Next Club Meeting

NB NB NB! There are 2 meetings in May! Our next meeting is on Thursday 9 May 2019.

Set Subject: "Multiplicity" 

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Entries must be in no later than Sunday 5 May 2019


NB NB NB! Our BEST OF THE YEAR competition is on Thursday 16 May 2019

Entries must be in no later than Sunday 12 May 2019


Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)

All articles from Digital Photography Review
Articles: Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com)
  1. The Camera Store employees were attacked with bear spray during robbery

    The Camera Store, located in Calgary, Alberta, has reported a camera theft incident that involved an attack on staff using bear (capsaicin) spray. The incident took place on May 16 at around 5PM local time, according to the company, which says the thief took off with a Sony A7R III camera and Sony 16-35mm F2.8 G Master lens.

    The thief is described as a middle-aged man wearing a grey jacket, dark pants, sunglasses, and light running shoes. The Camera Store's Evelyn Drake said in a post on the company's blog, 'We knew there was something 'off' about him since the moment he walked in, and our team was on high alert.'

    As the security footage shared on YouTube shows, the man attempted to run away with the camera and the store's employees took off after him. To evade them, the thief sprayed two of the employees with bear spray before fleeing in a black pickup truck.

    'Although it is not our policy to chase down thieves, the loyalty and bravery of the staff who risked their safety are commendable,' Drake said.

    The stolen Sony A7R III camera body has the serial number 3372445 and the stolen lens has the serial number 1803243. The Camera Store is seeking reports from anyone who finds the products for sale or who has knowledge about the theft.

  2. Voigtländer Nokton 21mm F1.4 Aspherical lens for E-mount officially announced

    Voigtländer has officially announced its 21mm F1.4 Nokton lens for the Sony E mount after showing the concept at the CP+ show in February. The company says the lens will have electronic contacts to transfer EXIF data to the camera and distance information from the lens will help the camera’s image stabilization system. Turning the focus ring on the manual focus lens will activate focus assist modes in the camera, and the aperture ring offers click-less operation for those shooting videos.

    The lens is constructed of 13 elements in 11 groups, features a 12-blade aperture diaphragm, has a minimum aperture of F16 and a shortest focus distance of 0.25m. It weighs 560g, measures 70.5mm x 79.5mm (2.78in x 3.13in) and takes a 62mm filter. Below is a (nowhere near full-res) gallery of sample images provided by Voigtländer:

    The Voigtländer Nokton 21mm F1.4 will be available in June for ¥165,000 (approx. $1,500).
    For more information see the Voigtländer website.

  3. Google suspends Android updates and support for Huawei, Intel & Microsoft join in

    With devices like its recent P30 Pro flagship smartphone Huawei has managed to established itself as one of the prime manufacturers and a major innovator in the mobile imaging space within a very short period of time.

    However, it looks like the company's meteoric rise could be slowed significantly over the coming months. Over the weekend Reuters reported that the maker of the Android mobile operating system that runs on pretty much all Huawei mobile devices, will stop working with Huawei on future Android updates and device certifications. The move is a reaction to an executive order signed by US president Donald Trump and a resulting U.S. Commerce Department blacklist which prohibits US companies to do business with certain foreign entities, including Huawei.

    Huawei is accused by the Trump accusation to work with the Chinese Government to install backdoors in its network equipment for spying purposes.

    Companies on the blacklist are barred from purchasing equipment from U.S. companies without prior government approval. Previously Huawei devices had already been dropped by US network carriers under political pressure. Huawei is accused by the Trump accusation to work with the Chinese Government to install backdoors in its network equipment for spying purposes. However, no proof of such practices has been published so far.

    The latest development is problematic for Huawei's device division in so far that it relies on Google for access to closed portions of the Android OS and the Play Services suite. The latter has to be approved for each new Android device. According to the reports Play Services won't be removed from existing devices but no new certifications will be issued.

    That said, Huawei will be able to continue to use Android's open-source components. The company uses Android's open source libraries (AOSP) to build the core codebase for its EMUI mobile platform and release software updates in China, where Google Play services are not available.

    Huawei has issued an official response to the developments, saying it will continue to provide security updates to all Huawei and Honor devices:

    'Huawei has made substantial contributions to the development and growth of Android around the world. As one of Android's key global partners, we have worked closely with their open-source platform to develop an ecosystem that has benefitted both users and the industry.

    Huawei will continue to provide security updates and after-sales services to all existing Huawei and Honor smartphone and tablet products, covering those that have been sold and that are still in stock globally.

    We will continue to build a safe and sustainable software ecosystem, in order to provide the best experience for all users globally.

    Plus, nothing has changed for HONOR. We will be having our exciting launch event tomorrow in London for HONOR 20 Series.'

    Google has also confirmed that Google Play services and Play Protect will continue to work on existing Huawei devices via a tweet:

    For Huawei users' questions regarding our steps to comply w/ the recent US government actions: We assure you while we are complying with all US gov't requirements, services like Google Play & security from Google Play Protect will keep functioning on your existing Huawei device.

    — Android (@Android) May 20, 2019

    Today a range of other US companies have joined Google in severing ties with Huawei. According to a report by Bloomberg Intel, Qualcomm, and Broadcom will stop supplying their chips and modems to Huawei. Nikkei reports the same for German chipmaker Infineon Technologies and US memory chip suppliers Micron Technology and Western Digital. There is no word from Microsoft yet but the software company is expected to cease supply of its Windows operating system for Huawei's range of laptops.

    Huawei is quite well protected against some of those impacts as the company is designing and manufacturing chipsets, modems and many other components in-house. It is also reported that the company has been stockpiling chips from US suppliers in anticipation of the current events. Supplies are said to last three months which hopefully should be enough time to solve the situation.

  4. Documentary reveals how some Instagram influencers game the system

    Dutch public broadcaster VPRO has published a documentary called '#followme' that details the hidden reality behind fake Instagram accounts and how they become popular. The documentary, which was filmed in a vertical orientation for a primarily mobile audience, is around 49 minutes long and available to stream for free on Instagram and YouTube.

    The film '#followme' details the big business fueling faux Instagram success, including the sale of followers to make an account appear more popular than it is, the staging of photos and videos designed to look spontaneous, and how motivated users game the platform's algorithm to climb in rank.

    Instagram has faced increased criticism over its alleged role in fear of missing out (FOMO) and other negative mental health effects, including from some influencers who have shed light on the often fake nature of many Instagram accounts. The social network may be planning big changes that address some of these concerns, however. Earlier this month, the company confirmed that it has been testing hidden like counts and that it may introduce the change across the platform.

  5. Nikon issues technical service advisory for VR issue in certain Z6, Z7 camera units

    Nikon has issued a technical service advisory for a number of Z6 and Z7 cameras regarding an issue where Nikon's Vibration Reduction (VR) technology ins't fully functioning on particular units.

    Nikon doesn't elaborate on what's causing the issue with the VR malfunction in the affected Z6 and Z7 cameras, but says it will repair affected devices free of charge, including the cost of shipping, even if the warranty on the camera has expired.

    A screenshot of the Z7 serial number checker website.

    To aid in determining if your unit is an affected one, Nikon has set up dedicated webpages where you can enter your Nikon Z6 and/or Nikon Z7 serial numbers and see if it's affected and covered by the advisory. No specific serial number ranges have been presented, so the only way to find out is to use the dedicated webpages.

    If your camera is affected, the webpage will provide instructions on how to get your camera(s) repaired. If your camera is experiencing VR issues and isn't recognized by Nikon's serial number checker, Nikon requests you go through its support platform to address the issue.

  6. 2019 Buying Guide: Best instant cameras

    Looking to get in on the instant camera fun? We tried every model and think the Fujifilm Instax Mini 70 strikes the right balance between price and features – the Instax Wide 300 is our choice if you crave a larger format.

  7. CP+ 2019 Ricoh interview: Some users who bought mirrorless cameras will return to DSLRs
    Hiroki Sugahara from Ricoh's Marketing Communication Department and Takashi Arai from Ricoh's Product Planning Department

    The CP+ 2019 trade show in Yokohama, Japan gave us the chance to meet a variety of senior executives from all the major camera makers. We spoke to a group of senior figures from Ricoh about the full cross-section of the company's photographic range, with the answers mainly coming from:

    • Hiroki Sugahara - General Manager, Marketing Communication Department
    • Hiraku Kawauchi - Group Leader, PR, Marketing Communication Department

    Please note that this interview was conducted partly via an interpreter, and has been edited for clarity and flow.

    What has the response to the GR III been like, so far?

    Very positive. This is not the first time we've disclosed the appearance and specifications, but this is the very first chance our customers have had to touch and use it. Even though they know the specifications, the purpose to come here is to touch and try, for example to experience the operability of the touchscreen or the performance of the macro capabilities.

    From what I've seen and heard, the reaction is very good. Especially the operability of the touchscreen, which customers consider a positive. The shake reduction, the 24MP sensor or performance of the lens are features that our customers already knew from the specification sheet. But the quick response of the touchscreen seems very well accepted.

    What was the logic behind the decision to use a unit-focus design for the GR III's lens (that tends to slow down autofocus)?

    The big priority is to make the camera body as compact as possible while retaining good resolving power of the lens.

    Does the switch to phase-detection bring enough of a speed increase to overcome the challenge of moving a comparative heavy lens design?

    The speed of the focusing is improved. But we'd also like to draw attention to the fact that you can now focus from 10cm to infinity, rather than 30cm to infinity, as on GR II. That range of scanning is broadened. This can sometimes give the impression of slower focus but the overall speed is faster than with GR II.

    Is there room in your lineup for a sister model that isn't 28mm, or maybe other adapter lenses?

    One thing is for sure, we haven't only made 28mm lenses: we did have a 21mm GR lens in the past, and we did have a 50mm equivalent [module] for the GXR. I feel this is also interesting: to have a sister model with other focal lengths.

    But the important thing with this camera was that it should be fast enough and compact enough to be considered 'GR.' If we could achieve that with other focal lengths, that would be interesting.

    Ricoh currently makes a wide range of products: Pentax DSLRs, the GR and WG compacts and the Theta series, are there any other niches you see existing or do you think there's room to grow within these four areas?

    On top of this we have 645Z, so already we have enough formats. We're currently working on these categories of products.

    We've seen a lot of movement away from DSLR to Mirrorless (by manufacturers), do you feel there are still types of photography better-suited to DSLR?

    Currently mirrorless, especially full-frame mirrorless, is a movement. So many users are interested in this new category of camera: full-frame mirrorless. Mirrorless itself has its own benefits [and] appealing point to the users: they can check their images before hitting the shutter button, through the EVF. But on the other hand, DSLRs have their own benefits: users can enjoy the beautiful image through the optical viewfinder and then imagine different ways of taking photos using different settings, they can imagine the consequence of taking the picture.

    I imagine, in two or three years, some users who bought mirrorless cameras will return to DSLRs

    We have been studying various possibilities when it comes to development, but we believe both mirrorless and DSLR have their own appeal. I imagine, in two or three years, some users who bought mirrorless cameras will return to DSLRs or choose to use both systems, because each has its own benefits.

    How do you prioritize which lenses to work on next, for K-mount? When do you plan a completely new lens, when do you replace an existing one?

    We have a lineup with many lenses, particularly APS-C optimized lenses. Actually, in the industry, our number of APS-C-optimized lenses is number one. Our DA lens series and also the 'Limited' series of lenses, which gives a unique level of image quality for the enthusiast photographer. We also have the star lenses: we're going to develop an 85mm F1.4 lens, so we are releasing very high quality lenses. And also APS-C optimized lenses like the 11-18mm F2.8. We will continue to release various series.

    In spring, we released the 35mm F2 HD-coated lens, which is a modification of a conventional lens, so we'll continue to do this kind of modification as well.

    You mentioned the 645Z. We're still seeing cameras launched with a similar sensor, many years after you did, so we understand it has a longer lifespan, but is that series still part of your plans?

    Of course. We are continuing to develop the 645 series. We are pursuing higher picture quality for the system because users have high expectations of image quality.

    [The representatives would not be drawn over whether these efforts were focused on better lenses or increased pixel counts]

    When you're designing a lens, do you see any tensions between needs of stills and video requirements? How do you strike that balance?

    The overall priority is still image quality, but we do have the 55-300mm lens, which is designed to work well with the movie feature by including electromagnetic aperture control. So we continue to care about the movie performance as we design new lenses.

    What were the challenges of including larger sensors in a Theta - for the previous generation there were concerns about being able to offer 4K, now you've done it with bigger systems.

    It's partly down to our heat management system: we use a metal body in the Theta Z1 unlike the Theta V, which had a plastic body. The Z1 uses a magnesium alloy, which is a better heat conductor, so we can manage the heat well.

    In terms of space, first of all, we had to change the size. We also use three pairs of prisms, rather than two pairs: we changed the position of the sensor and how we bend the light to them.

    The larger sensors on the Theta Z1 now sit further down in the body, facing out towards the sides of the body, whereas they were previously mounted on either side of the lens, facing inwards.

    The larger sensor requires a longer focal length. There was the risk that using more prisms would lower the image quality but the design we came up with performs very well.

    The body has got slightly thicker, did you need a wider angle-of-view to give plenty of overlap between the two cameras?

    The angle-of-view is actually the same, but the minimum focus distance has increased. It's now 40cm instead of 10cm. The angle-of-view was already more than 180 degrees, so we didn't have to make it wider to give sufficient overlap.

    What do you think is the most exciting new feature of the Z1?

    We focused a lot on the image quality, to make it much, much better than previously possible. We really wanted to make sure that people used to DSLR image quality and professionals could use the Theta. We wanted to ensure it was suitable for creative and professional use.

    Who is using Theta and what for?

    There are two groups: consumers and business users. Some people are enjoying taking 360 degree images, editing and posting to Instagram. Currently our users are enjoying taking the video 4K 360 image and converting it to a 2D image: the editing software lets them choose the angle, or zoom in or out and post to sites such as YouTube. This is often in the same situations where you might use an action camera, like a GoPro.

    Also, we see an equal number of users traveling and taking a 360 video image with a selfie stick, at a viewpoint, for instance. Then, when they get home, they can enjoy the memory of their travel, with a VR image. That's [a typical consumer use-case].

    In terms of business, it's especially the real estate and second-hand car sales areas, and also in construction and inspection. There are many business users who can utilize this 360 image for recording or communicating a specific situation or image.

    Is there some overlap between this and the G-series of industrial camera?

    The G-series are waterproof cameras: They're normal cameras, essentially. For an all-around image, the Theta is the better option: it brings additional possibilities. Those business-to-business customers will certainly benefit from the improved image quality of the Z1. They don't need more video quality, necessarily, but they need the higher still image quality.

    What is the unifying feature or quality that Ricoh brings to customers of GR, WG, 645, K and Theta?

    We're trying to make the operating system the same, the G-series, the GR series, WG and DSLRs are coming together. Even though the brands are different, the way of handling the camera is becoming more similar. Of course Theta is something different.

    Are there any lessons you've learned from Theta that you can apply to your other cameras?

    Our current Wi-Fi software is now essentially the same as it is in Theta. We have a specialized Wi-Fi app for GR, but we are looking to bring them together and introduce the same Wi-Fi software for GR, Theta and DSLR.

    Also, we already use DNG Raw so that they're compatible with Adobe Lightroom. But we also have stitching plugins for Lightroom that will stitch multiple images. This will have the same algorithm as the Theta, for stitching. But by making it in a plugin for Lightroom, professional photographers will already be familiar with the environment: their workflow doesn't have to change.

    Editor's note:

    As you might expect, a lot of Ricoh's attention at present is on the GR III but this interview really brought home to me how much work's gone into the Theta Z1. Ricoh always says the Theta has been a real success for them, and it's certainly a distinctive product in a way you don't often encounter in the photo industry.

    But, while all the models have looked very similar, Ricoh has been constantly pushing what's possible in terms of managing what they do with the space and all the heat within that same form-factor. Having previously been told how difficult it was going to be to process 4K video in such a small space without overheating, it seems amazing to find they're now doing it with even larger sensors filling up the space.

    Those are skills that can underpin interesting cameras in the future

    This may not seem that exciting for users of the company's Pentax DSLRs, but it can only be positive if a company has a product that pushes them to constantly work on processing efficiency, space optimization and thermal management, because those are skills that can underpin interesting cameras in the future.

    Which is probably why I was pretty disappointed to hear Ricoh's representatives appearing to suggest that DSLRs might make a comeback, once the novelty of mirrorless has worn off. Because, while I don't think the DSLR is dead just yet, I wouldn't bank on it ending up with much more than niche status in the long run. But perhaps Ricoh believes it can make a solid future by exploiting multiple small niches like this: that would certainly explain the amazing breadth of its product portfolio.

    I can't help imagine what a combination of this foresight, and the impressive engineering of the Theta Z1 would look like

    A part of me can't help but feel a bit disappointed. Pentax was one of the first companies, way back in 1997, to show a concept mockup of what we'd now call a mirrorless camera. And, even though the market is now very crowded, I can't help imagine what a combination of this foresight, and the impressive engineering of the Theta Z1 would look like, if they could be brought together.

  8. Special edition Leica CL kit celebrates 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus school of art & design

    To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Bauhaus school of art and design in Germany, Leica has released a special edition version of its Leica CL camera system, complete with a matching Elmarit-TL 18mm F2.8 lens and carrying strap to complete the kit.

    With the exception of two small visual changes, this special edition Leica CL remains nearly identical to its less-special counterpart, complete with a 24-megapixel sensor, 4K video and wireless connectivity. The two changes are the addition of a 'Bauhaus' logo embossed into the black leather wrap on the front of the camera and a notable change to the usually-red Leica nameplate on the front—it's now black.

    Leica describes the special edition as 'an elegant, iconic piece of german product design, that exemplary obeys the principle of form follows function.'

    Included with the camera in the special edition kit is a matching silver Elmarit-TL 18mm F2.8 lens and a black leather carrying strap that's also embossed. The sets, of which only 150 will be produced, will be individually numbered and retail for $3,750 exclusively at Leica Stores and Boutiques.