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Monday, 07 November 2016

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"certain properties of lenses (such as "vignetting" and, to a lesser extent, geometric distortion) that were formerly flaws in lenses can now be corrected in software". I believe the term you meant to use here wasn't corrected but destroyed. As in, "I destroyed the unique and wonderful qualities of my lenses."

I'm not sure Apple could have saved Aperture by keeping its price high. It was expensive for quite a while, and I assume that lowering its price was a move intended to counteract sales figures that were making Aperture commercially unsustainable. Aperture faced competition from a number of much less expensive alternatives.

And then the lower price turned out to be unsustainable as well.

That's purely guesswork on my part, but seems as plausible as any other scenario behind the decision to lower the price.

But I also want to express my dismay over losing Aperture (eventually -- it's still working fine for me under El Capitan). I've tried all the alternatives, some multiple times, and found Aperture vastly superior. I used Lightroom for more than a month and I just couldn't stand it.

The closest I've found is Capture One, but I dread trying to move my 3.5 Terabytes of image files over to new cataloging software. What could go wrong?

My guide for (usually) deciding to buy the more expensive item is based on how much swearing I want to do. I can swear when I pay for it and never swear again, or I can not swear when I pay for it but swear every time I use it.

On your note about the nations grocery clerks, I did see, with some surprise, that at least one local Safeway location had reversed course and pulled the self-checkout stations after having them installed and then expanded over the course of two years. Most other stores continue the trend of slowly but surely displacing the checkout clerks, but one can hope.

Why is vignetting in quotes?

[Because the proper term is falloff. A vignette is a mask, whether physical (like a matt) or by deliberately burning or withholding exposure to a particular shape, leaving the image in the middle. This is a vignette:

http://tinyurl.com/p6qhft5

--Mike]

One of the small pleasures of living in Italy is that we still have petrol pump attendants who fill up the tank and wash the windscreen. It was on of the positives that I gained after moving from the UK where everything was self service.

Here too the "march of progress" on the part of the oil companies is trying to kill of this service.


"the bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten."

I've seen it the other way round. I remember buying a Leitz Tiltall tripod about 1983. It came with a little attached tag that read "Quality is remembered long after price is forgotten." That struck me at the time as sort of neat. It was a very good tripod, but oddly enough, I will go to my grave remembering that I paid $200 for it.

...I would love to pay a little more to have cheerful attendants pump my gas...

In that case, instead of moving to New York, you should have relocated to New Jersey or Oregon. Both of the latter prohibit self-service gasoline pumping. In Oregon, it's referred to as the "16-year-old full employment law." :-)

On the small subject of gas station customer service - a municipality where I used to live actually passed a bylaw that all gas stations should be attendant pumped. The stations all added 2 cents per litre (9 cents per gallon) to cover the additional cost. The explanation was that it provided additional jobs for students and low income earners. Nobody seemed to mind except when a station is busy - people still got out of their cars to pump their own rather than sit and wait for an attendant.

Mot of the large supermarkets where I live now have self-checkouts (Including Walmart). Everyone matches everyone else's prices, so prices are pretty close if not the same. Some still bag your groceries. Others do not, and charge you for plastic bags (supposedly to encourage you to bring your own or use reusable bags - NOT!). Still there are times when it easier to put up that annoyance when the "express" self checkout takes longer to get through than the regular lineup.

I'm pretty sure grumping about the current price of cameras is not arbitrary. As a consequence of these discussions I looked back at the price of my first 'pro-sumer' camera, a Canon T90, and adjusted its price for inflation to see what I might get for a similar value (£890-ish) from the same retailer today. The result, as it goes, is not very much. Cameras like the Sony a6300, Eos 80D or Sony RX-100 V are out of reach and the EM1.2 comes in at doubles the amount.

In the early days of digital something like an Eos D60 would have been around the price of an EM-1.2 but at that time was possible for an enthusiast to factor in the savings made by not buying/processing film to the buying decision. Nowadays a new camera has to justify itself in some other way and at current prices it's getting harder to justify!

I wouldn't make too much of these complaints. People will always complain, and, thanks to the internet, we can now hear these complaints.

Regarding Aperture: I'm not so sure profitability had anything to do with its demise. Rather, Apple was trying to push photography towards its own ecosystem (phones, cloud, sharing without post processing) and Aperture was for a different world. That is, non-strategic. Apple always thinks strategically. (Microsoft, on the other hand, always thinks tactically.)

You know, I guess if you're buying a new camera every year or two, the $2000 number might be daunting. If not, then that figure might seem pretty arbitrary...
I bought my D800e a couple of months after it was released, in the summer of 2012, and I was thrilled at the idea that I could spend (only) $3300 on a digital camera that would last me for many years to come. In every metric that I'm concerned with; sensor size, resolution, dynamic range, sensible auto-ISO, and battery life, I've yet to see another camera that makes a significant improvement. I've not only saved money, but I've also had the pleasure of working with the same system and the same instrument for more than four years, and into the foreseeable future. High prices are not necessarily a bad thing, especially when they represent quality and durability. This camera was as much a bargain as any of the lenses I've owned and worked with over the past 40+ years...

And by the way Mike, if you really miss full-service gas stations, you might consider moving next door to New Jersey, or to Oregon, where self-service is illegal.

"I would love to pay a little more to have cheerful attendants pump my gas, clean my windshield, and check my tire pressure every time I pull in—being waited on is a pleasant luxury—and provide the nation's teenagers with entry-level jobs."

Simple. Just move to Oregon. And you can add craft beers on tap to your list:

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2015/06/how-to-tell-oregon-apart-from-new-jersey/396101/

"...another class of event to complain about is when a huge megacompany buys a small company because the small company was unusually successful, then kills all or most of the products because they're not profitable enough..."

Um...Adobe?

I've regretted spending too little far more than I've regretted paying too much.

The EM1-II may or may not be overpriced, but it sits in a market crowded with gear that seems considerably more expensive than a few years ago. Manufacturers were in a race to the bottom. That didn't work out, so now they're looking to make profits on more expensive gear. It seems very kneejerk to me and the result is that we go from having lots of low end stuff and not much "good stuff" to pick from to having lots of high end stuff and less low to midrange stuff. The consumer at any particular price point is left with feast or famine, depending on corporate whims.

I think price has become a substantial factor in commercial photography because you have a finite amount of time to recapture your expense.

If I wasn't a professional, I probably wouldn't have even changed to digital, I don't like it. I would have been using A film camera, and maybe one or two lenses, to investigate whatever I wanted to do photographically. A flat and one-time expense. Every time I wanted to work, I'd buy a few sheets (or rolls) of film and some print paper, and a few chemicals.

Now I have to react to the quality level of the image file the ad agency wants, they wanted 12 megapixel a few years ago, 24 megapixel today, and 50 megapixel large sensor tomorrow; but they don't pay me, in my market, enough profit to buy that product without NOT funding a house or retirement.

The price of equipment only matters because now it's an expendable expense of doing the work. If I was ten or fifteen years older, I could have bought a brand new Deardorff at whatever it would have cost in 1940, and used it for the rest of my life (and probably some red-dots and ditto). Since 2005, photographers change cameras (and sometimes camera systems), like underwear.

That's money you aren't retiring on, brother...

"the bitterness of constantly repaying for computer printers remains long after the sweetness of paying for one good enlarger is forgotten."

Aperture and Nik are not really comparable situations in that Aperture was always an in-house Apple product and as far as I know was not acquired from anyone.

Aperture always suffered from Apple not quite having or not quite dedicating the resources to it that were required to actually compete with Lightroom. Later on it also suffered from Apple's focus in Photography shifting from "pro" users on Macs to the general public on iPhones.

“Spend as much as they need to on their camera" reminds me of some wise audiophile advice:

How long should my speaker cables be? Long enough to reach the speakers.

For those of you fortunate enough not to be audiophiles or have the acquaintance of one, there's been a perpetual debate in the audio world about whether it's better to place an amplifier close to a speaker (short speaker cables, but long interconnect cables from the preamp) or closer to its preamplifier (longer speaker cables, shorter interconnects).

On prices. Concerning certain products it is still true that "I'm too poor to buy cheap stuff" over and over again.

You can still have that 1978 airline experience if you are willing to pay the equivalent of what you paid in 1978, i.e., business class. I was just looking at tickets to Europe (for work), and business class is just about twice as much as economy: http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/02/how-airline-ticket-prices-fell-50-in-30-years-and-why-nobody-noticed/273506/

You get on and off the plane first, you get to hang in a nice lounge with free food and drink (including open bar), your no-fee baggage limits are back to 1970s levels, your baggage is first off the plane. Your every need is catered to (well, unless you fly a US carrier; their business class is pretty basic. But overseas carriers tend to do it right). However, it costs the equivalent of what it cost in 1978.

I agree with you about Aperture. And Nik. Darn it. I knew when the price of both dropped to zero that they were not long for this world. I suspect that the only reason Aperture existed at all is because Steve Jobs was a photographer. It didn't survive him by much. I am keeping a computer running 10.10.2 as long as possible. Sierra has not been compelling to me yet; Aperture and Nik are.

Sorry, but spending more isn't always the best policy - unless you get some capability or performance you need/want, and can afford. Especially, if you lose something desirable at the same time. (see latest Apple). Or unless your goal is boasting of how much you spent. not in use of the item. Nor do many people have the money to buy the latest and greatest. They just make good use of the good but old equipment they have and know, and the results can be better than the less skilled user of the new stuff.

I'm with Mike. The older I get, the more I appreciate good service.

As photography, and other old-folks hobbies go into decline, things will either cost more or disappear from the market altogether.

BTW1 Apple recently got a lot of unearned abuse from the photo community. The new MBP is turning out to be their best seller ever. Phil Schiller should have just told the abusers: Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

BTW2 About investing in lenses. Recently I sold a lens (with both a camera and speedlite attached) for less than I paid for the lens 4 years ago 8-(

I think it's time for someone to launch a web site called, "It's Not All About the Gear"?

There is another factor here that was not hinted at enough by Robert Roaldi nor in your response Mike, and that is what I'll label "fair pricing" for a quality product. You just so happened to pull out a completely appropriate example in your comparison of a hideously expensive Leica lens and one by Fuji, a company I feel is leading the way in "fair" pricing for quality products. Look no further than what you get for an XT-2 and what you pay.

But I agree wholeheartedly regarding the gas station bit! Frankly, I like to have it both ways. When in a hurry, I can do it myself. When I have more time, I still love for someone else to clean my windows. There is still a station like that close to where I live AND the sticker price is high!

I was never happier photographically than when I had the fully paid for Aperture / Nik plugins combo. Real shame they're no longer supported.

That's the 'Made in China' effect: due to the increasingly low manufacturing prices, we can't find any justification for whatever product to be expensive. We demand maximum quality for minimum price.
I do admit to having been one of the commenters who complained about the high price Olympus asks for the E-M1 MkII, but that wasn't because I thought the camera ought to be cheaper: it was because I find it too expensive for what it offers in terms of image quality. I wish the Leica MP and the Jaguar F-Type were cheaper so I could afford them, but I'm comfortable with their prices, even if they're out of my reach. I don't bash Leica and Jaguar for making expensive products: I bash myself for not earning enough money. (And my clients for being so cheap, too.)
Put simply, high prices are OK if the products justify so. That's not the case of the E-M1 MkII. I can't see why people should go the extra mile and buy this instead of the E-M5. $900 is too much for a bigger handgrip.

In my comment I made regarding high pricing and using a Fuji XT-2 as an example of "Fair" pricing, my wording wasn't well chosen, but I hope it was understood. I meant that you get very high quality for the price paid.

Well, I have an expensive road bike and used to race. I wouldn't spend $10 for a jpeg because it would have done nothing to have improved my racing or anything else I was concerned with. I would have seen no or little value in spending that $10, especially when any one of several friends could have taken an excellent one for less or free, should I have wanted one.

I once worked for a major airline company that used its name and reputation to charge high prices for passengers. Admittedly, the service was very good, a step above in most cases. For corporate customers it added all sorts of absurd extra fees and charges with no useful differences between its and competitors services. Worked out really well. They went bankrupt in spite of getting gov't help for years because people, and especially corporate customers, had other options and took them.

An expensive price is not bad in itself, as long as customers see value in it and can afford it and a competitor does not come out with an equivalent at a lower price. I suppose that's the question about the Olympus: Is it worth the price compared to the competition? Are enough people willing to spend that extra money on it to make up for the lower number to be sold.

Spending money is such a variable and personal decision I don't know where to begin. Economically speaking, camera prices have probably kept price with technological changes and market forces. Higher priced cameras, such as very fast speed/durable shutters have a market as tools for working sports photogs - that makes sense. Is the new Olympus expensive - that depends on your financial position, status as a photog, and other personal considerations. Having fun while traveling by plane? I've been flying all over the planet for 50+ years and fun never entered into the equation. I actually think airplane travel is surprisingly cheap - think about it, you can pay say $500 RT for almost any flight in the US and arrive there safer than driving in a car and anywhere from say 5 to 10 hours sooner. Its kind of like postage on mail - amazingly cheap for sending a letter with a handmade print of something personal that takes only two or three days to get across the country. I'm thinking some cheese is in order for some folks who whine alot.

After selling our company to a giant company we watched them throw it in a dumpster- literally. Just wanted to get rid of the competition!

My most recent lens hobby purchase is a Pentax 31mm Limited for my K-01 (the internet's most hated camerabrick, not the zeroless "D810 Killer"). There certainly are cheaper ways to get an f/1.8 normal lens on a APS-C camera, but I really doubt I'd enjoy many of them quite as much.

Mike,

I would make the same comment re: the Efex Pro suite of plug-ins.

After being a for sale item, Google bought the company and started giving the software away. Initially, nice but it's become something that will clearly not be developed or supported going forward, so in the long run photographers lose.

ACG

I'm not sure how many motorcycle enthusiasts there are reading your blog, but I see similarities between the market/consumer/marketing shifts of the mid-1980's for motos and the market shift taking place in photography equipment today. Here's what I mean.

Japanese motorcycle manufacturers had for years flooded the US market with low cost, fast, mostly reliable product. But when the time came that bikes sat unsold, even at very attractive low blow-out sale prices, the manufacturers realized they had a serious problem on their hands. They'd saturated the marketplace.

So the trick was to find the consumer "take rate" that was sustainable, factor in the desired gross margin, and try to sell "upmarket" (where the serious money usually is in any event). Yamaha, Suzuki, Honda, and Kawasaki still make wonderful motorcycles and they remain in business even today. They did this by responding to reality.

I think it's too early to accurately predict that Nikon, Canon, Fuji, Olympus will survive the collapse of the traditional imaging (pro and consumer). But I feel it's clear how camera manufacturers are trying to stay alive by looking at the sales model used by the motorcycle industry.

The only catch in all this is that traditional imaging continues to feel the pressure of insurgent technologies. Has anyone seen what that new Google Pixel can do? Yikes!!! In truth, I remember feeling the similar things about the four valve rubber band head Ducati 851 when it hit the marketplace, too.

Spending a lot of money can actually be a cure for GAS (gear-acquisition syndrome). I've used for myself many times. In fact, I went all-Leica M in 2008 in search for stability in my photographic purchases and it worked! Everything is so expensive and out of my range that I haven't bought anything else since then, apart from updating from M8 to M9. Spend hard and use the gear! I say!

The good thing with photography these days is that even the cheaper cameras and lenses can take great photos. This was not the case say 20 years ago. What has changed somewhat is the interval in cost between say a Canon Rebel and a Canon 1 series camera. 20 years ago, a Canon Rebel (film, or 1000D series) cost me about 500 Euros (with a two kit lens). The then state of the art EOS 1 was about 2000 Euros body only.

Today, the Rebel kit is about 300-400 Euros, and the 1 series camera is about 6000 Euros.

It may be that Olympus has priced this high so that a) they can get new technologies in the real world and see how they perform and b) have a flagship platform where they can showcase such technologies. They price the camera high enough to ensure they make money instead of this being a loss leader but they don't expect to sell many of these cameras. In the future, should these technologies work well we should see them trickle down to their lower priced, higher volume cameras. So to summarize, Olympus likely has a strategy in pricing this camera and that strategy is not built upon the idea of merely insulting those who wish it was cheaper.

I have always found it amusing that people will spend thousands of dollars on photo equipment and then go crazy searching for a $10 bag to (safely?) carry it around in - "camera bags are too expensive". Like dropping_____ (fill in amount here) on a new car and skimping on the tires.

Yes, some grocery stores are getting rid of the self-serve electronic scanner lines. Probably because of the theft losses which are more than $100,000 per store per year. But most stores are willing to accept those losses to get rid of employees and crush unions. And we thought it was to provide less service.

I like Rodolpo Canet's idea of using high prices to curb GAS. I am going to use this idea.

I just wanted to mention an example of where I don't think people understand the true cost of things. In the small neighbourhood where I grew up in Montreal there were 3 full-service grocery stores within walking distance of our home. All three stores delivered the groceries, all you had to do was give them your address at the check-out.

Over time we convinced ourselves that saving 10 cents on apples at the Big Box mall was worth the drive. This was replicated in hardware stores, clothing stores, etc. We didn't save a thing of course, the retailers simply off-loaded the cost of delivery to us. Worse, because of the sprawl that this was part of, we all ended up having to buy second or third cars. So, to save 10 cents on apples, we had to spend $30,000 on a car. And since we now had 2 cars, we could think of moving even farther away. And we now spend hours sitting in stop and go traffic every day. And because we're used to it, we think it's normal.

Meanwhile, now that all the local grocery stores are gone in Montreal and elsewhere, people who don't drive, like all of us aging boomers will be, will soon live in assisted-living residences that will have no easy access to common everyday needs like groceries, drug stores, dentists, etc. There are already in place roving grocery stores in Montreal, consisting of buses that have been converted to moving grocery stores, and they visit assisted living residences so that old people can buy fresh vegetables. We will soon think that this is normal too.

Old adage "Pay peanuts, get monkeys", new millennium.

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