6.21.2010

The Ten Trends I Am Fond Of.

Ten trends, products and things I DO like in 2010.  Not too controversial.....


1.  How about smaller and lighter cameras.  Anyone notice that the Canon 7D is nicer to use than the 5Dmk2 and that the 5dmk2 is easier to shoot all day than a 1dsMk3?  That an Olympus EP-2 is a hell of a lot more fun to shoot than an e3?  That less weight makes you less tired?  That we're mostly shooting digital and all the cameras should be smaller.  Thank goodness some of the camera companies are getting the message.  Not all pro cameras need to be designed for lumberjacks with hands as big as Frisbees.  Some people under six feet tall also pursue this hobby/profession.

2.  Laptops rule.  Desktops drool.  When my last big, hulking tower gave up the ghost I gave up having a fan cooled missle silo under my desk.  I'm not an IT guy.  I'm not "hot  swapping" drives and I'm not generally waiting for much except for slow loading websites and I have it on good authority that an i7 chip isn't going to hurry along a slow feed from a distant server.  In 2008 I went all lap top all the time.  And I love it.  Need to go into the field? Laptop.  Need to drive a big screen? Laptop.  Need to fiddle with crap and add your own gimcracks and whizzer retarders and biforcated omegavalve flux limiters?  Then you need a Windows tower and you probably don't have time to do photography what will the upgrades, patches and whatnot.  If my machine is running slow I can't tell.  Most times now all new Apple technology works so well it's just invisible.  I'm sure it's the same on the other platforms as well.
No more 10,000 rpm fan noise.  No more sticker shock.

3.  Cheap CF and SD cards.  The price of removable memory cards is falling quicker than the size of raw files is increasing.  Amazing.  For once it works out for the little guy.  Right now 8 gig cards are so cheap (and I'm talking the first tier brands) that they are cheaper than the price per frame of film.  In other words it would be equally cost effective, compared to film, to just shoot the cards and file them in the filing cabinet, using a new card for each project......That's amazingly cool.  Especially when you consider early digital adopters routinely spent thousands of dollars for cards measured in megabytes, not gigabytes.  We did the ground work.  You get the  pay off.

4.  Lens Magic.  Cameras and raw converters are getting so smart they are correcting for lens flaws on the fly.  Including PS5's raw converter.  Now we get optics that are 50% better just for upgrading our software.  Bonus if you shoot Nikon because the camera does it all, transparently.  Wow.  Better edges, no vignetting and more sharpness.  Like open bar.

5.  I know this is old news but I love photo books you can make online and have delivered to your house in a week.  They look good and they look cool and it's a great way to make gifts for family and clients.  Who would have ever thought your could have a custom, hardbound book full of color images and type for less than $100.  Less than the price of a decent dinner for two.  Unimaginable just a decade ago.....

6.  The iPad.  I don't have one but I love the idea because it's only a matter of time before my publisher gets all four of my books onto the ibook store.  Yes.  And I've seen that it's a great way to present video to potential clients.  More like this.  Plus I could run my whole business on a 32 gig model (without processing images, thank you.)

7.  God bless lights that are smart.  The Nikon SB900's, the Olympus fl50r, the Canon 580 ex2's.  Any of which can be used in groups, wirelessly, to do the kinds of things that we used to do with forty or fifty pounds of metal and explosively huge capacitors from Speedotron, Profoto and others.  With the new camera performance it's only a matter of time before we all go battery powered.  It just takes more coaxing to pull in the old guys.  I still have some big lights..........(but I love the little ones.....).

8.  VR & IS  "You say potato and I say potatoe".....    Virtual tripod in your lens or body?  What's not to like.  Seems to offset years of coffee drinking and what not.  Just remember to turn them off when the shutter speeds get higher or the camera lands on a tripod.  Don't cancel out your advantages.  This stuff really works.  Well.  So why am I racing to finish this so I can go pick up a new tripod?  (Because the ash wood Berlebach's are so cute... and they do IS/VR right on down to seconds and minutes....).

9.  Don't get me started on video capability.  I've done seven or eight projects so far this year with Canons and Olympae and it's amazing the quality and performance your can get out of these if you shoot certain syles.  If I were news gathering I might want a traditional vid cam but these are great for "on tripod" set up stuff.  Can't go backwards now....

10.  Price/performance ratios.  We're getting Porsche performance for Hyundai prices these days.  When I compare the cash we dropped in the early part of the century for six and twelve megapixel camera I can only grin and marvel at all the stuff we're playing with now.  Across the board.  Amazing how far digital has come in ten short years.  Amazing.

There's a lot more but I'll save it for another time.

23 comments:

eyeisforimage said...

Nice post. I like most of these things as well! I especially like smart lights and VR/IS - oh and the comment about the cards being so cheap you could just shoot all day and file the card is both funny and interesting! People forget how expensive things COULD be, and it is great that technology isn't just allowing companies to offer better equipment, it allows them to offer cheaper equipment to us as well.

Not to be a fan boy, but I have a mac laptop and a windows desktop (I know, just don't send files between the two), and the laptop runs anything but general internet like it's stuck in mud, and the desktop is a silent missile that doesn't even blink at Photoshop/Lightroom... guess which one was half the price of the other....)

Thanks Kirk!

Ed Z said...

amen, 100% - I would even amend to #7 remotely adjustable/portable big lights. Picked up an elinchrom quadra recently, and am considering replacing my entire lighting kit with 2-3 quadra kits + a couple of SB900s. the quadra is just brilliant, and the ability to control the power level directly from camera (with the skyport trigger) is amazing.

Peter Frailey said...

Hi Kirk, I am all for the smaller cameras. This past vacation I found I left my 70-300 on the E520 for lots of long shots on the coast of maine and some flower macros, and when something shorter was needed, rather than change up the lens for the wonderful 14-54 that I had with me, I simply pulled the little Canon S90 out of my cargo pants pocket and shot with its equivalent zoom range. Since 95% of my shots are record and memory shot taken after the sun rises and before it sets, they're perfectly adequate on the S90.

Peter

Craig said...

I sort of half-agree, half-disagree about the automatic software correction of lens defects. On the one hand it's nice not to have to do it manually on the computer, but then again I rarely bother anyway except in particular types of shots where it really matters. A little geometric distortion is not noticeable in shots that contain few if any long straight lines. What gives me pause about all this automatic correction is that it seems like a superficial excuse for putting out optically-mediocre lenses, and corrections don't really make up for not getting it right optically. I understand that you're not going to get something as compact as the Olympus micro-4/3 17mm pancake lens that doesn't have significant barrel distortion, but the Nikkor 20mm f/4 AI distorts less than that lens, isn't really all that much bigger (despite being full-frame) and was made more than 30 years ago. Of course, it's also slower. It's all in the tradeoffs, and most of the time I'd rather have a slower or somewhat larger, but optically better, lens.

Michael Ferron said...

Kirk I think the wave of the future is here now in the form of small 4/3 style cameras. My ELP1 is pretty slick and that EVF is to die for. Image quality is so good that I wonder why I need a bigger camera? To impress folks maybe?

In the next few years these cameras will be refined and blessed with SLR speed and lens choices. When that happens the loud noisy DSLR's we use now will become relics of the past.

kirk tuck said...

craig, true. It's all about tradeoffs. It's moving so quick now it just makes sense to use the stuff they give us. We've already made the decision to buy all the lenses we already own. Why not let the software make them better than they were when we bought them. Kinda like Honda adding a few more horsepower through a free firmware upgrade.......I'll take it.

Wolfgang Lonien said...

* Laptops vs. Desktops:
I used to build them professionally some time ago, so I know my ways around. Now, at work I have to use a laptop, but at home I have a smallish media computer with a 24" screen, which I prefer.

* Mac and PS/LR in particular:
I'm an open source guy. I don't use Windows at home since 10 years or so. Which also means I don't use neither Photoshop, nor Lightroom. For me, Raw Therapee and The Gimp do more than good enough (just adjusting white balance, use a bit of RL Deconvolution sharpening and resizing with the former, getting fancy really seldom with the latter). It just works, and costs nothing.

* Small strobes
Recently bought my first strobe ever, a less than 45$ investment, and it was ordered directly from China. Same for the wireless radio trigger, which works well enough indoors. Don't have a light stand yet, so I got clamps for light stand and tripod, and an umbrella - that's it. I'm experimenting and getting nice results with just using one flash, both in combination and without the additional use of available light.

* Smaller cameras:
My wife wants an E-PL1, and I have to admit that so do I. I'll get her one after our holidays (for those, my E-520 and her Panasonic TZ-7 have to do).

* Price/performance ratios:
These are really remarkable now. I paid less than 500€ (compares to $ for what you have to pay in the US) for my E-520 DZ kit. Got an additional OM Zuiko 1.8 50mm for portraits, an el cheapo tripod, and the flash. That's it. For the moment, I'm a happy camper.

It's good to read your thoughts here, thanks for sharing them with us. Oh, and I have to agree to what someone else posted here - where is your Exif data? Would be easier than to guess or ask each time about lenses, apertures, focal lengths, and so on...

cheers,
Wolfgang

kirk tuck said...

A few more trends I like: Smaller, lighter camera batteries that keep going and going. Ultra sharp zooms with f4 apertures. The renaissance of wooden tripods. Chinese knockoff lens hoods for Canon lenses. (Shame on them for not providing a lens hood in the box...). Hoodman Loupes. HDMI output. Different colors for camera bodies.

roteague said...

"Need to fiddle with crap and add your own gimcracks and whizzer retarders and biforcated omegavalve flux limiters? Then you need a Windows tower and "

Huh ... Sorry, but that is a load of nonsense. My entire workflow (the digital part) revolves around Windows desktops, and a Windows 7 Tablet PC. And, I have no issues; they just work. Additional, I can almost guarantee that I probably work with much bigger files sizes than you do - my transparency scans start at 325MB each.

kirk tuck said...

I'll concede that Windows machines have gotten much, much better and I'll always defer to a man who flings around 325MB files without breaking a sweat.

Probably just residual distaste from working once with a nasty PC laptop and Vista...... Was that just a year ago??????? Vista. Remember?

Will Frostmill said...

Say, what service do you use for photobooks? Are they all the same, or do you recommend one in particular?

Will

kirk tuck said...

Will, I'm not a good reference for everything that's out there. I use em for fun and as gifts for clients and I first started playing with them when they became available thru iPhoto a number of years ago. I just use them because it's so easy.....

Anybody else wanna chime in with their experiences with online book sources? Jump in!

Will Frostmill said...

Thanks Kirk,
I'll keep an eye on this discussion and see what pops up.

Will

John F. Opie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John F. Opie said...

Hi -

Two wonderful posts! I screwed up the first post, sorry!

We really live in blessed times, despite all the trials or tribulations we seem to believe makes everything so horrible and frustrating.

Going digital was liberating: film costs disappeared. I was using a P67 and my local labs here in Germany were closing one by one and I was getting increasingly frustrated, at one point sending work to New York to be done because the last lab in the Frankfurt area that would take on roll film screwed up three times in a row, ruining film (and pretending it was my fault...like I can't tell when a roll of film is stained because of fixer exhaustion. Puh-leeze). I still have the P67 because I can't sell it for hardly anything right now, and it'd be a shame to simply give it away.

Personally, the most interesting development has been the gigapan robotic head for panorama work. I use it like a replacement view camera (without perspective controls) for shots I want in resolution that I can't get with 4/3 (why do you think I shot with the P67? To work on my arm muscles?). Just google gigapan to see what can be done (most photos on the site are terrible in terms of composition and execution, but look at the technical possibilities!) I've got a number of 4+GB files waiting for me to upgrade my PC (this fall) so that I can finally upgrade to 65-bit with 16GB RAM so that I can finally work on them as single images, rather than on the individual images that went into them.

HDR? Meh. Double meh. People should learn where their dynamic ranges are and work with that, rather than use a crutch. Meh.

Downside? I do have a large camera backpack for when I am on the road with the gigapan head, tripod, E510+Leica APO 180 for panoramas, E30 with 12-60/70-300 and 50 macro, plus batteries (30 AA NiMH with 12-battery charger for the gigapan (gives me 5 sets of batteries and 10-15 gigapans before recharging)) and laptop and backup drive...but it doesn't work any other way.

John

John F. Opie said...

Hi -

Yarrrrrgh.

64-bit, not 65-bit. Ye gods...:-)

kirk tuck said...

John, I like the idea of 65 bit. It seems less mathematically regimented....

DD said...

Thank you for trends on all counts. I'm pouring over the book I got at the book signing Saturday -

Geir said...

Point 1: I've done the EP2 and the E3. The E3 is a small camera compared to almost anything, considering it is a half pro camera. It is quicker than the EP2, and you've got the allmighty viewfinder at 100%. Except from that, this all makes sense.

Anonymous said...

Kirk - interesting list. I agree with you 100%. BUT - and there is always a but! The shrinking camera thing worries me a bit. I'm old enough to remember the race to shrink 35mm film cameras after the OM-1 arrived in the late 60s (yes I am that old and don't you forget it!!). Each time someone pears a couple of mm of the camera body, there's less room for the controls we really need. The EPL-1 is a perfect example - a sweet little camera with great feel, but too many things have migrated to the menus making it far slower than it could be or should be. A Rebel with the battery grip fits my hand perfectly. I wouldn't want to see DSLR's getting too much smaller than that.

Ranger 9 said...

Smaller and lighter cameras, yay. In fact, as I get older and cranker, I go for smaller and lighter EVERYTHING.

For example, I bought my iPad mostly to read stuff on it, but I now find I'm using it mostly for photography -- specifically, in-field reviewing as I shoot. The iPad-based setup saves me a full five pounds off my previous laptop-based setup, and that's a big number when you're lugging it in a shoulder bag.

I've got a rough-cut YouTube video about this, which can be seen here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o4CgABZVNjU

Anonymous said...

Amazed that people started to give you crap about your ten trends I'm not fond of list. People need to grow up, put the f-ing phones down and get focused. Tired of everyone looking like crap or looking into their screens.

Misty Bradley said...

Found this blog today and so happy to see someone actually mention Olympus. And thanks for the perspective, I'm subscribing today.