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Sunday, 29 December 2013


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Since you indicated that you were including new technology, I suggest you add the Lytro Light Field cameras, which permit adjustable focus post exposure. Maybe not the biggest advance since CMOS, but for 2013 worth considering.

[According to dpreview the two Lytros were introduced in 2011 and there is nothing new out for 2013. --Mike]

". . . I don't know what "Android" is."

Imagine iOS but far more flexible and customizable. That's what it is. You can even swap out the default apps. And put dynamic, interactive widgets on the home screens. Nice.

I bet on Sony. Either A7/A7r twins or RX10.

At the first post regarding CoY, I nominated Fuji X100s and Sony A7/A7r twins.(Hi, guys, you may check it out. ^_^) By reading all the follow-up posts by Mike, I think the innovation and significance in a long run is a proper standard to select our CoY.

Can't wait to see the result. ^_'

I was bought a Konstructor for Christmas by my younger daughter. A great few hours was had konstructing it, but I'm not sure how good the results will be. The problem with the one I have is the question of the film advance - it's difficult to be sure if the film is being advanced, how far, and when to stop. Given that the very few remaining film development sites are automated, and expect evenly-spaced negatives along the developed roll of film, I'm not especially confident of getting useable prints from it. But we shall see.

(The konstruction instruktions are terse and multilingual, and the process does require some thought.)

"I must reluctantly admit that camera equipment more expensive than sporty German automobiles barely twerks my radar screen"

This sentence creates quite a unique image in my mind in light of the current popular use of the word twerk!

That's it. You don't know what Android is. You are now down one (admittedly small) monthly subscription. I expected better

And the winner is...
Sony A7 (both or either)

"Imagine iOS but far more flexible and customizable."

And less stable, reliable and capable.

Just one user's experience.

Perhaps mercifully, my Toshiba tablet seems to have expired. While working, the hardware seemed capable, although the screen wasn't even in the same universe as my wife's iPad3, or my iPhone5. That sort of matters for a photographer.

One key thing I bought it for was travel. I wanted something smaller and lighter than my netbook+. The requirement was dead simple, or so it seemed to me. The tablet had an SD card reader and a full size USB port. And as I imagined, the hardware is capable of copying directly from SD card to external back-up HD.

But the software? The file managers all seem to have clunky UIs, but I can deal with that. However, after trying 8-10 apps (I can't check.), all follow the same, poorly thought out, operational logic. Like clones.

In Windoze Explorer, one may select one file, then Shift-click on another, up or down the list, and all in between are selected. Then drag them where you will.

Every file management app I tried could only add to the selection one file at a time - or all files. Imagine sitting in the evening, selecting 200+ images individually , out of many hundreds on a 64 GB card, to copy to back-up. Just maddening.

Some apps for other purposes are just lovely. Some other demonstrate the same sort of un thought out clunkiness.

The only thing I actually miss is a couple of excellent PDF readers. Text is awfully small on the iPhone and my friend the Nook is a terrible PDF reader. I may have to crack the Nook to add a decent PDF reader.

No, iApps aren't all perfect. But the overall level of capability and polish of those I've tried and use is above what I found on an Android device.

On my last month long trip in Sept.-Oct.,I found a new feeling of love for my 3# netbook+. FAR, FAR more capable than the tablet, better screen, runs a capable image download app, an image viewer, even PS and Bridge, if I want, as well as all the standard email and web stuff.

I imagine my next photographic sidekick will be a Windoze 8.x tablet. The ASUS 64GB T100TA-C1-GR Transformer Book looks pretty good, but is likely just the first of several to come.

The iPad Air is just lovely, but won't do external storage.


A Phase One IQ digital back is undeniably a remarkable imaging gadget. BUT my Sony A7R is proving itself to be a pretty darn good impersonator to my IQ160, albeit at half the file size! Plus the A7R is a far more versatile and a more generally usable camera.

So if you'd like to spend a bit more on outfitting the interior of your new Feadship boat and you don't often need huge image files get a Sony A7R and give the extra $36k to your designer!

"The best sensors from you can buy, professional division, are the Phase One IQ2 series of backs, new for 2013. There are three, topping out at 80 megapixels..."

Ah, jeez, you've drunk the "resolution=best" kool-aid. Is the IQ160 best for street shooting? How about low-light photography? Would you take your IQ160 into a war zone?

Re the Galaxy NX, with the disclaimer that I have never used and have no plans to use this camera:

... it's almost exactly what you would get if your iPhone (Android is essentially the same thing) had an APS-C sensor, interchangeable lenses and a viewfinder (and a body size to match, of course). This is interesting for two reasons:

(a) You could install (and, if so able, design your own) custom software for taking and processing photos. In other words, all the photo apps currently available for your iPhone/iPad and those that you can think up. This includes many of the newest developments in computational photography (refocusing, relighting, compositing, 3D scanning...). It also includes specific customization, e.g. an autofocus module tailored to recognize and focus on (say) athletes or footballs or insects, or a postprocess to automatically tag your photos by their content ("landscape", "street", "Usain Bolt", "panthera tigris"...), or a utility to wake the camera up from sleep as you raise it to your eye, or a way to reposition the controls of the camera to fit unusually shaped hands better. You could pick and choose exactly the interface that would aid your photographic tasks (and hide everything else that you never use). Cf. John Kennerdell's essay on the utility of face recognition AF for very traditional street photography projects.

(b) You could share photos directly from your camera via pretty much every channel you can think of, exactly as one does with a smartphone. Consider the benefits of this not just for the social media generation but also for news pros.

There's a reason smartphones have become so popular for photography. The NX is the first real effort to bring those benefits to "prosumer" cameras as well (minus the always-in-your-pocket convenience). It may or may not be a good camera, but it is genuinely innovative, and hints at a market for photography apps tailored to serious amateurs and professionals.

PS: I disagree with Thom Hogan's assessment, while conceding that in its current form the NX may not be a very good camera. The possibilities with such cameras are not limited to downstream processing after capture. With suitably written software they can (potentially) transform the capture process itself.

I mainly use a Pentax K5 / X100 but have been looking for a Mirrorless small system for hiking.
To be honest ONE of advantages of these cameras should be small size and that includes lenses.
Of all the MILC produces in some ways the best SMALL pancakes have been the Samsung NX lenses with 16 / 20 / 30 / 45 all rated highly and very compact. The problem has been refusing to at least build in the possibility of a detachable EVF … which they had in their NX100 … but if available then the NX300 would challenge the others and with the lenses would have been a really good option …. they even have a patent on a EVF/ OVF rather like Fuji ….. but with no sign of them producing it i have given up … sold my Samsung primes and switched to the Panasonic G6 ….Sad for me as i rather prefer the larger sensor. I have not gone with the GX7 as I don't like how it feels in the hand and prefer the OLEd viewfinder in the G6 …. which is a steal now.
So sadly its goodbye Samsung from me at least !

If I buy a Feadship through your link do you get a cut?

[Not unless it's over 325 feet. --Mike]

Samsung has a history in photography equipment. The company was the maker of point and shoot 35mm cameras in the 1990s. As well as badging them as "Samsung", they also built them under the venerable old name "Rollei". They came with "Schneider-Kreuznach" lenses. And while the cameras and lenses had little in common with the original Rolleiflex brand, they weren't bad at all. My first autofocusing camera was the Rollei Prego 90. Focus was kinda slow but the lens was pretty darn good and the zooming optical finder made it easy to use. I would dearly love for someone to make a full frame digital with a bright zooming optical finder today.

Re Gerry's featured comment:
"I think the most significant innovation of 2013 was Sony's decision to offer a programming interface (API) for their cameras, thereby allowing third-party software developers to develop their own applications that communicate with the camera... It means that Sony is allowing third-party developers to make the camera do things beyond what Sony itself has imagined."

By the metric of programmability, and continuing my earlier comment, the Galaxy NX and cousins are so far ahead of the pack it's not funny. You can (at least theoretically) reprogram pretty much _anything_ about it, and not just to remap a few buttons or control it remotely. The kernel is open source and afaik Samsung plans to or has already made the camera API available. The last sentence of Gerry's comment applies far more to the NX than to the Sonys.

(No, I don't own Samsung stock and have no interest in buying their cameras :). It just seems people don't really get the potential of the NX, or how much customizable, extensible software can transform how you capture photos. For comparison, see what folks have done with their iPhones (even when considered purely as a communication device) since Apple opened up the API. To me it's infinitely more interesting than just putting a larger sensor in a mirrorless camera.)

The European Space Agency (ESA) launched the Gaia space observatory on 19 December 2013. On board a one billion pixel camera that is going to register our galaxy and its movements the next five years. Maybe it is hors concours, but it certainly is the most exciting camera of the year.


Maybe you should also consider a prize for the best looking camera. A design award for the Panasonic Lumix GM1, and a razzie for the Nikon Df.

Late to the comments as I was away from the internet for a day and took with me a Samsung NX20(a 2012 camera with EVF).
As a happy Samsung pancake owner they didn't tempt me with anything new this year but if the expected NX30 has the same rear screen mounting as the NX300 (a 2013 camera without EVF) then that'll be my 2014 upgrade sorted.

The Foveon sensors are, by pretty much every technical standpoint, utterly awful. Especially in terms of IQ

They give good resolution, but not unmatched resolution as they're currently similar to 24MP bayer sensors without an AA filter, something which is now available from Nikon (D5300 and D7100, the former which is cheaper than any current Foveon), Pentax (K-3) and Leica (M Type 240).

The Dynamic range is awful. Any of the modern APS-C cameras not from Canon or Samsung do much better. The Canon's are about the same, the current 16MP 4/3rds sensors are also better.

In terms of colour, while the colour tends to pleasing, the Foveon's are absolutely awful for metamarism, worse than any Bayer sensor that's been put in a DSLR. The Foveon design is inherently bad at this (the issue is with the physics behind how the 3-layer sensor works and can only be resolved by moving to another substance for the sensor wafer, something not currently possible). Due to this the Foveon's have an extremely hard time distinguishing between colours which fall into the overlap between colour channels, which is a large chunk of the colour space. That's why pure tones look great on the Foveon's, but add a mix of colours and things start to degrade.

I'm not going to get started on the noise issue beyond stating that the Foveon's are at best comparable with Panasonic's old 12MP LiveMOS 4/3rds sensor. And that's despite the Foveon sensors gaining the advantages of size. This is also a limitation of the physics of the sensor and not actually resolvable.

The best sensor from a pure IQ point, amateur division, is Sony's 24.7MP FF sensor, used in the D600, D610, RX1(R), A7 and A99. If you mean best sensor available in a sub-$1K camera, then it's Toshiba's 24MP APS-C sensor, currently used across Nikon's entire current APS-C line (plus the now replaced D5200).

"Should you want to marvel over image quality in every shot, however, the Sigma Merrill cameras are for you."

Why aren't others lining up to use these Sensors if this type of quality is reality?

A full featured camera with this capability seems as if it would be a great tool.

What, no Barbie Doll Camera?


I got a Konstructor for Christmas and had the immense luxury of also receiving enough time to build it! Fun little critter, and curious to see what I can get out of it - it has a removable lens, so I'm wondering what I can adapt to sit on the front:) An old Elmar on a plastic shell? hrm...

>>The iPad Air is just lovely, but won't do external storage.

How about cloud storage... that is external and virtually unlimited.

s.low wrote: "Maybe you should also consider a prize for the best looking camera. A design award for the Panasonic Lumix GM1"

I do think the GM1 is a neat looking little camera. One that, even if I wasn't in the market for it, I wanted to like when I tried it. The controls are too tiny & fiddly, like the earlier Canon S90. It might be pretty, but otherwise a design failure in my book.

No comment on the Df - I think it's something of a flop, as it seems like a schizophrenic camera that does some things well, but not other related things (like being half of a good sports camera and half of a good landscape camera and half of a good camera for legacy lens owners, etc). But I think it's primarily a flop relative to the buzz Nikon tried to create. I'm not convinced, offhand, that there aren't cameras more deserving of a razzie.

Had a Chamonix 45n-1 for a short while. Beautiful, light-weight. Lighter than some DSLR's) and very capable LF camera. If Per Volquartz were still alive today, I'd probably still have my LF kit.

Alas, I gave in to my DSLR.

I hope someday Sigma overcomes the high noise of Foveon sensors. I have the DP2 Merrill, its image quality is just outstanding for an APS sensor size, but you should avoid anything over ISO 200.


Lomography looks to be circling the drain--that goofy channeling of a 60s Revell car model kit-as-a-camera being proof. Their retail stores are mostly shuttered in N. America and few seem to be suckering for the extortionately-priced cameras and repackaged film with its promise of baked-in FX. It was just a failed attempt to "brand" film photography.

Please don't use 'twerk' as a verb except in reference to the specific dance/body movements it refers to?


Foveon sensors, I too have a DP2 Merrill and its an intense love hate relationship. I'm totally wrapped with the image quality especially from the odd A3 print I have made. Hate because once at 400 ISO its ghastly it can be better at higher ISO's in mono with a bit of tinkering but… The 40mm lens with this sensor can only be described as superb. With the paired closeup attachment lens it also makes equally magic images.
The only other cameras that come close for much of my work with that look and render that the DP2 produces are the Pentax 645D and the Leica M9. CCDs have a wonderful illustrative quality for landscapes and natural life subjects.
I keep wanting to rush out and buy the DP1 wide angle but what stops me is that I keep wondering (praying!) that Sigma will produce a new version with improved ISO performance. (research and money?) I wouldn't think the DP Merrill's will ever be camera stars of the year they are just too specialised but for me it has provided some of the best digital camera images I have ever made.

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