July 20, 1969

It’s already 2020 so, 51 years ago, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed the Lunar Module “Eagle” on the surface of the moon. Shortly after, with “one small step for man”, Neil Armstrong made a “giant leap for mankind” by being the first human being to set foot on the moon. While Michael Collins orbited above the lunar surface in the Command Module.

Exciting stuff. I was just eight years old, and my parents made sure I got to see it on live television! Of course growing up during those years we saw almost every space launch and recovery from Mercury 1 to Apollo 11 And beyond, and it was all amazing.

As an adult, I am a complete sucker for any book, movie, or pretty much anything else that deals with the 1960’s space program in a factual way.

Which brings me to the most recent book I have read. Moon Shot, By Alan Shepard and Deke Slayton – two of the original Mercury Astronauts.


This is a pretty amazing and thorough book from 1994 that was evidently made into a mini series (that I somehow missed) on PBS. What makes this different from most books on the subject is that it follows the space program from the very beginning to the first moon landing, and through to the Apollo-Soyuz joint mission that pretty much ended the Apollo program and was Deke Slayton’s one and only space flight after being grounded due to an intermittent heart condition during the Mercury program.

All in all, a very well written and interesting read, if you are inclined toward such material, and a perfect time to read it.


– stay safe, see the world through your own eyes, and thanks for reading.




Olympus and Pentax a Moment of Contrast

One of the biggest developments in the camera industry occurred a few weeks ago when Olympus (after months of denial) announced a pending deal to sell their camera division to equity capital firm Japan Industrial Partners (JIP).

Of course this is the cause of much uncertainty and angst amongst the Olympus loyalists, but has been an occasion of near celebration for Olympus’s detractors and other critics of the MFT format. To be certain though, Olympus has a long, illustrious, and innovative history as a camera manufacturer and it is sad to see them go, and go they will joining the ranks of Minolta, Konica, Yashica, Contax, Polaroid, Bronica, Mamiya, and may others.

Most people who are in the photography world want to know Olympus’s future. Especially those heavily invested in the Olympus system. Most likely Olympus will become a very small regional brand mostly offered for sale in Asia, where they have one of the highest market shares of any brand, and some parts of Europe and South America where JIP has had previous success.  A sad end to what once was a highly innovative camera company that offered somewhat revolutionary products. That is exactly what happened to the Vaio computer brand that Sony sold to the same company years ago. It’s a shadow of its former self.

olympusMost of Olympus’s innovation though, was in the golden age of film photography from the late 1960’s through the 1980’s. Admirably they followed their own ethos in design and engineering rather than just jump on the bandwagon of the next big thing. Unfortunately, as a result, they didn’t adapt to the autofocus revolution of the late 1980’s and were slow to enter the DSLR market in the early 2000’s and when they did, they chose the 4/3 sensor format and relentlessly pursed that format continuously until now and, probably will, into the foreseeable future. Olympus has also been heavily invested, since the 1990’s in the consumer camera market which has been all but obliterated by the smart phone. Take these ingredients and add in a major financial scandal that lead to major losses some years back and include three recent consecutive years of zero profits from their camera division and you have a recipe for ruin.

Meanwhile there’s Pentax. Another camera manufacturer that has had a very similar arc to Olympus. 


Much like Olympus, in the digital era Pentax has been a niche company relying on brand loyalty rather than quantum innovation. Pentax offers competent technology with a range of innovative features including (like Olympus) high quality weather sealing for both bodies and lenses, and class leading image stabilization.

Pentax recently doubled down, in a news release, not only on their commitment to the digital camera but also, in the era of mirrorless camera market dominance, committing exclusively to the DSLR, which by the assessment of most internet pundits and self appointed experts is a dead technology. 

I find this fascinating as both are niche companies with a very small share of an ever shrinking camera market. One appears to be thoroughly committed to serving their market share while the other has thrown in the towel.

Why the difference? Olympus was the only photo-centric company to exclusively embrace the micro four thirds format. To be certain Panasonic was exclusively MFT for years. Until the development of the full frame LUMIX S1 and entry into the “L-mount Alliance” with Leica and Sigma, and even before the S1, LUMIX, while offering incredibly competent photo cameras were widely known and embraced for their video capabilities. Olympus never cracked that market. They were known primarily as the MFT option for the stills photographer. Ironically Pentax has never been a real contender in the video arena either. The difference, if it makes a difference, is they offer both APS-C and full frame sensors.

So why then does one fail and the other continue? Both are divisions of larger companies that maintain a significant presence in other areas of imaging, specifically medical and industrial applications. 

Perhaps Olympus could not recover from their past financial issues? That may be playing a part. I don’t think that it is their relentless insistence in supporting the MFT format exclusively. Real photographers know better – MFT is perfectly usable at every level – yes even for professionals. It is, in fact, the preferred format for photographing birds, wildlife, and some action sports due to the crop factor. 

Perhaps in retrospect, they had too diverse a product line? Currently Olympus offers at least six different camera models aimed at everyone from the casual user to the serious working photographer. Some models are currently offered in two iterations like the OM-D E-M1 which is currently for sale in both the Mkll and Mklll versions at the same time. The MK lll being almost prohibitively priced at some $1700.00 (ish) USD. Pentax offers their Full Frame K1-ll at the same price point. While in MFT LUMIX offers their comparative G9 for $700.00 less and Olympus, competes against themselves offering their OM-D E-M1 Mkll at the same G9 price point. For the person entering the Olympus ecosystem, this is confusing at best.

Pentax, however, in a much simpler marketing scheme offers but four bodies all DSLR, three APS-C and one Full Frame. A much more streamlined product line that offers two sensor size options while also offering enough variations and options to suit just about any photographer that is inclined to buy into the Pentax system. This appears to be a much more sensible marketing approach in an uncertain industry.

Olympus and Pentax, two historically similar companies that for decades followed the same basic path, then diverged. On survives (at least for now) and one doesn’t. 

– stay safe, see the world through your own eyes, and thanks for reading.

Masks for Dummies in the Era of COVID-19

Well this isn’t a photography related post but it is an issue that is in the forefront right now and I think needs to be addressed.

No doubt we currently live in strange times. As I write this we are experiencing an upswing in Covid-19 cases and my state has made wearing masks or ”face coverings” in public mandatory.

Of course there are still members of the great illiterati that have a sufficiently low IQ so as to think that mask wearing is somehow a sign of weakness or represents a lack of masculinity or some other bit of ridiculousness. Well let me dispel that for you. If you aren’t worried about getting COVID-19 fine. I’m pretty certain that the rest of us don’t really care if you do or not. Guess what? This isn’t about you.

Wearing a mask is a sign of strength and the best way to “man up”. In case you didn’t notice, the mask is not necessarily supposed to protect you. That’s a side benefit. It’s for the protection of others, like your family. So don’t wear a mask and bring the disease home to your family and let them suffer. Oh, make sure that while a loved one is in hospital on a respirator that you remind them that you are the one who made them sick – so that they can further bask in your masculinity and strength.

Masculinity or manliness (if you like that word better) is not about taking chances and posturing. It is about taking care of those that you care about. That’s not a point for debate. Taking care of your loved ones usually requires sacrifice. It requires you to put others above yourself. So if you refuse to wear a mask when you need to, that actually is the ultimate sign of weakness and selfishness – in short you’re acting out and behaving like a petulant child.

Let’s address another bit of stupidity. I had a customer at my workplace recently who wasn’t wearing a mask and his response was “I won’t bow to tyranny” at which point we asked him to leave and told him he could call from the parking lot and we would be more than happy to help him that way.

Ok .. I almost get it. You don’t want to be told what to do. In a broad sense, neither do I, however this is a stupid hill on which to plant your flag.  I am pretty sure that you have auto insurance, wear a seatbelt, and pay income tax. The ship has already sailed on the whole “bowing” thing, dumbass. This is the stupidest position ever. 

Nowhere in the history of natural rights is the premise that you have the right to potentially harm someone else through negligence.

Are you one of those morons that thinks COVID-19 is a hoax of some sort? Get a grip. It is not a hoax. Stop the stupidity right there. COVID-19 is real, it exists, and people get sick and die from it. Statistically you probably don’t know anyone who has it – right now only one in about 450 Americans has it. If you don’t know anyone who is infected, it does seem nonexistent. Of course the problem here is that just because someone doesn’t show symptoms, doesn’t mean they aren’t infected and contagious. So, I guess if you want some sort of proof that it is not a hoax, go ahead and not wear a mask – that way, sooner or later you or someone you know will have it. 

So in the end, wearing a mask and social distancing are steps that work to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. It’s been proven, it works – period and it is the responsible thing to do.

– stay safe and see the world through you own eyes and thank you for reading.

Sony 12-24mm f/2.8 GMaster Lens

Ah, the sights and smells of summertime. New cameras and lenses are born into the world celebrating new life for the camera industry.

Yes, that was sarcasm. I am so over the semi-annual new gear introductions that are nothing more than incremental improvements, for the most part anyway.

So, Sony has announced. Their new FE 12-24mm f/2.8 G-master zoom which by all all accounts so far is a tour de force in optical design and engineering. An extreme wide angle 2X zoom with a rectilinear design that almost completely eliminates any of the normal distortion or “fisheye” effect that you would  get from such an extreme wide angle lens. At  f/2.8. The fast aperture itself offers moderate but good bokeh which, again, is almost unheard of in wide angle lenses that normally offer excellent depth of field characteristics. You don’t normally think of this type of lens as being any kind of bokeh beast. On top of all of that the lens has, effectively, no chromatic aberration or color fringing and almost zero noticeable vignetting. Amazing!


This could be an architectural photographer’s perfect lens and it probably has a lot of use for  landscape photography. Of course it could be used for photojournalism and documentary work with prudence and caution. Actually it could find a place in almost. Any photographers kit – except for the price. 


Wait what?

$3,000.00? That is just an absurd price – full stop. I do not care how “good” or “amazing” it is. I used to think Sony’s FE 24-70-mm f/2.8 G-master at over $2,000.00 (for what is essentially a “walk around” lens) was ridiculous but this far surpasses their previous idiocy especially since they also offer a 12-24mm f/4 “G” version for significantly less and is probably at least 90% as good as this lens.

Perhaps I am the wrong consumer for this lens because I don’t get the value proposition. If this were, say, a Leica lens, I would understand. I still wouldn’t be interested because I am not a Leica shooter but at least I understand their value proposition.

Sony is not Leica. Sony does not have a history of superior optical design and hand craftsmanship. Sony is, first and foremost, an electronics company that makes great digital cameras. Great in the sense that they work well, are well constructed and eminently useable. They offer a reasonably complete lens library and have a good amount of third party support.

In short, they have matured their camera division into a formidable force in the industry competing fully for market share with Nikon and Canon. This still does not merit a $3K lens. 

If that last bit sounded pretty cynical, well, it is. Even as a Sony shooter, who is familiar with their penchant for overpricing I am still surprised at this latest bit of ridiculousness. 

I doubt that sales figures for this lens will be stellar.

In the meanwhile – stay safe, see the world through your own eyes and thank you for reading.

Things Get In The Way

I can’t believe that its been over a year since I last updated the blog. As they say though, stuff happens.

First, if you read my Easter post from 2019, I talked a little bit about “Pete the Pilot”. Well, Pete’s dead. He died in a traffic accident protecting my wife and I. The accident broke my shoulder/collar bone pretty badly and I still have some pain and stiffness from the injury.  My wife is fine and didn’t even get so much as a scratch from the incident.

Next, I took a new position with a different company where I have more responsibilities than before (with a commensurate pay increase). With the new position, we had to relocate to a new city.

Then there’s the whole Coronavirus/COVID-19 thing. Fortunately we are essential workers at my company so, we haven’t seen some of the financial difficulties that some folks have.

Having said all that I think it’s time to start writing again.

Thanks for reading.


Photo News Update March 13, 2019


Here are some photography related news highlights from the last few days.

Leica – The venerable German camera manufacturer from Wetzlar just announced the new Q2, a second generation digital fixed lens compact camera with a full frame 47.3 megapixel sensor, a fixed 28mm f/1.7 Summilux lens, and a top ISO of 50,000. All for the low price of nearly $5K US.

Click here to view the Leica press release.

Leica Q2

Nikon – Some of the rumor sites are showing what are, supposedly, leaked images of what might be the Nikon Z 1 – a more entry level oriented Nikon mirrorless Z series camera that is, evidently, aimed at the EOS RP market segment and it might have a DX (APS-C) sensor. 

Flickr – Photo storage and social networking site Flickr (which was recently acquired by SmugMug) just announced that Creative Commons photos will be exempt from the recently imposed 1,000 image limit for free accounts. 

Click here for the Creative Commons post.

Also, deceased members are eligible for an “in memoriam” account that preserves their images, regardless of number, in perpetuity at no charge, even if they were a paying Pro member.

Click here for info on “in memoriam” accounts.

Meike – Chinese budget lens manufacturer Meike just announced an 85mm f/1.8 manual focus lens for the Sony E-mount APS-C. It looks, physically, as if aperture is controlled through the camera instead of the more traditional aperture adjustment ring normally found on manual focus lenses. According to early pre-release press coverage it should retail for under $200.00 USD.  

Link here

Meike 85
Meike 85mm f/1.8 e-mount lens

Yongnuo- Another Chinese manufacturer, who for the last several years, has made a name for themselves offering copies of Canon EF lenses at highly affordable prices, recently announced an Android powered camera with a Micro Four Thirds sensor and, a Canon EF lens mount. It may sound odd, but running an Android operating system, if it has full connectivity, may be the next big thing that pulls people from their phones and into a camera system with an interchangeable lens mount. No word yet on pricing or a press release from the company.


In the Internet Drama Department – Recently, YouTuber Tony Northrup posted a video involving National Geographic photographer Steve McCurry’s iconic Afghan Girl cover portrait from the 1980’s

In the video, Northrup mentions some interesting points possibly surrounding the circumstances under which the image was made.

The general internet consensus seems to be that Northrup’s video crossed a significant line and a few other YouTubers posted videos questioning his motives.

Northrup then took his original video down and reposted it a few days later with an additional explanation video.

Other than that the Northrup channel has been fairly quiet, and thus far McCurry’s team has remained mute on the subject, at least publicly.

That’s it until next week.

Please comment, like, and follow.

Thanks for reading.