So, where next in the world of photography?
It’s that lull after Photokina, where all the assorted photography tech press make their way back from Cologne and file their numerous ‘hands on reports’ about the latest kit on show.
Myself, I went down to Devon in the UK – superb weather, and all the summer crowds are gone ;-)
Some might have actually taken some photos on their trip to Photokina, but the stock in trade these days does seem to involve writing
400 250 words on what it felt like to pick up some bit of kit, and in the case of new cameras, try and meaningfully judge something (anything!) from the display on the back.
If you’re in the chosen few, you may even get an interview with someone sufficiently senior, where they will tell you the current company ‘thoughts’ on product X or Y. Of course, this stuff is usually well rehearsed and you can bet that any ‘hints’ that might appear are also well planned ;-) That said, have a read of these and you’ll see some very different attitudes over what can be said…
A few of these interviews are doing the rounds – Also worth reading also for what they don’t address ;-)
- Behind the scenes in developing the 6D – Canon reveals
- Nikon and the D600 – Actually feels more like an interview than a prepared statement.
- Samsung and the connected camera – ‘Connectedness’ one of the things that camera companies have decided is a great ‘new’ way for them to move.
- Pentax – lots more on the way – really… (see also another interview at IR)
- Leica – a company that understands the importance of its market, brand and image (see also the ‘S’ interview and at AP)
- Sony talks AF and full frame – some of the subtleties you may have missed in their new products. (See also the Sony Interview at AP)
- Sigma – actually quite a lot from a company I still mentally associate with a lens I bought in 1980 ;-)
My own highlight of the show was the preposterous Hasselblad Lunar.
To say that it was received somewhat less enthusiastically than perhaps their marketing department had hoped for is something of an understatement.
The launch info describes the reworked Sony NEX7 as:
”Italian-designed ultimate luxury mirrorless” model. “The Lunar is a celebration of the passion that the company’s founder, Victor Hasselblad, had for photography,” says Luca Alessandrini, Hasselblad’s new business development manager. “We’ve developed this model in the traditional way, using handmade wooden prototypes to ensure superior ergonomics and functionality. This is a camera for both serious photographers and enthusiasts who aspire to shoot with a Hasselblad.”
The company went on the defensive, talking to the BJP (read the comments ;-)
What really struck me was the difference between how Leica handled the introduction of ‘cheaper’ cameras and how it’s existing user base might take to the new stuff. Hasselblad managed to give the impression (even if not true) that they were taking an approach akin to Rolex producing their own range of knock-off (fake) watches.
Try a few of the other links in the sites with interviews above to get a bit more of a feel for what was at Photokina. I’d suggest though, that you only normally see a small subset of what’s there reported. There are numerous smaller suppliers showing their gadgets, gizmos and software. I’ve not yet looked in detail at lens announcements, but the new Zeiss primes aimed at very high res sensors are interesting (and very $$$)
The bigger camera companies tend to move around as a crowd, with leaders, hangers on, and those who make attempts to wander off on their own for a bit. What they are always looking for is that ‘something new’ factor. This year the ‘newness’ seems to be with connectivity and the magic of ‘Full Frame’.
Now, leaving apart the fact that connectedness does not equate with actual usefulness (i.e replacing a wire with ‘wireless’ doesn’t necessarily do much extra) I see most of this driven by the encroachment of phones with cameras, and the feeling that we should all be wanting to share our every snapshot with the world. Years ago, such sharing was much more formalised and consisted of luring people round to your house, and just happening to have your slide projector set up, with a stack of rotary slide magazines to hand…
I noticed that Canon (like others) has it’s own project in this area (1709) – however, if you use a Mac or iPad/Phone to access their site – you get an ‘unsupported browser’ warning. Obviously someone at Canon has decided that Apple users don’t do any of this new fangled ‘sharing’ stuff ;-)
Whilst on the subject of ‘sharing’ it’s interesting to hear the almost universal concern from users of Nik plugins, upon hearing of their assimilation by Google (see my Silver Effex pro 2 review if you’re not familiar with the plugins). Google is obviously after Nik’s Snapseed software, and although there have been reassuring noises from Google about the plugins, their past history in handling acquisitions is not a good omen.
My next question is a simple one – why do you want full frame?
With the major players announcing cameras with 35mm sensors, you’d think that there is a solid advantage for photographers to choose larger sensor sizes?
Well, from the manufacturers point of view, it encourages people to buy more expensive lenses (with concomitant ‘lock-in’ ) and the cameras are likely to have better profit margins and distance themselves from the encroaching hoards of phones and small sensor cameras.
For most photographers though, the answer is much less clear cut.
The other day at the seaside, I saw a photographer with a Nikon D800E and a fairly standard (consumer) zoom lens on the front – I’ll be charitable and assume he was taking test shots to show just how bad the lens turns out to be when moved from your D40 to a D800E…
For myself, I use wide (and expensive) lenses, such as the EF8-15 and TS-E17 – but that’s part of my work, and I often produce huge prints.
One other ‘feature’ often pushed for larger sensors is that it’s much easier to use small depth of field with wide open lenses and equivalent fields of view. Useful for wedding and portrait photographers, but rather less generally so than many might like to think – it certainly helps push up sales of Canon’s 50/1.2 and 85/1.2 lenses amongst those with deep pockets ;-)
There is still a great reserve of photographers who equate better kit with better photos – unlike some, I believe that this can (sometimes) be the case, but it relies on having the skill and experience to make use of what the equipment brings.
So, with Nikon not updating the D300S and Canon leading its crop sensor range with the 3 year old 7D, it seems that crop sensors are not in fashion for anything but ‘entry level’ DSLRs. But at least all the new cameras have video… (news to manufacturers – many of us don’t give a … about video in our cameras. If I wanted to shoot a video I’d get a proper video camera, and hire a good sound recordist, and editor, and director) For more about this see the excellent Photokina summary by Thom Hogan (who was there)
Anyway, that’s enough ramblings – my next ‘real’ visit to a trade show won’t be until next Spring when it’s Focus in Birmingham – only a 30 mile trip from my home ;-) In the mean time I’ll keep updating our rumour pages for the odd hint about what’s on the way ;-)
I’ll leave with my favourite new camera (maybe because a Russian Zorki4 was my first 35mm camera and a Zenith my first SLR)
The Zenit Horizon Panorama D-L3
Info at EZ …although a camera in a display cabinet hardly makes for a ‘Hands on Preview’ IMHO ;-)