Another image from the museum trip yesterday...And off topic domestic stories.

©2014 Kirk Tuck, for www.visualsciencelab.blogspot.com
The Sony RX10. At the Blanton Museum.

I bought my kid a phone today. I thought it only fair. He's graduating from high school and while many of his friends, with parents in the high tech industries, outfitted their children with state of the art, smartphones many years ago poor Ben has been laboring along with a nasty little flip phone with service provided by TracFone. It's one of the companies that allows you to buy minutes in advance. Use up your minutes and you have to come back and buy more. I thought this solution would provide two advantages: First, it would teach the boy to conserve his minutes and prioritize his phone use.  Second, it would limit the damage a runaway binge of texting would inflict on my finances (as I was paying for the service). 

In the end the first phone we got was so odious to use that Ben texted only in dire emergencies. Those times when one had to find out, "where are we meeting for dinner?" Or my favorite, "Is there cross country practice this morning?" Thankfully he has never gotten into the habit of gratuitous and continuous texting and messaging. The tiny keys were a good deterrence. 

I thought we should acknowledge his maturity and scholarship with a new phone. One he wouldn't mind using. After all, when he leaves to go to school in the Fall we do want him to call us or text us on a regular basis. So I started to study various cellphone "plans." Which quickly led me to understand that the service I had contracted for years ago was......not state of the art. 

I hated texting at the time and still do, but now it seems that more and more clients default directly to the tiny keyboard to stay in touch. I did not originally have free texting on my plan and recently realized that I was paying twenty cents per text. All the time. Then I came to understand that my wife and I were sharing a data plan with 500 megabytes of data per month. Something like five big files transferred. Finally, I remembered that in my dogged determination to save money, no matter how much it cost me, I had set up the plan to share 500 minutes of talk time with my spouse...

Clearly not a good plan for the 21st century.

After conferring with the boy we decided on an iPhone 5s. And we landed on some sort of "family plan." Now we have unlimited texts and calls and we're sharing 10 gigabytes per month of data. Grudgingly moving into the 21st century. Who knows what might happen next. Is there any real reason to have cable television? Naw. I didn't think so. 


A visit to the museum is rejuvenating for the eyes and the mind. Also, how art taught me to stop caring about sharpness.

Blanton Museum ceiling. Main lobby. 
©2014 Kirk Tuck

I've been doing my part to staunch the flow of gratuitous images by not shooting anything that doesn't serve a purpose or inspire me to look at my newly captured image twice. I walked downtown yesterday and shot some more or less meaningless photography and then I did popular culture a favor by erasing the card on my way back to the car. But there are still things I like to see. And there are a few concepts I wanted to share that might be more effectively presented with images to show my point,  along with the words.

I went to the Blanton Art Museum on the University of Texas at Austin campus today and I had the same reactions I seem to have every time I visit. It's almost like reliving epiphanies. I'd say that I wouldn't have to go back if my memory were better but the reality is that time spent quietly with art is always rejuvenating and each time I go it's a totally difference internal experience. I guess that's because so much of every experience revolves around where our minds are, in the moment. 

My first reaction is that Art is so much different viewed in person than when viewed on the screen of my computer. For one thing it's generally framed and presented in its own space, free from visual intervention. My monitor is on a desk covered with hard drive enclosures, post-it notes and the general hysteria of technology. I am always amazed at how much I react to the different scale of all the pieces. 

Some paintings are huge while some are as small as 8x10 inches. I saw a octo-tych of Andy Warhol images of Marilyn Monroe that were each about the size of postage stamps. The Battle statue collection is mostly life sized. The various modern paintings can be the size of a fairly big wall. The point is that scale is so much a part of each work and it's the first thing to be denuded by viewing representational on a set screen size. 

There's also a lot to be said for being able to look at work from an angle or from a different vantage point. While it's true that you can move your head from side to side when looking at your monitor it is hardly the same thing. There's a satisfying feeling about being able to move close, within inches, to a painting in order to examine the very texture of the underlying canvas and then being able to move back to the other side of a room to take in the entire room and see the art work in context. 

Consider also that the room (gallery) in some ways become part of the work because it's almost impossible to divorce the work from its surroundings. The galleries at the Blanton are cool and dark and the paintings sit in little puddles of perfectly placed light. The dark surrounding submerges distraction while the bright light showcases the art. If you've seen art poorly presented ( and really, who hasn't ) then you'll understand exactly what I mean. 

As far as paintings go seeing the actual pieces, under optimum lighting and presentation conditions, is like seeing in infinite bit depth and with endless dynamic range. Reducing the interplay and inter-transparency of a painting to a 6 or (at best) 8 bit screen representation makes viewing the work a whole different, and wildly less satisfying, experience. 

I am a fan of classical painting but not for allegorical or hermeneutical considerations. I am a fan of the sensuous lushness of the color palettes and the unashamed sensuality of the rendering of most of the subjects in the paintings. They are beautiful to look at. The best paintings are richly layered with lights and darks and endless colors. 

Take the image of the painting "Flora" by Sebastiano Ricci. (below). It's intention was to be a celebration of "voluptuousness." I love so much about this piece. I love the modest rendering of Flora and the archly realistic rendering of the flowers in the foreground. I love the depth of the painting. Flora and the putti to the left, along with the flowers and heavy vase that anchor the right hand edge of the painting all sit in a foreword plane. The putti behind the flower pot is in a transitional planar layer. The figure just behind Flora with his finger to his mouth is one plane further removed while the two putts to the top left of the frame are distanced not only by the forced perspective but also by the atmospheric distancing caused by making them lighter, less saturated and less detailed. It's a frame that may not work well from the perspective of a computer screen but one which is wonderful to stand about four feet in front of and scan from side to side and from face to face. 

One of the realizations I have every time I visit a good museum is that good art repudiates our bourgeois desire for Perfection. Our culture seems to over reward measurement and under reward abstraction, creativity and the beauty of things which don't lend themselves to quantification. 

On photographic fora the mainstay of discussion is about resolution, sharpness and dynamic range. All of which can be, for better or worse, measure and quantified. We can give each parameter an objective number rating, a place on a scale, from "good" to "bad." And the engineer in each of us pushed hard to optimize each of the measurable features of our tools. We've created a culture in which "sharper" is better. In which more detail is always better. In which the widest range of tones possible is the aim point. 

We seem to imagine that the painters of yesterday worked as diligently as they could to reproduce the perfect version of reality onto their (almost) two dimensional surfaces. We think of great art as having been created by perfectionists and regard only 20th century art as the unknowable provence of sloppy, messy (Jackson Pollack) unintelligible sham. 

But one part of my realizations for today was the very obvious reality that for many painters in classical times it was the feel of the piece and the totality of the piece that mattered to them and not the obsession with endless master of detail. 

In the painting of Flora I was able to see several things that many would regard as flaws. In our current, binary culture a thing is either perfect or it is not. It's acceptable or rejected. But look below at the detail of the central flower. Notice the paint drip from the top right area of the flower. An imperfection caused by haste? An intentional spill? Or the decision of an artist who wanted to acknowledge his own imperfection because that is essential to what makes him human? A nod to the idea that imperfection is what finally makes a person or object truly beautiful.

I went pixel peeping on the painting (you can do that just by standing closer and putting on your reading glasses!!) when I noticed that there are defects in the canvas as well as a few discolorations (see below). But stepping back three feet, and viewing the work as it was intended, all the faults vanish. 

My final "craft" observation is that "sharpness", and the obsession with sharpness, is very much an affectation of our age. I looked at beautiful painting after beautiful painting and in very few instances was there any observable attempt to render the subjects with the razor sharpness that we seem to demand today. And it's not just that photography is a different medium because there are many beautiful and poignant examples of photographs through the decades, that work and deliver their emotion message, and visual magic, without the benefit of undue sharpness. 

That's evident in the work of Robert Frank, Alfred Steiglitz, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Cindy Sherman and many, many others. And those examples stand apart from the obvious repudiation of sharpness by the Photo Secessionist of the late 19th and early 20th century. Some of the work by Weston isn't overly sharpened and it's still collected by top institutions. My take away thought is that sharpness became important when photography became a commercial form of documentation and, because we do a poor job with visual education for most, the widespread adaptation of sharpness in cataloging and making marketing marketing representations infiltrated directly into the hobbyist sector and pushed its way into becoming an understood part of current photographic culture. Why communicate a feeling or an emotion if you can go straight to the vivisection? 

While the work of David Hamilton (look it up) is gooey with overly romantic images of young girls and women and I conjecture that a big part of its charm is the soft rendering of reality which allows his viewers to romanticize what many critics thought of as "soft core" pornography. While his content was  perhaps overly prurient his technique was in some ways a repudiation of the quest for sharpness and contrast that was on the rise during his working career. His work with young women is, in some ways, the technical counterbalance to the sharply etched aesthetic of Jeanloup Sieff's take on the same subject matter. 

While our cameras are very good at getting us to "sharp" they aren't nearly as good at getting us to "evocative". My all time inspiration for wonderfully romantic and flattering portraits is the head of the angel in Leonardo Da Vinci's, Madonna on the Rocks (madonna on the rocks louvre). She is the figure to the right of the Madonna. But I also like the image of the woman in the center of the painting, Three Marys at the Tomb, by Jacopo Chimenti (below). There is a softness to the skin that augments the affect of the soft light transitions and it's richly romantic. 

I like to visit museums because they remind me that we can have experiences outside the realm of our computers and our devices. That, when it comes to art, technology is a poor substitute for vision and concept. That Bernini's sculptures drove future sculptors into more and more abstraction, not because abstraction was, per se, the direction they wanted desperately to pursue, but because even with endlessly advancing technology no one can come close to the work Bernini created centuries ago. To continue making work in that classical styles means to be continually compared to his work. Better to differentiate oneself with a new and novel (manifesto driven) approach than to suffer by comparison. But isn't that the root motive for all attempts at differentiation? The realization that one pathway in a field had reached its zenith?

The past is interesting in some regard because it is littered with treasures. Those who have never taken time to savor those treasures are condemned to working without good boundaries and, to a certain extent, without inspiration. Mindlessly redoing the easy work of art over and over again and hoping that the newest tools will prevail where concepts are non-existent. 


My friend, Chris, says: "You date the cameras, you marry the glass."

I think about that now every time I buy a camera or a lens. Which is the alpha product and which is the submissive and subservient product? There's a certain thrill to buying the latest camera because you are accessing the "latest technology" which usually means a better sensor and a better surrounding electronic infrastructure that supplies faster processing and, by extension, more detailed and effective processing.

On the other hand a good lens is a thing of beauty to real photographers because it makes every sensor that much better. And a great lens has both a clarity and a character than shines through despite which camera in the system you use.

I'm happier buying m4:3 lenses than I was when I was buying into totally closed systems because I have a range of choice when it comes to bodies. I can use my Sigma, Panasonic, Leica, Olympus lenses interchangeably on any m4:3 body from Panasonic or Olympus, and maintain most of the features of the lens/body system.

I'm looking at a new lens for the system that I would never consider if I were locked into a single system scenario. I want to reward myself for finishing up the novel with a brand new Panasonic/Leica 42.5mm f1.2 but I haven't finished building the rationale yet. That pesky college bill that's coming down the pike means I need to up the amount of self-delusion I need to generate to make plainly irrational purchases.

I haven't hit the new tipping point yet, but......

Some updates.

To date nearly 60,000 (sixty thousand) people have taken my free course on Craftsy.com. My two other classes are doing well. Not 60K well but right in line with everyone's expectations.

I turned over a final manuscript to my editor and book designer last weekend. The novel, an adventure with a professional photographer dropped into a web of intrigue and deception while on assignment at a big foreign trade show (write what you know), is complete and is now being cross checked and elegantly designed to be the best looking e-book on the entire market. It should be available in the next few weeks and I won't be shy about trying to promote it.

Ben has successfully graduated from high school and has selected a wonderful, private college in the northeast U.S. and will head there at the end of the Summer. We are proud of his achievements to date and especially happy that his braininess and general good character earned him some healthy scholarship offers.

My swimming is undergoing a new evolution as Tommy Hannan, one of our new coaches, is placing a LOT more emphasis on kicking. I feel faster (and more exhausted) already.

I am loving the video files I've been getting with the GH4 and hope to have a fun video to share by the end of next week.


Studio Portrait Lighting


Another Enjoyable Evening Making Photographs for the Theatre. "Vanya" at Zach.

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Now, on with the show.....
Cassandra and Vanya practice voodoo...
©2014 Kirk Tuck

It was a moist and muggy afternoon and I was packing up to go shoot a dress rehearsal for my live theater client, Zach Theatre, here in Austin. This was my first time to shoot a dress rehearsal on the Topfer stage with the two, new (to me) Panasonic X lenses: the 12-35mm and the 35-100mm. Both have 2.8 maximum apertures and are weather resistant (which never comes up in theatrical documentation....). I had just spent two full days earlier in the week putting the new GH4 through its video paces and I felt like I had a good handle on its capabilities re: ISO limitations and focusing. 

I packed the two lenses, the GH4 and a GH3, along with two extra batteries (unnecessary) and two extra memory cards (totally unnecessary). I also brought along a second GH3 body with a lens adapter. The second GH3 body hosted an ancient Nikon 50mm 1.4 lens and it was set up to shoot monochrome. I brought it along just for fun. I thought about including a monopod but my experience with the in lens I.S. on both lenses convinced me that it would be a non-essential burden. I left it in the studio. 
"Sonya" makng a point.
©2014 Kirk Tuck

The two primary cameras and lenses fit in my smaller, Domke bag and I dragged the third camera along over my left shoulder. Security blanket? Mindless distraction? Who knows?

It was my intention all along to use the longer zoom on the GH4. Most of the images I would be taking didn't require capturing the full width of the stage and I knew from experience that I would be able to handle 90% of the work with a 70-200mm equivalent. I was anxious to put the GH4 to a real world (for me) test and this was a quick way to put 1200 frames on the camera and lens in short order under fun circumstances. I've often said that the only way to really get comfortable with, and to understand a camera, is to spend a lot of concentrated time with it. I figured two full video shooting days and a three hour dress rehearsal would be a good start.


Still walking around with 2012 camera prejudices? Don't think "Mirror-Free" cameras focus fast enough? Watch this:

All material ©2014 Kirk Tuck and presented exclusively at www.visualsciencelab.blogspot.com  If you are reading this on another site, without proper attribution, it is not an authorized use of the material. If you are reading this on an unauthorized site DO NOT CLICK on any links in the body copy as it may infect your computer with serious viruses. Sorry to have to put this warning here but a recent search turned up dozens of similar infringements. Thanks for your authentic readership.


I love the camera reviews that are done by the Camera Store on YouTube. Their spokesperson, Chris Nichols, is bright, fun, informed and very good in front of a video camera. For most cameras they are definitely part of the information well I go to with my bucket to find out about new camera capabilities.

In the video I linked to above they test the continuous auto focus, tracking autofocus and point to point, single autofocus of the top four mirror free cameras: The Sony A6000, the Fuji XT-1, the Olympus EM-1 and my personal favorite, the Panasonic GH4. Their control and comparison camera is the current king of the hill for action shooting, the Nikon D4s.


Things I learned from shooting video for two long days with the Panasonic GH4.

All material ©2014 Kirk Tuck and presented exclusively at www.visualsciencelab.blogspot.com  If you are reading this on another site, without proper attribution, it is not an authorized use of the material. If you are reading this on an unauthorized site DO NOT CLICK on any links in the body copy as it may infect your computer with serious viruses. Sorry to have to put this warning here but a recent search turned up dozens of similar infringements. Thanks for your authentic readership.

My new food lens. The 35-100mm f2.8 
Panasonic X lens.

My friend, Chris, and I shot video at one of our favorite restaurants this past week. The restaurant needed a nice video spot to plug into their website and we needed some fun stuff for our reels so we pitched the project.

Ravioli with Pesto and tomatoes.
Panasonic GH4 with 35-100mm f2.8 lens.
©2014 Kirk Tuck, for Asti.

We wanted to do a quick paced, day-in-the-life of the restaurant, from opening to closing, with a series of shots of food, food preparation, cooking, serving and even a shot of a couple walking out at the end of a nice evening. We scheduled two days to shoot the project with two people operating cameras. We did only one interview so most of the stuff we shot did not require having a sound person on hand.

I used the new GH4 Panasonic camera as my shooting camera and Chris used a GH3. Since our project will end up on the web, required tons of individual shots, and since I'd be editing it on a non-state-of-the-art computer we decided to shoot everything in 1080p at 29.9x frames per second. We used reflectors but did not use lights. We were looking for an available light aesthetic and, since we were shooting while the restaurant was open, and filled with paying customers, we wanted to be discreet and unobtrusive.


Enough with bad "AD SPEAK." Stop calling your small camera "mirror less" and start calling it "MIRROR FREE".....

All material ©2014 Kirk Tuck and presented exclusively at www.visualsciencelab.blogspot.dom  If you are reading this on another site, without proper attribution it is not an authorized use of the material. If you are reading this on unauthorized site DO NOT CLICK on any links in the body copy as it may infect your computer with serious viruses. Sorry to have to put this warning here but a recent search turned up dozens of similar infringements. Thanks for your authentic readership.

I can almost guarantee that your camera will get more respect. "Mirrorless" implies that it is lacking something while "Mirror Free" implies that a burdensome vestigial device has been removed from a modern design.

Likewise, could we lose the incredibly confusion "Micro Four Thirds" format name and start calling the format something sexy and fun? Something like "Super 35" which means it's almost the same size as standard, Hollywood movie film.

Let's steal advertising know how from the 1980's and start calling it the "Ideal Format" instead. (used by makers of 645 medium format cameras in the era).

Or, better yet, let's call it: Ultra Frame. Just because we can......

Notes about finishing a project. A long project. And, by the way, welcome back!

All material ©2014 Kirk Tuck and presented exclusively at www.visualsciencelab.blogspot.dom  If you are reading this on another site, without proper attribution it is not an authorized use of the material. If you are reading this on an unauthorized site DO NOT CLICK on any links in the body copy as it may infect your computer with serious viruses. Sorry to have to put this warning here but a recent search turned up dozens of similar infringements. Thanks for your authentic readership. 

DVD of the Novel in the foreground. My writing computer, 
Nastasha, in the background. 

I have this older Apple MacBook Pro with silver keys and I've been using it over the last three years to edit the final version of a novel I have been writing, on and off, since 2002. It's not really fair to say I've been writing it for that long since the bulk of the story and the writing was all done in that first year. What really happened is that the novel needed re-writing and editing and proofing and .... real life kept getting in the way. Some years prosperity delayed the work. The photo projects were coming in fast and furious and I made the choice to maximize my income in those years. Then the lean years happened and I concentrated on instant money makers, like writing non-fiction books about photography.

There always seemed to be a good excuse to do anything but finish the novel. A big job. A giant recession. The blog.

But I finally put my proverbial foot down and set a deadline. That deadline was 5pm today. And I missed it. But only by an hour and a half. At 6:30 pm today I turned over a DVD to my graphic designer so that she could design the looks and feel of the book in a program called, InDesign, and then convert the whole project to the .mobi format for use on Amazon.

This project is one of the most fun projects I have ever done. I love the protagonist and I must love the storyline because I've probably had to read it at least 100 times and I still like it. I still tear up at certain parts and I still feel the suspense in others.

But it's also been one of the most oppressive projects I've done because it never stopped. There was never a satisfying hard stop. And I'm used to projects that last a day, a week, or at most, a month. Not twelve years.

It's like knowing you should file your taxes but putting it off for twelve years. Things just pile up and the non-ending nature of it all means that the project is always right there, over your shoulder. You really can't start something new. You need that sense of completion.

I thought that this week would be a perfect one in which to finish once and for all. I stopped writing on the blog and I pushed most assignments into the future. But there is one project I just couldn't turn down. That was to shoot a video for my friend, Emmett's restaurant, Asti, here in Austin. Chris Archer and I had been looking for a fun video to do that included food and lifestyle and this one was dropped into our laps. We spent all day Tues. (until late, late) and most of the day Weds. shooting food prep, food cooking and all manners of behind the scenes restaurant stuff with a brand new Panasonic GH4 and a Panasonic GH3. So much fun.

And while I wanted to sit down and edit right away I was able to resist the temptation and work with discipline on the novel.

I spent all day yesterday and today putting in finishing touches and making sure the timeline calculated out. I fixed unintentionally changing names. I proofed for the 50th time and still caught stuff.

So now I'm done and my "team" is ready. Belinda is designing the look and feel of the book and making the final conversions. Ben and I are shooting all the components for the cover and I'm busy investigating the best way to get an e-book up onto Amazon. My procrastination is over. The ego part is done. Everything else is step by step mechanics.

The schedule? We're aiming to have the final, formatted design ready for upload by the middle of June at the latest. The book should launch within a week of that date. As soon as the copyright submission is complete and we have an ISBN number I'll start letting you in on what the story is all about. Suffice it to say that if you are interested in PHOTOGRAPHY you'll probably love the book.

If you have a wealth of knowledge about putting e-books up on Amazon, and you've been through the process yourself, could you post knowledge and guidance in the comment section here? It would be much appreciated.

On another note: I've spent some quality time with the GH4 as both a video camera and a still camera and I'm going to start sharing information about our use of the camera starting with tomorrow's blog. If you are interested in that camera be sure to stay tuned.

Thanks for your patience this week in dealing with a quiet blog. I can't tell you how many times I wanted to toss down the "novel" laptop, just over here to the desk and start banging away on something short and fun. But I must say that it was the process of finishing that made this all worthwhile to me.

I'm glad to be back. More to come tomorrow.

(and by the way, we lost two followers over the fallow period, if you are not already a "follower" of the VSL blog I hope you'll consider designating yourself as such. It costs you nothing and allows me to see that there really is a dedicated audience for what we share. Thanks!)

Studio Portrait Lighting


AHH. Down time. Taking a week off to finally finish the novel.

I started writing a novel about a photographer, caught in a web of intrigue at an international trade show, back in 2002. Life got in the way many times, compounded by the almost universal bane of artists and writers everywhere, resistance. To read more about the idea of resistance and how it relates to the arts please pick up a copy of The War of Art, by Stephen Pressfield.

I've put off finishing my writing project for every imaginable reason. Anxiety attacks, cardiac scares, assignments out of the country, kid soccer games, swim practice, blog writing, gratuitous camera testing and so much more.

Every time I sit down to proof read I think of some new thing the novel "needs" or some way to make a passage clearer. But I'm at the point now where the inaction and resistance of getting this project done is starting to effect everything else in my life. I feel like I'm in some sort of hellish holding pattern and I'm bound and determined to get this book done and out by the end of the month.

I will be publishing it on Amazon. It will be a kindle book and, if I navigate their system correctly, you should also be able to order a printed copy instead (or in addition = optimist). My plan is to have the final editing and proofing done by the end of next week (May 24th deadline)  and have Belinda design and convert to ePub the following week. After that we'll upload to Amazon and announce the availability.

I would love to sell many copies of the book but at this point it's just important to me to get it done. Completed. Launched. Out.

To that end I'm taking a break from blogging until after the 24th of this month. I'll miss the witty repartee with my smart readers (of whom you are one; of course). I'll miss the refuge of being able to duck out of real work and come here to play with words. But we'll settle right back in after the birth of the book.

I always wanted to write a novel. Now I have. The final step is unleashing it into the world. Stay tuned for more and please come back and read more after the 24th...

With nearly 1900 previous blog posts to pick through you might want to catch up on your reading. I may have already written the very thing you most wanted to read.....

Thanks. Wish me luck.  Kirk


A dedicated selfie camera from Samsung. Scaring the crap out of myself 20 megapixels a shot.

Scaring small children with stern selfies.
Mysteries of the universe abound. Two days ago Studio Dog rose from her nap, jumped to her feet and sounded the alarm that tells me the Fedex man is about to turn into the driveway with some package or another. The bark is very distinct. It's quite different for the UPS truck.

At any rate I ambled over to the door and accepted the insanely distorted Fedex box and wished the driver a good day. Studio Dog and I sniffed the box and discerned that it came from Samsung's P.R. agency in NYC. I thought it might be a t-shirt. But it was a bit heavy and angular for a t-shirt. I grabbed a vicious, cold steel stiletto and sliced the box open with the barest flick of my wrist. The contents were padded with some sort of color newspaper pages. When I pulled the box out of the box it turned out to be the container for a camera called a Samsung NX Mini.

And mine is, indeed, white. Right down to its wrist strap.

So what is this all about? Well, it's a tiny, thin, interchangeable lens, mirror-free camera that uses the Samsung version of a one inch sensor. The lens on the front of mine is a 9mm, f3.5 which corresponds (in full frame speak) to a 24mm lens. They also currently make a zoom that goes from 9mm to 27mm, which is about a 75mm big camera equivalent.

I assembled the camera and lens, put in the big battery and tossed in a micro-SD card. The camera spent a little time on a turbo-charged USB-4 terminal, sucked up enough juice to turn the battery light green and then we were off to the races. Scaring small children and mindlessly riding on escalators.

The camera is quick and agile but made with enough metal to give it a bit of gravitas. It has all the stuff I don't really care about, like NFC and wi-fi, and a few things I do care about like raw files and manual settings. And a battery that's rated for over 600 shots per charge.

The big draw of the camera is its selfie enabling design. The rear screen swivels up and around so you can see yourself over the top of the camera. You can click the shutter in the old school method or you can set the camera to trigger upon a gracious smile or a wink. I used the face detection Af and, since I rarely smile, I engaged the shutter with my index finger. We would have waited a long time for smile detection but, given enough time we might have pulled off a wink shutter by dint of some facial tick or another....

If you wear a suit and tie, or it is perennially winter in your locale, the camera is quite pocketable. If you wear a pair of jeans and a t-shirt as you everyday wear it is only pocketable if you like to present with a rectangular bulge in your pocket.

The camera is actually a very good performer. The exposures I took on a dark and overcast day were all very much on target and the AF only failed me when I didn't pay attention to what I should be aiming at. It has all the basic controls and setting parameters of its bigger brothers in the Samsung line up. And the menu beats the pants of just about any Nex I've had the pleasure to own.

It's actually a fun, quick camera to have around. The 20 megapixel sensor seems pretty darn good, the wide angle lens is nice and sharp, wide open and the rear screen is good for most work. If I were shooting seriously I'd have to put a Zacuto or Hoodman finder on the back of it to make it professional but that would almost triple the size of the package and would look pretty stupid.

This is pretty much the perfect camera for a compulsive perfectionist who loves to do selfies for social media but who wants something that generates higher quality files than all the cellphones on the market. It's also good for gruff, old cusses who just want a camera they can keep on the dashboard of the pick-up truck for quick snaps of stuff they come across on a day to day basis; like Sasquatch and Oil Derrick fires, and beautiful landscapes preening under the majestic setting sun of Texas.

A note to the marketing people: White? Really? White? Really? Not that there's anything wrong with white but was black or brown even an option? Really? White?

Ben was intrigued but I decided I'd keep this one around for my incredible number of selfies I expect to take on a day to day basis. Hmmmm. Ready? Crowd in close and we'll get a selfie of us in front of something very Austin-y. Like traffic. Or a music festival.

Added later: Target market???? See below:

Rosie and the Ramblers Makes Their Kickstarter Goals and Slams Out Future Gold Album.

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Selena. Aka: Rosie. Of Rosie and  the Ramblers.

A few months ago I wrote a piece about my friend, Selena, and her band, Rosie and the Ramblers. At the time I had just helped video artist and all around nice guy, Chris Archer, create a video to put up on Kickstarter for "Rosie." Her goal was ambitious. She was going to go into a very professional sound studio and cut her first real album. Being a good person she wasn't about to ask the musicians to work for free or go cheap on production. She wanted to raise $8,000+ to defray the costs of production and get her art out the door and into the hands of her fans. Without compromise.

I heard from Chris a little while back that "Rosie" met her goal and then some. She got the band into the studio and worked her magic on all the tracks. The album is finished and awaiting whatever post processing the music industry does and, I guess, waiting for iTunes to approve and add the album to their catalog. I haven't heard it yet but Chris has and he swears that it's so good I'll laugh, cry and blush within the first few minutes of listening.

Plugging someone else's great review on a camera. The Panasonic GH4 by Camera Labs.

Gordon Liang is the reviewer at Camera Labs. He did not do a glancing or weak review of the GH4. He pulled out all the stops! It's an incredibly detailed review that goes a long way toward explaining why I'm buying up GH4s and lenses. Read it and see what he says....

Here's the link: http://www.cameralabs.com/reviews/Panasonic_Lumix_GH4/index.shtml

And here's a gratuitous image of a GH4 just to whet the visual appetite:


"Hi. Will you please send us your photograph of a very famous film director, which you originally shot for Elle Magazine, for use free?"

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Oh boy! What a wonderful e-mail with which to start my day. A London-based music magazine got in touch. They are doing a "Big Feature" on XXXXXXX XXXXXX (world famous movie producer/writer/director) and they "just loved my photograph of him" and would love to get my permission to use it. Seems they were going to do a big, assigned photo shoot with him but his publicist told them that he couldn't fit it into his schedule..... "That's why we're asking you to donate for FREE!!!" (what happened to the assignment budget???).

"But we are willing to give you a credit line!!!!!!!!!!"

I'm not absolutely sure what "wanker" means but I think it might apply to the editorial staff at this particular magazine.

We love to work for free here at VSL. But only for charities that serve needy or at risk children. People who can't really make a go of it without some help from the rest of us. We don't provide free services or licenses to silly pop magazines that sell ads, monetize the shit out of their websites and otherwise make a tasty profit (apparently on the backs of struggling artists...) for their shareholders.

But----I did my due diligence first. I called my bank to see if I could make a house payment with my potential credit line. Nope. Then I printed out the e-mail and took it with me to Starbucks to see if it was worth a large coffee and a chocolate croissant. Nope. They'd go a short, regular coffee and no pastry but I didn't like that deal either...


Camera Crazy. After a crazy decade of buying and selling digital cameras what have I got to show for it?

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©2014 Kirk Tuck.

Cameras change, business changes, taste changes and intentions change. When I started out this century I had my feet in so many camps. We still had a complete Rollei Medium format system with extra bodies and lots of lenses. We had Leica R series cameras and lenses and then we had Kodak digital cameras and Olympus digital cameras and lenses for everything. In the lighting closet we have Profoto Electronic Flash Packs with a gaggle of flash heads as well as four or five Profoto Monolights, every size of soft box imaginable, barrels of umbrellas, and a forest of light stands.

Over the course of the decade that followed we followed the trends like everyone else. We upgraded to better and better digital cameras and got rid of the film cameras. While the nostalgia and sentiment attached to the film cameras was almost overwhelming there were few to none clients ready to either wait for results or ante up for film and processing and then scanning in order to use the film stuff.

The idea in the moment was to get rid of the film based gear while it still had some value. Which we did. Sadly. But business is business.

I bounced back and forth between Canon, Nikon and Olympus until my two year flirtation with Sony product. All the while adding and subtracting "fun" cameras, niche cameras and a vast assortment of lenses.

After I wrote the book, Minimalist Lighting, I got small flash religion and got rid of all the Profoto lights.  And I'm glad I did because by that point we were no longer doing the big production, big studio work for which they were designed. I replaced them with smaller, lighter and far less expensive Elinchrom D-Lites which have served the portrait part of the business well. More often I just take along a little bag of battery powered flashes and a few triggers and make due with them...

Were I "just" a photographer at this point the logical gear to buy would be something like a Canon 5D mk3 or a Nikon D800 or even a Sony A7 and the holy trio of professional zoom lenses. But on the way to uniformity I took a left turn and decided that video will be vital to my business (not everyone's) in the next few years. Starting now. And that makes me think about different gear than I would if I were only concentrating on still images.

To make a long story shorter I'll just head to the punch line: I have fewer photographic tools, fewer cameras, fewer flashes and fewer accessories than at any time since my tenure at the ad agency which ended back in 1987.

I bought a Panasonic GH3 camera just before Christmas in 2013 and I tackled a few video jobs with it. From a video perspective I was sold. The images, even just at 50 mps, are very good and easy to edit. The audio is straightforward and more than good enough for interviews and the kind of work I've been doing.  Based on my early experiences with the 3 I bought a second one. Interestingly enough we always had back up cameras in the film days but we had them as insurance against downtime in the event that our main camera died. Cameras did that.

I've been reflexively been doing the same with digital cameras. I also justified the additional expense with the idea that I could put one lens on each camera and cut down on both time changing lenses and possible dust on my sensors by changing lenses less often and just grabbing the alternate camera and lens system instead. But video opened my eyes to a new use for the cameras: simultaneous recording of b-roll or alternate angles. Now there's a totally legitimate reason to carry extra camera bodies. They can be pressed into service getting additional coverage on every take which means lots more editing possibilities in post production.

While the GH3s are great for most stuff the GH4 is a refinement and opens up the potential to offer even higher quality video, more control over the video (and photographic) image quality and a better ergonomic experience provided by a much improved EVF. You can read the reviews on the web; the video out of the GH4s is nothing short of amazing. Especially when you consider the price. But the added bonus for me is that even the Jpegs from the GH4 are a step up from the GH3. When I've used the camera for commercial still jobs I have been routinely impressed with color and sharpness, even more so when I use the camera with one of the two X lenses or the very impressive Sigma 60mm Art lens.

What do I have left? I have the three GHX cameras. Two GH3s and one GH4. I have the wonderful Sony RX10 camera. And I have the two Samsung cameras, the NX 30 and the Galaxy NX. That's it. That's all. When I go out to shoot video or video+still photography it's nearly always with the GH series cameras. For the first time in a long time I don't feel torn between multiple systems and multiple imaging formats. All the menus in the GHX cameras are nearly identical. The cameras uniformity means I can get comfortable with them in a way that's never possible when you are constantly reaching across multiple brands.

For the first time I have more tripods than I have camera bodies!

So, what do I really have to show for a decade (and nearly four more years) of buying and selling digital cameras? The realization that we can make the work with just about anything and that it's fun to choose gear that's good for your intended use and not to fit into a uniform profile of general users.

My goal lately has been to detach myself from the goods. To become more gear agnostic. To absorb and embrace less of the religion of photography gear and legend. With every piece I sell or give away I feel lighter and less tethered (leashed) to the expectation that I'll have to do jobs that I no longer am interested in.

Back in the early days of digital I had a complicated rig and some dedicated lenses to do macro photographs of processor chips. One of my major clients was Motorola. We'd shoot chip dies on a weekly basis. Then Motorola split up, the manufacturing got fragmented and ended up at chip foundries in other countries and the use of chip die images became passé. But I held on to the copy stand and the mounting jibs and the specialty lenses for years after that and in some corner of my brain I reserved space and time for a resurfacing of the chip die business. When I sold off all the gear I felt a huge weight drop from my mental camera bag because I knew that I would never have to do that kind of painstaking, complex imaging (and inevitably retouching of manufacturing flaws) again.

Every time I let go of another piece of gear I let go of the implied obligation to be a jack-of-all-trades for another sector of clients. When I let go of my full frame cameras in deference to the Panasonic gear my friends and readers admonished me. Didn't I just do an assignment photographing 18 different people which needed to go on big posters at high res? Whatever would I do?

Well, we get asked to do a job that goes up really big about three times a year. They all happen in a studio. They all happen with pretty standard lenses. My local retailer, Precision Camera, rents Nikon D800's, Canon 5Dmk3's and Sony A7 cameras, along with assorted lenses, by the day or the week. If I owned the gear every kind of job would be designed around what I owned. Now, if a job that requires tremendous resolution comes up I'm free to transcend the choices I outlined just above and consider anything. Blue sky. No limits. Maybe the next time around the job would be even more fun if I shot it on the new Phase One camera with the new CMOS 54 megapixel sensor.... A camera I would never want to own but would love to shoot with.

More and more I want to be hired for what I know and not what's in the bag. At the same time it's incredibly convenient that my interest in video corresponds with the introduction of cameras that seem perfect for my level and my intention and do a good enough job at still imaging to allow me to do all but three or four jobs a year well with them. The basics are good. Everything else is rentable.

What do I have to show for all this? The thought process that allows me to peel off unnecessary layers and align my business with my own interests instead of slavishly serving too broad a market for my own comfort, and ultimately, my own profit.  Just a few thoughts about the changing nature of my business.

Knowledge. A good differentiator!

Studio Portrait Lighting

Jaston Williams as "Maid Marian" for an upcoming Zach Theatre Production.

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Jaston Williams in costume with boots.

I love working with Jaston. He's funny, brilliant and amazing. The first time I saw him perform was in the famous play that he co-wrote and in which he co-starred, Greater Tuna. I've watched him as Truman Capote and in a number of other roles in which he was uniformly superb. But I've rarely laughed as much in a marketing photo shoot as I did when he played it up for me as Maid Marian. It's a wildly comedic role based on someone from Jaston's past.


Out for "ice cream" with the tantalizing trio. The Sigma Pixie "Art" lenses.

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There's always something going on in downtown Austin. This past weekend one of those events was the "Gelato World Tour." I wouldn't have known about it but my swimming buddy, Emmett Fox, is the owner of several fine restaurants in Austin and was telling all of us about the Gelato Fest after workout on Saturday. They held it in Republic Square, which is usually a deserted block of land in the middle of downtown, next to the Federal Court building. I decided to drive down and check it out. 

The weather was hot and sticky with bright sun. I took along a Panasonic GH3 body and three new lenses. I recently bought the three Sigma dn "art" lenses for the m4:3 cameras. They are also available for the Sony Nex cameras...

All three of the lenses have f2.8 maximum apertures and all three of them have a smooth, shiny metal focusing ring that gives the lenses a very minimal aesthetic. I like slower lenses for general shooting. It's my understanding that it's many times easier to design and manufacture a very, very high quality camera lens with a modest aperture than it is to even add one stop of speed. It all has to do with the precision required in shaping and polishing the glass elements. According to a Leica expert (Erwin Puts) it requires eight times more precision for every doubling of a glass element diameter. The faster the lens the harder it is to make the elements meet the design criteria. 



Snark-asm. The leaving of snarky, sarcastic, snitty comments on blogs. Love my readers. At least most of them. But there's always a hand full that are just......unpleasant. That's why we're going back to not allowing anonymous commenters. I realize some of my readers just want to stay off the grid and others are bothered by Blogger's commenting labyrinth and I am sorry for the inconvenience but I'm spending too much time moderating smugness and sniping to actually enjoy the process of blogging so I'm dropping that feature.

Wanna say something devastatingly cute, smug and insulting? Sign up for an I.D. and I'll gladly moderate your non-anonymous comment (that way at least you know I'll read it....) and then toss it.

To all the other 99.99% of VSL readers: Thank you for coming by and reading.

Knowledge. A good differentiator.

Studio Portrait Lighting

What is the archival potential of CF cards? How long do memories on a card persevere? Were cameras any worse in 2000 AD?

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Belinda walked into the studio yesterday holding a CF card in her hand. She handed it to me and told me she'd found it in a desk drawer. She wanted to know if I needed it anymore. I don't think she assumed that there were images on it because we're both pretty good about always backing stuff up. The card was a MicroTech 64 MB (megabyte, not gigabyte) card. Records show that it is one I bought in 1999 for a trip to Madrid for a company called Tivoli (now a subset of IBM).

I expected that a fifteen year old card would be corrupted by now but I stuck it into the card reader and opened up all the files in Preview. The files originated in a Nikon Coolpix 950. It was one of Nikon's swivel body compact digital camera, sporting a whopping 2 megapixels of sensor resolution and a 3X zoom lens. It took four double "A" batteries and its native ISO was around 80.  You can buy one used on Amazon now for about $35. If I remember correctly the cameras costs about $1200 when they were new.

I used that camera as well as a few other Nikon Coolpix swivel body variants do document trade shows back in the very early days of digital, in conjunction with film. The film shots were for posterity and the digital shots for uploads to news sites and web sites.

When I moved on to bigger cameras, like the Kodak DCS 660 and 760's I handed the Nikon 950 to Belinda to use for fun, social picture taking.

The two images above are of me and five year old Ben. We're playing the Pokemon version of Monopoly which nicely combines two of Ben's favorite games.

While the images were taken with direct flash I think the camera did a good job at exposure and it certainly did a good job getting everything in focus. The skin tones are nice and there's enough detail for a decent snapshot.

I guess CF cards are decent medium/long (10 years?) storage devices. I guess I'll figure out a use for this stack of newer Sandisk, high capacity cards sitting in a stack on my desk. The only camera I have left that uses them is the Sony R1 and I think a couple of 32 gig cards will be adequate for that camera for some time to come....


And while we're on the subject of economics and change..... Get ready to lose your film printers.

I walked into my local Costco today to pick up some prints I'd ordered online. They were all profiled with the latest profiles and they looked perfect. My wife sent me along to Costco with a small envelope that had three 35mm negatives that she also wanted printed. Costco had printed work for me in the past and had done a nice job. I smiled at the clerk and asked her if she would help me remember how to do a print order. She smiled that oh I'm sorry to tell you this smile and nicely told me that they no longer could actually print from negatives. No prints from film of any kind. None.

When I got back home I started doing a little research on line. Prints from negatives have fallen dramatically for mass marketers like Walmart and Costco. So much so that Costco has started designing a new generation of stores with no photo finishing departments at all. None. And many others are following suit.

But it doesn't stop with film. My quick research shows that overall print sales in consumer mass merchandizing stores, grocery stores and drug stores chains is down by as much as 40% year over year. The decline seems to match, in slope, the same relative decline that happened when digital imaging eclipsed film cameras. The slope is quicker than many expected.

My feeling is that we've hit another inflection point in our society's transformation from artifact collectors to digital information consumers. We want the  visceral delight of seeing our digital images immediately, on our little screens. We are no longer interested (as a cultural) in getting the little envelope of actual prints and looking at them and then storing them somewhere until they retire from our memories.

You will no doubt write to tell me, anecdotally, of all the people you know who crave physical prints to hang on walls and send to aging aunts and grandmothers but that may be because you are a selective and self-selected audience and not representative of the mainstream demographic for whom the machine print 4x6 was a ubiquitous (pre-digital) sharing medium. People with the ability to chose have chosen. Images are meant now to be enjoyed on screen. Not as shuffles through an envelope filled with paper prints.

Terminal Ubiquity (tm). When everyone offers it no one needs to buy it...

This photograph is unique to me because it is my own kid.
He's running a cross country race in the Texas heat. 
The image reminds me (as if I needed reminding) that  
he is a great son. 

I read too much. But I kept reading things that reinforce some thoughts I've been having. One is that when everyone pursues the same goals and everyone has a horse in the race at some point whatever is offered becomes truly ubiquitous, loses the values that make it special and reinforces a commodity expectation. Take online advertising for example. The early and ongoing promise for companies advertising on the web was that, like early TV, people would be magnetically attracted to content and would complacently look at any advertising a company cared to pair along with the paid content. In the earliest days this meant absolutely horrible banner ads and then pop-up ads which led users to invent ways around the pop-ups while helping the target market become immune to even acknowledging the banner advertising. 

But, of course, the web is built around the pervasive idea that everything should be free and that content will drive profit everywhere. As an example this blog is hosted for free on Blogger which is a Google service. Google monetizes the "bold" Blogger experiment with Google Ad Sense. That is the part of Google that generates lots of innocuous, little ads that bloggers can choose to sprinkle around and through their content. The ads, theoretically, will pay for the cost of maintaining Blogger and also return a profit to Google. Not sure how that's working out. I tried working with Google Ad Sense in the early years and the system placed a number of totally unrelated or competitive ads on the site and returned less that ten bucks, total, to me as their affiliate. At some point Google may decide that the decade of blogs is over and shut the whole thing down. That's one of the downsides of stuff being free, you don't ultimately have any control over it. 

But what really got me thinking was a news story I heard about Alibaba, the giant Chinese company that will be going IPO on the NYSE sometime soon. The company is into everything, and it sounds like a blend of Amazon and Google but the operating theory is all about selling advertising. The products are secondary or even loss leaders for the service, it's the advertising space sales that currently bring in the revenue. And that's their business model. And Twitter's business model. And Facebook's business model. And DPReview's business model. And Yahoo's business model. And Pinterest's business model. And Instagram's business model. And everyone else's business model. 

It's almost gotten to the point where everyone's business model, no matter what service they provide or trinket they push, is really all about selling advertising surrounding the service or trinket to other businesses around your neighborhood, your city, your state and your country. But if everyone everywhere is selling advertising space does this mean that the market for advertising is infinitely scalable? I don't think that's really possible. 

I get that there's room for growth in emerging markets but the trend in the U.S. period already points to both deceleration and declining web ad revenue. The media buys are already too fragmented to achieve perceptible, measurable momentum and results for any but the most enormous marketers and, the fragmentation of the market continues unabated. Twitter stock recently took a big dive because investors are unsure how adding more advertising in yet another space within an already over crowded market will ultimately drive profitability. I'm sure the same will follow along for most of the purveyors of user generated content spaces because of the sheer amount of space available. 

It all comes down to supply and demand. When ad space in a demographic sector (high capacity web users, hipsters, middle America Online ) becomes closer and closer to infinite the value of said space drops to nearly zero. A recent example is as close at hand as stock photography. Once upon a time stock images were hard to find, hard to get and hard to physically deal with. Now they are just electrons, they are sourced directly from your mom and your daughter and your Facebook pages and tens of millions of free stock image generators. The search and delivery is totally automated and we can now access billions and billions of images at the click of a touch pad. The supply has gotten closer and closer to infinite and so now the value has dropped to nearly zero. Supply and demand. In fact, Getty is giving most of your stock photography away free because they too believe the mantra that the key to profitability is to sell advertising space and they are using their product (your product) as a "loss leader" to drive eyeballs to their site in order to capture enough data to convince all the same prospective advertisers everyone else is chasing about the wonderful value of their space. 

Wouldn't be surprised in the least if Amazon was making more money in the placement, advertising and marketing of the products that they sell than they do in the actual margins on the products you queue up to buy. Wouldn't it be bizarre to find out that your camera purchase or your purchase of Nike running shoes on their site is partially subsidized by advertising revenue delivered by selling space on their own site to their own merchants. Even if it is a less than direct methodology. 

But let's dive a little deeper and see what we think the end results might be.... So, imagine a publisher starting a newspaper in a big, literate town which currently has no newspaper at all. They bring in a staff of reporters, designers, layout people, editors, sales people, distributors and all the rest. A big investment. But...they have an exclusive market for their style of advertising: Display ads in among the (riveting) content as well as consumer (user) generated ads in the "want ad" area of the paper. The newspaper makes a good profit. Which attracts another newspaper that comes in with the same basic offers and the same space. They split the market and both papers make a profit, although now the overall profits to both are reduced.

Now imagine a metro market of half a million people who are offered two thousand newspapers. All with very similar content. All with very similar ad space that is moving toward infinite availability. There are not nearly enough advertisers to go around (not enough demand) so the papers start price wars in attempts to get more of the market share. The prices drop because there is a huge supply of space resources and no increase in overall demand. As the ad space nears infinity the revenue from that ad space effectively approaches zero. But if the quality of the content remains the same that means costs remain fixed. 

So, now the papers have two options. They can try to institute a much higher price subscription paradigm but they quickly find out that they have done a good job teaching their target markets (both advertisers and end consumers) that all information and ad space should be almost free (remember that the ad revenue was supposed to be the driver that paid for the overhead). The other option is to reduce the cost of content. They could do this by crowdsourcing the content and laying off their pro staffs but in the end they may find that the unvetted and unreliable content is no longer good enough to drive consumers to consume the papers in enough numbers and with enough loyalty to lure advertisers into buying ad space to reach said consumers. 

At some point, across the board, the revenue starts to zero out. When the revenue starts to zero out the entity can no longer afford the content that drove the site in the first place. Or the market they once enjoyed in an almost exclusive way is now split between hundreds of very similar vendors, most of whom did not have to bear the same costs and time investments to create the market at the inception. 

This then triggers Kirk's immutable law of virtual content and virtual delivery economics: Terminal Ubiquity (tm). Infinite, nearly identical offerings, drive markets to zero profit. When they approach zero profits the ability to supply differentiating content also vanishes and creates a death spiral for that particular industry.

While Amazon.com may be doing well now imagine how much different their battlefield will be when there are hundreds and hundreds of nearly identical marketers, some subsidized by the governments of their countries of origin, all competing for the same high value customers. Delivery costs can't be driven to zero. The cost of actual product is just as inflexible. At some point the margins will fall to unsustainable levels. As they have in royalty free stock photography, video tape rentals, office supply stores, camera stores (outside of the three thriving U.S. markets) and many other businesses. 

When all of the web based businesses realize that Kirk's rule is also inflexible, that ubiquity drives out profitability, they will either have to offer consumers products with embedded value or they will have to exit the business. The point at which the profit/saturation curve crosses over is falling due for a number of players. Call it a bubble. Call it a thinning of the herd. The bottom line is death from Terminal Ubiquity

As an adjunct to the idea that this is a business model failure only of big social sharing and information websites it would be wise to apply these ideas to every other kind of business extant. The Chinese and Bangladeshi workers offer nearly ubiquitous labor which destroys the  markets in other countries for the manufacture of clothing. Photographers offer their work free to magazines and clients in the hopes that it will generate future, paid, work. It's a cycle that is also unsustainable. 

At some point someone will have to make something that other people would like to have. Something that can't be imitated easily. Then real profit will be returned to the businesses and they will prosper. Right now most web businesses are running on an unfulfillable promise. Infinitely scalable advertising space needs.  And we have a good idea of where that will end...


Lens Candy. The Panasonic 7-14mm f4. Tiny and cute.

Stuff comes and stuff goes. A Sony a850 sacrificed itself to I could bring this lens home. I've wanted a copy of my own since I first borrowed this lens from a friend. Nasty thing about even the best friends is that they expect to eventually get their stuff back from you....

What's not to like? The Panasonic 7-14mm is small and light and sharp. It's a 14-28mm equivalent if mapped in full frame angles of view but it's much smaller than the Nikon 14-28mm, almost by a factor of four times.

It doesn't have anything fancy tacked on. No I.S. and no knobs. The hood is part of the structure. The front element protrudes and disallows filter use.

Optically, I can state that the lens is sharp just about every where in its range of focal lengths and from wide open to at least f8. Probably thanks to good design which includes two aspherical elements and 4 ED elements.

This rounds out my optical system for the GH series cameras. These (the 7-14mm, the 12-35mm and the 35-100mm) lenses are the lenses I had in mind from the beginning when I started re-exploring the system in anticipation of the GH4 arriving. The whole system with two camera bodies fits into one, smallish Pelican case. Very cool.

If you own this lens I'd be interested in any comments relating to your use of it and the results. Thanks!