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NAB 2017: Hot products and trends

28 Apr

NAB 2017

Yesterday marked the end of NAB 2017, the annual convention of the National Association of Broadcasters. NAB isn’t really a consumer-oriented event, but we like to go because it gives us some insight into trends and technology that will trickle down to prosumer and consumer products within a few years, as well as new products designed for these users.

With over 100,000 people in attendance, and almost 2,000 companies exhibiting, it’s a safe bet that we can’t share everything from NAB with you. (And really, do you want to hear about things like the latest advances in rack-mount news van hardware?) That said, let’s take a look at some of the things that did catch our eye at NAB 2017.

Atomos rocks the house

An afternoon trip to the Atomos booth is like the NAB equivalent of trying to get into a U2 concert. Things got so crazy in recent years (thanks in part to daily equipment giveaways), that for 2017 Atomos built a booth where CEO Jeromy Young could hold court and do live demos for the masses from an elevated perch. I almost expected him to start singing ‘Don’t cry for me, Argentina’ as he leaned over the balcony.

But the masses had good reason to be excited, because Atomos showed off a couple very cool products… 

Atomos Ninja Inferno

Although it was announced about a month ago, this was the first chance many people had to get their hands on the new Ninja Inferno off-camera monitor and recorder. The Ninja Inferno is basically a non-SDI version of the company’s flagship Shogun Inferno, and Atomos is specifically targeting Panasonic GH5 users with support for 4K/60p recording via HDMI-out. For $ 995 it seems like a pretty compelling package, and apparently the masses agreed.

We have a Ninja Inferno we’ve been testing with the GH5, so we’ll be bringing you an in-depth look at this combination in the near future.

Atomos Sumo

While Shoguns and Ninjas drew people into the Atomos booth, what really got their attention was the new Sumo. Imagine an oversized, 19″ Shogun recorder and you’ll have a pretty good mental image of what it is. It can record 4K 12-bit Raw, 10-bit ProRes/NNxHR.

But the Sumo isn’t just for on-set monitoring and recording. It’s also designed to be an HDR color grading monitor, either in the field or in your edit suite. With a brightness of 1200 nits and a claimed 10+ stops of dynamic range, the Sumo can accept Log, PQ, or HLG signals from your editing software and display color accurate HDR footage with 10-bit quality.

This thing is a beast. If you want a sense of scale, look at the lower right hand corner of the picture above. See that little thing next to it? That’s a 7″ Shogun recorder. And with a price tag of $ 2,495, it’s surprisingly affordable. I want one of these things!

Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro

Blackmagicdesign is another company on fire with useful products for emerging filmmakers and even consumers. At NAB the company showed off its recently released URSA Mini Pro 4.6K camera. It offers a user-swappable lens mount, with support for EF, PL, and B4 mounts, and the company promises a Nikon mount later this year. Its Super 35 sensor captures 15 stops of dynamic range, and the camera includes built-in ND filters for optimal exposure. 

the URSA Mini Pro feels like a very solid piece of equipment, and with a price tag of $ 5,995 it offers a lot of bang for the buck.

DaVinci Resolve: More features, lower price

Blackmagic also announced upgrades to its industry standard DaVinci Resolve software.

Branded as DaVinci Resolve 14, the new version promises to revolutionize the Resolve experience. In addition to a fully integrated NLE and industry leading color grading tools, Resolve 14 now includes pro-level audio tools, the result of a 2016 acquisition of Fairlight, a manufacturer of audio hardware and software for motion picture production. The addition of Fairlight audio tools means that users have access to professional editing, color correction, and audio tools in a single piece of software. Blackmagic claims that Resolve 14 also improves playback performance by a factor of 10.

What’s possibly just as interesting as the new features is the new price. While the basic version of Resolve will remain free, the full DaVinci Resolve Studio 14 will cost $ 299, a significant decrease from the previous price of $ 995. This is a shot across the bow of Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro X, and should attract a lot more new users to the system. A beta of Resolve 14 is available now.

Blackmagic Mini and Micro Panels

One of the important features of the DaVinci Resolve experience has been integration with the DaVinci Resolve Advanced Panel, a $ 30,000 piece of hardware used by professional colorists, but out of reach to users with smaller budgets.

A few weeks ago, Blackmagic introduced two smaller panels, the Resolve Mini Panel ($ 2,995) and the Resolve Micro panel ($ 995). These smaller panels would be useful for a pro to use in the field, or in a smaller home studio, however they also represent a very affordable way for smaller production companies, or even enthusiasts, to access pro-level editing equipment at an affordable cost. I found both panels to be very easy to use: the trackballs and dials are very smooth and well-weighted, and the panels actually feel a lot more solid than they appear in pictures (at least to me). I think this is a great addition to the Resolve family of products, and I hope to do an extended test at some point.

Blackmagic Web Presenter

I know, I’ve covered a lot of Blackmagic products already, but I’m going to throw in one more. The Blackmagic Web Presenter is a box that does one basic thing, but does it really well. It takes output from any camera via HDMI or SDI, and converts the signal to a high quality 720p stream that gets sent to a computer through USB so that it appears as a standard webcam.

What that means is that you an use virtually any camera as a high quality webcam for applications like Skype, YouTube Live, or anything else that uses a webcam as a video source. So, if you’re tired of using your cheap built-in camera or mobile phone for your guest appearances on CNN, plug your GH5, 5D IV, or E-M1 II into the Web Presenter and Anderson Cooper will have no idea you’re coming to him live from your living room.

DJI meets Hasselblad: 100MP aerial photos ensue

Remember that time when DJI took an ownership stake in Hasselblad? Remember how we all joked that DJI would put a medium format camera on a drone? We all got some good laughs out of that, didn’t we?

Well, they went and did it, pairing a DJI M600 Pro hexacopter and a Hasselblad H6D-100c 100MP camera mounted on a Ronin-MX gimbal. Pricing hasn’t been announced, but the good news is that you can get the M600 Pro for only $ 5,000. Of course, you’ll still need a $ 30,000 H6D-100c to complete the package. (Though I hear free shipping is common…)

Curiously, there were a couple Hasselblad X1Ds sitting next to the drone as well, a camera whose size and weight might be more amenable to flight. I asked a Hasselblad representative if there were plans to release a similar combination using the X1D instead, but he wouldn’t confirm if that were the case. Of course, he didn’t deny it either.

Virtual Reality

Virtual reality, or VR, has been trying to get traction in the market for several years. Although it has gained some success in the gaming community, adoption of VR technology for photos and video has been slower. However, that certainly isn’t keeping people from trying to find the magic formula, and there’s a lot of investment from companies trying to do just that. Let’s take a look at a few VR products that grabbed our attention.

New Ricoh Theta

By now, everyone has probably heard of the Ricoh Theta. In fact, it’s one of the few VR cameras that has seen fairly wide adoption, thanks to its compact size and ease of use. However, the current Theta S still suffers from relatively low 1080p video quality and a lack of spatial audio.

The new Theta prototype on display at NAB addresses both of those issues, with 4K capture, four microphones, and also live 4K streaming capability. What really stands out to me here is the directional audio. Even at 4K, your VR viewing experience is still somewhat limited by the relatively low resolution of most viewing hardware, however in a demo the spatial audio was immediately noticeable. Instead of guessing where sound is coming from and trying to correlate it with what’s in front of your eyes, directional sound allows you to tell where the sound is coming from, providing a more immersive experience. No word on when the next Theta will be released.

Ricoh Theta R Development Kit

We first saw the Ricoh Theta R development kit at CES, but it was on full working display at NAB. The Ricoh R is based on the same overall design as the Theta, but has a very different purpose: it’s designed to provide 24-hour 360º live streaming. As such, there are a few differences in the product.

The most obvious one is a ribbed surface on the camera, which we’re guessing is to assist with heat dissipation. Also, unlike the upcoming version of the Theta, the Ricoh R still uses 1080p resolution, which should reduce data usage while streaming 24/7. Additionally, all image stitching is done in-camera, which makes it easy to feed out VR video for streaming. There’s no internal battery either, which probably makes sense for a device designed to run 24 hours a day.

What will the Ricoh R be used for? Well, pretty much anything you want, ranging from a security camera to placing it in the middle of a falcon’s nest. Ricoh wants you to develop unique applications. It will be available in June, and you can pre-order it now for $ 499.

YI Halo VR camera

YI Technology arrived in town with the new YI Halo, a VR camera built around Google’s Jump platform. The Halo utilizes 17 synchronized 4K YI cameras to record 8K stereoscopic video. At first glance, it appears that the cameras in the Halo are just standard YI 4K action cameras, but that’s not the case. While similar in size and shape, YI has actually made special cameras optimized for easy swapping and improved heat management.

After watching some sample videos from the Halo I have to admit I was pretty impressed. It’s some of the better VR footage I’ve seen. What particularly stood out were outdoor scenes with bright clouds. Clouds tend to be blown out on most VR cameras due to limited dynamic range, but on the Halo footage you could still see quite a bit of detail without darker areas on the ground being crushed to black. 

The Halo is expected to be available this summer for a cool price of $ 17,000.

Insta360 Pro

The new Insta360 Pro is an impressive VR camera that captures 8K video, or 6K stereoscopic video, in a small, spherical package. It emphasizes the ability to get very high quality footage straight out of camera that can be streamed or posted online quickly, for example by a reporter in the field. In addition to six fish eye lenses, the Insta360 Pro includes four integrated microphones for spatial audio, but also supports external audio and power for extended use. All stitching is done in-camera, making it easy to stream out content live during an event.

Video quality was surprisingly good, though I still noticed obvious stitching artifacts in places. Also, whenever I looked at the camera, I couldn’t get over the feeling that it was smiling and staring back at me. Kind of like an evil clown. But if you can get past that, it’s possible to order one now for $ 3,500, with units expected to ship in mid-May.

The VR camera we all want

Of course, if you really want to do VR right, you build a spherical rig for 10 Arri Alexas. It’s the perfect solution if you have ten Alexas sitting around. 

Just sayin’.

Sony still makes video tapes

Yes, Sony still makes video tapes. And yes, there’s still a market for them.

Fujinon MK50-135mm T2.9 cine lens

In the past year we’ve seen a lot of new cine lenses aimed at emerging filmmakers who want the quality of cine lenses without spending $ 20,000 and up for the privilege. In fact, just a couple months ago, Fujifilm announced its new MK series of cine lenses aimed at this market. We tested the first of these, the Fujinon MK18-55mm T2.9, and found it too be an outstanding lens, both in terms of image quality and build.

At NAB, Fujifilm displayed the second lens in the series, the MK 50-135mm T2.9 lens. It shares the same weight and dimensions as the 18-55mm lens, as well as its parfocal design and E-mount for use on Sony cameras. The lens is expected to be available in July, and while pricing has not been announced, we expect it to be in the same ballpark as the 18-55mm model, or around $ 3,799.

Fujifilm MK lenses in X-mount

When Fujifilm announced the MK series of Fujinon lenses, there was initially some confusion about the fact that Fujifilm was releasing them for Sony E-mount. This actually made a lot of sense, considering how many Sony Super 35 cameras are in use professionally. However, the company made clear it would eventually release the MK lenses in Fujifilm’s own X-mount as well.

At NAB, we got our first look at one of these X-mount lenses, the MK18-55mm T2.9, attached to a Fujifilm X-T2 body. Pricing and release date remain unannounced, but earlier this year Fujifilm told us the X-mount versions would be available ‘near the end’ of 2017.

Zeiss CP.2 Primes get artsy

Zeiss says that its Compact Prime CP.2 series of lenses are the most popular cine lenses it has ever produced. To commemorate this success, the company was busy creating a series of ‘art’ lenses (pardon me if that sounds a bit familiar…) by artist Joseph Ari Aloi. In fact, Aloi was in the Zeiss booth painting lenses in all shapes, colors and patterns.

C’mon. You know you want it.

Sigma Cine lenses

Not to be left out of the cine lens game, Sigma was showing off the newest members of its Cine Prime line of lenses, the Cine FF High Speed 14mm T2 and the  Cine FF High Speed 135mm T2, which join five existing prime lenses in Sigma’s Cine Prime product line.

The Sigma Cine Primes are based on existing Sigma lens designs, but are redesigned into cinema-friendly hardware, including high quality mechanical barrels with integrated gearing. In use, the new lenses feel very solid and should produce beautiful video. If you don’t like seeing your distances in feet, you can opt for a metric version. The lens markings even glow in the dark for low light use.

Illuminati light and color meter

The Illuminati light and color meter, from Illuminati Instruments Corporation, is a clever little device that provides all the functionality of a traditional meter, but uses Bluetooth communication and a mobile phone (or smartwatch) app as a user interface. This means it’s much smaller than traditional meters that have displays and controls integrated into a single unit.

What’s even more helpful is that a phone can be paired with multiple meters, meaning they can be placed around a scene and accessed from a single app. The meter can continuously monitor both ambient exposure and color, and warn a photographer if any changes in brightness or color temperature occur. What’s more, additional software functionality can be added in the future through a simple app update.

The Illuminati light meter is available for pre-order through a Kickstarter campaign with about three weeks remaining. This is an impressive little device, so I’m rooting for them.

Manfrotto Nitrotech tripod head

Manrotto’s new Nitrotech N8 tripod head uses an innovative design to provide good balance and smooth motion with a minimum of fuss. Where the horizontal axis of the head would usually be, the Nitrotech head uses what Manfrotto calls a ‘nitrogen piston mechanism’ to push up against the bottom of the mounting surface. It claims this will counteract movement of the head and the pull of gravity to product fluid and controlled motions.

I was impressed at how well the Nitrotech head worked. With a large camera and lens mounted on it, it did an excellent job of maintaining balance no matter where I placed the center of gravity of the camera. Even with the weight moved forward on the tripod, the Nitrotech head stopped moving wherever I left it, with no downward creep. It also produced relatively smooth motion when panning and tilting, though it wasn’t as smooth as a very high quality fluid head. I suspect it would work nicely for still photography as well, particularly when using long telephoto lenses.

Sennheiser MKE 2 Elements mic for GoPro Hero 4

One of the downsides of using action cameras in waterproof cases is that audio can be truly horrible, with muffled sounds and rattles transmitted from equipment like bikes or snowboards.To solve this problem, Sennheiser designed the MKE 2 elements microphone for the GoPro Hero 4. As its name implies, the elements mic is built around Sennheiser’s very well-regarded MKE 2 lavalier microphone, but in a design created to be tough and withstand the elements, be it snow, water, or dust. The flexible stem of the mic also isolates it from vibrations for a rattle-free recording.

After watching and listening to several videos show with the MKE 2 elements mic, I have to say that it seems like the real deal. Sound was noticeably better than I’m used to hearing through waterproof cases on action cams, and was very clear and realistic. The sound of water was particularly impressive, and added to the immersive sense of being right there in the waves with a surfer. Sennheiser even had a unit sitting in a tank of water to illustrate how elements-proof it actually is.

HDR video

For the last decade, improvements in video generally had to do with resolution, resolution, 3D (oops, not so much), and more resolution. Over the past couple years, however, there has been increased focus on dynamic range, and it seemed like everyone at NAB this year was talking about HDR video, which promises brighter brights, blacker blacks, and more realistic renditions of real world scenes.

We’ll be exploring HDR video in more detail in future articles as it’s directly relevant to photographers as well. However, watching HDR demos illustrated that content creators are still learning how to use the technology. For example, while viewing some HDR film clips behind the sign in the above photo, I quickly discovered that in a dark environment, extremely bright specular highlights could be so bright as to make you squint. This is a technology that will only get better, though there’s still room for everyone to start speaking the same language and agree upon some conventions and standards. Stay tuned.

8K/120p

OK, you knew we’d get to it eventually. 8K video has been a hot topic at NAB for the past couple years, and of course that continued in 2017 as well. 8K holds great potential for content creators, but it’s clear the industry is pushing hard to move 8K into the living room as well. 

I’m not convinced that consumers are quite ready to begin moving to 8K TVs yet, especially since most of them haven’t even gone 4K. However, the one 8K demo that absolutely blew my mind was watching a hockey game in 8K/120p. If you think 60p looks lifelike, 120p is even more so. And at 8K resolution it’s borderline amazing. In fact, if broadcasters can figure out how to deliver 8K/120p, it may be the thing that does convince people they need to upgrade once again, particularly if they’re sports fans.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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2017 Roundups: Fixed Prime Lens Cameras

28 Apr

The fixed lens camera market may be a bit niche, but it’s here that you’ll find some of the best cameras you can buy. Sensors ranging from APS-C to full-frame are designed to match their lenses, which cover ranges from 28-75mm equiv., so image quality is top-notch.

This segment includes both pocketable models without viewfinders to ‘best worn over your shoulder’ cameras with unique or ultra-high-resolution EVFs. There’s a gigantic spread in pricing, as well. The Fujifilm X70 and Ricoh GR II can be had for under $ 700, while the Leica Q sells for around $ 4250.

For those who want to zoom with their feet, here are the fixed-lens cameras we think are worth a look:

  • Fujifilm X70
  • Fujifilm X100F
  • Leica Q (Typ 116)
  • Ricoh GR II
  • Sigma dp Quattro series
  • Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R II

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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Canon boosts 2017 profit forecast following strong Q1 financial results

27 Apr

Canon’s recent acquisition of Toshiba’s medical equipment unit has helped spur strong first fiscal quarterly financial results for the camera company, and as a result it has increased its full 2017 operating profit forecast. In January, Canon estimated that it would see a yearly profit of 255 billion Yen; following the favorable Q1 2017 results, the company now estimates the profits will be higher at 270 billion Yen. However, the company’s outlook on 2017 camera unit sales are gloomier, with ILC unit sales dropping 7% and compacts down 13%, working out to -9% overall.

Overall, the company saw a year-on-year Q1 operating profit increase of nearly 89%, rising from 40.09 billion Yen in Q1 2016 to 76.67 billion Yen this past first quarter. According to Reuters, Canon Executive VP and CFO Toshiz Tanaka stated during the company’s earnings conference that mirrorless cameras are helping drive the company’s camera sales. The company’s financial report notes that ‘healthy demand’ for Canon’s EOS 5D Mark IV has helped drive the company’s interchangeable lens camera sales. First quarter revenue from camera sales were up over 7%, though unit sales were unchanged since Q1 2016.

Canon likewise saw its compact-system cameras’ sales increase in Europe and Asia (6% globally), and though overall digital compact camera sales volume dropped in the last quarter, Canon says the PowerShot G-Series and other ‘high-value-added models’ experienced ‘solid demand.’ Things aren’t looking great for the digital compact camera market overall, where Canon sees sustained market contraction for its budget-tier models (-6% globally). However, developed countries’ decreased demand for interchangeable lens digital cameras is ‘decelerating steadily,’ the company says. 

Canon also touched on the topic of last year’s Kumamoto earthquake damage, saying that the resolution of the shortages caused by the earthquake have resulted in ‘temporary moderate growth’ for interchange lens digital cameras. 

Via: Reuters, Canon 1, 2

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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2017 Roundup: Compact Enthusiast Zoom Cameras

24 Apr

The enthusiast compact market has exploded over the last couple of years, with several manufacturers offering a product with 1″-type sensors. Most of these cameras are small (and sometimes pocketable) and feature fast (but short) lenses. They also vary in terms of design, control points, video specs and whether they have an EVF, so you’ll have some decisions to make. In this roundup, we’ll try to help.

Here are the cameras that we’ll be covering in this article:

  • Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark II
  • Canon PowerShot G5 X
  • Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II
  • Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX10
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS100/TZ100
  • Sony Cyber-shot RX100
  • Sony Cyber-shot RX100 II
  • Sony Cyber-shot RX100 III
  • Sony Cyber-shot RX100 IV
  • Sony Cyber-shot RX100 V

As mentioned above, the majority of offerings in this category utilize 1″-type sensor, however two cameras offer even larger sensors. The Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark II is built around the largest sensor of the bunch at 1.5″-type, while the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100 uses most of the area of a slightly smaller Four Thirds chip.

Sensor size tends to be a major indicator of potential – particularly low light – image quality. Also, cameras with larger sensors will generally allow for much more control over depth of field.

LensEquivalentApertures([“Equivalent focal length (mm)”,”Sony RX100″,”Canon G1 X II”,”Sony RX100 III”,”Panasonic LX100″,”Panasonic ZS100″,”Canon G7 X II”,”Panasonic LX10″,”Canon G9 X II”], [[24,null,””,3.84,”Canon G1 X II at 24mm: F3.8″,4.90909090909091,”Sony RX100 III at 24mm: F4.9″,3.7434,”Panasonic LX100 at 24mm: F3.7″,null,””,4.90909090909091,”Canon G7 X II at 24mm: F4.9″,3.8181818181818183,”Panasonic LX10 at 24mm: F3.8″,null,””],[25,null,””,4.224,”Canon G1 X II at 25mm: F4.2″,5.454545454545455,”Sony RX100 III at 25mm: F5.5″,3.9636,”Panasonic LX100 at 25mm: F4.0″,7.6363636363636367,”Panasonic ZS100 at 25mm: F7.6″,null,””,4.0909090909090917,”Panasonic LX10 at 25mm: F4.1″,null,””],[26,null,””,4.8,”Canon G1 X II at 26mm: F4.8″,6.0000000000000009,”Sony RX100 III at 26mm: F6.0″,4.1838,”Panasonic LX100 at 26mm: F4.2″,7.9090909090909092,”Panasonic ZS100 at 26mm: F7.9″,null,””,4.90909090909091,”Panasonic LX10 at 26mm: F4.9″,null,””],[27,null,””,5.3759999999999994,”Canon G1 X II at 27mm: F5.4″,null,””,4.404,”Panasonic LX100 at 27mm: F4.4″,8.1818181818181834,”Panasonic ZS100 at 27mm: F8.2″,null,””,5.454545454545455,”Panasonic LX10 at 27mm: F5.5″,null,””],[28,4.90909090909091,”Sony RX100 at 28mm: F4.9″,null,””,6.8181818181818183,”Sony RX100 III at 28mm: F6.8″,4.6242,”Panasonic LX100 at 28mm: F4.6″,null,””,null,””,6.0000000000000009,”Panasonic LX10 at 28mm: F6.0″,5.454545454545455,”Canon G9 X II at 28mm: F5.5″],[29,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,6.8181818181818183,”Panasonic LX10 at 29mm: F6.8″,null,””],[30,null,””,6.144,”Canon G1 X II at 30mm: F6.1″,null,””,4.8444,”Panasonic LX100 at 30mm: F4.8″,8.7272727272727284,”Panasonic ZS100 at 30mm: F8.7″,null,””,null,””,null,””],[31,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,7.6363636363636367,”Panasonic LX10 at 31mm: F7.6″,6.8181818181818183,”Canon G9 X II at 31mm: F6.8″],[32,null,””,null,””,7.6363636363636367,”Sony RX100 III at 32mm: F7.6″,null,””,9.0,”Panasonic ZS100 at 32mm: F9.0″,6.0000000000000009,”Canon G7 X II at 32mm: F6.0″,null,””,null,””],[33,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,7.6363636363636367,”Canon G9 X II at 33mm: F7.6″],[34,7.6363636363636367,”Sony RX100 at 34mm: F7.6″,null,””,null,””,5.0645999999999995,”Panasonic LX100 at 34mm: F5.1″,9.2727272727272734,”Panasonic ZS100 at 34mm: F9.3″,null,””,null,””,null,””],[36,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,9.5454545454545467,”Panasonic ZS100 at 36mm: F9.5″,null,””,null,””,null,””],[37,null,””,null,””,null,””,5.2848,”Panasonic LX100 at 37mm: F5.3″,null,””,null,””,null,””,8.7272727272727284,”Canon G9 X II at 37mm: F8.7″],[39,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,6.8181818181818183,”Canon G7 X II at 39mm: F6.8″,null,””,9.5454545454545467,”Canon G9 X II at 39mm: F9.5″],[40,null,””,6.72,”Canon G1 X II at 40mm: F6.7″,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””],[41,null,””,null,””,null,””,5.505,”Panasonic LX100 at 41mm: F5.5″,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””],[43,8.7272727272727284,”Sony RX100 at 43mm: F8.7″,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””],[44,null,””,null,””,null,””,5.7252,”Panasonic LX100 at 44mm: F5.7″,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””],[46,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,10.90909090909091,”Canon G9 X II at 46mm: F10.9″],[52,null,””,null,””,null,””,6.1655999999999995,”Panasonic LX100 at 52mm: F6.2″,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””],[53,9.5454545454545467,”Sony RX100 at 53mm: F9.5″,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,12.272727272727273,”Canon G9 X II at 53mm: F12.3″],[54,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,7.6363636363636367,”Canon G7 X II at 54mm: F7.6″,null,””,null,””],[65,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,13.363636363636365,”Canon G9 X II at 65mm: F13.4″],[66,10.90909090909091,”Sony RX100 at 66mm: F10.9″,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””],[70,null,””,null,””,7.6363636363636367,”Sony RX100 III at 70mm: F7.6″,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””],[72,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,7.6363636363636367,”Panasonic LX10 at 72mm: F7.6″,null,””],[75,null,””,7.4879999999999995,”Canon G1 X II at 75mm: F7.5″,null,””,6.1655999999999995,”Panasonic LX100 at 75mm: F6.2″,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””],[81,12.272727272727273,”Sony RX100 at 81mm: F12.3″,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””],[84,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,13.363636363636365,”Canon G9 X II at 84mm: F13.4″],[94,13.363636363636365,”Sony RX100 at 94mm: F13.4″,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””],[100,13.363636363636365,”Sony RX100 at 100mm: F13.4″,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,7.6363636363636367,”Canon G7 X II at 100mm: F7.6″,null,””,null,””],[120,null,””,7.4879999999999995,”Canon G1 X II at 120mm: F7.5″,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””],[144,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,15.818181818181818,”Panasonic ZS100 at 144mm: F15.8″,null,””,null,””,null,””],[157,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,16.090909090909093,”Panasonic ZS100 at 157mm: F16.1″,null,””,null,””,null,””],[250,null,””,null,””,null,””,null,””,16.090909090909093,”Panasonic ZS100 at 250mm: F16.1″,null,””,null,””,null,””]])

To further help you pick the right camera in this class, we’ve also created the chart below, which breaks down the equivalent aperture for each camera, as you work your way through the zoom range. Our article here explains the concept of equivalence, but at a high level all you need to know is that the lower the line is on the graph below, the blurrier the backgrounds you’ll be able to get and typically, though not always, the better the overall low-light performance.

The camera that stays the ‘fastest’ longest is the Panasonic LX100, due both to its F1.7-2.8 lens and Four Thirds sensor (which it uses a crop of). A number of cameras sit in the middle, including the Canon G1 X II and G7 X II as well as the Sony RX100 I/II. The Panasonic ZS100 is the slowest of the bunch, but it also has the longest reach by a decent margin.

On the following pages, you’ll find what we liked and didn’t like about each camera, links to our test scenes for image quality comparisons, and real-world galleries to give you a sense of how each performs outside the lab. Given that there are five Sony RX100s in this comparison, you might find this article helpful in making a decision between those. 

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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Frederik Buyckx named Sony World Photography Awards 2017 Photographer of the Year

21 Apr

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Belgian photographer Frederik Buyckx has been named the Sony World Photography Awards 2017 Photographer of the Year. Buyckx is a freelance photographer for the Belgian newspaper De Standaard and will receive the $ 25,000 prize for his winning series of images entitle ‘Whiteout’, which was shot in the Balkans, Scandinavia and Central Asia, all remote areas where people often live in isolation and in close contact with nature.

“There is a peculiar transformation of nature when winter comes, when snow and ice start to dominate the landscape and when humans and animals have to deal with the extreme weather,” Buyckx says. “The series investigates this struggle against disappearance.”

Chosen from the winners of the Awards’ 10 Professional categories, Chair of Judges Zelda Cheatle said of Buyckx’s images: “I have chosen a series of landscapes so that we may return to the essence of looking at photography. Landscape is often overlooked but it is central to our existence. These are beautiful pictures made by a serious photographer, and they are to be enjoyed.”

This year the contest received more 227,000 entries from 183 countries, making it the world’s largest photography competition. An exhibition of all winning and shortlisted images and a selection of rare photographs by British photographer Martin Parr, who is this year’s recipient of the Outstanding Contribution to Photography prize, will run at Somerset House in London from now until 7 May. 

The annual Sony World Photography Awards are free to enter and open to all photographers. The 2018 Sony World Photography Awards open for entries on 1 June 2017. You can find the full list of of this year’s winners below and see a selection of shortlisted and winning images on the World Photography Organisation website. 

Professional  Category Winners and Finalists

An expert panel of international judges were challenged to find the best photography series (between 5-10 images) across the ten Professional categories. The winning and finalist photographers are:

Architecture winner: Dongni, China
2nd – Julien Chatelin, France / 3rd – Diego Mayon, Italy

Conceptual winner – Sabine Cattaneo, Switzerland
2nd – Gao Peng, China / 3rd – Alexander Anufriev, Russian Federation

Contemporary Issues winner – Tasneem Alsultan, Saudi Arabia
2nd – Li Sony, China / 3rd – Lorzenzo Maccotta, Italy

Current Affairs & News winner – Alessio Romenzi, Italy
2nd – Joe Raedle, United States / 3rd – Ivor Prickett, Ireland

Daily Life winner: Sandra Hoyn, Germany
2nd – Christina Simons, Iceland / 3rd – Alice Cannara Malan, Italy

Landscape winner: Frederik Buyckx, Belgium
2nd – Kurt Tong, United Kingdom / 3rd – Peter Franck, Landscape

Natural World winner: Will Burrard-Lucas, United Kingdom
2nd – Ami Vitale, United States / 3rd – Christian Vizl, Mexico

Portraiture winner: George Mayer, Russian Federation
2nd – Romina Ressia, Argentina / 3rd – Ren shi Chen, China

Still Life winner: Henry Agudelo , Columbia
2nd – Shinya Masuda, Japan / 3rd – Christoffer Askman, Denmark

Sport winner: Yuan Peng, China
2nd – Eduard Korniyenko, Russian Federation / 3rd – Jason O’Brien, Australia

OPEN PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR – Alexander Vinogradov, Russia
YOUTH PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR – Katelyn Wang, US
STUDENT PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR – Michelle Daiana Gentile, Argentina

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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Trends to watch at NAB 2017

21 Apr

Trends to watch at NAB 2017

Next week is the annual National Association of Broadcasters show, or NAB, in Las Vegas, Nevada. NAB is primarily an industry conference, and isn’t generally focused on consumer products, but we go to NAB because it often gives us a window into the future. Tools and technologies created for Hollywood or the broadcast industry have a funny way of tricking down to everyman products over the next few years, and that’s usually a good thing (3D television being a notable exception, in my opinion).

So, let’s take a look at a few of the product categories we’ll be watching at NAB next week that have the potential to impact us not-named-Spielberg types in the coming years.

Tools for Emerging Filmmakers

The filmmaking industry has changed a lot in the past few years: technology has become better, costs have come down, and tools suitable for serious content creation are now accessible to anyone with a dream of producing films and the passion to make it happen. This transformation has ushered in an explosion of what are often referred to as ’emerging filmmakers.’

These are people who often started making films with DSLRs or mirrorless cameras, but have grown their skills or businesses to the point where they need better, dedicated tools. They include independent filmmakers, small businesses working for commercial clients, or any number of other filmmaking roles. Some things they have in common are that they care about creating high quality content, have high expectations for production value, and they don’t have upwards of $ 20,000 to buy a single cinema lens.

This category has grown large enough that we’re seeing more companies which have historically catered to the high end cinema market now looking to meet emerging filmmakers’ needs. Whether it’s to drive revenue or create brand loyalists, we’re seeing more tools designed and priced for these users. By way of example, in the past year we’ve seen cinema lenses such as Cookes and Fujinons with sub-$ 5,000 price points. We expect to see even more products aimed at emerging filmmakers at NAB. 

Virtual Reality (VR)

Virtual reality is a technology that everyone, from manufacturers to content creators, seems to want to succeed, but which hasn’t quite managed to do so. There’s clearly a lot of unrealized promise, and even Hollywood executives will tell you they’re spending a lot of money trying to figure out how to make it work. Will this be the year VR makes the leap?

NAB will once again feature a dedicated Virtual and Augmented Reality Pavillion where the VR community can show off its latest technology. And there are clearly a lot of businesses betting big money on it, ranging from consumer-focused companies like Yi Technologies, which plans to announce VR capture devices at the show, to the likes of 360 Designs, whose Flying EYE drone system will livestream 360º 6K content from miles away for a cool $ 75,000. 

The big question is whether any of the VR products or technologies we see at NAB this year will be enough to get significant traction in the market, or collectively move the needle toward wider adoption of VR by consumers, but the industry isn’t giving up on this one yet.

8K Technology

We actually saw 8K display technology for the first time at NAB a couple years ago. And yes, it’s good bleeping amazing. Last year, Canon had an 8K reference display in its booth with a magnifying glass next to it, teasing you to try to see the pixels. After all, with 8K you’re collecting about the same number of pixels as a Nikon D810. In bursts of 24 or 30 frames. Every second. Think of the memory cards you’re going to need… but I digress…

What does 8K mean for photographers, videographers, and emerging filmmakers? Right now, not a lot. In fact, it’s unlikely we’ll even see 8K TVs being widely marketed to consumers for a number of years. But on the content creation side, there’s a lot to be said for 8K. With 4K quickly moving in the direction of becoming a standard for viewing content, 8K will give content creators the same advantages that 4K acquisition has for creating 1080p content. Right now we’re still talking about very expensive, high end pro cinema and broadcast equipment, but what we see at NAB is often a preview to what we’ll see in less expensive gear a few years down the road.

And 8K technology may come faster than we expect. We’ve seen 4K gain fairly wide adoption very quickly, and most of the industry seems hell-bent on a collision course between full 8K broadcast and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics (having already demonstrated it at London 2012 and run test broadcasts from Rio 2016). Some of this 8K goodness (or massive data storage overhead, if you’re the glass-half-empty type) may start filtering its way into our cameras in the next few years.

HDR Video

HDR video is pretty much what it sounds like: high dynamic range video that lets us see brighter brights, darker darks, and more shades in between. It’s like HDR photos, but with motion, and done well it can look pretty amazing. From a consumer perspective, most talk about HDR video these days relates to TVs, but the market is still sorting itself out. As the old adage goes, ‘The great thing about standards is that we have so many to choose from.’ Between HDR10, Dolby Vision, and Hybrid Log-Gamma, there’s plenty of room for the marketers to fight it out and educate consumers on the jargon.

But what we’re most interested in is content creation, or HDR video capture. Admittedly, there’s not a lot here for the enthusiast or prosumer at the moment. But… (and you know there’s always a ‘but’) Panasonic has already told us to expect Hybrid Log-Gamma to be included in the mother of all firmware updates – or, as we affectionately know it, MOAFU (really rolls off your tongue, doesn’t it) – that’s coming for the Panasonic GH5 in summer 2017. We look forward to testing it. Once we figure out how to test it.

Drones

Love ’em or hate ’em, people are going to use drones for all kinds of things. (At least until Skynet, and we all know how that ends.) Of course, what we care about at DPReview is aerial imaging, whether it’s still photography or video. The drone industry has exploded in the past few years, with tools ranging from octocopters that nonchalantly ferry around RED and Arri cameras to consumer products you can buy off the shelf and use to make your own movies.

As with other video categories, what started out as technology available only to well-funded production studios has quickly started to filter down to the emerging filmmaker or prosumer level. In fact, less than six months ago DJI introduced the Inspire 2 drone and Zenmuse X5S camera. That combo uses a Micro Four Thirds camera to shoot 5.2K CinemaDNG Raw video with a bit rate of 4.2Gbps. All for the price of a Canon 1D X II. This is Hollywood-level stuff. They even got cinematographer Claudio Miranda, ASC (Life of Pi) to make a film with it, though he had to carry it around in his hands for some shots.

Why do I bring up a product that was announced a few months ago? First, because it’s an indication of where the technology is going, and competitors will need to find a way to respond. We’ll be watching to see if that happens at NAB. And second, because for the love of God, DJI, can you please put this combination of tech into a regular camera? I don’t care if it’s a Micro Four Thirds camera the size of a Canon 1D X II, I will write you a check tomorrow.

Such is my plea.

Live Streaming

It used to be that we recorded home movies which we then forced our friends and family to watch over Thanksgiving. Later came the internet, so we could just send aunt Mabel a Vimeo link, or start a YouTube channel about cats with millions of followers.

Today that’s no longer adequate. Things must be on the internet, and they must be on now! Whether it’s Vloggers broadcasting live from a tradeshow floor using their iPhones, or sites like DPReview doing live webcasts from a studio, live streaming has gained a lot of momentum, and viewers are demanding higher quality live streams as time goes on.

We’ve already seen products to meet this need at a consumer level, whether it’s a DJI Osmo that uses your phone to broadcast on Facebook Live, or the Blackmagic Web Presenter, which allows you to turn virtually any high quality camera into a streaming broadcast camera. We’ll be on the watch for other products and technologies that will fuel our live streaming future. Though we can’t promise to stream them to you live.

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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Collecting Inspiration: 3 Must-See Data Artists & Designers at Eyeo 2017

20 Apr

[ By WebUrbanist in Art & Drawing & Digital. ]

Jenny Odell collects and organizes all kinds of things, from meticulously sorting digital finds on Google Maps to tracing the origins of everything she used, wore, ate or bought on one particular day in 2013.

Her work often pulls objects out of context, aggregating and arranging something like a set of pools against a neutral backdrop (as seen above) or taking an entire industrial complex and carefully stripping it of its surroundings (like the facility below).

On June 26th, she will join an assortment of other unusual, curious and brilliant creatives — experts in the realms of art, design, interaction and information — as a speaker at the annual Eyeo Festival in Minneapolis, MN.

Designer, entrepreneur and artist Nicholas Felton, creator of the famously detailed and introspective data visualizations, will be back this year as well to talk about his recent work. His numerous personal annual reports condense the events of a year into a tapestry of maps, graphs and statistics.

Artist and programmer Gene Kogan will bring his interest in “generative systems, artificial intelligence, and software for creativity and self-expression.” He has collaborated on various open-source software projects, working at the “intersection of code, art, and technology activism.”

Others include: a smell researcher and artist with a collection of over 7,000 scents, a designer and software designer pursuing machine learning and news automation, and dozens of other fascinating folks from all over the world.

Eyeo asks: “What data is, where it comes from, and how we utilize it, looks different than ever before. What can we do with it all? What can’t we do? Artists, designers and coders build and bend technology to see what’s possible. What’s next with interaction, what’s revealed by the data. Eyeo brings together the most intriguing and exciting people in these arenas today.” If you haven’t been, this is as good a year as any to go for the first time — it is a wonderful and unique experience. Get tickets here.

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Visionary High-Rises: Winners of the 2017 eVolo Skyscraper Competition

20 Apr

[ By SA Rogers in Architecture & Cities & Urbanism. ]

The way we design and engage with our built environments will rapidly change as we grapple with climate change and develop new technological innovations, and in some cases, radical new ideas will be required. The annual skyscraper design competition held by eVolo recognizes visionary ideas for high-rise projects that challenge our understanding of vertical architecture and its relationship with both nature and existing cities. Here are this year’s winners along with 7 honorable mentions, including an Antarctic skyscraper attempting to reverse global warming, research facilities housed in the trunks of Sequoia trees, and vertically stacked factories sharing smart waste disposal and recycling techniques.

First Place: Mashambas Skyscraper

Based on the Swahili word for ‘an area of cultivated land’ often including the dwelling of the farmer, ‘Mashambas’ by Polish designers Pawel Lipinksi and Mateusz Frankowski aims to bring the green revolution of expanded harvests to the poorest people so they can produce surplus food for themselves and their neighbors, helping to eradicate poverty and hunger in their communities. The skyscraper itself is a “movable educational center” providing education, training on agricultural techniques, cheap fertilizers, modern tools and a local trading area, and it’s made of simple modular elements that can expand or disassemble as needed.

Second Place: Vertical Factories in Megacities

In decades past, prior to a round of improvements that made them far less noisy and polluting, factories were often relegated to land outside cities, requiring workers to commute long distances or move to suburban areas. But we don’t exactly want them taking up valuable square footage in urban areas, either. This concept by Tianshu Liu and Linshen Xie stacks them on top of each other like a towering sandwich so they can all take advantage of the same modern technologies for waste removal, potentially even transforming those waste products into clean heat, electricity, fertilizer and water.

Third Place: Espiral3500

In ‘La Albufera,’ a coastal area of Spain located within a natural agricultural park, a rapid increase in tourism during the summer has led to speculation-based development, threatening the very characteristics that make it so attractive in the first place. Population increases up to 1000% in some areas during high tourist season, and they empty out in winter. The Espiral3500 concept aims to meet the needs of tourists while protecting the natural resources of the territory via vertical growth, packing private and public spaces into a skyscraper with an ‘inverted street’ system. Visitors can wind their way up to the top, enjoying a wide range of shops, restaurants and hotels while taking in the view.

Honorable Mention: Arch Skyscraper

The basis of the Arch Skyscraper is envisioned as “an arch that undergoes transformations through the changes of light, human behavior, and other factors to form different spaces/units, which overlap one another vertically to form the final design.” Double-layer arches inspired by those found in medieval cathedrals and ancient Chinese pagodas are combined with vertical transportation, creating a series of vaulted spaces that are fun to explore.

Honorable Mention: The Forgotten Memorials

Noting that in the past, older architecture was often demolished to make way for the new in the constant cycle of urbanization, the designers of The Forgotten Memorials skyscraper concept propose requiring every generation to construct new buildings underneath the older ones. This could help preserve the past while accommodating the future on limited land. “They gradually, generation by generation, penetrate the clouds and become memorials beyond the sky.”

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Visionary High Rises Winners Of The 2017 Evolo Skyscraper Competition

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CP+ 2017: Olympus interview: ‘We chose to be bold’

15 Apr
Masamichi Handa, Executive Officer and Head of the Imaging Business Unit of Olympus Corp, pictured at the CP+ show, in Yokohama, Japan. 

DPReview attended the 2017 CP+ show in Yokohama, a few weeks ago, and during the show we made time to sit down with senior executives from several major manufacturers. One of them was Mr. Masamichi Handa, head of Olympus’s Imaging Business Division. We spoke to Mr. Handa about reaction to the E-M1 Mark II, his ambitions for the future of mirrorless cameras, and the effect of last spring’s earthquake on production.

The following interview has been edited slightly for clarity and flow.


How has reaction been to the E-M1 Mark II?

I was a bit afraid after the earthquake that we’d have to delay launch. Originally we had intended to start sales straight after the launch at Photokina. But we had to delay by a few months. We don’t like doing that, because there’s so much excitement at launch. But we started sales in December, so we’re in the middle of the initial wave of sales now, and feeling quite comfortable.

What was the exact impact of the earthquake?

There was a device shortage, so straight after the event we talked to the device manufacturer, who we had been collaborating with on the E-M1 Mark II’s customized sensor. The shortage lasted until around September, but we had some inventory, so we kept the factory running, and then we increased the volume of production in October.

Some people think the E-M1 Mark II is priced a little high. How do you justify its cost?

We have a target group of customers and a target group of competitor cameras in the APS-C format range. So the current pricing matches that price band. We opted for a price that would allow us to achieve higher performance levels and offer higher value to the customer. We had many discussions, and we chose to be bold and aim for a hit a higher consumer value point.

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II is a tough, fast Micro Four Thirds camera, aimed at enthusiast and professional photographers that need speed and durability in as small a camera as possible.

Cameras in the $ 1799+ price bracket aren’t aimed at [price-point conscious shoppers], they’re high-value products. Sales and marketing people talk a lot about ‘price points’ but our obligation is to provide a high value product. 

‘we’re mainly a stills business’

When you were planning the E-M1 Mark II, how important was video specification to its concept?

That discussion started around the time the E-M5 Mark II was introduced. We discussed which way we should go – more stills features, or more movie features, or both. We came to the conclusion that we shouldn’t get mixed up. Olympus wants to provide good stills cameras. Of course we should meet demand for movie shooting capabilities, but we’re mainly a stills business. Obviously we added image stabilization technology to the movie function, but it’s mainly supplemental.

It’s really good, for being supplemental!

Of course. The technology is always developing. But we’re mainly focused on the stills business. This is very important to the R&D people too. Once we start to muddle up our direction, that [affects them]. Because they might take 3-5 years for development [of a technology], so if we make a mistake when it comes to direction, they get mixed up.

So the E-M1 Mark II is primarily a stills camera. What are the challenges of integrating video features into a camera like this?

We’re still learning. We listen to various voices when we start to design a product – mainly professional stills-oriented photographers. But when we talk to professionals on the video side, they give us very different requirements, [not all of which we can realize]. But the more information we receive in this way, the more we can [incorporate this feedback in product design]. One important point that we’re incorporating is our image stabilization technology. That’s what we’re good at. This camera is very competent. As far as IS technology is concerned, we’re quite confident. But we need to listen more to comments and ideas from movie professionals.

‘We’ve had some good feedback from videographers’

Technically, the major challenge is heat management. This is a stills-oriented camera, primarily, and that’s one of the reasons why time is limited to 30 minutes. If we wanted to provide a more video-oriented product, we’d have to overcome heat. And image-quality wise, which tone-curve we should choose is completely different between stills and video capture. It’s a different mindset. Our engineers are stills-oriented, and we have a lot to learn from the professional movie camera industry. We’ve had some good feedback from videographers, so we’re on our way.

Do you know how many people are buying the E-M1 Mark II to shoot video?

Right now, we’ve only been shipping for a couple of months so [at present] our main customers are core Olympus users. And they’re mostly stills-oriented.

Do you think that Olympus will ever make a dedicated video camera?

We should never ignore [a potential audience] but right now, we have no plans. Talking about Panasonic, the GH5 is a really nice video camera. The E-M1 Mark II is more of a stills camera. Other video manufacturers make very nice lenses, and 35 manufacturers have now joined the Four Thirds standard. This is a very good thing for users.

Panasonic’s new DC-GH5 is in some respects the closest competitor to the OM-D E-M1 Mark II, but it offers a much more developed video feature set. According to Mr. Handa, Olympus’s main focus remains on satisfying the needs of stills photographers. 

Our R&D team is working about 3 or 4 years ahead. We’ve recently introduced very good autofocus technology, image stabilization technology and new lenses. We can do more – autofocus speed, AF tracking performance and so on – we can always do more. But our R&D people have to work hard. We want to improve image stabilization technology, too, so our users can use longer lenses without needing a tripod, for instance. Which is a lot of work. So [perfecting our existing technologies] is more important than changing direction.

professional support ‘a headache’

The 2020 Olympics isn’t too far away – when do you expect to see mirrorless cameras in the hands of professionals at major sporting events?

Obviously, we get asked this question a lot, and there is a certain expectation. From a business point of view, [if we were represented at Tokyo 2020] not only would we need to [provide products capable of professional shooting] but we would also need to offer professional support. And that’s a headache. You saw at the Rio olympic games, the amount of equipment that Canon took for professional support, and the amount of people for support, and maintenance… it’s not our business model.

We will provide equipment for professional photographers at sporting events, but [we don’t plan on] having a team to support photographers at events like that. It’s not our strength.

Do you have an idea of the demographic breakdown of your audience?

Users of the PEN series are mostly male, and the E-PL series is more female oriented, and they’re younger.

The E-PL series has been popular among female camera buyers, according to Mr. Handa, and attracts a younger customer base than its OM-D products. 

What’s your approach to attracting this kind of market?

Again, these are high-value products, so it’s about design, and supporting selfie functions, and adding Wi-Fi and so on. Our marketing is designed to focus on younger, style-conscious users.

Do you have any sense of how many of your customers use Olympus lenses, as opposed to lenses from Panasonic, or third-parties?

In the early days, our lens lineup was pretty limited, and some of our customers purchased Panasonic lenses. But these days, that number is smaller and smaller.

On Panasonic: ‘we’re essentially competitors’

Do you work with Panasonic to ensure compatibility of technologies across the M43 system, such as Panasonic’s DFD?

We only collaborate on the [Four Thirds] standard. To make sure the standard works perfectly across different lens and camera manufacturers. Sometimes we have to compete with each other, from a technical point of view, but that’s a good engine for developing new technologies. We’re essentially competitors.

Where are the biggest opportunities for Olympus right now, in the camera market?

Right now, the biggest opportunity for our mirrorless camera department is to increase the amount of technology [in the segment], to stimulate demand. The market for conventional DSLRs is shrinking, and the ILC market is going down, the CSC [compact system camera] is doing OK, although there’s still some decline.

Although the OM-D E-M1 Mark II offers a significantly smaller sensor, Olympus sees it as competing against similarly-priced APS-C offerings, and hopes it will attract ‘conservative’ DSLR users as a potential second body.

Current Canon and Nikon users may not switch entirely, because they’ve already got a system, but they might purchase an additional camera for vacations, or for [outdoor recreation], and that could be a good opportunity for us. By continuously developing technology, we hope to stimulate demand and show DSLR users that mirrorless cameras are [equally capable].

How do you get that message across to DSLR users?

Current E-M1 Mark II purchasers are probably 80% existing Olympus users. But after we’ve satisfied this first wave of demand, we want to provide opportunities for new users to touch and try our products. All over the world, those people [DSLR users] are relatively old. They prefer small size, and they prefer light weight. Often it’s only when they touch our cameras that they realize they’re good. So creating touch and try events, globally, is very important. Also we want to talk more to professionals. Some younger people have no trouble going straight to mirrorless, but a majority of professional people might say ‘aaah, we want to stick to Canon and Nikon’. But when they touch and try the cameras, it’s a different story. We have a rental program for professionals in Japan, and almost every rental ends in a purchase. We want to expand this globally.

‘If we can continue to develop this kind of technology, even very conservative DSLR users will notice’

Also, if we continue to make innovative mirrorless products, once they [DSLR users] notice the potential of the technology we’ll [attract more users]. The big benefit of mirrorless is that we can use information read out from the sensor in many ways. Autofocus speed, subject recognition, and so on. If we can continue to develop this kind of technology, even very conservative DSLR users will notice. 

What are the biggest challenges facing Olympus right now in the camera industry?

The market is decreasing. The compact market will continue to decrease in terms of value, but the mid-range and high-end market will remain. We have a challenge in that we want to spend more money on R&D, but we have to control costs, which means we have to select the most important technologies [to develop].


Editors’ note:

Olympus is an interesting company to report on. Despite its relatively small market share, Olympus consistently surprises us. And no product has been more surprising than the OM-D E-M1 Mark II. We knew a Mark II was on the way, but we didn’t expect it to outperform its predecessor so roundly, or be aimed so squarely at pro-grade APS-C and full-frame competitors. The downside, of course, is price. The E-M1 Mark II is a pricey camera considering its format, and as Mr. Handa admits, it’s mostly being purchased (for now) by the company’s existing users. From the point of view of customer retention, this is great, but it’s not how you grow your user-base.

To do that, Mr. Handa needs to tempt ‘conservative’ DSLR users away from their cameras of choice and towards the Olympus M43 system. This won’t happen overnight. As he pointed out, it took Canon years to wrestle back a meaningful portion of the professional market from Nikon, and Olympus is a much smaller, and more resource-limited company, which hasn’t enjoyed a significant share of the professional photography market for decades.

It’s not impossible though. According to Mr. Handa, professional loan programs in Japan have resulted in a lot of professional photographers buying into the OM-D system, even if they don’t switch their allegiance entirely or immediately. This makes sense. There are things that today’s professional DSLRs do that the E-M1 Mark II can’t, and vis-versa. Likewise their manufacturers. Olympus is under no illusions about its inability to provide true professional support, compared to well-established Canon and Nikon networks. For now, like Sony, Olympus simply cannot compete in this regard. As Mr. Handa told us, ‘it’s not our business model’.

So what is Olympus’s business model? It seems that the company is hoping that by marketing as much differentiating technology as it can (in-body stabilization and high frame-rate capture being the most obvious examples), DSLR users will notice, and take interest in the OM-D system. Perhaps they won’t sell their existing gear overnight, but we’ve met professionals that shoot some jobs on the E-M1 Mark II, and take their Canon EOS-1D X Mark II or Nikon D5 kits out for other kinds of work. 

It was interesting, if not entirely surprising, to learn that Olympus continues to regard video as essentially supplementary to its OM-D line. Despite Mr. Handa’s insistence that his engineers are stills-focused, the E-M1 Mark II is a very capable video camera. Whether it achieves widespread adoption among videographers is of course another matter. They should certainly pay attention though – ultra-stabilized 4K footage from the E-M1 Mark II is quite something. 

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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2017 Pulitzer Prize winners for photography announced

11 Apr

The winners of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for photography have been announced, which illustrate violence in two locations on opposite sides of the world.

The award for breaking news photography went to freelancer Daniel Berehulak, whose work published in The New York Times showed the violence in the Philippines during a government crackdown on drug dealers and users.

The other finalists include the AP Photography Staff and freelancer Jonathan Bachman.


The Chicago Tribune’s E. Jason Wambsgans won the award for feature photography. His photos document the story of a 10-year-old boy and his mother as they try to recover from the child’s shooting in Chicago.

The other contenders in this category were Katie Falkenberg of the LA Times and Jake May of The Flint Journal.

Each prize winner receives a $ 15,000 prize as well as the famous Pulitzer medal.

Via: The Pulitzer Prizes

Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

 
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