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.

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.

DIY waist level shooter

Turn a point and shoot to a waist level camera.

Interesting DIY idea, including the use of the PowerShot N that is currently dirt cheap to do that (~130USD$ on B&H) that seem to have been meant to be used like that.

As for the usefulness, I can tell that the way you hold your camera will change the way you see through it – this is why I have totally different results when using my TLR. This is almost like freestyle shooting. And it might bring in question from people – I have had people asking about my TLR when shooting – kind of a conversation starter.

12 film cameras to watch

Popphoto has an article about 12 film cameras worth buying right now.

The tragedy in Japan has made the current DSLR market a scary place, making this a perfect opportunity to get (back) into film.

Their list (in alphabetical order):

  • Bronica SQ/SQ-A
  • Canon EOS 1N
  • Canon AE-1
  • Fujifilm GA645
  • Hasselblad 500c/500cm
  • Leica R-series
  • Mamiya 645 Pro
  • Nikon FM10
  • Nikon N80
  • Pentax 67
  • Pentax K1000
  • Ricoh GR-1

It seems to cover all the bases from medium format, compact to reusing lenses from your DSLR. But the most awkward in the list is the FM10 as I think they should have recommended an older model instead, one solidly built. Also notably absent are TLR or 35mm rangefinders like a Bessa.

What is interesting to see is that Ricoh is still in the same line of products with their Ricoh GR-Digital: highly praised compact camera.

Is there a camera renouveau?

The world of digital cameras has been a bit boring lately. Not much innovation seen from the outside. Just a convergence of still and movie, and the mash-up of technologies, every increasing high ISO and image quality.

But is there a camera renouveau? Something that would reinvent the camera as we know it? Let’s see.

Convergence of still and movie is the added capability to shoot movies with a still camera. This feature has been around for a while on point and shoot cameras. Most of them have been shooting movies, low-res mostly, but increasing every now and then.

But the real break was when, after addressing the technical limitations, Nikon, then Canon, release DLSRs, the Nikon D90 and the Canon 5DMkII able to shoot video in HD. In 720p for the Nikon and 1080p for the Canon.

A lot of professional filmmakers got their hands on the 5DMkII, for good, as it represented an unprecedented image quality for a price point that was lower than dedicated video cameras. Second units, TV series, reporting were main consumers of this technology. Even after Canon released firmware updates to address most of the issues found the movie mode.

Nikon was first, Canon was best. This seem to have opened the gate for a flow of new DLSRs capable of video; now even the low end Canon Digital Rebel shoot at least 720p.

The mash-up of technologies came by way of the micro Four Third standard (m-43 for short). Not to be confused with Four-third. The 4/3 is IMHO doomed: a smaller sensor than the current line of DLSRs, marginally smaller camera size, as the low-end Canon Digital Rebel and Nikon have been getting getting smaller does not seem to make it a good alternative. Also it now seems to get less developments now from Olympus, and Panasonic seems to have stopped ; and this is probably because of its limited success. I’m purely speculating, but I do believe that 4/3 is gonna be phased out. I could be wrong.

On the other hand the m-43 seems to be taking speed. Take a point and shoot camera design, put a interchangeable lens mount, make it a standard, cook it with another manufacturer (or more) that will make lenses and body, and you have the micro Four Third standard. Olympus initiated it, as a spin-off of the 4/3, with the help of Panasonic. It represents a good trade-off between size and image quality: bigger sensor than in (almost every) point and shoot, interchangeable lens like a DSLR, it makes the almost perfect system in-between pocket cameras and DLSRs.

It even inspired Samsung with their own lens mount, and Sony with the NEX (featuring a bigger sensor, APS-C size and a slightly smaller body than Olympus or Panasonic) and the E-mount. Even more, Panasonic and Sony both have video cameras using their respective mounts ; same lenses as the still cameras but dedicated to video.

So what about the renouveau? I think it could be coming from a known player that, sometime, just come with very innovative products. And that would be FujiFilm, with the Fuji FinePix X100.

The Fuji FinePix X100 is a compact camera with a 23mm f/2 prime lens and an APS-C sensor. The photographyblog has a complete review with samples. You can also read Luminous Landscape review.

The originality for the X100 comes in the viewfinder. The trend in the recent years has been to remove the viewfinders, including on micro-4/3 cameras, to replace them with the back LCD. This has been bugging me personally and I still feel uncomfortable when using the back LCD. The alternative is the DSLR, which does not make for a pocket camera. That’s not the case of the X-100 that features a unique hybrid optical-electronic viewfinder. On paper it looks like the best innovation in viewfinders in recent times.

We’ll see if that’s the renouveau, the innovation that will invert the trend.