I’m being followed by Nikon USA

Like a friend was quick to mention, Christmas came early this year at casa de Fake Chuck when I noticed that I was being followed on Twitter by none other than Nikon USA. In case you think that’s a typo, let me type it here again for you: I’m being followed on Twitter by Nikon USA. And no that’s not the fake Nikon USA, that’s real Nikon USA. You’re probably wondering how this happened, so let me explain it to you in more detail. 

On November 23rd, 2009 Nikon USA appeared on the list of people I’m following on Twitter. At first I thought someone hacked my Twitter account and then followed @nikonusadotcom to frame me or something. But upon further investigation I concluded that apparently I must have somehow stumbled upon their profile on Twitter and then clicked the “Follow” button. Now, I’m sure some of you will be quick to mention that this is confirmation of the fact that I’m probably a crazy Nikon fanboy because I’m following Nikon USA and appear to be anti-Canon. But nothing could be further from the truth. The simple fact of the matter is that I like to keep an eye on the competition. That’s all. In the past I’ve also been very open about me using a D3 and D3x quite often while I’m out with the family. And in fact my D3s should arrive in time for Christmas. But this is just me err… evaluating… the competition and doing uh… competitive research. You have to know who you’re up against. On top of that I’m even doing all of this in my free time without getting paid for it, while spending my own money on the uh.. research samples. This just goes to show you the kind of dedication that I bring to my work at Canon USA. 

Soon after Nikon USA somehow made itself into the list of people I’m following, I noticed the following tweet by them: 

We’re reviewing the presentation of our products pages like this one http://bit.ly/1pul0P – send me a DM with your thoughts and ideas #nikon 

Being the helpful and caring person that I am, I couldn’t help but offer them a suggestion

@nikonusadotcom “We’re reviewing the presentation of our products pages – send me … your thoughts and ideas” – Suggestion: Remove them all 

Yes I know what you’re thinking again: “Look he’s helping Nikon USA! He’s obviously a crazy Nikon fanboy!” And again, relax, nothing could be further from the truth. I believe we’re all operating in the same market and in a way we’re not only competitors but also colleagues who’re trying to do what’s best for the industry. And in that sense, I felt that they could really benefit from my suggestion. I’m not a webdesign expert, but in making that suggestion about improving the product pages on the Nikon USA website I was kinda going for the Zen approach to design. You know, less is more. So far it doesn’t look like they’ve followed my advice, but that might be due to internal bureaucracy. You know how these things go. 

But I did notice soon after my suggestion that Nikon USA added me to their list of people they follow, which can only mean that they value my feedback and are genuinely interested in what I have to say. 

It’s a sad day when you have to find out that the competition appears to be listening to you more actively than the company you’re working for. I don’t see anyone from Canon Inc. following me yet. Hell, I’m willing to bet my left nut that none of them even have a goddamn Twitter account. I’ve said it before, but our social media strategy is almost non existent. Canon Inc. apparently still think they’re doing business in the 80’s. At least I didn’t wait for them and started this blog, again in my free time, showing just how much I care about my work and about Canon products. I tried getting those fucks in Japan to start blogging about the company and about our products numerous times. I even told them to read Robert Scoble’s excellent book about corporate blogging. But every time I mention Naked Conversations to the Japanese they give me a funny look. Now they think I’m gay.

On the other hand you have Nikon who appears to understand social media a lot better. I’ve mentioned this many times before and the Lord of the Speedlights just rubbed it in again for us in true Nikon style, just to make absolutely sure we were noticing.

I really can’t understand Tokyo anymore. We’re fucking up in all possible ways. We’re out of touch with customers, our quality control is fucked, our recent products are fucked, our marketing strategies are fucked. It’s aaall fucked! 

Nikon VS Canon

And the results can be seen in the image above. What you’re seeing there is worldwide fuckage. Quite scary, to be honest. That’s a shitload more D3 and D3x sales compared to 1D3 and 1Ds3. Let’s be honest: Does this surprise you? Because it sure as fuck doesn’t surprise me! And it also won’t surprise me at all when this same trend can be seen for other product models, especially when you consider the following graph which I mentioned in my previous post

Maeda: "Competitions set our ass up the cocks!"

Call me pessimistic, but I don’t see this changing in the near future. Not with Nikon’s D3s receiving glowing reviews everywhere, especially when it comes to low light performance. We’re going to be oh-so-fucked if they update the D700 with the new sensor from the D3s early next year. In the mean time, Canon Inc. will keep cramming more megapixels onto future sensors while raping the shit out of image quality. Can you see a diffraction limited aperture of f/2.8 in the future? I know I can! It is going to be so awesome. Stop down from f/2.8 and experience mushy image heaven!! Hell, you’re going to have to shoot wide open constantly on most lenses if you expect to see any kind of detail in your images! 

Not to mention the noise. It was just fucking unbelievable to see how much more noise the 50D offered compared to the 40D. Even the 7D features more noise in images compared to the 40D. Moses wrote in recently to mention that he updated his 7D post with results from DXO Mark, showing that the 7D does indeed offer more noise compared to the 40D and, lord have mercy, even the D300s. A clear indication of how low we’ve sunken here at Canon. 

So does it surprise you that Canon is losing market share worldwide? Does it surprise you that people are switching to Nikon? Just check this out

Despite my near-constant frustration with Canon, I held out for the mythical 5d Mark II – a camera that promised even better ISO, an even bigger sensor, an even fancier LCD and (you guessed it), the same crappy focusing system. At that point, Canon had me by the you-know-whats (I don’t actually have you-know-whats… it’s a euphemism, silly) – I had *thousands* invested in lenses (see below). So I shot my 5d Mark II for the entire 2009 wedding season…. on One-Shot…. using a high aperture… constantly cussing under my breath. 

So, there you have it! Canon is a great system…. I will miss some of the lenses and the way the bodies feel in my hands (I still think Nikons are made for a man’s hands and mine don’t quite fit around the grip right).  But, at the end of the day, I am a stickler for focus and Canon just didn’t deliver.  

And this is not an isolated incident, trust me. The end result was predictable: Switched to Nikon. I’ve written a lot here in the past about what can only be referred to as the legendary AF system of our 5D Mark II, but here’s a nice story to freshen up your minds. This user hasn’t yet switched to Nikon apparently, but sure as hell was already considering it. (Update: We’ve lost her)

The more I see these reports around the Internet and in my mailbox these days, the more I myself am thinking about switching to Nikon. Hell, I already am following Nikon USA on Twitter and already own Nikon gear, I might as well ask them for office space too!

Canon EOS 7D: Nikon’s Worst Nightmare Has Begun

Canon EOS 7D

Canon EOS 7D

Bruce Wayne saw bats flying towards him out of a very bright light, haunting him every night during his sleep. The image above shows what is currently haunting every Nikon executive in their sleep at night, causing them to wake up screaming like girly men while bathing in their own sweat. For Bruce Wayne, things got better. But for Nikon, the worst is yet to come.

I know I’m a bit late with my introduction of our new 7D camera, but I have been very busy here at the office with all kinds of preparations for what is yet to come. We are heading for some very exciting times and let me assure you that the 7D is just the beginning. If you’re thinking about getting a 7D, be prepared to have your patience tested to the extreme. While the 7D should hit stores by the end of the month, chances are that this camera will be continuously backordered until the end of time.

We’ve just released the official 7D brochure, so you might want to download it and start drooling. You’ll notice that the marketing department got a little carried away while compiling the text for the brochure, and frankly, I don’t really blame them this time because the 7D is an exciting product. But when you see stuff like the following, please forgive them:

On Page 3: “Canon EOS SLR cameras have consistently featured cuttingedge AF technologies and the EOS 7D takes them a step further.”

I had to chuckle when I read that. OK fine I admit, I LOLed. Consistently featured cutting edge AF, huh? Yeah… I printed that line on a large banner and it is now hanging high up on the wall behind me in my office. Funny how people can so easily forget about the Great Fiasco of 2008. I think most of them just got so traumatized that they blocked 2008 out of their memory completely. Just thinking about 2008 sends chills down my spine every time so trust me when I say that it’s not easy for them. I mean really, all of you who are regular readers know that not too long ago I was crying here on my blog in despair, mentioning how I was coming home drunk every night because the future seemed very dark for us here at Canon. I was just totally wasted every night. But at least it wasn’t so bad that I woke up in the morning to find a tiger in my bathroom, a baby in the closet and David Sparer asking me why he’s missing a tooth, all while not being able to remember what happened to me the previous night.

Bradley Cooper and Chase Jarvis - Seperated at birth?

Bradley Cooper and Chase Jarvis (right) - Separated at birth?

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you have to really do yourself a favor and go out to see the movie “The Hangover,” starring Chase Jarvis as Bradley Cooper as Phil. Even if it’s just to see Chase taking Mike Tyson’s tiger from behind while yelling “Let’s fuck this tiger!!” I know it sounds bizarre, but seriously, I’m not kidding. On top of that you even have Canon Inc.’s Masaya Maeda, Director and Chief Executive of Image Communication Products Operations, making an appearance when he leaps out of the back of a car, totally naked, and starts beating the crap out of Chase with a crowbar.

Maeda

Chase lying on the ground after taking a beating from Maeda

"You gonna fuck on me!!??"

"You gonna fuck on me!!??"

There’s just something really funny about watching a gay looking Canon executive beating the crap out of a Nikon photographer.

Hangovers aside, things are starting to look pretty good for us here at Canon thanks to the Japanese at Canon Inc. in Tokyo finally listening to us. Even Vincent Laforet, peace and blessings be upon him, mentioned in a recent interview that Canon is finally starting to listen. If you’ve looked at the specs, you know that the 7D really introduces many exciting new features for Canon users. It’s funny how the 7D comes with a brand new and fucking awesome viewfinder design with an intelligent LCD display, getting rid of the focusing screens, when I just wrote about the state of the art “‘On-demand’ Viewfinder Gridlines Projection System” two months ago. Unfortunately though, the 7D still features the very advanced “Eyepiece Closing ‘Mechanism’“, arguably one of humanity’s greatest achievements, but I guess that it would have been too good to be true if that was also replaced with something better. 

However, the introduction of the 7D has led to the discovery of one of the most important formulas since E=MC2, a formula that holds great promises for the future. You can see it below in all its glory:

The Formula

There’s not much else I can say about this right now, I just hope you and Canon Inc. know your math.

Overall we’re getting some great responses about the 7D. Jeff Ascough posted some sample images and mentions being very pleased with the 7D so far. I also got an email from someone who’s been on our case for a long time now. For some reason the content of the email cracked me up, so I’m just going to include it here without permission and be done with it:

Hell has frozen over! John Harrington has posted a TFP request for female models on his website!

My first positive blog post about Canon in a very long time: http://www.kareldonk.com/karel/2009/09/08/canon-eos-7d-looking-very-promising/

I’m just going to call that guy “Moses” from now on, as his predictions appear to be spot on. And when he writes positive about Canon, you know Nikon is going to have serious issues. Even Rob Galbraith had to admit that “Canon has a winner on their hands with the EOS 7D.” And then he went on to mumble something about the autofocus system. I don’t know what the fascination is with Galbraith and our autofocus systems. The guy just refuses to let it go. At some point he even mentions the following:

We also used the EF 85mm f/1.2L II, and focus was all over the place. The same lens exhibited the same unstable AF on an EOS 5D Mark II, suggesting the problem was more a function of the lens than the camera.

Am I the only one who slapped my hand on my forehead, shook my head and asked myself why Galbraith had to include this in his article? This is about the same as saying the following:

We also poured a couple of gallons of sulfuric acid on the 7D and it started going haywire before completely dying on us. The sulfuric acid had the same effect on the EOS 5D Mark II, suggesting the problem was more a function of the sulfuric acid than the camera.

Sometimes I fear for the future of humanity. I really do.

Now, I know a lot of you have written in to complain about the noise in images taken with a 7D and if I want to be honest, I can only admit that personally it also worries me a little. But let me remind you of what I said a while ago in reply to a Tech Tips question:

What is it with all the noise on the recent cameras? I thought image quality was important to Canon. Now I have to spend time cleaning up noise even at ISO 100. It’s getting crazy you guys better do something about this!

Thank you for your suggestion. If you’ve been following this blog long enough you already know my personal opinion regarding noise in images: I don’t like it myself. However, at Canon we think that noise is an important part of digital photography and certainly with regards to image quality. More noise in larger images is actually an improvement that contributes a lot to good image quality, as we have clearly demonstrated with the EOS 50D and the EOS 5D Mark II. Going forward, we expect noise to continue to play an important role in digital photography here at Canon with future advancements in sensor development, which will allow for even larger resolutions on smaller sensors while bending, and indeed completely trashing,  the laws of physics and causing a rip in the space-time continuum.
Other industry leaders have also recognized the importance of noise in images. For example, Adobe has demonstrated to share a similar view by including filters in Photoshop that add noise to images. As a result, images made with older cameras that offered noise-free images can now be improved by adding noise to them. I expect this trend to continue for the foreseeable future.

Unfortunately the Japanese, while they do appear to be listening a little more to us now, are not willing to give up the megapixel race just yet. At this point I’m just hoping, praying to God even, that the noise problem will not ruin the 7D for us like it did with the 50D and to some extent also the 5D Mark II. I’m also hoping that the new AF system actually works. If the Japanese fuck this one up again, all hope will be lost. According to recently acquired intelligence, Nikon is also planning something big. Something really big.

Nikon Headquarters

Nikon Headquarters

We’ve got some exciting new stuff coming very soon as well. This time even I don’t have all the details as Japan has gotten more and more secretive about future plans. But what I’m certain about is that you’re going to see a very fierce battle unfold in the next few months. We are at war, make no mistake about it.

Finally, I want to mention that I’m celebrating my first birthday this Sunday, September 13th. On that day it will be exactly a year ago when I first started this blog. Amazing how time flies. I hope you’ll all be here with me to celebrate.

Gotta run now, lots of work waiting for me.

The Apollo XI One Light Photography Workshop

Updated on July 28, 2009: Updated some of the captions below the moonlanding pictures.

Man my previous post sure generated a lot of traffic. It looks like a lot of people were able to relate to many of the things I discussed there, especially Canon users. And that’s great, because I need the support of all of you to get those fucks in Japan to innovate. Where the fuck is my Eye Control Focus? Every time I send in my god forsaken feedback reports I keep asking for it and yet they seem to totally ignore it in Tokyo. This along with many other things people keep asking me year in and year out. The “good enough” mentality seems to win every time at Canon Inc. It’s the lazy-ass engineering I discussed in the previous post. Well there’s a time when “good enough” just doesn’t cut it anymore, and the issues we’re having with the 5D Mark II autofocus module proves this. It’s a goddamn tragedy that we have to put up with this crap in the technologically advanced time we live in right now. Back in the film days, you could get the EOS-1V with a working 45-point professional autofocus system for $2000. $2000!!!! Today, the EOS 5D Mark II costs almost $3000 and comes with a pathetic 9 point autofocus system that makes my cellphone camera look like a Hasselblad in comparison. And yes, the EOS-1V also had a built-in Eyepiece Shutter. Somehow during the transition from film to digital, the cameras got a lot more primitive at Canon Inc. Being the Technical Advisor at Canon USA, can you imagine in what kind of position I get into when people start pointing this out to me?

If you want another example of lazy-ass engineering at Canon Inc., just take the “‘On-demand’ Viewfinder Gridlines Projection System.” At Nikon it is simply an option in the menu to turn the gridlines inside the viewfinder on or off on demand. Even the fucking Nikon D200 which is now obsolete had this feature. At Canon Inc. you actually have to change the focusing screen inside the camera with one containing the gridlines etched onto them (which you have to buy). If you want to see the entire procedure for doing this, just look here. That’s some kickass 21st century technology, ya gotta admit. You look at that procedure and just marvel at its sheer brilliance. Whoever came up with that probably graduated at MIT at the age of 12. Compare that procedure to the Nikon procedure of a simple menu setting on the Nikon D200/D300/D700 which projects some kind of LCD grid inside the viewfinder. A world of difference. Canon has redefined the word “usability” with their “Eyepiece Closing ‘Mechanism’” and “‘On-demand’ Viewfinder Gridlines Projection System.” Imagine how much more productive this makes photographers using Canon DSLRs. And while changing the focusing screen, you had better pray to God that dust doesn’t end up on top of it, or, heaven forbid, on the exposed prism inside the camera, because then you’re really fucked.

Anyway, with your support I hope we can talk some sense into those morons in Japan. What surprised me though, was that even though the feedback to the previous post was overwhelmingly positive, the gestapo at the DPReview Canon forums went into action again and deleted an entire thread where Canon users were discussing my post. This is not the first time this has happened. Fortunately I was able to save 2 of the 3 pages of the discussion, and you can download a PDF file containing the discussion here: Deleted Thread at DPReview. As you’ll see, about 90% of people there were positive about my post, and yet it had to be deleted. Doesn’t that make you wonder about who exactly is in control over at DPReview? Here is one of the comments in that discussion, which you’ll find in the PDF, that I found interesting:

Should you have to jump all the way to the 1-series to get a high quality comprehensively-featured, no-excuses camera from the world’s larger SLR manufacturer? The 5DII costs more than any film-era 1-series EOS SLR while limping along with a derivative of the 7-point AF system developed for the EOS Elan 7/7E (itself, a derivation of the 5-point AF of the EOS-5/A2/A2E from 1992) and is marketed toward professionals, yet starting with the EOS-1N, those cameras had eyepiece shutters. Of course, all the 1-series cameras have them, so obviously we’re not talking about having to re-invent the wheel to implement the same system in a 5D-level body–the parts already exist. No, it’s just that, in true Canon style–as was the case with even the storied EOS-3, which shared quite a lot, mechanically and electronically, with the 1-series film SLRs–they have chosen to compromise functionality (along with viewfinder quality, build quality, autofocus, environmental sealing, user-configurability and features) for the protecting sales of the 1-series. $2700 should buy you a DSLR you don’t have to make excuses for in terms of its basic functioning: AF and metering. And I’m not willing to give Canon a free pass on the “value” of a full frame sensor this time around, when the 5DII sensor is so clearly a derivation of the existing 1DsIII sensor and they spent, essentially, nothing on AF improvements. It’s infuriating when Nikon and Pentax offer bodies with more comprehensive features and/or superior build quality to the 5DII for significantly less money.

Some excellent points in there.

In other news my Tech Tips for July went online a while ago. Very boring as usual, but perhaps there’s something there that might interest you. Nikon also released a fuckup notice for the D5000 last week. It seems that some D5000 bodies don’t turn on after a while due to some problem. At least they’re a lot quicker at Nikon to admit any issues and to offer to fix it. At Canon Inc. they would have first denied that the D5000 had any issues, and after a few months take a look at it anyway and then actually “fix” the same problem a couple of times in the course of 2 years. After that, they’d release a video interview with some unknown Japanese photographer making multiple claims that the D5000 does in fact turn on, mentioning how great that is, and that this is one of its most important features.

Vincent Laforet (left) and Eolake Stobblehouse, separated at birth?

Vincent Laforet (left) and Eolake Stobblehouse, separated at birth?

On a more positive note though, my marketing idea for hiring Arnold Schwarzenneger to promote our DSLRs has been very well received even at Canon. Since Nikon has “ashtonsdslr.com” we’re now in the process of registering the domain “thegovernatorsdslr.com” and have it redirect to our EOS website. We need a totally different approach to marketing when the 1D Mark 4 gets launched. I really hope that Vincent Laforet, peace be with him, will be able to look at the 1D4 and do something really spectacular again so we can seriously start kicking Nikon’s ass. Lord knows we need it.

Okay so you probably saw that this post had a strange title and that’s because I’ve been seeing all the Apollo 11 moonlanding crap all over the place and as I was getting sick and tired of that shit I noticed something strange when I looked at some of the pictures. As the Technical Advisor, or Camera Guru if you prefer, at Canon USA, you know that stupid shit like this is not going to go unnoticed by me. I didn’t become the Technical Advisor around here for nothing.  And instead of just showing you what I mean, I decided to do an online photography workshop instead. Workshops are so hot right now, everyone is doing their own, so I thought why not have one myself?

In this case the workshop is more about lighting. Lighting on the moon during the Apollo 11 mission. This is the kind of stuff the Lord of the Speedlights dreams of doing, but can’t, because he’ll probably lose all of his sponsors overnight. Me, I have Canon backing me so I don’t give a flying fuck. Since the astronauts on Apollo 11 didn’t bring any lights of their own, we really only have one light source on the moon: The Sun. So that makes our workshop a One Light workshop, not to be confused with Zack Arias’s One Light Workshop, which doesn’t come even close to what you are about to experience in a moment.

Okay so much for the intro, now let us start by looking at some of the pictures that were taken during the Apollo 11 mission and reverse engineer the light Strobist style:

Moon 1

This is a picture of the moon. It’s important to take note of the fact that the shadows are all pointing in the same direction, and that the shadow areas are pitch black.

Moon 2

Another picture taken by the astronauts shows the extremely dark shadows. Notice how the shadow side of the hills are totally dark. If you’d stand there you wouldn’t see shit in front of you.

Moon 3

Okay now this is the first picture taken by the fucking wankers who call themselves astronauts. In the top picture, notice how the shadow side of the moonlander is lit. Since there’s only one light, the sun, which is coming from the back of the moonlander, the side we’re seeing would be totally dark, just like the shadow side of the hills in the above picture. And yet, that’s not the case. Same with that white thing on the ground. But take a look at the rocks, their shadow sides are totally black. Some will say that the moonlander was lit by the surface of the moon, but why is the surface of the moon able to light the dark shadow side of the moonlander, and not the dark shadow sides of rocks, craters, hills etc.? Below there’s a simulated version of what the picture would have looked like with only the sun as the light source.

Moon 4

Even more bullshit from the motherfuckers who call themselves astronauts. The astronaut is coming out of the moonlander at the shadow side, and yet there ‘s so much light! Now how the hell is that fucking possible? Simple: There had to be more light sources when that picture was taken (red arrows). If you look at the orange structure, clearly there’s light coming from above. Perhaps an Alien craft flying by was giving some assistance? Below is how that picture should have looked like with only the sun as the light source.

Moon 5

Even more horseshit from the overpaid nutcases at Nasa. Again, the astronaut is at the shadow side of the moonlander, and lit like a fucking christmas tree. I wonder how sunlight was able to reach the astronaut behind the moonlander. Below is again the simulated version of what that picture should have looked like.

Moon 6

Notice again how the shadow side of the rocks and hills are completely black. Somehow the shadow side of the moonlander and astronaut are very lit. This shit doesn’t even happen at Disney World.

Moon 7

In this picture the shadows look believable, very dark and shadow side of the astronauts and flag are a lot darker, essentially black. But why does one of the astronauts have a much longer shadow? Also, is the surface of the moon gray or brown? Seems to me like the assholes as Nasa can’t decide.

Moon 8

Apparently sunlight really favored the astronauts and the moonlander during the Apollo 11 mission. Notice how the shadow side of the rock is completely black, and yet the shadow side of the moonlander and astronaut look a lot brighter. And where is the flag’s shadow? The cocksuckers at Nasa must think we’re all stupid.

Moon 9

The fucking astronaut is standing in the goddamn shadow of the fucking moonlander, how in God’s name is he visible, when the sun was supposed to be the only light source? Looks to me like those fucks at Nasa used a little fill light.

Moon 10

This picture is just awesome. If they decide to do some lighting workshops at Nasa, I’ll be the first to sign up. Hell, I don’t even care what it costs, I’ll take a second mortgage if I have to. If you can do this, you’ll never need to use a flash ever again. Compare this to the picture above with the 2 astronauts with much darker shadows. And the surface of the moon looks a lot more brown in the reflection. Hmmm…

Moon 11

All of a sudden the shadow side of the moonlander and astronaut look a lot darker. Looks like they moved some of the fill lights for this shot. Also notice how the solar panel is throwing a very dark shadow on the astronaut’s right foot. A small panel is able to black out part of the astronaut’s foot, and yet, when the astronaut stands in the shadow of the big moonlander in previous pictures, he is totally lit!

Moon 12

And this is truly magnificent. Forget Zack Arias, forget the Lord of the Speedlights, hell, forget McNally. Those guys are nothing compared to what Nasa achieved here using just one light source. It looks like the sunlight went in one direction, then actually made a turn and came back in the frame from a different direction. You would have to use String-theory to explain what’s going on in that picture. To keep it simple, I made a lighting diagram below the picture to show you how I think the lighting was set up in this case. Forgive me for spelling errors, I’m tired.

And that concludes this Apollo 11 One Light workshop. I hope you’ve learned something important from all of this and that this will make you a better photographer. For more background information, watch this.

That’s it for now, I need to go look at the new 70-200mm f/2.8 IS and prepare my feedback for those morons in Japan.

Fucked, for the foreseeable Future

I guess by now most of you have already seen the supposedly leaked Nikon roadmap. Let me tell you that if even half of that is true, we’re fucked here at Canon at least up until 2014. Already we’re having a hard time trying to top the D300, D700 and D3(x) Nikon camera models. Based on where things stand right now, I’m projecting our products in the same categories to catch up to those models sometime in 2011. The problem is that all of those Nikon models will be updated in 2010 already, setting us back to catch up at least until 2014. This is quite depressing to say the least.

I’ve been coming home drunk at night for the last few days because of this, and I’m seriously thinking about a career switch. I’m still hopeful that the 1D Mark 4 will do something for us, but the 60D is not going to come anywhere close to the D300s Nikon is going to release soon from what I see. And as far as I’m concerned, we can just stop manufacturing the 5D Mark II when the D700x gets released by the end of this year. It simply won’t stand a chance. Hell, the 5D Mark II is having a difficult time right now already. You can’t even begin to imagine the support nightmare it is causing us at Canon USA. But more on this later.

As if all this is not enough, the marketing morons at Canon Inc. have been busy again trying to improve public opinion of the 1D Mark III autofocus (AF). The last time they tried this was with the 1D Mark III autofocus manual website, where they also enlightened photographers worldwide about the “Autofocus Philosophy” (Autofocus Joke is more like it) at Canon Inc. The 1D Mark III, as we all know, has been a complete fiasco for us ever since Galbraith sold out to Nikon and showed everyone how crappy its autofocus system really is. Canon Inc. has tried to fix the AF issues a few times, without much luck, according to Galbraith. We’re now up to Silver dots on the 1D Mark III boxes. Who knows how many more colored dots it will need to finally deliver a working AF system with the 1D Mark III. They may have to go beyond the color spectrum of visible light with those dots. I for one have stopped keeping track.

But anyway, now those marketing morons at Canon Inc. somehow managed to get funding for another one of their boneheaded marketing ideas. They went out and interviewed photographer Takahito Mizutani so he could tell all of you how good the 1D3 autofocus really is. Now when I saw this, the first thing that went through my mind was who the fuck is Takahito Mizutani and why should people care about what he says? Seriously?

af1

Does it, really?

If you watch the interview with Mizutani, he mentions the “excellent AF” of the 1D3 so many times it becomes very obvious what the purpose of the whole interview really is. Heck, the interview begins with Mizutani claiming the “excellent AF” is the biggest advantage of the 1D3. You simply can’t be more obvious than that. Even if this wasn’t a problem, there’s still the issue of why people should listen to some Japanese guy named Takahito Mizutani who likely got paid (or possibly threatened) to do the interview. I mean for Christ’s sake, couldn’t they find someone better? At Nikon they have Ashton Kutcher! The guy probably never actually uses a Nikon camera longer than 2 minutes a month, and that’s when he’s able to figure out how to turn it on. But when he tells people he’s using a Nikon DSLR, millions of people who know and like him listen. And that’s marketing. But at Canon Inc.? There they have the great Mr. Mizutani. Couldn’t they pay someone better to talk about the 1D3? How about Arnold Schwarzenegger? Nikon has Ashton Kutcher, why can’t we have Schwarzenegger? Can you imagine Arnold dressed like the T-800 on his Harley looking very serious, pulling out a 1D3 and going “I require excellent AF.” That clip would have moved some serious inventory. Instead, we have this:

Not sure about the excellent part...

One would sure like to hope so...

Bradley Cooper and Chase Jarvis - Seperated at birth?

Bradley Cooper and Chase Jarvis - Separated at birth?

This is not the first time I complained about our marketing efforts. A while ago Nikon released the D90 and had photographer Chase Jarvis talk about it on his blog which created a lot of publicity. I’m willing to bet that a crapload more people know who Chase Jarvis is compared to Mr. Mizutani. And this is another thing, you see. Why is it that almost all the cool, fun, edgy and vocal photographers on the Internet use Nikon gear? These guys have entire communities of fans and followers, unlike Mr. Mizutani. So you know when they talk about the gear they’re using, people are going to notice. Take Chase Jarvis for example. He’s been hit by a car, hosed down, fell from a bridge and exploded into flames. And he’s using Nikon gear. How cool is that? Then you have people like Joe McNally who get attacked by midgets on tricycles, also a Nikon user. I can’t imagine Canon Inc. funding such a project for me. I’m stuck answering technical questions on the Internet in my Tech Tips columns in such a boring way. I can barely keep myself awake when I read my own Tech Tips. Can you imagine me in such a video, getting hit by a midget on a moped in the middle of explaining custom function settings for the 1D3? One can always dream. At least I have this blog, right? And then you have even more people using Nikon gear with entire communities, like the Lord of the Speedlights, showing thousands of people on the Internet how he lights stuff with his preciouses. Even Scott Kelby uses Nikon gear. But at Canon Inc.:

Okay then!

If you keep repeating something, people start to believe you.

To be fair, I have to admit that we did have our moment at Canon USA when Vincent Laforet, God bless his soul, created the short movie Reverie with the 5D Mark II. But that was entirely his initiative and thank God we were able to give him a 5D2 for a few days to do it. And you’d think the morons at Canon Inc. would have noticed the success and try to do more of this, but instead they’re doing crap like interviewing Mr. Mizutani. This is what I can’t stand about Canon Inc., their sheer arrogance. Nikon appears to be listening to photographers worldwide, contacting them and asking them what they need, actively participating in the community in various ways. Canon Inc. doesn’t appear to be interested in what anyone thinks. Years of feedback I’ve been sending them keeps getting ignored. They keep kissing eachother’s asses in upper management and pretend all is well. You can’t imagine how frustrated and tired I am of this.

The result of all this are the mediocre products we’re releasing lately, compared to the competition. For example, Nikon is far ahead with their flash system compared to ours. It didn’t surprise me one bit when one frustrated user wrote down his complaints about our flash system this week and published it on the Internet. Now everyone knows how much we suck. The only thing that seems to be missing in his list is the addition of a small beep sound to the flash head so you can hear if the flash went off or not without having to look at it and blind yourself in the process. I’ve been sending a lot of the feedback in that list to Canon Inc. for years now, and they keep ignoring it. One reason is their absurd mentality of just refusing to release certain features for ‘marketing’ reasons, and another is their lazy engineering attitude. The EOS 50D is still crippled with a laughable 9 point AF system while Nikon’s D300 has a whopping 51-point AF system. Our 5D Mark II has a pathetic 9-point AF system that’s inferior even to the 50D, while Nikon’s D700 has an asskicking 51-point professional level AF system. In the case of the 5D2, the pathetic AF system has practically ruined what could have been a great product.

Let me give you an example of what I call lazy-ass engineering at Canon Inc. in Japan: The viewfinder closing ‘mechanism.’ First, let us observe the Nikon solution:

The viewfinder on the Nikon camera can be opened and closed by simply turning a knob.

The viewfinder on the Nikon camera can be opened and closed internally by simply turning a switch (pointed to by the red arrow).

That’s a simple and elegant solution, right? Now let us look at the solution the schmart engineers at Canon Inc. in Japan came up with:

First you have to remove the rubber eyepiece cup from the camera.

First you have to remove the rubber eyecup from the camera by pressing the sides and lifting up.

  

The your camera will look like crap.

Then your camera will look like crap.

 

Then, you take the rubber eyepiece cover attached to the strap of your camera, and you place it over the eyepiece.

Then, you take the rubber eyepiece cover attached to the strap of your camera, and you place it over the eyepiece.

 

And finally, the eyepiece is closed, holding part of the strap against the back of the camera and making it fucking difficult and annoying to work with it and access certain buttons.

And finally, the eyepiece is closed, holding part of the strap against the back of the camera and making it fucking difficult and annoying to work with it and access certain buttons. And ofcourse, to open the eyepiece again, you go through the entire process again in reverse.

See that? Now that is some state of the art engineering if I ever saw it! You look at this and you start to wonder if maybe somehow they managed to recover a crashed UFO disc in Japan, reverse engineered the advanced Alien technology and used it to create this marvelous piece of engineering. I mean, this is high tech. Future generations are going to look back at us and mention how we were so ahead of our time with this technology.

I look at this and I wonder if it wouldn’t have been easier for Canon to just supply users with a roll of black electrical tape so they could use it to cover the eyepiece.

This example clearly illustrates the problem with Canon Inc. Lazy and mediocre engineering. That’s why our DSLR bodies are beginning to look pre-historic and seriously lacking features compared to the competition. So is our flash system, and soon even our lenses.

This is the attitude that crippled the 5D Mark II, and is now causing me to get loads of emails every week from people complaining about the autofocus system on the camera. Now can you understand how the 5D2 ended up with a pathetic 9 point AF system that is struggling to do the job? Remember, Canon Inc. had 3 whole years after the release of the first 5D to come up with a better AF system for the 5D Mark II. And yet, they had the nerve to release the 5D2 with what they claim to be the same AF system of the 3-year old 5D. The 5D Mark II bodies might be flying off of the shelves, but they’re flying into our service centers just as fast. Just look at some of the comments on this website:

http://www.jenniferphotography.com/
I was glad I stumbled on this post. I have been having some major focus issues lately and starting googling it, and found this. Describes exactly what I have been experiencing at recent portrait shoots and my last wedding, which forced me to focus all of my lenses manually not to miss any shots. The problem is that I do not have perfect eyes and while the diopter compensates, it is not perfect either, and it can still be very difficult in low light, such as the reception, to tell what it actually in focus. Im going through this wedding now and am very disappointed by missing several shots due to the focus issue! Many are just very soft or off the mark. The focus just hunts and hunts, even in GREAT light and had a hard time deciding between the brides white dress or the grooms black tux, thus taking way to long to focus.

Even in a couple shots where I had time to play with the live view zoom, in an effort to zero in on a specific part of the image and know exactly where the tack sharp point should be, some of the images still came out soft, despite what appeared on the LCD.

I’m sending it in to Canon to see what they can do to fix or replace, but for a $3000 camera and as a wedding photographer where I cannot miss moments, I find this unacceptable.

http://www.photographybysara.com/
WOW!!! I am glad I finally discovered what has been going on with my new 5D MII!!!!! I’ve only had it for about a month and have become VERY unhappy with the focusing issues. At first I thought it was me….. but I have been a professional photographer for over 24 years, so to question my skills at this stage of the game, really gave me cause to scratch my head.

I am missing key moments. I am primarily a wedding photographer and when you miss things like the bride coming down the aisle, Daddy giving her away, the final kiss, or mom wiping away tears as she dances with her son on the dance floor….. this is UNACCEPTABLE!!!!!!!

This past weekend, I even had moments where the camera would not focus at all! I had to reach up and throw it into manual focus just to get them cutting the cake. And then go back to Auto-focus when the moment was over. Not to mention…low light situations with weddings is pretty standard. I enjoy the high ISO’s and they rock….. when you can get it to focus.

What is the point in having the new high ISO’s, if the damn thing won’t focus in low light??? Not to mention I had to do a little “Creative Financing” just to be able to afford the price tag in this economy.

http://bentography.com/
Well, all I can start off the say is, it’s a great video camera but I cant get that thing to focus properly for the life of me. I have done everything I can to make sure it is not me. I have owned 10D, 20D, 30D and the 40D. My 40D can kick my 5D’s butt any day of the week when it comes the image being in focus. I had two big projects that went down last month and I had to reshoot everything practically and still couldn’t get a super sharp shot. So two days ago I went to the local camera shop and told them my story- I have a new camera coming no questions asked.

http://www.fscottkennedy.com/
DO NOT PURCHASE A CANON 5D MkII!

I am a full time photographer and I have sent my 5d mark II back 2 times! Canon acts like I am crazy when I tell them I am getting soft images! What the hell! They said that they can not find anything wrong with my camera. I guess their testing does not include taking pictures because this thing is bad. And to top it all off my shutter locked up and I had to have them replace the mirror and the shutter. Wish that would have helped the soft images! Did a shoot yesterday, took 140 images and only (your gona love this) 6 were in sharp focus!

Purchased a 50D last year as a back up, shot with it for a week to test it out and sold it the next, very soft images and the ISO’s were worse than the 40D. My old 5D has been a camp, giving me great images all the time but it is getting old, wish there was a Canon camera I could purchase to replace it.

Canon must be forking out major money for all these reviews to be so good on most media outlets.

I have been using Canon for 14 years and the only thing they can do is act like it is a user problem! Well, that was the last straw, I have contacted my local camera store and I am changing all my equipment out to Nikon before the end of the year. It sucks that I have to change out all this equipment and spend all this money ($20,000.00 to replace all my lens, bodies, etc…) for something as fundamental as focus on a camera!

F. Scott Kennedy

And these are just the last 4 comments, there’s plenty more where that came from. And the noise and banding in dark tones at low ISO on the 5D2 are just plain ugly. If you look at my blog’s homepage on the right side, you’ll see the post titled “Banding and Pattern Noise – EOS 5D Mark II and EOS 50D” as the top post. If you wonder why, it’s all thanks to Google. People are seeing these problems on the camera and searching for solutions on Google. They sure as hell aren’t going to find it at Canon. Looking at the search keyword statistics of my blog, every day there are quite some people looking for solutions to the noise, banding and autofocus issues with the 5D2. Really, just look at the top posts on my homepage, it says it all. I don’t know anymore what to say to people that are emailing me about this either. I really don’t know how much more of this I can take.

Anyway, I’m going to get me a nice cup of Irish coffee right now and try to relax.

Tech Tips, Twitter, and Stuff

Man what a weekend! Been having a lot of fun with the 1D Mark 4. Can’t stop playing with it. The new 35L is fantastic too. The rear element fell out when I tried to mount it on the 1D4 the first time though, but nothing a little superglue and a hammer couldn’t fix. Works great. I just thought I’d take some time for a quick update before I go play with my new toys again.

My June Tech Tips have been posted at the Digital Journalist. Check it out. And when you do, take note of how I answered the question about the crap 5D2 autofocus. Hell, let me just include it right here:

Chuck, thanks so much for your time and insight. I have a question about the 5D Mark II AF system. I love shooting with the camera in most situations, but have difficulty getting focused shots when shooting sports. In fact, the AF system seems inferior to the 40D I’ve used. If I’m reading correctly the 40/50D have high-precision cross-type AF points at all 9 AF points while the 5D Mark II has cross-type only at the 1 center point. If this is true I can’t understand why the 5D Mark II would have an inferior AF system to the lower end 40/50D cameras. Any insight?

All three of these models have 9 selectable AF points, but only the EOS 5D Mark II has an additional 6 Assist AF points surrounding the center focusing point. So, although it is true that the 8 outer points on the 40D and 50D are cross-type whereas the 8 outer points on the 5D Mark II are single-axis, it is also true that the center point on the 5D Mark II has extra capabilities for tracking moving subjects that the EOS 40D and 50D do not. And incidentally, the 8 outer points on the 40D and 50D are standard precision cross-type. Only the center point on those cameras is a high-precision type because of its longer baselength. For additional information on these cameras including a comparison of their AF systems, please check out Canon’s EOS 50D & 5D Mark II White Paper document on the Canon Digital Learning Center Web site.

See that? THAT’S why they made ME the technical spokesperson here at Canon USA. You have to appreciate my skill at answering the question without actually answering it at all. In the end, I actually sent the poor guy to read some white papers and compare AF systems, like that is going to help him to get focused shots with his 5D2 during sports. AHAHAHAHAHAHA… oh God…

Here’s a recent Twitter update by Zack Arias (regarding his 5D Mark II):

Effing Canon AF. Effing sucks. Ya hear Canon? You make great cameras but your AF sucks sucks sucks sucks. Zone focusing tonight.

We hear ya Zack. I just hope we’re listening too.

While on the topic of Tech Tips, I got a question via email which I’ll answer here before it starts piling up again.

Good day Fake Chuck,
Can I use a Nikon SB900 Speedlight with my Canon EOS 50D without losing any kind of function?
Warm regards,
kenn

How about losing all kinds of functions, Kenn? Do not even try that if you know what’s good for you. This is what happened the last time an engineer tried a Nikon flash on a Canon SLR in one of our labs in Japan:

Someone set us up the bomb.
Someone set us up the bomb.

You want none of that, Kenn, trust me. Just go out and buy one of our 580 EX II’s instead.

Matthew wrote in to point out that Lloyd Chambers is calling our 24mm f/1.4L II USM lens a “Spreading rash from unknown nasty (probable Lyme/tick).” It looks like Lloyd forgot how to use the Copy-Paste function properly on his Mac Pro. Here’s a screenshot just in case he updates the page:
24mm Rash?

24mm Rash? (Click for larger image)

Lloyd Chambers is the second photographer in a week now, after Joe Mc Nally, to have caught Lyme disease. Something might be up. If you’re a photographer, you should probably start making your time.
Meanwhile I’ve been Twittering away, as you all know from a previous post. I must admit I had high expectations when I started last week. I was hoping to come close to Nikon’s Ashton Kutcher with the amount of followers (he has 2,106,469 as of this writing), but now I’m thinking that’s a little too ambitious. So instead I’ve set a new target: John Harrington with 198 followers right now. With your help, I’m pretty sure I can reach 200 followers! So start following me, everyone!
Plus, I pimped my Twitter homepage too. Check it out. Here’s part of it below in case you can’t view it all (Buy a 23″ Cinema Display):
Recent conversation at Canon Inc. in Japan

Recent conversation at Canon Inc. in Japan

The cast, in order of appearance: Masaya Maeda (Director and Chief Executive of Image Communication Products Operations) – yes, the guy who said the 5D2 body was too small to house a better AF system (Riiiight…), Haruo Murase (President of Canon Marketing Japan Inc.), Tsuneji Uchida (President of Canon Inc.).
Anyway that’s it for now. My 1D4 is feeling lonely.

EOS 5D Mark II Manual Exposure Control in Video, and Stuff

Today was one of the happiest days I’ve had in the last 3 years of working at Canon USA. For the first time in almost 3 years, I was able to answer the phone and check my email and hear only praise and compliments from happy and excited customers. At the end of the day I sat behind my desk, my eyes filled with tears, and I actually felt that all the hard work we’ve all been doing here is starting to pay off. Those crazy bastards in Japan are finally starting to listen to us! I’m writing this with tears rolling down my cheeks. I’m sorry to get all emotional here on my blog, but most of you know what I’ve been through for the last couple of months, how depressed I’ve been, and now I’m finally seeing light at the end of the tunnel. And the reason?

Now, if only they could also release a working autofocus system for the 5D Mark II by popular demand.

Now, if only they could also release an autofocus system worthy of the 21st century for the 5D Mark II, by popular demand, then we'd be all set.

It started with all those fuckup notices being released by Canon all of a sudden, even for the 3 year old and obsolete EOS 5D. It looked like they realized in Japan that they had a lot to make up to all of us. And now, they’ve actually listened and are going to release a new firmware update for the 5D Mark II which will enable manual exposure control in video mode – a feature that many of our customers have been asking for ever since the release of the camera last year. This move surprised everyone and has gotten everyone very excited. Not only because of the actual feature that’s going to be released in the new firmware, but also because of the goodwill that Canon is displaying by doing this. This is the Canon I have always known, the Canon I joined and have worked for for all those years.

We’ve managed to piss so many people off in the last few years, it’s just unbelievable. That’s why we have people like my pal Thomas Hawk walking around with their Canon gear with all the Canon logos covered with black tape. Like he explains on his website, he got so pissed at us recently over the 5D Mark II that he decided he’s not going to walk around advertising our products anymore. And who can blame the guy? It’s still difficult to get a 5D Mark II today! Even the goddamn battery for it is not available anywhere. We’ve recently launched two new tilt-shift lenses as well, but guess what? You can’t actually find one anywhere.

So there is still a lot to be done, still a huge mess to clean up, and a lot to fix, believe me. And even though I’m more hopeful now than I’ve been for a long time, we’re in a time right now when the competition is becoming more and more frightening to us. And I think that this is one of the reasons why the old farts at Canon Inc. are starting to do something about all the issues we’ve been having.

They’ve still not managed to stabilize the situation at Canon Inc. in Japan, which I reported about earlier. After my update, Pentax announced the K7 camera, sending Maeda into intensive care, and we learned that Sony is now in the final stages of preparations for the launch of an A500 and/or A550 camera. And so is Nikon for their D400, which according to the information I have, is going to cast a very big and dark shadow over our release of the 60D later this year. But until that happens, I’m going to enjoy these precious moments we’re having right now.

Finally I want to take this opportunity to congratulate Bryan Carnathan of the-Digital-Picture.com with his daughter getting published on the cover at the age of… 10. She was using a Canon Powershot S400. And that’s a pretty good picture too. Now, when you see this, you undoubtedly start to think. We had a discussion in the comments of the previous post about soccer moms now being able to take better pictures at an event with cheaper gear compared to pros with heavy and expensive gear, and I think the fact that today a kid at the age of 10 can take a picture using a relatively cheap point and shoot camera, that is worthy of a front cover, is something to start worrying about if you’re a pro photographer. Yeah, you’re probably laughing right now, but you won’t be laughing when you start to hear about Jeff Ascough losing a wedding to a 12 year old. And that will be roughly at the same time when John Harrington will publish an article on his blog, specifically targeting those kids, explaining to them the concept of “bad karma” and how it relates to photography. Meanwhile Ken Rockwell will update his website telling them why they should be shooting film instead. And when Dan Heller, shortly after that, publishes a 50 page essay on the subject on his blog, is when you’ll know it’s time to start applying for that job at Mc Donalds.

Tech Tips and Stuff

Man I feel exhausted. I just finished the Tech Tips for May which are now posted at The Digital Journalist. That’s a very long list of questions and answers, and this is ofcourse the result of skipping a month. But things are getting a little hectic around here with the upcoming field tests and introduction of the 1D Mark 4.

As you can no doubt imagine, my D3 and D3x are now collecting dust in my office, and I’m playing with a sample 1D4 almost all day. This camera frickin’ rocks. We’re going to be back in the game by the end of this year from what I see. But like I said before, it’s only going to happen if Japan doesn’t screw up again. Quality control is very important, apparently, and it’s something that they seem to hate at Canon Inc. In fact, a colleague of mine was telling me the other day how he mentioned “quality control” during a meeting with Japanese executives in Japan recently, and they all jumped up, kicked the table to the side and went into Karate ready stance while yelling and screaming and threatening to attack. He’s lucky to be alive.

But that’s the reason why I’ve got wise guys emailing me and telling me they heard that the 1D4 will be ready this year, but that the AF system won’t be finished until the second half of 2010, and asking if this is true. I forwarded the question to Maeda and have yet to receive a response. It’s been 3 weeks so far.

I came across an interesting noise test on Flickr comparing images from the 5D Mark II. Basically confirms what we already know. It seems Japan is still in denial on this issue. And speaking of the 5D Mark II, I am also getting a lot of emails asking why there’s still a huge shortage of LP-E6 batteries. I’m not exactly sure, but I’ve heard something about the battery for the 5D Mark II being a last minute design change. Engineers at Canon Inc. were actually finished with the 5D Mark II design, when someone sitting way in the back asked with a soft voice if it was supposed to actually turn on and what would power it. A bigger AF system got swapped with a much smaller/older one to make room for a battery compartment. Production on batteries started very late as a result, hence the shortage. But things should get normal soon. We’ll need plenty of them when the 60D gets released.

Some hotshot Danish stock photographer, Yuri Arcurs, posted his comparison of the D3x and 1Ds3, and perhaps you might find it an interesting read. I know I did.

Aaaand it’s back to work for me.