Cameras and Photography Explained

This page points to all recent articles published on, and, and is updated as new articles appear (most recent on top). For articles from previous months, check the Articles Index Archive. 

A topical subject, obviously. These are Nikon Coolpix 990 JPEGs—run through Topaz JPEG to Raw AI—that I took on assignment for one of the early digital photography magazines in 2001. You may wonder about the framing of the shot, above. It's driven by the lens, which wasn't wide enough to capture the lower arches if I went symmetrical. Without the lower arches, there's not enough context, and things become more isolationist and abstract, like this image taken the same session:

France Paris 2-7-2001 4044-edit

These different compositions point something out: I was trying to illustrate a magazine story. That means that you need different kinds of images to tell the story fully. Photojournalists and documentarians don't just stand in one place with one lens. They look for context, they look for details, they look for contrasts...they look for story.

It's a shame that this grand building has been so badly damaged. My heart is with the Parisians who are in mourning. The good news is that it appears that it can be salvaged and Notre Dame will return to its full glory some day. Bravo firefighters. 

I mentioned instant rebates coming later this spring. Given the low CIPA numbers for the first two months of the year, April glowers will bringing May flowers of discounts. I say hold off on any significant high-dollar purchase if it's not on significant discount.

A few good deals are active right now, though: the excellent Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L lens is US$400 off, the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L II is US$300 off, and a new kit with the Nikon D7500 with 18-55mm and 70-300mm lenses is US$1400. Sony is being very active: The Sony A7Rm3 is discounted US$400. The Sony A9 is back on sale big time with a US$1000 discount. That's a really good price for a really good camera, and probably the best entry point for someone going into sports photography (the D500 would be the other good entry point). There are also discounts on the A7Rm2, A7m2, A5100, A6000, and A6300 active, as well as most E-mount lenses. Nikon's new discounts will be announced for May. [All links go to this site's exclusive advertiser, B&H]

>>> This Week's Articles: 

April 24

More Canon Negativity on the Market. Canon today posted the results from the first quarter of this year, along with their revised expectations for 2019. Article on

April 23

How Many Photos Did it Take? Congratulations, you just showed me a great photo. Now I have a question: how many photos did it take you to get that one? ;~) Article on

More Random Questions Answered. My periodic answers to questions I'm getting frequently in my In Box. Article on

April 22

Introducing Consolidators. Over the past decade I've described a number of common photographer gear types I've discovered through my research and surveys. Today I describe a new group, consolidators. Article on

I'm Constantly Being Chased. Someone asked me recently why I was always so focused on camera gear. It's not a terrible question to ask. Indeed, it's one that a lot of us pros have been dealing with for quite some time. Article on

That Was Bad Advice, Bad Advice... Bad advice costs nothing and it's worth the price. Article on

May I ask that you start your photographic-related shopping by clicking on any of the B&H links on this site, such as the following one. B&H is this site's exclusive advertiser. Starting a purchase at B&H from a link on this site helps support this site.

Some of you probably aren't aware that I've long had a dedicated B&H Landing Page [advertiser link] where the items in each of four different "gear bags" I use lives. We've just updated that page and the underlying pages, as well.


>>> Recent Articles:

April 19

Tokina 100mm f/2.8 Macro Firin for Sony FE mount was announced.

April 17

The Mirrorless Lens Conundrum. My 24-70mm f/2.8 S-line lens for the Nikon Z cameras showed up recently, as did everyone else's. Nikon's shipments immediately started triggering the "should I get the f/2.8 or the f/4 lens" type of questions in my In Box. Article on

April 15

Who is Your Curator? Information these days can come to you in one of two forms: firehose or curated (we also have curated firehoses ;~). Firehose means that huge amounts of data gets dumped your way, while curated means that someone or something is filtering (and sometimes modifying) that information so that you only see a (hopefully useful) subset. Article on

Learning from Others (Landscape Photographers). What can you learn from a landscape photographer? A lot. Article on

Adobe CC Pricing. Updated It started in other regions and countries, but now appears to be fully in place in the US, as well: the old US$10/month Lightroom/Photoshop Creative Cloud plan with 20GB of cloud data is no longer available to new users hidden from users who come in through the Creative Cloud page. Article on

April 11

Sony made the 3.0 firmware available for the Sony A7m3 and A7Rm3 today. This update adds real-time Eye AF, including for animals, and adds Interval shooting. A few other minor changes are also included. 

Nikon shipped the 24-70mm f/2.8 S-line Nikkor for Z cameras today. If you're looking for one and can't find it in stock, let me know by email; I know of one extra that's currently available. 

April 10

Canon introduced the Rebel SL3 DSLR today, a mild update to the SL2. 

NAB 2019. The following products were announced at or just before the NAB Show in Las Vegas this week. Article on Also note that B&H has a lot of NAB specials [advertiser link] running this week. Note that these specials go well beyond cameras and lenses, and extend into lighting, audio, computers, support, bags, and media/storage. Many of these items are available only in limited supply, so if you're interested, don't hesitate. All require that you enter the promo code BHNAB19 at checkout to get the full extra savings.

April 8

The Coming 64-bit Wall. In June 2019 Apple will introduce the next version of the macOS at their developer conference. While the clock has been ticking for a couple of years now, the countdown to 64-bit actually starts with the beta release to developers (and early adopters) of the next macOS. Article on

Does Anyone Really Want a New DSLR? One thing about technology: it eventually makes the average product capability rise above the actual needs of the average customer. Article on

Camera Classics. One cable program here in the US is live coverage of the Barrett-Jackson auto auctions. The talk on that show is pretty incessant about cars that are drivable and collectable. Obviously, this is about nostalgic demand. Brand new cars have technologies and capabilities not in those older models. Are there such things as classic cameras? Article on

Minimum Viable Product. A lot of what we struggle with as camera users these days has to do with what's happening in camera engineering. Specifically, the notion of Minimum Viable Product (MVP). The recent Canon RP, for example, is mostly MVP overall, as are products like Fujifilm's X-A5 and X-T100. Still, virtually every new camera product we're seeing now has MVP decisions in it, and those are one of the things that put us all in "wait and see" mode instead of upgrading our kits. Article on

The Raw Fallacy. I've just seen it again. The statement that you shouldn't shoot raw because it takes too long to process. This idea pops up on photography discussions all the time, typically after someone who's normally a casual shooter—a few images a week—suddenly goes on an extended, exotic vacation and ends up with thousands of images they need to process when they get home. Then you get the "it takes forever to process all these images, and presets don't solve the problem" statements that plague these discussions. Article on

April 5

Panasonic introduced the G95 (different number in some markets). I've also updated a great deal of information in the mirrorless camera data pages, including the various model and shipment charts.

April 2

I Have a Prediction About the Nikon 1. As I noted in another article, Nikon effectively ghosted their Nikon 1 customers for over two years between the quiet introduction of the last Nikon 1 (J5) and the complete discontinuation of Nikon 1 gear. Article on

Things I Find Strange in the Full Frame War. We're slowly getting more and more details from the camera makers in terms of their overall product positioning as they all get settled in with their full frame cameras and we get hints on what's coming. Yet as I see, read, and hear these details, they still leave me scratching my head at times. Here's a list of some of the items that are confusing me. Article on

Things I Find Strange in the Crop Sensor Mirrorless Market. Now that everyone is playing at the mirrorless camera table, we basically have a duality in product that customers face: (1) full frame and larger sensor models; and (2) crop sensor models (APS-C and m4/3). I deal with what I find strange about the full frame competition in another article. This article tackles the crop sensors. Here's a list of some of the items that are confusing me. Article on

April 1

Sony's New Sensor Technology. By coincidence I was browsing through my note files the other day, where I found one reference that attempted to figure out how much better an image sensor could get and this sidetracked my attention for a few minutes. Article on

CIPA Press Conference on Camera Sales. Embarrassed executives from all the camera companies lined up in an extraordinary press conference at the Shinjuku Sheraton today. "Sumimasen" was the word of the day, as Canon, Fujifilm, Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic, and Sony executives came to the podium. Article on

March 26

The Market Change. While commenting on the Imaging-Resource forum about the seemingly conflicting predictions from various Japanese camera company executives about sales trends, it struck me that it was pretty simple to show everything in one chart. Article on

March 25

5 Things Mirrorless Users Should be Doing but Aren't. Not that mirrorless users are any worse than DSLR users, but I keep running into a few things that most mirrorless users are simply not doing, but they should be. Article on

Is There a Preferred RAW Converter? Short answer: yes, but it varies with the camera you're using. Article on

What Would Thom Do? (2019 Edition). From time to time I post articles about camera product management from both my perspective as an analyst of the camera market and as a former product manager. DSLRs are at a critical stage right now as we transition to mirrorless. Planners in Tokyo have been dealing with this for a few years now, and I'm sure that both Canon and Nikon have clear ideas on how they move forward. Article on

March 21

Recommended Mac Hardware. Updated for latest March 2019 Apple Announcements. Note also: coincident with the March 2019 announcements Apple has repriced some of their upgrade options (RAM and SSD primarily) a bit lower with many models. So be sure to recheck pricing on any option you were considering. Article on

March 19

Nikon 35mm f/1.8 S (Z mount) Lens Review. The 35mm f/1.8 was the first prime lens Nikon delivered for the Z cameras. As such, many looked at it as a harbinger of lenses to come, as Nikon also promised f/1.8 primes at 20mm, 24mm, 50mm, and 85mmArticle on

Nikon 50mm f/1.8 S (Z mount) Lens Review. The 50mm f/1.8 S is the second in Nikon's prime lens offerings for the Z system. Surprisingly, it's pretty much the same size as the 35mm f/1.8 S (in this case 3.4" x 3", or 86.5 x 76mm). Article on

March 18 

Chasing Gains. My article last week about whether ISO is fake or not brought up a lot of discussion points. But there's one in particular I want to talk about today, because it plays into many of those discussions. Article on

March 14

The Next Full Frame Cameras. That headline got your attention, didn't it? ;~) Article on 

March 11

The Blanks in the Canon RF Lens Lineup. We don't really have a lens roadmap from Canon like we do for most of the other companies. The lenses we know about so far give us this picture by focal length. Article on

The Blanks in the Nikon Z Lens Lineup. Nikon's roadmap for Z mount lenses keeps getting small adjustments. At the moment, Nikon is showing charts with three unidentified lenses to be released in 2020, eight in 2021. The operative question is what do we want those lenses to be, and what are they likely to be? Article on

The Photographer Creates the Image. The camera makers have fixed your problems. But have you fixed any, yourself? I'm old enough to say that I started in the do-it-all-yourself world when it comes to photography. Manual exposure (no built-in camera meter, either), manual focus, manual frame advance, and keep it steady yourself. Article on

The State of Camera Sales. It's that time of year again. The Japanese camera companies are all wrapping up their fiscal years (other than Canon, who's in their first fiscal quarter), and CIPA has published their deeper look at the industry numbers for 2018 as well as their forecast for 2019.  Article on

If I Were to Switch. Let me work you through a thought experiment and show you how to correctly evaluate whether it's worth it to switch to another system or not. Article on

March 4

Is ISO Fake? A recent YouTube post by a well-known camera commentator provoked a lot of debate on the Web, but it's not new debate. For quite some time the term ISO has been argued over. What exactly is it, and do we need to pay attention to it? Article on

CP+ Wrap Up, Mirrorless. The mirrorless related products (plus a few compacts) that were introduced prior to and during the CP+ show in Japan, with an emphasis on trying to point out the current state of the market. Article on

CP+ Wrap Up, DSLR. The DSLR related products that were introduced prior to and during the CP+ show in Japan, with an emphasis on trying to understand where Canon, Nikon, and Pentax currently are at. Article on

February 26

Firmware Announcements Versus Shipments. You may have noticed that I have not commented on "future firmware updates." Not from Fujifilm, not from Nikon, not from Olympus, not from Panasonic, and not from Sony, all of which have put out press releases or held conferences on future firmware recently. Article on

Also note that I've been adding data pages for new lenses as they pop up, for example the Sony 135mm f/1.8. As I note above, I'll have a WPPI/CP+ wrap-up article next week that goes into commentary.

February 25

The One-Bag Photographic World Traveler. I've known a few people who are serious photographers who've decided to spend a year or more just wandering the world. One of the big issues they face is just how to winnow down their camera and computer gear to the point where it doesn't impact their ability to go anywhere, any time for any length, and in any manner of travel (plane, train, auto, boat, walking). Article on

Establish Your Own Standards, but... "My current 50mm 1.8 works just fine and is very sharp, so what can this new lens offer?" I get this sort of message fairly often. If you're happy with the performance of your current 50mm, then any improvement from a new optic would probably be useless to you. Be happy that your standards are met with what you have. But... Article on

February 19

Time to Step on the GAS? GAS stands for Gear Acquisition Syndrome. Over the years, photographers have been on and off again with their gear buying patterns. Sometimes the foot is on the GAS pedal, sometimes it's on the credit card brakes. Article on

Did the Camera Makers Follow the Trends? At this point you can find the basic claim I first made back in 2007/8 all over the place in the media: smartphones are cannibalizing the camera market. Or have cannibalized the dedicated camera market. Or continue to cannibalize the camera market. Basically, smartphones are cannibals, apparently. Article on

All the previous articles for my sites can be found in the Articles Index.

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