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.

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.

Leica M10

Once upon a time, there was the Leica M8. Then there was the M9. Then Leica called them M, with some obscure “Typ” number next to it. Now the new M-series is the Leica M10. At least that’s logic.

The Leica M10 is the latest installment of the Leica legendary rangefinder camera, digital, using M-mount lenses. Still pricey, still high-end, still with its own style.

Key features:

  • 24 MPix sensor
  • Built-in wifi
  • Revised menu system
  • No video mode
  • Slimmer than the M Typ 240

Yes they removed the video mode that was on the M Typ 240. Another new things: Leica added a control wheel for ISO were the film rewind would (there was nothing on the previous digital M). Also, the preliminary tests show a sharp increase of the image quality.

Pentax K-1 full frame DSLR

FINALLY, Pentax (Ricoh) announce a full frame DSLR.

Petapixel announcement:

Pentax is finally in the full frame DSLR game. Ricoh today announced the new Pentax K-1, a camera that it claims “offers innovations not available in any other DSLR.”

Not sure about the “first in a DSLR” gimmicks though, nothing ground breaking from this camera except that it takes K-Mount — a decade later. As mentioned on twitter by @lamlux, the innovation is HDR on knob….

WEX photographic hands-on review:

On paper, the K-1 continues the long-held Pentax tradition of delivering an excellent and well-rounded feature set at a reasonable price – very reasonable when you consider the asking prices of similar models at launch.

We’ll see.

Fujifilm film price increase

Bad news, Fujifilm Announces Big Worldwide Price Hike on Film according to PetaPixel:

This latest price hike will hit your wallet pretty hard — hence the dedicated announcement.

“The price increases are substantial and it would be an increase of at least double digit, but will vary depending on products, markets and regions,” Fuji says. You can expect to see the price tags change starting this month.

An increase of about 10% in the us according to Fujifilm USA.

Some people suggested to buy anything but Fujifilm. If only they were not the only one in some market segments.

Fuji X-Pro 2 and 5 years of Fuji X

Fuji has been celebrating the 5 years of Fuji X, a line they started with the release of the Fujifilm X-100.

Yesterday, Fujifilm officially announced the X-Pro2, the successor of the X-Pro1 that was released in April 2012 and boostrapped the Fuji X-system and introduced the X-Trans sensor. I bought the X-Pro1 sight unseen and didn’t regret it, despite its flaws and quirks.

The X-system has since evolved, between the X-E bodies (cheaper X-Pro1) and X-T (improved EVF only bodies) and the range if new high quality lenses, into a really high quality mirrorless photographic system. Fujifilm has followed-up from customer feedback and managed to provide serious improvements for the various through firmware updates for the existing model — something we have yet to see from most of the competition. And it is happening again with the X-E2 getting improvement from X-E2s.

The X-Pro2

I don’t have the privilege to have access to this camera, so don’t treat this article as a review.

The short version of the X-Pro2 vs the X-Pro1, it is a bit more of everything. More pixels, more speed, more AF focus points, more manual controls, more shutter speed, more exposure compensation, etc.

The various improvements are, without specific order:

  • 24 Mega pixels X-Trans (vs 16 on the X-Pro1)
  • The same hybrid viewfinder improvements than the one found on the X-100T
  • More AF focus point – with phase detection AF
  • Faster shutter speed (1/8000) and fast flash sync (1/250) with the new focal-plan shutter
  • Mechanical dial for the ISO
  • ±3 stops exposure compensation on the dial and up to ±5 in C mode with electronic controls
  • Front selection wheel and improved grip
  • Diopter for the viewfinder
  • 2 SD-cards slots
  • More precise battery meter (but quid of the battery life)
  • Built-in wifi with remote control
  • More film simulation modes
  • Weather sealing

The expected price of USD$1700 is in the same range as the original X-Pro1 and to be available in February 2016.

Let’s see what is being reported elsewhere:

I still have questions. A major one is about the battery life. Since the X-Pro2 uses the same NP-W126 batteries, I’m not sure if it will not plagued by the same problem. I have trouble filling up a 16GB card in RAW with only 4 batteries ; so imagine with two 32GB cards…. in this dual slot setup. Not that the dual slot is useless, but it is not useful for just extended capacity as you’d end up switching batteries even more.
Update: Garrett told me over twitter that the X-T1 that use the same battery is already much better for battery life. There is hope.

The other question is how long it will take to have RAF support in the various applications, given how much of a joke is the application that come with the camera, at least with the previous ones. If only this was documented…, but I digress.

While it sounds like a good time for me to upgrade, I will wait for the things to settle first.

Other announcements

Also announced, the X-70, a refresh of the X-E2 named X-E2s, a new XF 100-400mm lens and a new flash EF-X500.

The X-E2s is a refreshed, aka slightly improved, version of the X-E2 with better high ISO and a few other software perks, that will also be delivered through a firmware upgrade for the X-E2 users. It is great to see Fujifilm committed into improving existing model with software when it is possible.

  • The X-70 is like a X-100T with a wider angle and slower fixed lens 17.5mm f/2.8 and an EVF a flip LCD screen instead of the hybrid. With the promise of an expensive hot-shoe mounted optical viewfinder. In short a competitor to the Ricoh GR.
  • The XF 100-400mm is a f/4.5-5.6 tele-zoom with weather sealing and optical image stabilizer.
  • The EF-X500 is an auto TTL flash for the X-system to be released in May 2016.

Edit: the X70 doesn’t have an EVF. Edited accordingly. Sorry about that.

Leica Q

Leica announced yesterday the Leica Q (Typ 116). It is their take on the Sony RX1 product segment: full-frame sensor fixed and fast wide angle lens camera, not in the lower price range either. Unlike the Sony, the Leica has a built-in viewfinder ; the 28mm lens is half a stop slower (f1.7 instead of f1.4) and it has a higher price tag. By ~$1k if you factor in the cost of the EVF for the RX1.

Size-wise it is bigger than the RX1 (no EVF) and smaller than the Leica M.

The camera include a fast autofocus system, that can be controlled from the rear touch screen, and proper manual focusing capabilities, as the lens has a know like on the M lenses and the EVF has focus peeking ; this will make rangefinder users happy. And the others will probably like that too.

The camera is “Made in Germany”.

Early reviews:

  • Ming Thein: “I can’t help but wonder if the Q is the harbinger to the end of the M system in its current guise.”
  • Jay Cassario: “…this one stands out and might be the first to end up staying in my bag.”
  • Jonathan Slack: “The Q is a little larger [than the Sony Rx1r], but it seems to be superior in pretty much every other respect”

Note: This is just news and not a review as I haven’t had it in hand.

EPSON launches new photo film scanner

EPSON launches benchmark flatbed film and photo scanners.

This to replace the top V700/V750 scanners. It is good to see that EPSON continues to invest in that field. Now we shall see if the quality on small medium like 35mm film is up to the expectations, but it is not like there is plenty of choice since Nikon bricked their expensive CoolScan by abandoning the low quality software that came with it – low quality because it didn’t run on more modern OS, at least on MacOS.

Time will tell.

Fuji X100T First Looks

Zack Arias has had his hands on a Fuji X100T, at least a pre-production model. We know how he loved the first one, how he loved the improvements of the second generation, how he love the X series. Faster, better wifi, classic chrome, better buttons standardized on the rest of the X-series, new hybrid viewfinder.

Petapixel today: Fuji Unveils the X100T with ‘Electronic Rangefinder’ Function, Improved Controls and More gives us some news from the product announcement.

It is great to see Fuji iterating over to improve things and the hybrid viewfinder improvement are, I hope, a shape of things to come for the 2nd generation X-Pro1 that is rumoured.