Cameras and Photography Explained

Photographer and Writer Thom Hogan's primary Web site, with pointers to articles that appear on his other sites (e.g. dslrbodies.comsansmirror.com, and zsystemuser.com). On the Web supporting photography for over 25 years. 

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Oh the places I'm not going this year...

This Week's Articles

Quote of the week: "I've been involuntarily transformed into a collector of what are now vintage cameras: APS-C DSLRs."

Tuesday — September 22, 2020

Who would have thought? The most emails I've received in a single day about a single subject was about one of the bullet points in yesterday's posted article. What could trigger such an avalanche of advice? Getting stuck rear lens caps off. It seems that all you need is a rope, a pen, a rubber band, a refrigerator, a special cloth, lubricants, the right plant leaf, and a host of other MacGyver-ish bits and pieces, and you can remove stuck lens caps. I'm struck by my readers' ingenuity, but I'm also a bit surprised at how many of you have encountered the same thing. In four decades of shooting I've not had this issue, now suddenly I see that hundreds of you—probably more, as some of you were to lazy to write ;~)—have had the same problem.

Monday — September 21, 2020

We have a number of countries that are trying to restart their tourism. I consider this to be premature, but it's happening. The pattern seems to be the same. I'll use Ecuador as the example: you must have a PCR type COVID-19 test taken within 10 days of arriving in Ecuador and a certificate showing a negative result. If you're traveling on to the Galapagos Islands, you'll need to take another test while in Ecuador within two days of your flight to the islands. Most of the travel services you'd use to book Galapagos travel can arrange that, but it means that you'll spend two or three nights in Quito or Guayaquil before heading to the islands. And, of course, there may be the issue of getting back into the country or area you left from. Where I live there's still a 14-day curfew in place for someone traveling to many states. It's unclear whether that applies to International destinations yet, but I'm sure it will at the point where Pennsylvania realizes that this kind of travel is happening. 

Kenya and Tanzania also have similar restrictions as Ecuador, and I expect several other tourist-heavy countries to join this trend in the next two weeks. I'd say this: be very, very careful, and consider others in your decision. Ecuador is trying to do the right thing—the Galapagos Islands now at least have a couple of ventilators on the islands, and they're going to great lengths to try to keep the islands isolated from the virus—but not all countries are. Before even considering this kind of travel, please consult the US Embassy page for the country, which generally is being kept up to date and has as much detail as is known. Tip: you have to click on the Embassy name once on that page, then further use the menus to find the alerts/messages/news pages. Because of some recent site reorganizations, it can be difficult to find the "COVID-19 Information" page for an embassy. If you get lost, drop me a line as to which country you're trying to figure out and I'll try to help. For example, here's the current Botswana virus page posted by the embassy in Gaborone.  (Even once the pandemic has tapered down—which it currently has not—you should still check the proper embassy page. COVID-19 isn't the only problem you might encounter in traveling.)

Am I traveling any time soon? No. I consider it immoral unless the travel is 100% essential. Why? Because even with testing you won't know for sure if you're a vector. The pandemic is caused by the number of interactions between people filtered by how well they use protection. Travel increases interactions. Protection isn't perfect. The more we can get the Rt close to zero, the sooner this all ends. Travel even within the US has been shown to increase the Rt. In the Atlantic states where I live, the Rt has basically been bouncing around 1 (currently just under 1 where I live). At that level, the virus continues to spread, though sluggishly (one new case for each previous case). 

So, just because some places are offering travel options, that doesn't mean the pandemic is over. Far from it. 


Previously on byThom...

Friday — September 18, 2020

Wednesday — September 16, 2020

I've gotten a few comments about "broken" RSS feeds. When I simplified the site structures, the RSS feed links logically changed name slightly. Sansmirror is now as it should be (at least for the rest of 2020). Go to any News/Views page and use the Subscribe to RSS feed link. The dslrbodies feed needs another small tweak, which I'll get around to next week. The zystemuser feed should be fine, it's never moved. However, because of the way I organize my static HTML pages, you really need to update your RSS feeds every year, as the yearly archiving process moves folders.

Tuesday — September 15, 2020

Friday — September 11, 2020

What's going on with Zeiss? New lens production from 2015 onward: 8, 4, 3, 2, 1, 0. The Touit lenses were the last to be in any mirrorless mount other than Sony E. Meanwhile, Canon, Nikon, and Sony have upped their game when it comes to lenses, often besting the best equivalent Zeiss. The unconventional and potentially groundbreaking ZX1 camera was announced almost two years ago (Sept 27, 2018) and still hasn't shown up. Do we need to send a courtesy/welfare squad to Oberkochen to check on them? Please tell me you're okay, meine Freunde. 

Wednesday — September 9, 2020

I'm mostly heads down this week, trying to get a book complete. So there might not be much in the way of new articles for a bit as I concentrate my writing/editing efforts elsewhere.

Meanwhile, if you're looking for Nikon D6 or a 120-300mm f/2.8, let me know, I know of a dealer with one of each in stock.

Tuesday — September 8, 2020

Welcome back from the Labor Day non-celebrations. It seemed like last week was a FedEx parade here at Thom's Self-Isolation Center (otherwise known as Thom's SIC). Nikon finally pushed out a range of new gear, though amusingly the 24-50mm f/4-6.3 lens I ordered via NPS priority purchase—NikonUSA didn't think to let you order the Z5 kit, only separate body and lens—isn't one of them. Be careful, Nikon, one of the other goodies FedEx dropped off was a Canon R6 and the 100-500mm f/4-7.1 lens. I just might tackle those reviews first as I wait, as do many of you, for Nikon to deliver announced products.

Traditionally, this is the week I return from a month-long absence from the Internet, rush to catch up, and then run out the door again to various destinations those of you with jobs have now abandoned. That and I start shooting fall sports. Of course this year, I didn't take that break, I rarely leave the SIC, and the only sports I seem to see are a few joggers passing the SIC every now and then. I can no longer call the rabbits and squirrels in the back yard wildlife, as I've given them all names. Product testing is going to take some imagination and a few steps outside the SIC. Fortunately, one of those FedEx deliveries was my new bike, so maybe I'll pedal down to the river a few times and see if I can find a different set of squirrels.

Meanwhile, Nikon D850 owners are upset enough to create a petition on change.org. Actually, it's more of a plaintiff wail than a petition ("where is the CFe update?"). I understand their concern. XQD card choice has narrowed, and there's clear worry that by buying XQD cards you might be crippling some future camera you might buy. In my case, I just want the faster ingest that CFe offers over XQD with the right card reader. I've said it before, I'll repeat it for the thousandth time: Nikon Japan needs to get re-connected to its customers, and soon. Some of Nikon's best customers (D850 users) are again questioning corporate decisions and promises. Nikon promised a CFe upgrade for the D500, D5, and D850 in February 2019. They haven't delivered in over a year. If they can't deliver on that, these users are now pondering what else can't Nikon deliver? Ultimately it comes down to that in consumer products: deliver or die. And I don't mean deliver boxes, as Nikon did last week for many. I mean deliver on promises, hopes, and addressing customer concern.

Thursday — September 3, 2020

Wednesday — September 2, 2020

Thanks for all your suggestions about presentation topics (keep them coming, I'm getting a better sense of other topics you want me to cover). I've come up with an idea that's going to end up as a three-part presentation, now I just have to realize it. All but one of you are going to be surprised—and even that person is going to be surprised by parts 1 and 2—but this is about something core and you all need to know it, no matter which camera you use. 

Monday — August 31, 2020

Fujifilm and Panasonic have scheduled product introductions this week. Canon, Nikon, and Sony will also have new product announcements in September or October, though it's unclear as to exact dates at the moment. I continue to expect September and October to be reasonably busy times in terms of new products, more so than in most years. 

This weekend I posted an article on Nikon Z product availability and today I'm adding the DSLR equivalent:

Given how many products are showing up in limited or no supply here in the midst of the pandemic slump, I have to wonder if Nikon is at all ready for any holiday buying spurt. 

_____

The Creative Photo Academy wants me to do an Online Class for them. I know what many of you would like to see me present (autofocus with Z's), but the problem with subjects that really need to be demonstrated is that I have no ability to do/show the field work necessary at the moment in an online presentation. So sports and wildlife photography best practices are probably out for the time being. Whatever I would do for an online session has to be able to be done in my cramped home office, basically, which rules out a lot of things, as we're talking about all I have room for in that office is desk, chair, and shelves. As it is I have to get creative as to where I might put a camera, even if all I wanted to show was the menu process for something. 

So, the question is this: what presentation would you like to see me do, and why? Photo Mechanic and Photoshop are both tools I know well, obviously. General discussions of Nikon gear and setup are probably easy enough to do, as long as I know which gear I need to bring to the home office to work with. Mac subjects obviously fall well into my comfort zone, as I started working with a Mac back in 1983 and created a lot of products for the system along the way. Drop me a line telling me what you want to know and what you think I might be able to help with.

Thursday — August 27, 2020

Today (and tomorrow) is new product arrival time at dealers for Canon and Nikon mirrorless users. The Canon R6 boxes are showing up, as are Nikon Z5, 70-200mm f/2.8 S, the two Z teleconverters, and even another batch of 24-200mm f/4-6.3. Of course, on the Nikon side pretty much everything but the Z5 will be out of stock by the weekend. 

Meanwhile, Canon took a first pass at addressing the overheating problems (FeverGate) of the R5 with firmware 1.1.0. There were a bunch of firmware updates for various cameras this week, and those won't all propagate to the correct pages on my sites until this weekend, as I need my bandwidth for something else today and tomorrow.

Next week we'll start the next round of new product introductions ;~). I suspect that we're going to see the Japanese companies really trying to get their new gear into the product channels before the quarter ends (September 30).

Wednesday — August 26, 2020

Olympus now has a beta of their Webcam software available for the macOS. 

The manual for the Nikon Z5 is now available.

Monday — August 24, 2020

A few of you wanted me to take Adobe to task for a Lightroom on iOS update that permanently deleted users photos and presets. Okay, that's bad. Someone at Adobe made a big mistake. However, if you actually lost images by updating, you're going to have to claim some of the responsibility, because it means you haven't been backing up your iOS device or syncing images to the cloud. If that's you, I recommend iMazing, though you can do something similar with Apple's own software.

Capture One 20 (13.1.2) has been released, basically bug fixes and new camera support, including Canon R5/R6 and Sony A7S Mark III.

Friday — August 21, 2020

An email triggered a thought I've been having for a bit now: that in all the current bad news there's possible future good news. Let me explain.

ILC shipments in 2019 were 8.2m units. Without the pandemic, I would have expected something along the lines of 6.5m units in 2020. Instead, we're currently on track for about 4m units. That's probably considerably under what would be "normal" demand. Normality unfortunately has been decimated mostly because the things you'd buy a new camera to go photograph just aren't happening in your life at the moment, or you just don't have the disposable income to spend on a new body or lens right now. 

Let's make the assumption that the combination of vaccine availability and increasing herd immunity clearly starts to mitigate the pandemic in early 2021, and employment increases again, which is the educated assumption at the moment. My guess is that in Spring 2021 demand would "rebound" back to above where it likely would have ended up in 2020, with some additional sales occurring due to the pent up demand that the pandemic caused. So let's be a little optimistic: 6m units in 2021, weighted heavily in the summer, fall, and holiday. 

If the camera makers really used the combination of market contraction and pandemic to "right size" themselves, 6m units would look like huge growth to them (50%!), and profitability should easily return. 

Now, life has this way of getting in the way of plans, so the above isn't at all certain. However, it would be the primary scenario I'd be gaming in product management right now if I were running a camera company. I'd want to launch major products in spring 2021, and I'd want to be able to ramp up production, if necessary, of existing models. I'd expect 2021 to be an "up year" compared to 2020, and a much needed respite from market contraction. 

Thursday — August 20, 2020

Adobe has dropped August updates for most of their Creative Cloud Photography Plan products. In the raw conversion arena, they've added support for the Canon R5 and R6, Nikon Z5, Olympus E-M10 Mark IV, Panasonic G100/G110, and Sony A7S Mark III and ZV-1. Some of this is preliminary support, as final profiles haven't been made and tested yet. Lightroom Classic 9.4, ACR 12.4, and Photoshop 21.2.2 also all get bug fixes.  

Sony has added Imaging Edge Webcam (only Windows so far) to allow the Alpha models to be used in live-streaming and as a Web cam.

The ProGrade 256GB CFexpress card is available for US$199 (US$100 off) today only at B&H Deal Zone [advertiser link].

Wednesday — August 19, 2020

Nikon updated all their main software products yesterday to support the Z5 (e.g. Capture NX-D, ViewNX-i, etc.). Nikon's Update Center.

Tuesday — August 18, 2020

Yes, I continue to try to bring the zsystemuser.com site towards some level of "completeness." Don't worry, I'm still tinkering with sansmirror.com and dslrbodies.com and have upcoming articles and reviews for them, too. Plus I am working on some surprises and additions based upon your feedback last week. I even have a code name for that project. No, I won't tell you what the code name is ;~). 


Links to all the previous articles for my sites can be found in the Articles Index.

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