Well it’s happening. The sale of Olympus’ camera business is moving forward, on schedule, as of this morning. If you remember, back in June 2020, Olympus signed a “memorandum of understanding” with Japan Industrial partners (JIP) to sell their camera division to JIP, with the finalization expected to come in September.
It’s here. What was referred to as the “New Company” in the June memorandum is now officially OM Digital Solutions Corporation. As of now the new company owns the entirety of Olympus’ imaging business. In January 2021 Olympus will transfer 95% of the stock, leaving them 5% ownership. Seemingly the very same structure that JIP made with Sony for their VAIO computers. Presumably 5% retention will allow JIP to use some of the trademarked names so the cameras can still be Olympus branded.
Accordingly there have been statements that customer service and repair will continue uninterrupted and JIP will continue R&D including fulfilling the current Olympus lens roadmap.
So far, all good news for Olympus users and MFT in general as recently Panasonic reaffirmed it’s commitment to Micro 4/3 with it’s Lumix branding despite its recent entry into the full frame space with the S series of cameras and “L Mount Alliance” with Leica and Sigma.
JIP will continue production in the Viet Nam facility also, seemingly without interruption.
The only thing to wonder about at, this point, is, what will be the future availability of Olympus cameras globally? If they follow the Sony VAIO model, they will concentrate on Asia, and to a lesser extent South America. Asia is definitely Olympus’ strongest market so, I see a real possibility of this happening, especially with the current need in the west to criticize MFT due to the sensor size, and the shrinking camera market and industry issues in general.
It’s not over yet, but if you are an Olympus shooter you can probably breath a temporary sigh of relief. As of right now, this venerable brand has a chance of continuing. At least in the short term.
The politicization of everything has become a thing. Especially in the United States. In our ever divisive and polarized society we have become mavens of controversy. This transcends the current President, and, in fact, pre-dates the current administration by decades. Only recently, though has it taken on such fervor as we see in present times.
Photography can and should be used as a social tool. In most cases an activist photographer can espouse his (or, indeed, her) view through the medium alone. Images can be confrontational and should be controversial. However if you are a photographer, a title for which the definition is becoming increasingly flexible of late, that is hosting a platform of some sort for public consumption, please stop intermingling your political views with your photography content. In my day-to-day life, I am confronted with enough opinion and news (often editorial opinion in disguise – for either side) to satisfy my need for updates on current events in the broad spectrum. Photography is, for me, an avocation and sometimes vocation. I pursue it and study it mainly for pleasure and at times, for profit. I do not need to become privy to your particular political doctrine. On that note, let me assure you that this is not directed to any one set of political beliefs. I have unsubscribed from several YouTube channels on both sides of the spectrum, for being idiots.
Let me clarify a few things. Yes, this is the USA and we do have the strength of the First Amendment regarding free speech and expression. You, indeed, may use your YouTube channel for whatever type of content you wish, provided it meets YouTube’s standards. However, I fully understand that I have a thing called freedom of choice. I have, and reserve, the right to not view your channel if I do not like the content. So If you’re thinking “don’t like it, don’t watch it” I already am aware of, and, indeed, have taken that step.
My issue is with content creators or “influencers” in a specific genre, in this case photography, switching gears to post blatantly political content sometimes with misleading headlines or titles. In this case, I am greatly disappointed and, if it is repeated enough, find the need to unsubscribe from a channel that offers otherwise lucid, intelligent, and entertaining content.
If you feel that, as a content creator, you have some sort of responsibility to voice your political (or religious for that matter) views, then please establish a second platform for that purpose.
You see, again, I have a day job. In the course of my day I am exposed to all sorts of people and, often, by human nature, various discussions regarding current events and politics. Between this and just dealing with “normal” job stress, I look forward to my own time and being able to consume photography, or other content as a method of relaxation. I do not want to be preached to, opined at, or politically educated. Especially when I am sucked into it by a deliberate bait and switch maneuver. Of course I don’t think that this applies just to photography channels. It applies to content in general. I know where to look if I want to find controversial and divisive content, and I can find the educational content of my choice, without any help thank you. I am pretty sure, based on some of the comments I’ve read, that I am not the only one that feels this way. I guess the creators can’t be blamed because YouTube, and social media in general, is really, at its core, just a popularity contest where – the one with the most clicks wins.
Again photography can, and should be confrontational and controversial. Photographers should not.
So I guess I would have to say that if you have a YouTube channel, Or other social media platform, that is not socially or politically oriented you need to reflect on who your audience is and what they expect. Also examine what your own core competency is and if your are engaging in the above behaviors, why you think you are so special that the rest of us might be interested in your opinion. Especially since we have chosen to invite you into our homes and lives, even if briefly. We all know enough, I would hope, not to discuss politics or religion as a guest in someone’s home.
Now, of course, let me ad some political content here.
The 24-70mm lens, especially an f/2.8 version is considered by some experts to be the most important lens in every photographer’s kit. It is also considered to be the middle lens in the so-called “Holy Trinity” of lenses, which is usually comprised of a 12-24mm f/2.8 (or a 14-24mm f/2.8), a 24-70mm f/2.8, and a 70-200mm f/2.8. This, of course gives you all focal lengths from extreme wide angle to moderate telephoto in just three lenses. However the 24-70 is one of the most boring lenses out there and doesn’t offer any real advantages for most photographers. Even though most describe it as a “walk around” lens, implying that it should be your regular lens.
Everybody has their own personal taste in focal length and composition and I sort of touched on that in my last post. The camera companies however have, over time, settled on the 24-70 as being sort of standard, or possibly a 28-70 (18-50ish in APS-C). I think this is because it gives the new camera owner a chance to experiment with a variety of focal lengths.
However Most of the focal lengths in the 24-70, I rarely use. I tend to stick toward the wider end or the 40-60mm neighborhood. I think most photographers are the same to some extent. Most of what I have read online, from the photographers that use the Trinity lenses, most seem to spend the majority of their time with the 12(14)-24mm and 70-200.
My own, most often used, kit (Sony) consists of 16-35 f/4 50mm f/1.8, and 70-200 f/4. Like a lot of people I stay at the wide end most of the time with the 16-35mm. Yes, for me, f/4 is fine for the type of shooting that I do, f/2.8 is not necessary enough to justify the added expense.
Now I do have the 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens that came with my Sony A7II, and did use it quite a bit, mainly because when I purchased the camera, the lens came with it and it (at the time) was the only full frame E-mount lens I had.
As I began to examine the EXIF data for some of those photos, I seemed to stay in either the 40-60 mm range or below 35mm.
Looking at the Sony lens library the only 24-70mm native offerings are the Zeiss f/4 and the G Master f/2.8. The Zeiss currently retails new for $799.00 USD and the G Master is $2198.00 USD. Talk About extremes. Of course as the Sony brand has matured, there are other, more budget friendly offerings from the aftermarket, most notably Sigma and Tamron. The Zeiss 16-35mm f/4 is $1298.00 USD and gives you wider focal lengths while still getting you into the commonly used 24mm and 35mm fields of view. For me, this lens hits the “sweet spot” in price, IQ, and focal range, and still stays in the native eco-system.
If I need a little bit longer, I can go to the “Nifty Fifty”. For portrait and some landscapes, I will break out the 85mm f/1.8, but I really don’t use it for that much and tend to view it (in my mind) as a strictly portrait lens. If I really need 70mm (or longer), I have the 70-200 f/4 that will cover it. Really, ultimately, I could leave the 50mm at home and be just fine with the 16-35mm and 70-200mm for 80%-90% of my photography. Remember, even if the lens zooms, you can still “zoom with your feet” to get the right composition.
Lets look at some images:
As you can see from the information, three of these could have been shot with the 50mm f1.8 and the remaining two, of course with the 16-35mm. Of course some will say that I could have captured all of them with a 24-70, and that is true but I couldn’t do this;
So in the end, I and many others do not find the 24-70mm to be a necessity and the funds are better spent elsewhere.
When I first started this whole photography journey back in the 1980s just about every camera came with some version of a 50mm lens. What we now call a “Nifty Fifty” usually F/2 or maybe f/1.8 and sometimes even f/2.8 depending on the brand. Then, a 50mm was considered to be a “standard” lens because it, according to the experts, nearly replicates human vision, at least in terms of perspective and compression, and 50mm somewhat approximates the diagonal measurement of a single frame of 35mm film.
Of course like anything else, especially in photography, some of this is subject to debate. Mainly is the 35mm closer to human vision than the 50mm? And of course Pentax mixing it all up with a 43mm that they claim is the ideal.
Now, of course, the standard is to offer a short zoom. Something in the range of 28-70mm or a 35-80mm (18-55mm or 16-50mm ish for APS-C cameras since we are in the digital era)
All of that said, it remains that most cameras then were sold with a 50mm and though it has been a popular lens over time, I never liked the framing though I did warm to it eventually. My goal with almost every camera I’ve ever owned was to get some sort of a telephoto. Preferably a zoom. I quickly found that a tele would change the field of view and compression, allow me to take photos from a distance, and get in closer to things I couldn’t with a 50mm. I need to confess, in the early days it also made you look more “Pro”.
My first long lens was a third party 135mm f/2.0 prime in K-mount for my venerable Pentax K1000. It did open up a lot of creative possibilities for me, so I was hooked on the idea of teles. Regrettably I didn’t save any images from those days.
Fast forward a few years and I had begun to move into the, then, relatively new Canon EOS system, primarily for the autofocus. My first long lens in that system was, again a third party lens, a Quantaray 70-210mm f/4-5.6. A pretty standard consumer tele zoom in those days. For this unfamiliar with the brand, it was the Ritz Camera house brand made by some other manufacturer (possibly Sigma) and rebranded for Ritz. Easy to come by because there was a Ritz Camera in about every mall ever. Even at the consumer level I remember this lens was a little pricey, least for me. Since the Rebel camera I had at the time came with a 35-80mm kit lens, the addition of 70-210mm gave me quite a range of focal lengths. Eventually I moved up to a better camera and better lenses in the EOS system, where I stayed until just a few years ago when I switched to Sony (as many have). For the most part though, the long zoom was always a staple in my camera bag.
As the years past I became more and more interested in wider angle lenses first going to a 28mm prime then the various wider zooms. Right now my most used lens is a Sony Zeiss 16-35mm f/4 which seems to cover most of my photography. I will confess I still own a long tele zoom – a Sony 70-200mm f/4 – and, yes, I own a “nifty Fifty.
I seem to favor the perspective at the wider end, but you do have to be careful about what is included in the shot as anything wider than 28mm potentially can add a lot of distracting elements to your photos.
All in all, I think that the switch to a wider angel comes from a maturing of my composition process. Zooming in to one or two elements of a composition can be a great technique to be sure. However sometimes it pays huge dividends to take a wider approach and include more in the image, giving more context to the photo.
Leave a comment and let me know your shooting preference. Wide angle or telephoto?
This was taken during my community’s emergence from COVID-19 restrictions. It was in the back of an antique mall. An area that is publicly accessible so, it wasn’t as if I was someplace that I wasn’t supposed to be or any thing.
This is an area that has some inventory for sale, but is in the back and from the looks of things, I assume this particular space is fairly cheap for the vendors.
As I saw this it made me more than uneasy for maybe some obvious reasons. considering the mood and stress of the times this particular composition seemed to take on a host of different meanings as I thought about it
We could probably assign a lot of lockdown and quarantine meaning to it.
Does it somehow apply to the Black Lives Matter movement?
Is there some sort of broad societal meaning other than that?
At the end of the day is it just a photo of some mannquins?
Photography should make you think. Sometimes your own images can do that. Is that a valid reason to make them? I would have to say that it is one of the best reasons to make them. Making the viewer think is great, but making the photographer think is better, that’s how we improve.
Is the Sony A600 still worth owning or buying in 2020. The short answer is yes. The long answer is still yes, but with some qualifications.
Lets look at the specs for the A6000;
24.3 Megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor
BINZ X image processor
3” LED Screen
11 FPS continuous shooting
Excellent autofocus (both accuracy and speed) even by 2020 standards
There are a couple of cons to the deal;
No IBIS – you must use Sony’s Optical Steady Shot (OSS) lenses
Only one card slot
Old style battery – very limited life
No mic jack – problematic for video shooters
No headphone jack
All this from a camera first introduced in 2014.
So where does that leave it in 2020. For stills shooters, it’s still one of the best pieces of kit out there – the only issue might be IBIS but that’s not that big deal for stills if you are careful.
For video, there are better choices mainly because of built in mic jacks. The only good solution for A6000 shooters is to use an external audio recorder like the Zoom H1 and then sync audio and video in post. An extra step that requires a short learning curve to be sure. However, the video output from the A6000 even though it’s only 1080p is still quite good.
As to resolution the newest full frame from Sony, the A7C has 24.2 Megapixels, and the new Panasonic Lumix S5 comes in at the same. To be sure both cameras have features that the A6000 does not, and are full frame, but that does not make the A600 irrelevant in 2020.
The most attractive part of the A6000 right now is the price. While most other options are well over $1,000.00 USD with many approaching $2K, at the time of this writing the A6000 can be has, brand new, with the 16-50 f/3.5-5.6 kit lens for around $550.00 USD. Thats quit a deal in today’s camera market.
I may be a little prejudiced, as the A6000 is what started my journey into mirrorless and pulled me away from my canon DSLRs. You can find a more in depth, real world review by clicking here along with more photos.
All in all if you are looking for a good interchangeable lens, compact mirrorless camera for stills and maybe limited video, the Sony A6000 is still a good choice. Even in 2020.
Please leave a comment and let me know what you think!
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty starring Ben Stillerisa 2013 adaptation of a short story by James Thurber, first published in The New Yorker magazine in 1939. Actually this is the second film adaptation of the story, the first, starring Danny Kaye was released in 1947. Both films deal with introverted editors with a penchant for fantasy and daydreaming, Kaye’s Mitty is employed by Pierce Publishing as an editor while Stiller’s Mitty character is employed by Life Magazine as a “Negative Assets Manager” which, in the film, is another title for a – sort of – photo editor.
Overall, I enjoyed both films, but I have a bit of an issue with the 2013 version, and, no, I don’t care how accurately it does or does not follow the original 1939 Thurber story, or the 1947 film.
Life Magazine was an inestimable cultural influence. Though the magazine was published continuously from 1883-1972, its real “life” as a daily influencer (as we would probably call it now) was from 1936 onward when it was purchase by Time Inc. magnate Henry Luce. In fact during its heyday as a weekly publication the magazine sold some 13.5 million copies per month. In October 1978 the magazine was revived as a monthly, published until 2000
The original motto of Life Magazine published with its first issue in 1883 was;
“Where there’s Life, There’s hope”
Far from what we are told in the 2013 film version. In fact the film tries to portray the era in which Life was transitioning from being a Sunday supplement (think Parade Magazine or USA Weekend) with occasional special issues commemorating its past, to a strictly online presence. This 2004-2007 era is the time period for the 2013 film. During this period, Life’s motto actually was;
“America’s Weekend Magazine”
Certainly a far cry from what is purported in the film to be Life’s motto in the Stiller film;
Problematically, this motto has taken on a sort of “life” of its own. It seems that a lot of people are taking it as sort of a personal life mission statement attaching way more significance to it than it deserves. Sort of what happened with the 1993 novel The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield. The internet is rife with innumerable trinkets and tchotchkes with the film’s motto variously etched, printed and engraved on them.
The truth of the matter is that during the planning of Life Magazine during its 1936 purchase, owner Henry Luce distributed an internal prospectus with the following statement;
“To see life; to see the world; to eyewitness great events; to watch the faces of the poor and the gestures of the proud; to see strange things — machines, armies, multitudes, shadows in the jungle and on the moon; to see man’s work — his paintings, towers and discoveries; to see things thousands of miles away, things hidden behind walls and within rooms, things dangerous to come to; the women that men love and many children; to see and take pleasure in seeing; to see and be amazed; to see and be instructed”.
Certainly more complex and evocative than the overly simplified lines than were given in the film and certainly stating the very essence of the “why” behind photography.
Proof that simpler is not necessarily better.
So maybe the writers didn’t think the public could digest all of that? Maybe they oversimplified it to fit our modern attention span? I wholly prefer the real statement to the abbreviated one in the film as it is more than just a slogan, it has depth and meaning. Meaning enough to entice a sort of Hall of Fame of Photographers to shoot for the magazine over the years; Margaret Bourke-White, Robert Capa, Alfred Eisenstaedt, W. Eugene Smith, Gordon Parks were just a few of the photographers that were immortalized within the magazine’s pages practicing the “why” of photography.
Best quote from the movie?
Sean O’Connell: Sometimes I don’t (take the picture). If I like a moment, for me, personally, I don’t like to have the distraction of the camera. I just want to stay in it.
Sort of following along with the previous two posts, I though I would post a little about my recent preservation project.
I have ended up as the custodian for my Father’s slide collection. About 500-700 Kodachromes most of which were taken in the 1950s – 1960s.
I remember the living room slide shows from my youth and still sort of remember the subject of most of the images and around when they were made. Of course there were many where I didn’t remember the people or location so I culled those out. Some people wouldn’t have, but most of the slides are around 60-70 years old and have not been stored properly over the decades and are pretty severely damaged. They are contaminated with what I think is either mold or fungus and many have actual damage to the emulsion. To preserve them for the future is going to require some work and so I reduced the workload by culling out that which is inconsequential to the story.
So let me give you a quick overview of the process.
First I needed a scanner of some sort. For reviewing the slides I still had my old light box and loupe from the 1990’s. Now I needed to transfer them to digital. After some pretty thorough research I settled on the Epson Perfection V600 Photo scanner. A pretty basic flatbed scanner that is photo-centric and way better than some of the cheaper models that simply digitize the image to an SD card as a low resolution JPEG.
I like the Epson V600 mainly because, through their scanning app, I can choose resolution and file type. So I am not limited to JPEG. After some experimentation, a resolution of 4800 ppi and .Tiff files seems the best solution in this case.
I don’t have any need for any other scanning software than comes standard with the scanner. So far I have been extremely happy with the results.
After scanning is when the fun begins (that was sarcasm by the way). I scan them to a folder on my desktop then import them to Lightroom (Classic not Mobile). After a brief look over, I send them from Lightroom to Photoshop where the real work begins.
With extensive use of the healing brushes and clone stamp tool, I am able to remove the fungus/mold contamination, and repair the damage. Then I save them back to Lightroom and make some basic adjustment to try and preserve the original colors.
So far, it’s taken me about 30-90 minutes per image to have them done to my taste.
When they’re done, I am taking the standard precautions with the finished files: One copy on my computer, one copy in cloud storage, and one copy on a portable drive, and last, my personal precaution of printing the best of the selects.
I have no illusions, this is going to be a long term project. But I think that it will be worth it in the end.
Let me know what you think. Leave a comment.
Stay safe, see the world your own way, and thanks for reading.
In my last post, I stated that the print completes the photograph and results in the tangible thing that can actually be called a photograph as opposed to a digital image on a screen. Are there other reasons to print your work? Do you have to spend a good deal of money to print? If you are satisfied with the digital product, what is the point of printing?
There are a lot reasons to print, aside from just the completion process. Firstly as I mentioned before it “future proofs” your work. Anyone who has been around the photographic process for any time understands the idea of preserving their work. You can have all of the digital storage you want. On site, off site, portable, and cloud storage. If you implement the standard doctrine of three places of storage with one portable and one off site, your work will probably be safe for the foreseeable future. Don’t count on it for the long term. There are several different types of digital storage that have become obsolete (like floppy discs) and some that are quickly becoming so (CD ROMS or DVDs anyone?). Prints in a box or album or whatever do not need a “device” to view, and will not become “un-openable” due to file corruption or obsolescence. Prints are always copiable and convertible to a digital format without destruction. In short, prints are as close to permanent as you can get. If you are any kind of serious photographer, it is the best insurance you can have. This doesn’t mean you have to print all of your work. Just what you think are the best images for posterity.
Thankfully I have prints that I no longer have the original digital file or transparency/negative for. They have been lost over the years, I still have the prints though, and wish I had more of them.
Photography is not supposed to be transient. Rather it is supposed to have a sense of permanence. If you are around 20 years old or older, you probably have a relative that has boxes full of old photographs. Some may be in albums and none stored correctly. Of course, as digital photography has progressed, and as social media has become so pervasive people have stopped doing this. However, that old box of photos is a treasure trove of memories. It has preserved the past in a sense. Nostalgia. The digital environment will never be able to compete. There is no comparison to the joy of looking through a box of forgotten photos or an old and valued family album and the quick scrolling through someone’s Instagram feed to see their latest photos. One is a quick experience that may elicit some comments the other becomes a deeper experience as you hold the photograph in your hands. What you are holding is a document of the past and it will exist into the future.
Prints can be had for very little expense. If you just shoot typical snapshots on your phone, you can take that phone to your local big box store and have 4”x 6” prints made for about 35 cents apiece. So you could have 100 prints for around $35.00 USD and go shopping in the process. When you get home, you can start your own shoebox of memories. Of course the same applies if you use a camera, you can just take your memory card and do the same. Of course for a little more money you can have bigger prints made. If you want higher quality or prints larger than about 11”x14” there are myriad online printers that can fulfill your needs at many different price points. Having prints made can be as simple and inexpensive, or as complex and expensive as you would like – your choice. The best part is with any of these options you don’t even have to leave home. Even the big box stores have online options where you can upload your file, pay, and it will be shipped directly to you. Not having the time or the money really isn’t a consideration.
Home printing is another story. The average budget priced all-in-one printer for the home will work in a pinch, but is not the best suited device for the job. In reality you should have a specialized and dedicated photo printer. Ranging in price from a few hundred to thousands of dollars for the printer itself, not to mention ink and paper, you are looking at an investment in equipment and consumables. Choosing and using a printer is really a subject in and of itself. There are other things too, like ICC paper profiles and monitor calibration. Suffice to say I, and many other people find it very rewarding and with a fairly budget minded set up, I can make prints up to A3 size (13”x19”) that rival lab made prints made by specialists
Ultimately, all things are impermanent and everything is transient. Neither a digital image not a print will live forever but the print will develop a life of its own.
The thing of it is to print. How you print and how frequently you print is your choice – even IF you print is your choice. But why wouldn’t you?
Ansel Adams wrote three fundamental books during his lifetime that are considered must reads for photographers The Camera, The Negative, and The Print. The point of these writings was to explain the importance of each according to him, and ultimately how all three things resulted in the photograph. Undeniably, the camera is now, and was then the most important part of the equation, obviously without the camera there cannot be a photograph.
Regarding The Negative, despite the seeming resurgence of film, this volume today would be better titled The File. The intent of course is to state the importance of the image in its raw state as that thing which will, ultimately once printed, result in a Photograph.
The series ends with The Print, stating the obvious, that to the author, a photograph does not exist until the finished print is created. More importantly in Adams’ view, until the photographer has made a print that conveys their exact vision. However at the time of his writings it must be stated that not all photographers were printers and not all printers were photographers. Indeed, many famous photographers left the printing to someone else, only giving direction as to how they wanted the final image to look through cropping, dodging and burning.
Currently we seem to think that an image posted on the internet social media site of choice constitutes a finished photo. Now most photographers have become editors, spending far too much time fiddling around with every image in the editing software of their choice, and then, oddly, not printing it. Now, as then, an image does not constitute a photograph until it is printed. Whether created with a home printing set up, quite akin to the film darkroom of the past, or outsourced to a professional printer, it doesn’t matter and is the photographers choice, but the result is the same, a finished photograph. On a side note in the pre-digital era, many photo labs advertised “Photo Finishing” as their service. This meant that they developed and printed your film, thereby “finishing” the process started by the photographer. The obvious conclusion can be drawn, no print = not finished.
Why then is a print an actual photograph when a digital file on social media isn’t? Because despite what you might believe, a photograph is a thing, and things can only exist in reality. Basically, if you can’t touch it, it is not a thing, it is just the idea of a thing.
I know there are some people who will say that digital art is now a thing due to the progression of technology. No, sorry. I have yet to see, or hear of a strictly digital art exhibit, of any consequence, wherein all art is viewed in a gallery setting on screens. When I came to this realization, I had to ask why? Could it be because the public at large still considers art to be a tangible thing? Then photography by extension would still have to be a tangible thing. Even if it doesn’t always rise to the standard of “Art”.
Aside from just completing the photographic process by printing (whatever method you choose), it is also a way of “future proofing your work. Most prints when created on a proper photo printer, on photo paper, are to some degree archival and could be expected to last 25 or more years (with certain inks and papers, Canon promises 100 years, I think the jury is still out on that claim though). That should be enough of a reason to print. Consider it the final step in preserving your work once you have taken the standard storage precautions with your digital files.
Stay safe, see the world your own way and thanks for reading.