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Monday, 07 April 2008


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That "time machine" series of photographs reminds me of a science fiction plot I dreamed up once. My idea was this. You shoot a picture of a bank at 10:00 am, then another at 10:30 am. Then, with the aid of "temporal interpolation" you can recreate the scene at the bank at 10:15 am, when it was being held up by crooks. With the aid of the interpolated photographs, you catch the crooks.

But, interpolation algorithms have calculation errors, and my story was about the people who are falsely accused of robbing banks by the software. You could have court testimony by the kind of folks who get into endless arguments about Bayer sensors vs others, and eventually the judge just sends everybody to jail because he can't take it anymore.

As for the bother of holding cameras up to the eye, well yeah that's such a nuisance, isn't it? I have a small digicam with no optical viewfinder. Shootings with it reminds me a lot of shooting with film. You never quite know what picture you took until you see it later on the computer (aka get it back from the lab). I never have my reading glasses with me when I am strolling around and so I can't see any details on that little screen, even if it were possible to see it in daylight. And so far, I have managed to get flat horizons with it only 10%-15% of the time. I am looking for a new model.

Proof that TheOnlinePhotographer employs overworked bloggers: Exilim EX-F1 is made by Casio, not Fuji.



I went back to the article; I had read it when it was first published. I believe he changed it to Casio, from Fuji.

You have to remember that he writes for soccer moms, not the cognoscenti. And for his target audience, I think he has the right tone. Just my opinion.

On your second link, I think the change brought by the internet is a double edged sword. The good is that writers who used to have to beg to be hired by a journal (daily, weekly or monthly), can now do so with relative ease. The downside of self-employment is that you are never off duty. What they are experiencing is not any different from self-employment in any other field. I know - I tried it twice. I was run ragged by demands of my customers. I finally gave it up for the regular hours and paid vacations of an employee.

I now have taken early retirement, because of a stroke. If I ever decide to go back to work, it will be as an employee. I don't have the stamina of running my own business. My best friend owns a studio, and she works 7 days a week, from morning to night.

My old Mamiya 7 had a very sensitive clicker button. It was easy to make a picture by mistake though the clicker itself was extremely quiet.

I would love to write consumer camera reviews for a large newspaper too. I think I've got the touch.

Harsh! Mike, you're not usually so nasty to people. Did you forget your coffee this morning?

I hadn't considered this before, but now that you bring it up, "LCD" is a silly way to refer to the, uh, back-panel screen. The term Liquid Crystal Display is detail of technological implementation -- it could just as easily be OLED or in the future some form of e-ink. But what *is* it? Well, a back-panel screen, is what it is.

For a long time I have been fed up with hearing Mrs. Clinton speak and littering her speech with 'you know', just like zillions of other Americans and in spite of her education. Also irritating me is the increasing use of 'absolutely' instead of 'yes' by zillions. I see that on television shows every day. Finally, I was at a photo workshop five years ago and a tall male, probably in his 60s, was bragging emphatically to several other males about the huge size of his memory card. I chuckled, thinking how we in this nation have obsessed about hugeness for so many decades: huge horses, huge airplanes, huge cars, huge breasts, huge penises, etc., and now that invention is seemingly finished in this country, all we're left with is bragging about huge cards in digital cameras? Yikes! How pitiful!

David Pogue is the man.

Lots of people still manage to make blurry, dim pictures, in spite of the technology packed into today's cameras. But to be able to go back in time to take blurry pictures? That is historic.

As for "LCD"...that could mean a lot of things. Little Cloudy Day, Loss Control Department, the list goes on. To deftly shorten the full nomenclature of the Illuminated, Picture-Viewing, Glass-Covered, Rear-Mounted Screen to simply "Back-panel screen" deserves commendation, not condemnation.

Mr. Pogue is taking a bum rap here. Somebody at TOP must have gotten up on the wrong side of the horizontal, supportive-yet-comfortable sleeping furniture.

Aww, cut David Pogue a break, Mike. He is writing for people whose eyes glaze over before they finish reading a typical "Popular Photography" cover. You know, someone who "doesn't know much to start with and yet doesn't bother to keep up". He thus risks sounding (to a camera nut) as if he knows less than he does. And he does know something--Pogue's persistent efforts to debunk the megapixel myth put him head and shoulders above most reviewers in my book.

Call me a heretic, but I submit that "back panel screen" is much more helpful language than "LCD". The location of that screen (and differentiating it from any other screens on the body) is more important to taking pictures than the underlying technology that makes it work. Likewise, the choice to describe how "live view" works rather than use a term likely to confuse; given the audience and column length, it's arguably more effective to say how it works than to use marketing-speak and then explain what it means. (Besides, "live view" is a silly term for a preview that is less live than the actual live view through the viewfinder.)

But I had the same reaction you did to the slideshow portion of Pogue's EX-F1 review, and also felt that the review was too gushy. Not one of his better ones.

As for your rhetorical question re Mark Penn: based on the reports I've read, it would still be Penn who strategizes future firings, both real and fictional.

I'm certain there have already been myriads of people who pointed out, but still: Casio, not Fuji. :-)

In other news, Pogue is a twit. There was a minor uproar at DPR Olympus forum a month ago about him writing... just about the Sonys, I think. Some kind pedantic souls even wrote to him trying to explain that Sony didn't create anything historical because that honour belongs to Olympus E-330 if not even to other earlier cameras. His reaction was something like "yeah, yeah, you're absolutely right" and then no correction, no nothing.

And when I think that some local Web 2.0 guru praised Pogue as a _journalist_ because Pogue recorded a song about iPhone... I get a minor case of hives.

I think the target audience David Pogue is writing for "someone who doesn't know much to start with and yet doesn't bother to keep up" which I find to be condescending , but realistically , what percentage of the general public knows what a pentaprism or a LCD is. ( even my spelling checker seems to insist that I am trying to write pentagram )
He's giving a functional description, rather than a design description of the "screen on the back that shows pictures" The Canon 1ds has 3 LCDs with two on the back, and functionally the chimping LCD is completely different from the other two, even though they all employ fluid that changes it's polarization in response to an electrical charge.

There are some people who you say "AA cell" to , and others you say "penlight battery" to , even though they aren't batteries , and no one uses them in penlights.

David Pogue is playing a somewhere between a naif and a clown - it's a little more obvious in his videos where he comes off like Jerry Lewis on antidepressants

His great uncle is Harold Edgerton? How cool is that?

At least the columns aren't as awful as his novel http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0441002552/

P.S. Your Penn/Clinton dialog omits the involvement of the campaign's pollster, Mark Penn.

Stand up. Take a deep breath. Lean your head slowly to one side, then to the other. Clasp your hands behind your back, and arch backwards. Walk slowly out of the room. Go outside. Go for a walk. Take the dog with you. Breath deeply. Feel the air reaching down to your toes. Feel your body relax. After a while, if you've got your camera, think about some shots. If you don't, still think about some shots. But don't, whatever you do, go back to that damned computer. Not until you are totally loose and actually feel like it.

Yours healthily

Dr M

I continue to vote for Alfred E. Nuemann for President each and every election. He makes so much more sense than any of the other candidates who actually sound like this Pogue guy as far as their grip on reality goes.
In your case Mike, thank you for all that you do for us. I know this is the first stop for me whenever I go online. May the Gods of Communication bestow a blessing upon thee, now and always. And They did....and it was Good.!

Mike, I had a good laugh on your Pogueism comment...

I concur in that Pogue's views on computers are interesting and usually spot-on. Unfortunately, his skills are not universal and even if he intends to discuss about photography as if he was knowledgeable, it is not the case: photography is quite different from computers, and the fact that almost all photography became, de facto, digital does not mean that you can use your computer skills to speak about photography.

In Spain we say "Zapatero, a tus zapatos"*, and we don't mean our prime minister... ;P

("Shoemaker, deal with your shoes").

Nouns eh? - I'm sure you meant to write Casio, not Fuji!
Thing is, reviews in non specialist publications often talk a load of b***cks and the average reader doesn't even notice. Many's the time I've chided innocent Casio owners with "why buy a camera made by a calculator manufacturer?".
Start bemoaning the lack of technical knowledge in the normal purchaser of today's high tech toys and it's like banging your head against a brick wall.The best you can do for the budding photographer is point them to Photoborg.org
Cheers, Robin

Expert blogs (like this one) hurt newspapers and the Main Stream Media in general, because people with consuming, specialized interests find less reason to go to the MSM. Inexpert blogs are absolutely *killing* newspapers and are causing convulsions in the broadcast media.

A generalist reporter like Pogue cannot keep up with expert blogs, because he can't know enough or learn enough fast enough. He's not competing just with photography blogs, but also with computer blogs, cell-phone blogs, music-player blogs, and probably high-end toaster blogs. If you own one of these gadgets, you can go out on the net, for free, and find someone who is an expert in your particular gadget; and, as well, find daily commentary, analogous to TOP, in each of those fields.

And, basically, my feeling about that is, tough shit. I have an Epson 3800 printer and I need information about that, and a newspaper printing information about a HP Z3100 isn't going to do me any good at all. I want that expert commentary, and I certainly like the price.

But I am annoyed when I see newspaper friends being pushed into early retirement, and newspapers failing, and the cause is *inexpert* bullshit commentary from thousands of sweatshop-style bloggers willing to work for almost nothing, re-packaging stories stolen from the papers. When the Times produces a hot story, there will be blogger versions all over the place in an hour, most of it thinly disguised as "commentary." It's a form of cannibalism that has turned into a race to the bottom, in terms of salaries. And it also guarantees that nobody who is any good will actually do it -- the payoff just isn't big enough for people who are really smart.

As is the case with say, professional wedding photographers having to deal with cheap part-timers, or specialist hardware stores with WalMart, the cheap stuff doesn't really do anything better, or help anybody -- it just steals enough of the profit that trying to do something *well* becomes unprofitable, and people are unable to sustain a living by doing it.


"Proof that TheOnlinePhotographer employs overworked bloggers: Exilim EX-F1 is made by Casio, not Fuji."

It said "Fuji" when I wrote my post. It was changed on nytimes.com, I believe. I changed this post to reflect the change. The point is unchanged....

Mike J.

Funny that David Pogue responded as he did: my first reaction on reading your critique of his review was that you sounded uncharacteristically cranky. I basically agree with everything he said in his reply. When I read about the 'back-panel screen' in the paragraph you quoted it sounded exactly the way most of my non-photographer friends would describe it.

"A generalist reporter like Pogue cannot keep up with expert blogs, because he can't know enough or learn enough fast enough. He's not competing just with photography blogs, but also with computer blogs, cell-phone blogs, music-player blogs, and probably high-end toaster blogs."

True. Bottom line on my comments this morning: sour grapes. I feel I could do a better job writing about photo tech than D.P. does. But then, he has to write about all kinds of technology, and in many of those areas I'd be incompetent or worse. I'd sound a lot worse writing about operating systems and computer software than he sounds writing about cameras.

Mike J.

Not commenting on Mr. Pogue (who's stuff I generally like), but the media are responsible for creating the cringe-inducing redundancy "software program" when discussing computers - and I've never forgiven them.

Nothing Mr. Pogue has done has ever come close to that.


I'm relieved to learn I'm not the only one disappointed by the New Yorker. I actually miss Tina Brown..!


I loved this post and Pogue-head's reply made me fall out of my seat. Sensitive much?

Keep up the great work! Keep pushing your finger-thingys onto those plastic letter thingys to make post-thingys!

Leaving aside the tone of the original article, and its merits or those of the reviews it criticized, at least it wasn't a personal attack. Read it again; it goes to the style and substance of the writer's work, not his person.

To which said person replies by calling the critic a "miserable cuss."

Honestly, I came away thinking Mike had a bad day, but that David's problems go deeper.

I'm a pretty casual person, but Mr. Johnston can certainly add me to the short (and probably shorter every day) list of people who employ Mr. and Ms. when referring to living people, no matter what they "deserve" to be called. I consider it a practice that can only add some much-needed civility to our public discourse.
Greg Heins

RE: John Camp -- "Expert blogs (like this one) hurt newspapers and the Main Stream Media in general, because people with consuming, specialized interests find less reason to go to the MSM. Inexpert blogs are absolutely *killing* newspapers and are causing convulsions in the broadcast media."

I couldn't disagree more! What is killing the MSM (and I am NOT referring to David Pogue) is the corporate dumbing down of serious news, and attempting to make it into the same rubbish that is published in the gossip magazines. People have turned to the Internet and blogs because they want intelligent information, not glitzy packaged garbage. Everyday the network and cable news and our national newspapers slide closer to the level of reporting that you currently get from: Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood, and The Insider.

Did anyone at the NY Times or Washington Post ever bother to actually fact check or research what is spoon-fed to them from our government officials (regardless of political party)? From the Iraq War, to the propaganda on the "Death Tax" vs. the reality of what the estate tax was, to hiring political operatives from both parties (e.g., Rove and Carville), to the "horse race" coverage of the 2008 election, all we get is what the owners of these media empires want to feed us - digging for the truth or the real story that impacts our citizens is rarely a consideration.

I frankly don't care whether President Bush is a guy people would like to sit down and have a beer with, or that our new Attorney General likes to parasail, or that Obama can't bowl or that Hillary is shrill and bossy - I want to know about what is really going on in our country, and frankly couldn't care less about their "personalities."

The Main Stream Media has tried to abandon the hard work and expense of real journalism and pass off sensationalist entertainment "news" as the real thing - it takes less money, effort, and if it can garner ratings and advertising revenue, that's all the MSM cares about.

You want to see what a real journalist looks like? Find someone that gets the BBC America and watch a few episodes of Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight - that's what our MSM SHOULD be doing.

Thank heavens that we have both specialty blogs such as The Online Photographer and the specialty news blogs; I can assure you that the improvement in real content I have seen in Popular Photography and Shutterbug have been a direct result of indirect competition of blogs like Michael's and others - it is no longer good enough to print a magazine or newspaper chocked full of advertisements and fluff articles acting as filler.

Rant officially over now.

"but realistically , what percentage of the general public knows what a pentaprism or a LCD is"

If tech writers insisted on the proper nomenclature, it wouldn't be the case. When they talk with a doctor in papers, they won't insist on "inflammation of a part of the intestine" for apendicitis, right? So why that silly objection to "jargon" like LCD?

Let people _learn_. Of course they won't understand if you treat them like idiots and never explain. They learned about the VCR, they learned about the NSA, they learned about a ton of other TLA's, so what's problematic about the LCD?

Unless the goal is to create a nation of illiterate morons, which I in my darker hours strongly suspect American media are actually trying to do...

Mike, long live the cussedness! Nil illegitimi carborundum!

David Pogue has reviewed the E330 before, he prefers Sony's live view mode above others and they have posted a correction on the web site.

The iPod was not historic because it was the first hard drive based MP3 player. But because it was the first hard drive based MP3 player that did it right.

Same thing with the Ford Model T, IBM PC, Nikon F, Canon Digital Rebel etc.....

David Pogue uses what he reviews, and only very occasionally he personally buys some of those itmes for his own use. See some of his personal Nikon D50 references, purchased after he reviewed it, and several other consumer grade/entry DSLRs, and which he has taken on vacation to Europe, etc. He's a general consumer technology writer, not a photography equipment expert in the likes of, say, Thom Hogan who write for pros and advanced amateurs. Neither are his readers generally advanced photographers, but are people who would be more or less sophisticated generally. Advanced amateurs -- they know who they are, get their higly detailed photo equipment advice elsewhere, but those same advanced photographers would still read David Pogue for his reviews on other kinds of technology relevant to anyone who is engaged with the world. I love your Blog, but I think you were a little hard on him, publicly, to say the least. Thanks for making this blog. We all still love you. Dave Ralph, Horseheads, NY

I am heartened to see so many of us ganging up on Mike today; I have heard it builds character [ VBG ]. Or was that encourages characters. I've never quite been sure.

On this whole LCD business, I can see it both ways. On the one hand I'm inclined to agree with the people who say it should simply be called a back panel display. Because all the displays aren't LCDs and many cameras include more than one LCD. On the other hand...

LCD is approaching being a generic term for a class of devices (namely, flat displays) through common use. That kind of thing happens to words all the time and it may not be technically correct but it certainly is linguistically so. I know I have, on occasion, slipped and said "LCD display." And then realize what I did. But nobody else seems to notice. Even professionals end up doing it. For example the scientific journals I read (and I'm talking about the real journals, not the popular science publications) regularly refer to "x-ray lasers," "gamma ray lasers", and even "atomic lasers." Strictly speaking, these should be xaser's, gaser's (or graser's) and aasea's (figure it out [ grin ]). But hardly anyone says that.

On the third hand, sometimes it can be genuinely confusing. Everybody here who has referred to a color print as a "Type C" or "Type R" at any time in the last 40 years raise your hands. Okay, now go sit in the corner, because unless you are actually talking about photographic history you're wrong. In the same way that calling all displays LCDs is wrong. And it's usually a harmless error... unless you are talking with a photo historian or conservationist.

By the way, Jay, there are firmware programs and even hardware programs. (And if you want to see the most scary example of the latter, go to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum and look at the program for the Apollo capsule flight computer. It's on display.) It is not an inherently redundant phrase. But I do get what you mean. On the other hand, much like laser, program has come to mean a more or less self-contained application. Most people don't think of nor refer to inits or dlls or the filter modules in Photoshop as "programs."

I just LOVE this language!

~ pax \ Ctein
[ please excuse any word salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
-- Ctein's online Gallery http://ctein.com
-- Digital restorations http://photo-repair.com

"I am heartened to see so many of us ganging up on Mike today; I have heard it builds character..."

...It really doesn't bother me in the least. The purpose of this website has never been to foist my view off on others or insist on the correctness of my positions and opinions. The bully pulpit gives me my say, and then, if others don't agree, well...then they're just wrong and don't understand.

No, no, no. I'm kidding.

I still don't back off my main point one bit, which is that common terminology should be used even if it has to be explained. If D.P.'s editors are preventing him from doing that, then yes, they're at fault, not he, but the sum effect is still misguided IMNSHO.

Don't think I'm not frustrated by terminology. (Remember, I'm the guy who thinks "digital photography" is a hopeless bastard formulation.) I never claimed "LCD" was a *good* term, or that "live view" makes the most sense. But it's not up to me. One expert or a committee of them could come up with much better, more accurate words for many things. But some terms become the correct terms for linguistic reasons; they're used most commonly and they're the most widely understood words for what's being discussed. I might not like them, and they might not be technically correct, but they're sanctioned by usage.

What if one of Mr. Pogue's readers wanted to go find out more about "the back panel screen that lets you frame the shot before you take it"; what's he going to do, GOOGLE THAT? See what I mean? (No accident--the top hit is another David Pogue article!) What if one of his readers goes to a big digital photo website to find out more about it and comes across forum threads about "live view"? What's that? They don't know what it is. It's not what the NYT called it. They've never seen the term before. How is that helpful?

If a writer uses the commonly accepted term she can still explain what it means. And if a writer has used the commonly accepted term then readers can look it up for themselves. It's not helpful to create a whole parallel set of dumbed-down terms that mean the same things as the accepted terms but aren't the same.

Mike J.

Whatever else you want to say about David Pogue, he has done his readers a BIG favor by stating early and reiterating often that metapixel resolution numbers do not relate to image quality. While I do not always agree with what he recommends, I love it that he does not promote the "mine is bigger" madness.

Dudes, some of you are doing that blogosphere thing: attacking without checking the facts first.

This whole blog post was based on two examples of my avoiding jargon. One was "LCD," which, as has been pointed out, is not a clear, helpful, or even accurate term.

The the other was "live view"-- which I referred to as...live view! ("Why can't you frame a photo using an S.L.R.'s back-panel screen, as you can on a little pocket camera? Actually, a few recent S.L.R. models do, in fact, have this Live View feature, but it's mostly a disaster.") I then referred to Live View 9 more times in the column.

One more thing: commenter Robert E wrote that, when I was alerted that the E330 preceded the Sony as a two-sensor live-view solution, "[Pogue's} reaction was something like "yeah, yeah, you're absolutely right" and then no correction, no nothing."

Hey, that's TOTALLY untrue. In fact, I submitted a correction immediately. It was posted online the same day, and it ran in the paper the following morning.

If anyone's actually interested in reading the column before dumping on it, here's the URL--complete with correction: http://tinyurl.com/485fhf

Finally, on the use of jargon: We'll have to agree to disagree on this one. Within an industry, jargon can be a shorthand, expert to expert. But it's totally inappropriate when you're writing for a lay audience.

--David Pogue

For all of the complaining one can do about Pogue, he does have a point: Rhetoric is ultimately targeted communication, and he knows his audience.

NYT readers aren't dolts, but it's a big difference between the Grey Lady and say, APUG or TOP.

Would the article pass muster in J-school? Probably not. But is it effective and does it get the information communicated to the targeted audience? Indeed.

I like the way the NYT always refers to Iggy Pop as "Mr. Pop"---the irony is breathtaking.

"The the other was 'live view'--which I referred to as...live view! ("Why can't you frame a photo using an S.L.R.'s back-panel screen, as you can on a little pocket camera? Actually, a few recent S.L.R. models do, in fact, have this Live View feature, but it's mostly a disaster.") I then referred to Live View 9 more times in the column."

I didn't read or see any column except the one I linked to, about the Casio "time machine." The quote I used came from a caption to a slide show. I don't believe I can link it directly, but here's the entire text (found next to a picture of a shirtless boy wearing two pairs of eyeglasses):

"The historic feature of Sony’s Alpha A300 and A350 digital cameras is the back-panel screen. It lets you frame the shot before you take it, just as you can on pocket cameras; you don’t have to hold the camera up to your eye. That makes a big difference when shooting over your head, down at floor or knee level, and when photographing children, since you can make eye contact and smile without hiding your face behind the camera.

"Photo: David Pogue"

If you want to argue that a caption doesn't represent your language or writing adequately or accurately, I'm fine with that. But I certainly wouldn't have criticized you for not using the standard terminology if I had read a piece in which you had USED the standard terminology. I might be cranky, but I'm not thick.

In truth, I probably lost all objectivity by the time I got to that second word. I get frustrated by many things about photography these days, only one of which is the misdirected hyperbole of PR-fed newspaper coverage of camera "technology." But honestly, read your first sentence in the quoted caption above and substitute any other term for "back panel screen" or leave it alone--I'll stipulate to the phrase.

"The historic feature of Sony’s Alpha A300 and A350 digital cameras is the LCD."

Or the back-panel screen or whatever we agree to call it.

Is that statement defensible in the slightest? If it's not ignorant--and I'm perfectly willing to believe that it's not--it certainly does do, as I wrote, a good imitation of it. Sony's latest implementation of live view does a few things differently and circumvents some of the clumsiness of other companies' earlier implementations of the feature. But that feature on those two Sony cameras is not "historic" in any meaningful sense of that word--not with live view available on a generous handful of competing DSLRs and not with an articulated LCD (back-panel screen) already available on the Olympus E-3. It's merely one more incremental improvement on a continuum in which virtually *every* new camera offers some sort of incremental improvement in some feature or other.

If you'd like to explain to me a) why Sony's live view is historic or b) why that sentence misrepresents what you meant or wrote, I'm all ears. But I'm not inventing the bases for my statements.

Mike J.

"commenter Robert E wrote that, when I was alerted that the E330 preceded the Sony as a two-sensor live-view solution, '[Pogue's} reaction was something like "yeah, yeah, you're absolutely right" and then no correction, no nothing.'

"Hey, that's TOTALLY untrue. In fact, I submitted a correction immediately. It was posted online the same day, and it ran in the paper the following morning."

Robert E? My dear Mr. Pogue, please do check the facts that are on the page right in front of you.

And as to the correction, I apologise. I simply skipped the correction down at the bottom of the page. _I_ didn't check the facts.

OTOH, given that the original article still stands there in all its unaltered glory while the correction is at the bottom italicised, I somehow doubt people will come out enlightened from reading the article. But it's not exactly your fault.

"The historic feature of Sony’s Alpha A300 and A350 digital cameras is the back-panel screen. It lets you frame the shot before you take it, just as you can on pocket cameras; you don’t have to hold the camera up to your eye."
The fundamental question should be the rationale for an article on the Sony A300/350, which are more than entry level DSLRs, to appear in the NYT for the layman. Who is the target audience of the article? Someone who had no understanding of the Sony A300, thus all the terminology had to be tweaked for them? No. Someone who had some knowledge about the camera, but would like to read more about it so as to make a buying decsion? No, the article would be too moronic (so that "you don’t have to hold the camera up to your eye", as if this is not the preferred way to shoot?) Come on, an article on the Exilim EX-F1? well, OK. An article about the Sony A350? Leave it to Popular Photography, DP Review or the like.

Mike, there is no standard terminology describing a lot of digital photography, shake reduction, image stabilization, vibration reduction, which one is the right terminology?

Some people call it live view, some call it live preview, Popular Photography calls it Live Preview mode, Sony themselves call it Live Preview mode.

David Pogue in the original A300/A350 article called it Live View. I'm not sure what you are trying to prove here.

I don't want to speak for David Pogue but he A300 series cameras from Sony are the only low end cameras with this feature and in that way it is historic. It creates a bridge between people using cameras like the H series and SLRs. The Olympus E3 is 3 times the price of the A300 and limited availability. A Sony A300 should be available at all Sony Style and web site and their extensive dealer networks where a person can look at a Sony H9 and then also look at a Sony A300. The E3, I wouldn't know where to find one.

"I don't want to speak for David Pogue but he A300 series cameras from Sony are the only low end cameras with this feature and in that way it is historic."

Are you kidding me? Almost all point-and-shoots have live view, and so does the $1140 Canon 40D and the $570 Olympus E-510.

And you can buy an Olympus E-3 from B&H Photo from pretty much anywhere in the world that has postal delivery. Possibly not in the mountains of Afganistan or from certain places in the interior of sub-Saharan Africa, it's true. There must be countries B&H won't deliver to, but I'm going to wager you're not IN one of them.

All I'm trying to say is this: I generally don't care for sensationalized, misleading articles written by non-specialist computer experts for non-specialist audiences. David Pogue is a very smart guy and a talented, successful author. I own several of his books. I just don't happen to enjoy or admire his articles about cameras, is all. I regret that I have been incapable of conveying that and I apologize if I have offended him or you or anyone else among his legion of fans.

"I'm not sure what you are trying to prove here."

I'm not trying to "prove" anything. The only reason I defended the use of ordinary terminology is because David stated that he "writes for a nontechnical audience, and has been instructed to avoid jargon like 'LCD' and 'live view.'" He then turned around and defended himself by saying that he used the term "live view" ten times in a column I didn't read. So, fine, objection withdrawn, then.

May I get on with my life now?

Mike J.

Mike, I'm not sure this is the correct term, but aren't you guilty of a little 'snarkiness' here? Give Pogue a break, for crying out loud.
And speaking of terms, I think one of the dumbest terms in use today is 'live view.' When you look through the viewfinder of a rangefinder or SLR camera, aren't you seeing a 'live view?' Or if you hold the camera over your head and simply look straight at the subject, bypassing the camera altogether, is it not a 'live' scene you are viewing?

But of greater importance here is something no one (I think) mentioned. That 60fps camera is yet another dumbing down of photography. Granted it might be useful for a sports photographer on assignment, but a significant part of learning how to use a camera is honing one's inner sense of timing and anticipation, as exemplified by Cartier Bresson's man jumping over a pond. The picture one gets is not only different but almost always better. Relying solely on the maching is akin to what the microwave has done to real food and real cooking. It's quick, it's easy, but it has no soul.

My objection to the term "back panel screen" is that it is clumsy -- why not call it a "viewscreen," which is not only a shorter word but functionally descriptive?

BTW, the Nikon D300 manual doesn't refer to it as an LCD, but as a monitor.

Dear Mr. Pogue, let me reiterate that I was not the one who commented about the correction of your Sony SLR article, it was the next guy down. Mistakes like that have happened here before, due to ambiguous formatting, but it's still annoying.

But, as long as I'm commenting again, to all a thought regarding technical terms and jargon:

I think we all agree that there is a spectrum that runs from, say, self-explanatory and helpful to opaque and esoteric, and on down to useless or even misleading. I think we might even agree on the role of reporters, reviewers and editors (and popular web sites?) in the way these terms do or do not propagate and take hold in everyday language.

But it seems to me that the important underlying issue, and the source of much of the disagreement, comes down to the responsibility of said parties in this role. Perhaps the issue is better stated more broadly as: What are the responsibilities of those who report on consumer goods and technology? (I'm sure there's a specific technical term for such people but it isn't coming to mind.)

Either way, it's a question that deserves more attention than it gets, and I applaud Mike (again) for opening this (yet another) can of worms.

Dear Joe,

I, for one, am totally thrilled to see the craft of photography 'dumbed down.'

Most people simply want a nice picture. Most of the time, all *I* want is a nice picture.

If you really think you (or HCB) has 8 msec reflexes, you're fooling yourself. You may , on occasion, be better than the soulless machine at capturing the decisive moment, but at 60 fps, I can say positively that most of the time you (and HCB) will not be.

Last convention I was at, I spent an evening photographing a group of friends folk-singing. Threw out 80% of the photos because of 'shutter lag.' More precisely, human inability to exactly estimate shutter lag. And human expressions change far faster than the blink of a shutter. And, under poor light conditions, the moment that combines a decent expression with the momentary pause in subject muscle movement that allows for a sharp photo is even more fleeting; it's only a fraction of that decisive moment.

If I'd had 60 fps burst, I'd have had twice as many good photos... and better ones. If you think that'd make them soulless, then count me as one of the happily damned. Glory be, I'm a sinner!

pax / Ctein

Not to obtrude, but I thought I'd mention that Joe is one of the great undiscovered photographers in America. He's created an impressive and original body of work in a lifetime of creativity as an artist, although, as is the case with many artists, his work has only been seen locally-to-him, and sequentially with generous intervals of invisibility between showings. He's never been given a proper retrospective or retrospective book (despite several letters I've written to museums suggesting this), but he will be. At least he should be.

Just so we all know who we're talking to. That is all. Carry on.

Mike J.

Mike, you have a lot of guts posting David Pogue's response, that shows character, I like that.

Last night a Deer was killed by wolves beside my house. I posted a small photo essay on the subject, check it out (http://rvewong.wordpress.com/) and then maybe you can come over and help me out with my wolf problem.


Thanks for that link, I enjoyed the wolf tales! I'm going to be checking back to see future updates.

Where is it you live, anyway?

Mike J.

Hey Mike,
You've got Pogue commenting on your posts -- you're in the big leagues! I've been a reader of Gizmodo and Engadget for years -- they rip on Pogue every chance they get and I've never seen a comment from him on either of those sites, so you must have struck a chord.

I'm trying to form my own opinion on this LCD / 'back panel screen' thing, and I only have this comment: My 83 year old Grandmother would know what I'm talking about if I said "look at the LCD." If, by chance, she did not know what I was talking about, I might say "you know, the back panel screen." I don't really know if that means I'm siding with you or Pogue.

Bottom line for me -- I read/watch Pogue to be amused, not informed. He's funny. I like funny. But when I care to be intellectually stimulated/challenged/informed, I come to sites like TOP. I think there's a place for both, and I think TOP is just the right forum to point out that NYT/MSM dumb stuff down all the time. After all, we're the only ones who really care about these finer points -- I guess we're what you call 'specialized.'

Oh, and Mr. Pogue, if you're still reading this, can I have your autograph?

- Scott

I hope no one thought I was dissing Joe's considerable talent! It's just that no human being, unless they're bionically enhanced, can split time to the nearest 60th of a second. It may be very cool to get the moment with one frame, but if the camera can do it with ten and do it as well or better, why should I be beating myself (or anyone else) up over that?

35 years ago I nailed the exposure on the one and only night moon launch by metering the scene by eye. It was cool; I had the chops, etc. Hardly anyone else got good exposures of that launch because the NASA recommendations were wrong. There wasn't time to mechanically meter the frame. Exposure-wise it was a 'decisive moment.'

But today? In-camera metering can do as good or better a job. And if I had then the equipment I have now, I'd have let the meter do its job. I wouldn't feel any less proud of the photos or that they were any less mine than the machine's.

pax / Ctein

Mr. Ctein,

See this link:

When Mr. David Oliver spotted the scene, he should have been shooting at 9 fps, with exposure bracketing 3 stops over and 3 stops under, so as never to miss the right exposure and the moment, to make the best out of modern technology?
If 60 fps could help, we all should throw out our cameras and start shooting videos (videos can be shot at RAW now, see The Limnimnous Landscape site). Pick and print that RIGHT frame out of the video shot and call it a photograph.

Dear Edwin,

First of all, there is never a Mr. in front of my name; honorifics are the last thing that should be applied to it [ smile ].

That's a gorgeous and evocative photo you pointed me at. It's really a beauty. I also instantly fell in love with it. Thank you very much for bringing it to my attention.

But I don't see at all what it has to do with the conversation at hand. No one has argued that motor drives or rapid-fire photography is de rigueur, certainly not me. And I can't see anything in this photograph that amounts to a split-second moment, although obviously the scene is fleeting.

On the other hand, if David had used a motor drive or something else to capture a whole sequence of frames around that particular moment and later picked out the best one, what would it matter?!!

Your choice of example is also more than slightly ironic, because David's own words make it clear that this is not a situation where the human being intentionally captured the temporary conjunction of subjects. To quote his own words:

"I was on a portrait assignment when I spotted the lady coming out of the water heading for the shower, as you can see in the image it was a very misty morning, when I composed the picture the guy with the backpack wasn't visible, he came out later when I lifted the contrasts. I guess you could say it was a lucky shot, although over the years I have been told by lots of photographers that I am a lucky bugger!!! I like to think I am in control of my luck as I always have a camera at the ready to capture the luck!!!!". – David Oliver

He didn't even know the walker was there! He could hardly have intentionally picked just the right moment to photograph him!

I had a similar experience, although not producing anywhere so poignant and evocative a photograph:


When I made this photograph I was completely unaware of the helicopter in the upper left corner. Consider that I was pointing a 600 mm lens directly at the sun; honestly my biggest concern was not blinding myself. I was certainly not noticing any details of the scene beyond the overall gross composition of the Sun versus the launch complex.

When I got back to the darkroom and developed the film and had it laid out a light table, I saw this little clear speck up in the corner of the negative and I remember cursing mildly over the piece of dust that had landed on the film that I was now going to have to spot out of all the prints. Imagine my surprise when I took a loupe to it!

Much like David's backpacker, the helicopter was a fleeting but not split-second participant in the composition. Even a slow motor drive could've caught it as well as I did. But if I didn't even know it was there, it's hard to see how we can debate the matter.

~ pax \ Ctein
[ please excuse any word salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
-- Ctein's online Gallery http://ctein.com
-- Digital restorations http://photo-repair.com


Right at that very moment when I hit the send button, I realised that I was actually putting the whole thing out of the right context, and I shouldn't have sent the comment, but hey, this is the era of the blogs and forums and that's how a lot of heated debates got started. People like me can hide behind the anonymity and say whatever, and pointing fingers directly. I must apologize to you, Ctein, for that.
I believe technology has a big part to play in photography (as compare to other forms of art). But still, on one hand, technology advances the way we take pictures, yet on the other hand, the photographer who is in control of the technology (not the other way round) is still the creative part of the whole process. I guess the outcome is what counts, regardless of the process -- luck, technology, skill, whatever.
I really enjoyed your contributions to TOP, and your picture of the Appolo is great. Your response to my comment is a great model of the manner to take on Internet forums.

I'm not too sure how to reply to your question about "Where I live" as I know this isn't the place, but it's all I've got(clue me in).
I live in Ottawa, Canada only a two day drive from your place. After you put David Pogue to bed you should have time to drop by and wrestle a few wolves to the ground for me.
Inspired by your approval, I reworked my prose and photo's a bit now that my nerves have calmed down some. http://rvewong.wordpress.com/

Dear Ctein,

Thanks for your thoughtful reply to my rant on that 60fps camera. Lets say we agree to disagree. Enough said.

But your note did remind me of a revolutionary new Leica product that, surprisingly, has nothing to do with optics. I read about it in the April 1st issue of Live Golf. This amazing new product is called the LEICA PRO 60 and it's a ground breaking high-tech golf club that is rated at 60bps - that's sixty balls per swing! The technology is beyond my understanding and I'm not sure how this is even possible, but apparently, if you make any kind of contact with the golf ball (balls, in this case) on the tee shot and aim roughly in the direction of the flag, the LEICA PRO 60 will propel up to sixty balls, each with a different trajectory, all in just one swing! The Leica folks say with statistical certainty that with a full compliment of balls, one or more will fall on the green and close enough for an easy putt to the hole. Par games or better will become the norm and that elusive 'hole in one' will become quite common.

Think about it! No more stressing with wind or weather, no more 'psyching-up' before the game, no more boring hours practicing on the driving range when you could be in the clubhouse enjoying a gin and tonic. And no more going home depressed and discouraged, or worse - humiliated, after a bad day on the links. Every swing is a 'nice' swing. Every game is a 'nice' game. Check it out. I think you'll like it.


Dear Edwin and Joe,

Hey, if you weren't raising interesting and provocative and thoughtful questions, I'd not be bothering to discuss them. The level of discourse around here is delightfully high.

Edwin, your remark about scanning thru video got me thinking and I've decided you're partly correct after all. Y'see, while I can't see any difference from a photo point of view between doing that and stalking the decisive moment in person (or at least in 1-second bursts), I'd *HATE* doing it that way. Reviewing large amounts of real-time data is very boring to me (I've hardly converted any of my vinyl or VHS tapes to digital for just that reason-- tres boring). It would turn photography from fun to drudgery. And that would surely mean I'd produce worse photos.

So, yeah, I accept that instrumentality matters, to the extent that you have to use what makes you feel good.

Joe, given my deep and passionate interest in golf (NOT), I can't figure out if that improves the game or not.

If there's a more profound connection to photography than simple (and amusing) parody, it went past me. I don't get sports, y'see. Not the way my head works.

And now I'm wondering... are there people who see photography as a sport? And if so, what does that mean to you? Serious question; I am curious and ignorant.

I love you guys -- you make me think about things.

pax / Ctein

How nice to find passionate discourse and civility the norm. Egads, this could be habit forming.

Ben Marks

Photography as a sport?

Well, sort of, maybe. If you've done target shooting or played billiards, I find that you have to get into a similar "zone" at the moment of shutter release or trigger firing or cue ball contact, but that's more sharing a careful technique than anything else. Not sure it makes photography a sport but then is billiards a sport?

In the case of finding the right moment to fire the shutter (instead of using a mega-fps device followed by boring viewing at a computer) then do you need hand-eye coordination the way you need to when catching a baseball? Is that enough to make picture-taking a sport?

When you pan a race car shot, you have to swing your body and the camera in ways that are reminiscent of a golf swing. And most people consider golf a sport.

But these may be examples of straining the analogy. I use photography a lot as an excuse to go hiking/walking, but I don't think that makes photo-taking a sport, although it sometimes feels like it. There are sports idealists who believe that only sports that involve vigorous physical exercise are really sports, and so curling and driving race cars are not, to them, sports. I've driven race cars and you have to be in better shape to do that than to play billiards or target-shoot for that matter, lots better. And if golf is considered a sport, why wouldn't curling be one?

I have seen pro photographers carrying tons of camera gear at sporting events. That's got to be the equivalent of a pretty steep climb. The picture-taking itself may not be "sporty" but getting there to take the picture is close to being a sport, insofar as it's physically exhausting.

Clubs hold photo competitions. Almost sounds like a sport, but then playing chess is also competitive and most people would not call it a sport, more of a game.

Is photography a kind of game?

Sorry Ctein, I don't have an answer for you.

Photography as sport? If you consider fishing or hunting sports, then i think there are kinds of photography that are more than analogous, the main difference being what you come away with.

I'm off on a tangent here, but I can easily imagine a competition based on getting difficult or elusive shots, something like a photographic scavenger hunt or race. Could be as mundane or extreme as one wants, I suppose, and as artistically demanding, or not. Wonder if anyone's done anything like that?

"Photography as sport? If you consider fishing or hunting sports, then i think there are kinds of photography that are more than analogous..."

robert e,


Mike J.

Ahh. Thanks, Mike, both for writing that essay in the first place and for reminding me of it. It describes a far deeper similarity than the mostly practical connections I was considering. And it may be something I really need to hear at this moment. e.g., lately, I may have been giving "clever" more respect than it deserves.

In fact, that essay contains a few nuggets that are profoundly simple and useful, and timeless. Timeless, not just in the context of social history, but also in terms of personal development, and so, I suggest, worthy of the immediate attention of both TOP and Photoborg readers.

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