Christmas is already fast becoming a memory and the euphoria of a completely new year surrounds us all. May your 2018 be as good as the wishes we have for ourselves.
So, last week’s Post covered selfies and some of our pictures of the year. This week and most appropriately for our first Monday Post of 2018, we feature wish lists. And some more best of images from some of us. To be honest, I think the Susans have outdone themselves, ranging far beyond just wish list(s), as you’ll see below.
First up is Adam:
I don’t normally go in for these sorts of thing. The best laid plans of mice and men and all of that stuff. Plus, it’s been decreed that we’re not allowed to write namby-pamby hippy stuff, like peace and good will to all.
So, speaking of hippies… my 2018 wish list will be to get my hair cut (a little bit, not a lot).
The photographic wish list is a bit longer:
• I might try shooting in BW more, I prefer colour but it can’t hurt to put a bit more effort into mono
• GAS wise… well in 2017 far more lenses than cameras went through my hands and I suspect that’s a good thing
• I can’t think of a camera that I want to buy (let alone need) – but lenses…
The camera industry for the consumer has never been better IMO (YMMV). We’ve never had so much choice across so many price brackets… And the performance of the products across brands and sensor sizes has never been closer. You can buy a brand new M43 camera with a lens that costs north of £2000 or a brand new Sony FF camera (with a lens) that costs south of £1000.
Revisiting 2017’s photos shows a lazy year. Not dead lazy but calm. Lightroom counts only 2200-odd keepers, my lowest number since 2011. But that was to be expected. I try to be very strict when culling and deleting. I don’t want to see the same ideas over and over again. That’s why I also photograph less, enjoy keeping the camera off or totally at home. Zen photography. And that’s why I choose my “Monochrome Lake” photo above as my personal photo of the year.
This single photo was the first and personal proof of a change I started in 2017: 1) I went from documentary to both abstract and storytelling, just to widen my personal scope. 2) I started using long telephoto lenses (150 mm in the Mono lake pic) to get new perspectives, keep myself out and get less of the “through my eyes” feeling. For 2018 I want to continue and see how far I get.
Gear-wise, new additions to my lens selection raised the total number to almost 20. And it now gets a little bit uncomfortable when putting a kit together. For 2018, I want to reduce the number to a handful of useful tools. But I’m afraid I’ll just end up with even more lenses. 2017 was also mentally exhausting because my thoughts run circles about the question whether I should go full-frame or not — and if yes, how. All options aren’t convincing – but if I never try, I won’t know. In early 2018 I want to come up with a final decision and then just concentrate on shooting again. Those GAS attacks waste too much energy.
But then again, there’re things going on in 2018: Nikon and Canon will definitely come up with their serious mirrorless solution later in the year or even early 2019. I’m not super-deep into the Sony ecosystem, so I’m interested in CaNikon’s vision for sure. On the other hand, I have the feeling that we’ll finally see some new APS-C lenses from Sony. Their FE line-up is quite complete by now and their A6000 line sells like crazy. Sony would be dumb not trying to monetarize the situation. I’m waiting for a small, capable 18mm F/1.8 ZA. The 28mm FOV is huge in street and travel photography, and this lens would greatly fit next to their early, mediocre NEX wides without replacing them. A dedicated portrait lens like Fuji’s 55 mm F/1.2 would be welcome too. I know many people that are waiting for a fast standard crop-zoom 16-50mm F/2.8 but I doubt it will come from Sony first. My bet is on Tamron. They’re already in the FE game along with Zeiss’ Batis line and showed their craft. Tamron is also known for their knowledge with zoom lenses, they already have a capable, smallish 17-50/2.8 for DSLRs, and they wouldn’t compete with their contractors. Let’s see…
On my 2018 unlike-to-happen-wish list are just two points. First, I want a FF sensor in a small rangefinder body. Kick out every video functionality that creates heat, focus on photography, and it should be possible. It would be an instant-buy for me and many others. Second, Sony needs to rework their camera naming scheme and clear-out their portfolio. The current state leaves no room for new additions. Imagine how an updated A6000 would look like and where it would fit the current line-up! The A6300 has faster AF, a feature a new A6000 will also have. Limiting IBIS to only the top models make no sense. Hence the whole A7 series got it, as well as all A mount cameras from the cheapest entry-level to the top of the line. An updated A6000 will probably come close to the A6500 but with reduced build quality, weather sealing, dials and knobs, and maybe video features. On the other side, the new A9 has been down-graded to “just” a fast A7 with the new A7R3 updates and will get most of the A9 features but the most fastest AF. Indeed, the difference in-between the A7 series is bigger then between the A7 and A9 lines. It’s just one generation ahead. That’s too little for a long-term strategy. I’d rather have seen the current A9 as a form of A7F (F=fast, for lack of S for speed) and a A9 in a big DSLR body to attract new customers and accompany the big lenses Sony is pulling out. That would be really distinctive … And, well, don’t let me started about the RX line with a high-end compact FF, a super-specialised video tool, some small compact zooms, and a jack of all trades bridge camera. What is this mess? And I’m not even looking at their HX, WX, H, W, TX, J … lines because I don’t understand them at all.
Minor gear changes won’t matter. To revive an industry that is falling off a cliff, manufacturers need to do more than incremental change. Forget 15% more resolution or 1/2 stop more DR.
What could/would be a game changer? If camera manufacturers understood at long, long last, that there is no justification, none, nada, zero, zip, zilch, for their expensive cameras to have less ability/worse UI than a middle-market cellphone. This means in-camera processing, including with apps. This would mean easy multi-shot processing ability for focus stacking, for time-lapse, for HDR, for ND-like long exposures, for pixel-shift, for panoramas, for format changes, for presets. Why on Earth did Sony, who had innovated in this respect with the A7RII reverse course with the A7RIII? Why is it that a third-party start-up like Arsenal can raise millions on Kickstarter offering what manufacturers should be doing in the first place? Also, posting to social networks must be made easy. Think smartphone easy, like Instagram.
The first camera maker that “gets it” will make it big. Really big. The younger generation, who are used to shooting whatever with their instant phones will finally be able to upgrade without sacrifice. Of course, older fellows like me will moan that “this is not photography anymore”, that presets and AI “are the death of true photography”, and that “Ansel must be turning in his grave”. Ignore them, I say!
With that, happy 2018 to all of us who are left with cameras that don’t “get it” yet!
Hence my choice of only one picture theme which evoques what I’ve just said. How something which should/could be easy and fun can be made painfully uncomfortable. Many cities are promoting the use of bicycles as a cleaner and sometimes faster alternative to cars. But theft and vandalism make it necessary to to chain your bike to something solid if you want to keep it from being stolen. So you have to part dismantle it before leaving, in order to make it wholly unattractive to others. And thereby goes the simplicity and effortlessness…. Ugh!
Here are my few photo-related wishes :
• The DS crew has grown to 9 co-authors. A selfish wish of mine is to see a fair lady join the team in 2018. This hobby needs more woman influence.
• Simpler gear. A minority wish if ever there was one. 3 dials, a sensor, a lens mount, respect for users.
• Less gear talk, more art. Ideas and internal drive before sleazy tech talk.
• A stitching feature in Capture One (little things please little minds).
And, most of all, a very happy and creative year 2018 for all our readers !
• I want camera manufacturers to listen to what we consumers want in their products, as an example Nikon FF Mirrorless
• That we all learn to use the equipment we have an extract and harness 100% of its capability!
2017 was a somewhat frustrating year for photography due to the long term health issues of a family member. All my plans for “work-life balance” went awry and the time I did have travelling for photography was marred by poor spirits and inspiration, and cut short by more health issues. It’s unlikely that 2018 will offer the photographic opportunities I might hope for as the previous year will continue to put ripples in the pond, continuing to effect my “work-life balance” and therefore limiting the chance for travel.
In spite of the down turn in camera sales – or perhaps because of it – we seem to live in a golden age for digital photography. We have a huge variety of tools at our disposal with capabilities that would have seemed impossible only a few years ago, and that will continue in 2018.
• DSLR makers will continue to strive to make their products relevant in a market increasingly dominated by electronics not mechanics. I see the Nikon D850 as a last gasp of a solution that is struggling to stay competitive and relevant. The Canon EOS 6D mk2 shows a maker who has either dropped the ball again, or is struggling, or deliberately hobbles some of its products so that others can be “premium”. The big makers greatest challenge is ironically their historical strength – their lens mounts and all the customers who use them;
• New sensors in mirrorless cameras will continue to add fully electronic shutters and “global” sensor read out to make the mechanical shutter almost pointless. The latter isn’t going away in 2018, but for mirrorless the power of the sensor will increasing make the mechanical shutter redundant;
A: Sony A7s – there are times when a silent electronic shutter has advantages
• Frame rates will continue to rise. The Sony A6000, now a £400 camera, shoots at up to 11fps, the Sony A9 shoots at 20fps with no viewfinder blackout, and the Sony RX10 mk4 shoots at a blazing 24fps. Several makers allow around 8Mp stills to be grabbed from 4k video frames. All of this is powered by the sensor, and in the next generation of sensors that we may start to see in 2018, frame rates will continue to rise in lower end cameras. I think a Sony A6x00 replacement may offer 20fps+, but at a price point that reflects that exclusivity. I am excited by the opportunities this can offer for event and competition work, where “spray and pray” is the only solution I know to capturing “the decisive moment”, like the example below. Better tracking focus and higher frame rates without a mechanical shutter opens up greater possibilities;
B: Sony A6000 – Men’s fitness athlete Wanchai Kanjanapimine
• High ISO performance will continue to rise. When I purchased an original Sony A7s, with a 12mp full frame sensor with very large pixels, it redefined what could be photographed in “available light”. Candid street photos at ISO 25600 looked like ISO 800 pictures on an older camera. Available light portraits at ISO 12800 looked like ISO 400 shots according to a friend, a professional fashion photographer who uses previous generation “pro” Canon SLRs. I never upgraded to the A7s mk2, and whilst the 42Mp A7r mk2 has some low light ability, in my experience it doesn’t equal the A7s in really low light. Therefore I am truly hopeful that a new A7s mk3 in 2018 may offer a new sensor with the latest fabrication techniques with perhaps 16-18Mp with even greater high ISO ability. I don’t see myself as an early adopter – it’s too expensive – but I’m excited by the possibilities offered by cameras that enlarge the shooting envelope
C: Sony A7s – Men’s physique model Zhi Xiang, ISO 4000
• The resolution wars are at a temporary stalemate, but are not over. Much as Nikon devotees say the D850 is a great camera, the resolution increase over the 2 year old Sony A7R mk2 isn’t significant. High ISO comparisons don’t appear to show any advancement, and the Canon EOS 5Ds is left at the starting gate as the other 2 competitors race ahead. I am sure that when the next advance is sensor technology and design is available, we will see full frame sensors with even higher resolution – but not in 2018;
• I’m afraid I’ve lost track of Leica’s current status, mostly because of boredom at the irrelevance of the M system for modern digital photography, and the “boutique” nature of most of their other products (high price, low volume). Panasonic could easily buy them if they wanted to, but I don’t think they are interested in what Leica has to offer, as most of the know-how appears to flow from Japan to Germany, not the other way. I think the Louis Vuitton group would be an interesting owner for the brand, as their portfolio of companies includes any number of “luxury” brands – Moet et Chandon champagne, anyone? – but I suspect their investment strategy is far too smart to be interested. I think it’s far more likely they will be sold to a Chinese technology company, cash rich and easily impressed by the cachet of a “prestige” European brand. Huawei Leica, anyone?
Simple stuff from me:
• Better camera battery life. Are you listening Fuji?
• Camera/computer wi-fi that works, all the time
• ETTR and viewfinder/LCD histograms implemented in all cameras with any pretension above point and shoot level. Backward compatible firmware upgrades for older cameras
• Built-in, digital and easy to use graduated ND functionality. Multi slider rear LCD management to fit ND profile to skyline
• A professional standard lightweight (carbon fibre bodied?) full frame Nikon mirrorless camera, built to use the standard F mount
• The release of the promised new version of the Nik Collection by DxO
• A alternative to Lightroom that’s not a multi-app compromise
• Implement GPS in all new cameras at no extra charge
Try not to do a lot of wishing these days but:
• Be content with the kit I’ve got
• Learn to use it properly
• A firmware update with a menu system that I can use and remember.
Oh, and Whirl Peas
A few wishes for 2018:
Most importantly, that we, our families, and the readers of DS enjoy good health and happiness;
That one of the big boys brings new sensor technology to the table which gives the colour and 3D benefits of Sigma’s Foveon sensor, without its high ISO noise and RAW file processing foibles, thereby avoiding, in particular, the file bloat associated with today’s high megapixel cameras and, especially those (I’m naming and shaming you Sony!) who seem incapable of using lossless file compression; and that Fuji moves away from the X-trans sensor which, despite its obvious qualities, I find still produces odd looking images with certain subject types.
And, there you have it. Will Nikon, Canon, Fuji, Leica or any other vendor take notice? It’s hard to tell, but gratifying that our wants seem to be becoming less disparate and much, much more purposeful, focussed – hence the title of this piece; Wishin’ and Hopin’.
Have a great 2018 from us all.
#1022. Monday Post (back from hols, news, reminders and the future)
#981. Friday Post (20 March 2020) – The Write of Spring
#958. Monday Post (27 Jan 2020) – Galleries, projets, pics of the month, challenges and a few thoughts following comments
#947. Monday Post (30 Dec 2019) – Last post! (for the year)
#936. Monday Post (02 Dec 2019) – Of Workshops, Resources and Online Galleries on DearSusan
#921. Monday Post (28 Oct 2019 – Workshop update: the Layer Cake effect
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