Archive for October, 2020

Laowa 15mm F4.5 Zero-D Shift sample gallery and impressions

31 Oct

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Those looking for a lens to help with architectural photography don’t have too many choices. Canon and Nikon provide tilt-and-shift lenses for the F and EF mount systems but it’s fair to say these are quite costly – as specialist products usually are. Samyang makes a 24mm that comes in a wide range of mounts, but beyond that options are limited to the adapters various independent brands, such as Fotodiox, offer.

This new lens from Laowa is currently the widest shift lens for full frame users. Where this lens also differs from those others available is that it only shifts – there is no tilt option. All other lenses in this segment offer tilt as well as shift, but Laowa says it hasn’t offered tilt in this 15mm model as it is designed for architectural photographers and they don’t need or use tilt features.

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As expected from Laowa, the lens is well made, solid and offers smooth mechanical movements. The barrel is all-metal and the lens comes with a metal twist-lock lens cap to protect the extremely bulbous front element. The 15mm focal length delivers an angle of view of 110° and the 17 elements-in-11-groups design produces curvilinear distortion corrected well enough for Laowa to include this in its Zero-D range of wide angles.

An image circle with a diameter of 65mm allows full frame users 22mm of shift in total – 11mm either side of the neutral position. And the shifting section of the lens can be rotated about 360° with click stops every 15°. The shift is achieved by unscrewing the locking pin and then turning the shift ring that sits between the camera and the aperture ring. Rotating this ring by 45° is enough to take the lens from the neutral position to the extreme of its shift at 11mm from Normal, and 45° the other way takes the barrel in the opposite direction.

As expected from Laowa, the lens is well made, solid and offers smooth mechanical movements

The mechanism for shifting the lens is smooth and, once unlocked, very easy to turn but with enough resistance to make it comfortable to control. A scale on the side of the barrel where the two sections meet makes it simple to measure the movement and then to repeat the same degree of movement in future shots. Conveniently, the lens clicks into place at the neutral position so you’ll know it has come home without looking at the scale.

The aperture ring clicks only at the full stop positions but allows users settings anywhere in between them, and the iris has only five blades – the same as the Laowa 9mm. At F4.5 the iris is round as the blades are fully retracted, but looks very pentagonal as the aperture is closed down. Considering this lens’ traditionally large and distant subjects, maybe the out-of-focus rendering isn’t as important as it might be in longer focal lengths.

Tilting the camera upwards while using ‘rising front’ or ‘drop front’ makes it possible to exaggerate or minimize converging verticals. Here from left to right we have extreme drop front, the lens in the normal position and then raised to its highest position. When the front is dropped down we have to tilt the camera back more to get the top of the building in, which exaggerates the ‘looking up’ perspective

Obviously the main target for this lens is photographers wanting to avoid converging verticals in their architectural work, but it is also very good for exaggerating convergence as shifting the front of the lens down allows for angling the camera up more – a range of effects can be achieved.

Twisting the lens to the 90° position and using the shift to move the lens from side to side is an easy way to create a panoramic image that will stitch easily, and using the shift diagonally allows four images to be taken that can be stitched to make a high resolution super-wide view. With the camera upright side-to-side shifts again allow high resolution stitches to be made with a squarer format.

This image is made from two pictures stitched together, and demonstrates the full horizontal movement of the lens. The lens was mounted on the tripod and I used the full shift to the left and took a picture. I then shifted it to the full extent to the right and took the second shot. They align very easily in software and have a large overlap in the middle. The combined angle of view is somewhere between 160 and 170 degrees.

I found the full 22mm side-to-side shift allowed me to create an image 13314 x 5499 with the Panasonic Lumix DC-S1R – that would allow a 44″ print at 300ppi. Single pictures from this camera are 8368 pixels on the longest dimension so the shift allowed me to add approximately 1.6x to the width of the frame. You don’t get double the width as there is a lot of overlap with such a wide lens. But overlap is good as it makes it easy to remove the aberrations at the edges of the frame – though vignetting is the only real issue.

As you’ll see from the samples the lens is pretty good, and retains decent resolution and sharpness through all but the most extreme movements. At the edges of the imaging circle you should expect a loss of clarity and some slight smearing in the corners, but if you keep away from the +/-11mm settings and don’t push it beyond 8 or 9mm you’ll have good performance right across the frame.

I was a little surprised and disappointed at first to find this lens doesn’t offer tilt, but in use I have come to appreciate why that movement hasn’t been included

All the pictures in this gallery were shot at F8 and F11, but F5.6 also gives good performance. There’s a slight drop of sharpness at F16 and a more noticeable decline at F22, as diffraction takes over. Vignetting is well-controlled and only comes into play at the more extreme settings and, as the Zero-D marking indicates, there is little curvilinear distortion.

I have to say that I was a little surprised and disappointed at first to find this lens doesn’t offer tilt, but in use I have come to appreciate why that movement hasn’t been included. While it would be fun to be able to tilt the lens there isn’t the same depth-of-field advantage in such a wide angle lens as you’d get in a regular focal length – depth-of-field is extensive at all apertures – and it likely won’t be used for product photography.

The lens was ideal for shooting the interior of this summer house in my neighbor’s garden. The wide view allowed me to fit it all in, and a bit of drop front allowed me to position the camera high up to could show the tops of the furniture while maintaining upright verticals. Rising front when shooting the outside let me position the camera low down so it could ‘look up’ and include more of the lit ceiling.

Tilt would offer a few fun tricks, but its absence isn’t likely to put off the target market of those shooting the interiors and exteriors of buildings. In use I found the 15mm focal length too wide for many of the applications I was expecting to use this lens for, but was able to make the most of its charms shooting interiors rather than exteriors – though it did allow me to shoot tall buildings when there wasn’t much room to move backwards.

This is a very interesting, if somewhat specialist, lens that should find a place in the kit bags of those looking for its width, its lack of distortion and its ability to take an altered perspective while maintaining a parallel relationship between the imaging sensor and the subject.

The lens will ship from late November in mounts for Nikon F and Canon EF, and costs $ 1199. Other mounts will follow next year. For more information see the Venus Optics website.

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Clothing for Portraits – How to Tell your Subjects What to Wear

31 Oct

The post Clothing for Portraits – How to Tell your Subjects What to Wear appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Darlene Hildebrandt.

clothing for portraits

What is the best clothing for portraits? The clothes your clients or portrait subjects are wearing in their portraits can be a touchy subject to discuss with them, especially if you are just doing a portrait for them as “a friend with a good camera.” Even as pros, we have a hard time getting people to listen; they frequently show up in clothes that make us cringe and that even hurt our eyes.

This article will help you understand what to suggest your subjects wear for their portrait photoshoots. You’ll also learn how to help clients understand why your suggestions really are in their best interests so they actually listen and get it right.

Clothes make the portrait

What your subjects are wearing is just as important as all the other portrait details, such as lighting, location, and posing.

Poorly-selected clothing can really take away from an otherwise great portrait.

Here are the goals when helping your portrait subjects or clients select clothing:

  • Make the people the main subjects
  • Flatter the subjects and make them look their best
  • Make the clothing disappear and be a non-issue

Poorly-chosen clothing, or having no discussion about clothing for portraits at all, can result in just the opposite. This is not what you want to have:

  • Clothing that stands out so much you hardly even notice the people
  • Arms, legs, or tummies that look less than flattered and people that are unhappy with the end results
  • Clothing that gets so much attention it becomes more about the clothes than about a portrait of the people wearing them

So what is the best thing for people to wear?

I get asked for tips on clothing for portraits a lot in my portraiture classes. People hear funny things about what they should or shouldn’t wear for their portraits, and they show up in the damnedest things that sometimes make you shake your head and say, “What were they thinking?”

But people won’t know what is right (or what is best) unless you tell them. And you must help them understand why.

This is what I recommend people do for a portrait session:

  • Wear solid-colored clothing
  • Choose muted tones that are a bit subdued
  • Choose similar tones for the top and bottom (both dark or both light)
  • Choose one to three colors for your group portrait, colors with similar tones that go nicely together. Then have everyone work within that color palette. For example, a group could wear dark green, navy, and burgundy, which are all dark jewel tones. Or a group could wear tan, a lighter olive-green, and denim, all of which are lighter, softer tones.
  • Choose a top with sleeves at least to the elbow
  • Choose long pants for men/women or a skirt below the knee for women
  • Choose dark socks and footwear (unless it’s a barefoot photo on the beach)
  • Keep jewelry simple and minimalistic
  • Do hair the way you’d normally do it while wearing these clothes (more on that later!)
  • If people plan to get a haircut or new hairdo, make the appointment at least two weeks prior to your portrait session

(I added a few bonus pointers on hair and makeup, but they go right along with the clothing.)

Did you notice how I did not use the word “Don’t” anywhere in the list above? 

There’s a reason for that.

People’s brains actually don’t register the words “Don’t,” “Not,” or “No.” So when you say them, the brain just disregards that part and registers what comes after. For example, if I say, “Do not think of a lemon,” what did you just do? Of course, you thought of a lemon. So when you are explaining clothing (or anything, for that matter) and giving suggestions on what to wear, take great care to always say what you do want.

If you tell people, “Okay, don’t wear stripes, flowers, or bright colors,” what will they remember? “I think my photographer said something about stripes and bright colors, so that’s what I’ll wear.”

Your subjects also probably heard somewhere that, for photography, you need to put your makeup on extra dark and heavy. Even people that normally wear no makeup or very little makeup can show up to a photoshoot with black eyeliner and raccoon eyes.

(I know because this has happened to me when I didn’t discuss makeup with my subjects ahead of time. And if it does happen, your subject will hate their photos because they won’t look like them. They likely won’t say anything; they just won’t pick any photos and you’ll think they didn’t like your work.)

It is your job as the photographer, even if you are just doing it for fun and for friends, to help people look their best in the portrait you take. So let’s look at the points above and how you should explain portrait clothing to your subjects so they get on board!

I actually had a hard time coming up with examples of what not to wear for portraits. I’ve been doing this for so long that I don’t have any subjects that come unprepared. So I’ve found a couple of group images just so you can see the difference clothing makes.

The image below is from a wedding, so the subjects weren’t all planning on having this group portrait done. But it shows what happens when the clothes have not been planned. There are multiple colors, some dark and some light. We have a few bright patterns and a short skirt. We have a lot of short sleeves (it was a hot day) and some white shoes. Can you see how all of those things make an impact? Overall, the effect actually isn’t that bad, and I’ve seen a lot worse. But let’s see what a little refinement can do to help.

wedding portraits clothing example
A group portrait from a wedding. The shot wasn’t planned, so people were wearing what they were wearing.
clothing for portraits group of people during a photowalk
Another “bad” example of clothing for portraits (from a photo walk). Notice how all the colors and patterns draw attention?

Examples of clothing that is working

The family shown below chose all black and denim, and for the most part, it is working really well. I’d only suggest that the mother wear longer sleeves. Notice how much attention her arms get? For her, it’s fine, but for someone self-conscious about their arms or their weight, short sleeves will make their arms look larger.

planned clothing for portraits

In the image below, everyone is in black except for the baby. Babies are always tough, because finding plain colors or black for a baby is almost impossible.

Notice two things here:

  1. The baby stands out the most. In this case, it’s fine, because she’s the smallest and you want to see her. 
  2. If there had been an adult in the light outfit, would it work as well? I doubt it; the person would stand out and look larger. No one likes to look bigger! Trust me.
clothing for portraits

The image below shows my sister’s family, so they’ve been well-trained on what to wear.

Once again, dark tones have been selected: grays, deep purple, and navy. Those all work well with jeans. Can you see the difference between me wearing long sleeves (left) and my sister wearing short sleeves (upper right)? What does it do to the bare arms? How do they look compared to mine?

planned portrait clothing example

How to get subjects to agree and follow your suggestions

The key to explaining all this and getting people to agree and go along with your suggestions is in how you tell them. If you just list off all this stuff, it can seem a bit pushy, like you’re telling them what to do. Most people assume they know how to dress; giving them a list could make them feel a tad insulted, so they get defensive rather than listen to your suggestions.

Photography is part technical stuff, part artistic stuff, and part psychology!

Let’s look at my recommended list again, but this time add in the why. By stressing the benefits to your subjects, they will get it in a big way.

As I said:

I’ve had very few subjects that I’ve photographed in the last ten years who showed up in poor clothing – simply because I’ve prepped them so well. They know that, if they want to look their best, they must follow these guidelines:

  • Wear solid-colored clothing so that we see all of your faces and no individual stands out. If you wear stripes or flowers, you will stand out from the rest of your group.
  • Choose muted tones that are a bit subdued so that you are the subject, not your clothes, and so you don’t stand out from the group. Bright colors project (especially reds, oranges, and yellows), which makes you look larger.
  • Choose similar tones for the top and bottom (both dark or both light). A white top and dark pants will make your top look bigger. White pants and a dark top will make your butt look bigger.
  • Choose one to three colors for your group portrait, colors with similar tones that go nicely together. Then have everyone work within that color palette. For example, a group could wear dark green, navy, and burgundy, which are all dark jewel tones. Or a group could wear tan, a lighter olive green, and denim, all of which are lighter, softer tones. This is so we see people first and your portrait looks stunning. Wedding group photos look so good because they’re all wearing the same colors and the people stand out!
  • Choose a top with sleeves at least to the elbow, because your arms take up more skin area than your face and will draw attention. It may also make your arms look larger.
  • Choose long pants for men/women or a skirt below the knee for women so that your legs don’t take attention from your face, and you will be able to sit and bend without showing too much leg.
  • Choose dark socks and footwear (unless preparing for a barefoot photo on the beach), because white sticks out like a sore thumb and that’s all you’ll notice in your portrait.
  • Keep jewelry simple and minimalistic, because too much jewelry takes attention away from your face.
  • Do your hair the way you normally would while wearing your portrait clothes: No fancy updos with jeans, no ponytails with evening gowns, etc. (This is common sense, or so you’d think, but I’ve had ladies go to the hair salon and get fancy updos, then show up in jeans and a t-shirt. It simply doesn’t make sense, because you wouldn’t normally do that when putting on jeans and going to the park for a BBQ or something.) This is because your portrait will be more timeless and represent more closely who you are, not just what you look like.
  • If you plan to get a haircut or new hairdo, make the appointment at least two weeks prior to your portrait session. Fresh haircuts rarely look their best the same day or the next day. Ladies need time to practice working their hair; men need it to grow out just a little. Allow some time to live with your new look before your portrait session.

See a common thread in my notes above? Most people have the same fears about being photographed – yes, fears! Being photographed is right up there on the fear list, next to public speaking and going to the dentist. I kid you not! 

People’s fears are about looking stupid, not knowing how to stand or pose, and looking fat or old. So if you can help them see that these clothing tips will allow them to eliminate at least one of their fears before you even start, then you just have to deal with all the rest later! 

Most of these clothing suggestions have to do with helping subjects look slimmer and not stand out. How to stand and pose to minimize weight issues is another question entirely.

Putting it all together

You may notice that most of the “good” examples here are wearing dark colors.

That’s pretty common, as most people have heard that dark colors or black makes you look slimmer. To some degree, that’s true. But light colors can work, too.

In fact, if everyone in the group dresses similarly, then the one person in dark clothes would stand out. Little kids in denim and white tops with bare feet are super cute, as are little girls in white sundresses.

So don’t be afraid of other colors or tones. Just keep them similar. Some of my largest extended family groups that have done the best went so far as to put each family unit in their own color scheme (one in browns, one in greens, etc.), with the mother and father in another color scheme – all with dark jeans. I’ve also had some ladies buy everyone a matching shirt.

The thing is:

Once you get your subjects on board and understanding the logic behind portrait clothing choices – the “why” – they will go to great lengths to make it work, because they know it’s for their benefit!

clothing for portraits

Clothing for portraits: action plan

If all this portrait clothing advice sounds like a lot and is overwhelming, feel free to copy my list and make a little sheet to hand out to people. Just make sure you add the benefits, as shown in my second list!

The post Clothing for Portraits – How to Tell your Subjects What to Wear appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Darlene Hildebrandt.

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Sony a7S III sample gallery (DPReview TV)

31 Oct

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The Sony a7S III is optimized for video, but its 12MP sensor is very capable and performs well in low light. Our new a7S III sample gallery includes everything from night shots to portraits.

View the Sony a7S III sample gallery

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DPReview TV: Sony a7S III review

31 Oct

Watch our review of the Sony a7S III to find out why Jordan calls it ‘the best camera for run and gun videography’ available today.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel to get new episodes of DPReview TV every week.

  • Introduction
  • Photography
  • Dynamic range
  • Sharpness
  • Rolling shutter
  • Autofocus
  • Video codecs and compression
  • 1080p and slo-mo recording
  • Overheating
  • Electronic viewfinder (EVF)
  • Low light samples
  • White balance
  • Raw video recording
  • High ISO performance
  • Conclusion

Sample gallery from this episode

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Sony a7C sample gallery updated

31 Oct

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The Sony a7C is a full-frame mirrorless camera that’s closer to the size and shape of an a6000-series APS-C model. In fact, its impressively small form factor and highly capable AF helped earn it a Silver Award in our recent review. Take a look at our updated sample gallery, which we’ve updated with images taken throughout the course of our testing, as well as some new Raw conversions.

Read our full Sony a7C review

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Iconic scenes in The Mandalorian were filmed using a Canon 5D Mark III and Nikon lens

31 Oct

The second season of the hit Disney+ series The Mandalorian premiered today and there is fascinating photography associated with the production of the Star Wars spinoff show. For starters, some scenes in the show were shot using the Canon EOS 5D Mark III DSLR camera.

As Digital Camera World points out, not only were scenes shot using the Canon 5D Mark III, but an adapted Nikon 28mm lens was used and the camera operator was John Knoll, co-creator of Photoshop and current effects supervisor and chief creative officer at Industrial Light and Magic (ILM).

If you watched the first season of The Mandalorian and felt like scenes were reminiscent in overall appearance to the original trilogy of Star Wars movies, there’s a good reason for that. While modern technology and computer-generated imagery plays a large role in the production of The Mandalorian, showrunner and series creator Jon Favreau wanted to retain the look and feel of classic Star Wars films. As fans of the franchise are likely aware, the original Star Wars trilogy relied heavily upon physical models to film many of its iconic scenes.

Here you can see the Canon 5D Mark III camera mounted on a rail toward the right edge of the frame. The model of the Razor Crest ship is surrounded by foam board and desert imagery is being projected onto the board.

To recapture the spirit of the older Star Wars movies with The Mandalorian, Industrial Light and Magic created the titular character’s spacecraft, the Razor Crest, in its studio. John Goodson, a longtime ILM model maker created the ship using a 3D printer and tinfoil and Knoll built a 50-foot motion control rig.

In the video above, you can follow along with the team at ILM as they created the Razor Crest ship. This includes its beginnings as concept art to it being physically built and filmed as a practical miniature. We also see Knoll at work filming the first motion control shots at ILM in 15 years. It’s a fascinating look at how iconic objects, such as a protagonist’s ship in a Star Wars series, are created and brought to life.

Of creating the Razor Crest model for filming as a practical miniature, Knoll says that it’s important to strike a balance with the size of the model. You want it large enough that its details hold up when close to the camera, but not so large that it’s difficult to create a dynamic motion shot when running it along a rigged track. Ultimately, the team settled on a model around 24″ long.

The team used a Nikon 28mm lens on the Canon camera. And the man behind the controls? The creator of Photoshop. The production is a blend of photographic history.

Goodson remarked that one of the biggest differences between scenes shot using computer generated graphics versus a scene shot using miniatures is that when using a physical model, you are limited by the availability of mounting points for objects. There are certain angles and shots you simply can’t achieve when using models. However, that look and certain types of motion are also ingrained in people’s memories of older Star Wars movies. The team at ILM worked very hard to make sure that shots of the Razor Crest model evoked that same look as old shots. From the perspective of this Star Wars fan, they nailed it.

(Via Digital Camera World)

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Weekly Photography Challenge – Grey

31 Oct

The post Weekly Photography Challenge – Grey appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Sime.

Very simply – this week’s dPS Weekly Challenge Theme is ‘Grey’ and that can be a sky or a scene or anything that you want to find and photograph, creatively, that is grey or mostly grey! My example is the work table I was using at a recent (pre-covid) food shoot.

Or you can work on your greyscale (More here!)

Weekly Photography Challenge – Grey

Great! Where do I upload my photos?

Simply upload your shot into the comments field (look for the little camera icon in the Disqus comments section) and they’ll get embedded for us all to see. Or, if you’d prefer, upload them to your favourite photo-sharing site and leave the link to them.

Weekly Photography Challenge – Looking Up

Share in the dPS Facebook Group

You can also share your images in the dPS Facebook group as the challenge is posted there each week as well.

If you tag your photos on FlickrInstagramTwitter or other sites – tag them as #DPSGrey to help others find them. Linking back to this page might also help others know what you’re doing so that they can share in the fun.

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The post Weekly Photography Challenge – Grey appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Sime.

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Venus Optics unveils Laowa 15mm F4.5 ‘Zero-D’ Shift lens for full-frame cameras

30 Oct

Venus Optics has announced the release of the Laowa 15mm F4.5 Zero-D Shift, a new lens that takes the crown as the widest shift lens for full-frame camera systems.

The lens is constructed of 17 elements in 11 groups, including two aspherical elements and a new lens coating. It has a 110-degree angle of view, offers a 65mm image circle and can shift +/-11mm on full-frame camera systems (+/-8mm when adapted for medium format cameras, such as Fujifilm GFX and Hasselblad X1D cameras).

Other specifications include a five-blade aperture diaphragm, a 20cm (7.8”) minimum focusing distance and a 360-degree rotation function with clicks every 15-degrees to offer more flexibility when adjusting the shift of the lens. Venus Optics has also developed a specialized lens support that holds the lens towards the front of the barrel so you can keep the lens’ optical axis stable when making your shift adjustments.

Below are a collection of sample shots, provided by Venus Optics:

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The Laowa 15mm F4.5 Zero-D Shift is available to pre-order today for Canon EF, RF, Nikon F, Nikon Z and full-frame Sony E-mount camera systems for $ 1,199 on Venus Optics’ website. The Canon EF and Nikon F mount versions will be available in late November 2020, while the Canon RF, Nikon Z and full-frame Sony E-mount versions won’t be available until February 2021.

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Is the Olympus Sale a Sign of Things to Come for Other Camera Companies?

30 Oct

The post Is the Olympus Sale a Sign of Things to Come for Other Camera Companies? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Carl Spring.

A long time ago (in a galaxy far, far away, or 2014, as most would call it), when I first started writing about photography, I created an article on my photography predictions for 2015.

In that article, I wrote about how one or more manufacturers would stop producing cameras. I specifically named Olympus (and Pentax) as companies I could see not surviving long-term. My prediction has unfortunately come true with the recent Olympus sale (six years later, but I was still right!).

This history lesson shows two things:

  1. Talk of camera manufacturers not surviving has been around forever.
  2. Eventually, some camera companies will fall victim to the ever-shrinking photography market. 

After years of rumors and denials, June 2020 saw the sale of Olympus to Japan Industrial Partners (JIP). This is the same firm that acquired Sony’s VAIO PC business back in 2014. It now seems (although it’s yet to be confirmed) that JIP will most likely be dropping the name “Olympus.”

The sad loss of Olympus shows that digital cameras are an ever-decreasing market and begs the question:

Is Olympus a one-off? Or is the Olympus sale a sign of things to come?

A lifestyle shot of an Olympus OMD camera Olympus sale
Unfortunately, it will not be long before we no longer see the name Olympus on a camera.

A small caveat

For this article, I will simply concern myself with digital camera divisions. I know that companies such as Nikon and Canon have huge businesses outside of cameras, but that doesn’t mean they won’t close their digital camera divisions if they become financially unviable.

What is happening to digital camera sales?

Digital camera sales are still in decline.

To give you a sobering statistic, over 98% of all digital cameras sold are smartphones. As cameras in phones continue to improve, the small percentage of compact digital camera sales will more than likely continue to shrink to zero.

But there will always be a market for more serious digital cameras. Such cameras are aimed at those of us who enjoy photography beyond a snapshot. For those who photograph either for a hobby or an income, there will always be the need for a larger camera with more advanced features. 

That said, figures are continuing to trend downward and are not looking good. There are Japanese analysts who are saying that, unless the industry rapidly changes, it will begin to collapse. How true this is depends on several factors, but one thing is for sure:

We are heading toward rock bottom.

Samsung Smartphone camera
The quality of phone cameras means the compact camera market is shrinking rapidly.

The Corona effect

A recent report by Slackline showed that the camera industry has been hit incredibly hard by COVID-19. The camera market came in at number three on a list of the top 100 fastest-declining e-commerce categories in 2020 (only beaten by luggage and briefcases).

The reason for this is obvious:

People are not traveling or attending events for which they could justify the purchase of a new camera. Add to this many professionals who are simply not upgrading due to a major drop in income, and you are seeing a perfect storm for any camera company that may be struggling financially.

An Olympus camera held by a woman wearing a Miami T Shirt
The perfect holiday camera, if only we could go on holiday.

We are about to hit rock bottom

Back in 2019, Canon president Fujio Mitarai talked about the continuing drop in sales and the expectation that, in two years, the market would drop by around 50%.

Canon estimates that the total market will be about six to eight million prosumer and professional cameras. In 2019, when Mitarai made his statement, the sales of interchangeable lens cameras were estimated to be around 10 million.

When you see figures like that, it is hard to imagine every camera brand still being able to compete.

But who will dominate? And who will be left to follow the route of Olympus?

King Canon

A while back, I said that Nikon & Canon could go the way of Kodak.

But right now, it definitely doesn’t look like Canon is going anywhere. Figures published by Nikkei show that, in 2020, Canon owns 45.4% of the market.

Canon was late to mirrorless technology, and many (myself included) thought the EOS R and EOS RP were subpar compared to what Sony was putting out. However, Canon had huge success with the 5D line, as well as cameras such as the 7D. This meant that many were still happy with their bodies and would only be purchasing lenses, flashes, etc.

It was a misstep by Canon to underestimate mirrorless, but honestly, it didn’t hurt them too much. The sales of the EOS R and RP showed that Canon has a loyal and longstanding fanbase. 

Add to this the release of the EOS R5 and EOS R6, as well as their success (overheating aside), I cannot see Canon losing its market share in the next 12-24 months. So if Canon is safe, who is most at risk?

The Canon EOS R5 camera
Canon’s hottest release, the R5, sees the company continuing to dominate the market.

We need to talk about Pentax

Pentax’s stubborn refusal to move away from the DSLR is a potential sign that they may be heading for significant trouble in the very near future.

In 2020, the company’s statement of “Pentax believes in the future of DSLR photography” seems crazy. The sale of DSLR cameras has dropped massively since 2017.

Reading that first statement, you may think I am bashing Pentax’s managerial decisions, but I feel the problem may lurk a little deeper.

You see, I don’t think Pentax currently has the budget to develop a mirrorless camera from scratch. They have reached a point where they would need significant time and effort to do this, which comes at a significant cost.

Also, part of their recent brand statement was this line:

“When you take a picture with a single-lens reflex (SLR) camera, the light passes through the lens and, in turn, the optical viewfinder. You view the image directly with your eyes, and feel it with your heart.”

This reminded me of Fuji’s “Pure Photography” vision at the launch of the X-Pro3. Could this mean that Pentax is aiming for a niche of customers who will want to continue to use DSLRs? It certainly could be a strategy, but I am not sure how this will work in practice. I don’t think there will be enough DSLR sales to allow this to work. Even if it does, it will seemingly lead to tiny R&D budgets.

Whether it is down to budget or that Pentax truly believes in their vision and wants to create a niche, who knows? One thing that we do know is that the market has moved to mirrorless. By refusing to move with it, Pentax looks too far behind to come back, which is sad to see. 

I truly feel that, as a company, Pentax will slowly fade into obscurity and then close its camera division.

 A Pentax camera in rugged conditions
Will the decision to stick to DSLRs hurt Pentax?

Could one of the big companies follow?

The obvious point this leads to is whether one of the bigger companies will eventually fall. I think it is a case of, “While that is unlikely, nobody is too big to fail.”

The way Nikon has been overtaken in camera sales by Sony signifies a shift in the market. Nikon is set to release a new flagship mirrorless camera very soon, which will likely keep them comfortable for a while.

Here’s the longer-term question, though:

Will the market sustain three major players?

If the answer is “No,” then you would have to say, simply based on recent performance, Nikon looks to be the most likely to fade away. 

I feel the Fab Five of Canon, Sony, Nikon, Fujifilm, and Panasonic are here to stay. All of them are releasing amazing cameras and pushing things forward.

However, I feel that, over time, the market will be dominated by Canon and Sony, with Nikon starting to compete with brands such as Panasonic instead of the new Big Two.

That said, if the leaks about the upcoming Nikon releases are true, I may have to eat my words. 

The high-end specialists

The decline in sales to professionals due to COVID may be posing big issues for brands such as Hasselblad and Phase One. These companies’ main market is almost exclusively professionals who need the very best quality images. Again, the coronavirus issues will be having an effect on sales.

Could this be enough to topple one of these companies? I honestly don’t know, as they play their cards very close to their chests. But there was something I found during my research for this piece that did make me think that all may not be perfect in Hasselblad land.

In a 2019 interview, Hasselblad’s head of sales for Europe, Uwe Moebus, said: “There are fewer professional photographers and it is getting harder and harder for professionals to make decent money.” He then spoke of the desire for amateurs to start using Hasselblad.

These comments hint at a shrinking market for Hasselblad and its need to diversify. With COVID, we will have to assume that this will not have gone as well as hoped and could be the sign of problems to come. 

Hasselblad might struggle after the Olympus sale
Does Hasselblad really need the amateur market?

Video is key if you want to keep up

While photography seemingly continues to decline, the video market is continuously buoyant in comparison.

This is due to YouTube being the new TV and the large number of YouTube channels popping up everywhere. There is also a market for crash cams in major film production. The idea of destroying a brand new camera is heartbreaking for most of us. However, when on a Hollywood budget, a relatively cheap camera that can be used with little regard to its survival (except for the memory card) is perfect for the job. This is a growing market for camera manufacturers.   

The fact that Netflix has approved the use of the Panasonic S1H as a production camera creates a market that goes way beyond photographers and YouTube creators. 

Sony has always been great with video; it is a huge reason for their success. The release of the 12-megapixel a7S III shows Sony releasing mirrorless cameras for video first (if not almost entirely). Obviously, this has become a hot topic (bad pun intended) with the Canon EOS R5. As a stills camera, everyone agrees it is a masterpiece. However, Canon marketed it almost solely based on its video features. All of the complaints, problems, and potential boycotts are based on this.

When shooting in 8K, you can extract a 35-megapixel still frame from the footage. In a field such as headshot photography, where you are looking for the perfect expression, you can now capture 30 shots per second, continuously. Shoot a minute of video, skim through until you find the perfect expression, then export the frame as a large megapixel file. This may well become the future for certain types of photography.

An a7SIII video rig ready to use on set
Sony’s video-first stance is clear to see.

How a decreasing market will be bad for consumers

Those of you reading this are probably part of the shrinking market segment that will continue to buy interchangeable lens cameras.

However, while the market and consumer needs will dictate which companies survive and which fall, the fact is that the Olympus sale will impact the whole industry. 

While I feel that technological developments will continue, budgets for research and development will be cut. Fewer camera sales mean less ability for the engineering departments to push new technology. This may lead to a future with new models having smaller, more incremental updates rather than exciting, huge leaps forward in camera technology.

Again, I feel the future will be driven by video and the developments will come from Sony’s and Canon’s high-end cinema lines.

The thing is, though:

In purely photographic terms, what more do we actually need?

Is it really that bad?

Well, this has all been doom and gloom. Is there any silver lining?

The fact that, even when the market hits the predicted bottom, there will be enough money for several manufacturers to continue working with still gives us hope. The camera launches in 2020 have been spectacular and show no signs of stopping despite the Olympus sale. 

In terms of photography, I really feel we are in a position where technology can no longer give us huge improvements. Maybe a stop more dynamic range here, a little less noise there.

But as a photographer, what else do you need right now? Autofocus systems are amazing. Noise at high ISOs is fantastic. Frames per second are almost video-like. We don’t need new technology; we need more creativity, and that is still solely down to the one who pushes the button.

The post Is the Olympus Sale a Sign of Things to Come for Other Camera Companies? appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Carl Spring.

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Olympus M.Zuiko 12-100mm F4 Pro sample gallery updated

30 Oct

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After perusing some vacation photos and weeping ever so gently for a lost world in which international travel was feasible, I pulled myself together and made some selects to add to our Olympus M.Zuiko 12-100mm F4 Pro sample gallery. From lizards to crocs and jungles to cityscapes, take a virtual visit to Queensland in our updated sample gallery.

And in case you missed it, check out our field review of the Olympus 12-100mm F4 here.

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