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 ;~). 

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