Archive | November, 2013

Nikon readying V3? Feels like long wait.

29 Nov

The Nikon 1 V2 has been with us since late 2012, shortly followed by the S1, which, even though a lower-priced model without viewfinder, offered a sensor with markedly improved dynamic range and colour depth. As a result, the V2, shortly after its introduction, soon became a much less attractive proposition, added to which, there was initially an issue with limitations placed on the available autofocus modes when used with the FT1 L adapter for Nikon F-mount lenses (no AF-C available), which was later resolved with a firmware update.

Now, we hear that a V3 may be finally on the way, but it may have its accessory port removed and replaced with a “legacy” flash hotshoe that will give access to a larger range of existing flash models for DSLR cameras. This would allow Nikon to retreat from providing a separate flash accessory range for the 1 series, a range of cameras that despite its fast and accurate on-chip phase detect autofocus hasn’t been selling very well.

While I personally noticed the 1 series’ slightly unusual design, it doubt this would ever stop a truly revolutionary camera from also being declared a design classic. I, for one, would love to be blown away with a more complete mirrorless vision from Nikon. (Pun noted.)

The Pentax K-3’s big underbilled feature: Local white balance

24 Nov

When I first heard about this, I realised it would be a massive game changer especially for night and flashless indoor photography. But reviews have, if anything, focused on the adjustable anti-aliasing filter, and hardly even touched, much less rigorously tested, this potentially great new feature. What gives?

Ricoh multi-pattern auto WB example

Ricoh promotional image demonstrating simulated multi-pattern auto white balance.

Another 360° camera heading to market. This one you can throw.

19 Nov
Panono Panoramic Ball Camera

The Panono Panoramic Ball Camera.
Image source: Panono promotional

Following in the footsteps of the Ricoh Theta, the Panono packs 72 megapixels worth of sensor in 36 separate mobile phone type camera modules (lens plus sensor). If you throw it to take a picture from a higher vantage point, it will do so automatically at the apex of the flight.

Images are automatically stitched together on Panono GmbH’s servers, and displayed and interacted with through apps – there is a web app as well as dedicated apps for iOS and Android. The camera therefore does not function as a stand-alone but instead requires a second device to establish internet connectivity (e.g. iPhone, Android phone).

US company “Serveball” was granted a patent for a “ball with camera and trajectory control for reconnaissance or recreation” in August 2012. I haven’t had time to review whether a license agreement is necessary, or exists, but this may or may not explain why the Panono does its processing off-site.

If you want a Panono, you should support the IndieGoGo fundraiser (aka pre-order) – they are 549 USD a piece (the Ricoh Theta is $399). There is also a separate website.

Should renting lenses be the norm?

17 Nov

The more I read Roger Cicala’s blog about all the testing they do and how they battle with the repair folks to get lenses fine-tuned for better performance, the more I’m convinced (of course, that’s the idea of having that blog!) that this is a much better way to do photography. It takes away the agonising at home whether the lens you got is a poor copy – outside of spec, even, possibly! Presuming that the lens rental outfit of your choice does a similar amount of testing, you would know that they don’t send out bad lenses, and you won’t ever have to deal with repairs. All that agonising wait, especially from Nikon and Olympus!

Of course, if more people used this kind of service, fewer lenses might get made and sold, and lens manufacturers would have to clean up their act, reduce sample variation, and make consistently high quality lenses that couldn’t be easily tweaked. It’s hard to say whether the reduced production volume of lenses would be ecologically favourable, or outweighed by the increased distance travelled by the lenses as they reach the photographers who rent them in any given week.

I’m pretty convinced, however, that the reduced number of throwaway lenses produced would be an ecological as well as individual benefit in the long term.

Release sleek, then functional: motto of the 4/3 crowd?

13 Nov

It occurred to me that the more pragmatic design of the Olympus OM-D E-M1 after the more stylish OM-D E-M5 mirrored the same strategy in Panasonic’s succession of the L10 after the L1:

    Image sources: Olympus promotional/Wikimedia Commons

Image sources: Olympus promotional/Wikimedia Commons

Devil’s advocate on Pentax: Two hypotheses

13 Nov
  1. The release of the K-3 will primarily drive sales of the K-5 II, K-5 IIs and K-50/500, rather than the K-3 itself. The adjustable AA filter without bracketing is more of a tech demo, and debate continues on whether the 24 megapixel filter is competitive with the 16MP one. Furthermore, iterative reshuffling of buttons and control levers continues to be a source of complaint. Night and indoor shooters will still want the K-3 for its ability to control white balance for several light sources separately, of which few real tests have been seen so far.
  2. Ricoh is content with occasional full frame rumour. They will continue releasing test cameras to select photographers, but never release the final product. This is enough to keep people buying APS-C cameras, which is the format Ricoh really believes in, and allows keeping the lens offerings tight and light, rather than branching into light and heavy like CaNikon.

Nikon Df is a Leica killer – Nikon’s gamble

4 Nov

I’m seeing a lot of “the Nikon Df will never work because I don’t understand it” posts that question the pre-advertised initial price tag (just shy of 3000 USD). Why would someone spend that much on a camera that is very solidly built, lacks video and has no exchangeable back? Very simply, a person buying this kind of camera would not be looking to upgrade again for another five to ten years. And let’s face it, image sensors have kind of hit the wall lately in the same way micro-processors did when they hit around 3GHz and manufacturers started just adding cores and hoping concurrency at the software level would take care of things.

So Nikon is gambling on a long production run for this camera, essentially hoping that future sensors won’t be that much better, and so sales will continue in spite of small improvements in other, more regularly updated and cheaper offerings.

If it works for Leica’s M series, why not Nikon?

And no, it doesn’t target young people or active professional photographers (at least not directly). Instead, it’s a perfect retirement gift for an ageing demographic.