Saturday, April 7, 2012
The camera industry used to be much quieter, and predictable. The biannual Photokina held at the Koelnmesse in each even year since 1950 has been the focal point in the photographic industries and all the major photographic equipment suppliers which they plan their product development cycle and introduction accordingly – until the flourishing of World-Wide-Web and the increasingly popular of camera rumor sites, today, hardly the major camera maker can stick to the 2-years cycle of development and introduction, rather, built along with the public anticipation from the internet traffic, they release the product utilizing the latest technology before their competitor do. These are all good news!
Like what I have covered in previous posts, carry over the so-call film format made little sense anymore. It was said 6 million pixels will be roughly meet the quality of traditional 135mm film (O.K. many people argue over this, it is not the purpose of this post) and now we are at 36.3 million pixels as the case of Nikon D800, or 22.3 million pixels as the case of Canon 5DIII.
The real point of discussion is that today the traditional of one model replacing the previous generation is no longer the case – at least for Japanese makers. For example I recently bought a Canon 5DIII – in all public materials say it is meant to replace 5DII but I rather to think it is replacing 5DII and 1DsIII at the same time. 5DIII has improved its built and most importantly the ability to focus swiftly and accurately – particular in studio – thanks its adaptation of using the top of the line 1DX AF engine – finally. And it now allows me to use the 5DIII in studio. The Japanese has started to learn the artificial marketing practice in last century may no longer apply today – at least in the magnitude it was before. The Apple model works successfully to have virtually identified phone that varied by only the memory capacity, and open a large possibility to the app developers to allow user to customize each of their phone.
Are we going to see this happened to camera, I bet, and not for long, I believed. I think we are about to see some revolution in cameras that is more modular – the AF engine should be unified, and an entry level of camera may just have lower level sensor with less memory buffer. The higher model will not have better focus engine but due to more computation power it will perform better, so as use of higher-level sensor. Doing so the camera maker can focus on their R&D just on what’s best than try to develop something better and something less at the same time. And the camera capabilities? Are we going to see apps stores for cameras? I certainly hope so. Can we add the time-lapse feature on Canon as it is on the new Nikon? Can we add the sweep-panorama as it is on SONY NEX cameras to other cameras?
Image of inner Mongolia, taken with SONY NEX-5, use of its sweep-panorama mode, original size 8,192 X 1,856 pixels.
Ejina Qi, Inner Mongolia, 2011
Quoted by Howard Schatz, “ I shoot to delight and surprise myself. “ during our conversation about photography in my recent visit to his lovely studio SCHATZ · ORNSTEIN STUDIO at SoHo New York.
The development of convenient photographic tools, particular so the digital photography, combined with powerful software, has probably turned every third man becomes a photographer – not a bad thing - but beyond delighting one himself, may be search of other element is equally, if not more important.
New York, 2012
Designed by Frédéric Bartholdi and dedicated on October 28, 1886, the statue, a gift to the United States from the people of France, is of a robed Roman goddess, who bears a torch and a tablet evoking the law (tabula ansata) upon which is inscribed the date of the American Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776.
Today, the most known landmark of New York is something a photographer must capture if he would to capture New York.
This image was shot at Brooklyn Heights, perhaps not the best location to capture the statue, and it was late into date and instead of avoiding busy air traffic, I made them into a picture together.
Brooklyn heights, New York, 2012
It is true most if not all the camera and lens development with goal to reach the ultimate quality that is quantitative, with objective properties, such as contrast, color accuracy, sharpness, noise and many more – they are not wrong, but those are the goal of a photography tool, not the goal of photograph itself.
Portraiture photograph is perhaps one of the subjects that most exemplify the subject. Modern society although has also evolved digitally, thanks Facebook, but the likelihood of one individual meeting another is still much greater than the time before us albeit not at the same level as electronic social networking. In other words, we are seeing portraits everyday, ourselves in the mirror, family, friends, colleagues, strangers. And they all come in varies sharpness, because of how we see it, and when we see it, and many times, how we want to see it.
Coming back to photographic portrait itself – is a portrait sharper always better? May be not, at least I don’t believe so. Applying to modern digital photography, this means one may be able to take a technically sharp image in original capture, but it is always depending on individual artist to define the final sharpness – which I like the term Adobe use “Unsharp Mask” – to determine how artist wishes the viewer to see the final image, as we did everyday.
Of course a critical sharpness is still preferred, but it is just a beginning. The camera and lens in use, the choice of isis, speed, direction and distant from the light source, or with artificial lighting – how the light was shaped and etc. all contribute to the sharpness at the moment of capture – that gives the photographer a solid ground to move forward.
One of the remarks from NASA made during its Apollo moon program was that although the ultimate goal is to land man on the moon but having the man standing on the moon also gives human first ever glance of its own beautiful planet.
True for all travels, the extra dimension from journey always provides additional perspectives.
Image took with Sony NEX-5.
JFK Airport, NYC, 2012