Rise of the Smartphones



Just a month ago I wrote a post about how Canon Inc. was starting to feel the heat from smartphones in the digital photography market. And if you weren’t yet convinced that smartphones are taking over digital photography market right now, then the book #Sandy will convince you.

I received an email from Moses earlier today on my smartphone while I was sitting on the crapper, with a link to an article mentioning this book and this is what he had to say:

Another one of his projects, #Sandy, featured pictures taken by him and a number of other photographers of the devastation caused by hurricane Sandy in October 2012. All pictures were taken and processed on their iPhones. The pictures in the book are absolutely amazing. During his presentation, Wyatt mentioned that the people from the LA Times actually emailed him to confirm that the pictures were really taken on an iPhone apparently because they found it hard to believe. He also said that there are a few photojournalists that he knows who are primarily covering their stories using their phones right now. Since recently camera manufacturers like Nikon and Canon are facing heavy competition from smartphones as this story on the Wall Street Journal confirms, and apparently it’s not just the normal consumers that prefer to take pictures with their smartphones instead of a compact camera or DSLR, but now also professional photographers.

Of course this book by Wyatt Gallery is not the first featuring iPhone pictures. Chase Jarvis was one of the first to publish such a book back in 2009.

The Best Camera

The Best Camera

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

Bradley Cooper and Chase Jarvis (right) – Seperated at birth?

If you don’t know who Chase Jarvis is, he’s the guy playing Bradley Cooper in the Wedding Crashers and the Hangover movies. Chase apparently was ahead of his time with his book and saw the smartphone revolution coming way in advance.

And then there’s the WSJ article. Man, it’s fucking awesome. Just check this out:

Declining sales of high-end cameras and lenses are raising an alarming question for companies like  Canon Inc.  and  Nikon Corp. Could the proliferation of camera-enabled, app-heavy smartphones be crushing not only the simple point-and-shoot, but premium models as well?

This year, shipments of what’s called “interchangeable-lens cameras”—high-end models that let users swap out different lenses—are diving suddenly after years of robust growth. Most of those are digital single-lens reflex, or DSLR, cameras—the bulky models used by professional photographers and enthusiasts.

But the example of Lie Fhung suggests consumer tastes could be changing too. The Hong Kong-based artist and graphic designer says she now rarely uses the Canon DSLR camera that she bought five years ago. Instead, Ms. Fhung, 44, takes most of her photos with her iPhone, and satisfies her urge to manipulate the images with a bevy of photo-editing apps.

When the editing process is complete, she posts her snapshots straight from her phone to photo-sharing app Instagram, where she has nearly 1,600 followers. Ms. Fhung says she has no plans to replace her aging Canon.

See that? That’s precisely what I said in a previous post. People aren’t going to be choosing to shoot with bulky DSLRs and not even compact cameras, when their smartphones are perfectly capable of shooting good pictures. But there’s more:

This wasn’t supposed to happen. Camera makers have argued that although smartphones and mobile devices have decimated sales of cheap, compact cameras, premium products shouldn’t be affected, since they offer a level of control and picture quality that a smartphone’s tiny lens and sensor can’t replicate.

“Taking photos with smartphones and editing them with apps is like cooking with cheap ingredients and a lot of artificial flavoring,” says Canon spokesman Takafumi Hongo. “Using interchangeable cameras is like slow food cooked with natural, genuine ingredients.”

I beg to differ. The picture quality on DSLRs and compact cameras is becoming crappier all the time thanks to the continued increases of megapixels. Unless these stupid dumb fucks start to get a clue and focus on image quality instead of megapixels, there will be increasingly less difference in image quality between smartphones and bigger cameras. I mean, just look at the 70D. At higher ISO values you would swear that the pictures it takes were taken by a smartphone as it looks grainy and digital and awful as fuck.

Even lens maker Tamron has acknowledged a potential problem, although it doesn’t blame that for the recent decline in sales. “Smartphones pose a threat not just to compact cameras but entry-level DSLRs as well,” general manager Tsugio Tsuchiya said in a phone interview.

Even professional DSLRs are going to start feeling the heat soon. Like Moses mentioned above, professionals are starting to use smartphones to do some of their work as the image quality gets better. And then there’s this stupid dumb fuck from Nikon:

“We are seeing tough figures at the moment, but I don’t think this will last forever,” said Nikon Chief Financial Officer  Junichi Itoh, at an earnings news conference on Thursday. “There still is potential demand, and I think China is the key.”

These morons are going to have to wake up pretty soon to face the hard facts of the reality we’re heading into right now. Especially in light of their recent fuckups with the D600 sensor oil spots issue. I still can’t believe Nikon was able to fucking get away with largely ignoring that problem instead of fixing it and owning up to their fuckups, and just releasing a new D610 model a year later where the problem had been fixed, leaving all D600 owners on their own. It’s incredible how complacent and passive consumers are today. And hardly any professional photographers have mentioned and questioned this unethical move by Nikon. Honest to God, sometimes I think you ignorant sheeple deserve to get what’s coming to you.

But now is really not to the time to be fucking up with the prosumer and professional products. And Canon Inc. had better start paying some serious attention to what’s going on. A seriously high priority should be placed on producing imaging sensors that produce exceptional image quality. Forget about the megapixels; focus on better pixels, like Fujifilm plans on doing. Like Moses wrote in his 5D Mark III review:

  • Please keep the sensor resolution on the 35mm sensor in the 21-24MP range. We don’t need more resolution!! It’s great where it’s at now. For people who want more resolution, consider introducing a medium format system. Or alternatively, introduce a new camera line, say a 4D, with more megapixels and more noise and slower framerate for the amateurs (as Ken Rockwell calls them) who go crazy about megapixels. But for us professionals, keep the 5D at 22MP.
  • Instead of more megapixels, give us better usable dynamic range on the sensor. Sony can do it as demonstrated on the D800, so Canon should be able to do it. Get rid of the pattern and banding noise issues when pushing the exposure of an image in post.
  • Instead of more megapixels, give us even lower noise and even higher usable ISO values. Make ISO 1600 the new ISO 100.
  • Instead of more megapixels, give us even faster framerate. At least 8fps or higher.
  • Instead of more megapixels, give us better image quality. I love the lens aberration correction features for example. Give us more of that. Use more DIGIC power to improve the image quality. Give us better pixels, not more!!!
  • Better metering system. Perhaps we can get the 1DX metering system in the 5D Mark IV. Also, spot metering linked to the selected autofocus point.
  • I like the new HDR features and extra exposure bracketing options. One thing that is missing is focus bracketing. Add this feature on the next 5D. Give us an option to specify how many images and how far to shift focus for each bracketed shot. And then, similar to the HDR feature, let the camera combine them into a single shot with combined dept of field, which is going to be a great feature for macro shooting. Let it be possible to shoot all focus bracketed shots in a single quick burst.
  • Give us an articulating LCD screen. This is essential for video shooting, but also for stills to be able to get the more difficult angles.
  • Better autofocus system with more cross-type points, spread out more to the edges (rule of thirds), and more sensitive. Autofocus needs to be extremely fast and especially accurate.
  • It’s time for an electronic viewfinder with all the benefits that come with that, including real-time exposure simulation (what you see is what you get). While this isn’t very essential for the next 5D, the one after that should have one. And it should be high resolution and look almost like the optical viewfinder.
  • Flash sync speed of 1/500s. Why is the 5D Mark III stuck at 1/200s???
  • Much sharper HD video and 1080p at 120fps.
  • Get rid of the jello effect in video mode.
  • Faster contrast detect autofocus in live view shooting, and faster, smoother and automatic autofocus during movie recording.
  • Quality control needs to improve much more. I bought two 5D Mark III cameras. One of them was perfect, while the other one came with a dirty sensor (dust spots visible at f/16) and two small black spots inside the viewfinder (fortunately at the edges). This is unacceptable for a brand new camera. It’s not the first time this is happening to me. Years ago a brand new 40D I bought came with a large particle on the sensor visible at f/11. Fortunately I was able to clean the sensor myself in all cases, although it took a while and at least 5 swabs to get the 5D Mark III sensor spotless because of the tiny particles that kept moving around instead of attaching to the swabs. A quick Google search reveals that these kinds of quality control problems are still occuring too often. Please improve.

Personally, I’d keep the resolution on full frame 35mm sensors at 16MP like on the 1DX, and then focus on seriously improved dynamic range, low noise and great color reproduction even at the highest ISO values. And then add to this on sensor phase detection AF covering the entire frame, with the sensitivity to accurately autofocus on the dark side of the moon in nanoseconds.

This is also the time when Canon Inc. needs to seriously stop crippling features on their cameras to force consumers to buy the higher end models. THEY ARE JUST NOT GOING TO FUCKING DO IT ANYMORE. Either you go all out and give them innovative and high end features even on the lower models, or you risk losing them to the smartphones. I mean, really, why the fuck didn’t the 5D Mark III have built-in GPS and Wifi? WHY THE FUCK NOT?? Oh, so you could sell the overpriced GP-E2 and WIFI Battery grip and financially milk out people even more???? THIS SHIT IS NOT GOING TO FLY ANYMORE. You have been warned. There’s no excuse not to include these features in ALL upcoming camera models. FUCKING BUILT-IN!!!!!1

The time has come to stop dicking around and show us what you’ve got, Canon Inc. And start fucking shipping the 14-24mm f/2.8 L we’re waiting on for so long now. The 16-35mm is fucking soft and outdated as fuck.

Alright that’s it, I’m gonna try to enjoy the rest of my weekend now.

Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Lens Sample Image and Stuff

Direction and Quality of Light

Anelisa, oh Anelisa…

I wrote a few weeks ago about a new book on lighting titled “Direction & Quality of Light” by Van Niekerk and I told you all to order it if you know what’s good for you. I’d be a total fucking hypocrite if I didn’t go ahead and order one for myself after telling you to do so. So here’s proof that I did get my own copy. Because it’s fucking good. And not only that, but I ordered my SIGNED copy directly from the vampire slayer himself.

Direction and Quality of Light

Signed baby, signed.

Those of you paying close attention to the pictures will notice how I strategically placed the book between some of our test gear lying here in my office. I figured Van Niekerk would really appreciate his book surrounded by top quality state of the art Canon gear after everything he had to say about our poor quality control (of which incidentally he’s right). And you have to admit, the Canon logo does look cool next to his signature.

The pictures were shot using the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Lens. A lot of morons write to me every week about this lens not having IS, despite the fact that this lens is so sharp it could crack your monitor viewing images at 100% as we discussed on this blog before. Just take a look at the 100% crop below.

Direction and Quality of Light

100% crop, click to enlarge

There’s more to image quality than just IS. So you retards complaining to me had better recognize and stop spamming my goddamn inbox and wasting my bandwidth and hard drive space.

And in case you were wondering, as far as I know, Van Niekerk has no clue who ordered this book and who he signed it for. But I’ll tell you this though, all the pictures of gorgeous women I’m seeing in the book are indeed making me do certain things in new ways, if you know what I mean.

In other news, I’ve been playing for a while now with some of our upcoming bodies. Been having mixed feelings about a lot of things going on here right now. For one, I can’t seem to convince Tokyo about the fucking megapixels they keep stuffing on the new sensors. Then there’s the marketing teams who come up with all kinds of retarded feature sets for new bodies. Who the fuck uses a goddamn 9 point AF system these days? Honestly? Nikon just released the D7100 with a frikkin’ 51 point AF system at $1200! Only 15 cross type points and not very sensitive, admittedly, but at least people have more options compared to our ancient 9 point system, which even made it into the $2000 6D and totally fucked it up. Apparently Tokyo is of the opinion that everyone using a 6D composes pictures with the subject right in the fucking center of the frame every time. People write in asking me which camera to choose and I always recommend the D600 instead of our own 6D. Because that’s how I am and that’s how you guys know me; I’m honest. I hate to bullshit people.

But more on that in another post. I need to spend some time now with a preproduction model of the new 7D.

New book: Direction and Quality of Light

Direction & Quality of Light

Direction & Quality of Light

I don’t often do this but I have to promote this latest book by Van Niekerk titled “Direction & Quality of Light.” I personally own two of his earlier books and I’ve learned a lot from them. Yes, yes, I know what you’re gonna say, I may be the Canon Camera Guru on the Interwebs, but I must admit that even I can learn new stuff from others all the time. It’s what keeps us all growing, isn’t it? Keeping ourselves open to new information and learning from the experiences of others. And I can tell you, I’ve been following Van Niekerk’s blog posts for a few years now, and when it comes to the direction and quality of light, he knows his stuff.

Van Niekerk

Van Niekerk – In theaters soon.

If not for the information in the book, I can assure you that you’ll want to get it just to look at the beautiful women he’s shot. And you know, just sayin’, but if the wife and/or girlfriend want to know why you lock yourself up with this book in the bathroom everyday for so long, you can always claim that you’re learning about the direction and quality of light. Longtime readers and followers on Twitter may also remember that I have a thing for Anelisa, the model that’s on the cover of this latest book. Trust me on this: sweet dreams are made of Anelisa.

What I also like about Niekerk, is that he’s one of the few photographers who openly complains about Canon. And as you can no doubt imagine, anyone who openly and publicly bashes Canon for valid reasons immediately earns my respect. Cuz I gotta be honest with you guys, but this entire fucking industry is full of pussies. If the few non-pussies hadn’t spoken up 4 years ago, then today Canon would still not have a DSLR available on the market that’s able to autofocus properly.

Just take a look at this post on Niekerk’s blog, where he discusses the many issues he had with Canon in the past.

Canon Quality Control Sucked

Canon Quality Control Sucked

This photo explains some of the reason why I felt I had to go back to using Nikon. The photo was taken towards the end of 2008, and shows my repair slips for the nearly 4 yrs that I had been using Canon.

– this pile of papers doesn’t include any duplicates.

– this pile of papers doesn’t include my attempts to get a sharp 16-35mm (v2) lens. It took a 5th copy to get one that even started to match Canon’s hype about the new lens!  Honestly, the Nikon 14-24mm f2.8 absolutely wipes the floor with the Canon optic. The Nikon 14-24mm f2.8 is also a main reason I went back to Nikon. Canon simply has nothing that even matches this lens in optical quality.

– I also had to make two attempts at getting the 4th copy of the Canon 16-35mm f2.8 II calibrated to an acceptable level.

– This doesn’t include the initial Canon 24-105mm f/4 that was soft and I returned .. wait for it .. even before these lenses were recalled for the flare problem.

– What this list also doesn’t include are the two repairs slips for 2 of my 3 Canon 1Dmk3 camera bodies that had to have the submirror assembly fixed. (I bought the 3rd body after all the AF issues were apparently ironed out.)

– Neither do these repair lists include the one 1D mk3 that I sent in subsequently for poor AF and frequent error 99 lock-ups.

You have to read the full post for all the details to really understand how fucked up this really is. And don’t even get me started on the 1D Mark III debacle.

Now let me be quick to also point out that a lot has changed at Canon in recent years. Ever since late 2011 shit appears to have gone back to normal after Canon Inc. re-hired the quality control department and put them back to work. Seeing how quality control is a major issue these days at Nikon, it would also not surprise me if Canon Inc. hired some people away from Nikon’s QA department too. However, had it not been for people like Van Niekerk, who have the balls to actually publicly complain about Canon’s fuckups, instead of continuing to kiss ass, we would have still been in deep shit here. Because as I’m sure you can understand, as an executive here at Canon USA I can’t convince upper management of anything if I can’t provide them with customer complaints and enough data to prove we’re in fact truly in deep shit. So I always welcome any and all such complaints. I encourage all of you, yes even you ass-kissing pussies, to stop letting Canon take you from behind like a cheap whore, and instead to grow a pair of hairy balls and really tell them how you feel.

In any case, just get Van Niekerk’s book if you know what’s good for you.