Picnik has announced that it will be closing and advised all members to file their photos elsewhere; it's components will reportedly be moving on into the Google+ labyrinth. Picnik was a number of Google-related closures this month. More details.
Steve Huff is pushing new iPhone photo application, Tadaa!
Thom Hogan reviews the Olympus 12mm f/2: he finds it optically sound, with good distortion results but noticeable aberration; mostly, though, he whines about having to pay for a separate lens hood. Sorry Thom.
Kodak goes under. Or rather, files for bankruptcy. Lots has been in the news about this. I admire the Japanese innovation in the camera industry, but wish that just a little bit more of that innovation were taking place Stateside. The fact is, Kodak dug its own grave. The Economist has a piece on how Fujifilm survived.
More details about a long-rumored APS-C Pentax mirrorless camera have been surfacing, this one placing it as a K-mount camera. With Pentax Q and Ricoh's various K enterprises and the rumored Pentax system, Ricoh Pentax seems all over the place these days. Unless you need you're planning to rely heavily on a standard prime setup (e.g., 31mm, 77mm), my own advice is to shy away from Pentax until they get quality control under control.
SOPA and Congress efforts to censor the Internet to combat piracy have been all over the news, especially with this week's intentional blackout on Wikipedia and other sites. I'm opposed to SOPA, but I do suggest reading this counterbalancing article which alludes to some of the danger's posed by Google's dominance online advertising and Facebook's relentless efforts at social control. From the New York Times, "SOPA Boycotts and the False Ideals of the Web."
George F. Will wrote an article about police targeting photographers merely engaged in their trade as terrorism suspects. I tried to track back to the article but was sucked instead into the Washington Post social reader vortex. Having an inkling of the privacy compromises these "social readers" tend to have, I think I'll pass but you can Google the article or look it up on the Post website. Personally, I think it's idiotic that the Post won't let you simply follow a link back to an article. Rant over.
If you haven't already signed one of the petitions against SOPA and PIPA, I urge you to do so. I saw an article that stated 14 million names have been sent into Congress so far. These bills might be buried temporarily, but given the lobbying power of the Fox and Disneys of the world, I suspect that this is a devil that will come swinging back very soon.
Nothing to do with photography per se, but I think this video from Bonnie 'Prince' Billy is pretty damn cool; Will Oldham is one of my favorite singers.
Specs on the upcoming OM-D Olympus mirrorless camera have been leaking. Since there's been different information comving forward, I'll leave it out, but I will say that the rumor sites seem to agree this micro four-thirds throwback to the Olympus OM film SLR series will have an EVF and weather sealing, two features that Olympus has been missing and that would do a lot in my eyes to thrust them toward the top of the mirrorless heap. With those and a better sensor (possibly the 16-megapixel Panasonic sensor out of the G3), the OM could be the camera to match Olympus' fine 12mm and 45mm primes.
Here's a quick (wry) rundown on the mirrorless market:
- Sony can't seem to release any decent Nex lenses that are not SLR-sized and uber-priced.
- Panasonic seems obsessed with electronics and less with photography (trying to use- or rather, work past- the touchscreen on the GF-2 was a nightmare).
- The Nikon 1 has great autofocus, a so-so sensor (great for its size, but pretty small), and no intriguing lenses to speak of.
- Fuji is going for the Leica crowd of near limitless dollars. If you're thinking about buying a Sigma SD1 or a Leica M9, consider the Fuji X-Pro 1. Myself, I couldn't fathom paying $1,700 for a camera body-only with the focusing limitations that the Fuji X-Pro 1 is said to have in early reports. Major reviews have not come out yet and I reserve the right to change this statement should focusing be better than expected. While the Fujis look awesome (from a visual standpoint) and I love the fast prime lenses characteristics that they've announced, both upcoming and on the roadmap, I don't see anything from this system yet that I can't get out of my Canon 5D Mark II, which also brings with the advantage of a strong matte optical focusing screen, full frame depth of field separation, and the entire Canon lens lineup. Yes, the Fuji is smaller, but I'm not eager to spend three or four grand just to drop a few ounces.
- Ricoh is pumping out niche GXR modules, too many of which resemble high end point and shoots. The one that might be worthwhile is the A12 M-mount module. Not being lucky enough to own in any Leica lenses just yet, this module doesn't offer much for me personally (and if I had Leica lenses, I would want to be using them on a full-frame sensor with the correct focal length anyway- eventually, someone will come out with a full-frame mirrorless camera at a reasonable price with this capability). Elsewhere in the family, you'll find the Pentax Q, which I doubt has been selling many cameras. It's an $800 point and shoot and I suspect I could get better photos with an iPhone.
- Canon is playing coy and trying to hold off the mirrorless wave with the G1X. Don't be deceived; the sensor isn't much bigger than micro four-thirds and it's packaged with a slowish built-in lens. If I wanted to go in that direction, I would pick up a Fuji X10, which has a fast lens and price that is $200 cheaper. Once they're finished saturating the market with even more Digital Rebels, believe me, Canon will be pumping the mirrorless market hard.
- Samsung was my big favorite and then they went totally AWOL. The NX10 had the best form factor of any mirrorless camera, albeit with a lousy sensor and less developed focusing assistance on the electronic side. Just upgrade that sensor and install focus peaking or better magnification, right? Wrong, the successor to the NX10 has still not arrived an Samsung seems to have problems delivering any of their products to U.S. stores, retail, online or otherwise. They've got the idea on mirrorless lenses right- fast 16mm, 20mm, 30mm, 60mm and 85mm primes, with more on the way and a larger (APS-C) sensor than most of their competitors. But there's no camera to match. All that has been delivered is the 20-megapixel NX200 without a viewfinder, a crazy price bump (up to $899) and a mandatory kit lens. How is that a way to thank NX10 and NX100 buyers? I'm tired of waiting for Samsung. I've crossed them off my list. Also, the distortion on that 16mm approaches that of the Sony NX 16mm, and I'm not crazy about it.
The above diversion was a long way of saying I've come full circle and I'm now considering Olympus as possibly the best player in the mirrorless market: in-body stabilization, strong optical values, the potential for weather sealing, etc. Of course, they have a few corporate issues to work out (to put it mildy), but that doesn't seem to have interrupted their release schedule.
Moving on down the line:
The New York Times has a worthwhile photo essay, Grey Villet's 1965 photo assignment for Life Magazine about Mildred and Richard Loving, a persecuted interracial couple in Virginia. Nicely done, check it out.
Romanian photog Vlad Donan has gotten his hands on a Fuji X-Pro 1, check out his assessment.
I'm going to try to make these weekend updates a regular feature of this blog, so check back and you'll hopefully see more of them.
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