Dear Canon, again

Dear Canon, What Happened To Your Innovation? writes Jason Futrill on PetaPixel.

[…] – since the launch of the Canon 5D Mark II way back in March 2008 it has been extremely hard to be genuinely excited about any new cameras you have released. And here is why: the Canon 5D Mark II is, in my opinion, the last truly “innovative” camera you have developed and released.

I had one specific issue with the 6DMkII before the reviews came around to show it was not just the lack of 4K video. Canon is slow to disrupt itself, which mean that competitors are doing it instead. I also love L glass. Still love my 5DMkII for photography. But recently I have gotten more excited about Fujifilm that has been providing its customers new feature through software, high quality lenses, and not afraid to push the limit for video.

Polaroid is back!

I wrote a few month back about Polaroid coming full circle.

It seems that today, on the 80th anniversary of the original Polaroid company by Edwin Land, the idea is coming to fruition, as Polaroid Originals is born. Dedicated to instant film photography Polaroid Original offers a new instant film camera, the OneStep 2, and its companion film the i-Type. Along this, they offer film for the vintage 600, Spectra and SX70 Polaroid cameras.

The OneStep 2 looks like a modern version of the Polaroid OneStep with a built in rechargeable battery (via USB).

The i-Type film looks like Polarod 600 film pack, but cheaper. Although the OneStep 2 accepts 600 film packs, but the cheaper i-Type can’t be used in vintage Polaroid 600 cameras.

At USD99, the OneStep 2 is reasonably priced. USD15.99 for an 8 exposures film pack is a bit on the expensive side compared to Instax, but cheaper than Impossible Project film. Also, it seems that the price for the vintage formats has been lowered too. Let’s hope that this be successful to allow the R&D to reduce the cost as they scale up the business.

Impossible Project is no more. Vive Polaroid Originals.

Fujifilm news: X-E3, new lenses, 4K firmware update

Fujifilm announced the X-E3. An upgrade to the X-E2S. The control get the same update like touch screen, AF joystick, AF touchpad, 24MP. It will also have 4K video (hello Canon!) like the rest of the X-series. Price will be ~USD$900, ~USD$1300 with the 18-55 OIS.

The lens roadmap was updated, with a 80mm f2.8 OIS WR Macro with 1:1 magnification for November 2017, and later a 8-16mm f2.8 WR ultra-wide zoom and a 200mm f2 OIS WR, the later being compatible with the teleconverters.

Fujifilm also announced firmware updates for the other models (X-Pro2, X-T2 X100F, X-T20) to be released in November / December 2017. The X-Pro2 is getting 4K video with this firmware upgrade.

I think I’m no longer hung on my upgrade path, taking video into consideration. It will be Fuji X.

Dear Canon

Dear Canon,

You just announced the 6D MkII to update the aging 6D. Nice. Flip screen, dual pixel AF (which mean fast auto-focus in live view mode including video), you got in with the programme. No 4K video, WHAT?

When you released the 5D MkII in 2009, you put the video mode and led the industry and it was so good that it was used to film major TV features. You improved it and spread it through the whole range of EOS DSLR including the entry level Rebels. The 80D is one of YouTube content producers favourite, with a great auto-focus, the flip screen, while still only 1080p.

I know the 6D MkII is a camera for photographers and is definitely not targeted at those that make a living out if it, no doubt about that. But not differently than the 80D. So why not offering 4K for video? I’m sure you are eager to sell one of these EOS Cinema, or more 5D MkIV or 1D that are so much more expensive, but people might actually go with the similarly priced Sony, that has adapters for EF lenses and do 4K. You should disrupt yourself, otherwise you will be disrupted. You could have a very attractive camera for video creators that can’t really or don’t really need an EOS Cinema.

Also let’s talk about the EOS-M or the G series (the G7X MkII in particular), I really hope you next iteration will have 4K. Even Nikon has a 4K compact camera in the same range of the G7X MkII, for less money. Sony has the RX100M5. Even the M4 and its problem did 4K.

And I’ll be honest, had you put 4K on the 6D MkII, you’d have my pre-order right here. Instead maybe I’ll stick to Fuji X series.

Polaroid coming full circle.

Polaroid is going full circle. Petapixel tells us that Polaroid is being Acquired by The Impossible Project’s Largest Shareholder.

To put this into context, The Impossible Project is the company that was founded to produce Polaroid compatible instant film after it was end-of-life. It was a hard task as they needed to reinvent it, and to that effect bought from Polaroid their last factory in the Netherland. On the other hand Polaroid, the company that was synonymous of instant photography, went bankrupt and ended up being just a brand selling electronics. It is only recently that the owner of the Polaroid brand started to sell Polaroid branded instant film products, dubbed Polaroid 300, based on Fujifilm Instax Mini 7.

The bigger irony is that the Fujifilm instant film technology was only allowed to exist with licensing agreement from the original Polaroid after Kodak lost big in a lawsuit.

To summarize the history:
– Polaroid invent instant film.
– Kodak develop instant film and get taken down by Polaroid.
– Fujifilm, in light of this, settled with Polaroid.
– Polaroid goes bankrupt.
– Polaroid stops instant film.
– Impossible Project starts from the ashes of Polaroid technologies and manufacturing to manufacture and sell film for Polaroid 600 and Polaroid SX70 cameras.
– Fujifilm Instax thrives.
– Polaroid is just a brand, that changed hands more than once, used to sell many things.
– Polaroid sells rebranded Fujifilm Instax Mini 7 as Polaroid 300.
– Impossible Project release their first instant camera the Impossible Project I-1.
– The Smolokowski family, who purchased a large stake of Impossible Project, is now buying the Polaroid brand.

Now, while one can’t speculate of what will happen, it seems that Polaroid has now come full circle. I do believe that leveraging the brand and distribution network for Impossible Project would make sense to expand the instant photography business.

If you are interested in the story of Polaroid, I can’t recommend enough Christopher Bonanos’ book Instant: The Story of Polaroid.

Ode to the iPhone

“The best camera is the one you have with you” — Chase Jarvis

For a long time I disliked point and shoot cameras in the era of film. Often clunky to use, poor performance or quality, this dislike trumped the reason to have them: not missing a shot. I probably missed a lot. Still, I bought an Olympus mju-2 (aka Stylus Epic) to have something in my pocket. This is a film camera, one that was the best compromise, one I could shoot slide film with, and that had a fast prime sharp 35mm f2.8 lens. This was before cell-phone had cameras.

Cell-phone cameras where horrible for a while. My Motorola clamshell phone camera was awful. This was before the original iPhone, which was the first to actually gather interest as being, at the time, decent. I didn’t get one.

In 2010, I got a Nexus One, liked the phone as a communication device, had a camera with nothing to rave about. I started using Instagram which had been released for Android. Then in 2012, I got a Samsung Galaxy Note (long story short, I won it): better camera, hated the phablet and the software. Still using Instagram. Later, in late 2013, I upgraded to the Nexus 4. Better camera, using it more, still posting Instagram. But it didn’t come close to the older 2012 iPhone 4S that my partner used. Each time I used it I fell it was so much nicer.

Taken with the Nexus 4, processed in Instagram:
Last Sunday. Habitat 67.

Later on, I got a Sony Xperia Z3c. I had a nice camera, but due to the reason I had this device I didn’t have the proper software than made the camera better. Distortion, lesser ISO performance, this made it unsatisfying, even if as is it was better than the Nexus 4.

As you can see the Sony Xperia Z3c camera has a visible pincushion:
In Montreal you have wine cellars in the subway.

Looking for a proper replacement communication device, and not considering an Android that wasn’t Google, I got an iPhone SE. It was cheaper than the Google flagship Pixel.

Why do I love it?

Like any other phone, I always have it on me. It is in my pocket, on my desk, etc. This camera, has great software: it is pleasant to use and generate good quality pictures. Better than any previous phones I have had. Quality and user experience is what make it shine ; it is a camera that is more reactive.

In 2016 I spend most of the year, commuting to work, not carrying a camera but my phone. I took few pictures with it, despite plenty of opportunities.

In April 2017, I went for two weeks to Cologne in Germany. I did lug my photo back pack with the Fuji X-Pro1 and three lenses. I ended up using the iPhone mostly to take snaps, when previously I would have used the bigger camera, I even used it to take some moves and timelapses. I used the Fuji on a few walkabout and even then I used the iPhone as a second camera, more often than before. And I felt that my yield of keepers is higher with this phone than ever. And I end up using Instagram more.

Head down

This iPhone beats hand down lots of compact cameras: quality, reactivity, lens.

Same subject, day, night. iPhone SE processed in Instagram:
To the platforms
To platform 4

Making movies

Today every camera can do movies. 1080p is the “standard”, 4k is one that few reach. Canon needs expensive DSLR for that. But the iPhone, it can do it. I’ll be honest, I don’t feel the need for 4k, but two things: 4k is where things are at right now, and 4k allow zooming for a 1080p output, which is what most people will target anyway.

The iPhone has incredible quality for a small camera. It can do slo-mo, time lapse, shoot 1080p at either 30 or 60fps, 4k at 30fps, slo-mo 1080p at 120fps, 240fps if you go down to 720p. In short, you have choice. Even with the front facing camera, which makes it practical for vlogging.

Last but not least, it comes with iMovie. “Shot, edited and upoaded on iPhone”. That’s right you have all the workflow in one device.

This is not to say an Android phone could be as good. Just that so far the one I had weren’t and, and as a communication device they get
obsoleted too quickly. Even the Pixel, that dollar for dollar, cost as much as an iPhone 7.

Smartphone have clearly evolved as a photographic and movie making tool. They are capable of doing things no one expected a few years ago. And they are clearly eating into the compact camera market.

Needle in the sky

And now the conclusion

The iPhone SE really made me tilt over using the smartphone as a photographic tool more often. I felt successfully creative with it. Not that it is a big innovation, it is just that as a whole it works better. Gear doesn’t make the photographer, but gear that you are not comfortable with (that frustrate your) is ultimately hindering your process. Ultimately I will not abandon my other cameras, but I’ll be more inclined to leave it home for circumstances where I believe the iPhone will work.

Losing the X-Pro1 viewfinder eyepiece

After over 5 years I finally lost the X-Pro1 viewfinder eyepiece that has often been loose (pun intended). I have dropped it a few times in the previous years, including in the first weeks of use. Not sure when this happened but I found out when I was in Cologne, Germany in February. While this doesn’t prevent from using the camera, I think I do need to replace it.

X-Pro1 viewfinder
X-Pro1 viewfinder missing the eyepiece.

It seems to be a recurring problem amongst X-Pro1 shooters: link, link,

I’m trying to locate a proper Fujifilm replacement, which is part # FZ09210-100. Digging up the forum I get various stories, with a common point: contact Fujifilm. Some say “you have to send the camera in”, some say they got a replacement in the mail (no mention of cost though, but I’m not expecting it to be free since the camera is no longer covered by the warranty).

Apparently a 19mm eye piece for a Nikon F3 works fine and these go for a reasonable price. I’m ok with that.

On a side note, I lost the flash PC sync cover eons ago and back then it was CAD$7 + shipping for a replacement from Fujifilm. You can find replacements on ebay quite inexpensively.

I’ll keep you posted.

Meanwhile, with the missing eyepiece, here is the status of the camera:

Fujifilm X-Pro1 camera
My X-Pro1 setup in February 2017 – Flickr

RIP Popular Photography – 1937-2017

Petapixel reports that the top US magazine Popular Photography is ceasing publication:

Popular Photography, the largest circulated imaging magazine that launched its first issue in May 1937 in New York City, has ceased publication after being continuously in production for 80 years. The March/April 2017 issue will be the last in print.

Personally I didn’t read Popular Photography, but in the early 2000 when I became serious about photography I did read two of the major photography magazine in France — they are still in business it seems. I found them very valuable, full of recommendations, images, etc. At the same time, I was already using the Internet and found some other very valuable resources. This is how things are evolving. Traditional magazines are in decline, giving publishers very few options as digital media has taken over. And with the likes of YouTube, things will get even harder in the 21st century for the printed magazines, forcing them to convert or perish. And conversion is possibly too late.

Thorsten Overgaard review of the Leica Q

Danish photographer Thorsten Overgaard has a very comprehensive review on the Leica Q (from May 2015). A camera not without quirks though:

I must say the Auto Focus caused me a few problems at f/1.7 in that I some times unknowingly had been focusing at the background between two main subjects in the foreground that I thought I had nailed the focus on. As time has gone by, I have gotten the hang of it. I think.

Then Overgaard goes on explaining how to use various features of the camera properly. Read thoroughly if you have a Leica Q, or are simply curious.