2.01.2017

"First Impressions Review!!!!" "Hands On Review!!!!" "First Preview !!!!!!!" "Image Gallery !!!!!!" "Our Experts Intuit Camera Performance Under Glass !!!!!" And much more.


"Our long wait for the ultimate large-to-medium,  format uber-camera is over. We were able to glance through thick plate glass at a clay prototype of the latest GXRXD-1001.5 and come to striking conclusions about its possible capabilities." We think it will be a paradigm shifting, mind-bending tour de force for photographers everywhere. A must have. 

"Join us for a manufacturer's sponsored love fest of the latest miracle from Zarcon Cameras as we shove their sponsor money in our pockets and introduce you, via a lovely video presentation, to our ephemeral tester, Bob Smith, for a hands-on romp with a pre-pre-pre-production version of what might just be the last camera you'll ever need." 

"Now, I do what I call "REAL WORLD REVIEWS" where I do absolutely no scientific or repeatable testing, make no measurements, have no metric for any objective evaluation, and actually just figure out the results from a handful of shots I made with the new camera, a third party kit lens, in exasperating light, taking snaps of my cat and my large and dour drinking buddy. I've had the camera for 48 hours now, part of which I spent unconscious, and I'm ready to make all sorts of recommendations to help you rationalize spending money you don't have."

"I am self-appointed camera expert, Chip Gobsworth, and I'm here to explain why the cameras I like to use are the only ones any sane photographer could even think about having in their bag. We'll start with a brisk discussion of nano-acuity and move on to bokeh homogenization before we tackle gamma ray interference patterns and their effects on the outer 97th circle of confusion in our imaging. My credentials? I have photographed (successfully!) over 1,700 test patterns and charts, 512 brick walls, and, literally, millions of kitty whiskers. I used to work in some vaguely technical industry and hold a vaguely technical degree in something totally unrelated to imaging, optics or photography. I once saw a book of landscapes by Ansel Adams. It was okay."

"Join me and many other retired sales executives, lawyers, doctors and landed gentry as we look at new cameras through the nostalgic lens of our past camera experiences. Read along as I compare everything new to the Leica camera I owned in 1977 and the Hasselblad camera I bought in 1985. Compare dozens of very similar landscape photographs that we'll use to show the massive differences between 36 megapixel cameras and 42 megapixel cameras. Come along for the ride as we take 24 well heeled amateur photographers along with us to the unspoiled landscape of some nice canyon somewhere. We'll mark the spots we used to take our "teaching" photographs so you can put your tripod-mounted camera in the very same spot. You'll know you're doing ART when your photographs look exactly like ours. Plus we drink ancient, single malt Scotch while parsing the differences in tripod heads that sell for under $2,000."

"Take a look at the photo gallery from our rigorous pre-test time with the Dyno-flex 12000. Enjoy over 75 haphazard, handheld photographs of coffee cups, in various stages of consumption. Inadvertently body shame my chubby girlfriend or boyfriend. See how cool it looks when you shoot extreme close up portraits with the wide angle kit lens! Check out the camera's performance shooting in AWB, handheld at a 1/5th of a second, at ISO 120,000. My oatmeal never looked better!!! Our gallery is chocked full of colorful fences, old cars that should be in Cuba, my girlfriend looking bored, coffee cups, shadows of myself on concrete and a blurry shot of my dog running away from me. You'll marvel at the Dyno-flex 12000 performance!"

"We were thrilled to find that the Reguro-D113 is able to nail focus on a fast moving Hyundai while shooting at 15 fps. A huge improvement over the previous model which could barely handle 13.5 fps under the same conditions. But let's talk turkey here! While the camera, sensor and lens were all absolutely perfect, and the images sublime, we had to ding its pre-preview 60 points for two very important omissions: First, Horrors! No in camera raw converter!!! And two, the internal GPS is only accurate down to one meter. Let's move on to BIF."

Is anyone else dead tired and annoyed by all the silly ass previews and specification regurgitations at blog sites and camera review sites all over the web? Do we really need to give credence to the most cursory look at a not yet released camera, with pre-production firmware, no less? Should we pay any attention to the (typically) crappy images that are supposed to be examples of this latest super tech but which really look like first year photography class rejects? I'm exhausted at the hyperbole. I'm exhausted at trying to pretend that the (mostly) children who write this garbage have more experience and understanding of photography than my dog. If they don't have any real news to talk about perhaps they could spend a hell of a lot more time shooting and experimenting with all this "breakthrough" gear before they sit down at some beleaguered coffee shop and pound out crap on their laptops just to fill the space between the click through ads...... I'd rather read about Michael's new Miata than to crack open another "First Hand Preview Impressions" article. What's next? Previews of cameras that might get released. 

Here's an interesting challenge. Don't write a review of a camera until you've at least shot it for a month and charged the battery five times or more. Don't write a review to tell me your impressions of the "color or sharpness" of the camera sensor if you are handholding it all the time and using the world's cheapest kit lens. Don't pretend that the lack of an internal, raw processing app makes any difference to anyone with a rational brain. Don't ding a camera because you don't know how to use it. But mostly the first thing, stop trying to understand and write a camera review in 24 hours or less from the time FedEx shows up with the box at the door. And for God's sake, don't tell me you don't really like the genre of the camera you are testing but you have to review it anyway. We're pretty smart we'll realize that, if you are a sports photographer who shoots with a big DSLR, you're not going to be happy shooting a Fuji X-100 of any vintage. Fact checking would be nice too. 

Just to be clear: I don't mind announcements of new product. I do mind endless "hands-off" previews of these products... sad. 


See analog world map on the back. Accurate to within a thousand miles.


Experience the gut-wrenching nano acuity of the moulded lens.

We tested it. In the future.

How the decimation of traditional advertising has eroded the market for "professional" photography.


We, as practitioners of professional, commercial photography love to have scapegoats to blame for shrinking markets, eroding margins and disappearing fees. In the recent pass we've blamed: the smartphone and its users, the "soccer" moms with cameras, and, those scurvy dogs, the weekend warriors who would work for free in return for the experience. We've railed at people who are just entering the market for not understanding that it is smarter to charge for the value of a piece of intellectual property to the client instead of gauging prices by how much you might need to make just to buy groceries and keep the heat on. 

But in the same way that robotics and automation will ensure the society-wide elimination of repetitive human jobs and fill those positions with machines that don't need breaks, don't make (many) mistakes and don't need retirement accounts, I would conjecture that the erosion in photography markets is a direct result of the granularization of the advertising channels (display media) and the ability of marketers, via the application of psycho-metrics (thank you Isaac Asimov via the Foundation Trilogy...), which allows much more precise message targeting. The value of an advertising image is based on the its effectiveness times its use over large numbers of impressions. To be useful to a very wide audience an image must be more and more "all purpose" which dilutes its impact and efficiency in prompting action (or, in the case of elections; inaction). The more focused an image is toward a defined collection of customer quirks and attributes the most effectively it will reach its demographic target, the fewer impressions it will have, and the CPM will skyrocket. 

Going forward you and I will not likely see the same advertisements when we search the web. Our buying habits, incomes, political leanings and our basic personalities (things like our introversion or extroversion) will be analyzed (Thank you! Smart Phone, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter) and data mapped and we'll have our attention focused toward ad messages that will be resonate with our oddly unique points of view, as defined by rigorous data-mining of all our public and private actions and choices. If data from my phone shows that I only drink conventional drip coffee at Starbucks then, over time, I will stop seeing ads for Mocha Frappucinos and my ads will point me toward products and services that algorithms have postulated as within my particular buying preferences. 

Your predilection for Pumpkin Spice lattes might swing your ad parade toward various seasonal drinks with high sugar and accentuated taste features. Different images will be used to target the messages more precisely. While more men than women lean republican a much tighter determiner of voting practice might be to look at car preferences instead. The more one prefers American Luxury cars the more precisely likely it is that a psycho-metric marketer can reach out to the same audience that bought a Lincoln in order to sell them a political candidate. 

But the bottom line is this, instead of using one overarching image to reflect the paid advertising of a branded item a savvy marketer now requires a much more tightly targeted collection of images in order to address each of a myriad of smaller, more discrete populations. That means the cost of a photoshoot, or licensing package, can't be spread over a large campaign (greater cost spreading drives down the per unit cost of imaging and makes it affordable to pay more). If a marketer requires 60 images instead of 1 in order to better take advantage of a much more rigorously defined collection of target subsets then each of the 60 images has less individual value in isolation than an all purpose image would have had in the days when mass communication ruled. 

It also means that there will no longer be uniform stylistic attributes that coalesce ubiquitously in mainstream marketing. Each tiny market segment will respond differently to poses, color choices, graininess, propping, styling, the creative narrative, and even casting. An older coffee drinker may be more effectively subliminally manipulated by an image of a woman of a specific age and income class, in a quiet environment, drinking coffee while reading book (novel). This may trigger his unconscious desire to visit a coffee shop ( the visual stimulant, in addition to his decades long caffeine addiction). He might be motivated the promise of a quiet respite from home or office and the off chance of meeting someone compatible. By the same token a slightly younger coffee drinker might respond  to an image of a coffee shop bustling and full of people, who almost all have headphones on, and who are looking at laptop and smartphone screens. The imaging may be driving their desire to go to the coffee shop for greater social connection.  One image promises one outcome while the other speaks almost oppositely to a different demographic target. Both are more effective when used concurrently than one solo ad that tries to hit all markets and ultimately fails to spark a tipping point reaction in any market. 

But, the images will need to be differentiated in many ways (both content and style) and this is a cost to the advertiser. Since budgets aren't wholly elastic, and ad insertions have to be made in many more channels, and the cost of designing multiple adds is considered, the soft spot for cost optimization points directly at any external, third party cost. And that would be the photography. 

Additionally, the drive to reduce the cost of photography per ad also drives the whole scale rout toward using enormous amounts of low cost stock photography. Which can now be easily modified to conform to the parameters expressed by the data-mined and interpreted information about the sub-groups.

In the near future A.I. will work with data mining to discover just which images resonate with you, personally, the most. At that point all the thousands of reference points you've provided, and continue to provide, to the cloud of advertising research will be used to construct CGI ads (which require no actual photographer or actual models) that speak exactly to the visual+emotional constructs you have in your own head. To see them constructed and played back to you means you will feel a deeper emotional connection to the advertising in the belief that you and they are "on the same page," and that they "get" you. And at that point they will certainly have gotten you. 

But if you are sitting back smugly in your chair because you "saw the writing on the wall" and dived into video, or some related field, you might want to start studying up on artificial intelligence video editing and artificial intelligence scripting, and technical writing. And consider the implications of face detection, smile detection and automatic camera systems. Far fetched? No! All here right now.