February 2020

Wednesday — February 26, 2020

Affinity Photo 1.8 adds PSD Smart Object compatibility and now supports the current Nik collection (2.5). Additional improvements were made in raw processing, batch processing, and other areas. If you don't own Photoshop and need pixel or layer type editing, this US$50 product is probably the one you should own.

As usual for big shows, this site's advertiser, B&H, has specials that are available during the show itself. For B&H's WPPI specials [advertiser link], you may need to enter the promo code BHWPPI20 to see the final, correct price for some items. For instance, the Panasonic GH5S shows up normally right now with a US$500 discount, but with the promo code entered, the price drops another US$200. The show specials end 2/28, so don't dally if you're interested.

I'm pleased to announce that I've updated the Complete Guide to the Z50 to version 1.01. Thanks to sharp-eyed readers and another full pass by me through the book, I've wrangled a lot of small gremlins into submission. I also added the Firmware 1.10 changes. The result is a more accurate, clear, and complete book. If you previously purchased the 1.00 version, you should check your email for your update link (be sure to check your Spam/Junk folder, as the email comes from an automated server, which a lot of email providers don't like). 

Tuesday — February 25, 2020

Wedding & Portrait Photography International (WPPI) starts today in Las Vegas, and Nikon has live streaming from the event if you want to watch the presentations from their booth.

Monday — February 24, 2020

Thursday — February 20, 2020

There still seems to be some confusion about Subject Tracking on the Z cameras with Firmware 3.00, mostly because Nikon's documentation of the change is confusing. The thing that changed is what happens once you're in Subject Tracking mode; now it works just like 3D Tracking does on the DSLRs, which is what we all wanted. Unfortunately, Subject Tracking is still a sub-mode of Auto-Area AF, which means you have to select Auto-Area AF, then press the OK button (or an assigned Fn button) to get to Subject Tracking. In essence, Nikon seems to think that these are the same functions with only one difference. Auto-Area AF figures out what the subject is, Subject Tracking allows you to point to the subject. Nikon still has ignored our request to allow AF-ON+AF Area Mode to be assigned to buttons, which would make a more dramatic change for sophisticated users.

Meanwhile, Photoshop 21.1 has been released by Adobe with improved Content Aware Fill and a new Lens Blur panel that uses the GPU of your computer. macOS Dark UI support is also added. The iPad version of Photoshop updates to version 1.2 and gets a new Object Selection tool and additional type settings.

RawDigger 1.4.0 adds the latest Nikon and Canon camera support, as does FastRawViewer 1.5.5.1597.

Wednesday — February 19, 2020

B&H has any in-stock Mac Pro discounted at US$500 at the moment. The question I keep getting is which Mac Pro model should you buy? For photography, probably either 8 or 12 cores. For video, probably 12 or 16 cores. Don't worry about the GPU, the stock one is probably fine for photographers. Minimize your already-installed RAM and just buy what you need from third parties (an OWC 64GB upgrade is US$381). Don't get carried away with SSD, either. Get one that's large enough for the OS and your basic needs, but remember, this is a very configurable computer. You can get a Promise 8TB drive and enclosure that mounts internally (and can hold a second drive) for US$380. [all links are advertiser links] So basically you can get an 8 core Mac Pro with 64GB, 1TB SSD, 8TB hard drive for about US$6660 right now. Add an LG 27" 5k UltraFine monitor and you still have a few dollars left over from your US$8000 savings account. That's a really well built, well specified, versatile, and upgradeable machine that should tide you over for years. 

Tuesday — February 18, 2020

Nikon updated all three Z cameras' firmware, adding support for ProGrade and Lexar CFe cards, Animal Eye Detect AF, changes to the Tracking AF, support for the new 70-200mm lens and its extra controls, and several small bug fixes. 

Nope, Nikon still hasn't nailed it, though things are far, far better than before. For instance, assigning Fn1 to Subject Tracking only works if you're in Auto Area AF. So that's simply a substitute for the OK button, not the the complete "change to another AF Area mode" function that we wanted (and is in the D5, D500, and D850, but surprisingly not in the D780). But at least we don't have to press a button to stop and move starting point now.

The quick and dirty analysis of animal eye detect: it's sensitive to face shape and ears. It appears to work on wild cats, and even some owls, but not always on monkeys, and not at all on other birds. It did manage to find a local squirrel's eyes, to my surprise. I'll be taking a quick journey to the zoo soon to verify my quick analysis. 

Meanwhile, Nikon's suite of software was all updated to support the D6.

The m4/3 association announced that "[Micro Four Thirds] achieved a top share #1 of 19.8% in the domestic market [Japan] by lens mount in 2019." This is based upon a m4/3 association survey. But BCN data puts the Canon M mount very, very close to that same number. And to put that into perspective, that's about 165,000 units, compared to the global market of about 8,500,000 units. Translation: "we won a home game in a squeaker, but we lose all road games." 

Monday — February 17, 2020

Despite the CP+ show cancellation, I expect all the product announcements planned for the next ten days to go ahead as planned. The big one will likely be Fujifilm's not-so-secret X-T4 announcement next week. But I'm tracking five other announcements, as well. The bigger question is how much the Covid-19 virus outbreak is causing supply pipelines to break. Most of Nikon's lens hoods, for instance, are now supplied out of China even though their lenses are mostly produced in Thailand and Japan. So it could be smaller things that tighten product availability in the near term.

Friday — February 14, 2020

The Nikon D610 deal (US$900 with lens, grip, wireless transmitter [advertiser link]) is back through Sunday evening at B&H. I still say that this is a remarkably good price for someone who wants to move from the D3xxx/D5xxx (and even D7xxx) type of camera to experience the advantages of full frame. The sensor may seem old, but the newer 24mp full frame sensors don't beat it at base ISO, and really only start to beat it at the gain bump at ISO 800, and even then not by a lot. A raw shooter can extract a lot out of that old sensor.

Meanwhile, in Japan, the CP+ trade show has been cancelled due to the Covid-19 virus. It's impossible to say whether that is the right or wrong decision, as there's little clarity on even the basic data about the disease. But I'll point out that most people (and organizations) aren't particularly good at risk analysis. What is clear is that the virus is now starting to impact decision making and businesses worldwide, and that now includes the photography market.

Thursday — February 13, 2020

Wednesday — February 12, 2020

Told you it was going to get busy...

The In Box this morning told me that the Nikon DSLR shooters aren't particularly excited, while the Nikon Z shooters woke up happier. I know several pros that had a tentative order in with their dealers for the D6 who've now taken a wait-and-see attitude. 

But Nikon's not alone in the disappointing update category. We've seen that a lot lately. The spec-peeking public needs something big to chew on and they're not getting it (except perhaps for the 61 in the Sony A7Rm4). Even I fell a bit for that with my initial words about the D780. The D780 is turning out to be a far better camera than the specifications would suggest, much like the D810 was.

Tuesday — February 11, 2020

B&H's Depth of Field conference is now live streaming. As usual, they have a number of show specials available during the two days of the conference [advertiser link].

Lots of new gear coming starting tomorrow, including the Nikon D6, so be prepared for camera/lens announcements. The CP+ show in Japan starts in two weeks, so between now and then you'll see new products from most of the companies.

Adobe updated Camera Raw to 12.2 and Lightroom Classic to 9.2. The changes can be found on Adobe's Blog.

Monday — February 10, 2020

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