The Elephant in the digital darkroom

The Elephant in the digital darkroom talks about how Film is coming back to Hollywood:

It’s an inexpensive archiving system, a highly effective means of preserving the motion picture heritage. Archived 35mm film stock remains stable for centuries under proper climactic conditions. With digital, however, the film industry is discovering that its core assets, its digital motion picture masters, aren’t as permanent as the film stock they’ve replaced.

I have always thought the same about still images, that under the guise of looking more convenient, that digital wasn’t as good as an archival medium.

What about the shoe boxes with pictures from your family members?

What about those lost rolls from unknown artists that happen to be an historic treasure depicting everyday life, like for example: Vivian Maier ?

This is the digital conundrum: we shorted the photographic workflow, we make it “easier” for the photographer, we make sharing more pervasive, but we also made the archival life shorter. Between the cloud services that disappear, recordable CD/DVD that disintegrate over the years, the hard drives that crash, the stolen phones, there is a lot of uncertainty whether your photos are safe or not and whether future generation will see them or not.

I wish good luck to the archivists of our future.

Camera lost at sea, found with SD card intact 2 years later

CBC report on a Shipwrecked camera found underwater after 2 years with photos intact:

A camera lost in a shipwreck off the west coast of Vancouver Island two years ago is finally to be returned to its owner — with the memory card and its images intact.

The camera, we can’t really say it survive, but the SD card still in working order 2 years later. Kudos to the researchers for locating the pictures owner, this is a kind gesture.

This show how robust media has become. Try this with a tape, with film, etc. Unlikely you’d be able to salvage them. On the other hand this doesn’t really mean we’ll be able to read them in 50 years, the problem being to actually access the media.

via m43 Rumors

“Some Thoughts on Digital Camera Lifespan”

Minh Thein on Petapixel has some thoughts on digital camera lifespan

In the film days, the camera body and lenses lasted a long time; you invested in glass, got a decent body – one that fulfilled your personal needs as a photographer – and then picked the right film for the job. In that sense, image quality differences between brands were down to the lenses and the photographer.
[…]
Bottom line: the camera body now plays a much more critical role in the imaging chain because it also contains the ‘film’, and this isn’t something you can change when the equivalent of a new emulsion is released.

Before you increased the technical image quality with better lenses and better film. A 1950 Leica M can use modern Leica glass and modern film. Still the same camera body.

Also another point Thein raise is how digital camera are obsoleted by unavailability of things like batteries, and the risk of losing ones archive with file format incompatibilities, *cough* RAW *cough* , as well as storage solutions.

This is something to be thought about with our society being more and more throw away. I wonder if the amount of e-waste isn’t worse than the chemicals used for film processing and printing.

Ricoh GR-D III for street photography

Using the Ricoh GRIII For Street Photography: A Review by Eric Kim (from The Phoblographer):

Without spoiling anything, it is truly the best compact camera for street photography, and everybody who is serious about shooting in the streets should have one. Keep reading to read my in-depth review of the Ricoh GRIII digital.

I have a GR Digital II which is almost the same. The Ricoh GR Digital series have a lot of fans. I believe this family of camera is greatly underrated, maybe because it does not have a zoom making it some sort of pariah for consumers. I have yet to get myself on using it in that situation having used the E-P1 more often. Maybe soon for a more complete review.

Fuji FinePix X100 – some reviews

Previously I was wondering if there was a camera renouveau. The highly anticipated Fuji FinePix X100 could be one of the contenders with its innovative viewfinder. The problem is that following the earthquake in Sendai, the Japanese production of cameras in Japan has suffered, making the X100 harder to find. This does not seem to stop the enthusiasm.

Nonetheless, people still start getting their hands on it. No later than last week I saw one at a local camera store, unfortunately no demo model. Here is a couple of recent reviews:

Steve Huff ask “Does it live up to the Hype?”. Steve Huff is a Leica M9 shooter but will compare the X100 to the Leica X1 which is must closer.

[…] those who want the X100 are looking for something fresh, new, exciting, small and classic. As I recently found out for myself, the X100 is all of that and more.

His perspective is from the photographer taking pictures, and the result. He answered the question positively.

DCResource with their usual format will go through all the usual details and review all the features in the camera. You can compare images between their other tests, and doing this between the X100 and the Olympus E-P1 is making me drool even more.
Their conclusion:

All things considered, the Fuji FinePix X100 is a very impressive fixed lens camera, and I imagine that they’ll sell a boatload of them, despite the price. It offers superb photo quality, good performance (in most respects), a rangefinder-style body with a one-of-a-kind viewfinder, and plenty of manual controls. The camera does have its issues, mostly related to buffer memory and the user interface, but for a first generation camera, Fuji has done a great job.

Previously, in case you missed these:

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.