very minor increments, Sony listened hard to the A7r user base and got to work. Some wanted more, some wanted better. Sony delivered on both accounts and the A7rII is a fabulous machine with a few niggles as opposed to a pain in the butt with great potential. The price really felt too high for my comfort zone but, in this world, you vote with your money. I voted ‘thank you Sony’.

      And Sony can’t be blamed for converging towards monopoly either. They have an effective strategy and are delivering on it at every new release. They’ve opened up new territories. It’s really up to the competition to step up and up to bloggers to speak their mind.

      In the mean time, let’s just enjoy all that’s coming our way 😉

  3. Avatar
    Adrian April 25, 2017

    A few random thoughts and responses.

    Olympus have been using Sony made sensors for several years now. After their fraudulent accounting debacle, Sony bought a minority stake in the company. Japanese companies lile doing this, I think because they believe it stabilises their industries and spreads financial risk. I hadn’t heard thr Panasonic rumours. They never rank in sales figures for any territory that I’ve seen, and I often wondered who bought them and how profitable they were. Perhaps they will “do a Samsung” and quietly pull out of thr sector, in spite of having good products that didn’t sell.

    AI is already in smart phones and pocket cameras – why do you think their photos often look so good? Scene recognition, tone mapping, highlight and shadow recovery, skin softening, you name it, It’s all happening in thr background. The same goes for big cameras – Nikons metering program has thousands of types of scene that it matches your composition to in order to determine the most correct exposure. I’ve heard people say they prefer to expose manually, and I just point out that professional SLRs have these very powerful systems for a reason – it makes them reliable, predictable, almost fail safe. That’s what lots of professionals want in the hear of the moment – not a lot of fiddling with buttons and dials as the moment is lost forever.

    As for a Sony monopoly, they are still a long way off it. Canon particularly, and Nikon to some extent, have between them monopolised the stills camera industry for a couple of decades, with innovators like Minolta just falling away in spite of excellent products. I’m surprised Pentax are still around, I don’t know how long Ricoh will keep funding their SLR business as I would be surprised if it makes money. Olympus are doing quite well, but cameras are a fairly minor part of their business, and Fuji are a boutique maker of cameras who generate mote revenue from.selling polymers that go into make up than selling cameras (I kid you not – just search the internet for Fuji makeup!). If you don’t like the idea of a dominant Sony, then you shouldn’t have liked the idea of a dominant Canon. I actually applaud what Sony are doing: as a Minolta A mount refugee it seemed as if Sony may withdrawn from SLRs as clearly they never achieved their ambitions in spite of spending huge amounts of money. Since their financial recovery strategy a few years ago – disruptive technology, innovative unique features, premium products all with high margins – their RX and E mount cameras have captured interest in ways no SLR they made ever could. That thr “big two” have been so apparently lazy, complacent or incapable and let it happen is to their shame, and may well harbour their undoing. Cork producers in France reportedly complained to the government that screw tops were destroying their business, and wanted protection. Nokia used to be a timber yard but saw the warning signs and got into telecommunications. That Nokia became so huge in many branches of telecoms, and then let the crown slip from their head as the kind of mobile phones, is 2 lessons in one, and Sony should take note.

    The next revolution may come from left field. Shutter cameras are already here. Stills from.8k video will become a normal way to shoot. As you comment, AI will automate many functions to relieve the user of a burden. I watched a Jason Lanier video recently where he noted that professionals need to use their tools to do things amateurs with smartphones cannot, to keep a competitive edge. As technology advances, as photographers we need to evolve, embrace change, and learn how to use it to our advantage. I’m already painfully aware that although my evening shots of city skylines may be nice, time-lapse videos are where the interest is for now, and I need to evolve too.

    Is any of this good the photography? I don’t know. Technology makes things easier that would have been impossible only a decade ago. Is change always good? I don’t know. All I know is that to thrive abd succeed we have to accept change and adapt to it, as our voices can never stop it.

    I wish I’d had a Sony A9 last weekend, I think it could have revolutionised my experience shooting competitions for 4 days. Would it have made better photos (compared to my A6000)? Honestly, if it lives up to it’s hype, I think it could have.

    If you really feel strongly that you don’t like chance… Well, buy a Leica M camera

    • Avatar
      pascaljappy April 25, 2017

      Actually, I think our creative drive will always be there deep down. So, even if AI progresses from the low-level tasks of today (metering, focus) to more “intrusive” actions (post-processing, composition …) we’ll still have ways to control the AI itself. Our controls will simply have moved from aperture dials to program modes, or the like. So, I probably needn’t worry about AI taking the creative fun out of photography.

      As for monopoly, it doesn’t matter whose it is, it’s never good news. We’re still a very long way from that situation and my guess is some form of disrutpion will set in before then, because it’s painfully obvious to anyone willing to look that current technology is way ahead of skillsets. What happens after 20 fps? 40 fps? 80 fps? Then what? First it was resolution, then it was ISO, now it’s speed. Once people have an 80 fps 1000 000 ISO 80Mpix cam what comes after? How much has that moved the needle? And how much better are the photos of those who bought in? The trend can only run out of steam. Something really new will make all that look like yesterday’s irrational drive for power.

      It’s not a question of liking change or not (I do). It’s not a question of liking Sony or not (I do). It’s really a matter of speaking up when something bugs you. And it bugs me to see so many respond to what is merely an increase in technical performance when my focus is on creativity. In my private life and in my work, I try to help others create a brand, a personal point of view, a creative approch to business and value creation. That almost never comes from buying the latest tech. It’s just a personal way of seeing things but it matters to me.

      • Avatar
        Adrian April 26, 2017

        Regarding tour last paragraph: I agree that a more powerful.or capable tool doesn’t drive greater artistry, but cameras have been sold that way since auto focus SLRs were developed, so it’s nothing new.

        As I mentioned earlier, some branches’ of photography aren’t really about art – sports, politics, news, paparazzi etc etc – and I honestly think in many professional photographic fields “getting the job done” is most important and I don’t even onow if “art” comes into it.

        I’ve long discussed online that the newest best biggest most featured camera doesn’t make you a better photographer, and someone with skill of creative flair can take beautiful photographs with a simple camera. (The same goes for lens choice – you don’t need a Zeiss Otus to take a good photo, but people still aspire to owning expensive.lenses in the belief that drawing style or micro contrast or whatever will make heir pictures better. It won’t, because it won’t replace a creative eye or an artistic vision).

        Although in theory cameras are creative tools, most are sold.to amateurs who are effectively making lifestyle choices based on their purchasing decisions. Fuji pretend they make you more creative with their look-a-Leica styling and old world charm, but that only makes people think they are more creative. Sony goes the other way with products that tend not to push emotional buttons with their styling etc but with feature sets (resolution, noise management, speed) that are unique and I guess are intended to inspire. Your A7rii does things with resolution you couldn’t do before; my A7s opens up photographic worlds in low light; and the A9 will allow some types of pictures to be captured at 20fps that may not have been possible before. I know for a fact that a few days ago during “fitness” competitions (a mixture of physique sports and gymnastics) an A9 could have captured athletes mid-flight far better than any other camera I own, and therefore allowed me to create photographs that Canon EOS users couldn’t – to which I say “great, if only I could afford one”. In the mean time I make do with my lowly A6000, which shoots at 10fps, and is also therefore fairly unique it it’s class, and certainly for its price.

        I’m not disagreeing with you Pascal, I just think these things open.up creative possibilities for some situations, and I think this way of selling cameras on feature sets have been happening for decades. Amateurs don’t buy cameras based on their needs or ability, they largely but cameras based on perceived need, feature set / technical spec, and by sometbing emotional that strokes their own ego.

        Nikons 1 system has shot at 20-30fps since it was launched by the way. 😉

        • Avatar
          pascaljappy April 26, 2017

          Hi Adrian, very true.

          • For pro photographers locked into a daily grind of actually producing shots that will sell, art has very little to do with the process.
          • Lenses, although they appeal to me more than cameras (because their impact on the image is more visible) are indeed no substitute for a well trained eye.
          • The lifestyle choice is not something that we should try to escape. It’s true that a camera is a tool, and just a tool, but we (amateurs) should feel happy with our gear. Same as cars, houses and clothes, really.

          I’m sure you’re right about the frame rates in sports events (you’re the expert) Freezing 3 times as many moments triples your chances of catching the perfect moment, the perfect expression … That doesn’t bother me at all. What I find surprising is how many people seem to want that. I would have thought such an advanced feature set to be very very niche. I mean it’s not just about buying the camera but also lenses that focus fast and dealing with the humongous amount of files you bring home … That’s really something I personally couldn’t do. It seems to me that people are either very naive and uninformed (be careful what you wish for 😉 ) or that there are vastly more that I thought envolved in serious action photography.

          And hey, what’s wrong with a little disagreement. They’d be no discussion and it would be boring otherwise. We’re all keeping it very friendly and I’m learning from the experience of others (hopefully vice versa, too).

          All the best, Pascal

          • Avatar
            Adrian April 28, 2017

            Pascal, I agree with your 3 points, although on the third one, I would say that Fuji seduced me with the looks and apparent features of the X Pro 1, but it failed to be a good tool at release. I had no emotional bond with my A6000, but with use I have grown to trust it and respect it’s abilities, even though it’s just a tool. I would trade the ability to get the job done for some dewey-eyed look-a-Leica nostalgia any day, as most of us just want the camera to get out of the way and do what it’s supposed to do / what we want it to do.

            Having seen your comment on not wanting lots of images to sort through, you would recoil in horror at my 4 days with 4000 images! I’m no “expert” in sports and action, but I feel 20 fps combined with excellent AF and a deep buffer would greatly increase the chances of excellent shots in “fitness” (gymnastics type) competitions. “Spray and pray” is the only way I know how to deal with this scenario, as frankly my reaction times aren’t good enough to get a decisive moment as someone does a 2x backflip that probably lasts about 1-2 seconds in the air. Frankly it’s as much as I can do to keep them somewhere in the frame, and often very loose framing of the stage and then a crop can be the best way to go! The A9 intrigues me a great deal for this, as it’s not a sport that is well photographed (most media and other photographers are mostly equipped for static body building photos and “fitness” is often somewhat looked down on), but the price of entry for a small part of my photography can’t really be justified. I will wait for the A6700 or something as I’m confident that may take the technology even further!

          • Avatar
            pascaljappy April 28, 2017

            Strange, isn’t it, that Sony cameras create so little bond compared to others, and yet we end up using them because they are simply superior tools. My feeling is that each new generation is a step in the right direction from a haptics point of view. So, in a few years, we’ll have incredible tools that we can also fall in love with 😉

            4000 images !!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂 That’s more or less my tally after a month in Australia. But then, shooting static subjects doesn’t require the same level of “bracketing” as action. I dn’t think anyone has the reaction time to freeze the perfect moment in fast moving subjects. This is compounded by two factors. (1) Although the official stats say the shutter is super fast on my A7rII, my film cameras felt a lot quicker. The shutter release was more direct, more predictable, faster. So it felt easier to freeze a moment. Today, you can less rely on that and probably need more frames to grab the proper one. (2) A large part of what makes a great picture is unpredictable. A sudden expression, mishap … So, with 20 fps, you’d probably grab stuff that would go unnoticed otherwise. I get it 😉

            As for the A9, the trouble with Sony is that you can’t help thinking that in just 18 months, something better will come along. So, it’s hard to find the money for something so transitional. That’s one of the reasons why I think Sony should start working on a positioning that’s not just technology-based. I just can’t get myself to spend that sort of money on a camera that will be out of date and, possibly, not that reliable is just 2 years …

  4. Avatar
    Brian Nicol April 25, 2017

    It was a treat to look at these images – thanks for sharing them. It has also encouraged me to explore the square format more. Thanks, Brian

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