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This page of the site contains the latest 10 articles to appear on bythom, followed by links to the archives.

Strange Things Written on the Internet XXX

"AI will kill the camera companies." — numerous posts

This is akin to saying "camera companies can't keep up with processing bandwidth demands." 

Simply put, most things that people call AI require a lot of data (memory) and processing (GPU or NPU). If you believe that the camera companies are not capable of increasing either resource internally in their products, you are essentially saying that they're incompetent. 

The truth is simpler: when camera demand fell and smartphone demand rose, the economic benefit of creating new chips for these products tilted to the smartphone makers. Apple, Samsung, and Qualcomm have far greater volumes of product that they can spread R&D costs over, which also allows them to iterate faster, and thus to incorporate NPUs and AI/ML resources faster. Apple has almost fallen over themselves with their Apple Silicon iteration: the software teams aren't keeping up with the hardware. Meanwhile, most customers don't need what an M4 can do, even an M1 suffices. Coupled with the fact that smartphone sales have peaked, the court isn't tilted as far in their favor as much as it used to be, but still, the playing field is not close to level.

That said, the camera makers need to be careful. After all, you don't need a lens if your goal is to artificially create a "photo." ;~). Some AI would be very useful, but probably not as much generative AI that many think is the future of imaging. Nikon, who's now the third largest ILC vendor in volume probably has enough sales to continue to iterate EXPEED often enough and with enough AI-capable resources in it to stay competitive. A company such as Ricoh/Pentax probably does not. 

The real question is exactly what AI/ML makes sense inside a camera? The iPhone and Pixel cameras seem to have about exhausted their original ideas in this respect. The dedicated camera companies have mostly targeted focus and are also topping out in what their original target there was. It's as if creative thinking by human engineers has stopped ;~). 

“Prices should be determined by supply and demand.” — numerous posts

This comment comes up a lot when new products are introduced and demand is higher than supply, so the product is difficult to get. The Fujifilm X100VI camera and the Nikon 180-600mm f/5.6-6.3 VR lens are examples of that at the moment. 

The surprising part of the quote is that the posters of such comments aren’t camera vendors, but rather camera purchasers. In essence, these posters have swallowed the MBA school teachings hook, line, and sinker, and believe that just pricing a product “correctly” in the first place is all that’s necessary to get supply in balance with demand.

I’m here to tell you that pretty much everything I learned in the MBA program fails in the real world. People don’t respond the way the capaitalist demand curves suggest.

First, let me talk about the Nikon 180-600mm f/5.6-6.3 VR price. At US$1700, it’s clearly a bargain. It’s also priced lower than some other near-equivalent lenses, such as the Sony 200-600mm, even though I’d say the Nikon performs a bit better.

There’s a concept of leaving money on the table. Nikon has been clearly doing that with the Z System for some time now. Across the board, most of the Z cameras and lenses are priced lower than competitor’s equivalents. Being last to the full-on mirrorless game, Nikon pretty much needed to do something to call attention to their products, and pricing was one way they did (and continue to do) that. 

From Nikon’s viewpoint on the 180-600mm, they’re not thinking “oh darned, we could have priced it higher.” They’re thinking “yes, we’re picking up users’ attention,” and in an area that the competition is a little weaker (full telephoto lens lineup). The 180-600’s pricing was strategic, and not a tactical blunder as the MBA-think would suggest. 

Moreover, some of the demand is actually caused by the lack of supply. The fact that Nikon is selling all 5000 lenses they make every month is in itself causing more people to take a closer look and try to understand why. And when they do understand, they join the wait list, increasing the demand. 

Despite every MBA program teaching that supply and demand (and pricing and demand) have these “perfect” balance points when you graph them out properly, and that you should always target exactly that point, it doesn't work that way. The MBA way is mostly nonsense. And the Japanese camera companies have figured that out in a number of ways. 

For instance, supply chain and new regulation issues are still causing parts shortages and delays. A number of products are being delayed and priced higher specifically because the Japanese know that doing so will mean they still maximize the dollars they take in given the parts they know they can get. And in examples such as the Nikon Z System, pricing is not placed at the so-called demand junction in a specific attempt to increase the perceived demand. 

The problem is, this game is really tough to play. People almost never do exactly what you would expect them to. They’re quick to jump on what looks like the most popular train, quick to jump off when they discover that train wasn't going where they wanted to go or wouldn't get there fast enough. In my career I’ve graphed pretty much everything my MBA schooling told me to, and not a single one of those graphs look like what was taught. The marketing side of the program taught me far more useful bits, which I (and everyone else) learned to use to manipulate all the demand and pricing curves. 

What actually is most important turns out to be human behavior, not math. So neither Fujifilm nor Nikon are pricing incorrectly as far as I’m concerned. Also, it’s kind of nice to have products in strong demand and people talking about them a lot. 

"...the [OM-1 Mark II's] 2x crop is a secret weapon with this camera!" —DigitalCameraWorld review.

Is it? This is becoming less and less true as the full frame and other crop-sensor makers adjust their offerings to user wants. What are those wants? Smaller and lighter are two key ones. 

Consider for a moment the Nikon 800mm f/6.3 PF VR S on a 45mp Z8 body, for example. A 1.5x crop in camera gives about the same 20mp result as the OM-1 Mark II, so we need to compare size and weight at 1200mm, which means the OMDS 150-600mm f/5-6.3 lens. The m4/3 solution saves you a bit over a pound and 5" in length. Is that really a secret weapon, or just a modest decrease?

One of my problems with m4/3, and the reason why I moved away from it, is that the advantages it once had is narrowing down to fewer and fewer lens and camera combinations, almost all pushing diffraction limits. On the flip side, full frame at more megapixels adds abilities you can't get with the smaller image sensor. Given the costs and availability—I happen to live next door to an OMDS dealer, but most don't—you also start finding more people who have to rely upon what the Internet says and Internet buying options to get into m4/3 here in the US, and then discovering it wasn't quite what they were expecting.

Don't get me wrong, the right combo of m4/3 camera and lens can still net some users a clear advantage in some situations. But a "secret weapon"? No, not so much. It's a known difference, but it's a limited one.

"I fear that the [plastic] mount may not endure as long as a metal plate." — Lens review at Philippereeve.net

Sorry, but "fear" is not a useful attribute in a review. Either you have evidence that a plastic mount doesn't last as long as a metal mount, or you don't. Either you have materials expertise that can speak to the difference (and have identified the polymers used correctly) or you don't. 

I will say this: I've had a lot of lenses with "plastic" mounts dating back into the film days, and none have shown any real evidence of mount wear. On the other hand, I've had "metal" mounts that do show clear brassing and wear. But frankly, unless you can also show that the mount integrity deteriorates with wear in a way that makes the lens no longer live up to its capabilities (due to misalignment), your primary fear would be that brassing or wear would devalue the lens when you sell it, because others have read reviews that say "I fear that the mount may not endure..." 

"Nikon dominates the 2024 Camera Grand Prix awards." — Nikonrumors, Photorumors site headlines

As a transitive verb, "dominates" means rule or control. As an intransitive verb, it means to exert mastery, control, or preeminence. So how'd Nikon actually do? ;~)

In terms of camera of the year, the Sony A9 Mark III got 307 points, the Nikon Z8 got 126 points. Both the Japanese Camera Journal Press Club, which organizes the awards, and the readership of the member publications voted the A9 Mark III as Camera of the Year. The editors (not readers) gave a technology prize to the Nikon Z8 Auto Capture function, though that seems odd, as the function was first released on the Z9 in a previous year. Apparently technologies can be multiply introduced ;~). In lens of the year, the Nikon 135mm f/1.8 Plena S got 169 points, while the runner-up Sony 300mm f/2.8GM OSS had 92. Again, both the editors and readers anointed the same product. 

One might say that Sony and Nikon dominated the awards this year, with the two of them splitting the four primary award categories over an arguably poorer performance from Canon and the others in terms of vote getting. For what it's worth, Sony won the Camera of the Year award in 2023 for the A7R Mark V, though the readers voted the Panasonic S5 II as the winner, while the OMDS 90mm f/3.5 Macro IS Pro won the lens award from the editors. In 2022 it was the Nikon Z9 winning both camera awards, and the Sony 50mm f/1.2GM winning the lens award. If you go back to 2021, the Sony A1 won the editor's camera award. Amazingly you have to go all the way back to 2015 to find Canon taking the editor's award for a camera (7D Mark II). 

I'm not a big fan of singling out a product for an award on voting, whether it be editors or readers. I showed a number of years ago how that can be (and is) gamed. But hey, you'll probably see the award logo on ads and marketing materials soon, so it surely means something to the companies getting the awards.

Subscriptions, Lotteries, What's Next?

Yes, photography is becoming a cess pool of tactics designed to make your hobby/profession less enjoyable.

First up, we had the notion of "not owning something" pop up its nasty head with Adobe's strong move to subscriptions for Creative Cloud. At the extreme definition consider your monthly tithe to Adobe a toll for each time you use Lightroom, Photoshop, or the other CC products. Use Lightroom Classic four times a month? That'll be US$2.50 a use, please. 

Adobe's success has prompted others to go the same route, but their bridge tollroad software probably costs more per use if you were to cost it out that way. At the most recent photography trade show I went to, I counted the number of software subscriptions being hawked: over a dozen. 

That number continues to go up. For instance, Photo Mechanic just started asking for 50% more a month than Adobe. This for a limited function product that needs a complete overhaul in UI, and whose updating has mostly been (throughout its history) solely bug fixes, security fixes, and new camera model handling. Worse still, you can get a perpetual license, but that's equivalent to paying for two years worth of subscription but getting only one year worth of updates and support. I've started designing a "better" ingest program, which I hope to get a developer to create (preferably without subscription ;~).

The net impact of software moving to subscription is that Adobe will win. Partly because the photography plan from them is still just US$10 a month, an affordable price for a hobbyist or professional photographer, partly because Adobe has proven that they'll aggressively update their products with new features and performance that slowly stifles competitive products (particularly plug-ins).

Adobe is the Netflix of software: they've established the bigger, best, and most iterative competitor in Subscriptions, and all the other players now have to do something to catch up or be rendered irrelevant. I don't see the others doing that successfully at the moment. Over time, you're going to subscribe to fewer and fewer software packages because that's the only way you can control the costs of your hobby/profession. I, for instance, am carefully looking over my software expenses this year, and starting to prune out products I use infrequently or which produce little added value. I'm pretty sure you will be, too, if you aren't already.

Next up we have Lotteries. 

The hardware companies seem to think this is the solution to them making too few product to meet demand, or to make a few extra dollars off a simple engraving. The amusing irony is that by going to a lottery system—both Fujifilm and Ricoh are current practitioners for some products—this means that the hardware-producing company takes in less money than it could ;~). Moreover, they think that they're establishing a fair system where everyone has the same chance of winning, but in practice that has not turned out to be the case. 

If you're going to make an extreme limited edition product—example: the Fujifilm X100VI Limited Edition—then the proper way to do it would be to auction that small quantity of product off. If you don't want to be accused of profiteering, donate the excess profit to a photographic charity. The arbitraging scalpers that tried to scoop up all those X100VIs probably wouldn't have bothered, because if they auction off at US$3000, how do you make money off that? It's the idea that they can pick up the limited edition for US$2000 and sell it on eBay for US$3000+ that's driving all the scalpers to try to scoop up the camera before the rest of us. Take that incentive away and they go away. 

But we've had quasi lotteries for some time. Nikon NPS Priority Purchase is probably the most publicly known version, but there are others that are hidden from view. If you don't belong to the right "club" you'll be at the tail end of a line for seats that are currently all filled. 

It's funny. One of things we studied at length in my MBA program at the Kelley School (IU) was supply and demand. Oh the formulas, the charts, the "capitalism solves all problems" thinking. As it turns out, most of what is taught in MBA programs doesn't work in the real world very well, if at all. Lotteries always cater to irrational behavior by humans. So the formulas and spreadsheets you carefully calculate simply don't work. Lotteries certainly don't maximize value at the hardware producing company, which you'd think those companies would want to do. But the bottom line is that no camera company is taking risks any more; they don't produce to demand, at all. Well, okay, Canon has overproduced to demand, and going to pay for that in lower gross profit margin, but Canon's also about the only camera maker still on the "obtain maximum market share" plan.

But we're not done yet with things that make photography less enjoyable.

How about Feature Add-ons? 

Sony tried this with PlayMemories apps (and more). That lasted 12 years as Sony tried to figure out how to charge for features. Now those features are gone ;~). To be replaced by things like "Buy a Grid." So it appears that Sony still wants to sell you feature add-ons, they just aren't going to do so under a sub-brand name. Are firmware updates far behind?

Finally, we have Three Product Monte, the shell game being dealt by a lot of software companies. Features previously in one product that are iterated are removed and put in another product so as to trigger a different upgrade charge. Skylum used to be the primary user of this tactic, but now I see it across at least three other companies. The baseline here is "don't let the customer get all your capabilities in one product." By forcing you to buy multiple products, revenue increases. Or so the companies think; many professionals balk at such tactics because it keeps changing their workflow, and workflow time is money. 

A relative to Three Product Monte is discontinuing a product completely, and putting its ability in a different, new product, for which you have to pay full price for. Again, pros will balk at this because the workflow change, but apparently enough hobbyists buy into this strategy that it works for sucking a few more dollars from them.

All the above things are all indicators of a market that's not really growing. Certainly a market that's not growing enough to support all the players in it. Which means we'll see consolidation and more nicheafication in the not too distant future. For example, since the Z9 and a couple of particular lenses appeared, I can't think of anything else I would want to buy. And Adobe software, once mastered, is probably all I really need. Getting my attention and dollars to buy something new is going to take one of the above moves (or a new move), and even then I'll be somewhat reluctant. 

Someone is going to put the above all together, though, and I can't wait for the complaints about that. Consider a camera that comes with a Feature/Update subscription that is only attainable via lottery. Better still, it plays Three Product Monte with the base feature/performance set, meaning that there will be something in the offering that makes you want to upgrade, but then you'll be caught in the Subscription game, probably to get back features you gave up when you upgraded! 

Don't laugh, the auto makers have been trying to figure this game out, and I'm pretty sure they'll figure it out (I could help them with that, as I've identified two ways they could get there, but I'm not about to foist those ideas on society for free; I don't want "getting Thomed" to be a slang phrase in the future across industries). If they do, other manufacturing based industries will follow, including cameras.

I'll also point out one tactic that currently isn't really used in the photo market other than some Web sites: embedded advertising. What would your reaction be if your camera started putting up messages like "works best with Nextorage cards"? Don't laugh, it's coming, though maybe not soon. Currently we have the anti-embedding opposite happening, though: Canon full frame RF cameras don't support third party RF autofocus lenses. Canon seems to think that "system" means "only things with the Canon name on them." 

Finally, another thing that's happening now: email update overload. 

In direct marketing, a concept called conversion rate is important. What happens is this: on your first few direct email promotions, you have a strong conversion rate (e.g. send out 1000 emails and get 100 orders). So you send out more emails. But the conversion rate drops, so you send out more. 

What a lot of companies are now doing is exhausting their cow. As in cash cow being milked too much. I'm pretty sure you can name the top three photo software companies that have fallen to this practice. Since the conversion rates drop over persistent mailings, this induces the "minor update for a low price" syndrome in response. Which provokes more emails, which reduces conversion, which...well, it's a vicious cycle once you get into it. Add in offering rumor sites a piece of the action for promoting your latest and greatest, and the din of the marketing noise just gets overwhelming for very little benefit.

You really want a customer for life if you're running a business. Most of the things noted above are abusing that customer, which makes them less likely to stick around until your company dies off. 

Yes, I'm Back From My Internet Fasting

bythom INT BOTS Okavango April24 Z91 96598


I'll have much more to say soon about my month in Africa, including a Zoom seminar with Mark Comon of Creative Photo Academy. So stay tuned.

But in case you hadn't noticed, I took a bit more than a month off from the Internet. Mostly because I was teaching two 10-day photography workshops in Botswana during that period, but also because I prefer to step away from the Web fire hose once in awhile so as to dry out a bit. 

At those two workshops there were a total of 34 (!) Nikon Z8 or Z9 bodies being bounced around on some of the toughest "roads" on the planet. I personally put in 2500km (1500 miles) bouncing around on sand, plus quite a bit of additional distance on boats and small planes. I was close enough to pet wild lions, had an African Wild Cat decide to come be my tent mate, and managed to see pretty much all of Botswana's zebras on migration simultaneously (many thousands). Heck, very much unlike me, things were so good photographically I took over a terabyte of images during my time off, including with two new products I was testing. 

No, I'm not rested ;~). I'll need a few days of extra sleep for that.

But I am rested from writing and the Internet, so my brain is clear and my fingers poised. So expect me to start adding my contribution to the fire hose soon.

If you're interested in coming on an African safari with other Z8s and Z9s, there's a space available at this year's September workshop, a couple of spaces still available for the July 2025 workshop, plus I'll have the two 2026 workshops posted soon (sign up here for the workshop mailing list).

Product Envy

You're used to bragging about how good your camera is compared to another. You're used to fan boys fueling debate about which product is better (it's always theirs). You're used to on-line discussions about which camera you should buy and why. 

All these things have at their core "product envy." 

But there's a form of product envy that doesn't get talked about: that of the camera companies themselves. 

At the risk of exaggerating a bit:

  • Canon — Has no products other camera companies envy.
  • Fujifilm — The X100VI invokes intense envy from other camera makers.
  • Nikon — The Z8, Z9, and Zf all invoke clear envy right now from other camera makers.
  • OMDS — Has no products other camera companies envy, though there may be a few features that are envied.
  • Panasonic — Has no products other camera companies envy.
  • Sony — Has a series of "more hybrid" small cameras that other companies have some envy for (e.g. the A7C models).

One of the common discussions happening right now in Tokyo among the camera businesses has to do with the recent publication of both store and overall market results in Japan. While low cost (and often on deep sale) crop sensor cameras dominated the broader BCN retail channels in terms of volume, at the five "major" camera stores in Japan, Nikon's Z8 and Zf kept turning up at the top of the 2023 lists. They're currently number one and two at Yodabashi in March, three four and five (kit) at Fujiya, plus the Zf shows up as two or three at two others. 

Canon's asking themselves how a modest retro dial camera just powered past their R6 Mark II. Sony's trying to figure out why the A1 isn't holding its own. 

If you think that the camera companies don't respond each others' successful products, then you need to think again. In particular, Canon at the moment seems lost and peering fondly at their competitors' offerings. Canon is still executing mostly the same strategy as before forever but with a new mount and less third party support. When I talk to managers at retail stores in the US, they all say the same thing to me: Canon thinks they created the right products but the market doesn't think so. 

Meanwhile, Sony found that their A7/A7R mainstream duo has been stalling, while the A1 and A9 are not picking off as many pro Canon and Nikon photographers as they expected. Sony also got a little too on board with the "creator" thing, though they have been somewhat successful at attracting some competitor envy with the vlogging-type cameras (A7C, ZV-1/10). I wonder just how much market there is longterm for that "more hybrid" body style, though.

Nikon's grabbing RED out of nowhere for next to nothing is producing even more product envy at Canon/Panasonic/Sony, as well as a little bit of panic. A Nikon that emphasizes high end across both still and video yet undercuts the others in price while pushing the envelope on performance is very, very scary. To explain why, I have to use the smartphone market as an example: Apple is not the largest volume producer with iPhone worldwide, yet Apple scoops up far more of the profits in the smartphone arena than the others combined. High end done right is the Golden Egg in tech, and Nikon suddenly seems to be figuring that out (again). 

The reason why I mention this is that what I'm hearing out of Tokyo during the year-end business press conferences (and off-record whispers) is that at least three of the companies are looking at a few of the others with deep product envy, to the point that we're going to soon start seeing "hey let me play in that arena, too" type products. 

Expect more pro compacts, more hybrid crossovers, and more everything-including-the-kitchen-sink high end products in the next year to eighteen months. 

I'll help Tokyo out here:

  • Canon — needs to move away from market share to product dominance. Kiss/Rebel/low EOS is too vulnerable to, well, everything. Canon's starting to feel like the late 20th century General Motors of cameras. And in lenses, too, for that matter. The product line up seems "reasonable" at first glance, but it's geared towards a world where 10m+ cameras are sold a year, and that world no longer exists. 
  • Fujifilm — doesn't need a medium format compact camera, but they'll make it anyway ;~). My problems—and they should be yours, too, if they're your maker of choice—is a lot of inconsistency in UI/UX, an underperformance in autofocus, and a dated 20th century outlook on lens needs. 
  • Nikon — needs to figure out how far downwards they'll take their top-end tech, and get there faster. APS-C (DX) is technically dicey for them, even with the limited success of the Zfc. Plus RED now needs the Z-mount stat, not "sometime in the future." Nikon's got a lot on their plate that needs clearing.
  • OMDS — I'm finding them irrelevant these days. Full frame cameras with telephoto lenses have gotten smaller and lighter and are stealing wind from the one boat OMDS has in the water. An m4/3 XA was needed a decade ago, and still appears to be off the drawing board. The Pen F design has been abandoned in an era where it would probably be welcomed. And using large full frame lenses from a third party maker to fill a gap isn't going to cut it, is it?
  • Panasonic — doesn't need a full frame compact camera, but they'll make it anyway ;~). The problem at Panasonic is simple: they never standardized on anything, as did Sony with their laser E-mount focus. I see a lot of different engineering silos at Panasonic, all of which have some competence, but they often compete with themselves in ways that aren't productive. The sum of the parts in R&D at Panasonic are less than the sum of the parts in R&D at Panasonic. Someone needs to fix that.
  • Sony — I've been trying to figure out how many ILC models Sony is actually currently making. I come up with at least 16 models, and many more if I have to count things like the A7 Mark II that's still being sold. In a 6m unit/year camera world, that seems to me like asking for inefficiency, probably because you're too focused on market share (see Canon). Sony is the driver who darts from lane to lane thinking they're making progress, only to end up next to you at the next stop light. 

Product envy isn't going to get any camera maker very far, very fast. Worse still, I can still think of dozens of ways in which cameras could be improved that aren't being done right now. If I were running a camera company, I'd be singing the following:

When a problem comes along, you must whip it
When the cream sets out too long, you must whip it
When something's going wrong, you must whip it

Now whip it into shape
shape it up
get straight
go forward
move ahead
try to detect it
it's not too late
to whip it, whip it good


It's That Time Again — Thom is Resting

INT AF 2010 D3 00879

At least once a year I try to take a complete break from the Internet, which means no reading other sites, no posting in fora or on my sites, and no answering email for a month. For the most part I'm not even online at all during that month, as I'm out and about doing other things, like testing lenses, scouting locations, writing future articles, thinking about my site design, cleaning my office, fixing something at the house, and more. My iPad is now in "read books and watch Netflix mode," the iPhone is off, the office Mac is also off, and the only thing I'm doing on my MacBook is working on photos and sometimes writing new ideas and articles. 

By not dealing with the always-on Internet during these rest periods, my brain gets some much needed relaxation and freedom from perceived or absolute deadlines. I always end my off-the-Internet periods more clear minded, more creative, and more energized. 

This year's first break begins when the moon obscures the sun today, April 8th, and lasts until May 9th. During that time I will not be posting new articles and will not be checking email. Yes, I know there's a major convention (NAB) in that time period (the press releases are already piling up), that the Tokyo business press will be active reporting company's year end results and talking to top executives about strategies, plus some significant cameras and lenses may even be introduced while I'm offline. As usual, I'll do my best to catch everything back up when I return, though that kind of article probably won't appear until May 13th or so, as it takes a bit of time for me to do that catching up myself.

Consider this also a rest for you: instead of my prolific firehose of output, my month off will absolutely lessen the number of things you need to read and ponder.

See 'ya on the other side.


Interesting Things Said on the Internet II

"OMDS says it is shifting to become an outdoor company making imaging products. It’s a subtle shift, but also a significant one in terms of positioning the OM System brand in a different… ahem, space to the other camera-makers." --Digitalcameraworld

When marketing can't describe why their products are a better choice, they look for truth-adjacent rationalizations to explain. 

First off, I don't think any of us were aware that Olympus (and now OMDS) was an "indoor" company. True, they made some products that were used indoors, some that were used outdoors, some that were used in both locations. But to use location in terms of their current products really doesn't make a lot of sense. And oh, by the way, OMDS, does that mean I now have to use my LS-P5 digital recorder only outdoors? ;~) Apparently so, since the marketing materials say it's for "music and field" but only show it used outdoors. Ditto the journalist-oriented recorders.

Worse still, OMDS is using "Outdoor Monster" branding at times in describing what their products are for. Do I really want a monster? I don't think so, but it is true that if I do want one, I want to keep it outdoors. 

All the camera makers are scrambling for the niches they think they can still see and claim, which in turn is also scrambling their product development and user base. I can tell you that the wildlife photography market is getting "filled" and most customers can't afford to buy the big guns more than once. So good luck with targeting that. 

I still have my doubts about OMDS, even though the similar, earlier spin-out of Vaio from Sony is still going, now on it's 13th generation of laptops. Cameras don't sell in the volume laptops do. The dedicated camera market at the moment looks basically overall flat and lacking any meaningful growth. 

Of course you know what I'll write about that: the camera market lacks growth because the makers lack the ability to both properly define why you need one, let alone match user needs properly. 

But let's keep this on OMDS for a moment: imagine if they had made a True Pen, not the compact-derived Pen PL/PM variants they've tended to create. Imagine further that this was targeted as a true compact, ala the Fujifilm X100. Think it might have sold (not sure if it would have gone viral though)? The funny thing is that OMDS must be able to see for themselves that all those PL/PMs basically sold out fast when offered at a discount in the Japanese market. But they haven't really been replaced with anything, and aren't available at all in many markets, including the US. Guess they don't work outdoors. ;~) Petapixel recently interviewed OMDS execs who said they didn't think a Pen-F successor would sell. Well, it certainly won't sell if you don't make it, so good on getting that right, OMDS.

What I keep seeing is companies that don't understand cameras making cameras. Oh, they understand semiconductors and electronics and even optics, but they don't understand cameras and the way people really use them. Probably because the designers don't actually use them, nor do they talk enough to the global community that does use their cameras. 

"X100VI production should be increased in about four or five months." — Fujifilm UK manager

People seem to believe that increasing production is as simple as someone saying "just do it." It doesn't even work that way at your local McDonalds, which would almost immediately run out of food because their incoming supplies are tightly controlled and scheduled. 

No doubt the Fujifilm X100VI triggered a lot of orders. Indeed, the first thing that has to happen is someone at Fujifilm verifies the level of orders and comes to some conclusions about how many are multiple orders where people were just trying to get in line in as many places as they could. Then they'd need to look at their supply chain and see if they have to make adjustments there. Then there's predicting the overall global economy in the near to mid future. 

But let's say that everything adds up and Fujifilm decides, yes, there is a much stronger demand for that product we need to ramp up for. If, for instance, Fujifilm decided that they needed twice as many image sensors for the X100VI as they originally thought, even if they could tell the fab to double production it would be almost three months before they saw a volume change. 

The myth of semiconductors is that you "just stamp them out." In other words, put a wafer on the stepper, press the Start button, and out the other end comes a finished product. Some even think this happens in minutes. Nope. Big bummer coming for those of you who do think that. Many steps occur in just preparing the wafer, then each layer that goes on the wafer takes an enormous number of steps and time to complete, and once that is all built up, the wafer goes to the next machine. That machine does testing of every individual "chip" on it, essentially the first pass of QA. Next, the process may change location depending upon who's doing the work. Either you cut the chips off the wafer and retest, or you do the next step on the wafer: what I call "toppings" are put on (microlenses, Bayer filtration, phase detect masking, etc.). You're still not done. The results next need to go to a packaging facility, where the casing and connection pins are placed around what's been built so far. Some companies do the packaging first, and some toppings last, so some of these later steps may occur in different orders in different places. But they all have to be done, and my point is that there are multiple facilities (and even companies) involved in that. During all this work, the materials may have even piled up a lot of frequent flyer miles along the way. Korea's second largest memory chip maker, SK Hynix, just announced a new packaging facility to be built in Indiana, for instance. The fabs with their steppers, where the process of creating their chips all starts, are in China and South Korea.

So Fujifilm doesn't just call up Sony Semiconductor and say "we'd like double the number of image sensors this month, please." Moreover, if someone calculates wrong—and remember that the image sensor is the most expensive part in the camera—you also can't just call up and say "sorry, we only need half of what we just asked for." 

In other words, changing production capacity in any meaningful way for a camera is a careful process where risk is examined closely and you're dealing with multiple suppliers you need to keep happy. 

Since Fujifilm also uses that 40mp image sensor in cameras other than the X100VI, you might say that they could just pull parts destined for another product. But what if the X-T5 or X-H2 also has high demand? And what if you were going to announce another camera with that image sensor? Heck, is it possible that a recession or worse might happen before you can get more units to market?

I've known for 40+ years via first hand experience that demand that is significantly higher than expected is an "all hands emergency" and requires extraordinary managerial coordination to work through. And that doesn't come without risk. For instance, what if a competitor such as Nikon introduced a similar compact camera with their 45mp sensor in the time before Fujifilm could get all those new image sensors they asked for? 

All this brings me back to one thing, though. Really good product management requires that you be close enough to your customers to fully understand potential demand well prior to launch. All the Japanese companies tend to be pretty conservative in their forecasts and not particularly well connected to their potential customers. Fujifilm already knew they were having clear troubles meeting X100V (the prior model) demand, but their bet was that 15k units a month of the new camera would solve that. They were wrong. And now we'll wait for several months before we see just how much they've managed to increase production.

I'd say that the potential for "overshoot" is pretty high here for Fujifilm. It's a bit like captaining a huge oil tanker: it just doesn't change direction fast, and if you misjudge, you can't instantly correct. 

To continue that analogy, Fujifilm has been sailing a different direction with their compact camera and achieving excellent success. All the other captains seem to not have noticed. None have moved any ships that same direction. All seem to be dealing with their own ship crisis at the moment ;~). So I think Fujifilm will probably be fine with increasing production. But we'll still have to wait for it.

Clearing Up Aperture Confusion

As fast (and slow) lenses come out with aperture values that weren't common in the DSLR era, I'm finding a lot of misunderstanding about the aperture progression. 

Oh, the primary apertures aren't the problem: f/1, f/1.4, f/2, f/2.8, etc. These all are easy enough to calculate (multiply by 1.4 to get the next aperture in the sequence). Well, okay, that's not exactly true, as rounding starts to come into play (and the 1.4 value itself is a rounded number); still it's close enough for quick understanding of the one-stop differences. 

The biggest problem I'm seeing with photographers comes up in comparing f/1.2 versus f/1.4, or f/1.4 versus f/1.8. These don't at first seem to be big differences, but each step is a half or two-thirds of a stop, which can make a significant difference in exposure in lower light conditions and has a fairly clear depth of field difference at the 35mm+ focal lengths. 

When you look at Nikon's choices for Z-mount primes so far, you'll see that they've almost always chosen wide, clear differences: f/1.2, f/1.8, and f/2.8 (the exception is the 40mm f/2). That's an exposure change of ~1.2 stops from f/1.2 to f/1.8, and 1.3 stops from f/1.8 to f/2.8. Those detail-oriented Nikon engineers are nothing if not (mostly) careful and consistent in their design tactics. 

Sigma now has 35mm and 50mm lenses at f/1.2, f/1.4 (half stop change), and f/2 (full stop change). Sony is a bit less consistent with 50mm lenses at f/1.2, f/1.4 (half stop change), f/1.8 (two-third stop change), f/2.5 (full stop change), and f/2.8 (third stop change). 

So what is the full aperture progression? Here you go:

Technically, before the CIPA-agreed rounding, the full aperture sequence goes 1, 1.41, 1.99, 2.78, 3.92, 5.53, 7.80, 11, 15.51, 21.87. The above charts use the agreed-upon rounding numbers. The marks on a Japanese-produced lens will conform to the CIPA rounding with the lens focused at infinity. In other words, there's a lot of wiggle room in the actual numbers, which is partly the reason why trying to stick more lenses into the equation at minimal aperture differential is a fool's errand.

At the slow end of the aperture range (e.g. with telephoto focal lengths), we're now seeing lenses that weren't really possible (with autofocus) in the DSLR era, where there was a fairly strong cut-out of phase detect focus performance beyond f/5.6 due to the geometries involved. It's now more common to see f/6.3, f/6.7, f/7, and f/8 as maximum apertures in mirrorless at the telephoto focal lengths. Some people panic over f/6.3 versus f/5.6, but that's only a third of a stop, not something dramatic. Even f/8 is only a stop slower than we used to see in the DSLRs. 

Of course light is light, and light is a key ingredient in exposure. 

Remember, the equation for exposure is really: 

     EXPOSURE = LIGHT filtered by APERTURE filtered by SHUTTER SPEED

Thus, the implication of a faster or slower aperture in the same light—less or more filtering—means that your shutter speed changes to create the same exposure at the image sensor.

At the fast end of the maximum aperture spectrum (f/1 to f/2.8), the implication is that you can hold a 1/60 second shutter speed into dimmer and dimmer light with faster apertures. 1/60 is a good marker because slower than that is difficult to handhold well and anything slower is absolutely subject to subject motion. 

At the slow end of the maximum aperture spectrum (f/5.6 to f/11), the implication is that your shutter speed is going to get clipped and/or your ISO boosted, potentially even in decent light. The Sunny 16 formula is 1/ISO shutter speed at f/16. So to hold a 1/1000 shutter speed in sunlight on a base ISO 64 camera you need f/4 or faster as the aperture, otherwise you need to start bumping your ISO value. A rule of thumb is that you'll lose about a stop of dynamic range with each stop of ISO bump, though, so you want to avoid that, if possible. 

So at both ends of the aperture range there are intersecting issues you need to consider. The real question is how often do you encounter those, and what would you do about them if you did? Generally speaking, the thing that most people end up doing is bumping up their ISO when they don't have a "fast enough" lens. So the real question is this: how often are you bumping ISO up because you don't have a fast enough lens? And are you sure that you can't do the other obvious thing, and add light? 

That last bit is what we had to do in the film world, as our ISO constraints were much more rigid and filled with peril. But given the state of noise reduction software these days, I feel ISO bump is a reasonable choice now, particularly since a faster lens probably is only going to give you a stop or so advantage from what you'd normally use. 

But getting back to the misunderstandings that prompted this article, I see, for instance, quite a few people saying Nikon should create a line of f/1.4 primes in addition to their f/1.2 and f/1.8 ones. Personally, I don't see how chopping the choices so finely—f/1.2, f/1.4, f/1.8—does anything other than increase the cost of your gear closet. The half to two-thirds stop difference that f/1.4 option would make isn't enough for me to try to add another set of lenses: I can deal with a half to two-thirds stop ISO change. 

Some would argue that they don't want the big f/1.2 optics, nor do they want just an f/1.8 optic. In other words, they only want to buy one set of primes, and they want that to be f/1.4. But you wouldn't get f/1.4 for free. Size and cost start to go up from the f/1.8 primes, or optical qualities have to come down. You can already see that some with the Chinese f/1.4 primes that are starting to appear: to keep size and price down they tend to sacrifice outer area traits of their lenses: more vignetting, more spherical aberration, more chromatic aberration, and more. 

Side note: The Chinese lens makers at the moment have a few attributes that help them undercut the established Japanese lens producers on price. First, the Chinese are all entrepreneurial at the moment, don't much care about intellectual property rights, are in a region where labor costs are lower, and they first and foremost promote selling directly. Overall they have lower costs and are taking less profit (some of the latter is due to having to use distributors for some regions or in-store sales).

I'm going to be watching closely as these companies get bigger and start seeing the headwinds of that growth. Moreover, at the moment, shipping directly from China into the United States, for example, is basically done without tariff, customs, and includes incentivized shipping costs. Those benefits are likely to go away. I've already seen governmental lobbying from the Japanese about the disparities they see. 

This article is also available in the lens section of zsystemuser.com

Things I Learned at WPPI

bythom US NV WPPI2024 z8 85971

I recently attended the conference of wedding and portrait photographers for the first time. I'm not either, so despite that having been an annual event for well over a decade, I tended to look the other way and go to conferences that were in my wheelhouse. 

However, I'm a committed life-long learner, and it was well past time for me to look at what photographers in other arenas are doing. 

Here are some of the things I learned during the week.

  1. Viewfinders are over-regarded. At first I was a bit stunned to see how many well-regarded professionals were never looking through the viewfinder of their camera, but instead always using the Rear LCD. However, when you think about it, one of the things that the wedding and portrait photographer have to do is keep intimate contact with their model. Looking through a viewfinder basically puts a slab of metal/plastic between model and photographer and is distancing. You can keep eye contact and demonstrate things like the head position you want so much easier if you don't have a camera at your eye. 

    Of course, this means two things: (1) you need a Rear LCD that tilts for vertical images; and (2) you need a Rear LCD that is bright and detailed enough to see what's going on (and you probably shouldn't wear sunglasses trying to view the Rear LCD, as most are TFT). A lot of cameras fail on one or both of these things. Which led to at least one speaker I saw who used a pivoting HDMI monitor in the hot shoe, which can be cumbersome. And I thought gimbals were awkward and heavy when held in front of you.

  2. Some photographers are ingenious. Give them a lemon, and they will instantly make lemonade. Give them a grape, and they're stomping wine. One fellow from South America who's been on a limited gear budget since forever was still using a medium format Hasselblad film camera. But he needs timely photos for his Instagram account. His solution? Use a smartphone to photograph the big top-facing focus  screen of his film camera, and post immediately, deliver film results/prints later.

    It was fascinating to watch him at work. Quite obviously, he took very few photos with the Hasselblad (every film image costs real money to create and process). But he did a lot of work with the smartphone promoting the few images he did take. In essence, he was juggling marketing and final delivery at the same time. Those are two very different mindsets to be in at the same time, and it was interesting to watch as he managed to multi-process them.
     
  3. Models aren't mind readers and can get paranoid. I already knew this going in, but a whole week of observing and practicing it really reinforced it. 

    The number one rule is to show your models what you're doing. While they'll try to make sense of what you're telling them,
    showing them the result lets them see it and helps them understand what you might be attempting. That's especially true when you're working with complex lighting situations that delivery a "mood" or "style" to the image. They can't see the results of what the light does unless you show them. Moreover, it's a confidence booster for the model that you're getting something good out of the dance the two of you are doing. And when you ask them to do something that seems silly or exaggerated to them and then show them an image that works, they get less stressed that they might be doing "too much" and just work with you rather than against you.

    I saw a number of professional models who I'd say had low self esteem, or at least lower esteem about what they can do than they think is true. Many seem to be unsure if they're actually giving you what you wanted (this applies to casual portraiture with non-models, too). Thus, showing them instant results from time to time starts to break that down.

    But models are paranoid in other ways, too. In the past I've watched some photographers approach brides, grooms, business people, sports athletes, and just casual subjects to do something like adjust the drape of some clothing or hair or accessory. What usually happens is what I call "the cringe." The subject doesn't know why you're approaching and what you're going to do and suddenly your hand goes up unexpectedly toward a part of their body they weren't expecting. The pro photographers doing this for a living get past this problem in two ways: (1) announce what it is they're about to do before doing it; and (2) more importantly, keep their hands up and in front of them as they approach so that the subject sees them and isn't surprised by them. It's a small thing, but a really important one. 

  4. Models don't like to smile. Apparently modeling school has taught all the professional models that scowls and seriously constipated looks are what make them money. Personally, I find that sort of expression to make them more rigid and unrelaxed, even if that's similar to the facial expression I want.

    The best approaches I saw always "loosened up" the subject prior to asking for specific looks. I actually found myself taking "smile photos" by making jokes and bantering with them before I tried to move a model more toward any more serious look I really wanted. I noticed the following again and again: if the model just immediately goes to their established "serious look" they've apparently been trained to do, that seems to always appear more forced and tense than if you work them towards it instead. I dealt with this issue with actors back when I was a filmmaker, so it wasn't a surprise to me, and I fell naturally back into my old "director's chatter." Still, it made me realize that I hadn't been doing as much of this lately with some recent athlete photos I did. It's sort of the trust thing: you're building a relationship first, then using that to get a result. You don't just go straight for the result.

  5. Improvisation and trial and error takes too much time. Two of the key elements of the conference are the "shooting bays" and the "photo walks." In the former, a pre-established light and set is available, and the model just pops in and you get right to working for your image. In the latter, some of the instructors are pretty dialed in with their ability to replicate a lighting situation in pretty much any environment, and you get to photographing quickly. But some of the instructors—including one who's a well-known pro in a major market—spend so much time trying to replicate a lighting look by trial and error that I can't imagine that the agency clients feel good about all the time that takes. Good thing his images have a (somewhat) unique look to them. Because it takes him far too long to achieve them in any new environment. 

    Meanwhile, another well-known pro (from the same big market) wanted her models to do some specific things. But she had already worked all the details out, had the props, and had tried the (semi) improvised things she wanted them to do beforehand. Thus, she was right to the picture taking and small adjustments, not fiddling with knobs, dials, locations of things, and more. Given that you tend to pay for models and locations for their time, the less you're trying to figure things out, the less it's going to cost you. 

    If you're ever lucky enough to take portraits of someone famous, you need to understand the difference between improvisation and pre-realized. Generally, you're usually only given a few minutes with said folk, whether they're just another semi-famous-today athlete or book author on a promotional tour or someone truly famous to whom access is guarded like gold at Fort Knox. They all expect to walk in, give you just enough time to take a few photos, and then move on to whatever is planned for them next. You really have to have your lighting and set(s) good to go before they walk in and get right to the image making. Improvisation at that point, let alone trial and error, will probably result in a disgruntled subject who'll never give you the time of day again, as well as poor images that never make it to print.

    It's one thing to improvise a model's facial expression or body/hand position, it's another to start with too much of a blank slate and have an expensive prop just sitting around doing nothing while they wait for you to get something set up or fetch another prop. 

    This is actually the reason why I prefer to have a studio I control. I can spend hours, days, or even weeks fiddling with lighting and sets and stand-ins to see what's possible and whether that might be what I might want. Then, when push comes to shove and the bride, model, or famous person walks in, I'm ready to get right to the photo making. As Paul Simon once said, "improvisation is too good to leave to chance." 

  6. Angel wings are real. Another thing I sort of knew, but I was a bit surprised to see how prevalent, elaborate, and expensive some of these model props such as angel wings have become. Enough so that there were entire booths of them at the WPPI expo.

    The real thing to learn here is that fads can have substantial wings (pardon the pun). After visiting the booths, I started asking around among the wedding and portrait photographers at the conference whether or not they were getting requests for these things, and the answer was a unanimous yes. That's one of those good news/bad news situations. The elaborate prop required and the skill to get that rendered well can bring you in extra bucks. But everyone's now doing it, so it's getting difficult to market that as something that you can uniquely do.

    Which brings me to a realization (I've had similar ones before): the trick is to be the one who's creating the fad that goes viral and being the only one that can provide it initially. I think if I were in the portrait/wedding photo business I'd be asking a lot of questions of my potential subjects about how they really see themselves. Are they an animal? A mythical creature? A superhero? What? Because if I could truly capture that in their portrait they'd be showing and sharing it faster than I could even bring up my Instagram account. Your customers are your best marketing, and I'm absolutely certain that applies to portrait and wedding work. 

Interesting Things Said on the Internet

"It takes about six months of learning and daily use" for a professional to be able to use any camera in real-world competition conditions. — Canon general manager Go Tokura in Photo Trends interview

While amateurs argue about who has the best "all magic autofocus" system constantly, those of us trying to get real work done know the reality: we have to learn how to master our tools. 

I'm not going to say it takes a specific amount of time (e.g. six months), but it does take considerable time and effort to understand and maximize our use of any significant change to our tools.

The recent Nikon firmware update for the Z8 is a good example. It took me weeks to fully come to grips with everything in the C2.00 release, and most of the things people talked about were features I was already familiar with from earlier Nikon bodies (Pixel shift shooting via the Zf, Auto capture via the Z9). The real cherry in the firmware update was mostly unheralded by both Nikon and the mainstream press: massive changes to customization options. My Z8 is now configured completely differently than it was a month ago, and now I'm practicing that in use so that it becomes permanent muscle memory. Now I have to reconfigure my Z9's as best I can to match that. 

Why the investment in time? Because the payoff is getting to the image I want to capture faster and easier. 

Tokura-san made his comment in the context of the upcoming Paris Olympics and likely R1 release, and I agree: you don't go to a big event like that expecting to deliver the results your client(s) want with a new tool in your hand and not knowing how it will perform. Even small changes can throw your timing off and have you paying too much attention to camera settings and not enough on composition and intent. When Nikon offered me the opportunity to try the Z9 prior to release, I immediately took it to Africa on a trip where I didn't have any specific client demands. That allowed me to test it in the environment in which I often work, get used to how it operated, allowed me to test performance boundaries and new features, and generally get fully acquainted with everything about it. Not too long after I returned I got my production Z9 and started using it in "real work." 

Let me put this in a different context that is focused more on you: my advice—and that of many others—has long been that you don't buy new gear just prior to going on an important trip (vacation, destination wedding, etc.). First, most high tech gear failures happen in the first few days of using them. Second, you don't want to be trying to figure out a new camera when you should be paying attention to documenting what's happening on your trip. 

I've watched people on planes to exotic locations sitting in their plane seats with their new camera and manual trying to figure it out. Not recommended. I even saw one person juggling that and the inflight meal, resulting in dropping the camera to the cabin floor. Yikes.

Yes, I know you don't have enough time in your life, and that's why you do such things. But you have to make enough time for important things. And spending thousands of dollars on new gear you think will help you make great images on an exotic trip seems kind of important to me.

Of course there's an exception to the above: influencers. Apparently once you get your Influencer License, it only takes minutes after unboxing to be able to fully understand and use new gear. Of course, getting said license requires years of rigorous training and passing the stringent Influencer Bar exam. /SARCASM OFF

"I think when it comes to computational photography, we believe it’s kind of aimed more towards those [entry-level] users or users that come from a smartphone [who] wants to use AI as one of the benefits of a [standalone] camera,” Tomoki Nakanishi, Marketing Supervisor of Panasonic’s Imaging Business Unit, says.”from Petapixel

I'm not even sure where to start with this one. First, Panasonic actually has some computational photography features in their products, so perhaps there's a definitional issue here (e.g. no one agrees on what "computational photography" means).

However, it's the attitude that disturbs me more here. You find that a little deeper in the article: "we are not sure if these computational photography is going to be beneficial for these people because we believe that AI, computational photography, is something that it erases all the work that you have to go through editing." 

The smartphone user isn't so much into "editing" as they are "applying." If you're going to attract that user over to a dedicated camera, you don't want to tell them "sorry, but you have relearn everything." You want to instead give them what they're used to, but add other options. 

Worse still is the implicit notion that all dedicated camera users "go through editing" with photos, and are willing to do so. No. 100% no. If given the choice between getting the result I want out of camera versus me having to do it myself, I want the former whenever possible. A good example is pixel shift: it seems that most of the camera companies think we just live to find all the images that were taken—which weren't stored in separate folders—and then run a brain dead, hastily built "software tool" to make them into what we wanted in the first place. I can think of a dozen such "not finished" features that require me to "go through editing." 

I call BS on the answer that camera companies seem to be giving about avoiding computational photography. 

"Many hot rumors coming!" --Sony Alpha Rumors site headline

This isn't the first time they've done this. Indeed, it's becoming a practice now for them to pre-announce that they'll announce a rumor. At times, they'll even provide a specific date and time at which they'll "announce" a rumor. 

I'm not sure what purpose such promotion serves (though in this case there was a call to action to subscribe to their newsletter). I'm pretty sure that readers of rumors sites are already conditioned to keep checking the site regularly. It's certainly a curious phenomenon, and I can't tell if it's just "I need to post something now" or some form of ego boost that's driving it. Whatever it is, it gets old fast, which is becoming a common problem on the rumor sites as they continue to try to drive traffic via the same mechanisms over and over. 

One of the things I've been doing as I contemplate the next major change to my Web site is looking at a broad range of sites well outside the photography arena to see what works and what doesn't, what feels fresh and what feels stale, how useful information is presented clearly, and how distinctions are being made between news and commentary (if any). No complete conclusion on my part yet, though I'm now percolating some interesting ideas to see what might brew. When I decide what to do, I'll probably announce that with a "Many new articles coming!" article (just kidding ;~). 

Another Nikon Miss

"Due to the declining number of users, we have decided to terminate the Map view service in NIKON IMAGE SPACE on May 20, 2024 (scheduled).” —Nikon email to NIS users

First off, that’s terrible wording. What PR department in the world would use that first clause? And is that users overall, or users of the feature? 

But more important is this: did you even know that Nikon has a free cloud-based image storage system? Do you have any idea what the features of that system are and why you might use it? 

My guess is no to both questions. When I ask around among Nikon users, about the best I get is “I’m aware it exists, but I don’t know why I’d use it.” Heck, if you type the name into Wikipedia you get "The page 'Nikon image space' does not exist.” That’s a pretty good indication that Nikon itself doesn’t know what the thing is for or how to start building out promotion of it, and that no user seems to think it important enough to create the page themselves.

Nikon Image Space (NIS) is part of the SnapBridge system, though apparently not managed or controlled by the same group. SnapBridge can pull images from your camera to the phone, then forward them on to NIS if you have everything configured properly. From there, you can share those images in multiple ways. Why sharing isn’t built into SnapBridge itself is another story for another day, and why Nikon Wireless Transfer Utility or even Nikon Tether can’t push images to NIS is yet another story for another day. Seems I have a lot of potential stories to write ;~).

The problem, of course, is a common one within Nikon: anything that doesn’t generate a lot of beans doesn’t get past the bean counters. Within development, it’s called resource starvation. Corporately, I’d call it lack of insight. 

There’s no doubt that the primary way images are viewed today is by sharing. As I outlined back in 2007 to 2010, that can be done in a variety of ways, from ftp to email to Web site to social media network and a host more options. If your device creates images and they need to be shared, exactly how do you help your customers do that? 

The camera companies today still seem to think that the sneaker net is all they need to provide. You used to take the film out of your camera, then with your sneakers on take it to a film lab for processing. Sneaker net. Today, you take the card out of your camera, then with your sneakers on take it into your den to the computer for ingest. Silly stupid relic. It’s as if camera designers don’t live in the present, let alone think what the future may be like. 

NIS is failing—and not for the first time—because Nikon doesn’t know what it’s for, doesn’t know how to market and sell it, and doesn’t spend the resources to make it do what it needs to. Today’s email illustrates pretty much all of those things, and that clause up front essentially says “we’re failing.” Thanks for the truth, Nikon, but that still doesn’t solve the user problem, does it?

Update: by the way, the real reason why the map function was removed is because Google changed their API and Nikon apparently hasn't gotten around to changing how to integrate with it. They're using "number of users" as a deflection for their own laziness in keeping their software up to date. But this isn't the first time this problem has arisen: when Musk took over Twitter and started making API changes/restrictions, the Twitter sharing component within NIS broke and no longer is there. Instead of keeping features working, Nikon's modus operandi is to remove them. Eventually the software becomes useless, and the software gets cancelled. What a way to run a software business, eh? 



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