Dateline  23 February 2017

Saturday Natter - Denbies Vineyard - 4 February 2017

Peter Flower

As I often do at these events I was experimenting with different cameras to take some pictures. Regular readers will be aware of the shots taken previously with other member's cameras, like Rosemary Calliman's Panasonic FZ1000, and my own Panasonic GX8 fitted with a variety of Canon lenses. In addition to some further experiments with this I had brought along my old Canon A640 compact camera (dating from 2006). Stephen Hewes had brought along his Pentax K-1, full-frame, camera fitted with a Sigma 70mm f/2.8 macro lens. When he handed this to me to try my arms almost dropped off! Obviously he eats more Weetabix, or takes more high-energy drinks. The contrast with my own cameras was immense. Not surprising, considering that the GX8 body (which is quite solidly built) weighs 487grams and the A640 complete with inbuilt zoom lens is a featherweight 315g. The K-1 weighs in at 1010g (2lb 2.5oz) and the lens is 525g (1lb 2.5oz), giving a total of 1535g (3lb 6oz).

Out of interest after the event I researched comparative weights for some other full-frame camera bodies. I found that it is light by comparison with models like the Nikon D5 (1415g), Canon EOS-1D Mk.IV (1230g) and Canon EOS-1D X Mk. II (1530g), but heavier than the Canon EOS 5D Mk. IV (890g). However, all of these are heavy by comparison with the Sony Alpha a99 (849g), and Sony Alpha 7R II (625g). Still, considering its medium format frame, the new Hasselblad X1D puts them all to shame at a mere 725g.

The following are some photographs that I took with the mix of cameras. Previously I had photographed Don Morley with my GX8/Canon 50mm lens combination, but this time used the GX8 with the Olympus 14-150mm zoom lens. This was taken at the equivalent of 270mm. This is a really nice quality carry-around lens. Then there are the photos taken of Louise Barker and Mick Higgs. They were furthest away from me and the shots were taken at f/2.8 with the 70mm lens on the K-1. This has provided lovely shots with isolation from any distracting background detail. The effectiveness of the macro capability is shown in the close-up of the markings on my Canon lens. Again, this was taken at the maximum aperture. This really is a nice lens, even if it does weigh a ton! The next two shots provide a contrast, involving some of the animated natter. The close-up of Jill (with a blurry Modesto) again show the ability to isolate the subject. The other photograph was taken with the Canon A640, as was the one of another group on the far side of the table. Finally, there are two comparative images of a teapot and cups in the centre of the table. The first was taken with the GX8/Canon lens at f/1.4, giving very shallow depth of field. The second was taken with the A640 showing the effect of an increased focal length but a slightly wider aperture.

© Peter Flower       Don Morley (Panasonic GX8/Olympus 14-150mm lens)

© Peter Flower         Louise Barker and Mick Higgs (Pentax K-1 and Sigma 70mm macro lens)

© Peter Flower               Canon lens (Pentax K-1)

© Peter Flower           Natter in progress – Jill, Modesto, Stephen, Mick, Steve, Christine, Paul and Louise

© Peter Flower   Photographs taken with Panasonic GX8/Canon 50mm                                       Canon A640

It is always difficult to report on the many topics that are discussed but I did get some feedback from Colin. He reports that he spent an unsuccessful hour with Mark, who tried helping him to upload photos to the RPS's monthly Flickr group from his iPhone. More productive was the time spent with Carol discussing the features of their Panasonic TZ 100 cameras, and how they work. In particular, they were looking at the Post Focus facility.


Action this day !

A reminder that the 'Get Creative' event is scheduled for 13 March 2017. Time NOW to get busy adapting and/or combining the images provided by Jill Flower, using Photoshop, Picasa, Hipstamatic or whatever application you prefer. There were some incredibly ingenious images in the last competition, so we expect even more this time.

Nikon kills off prospect of DL series cameras


An announcement on 13 February 2017 officially put an end to the DL series. I had already reported delays in Newsletter 80, based on a Nikon press release of 20 April 2016. The DL premium compact series with fixed lenses and 1" sensors, comprised of three models, were already delayed due to the serious issues with the integrated circuit for image processing. Nikon now says that the development costs had become too great to continue. The statement also mentions the company's concern that it wouldn't sell enough units to make up for the increased costs, due to a slow down in the market. There was further bad news. The company released its third quarter financial results. Due to costs of a 'voluntary retirement' program it initiated last year and semiconductor inventory write-offs it announced an 'extraordinary loss' from April to December of 2016. The impact of this is reflected in an updated forecast for the financial year ending in March, lowering predictions of net sales and operating income. The statement acknowledges a 'sluggish and shrinking' market for digital cameras.

Background detail to this was available in a Nikkei Asian Review report from November 2016 that Nikon was cutting 1000 jobs, or 10% of its domestic workforce, over the next two to three years. The cuts were expected to have the highest impact on the under-performing semiconductor and digital camera business. Nikon's camera sales had dropped 30% in the last three years, and the company would miss its ¥30 billion ($287 million) net profit forecast when this fiscal year ended in March.

The dramatic fall in shipments of fixed-lens cameras can be seen in the following graph, based on CIPA figures, courtesy of photographylife.

Analysis of camera sales


The report about the woes of Nikon mentioned in the above report needs to be set against that of the general sales trends in the past decade. The CIPA historic figures divide the overall totals into fixed lens cameras (which were mainly compact cameras) and interchangeable lens cameras (ILC). They now have further sub-divisions, but I will stick with the original split. There can also be confusion between figures for units manufactured, shipped, and sales values. However, the following analysis represents a reasonably accurate statement of the status at significant points during the decade. Apart from a minor hiccup in 2004 shipment values of fixed lens cameras were on an ever upward trend towards the peak in 2008. Forecasters at any company would have seen a rosy future. Unfortunately, mid-2007 marked the introduction of the Apple iPhone. Admittedly, only with a fixed lens camera and 2 megapixels, but with later models and smartphones from other makers rapidly gaining popularity this proved to be the downfall of the compact camera. As can be seen from the previous graph the extent of the drop in compact camera sales, together with increasing one of ILCs, resulted in them reaching parity of shipment value in 2012. Taking shipment volumes into consideration, compact cameras had outsold ILCs by over 10 to 1 in 2008. By 2016, although ILC volumes shipped were also falling the fixed lens units sold was only just over 8% above that of ILCs.

Returning to Nikon's problems, there are probably two main causes. With the sales of their compact cameras falling away the company has failed to react quickly enough to introduce viable new ranges. As an example, the Nikon 1 range of cameras appears to have had less than dynamic promotion. It also seems strange that the potential follow-up, retaining the 1” sensor in a compact body, should have fixed rather than exchangeable lenses. The more significant problem is that, with the loss of compact camera sales, the overall income has fallen. Development and manufacturing costs are dependent upon volumes. Irrespective of the models produced, there are many common components. If overall numbers fall the individual component costs are likely to rise.

Three new Canon cameras


On 15 February 2017 Canon released details of three new models. Two are DSLR type, the 77D and the 800D, plus the M6 compact style model. Although there are three, they are almost identical under the skin. What is even more confusing is the identification numbering. The two DSLRs replace the previous 750D and the 760D. However, for reasons best known to Canon, the 800D replaces the 750D and the 760D (which might have been expected to become the 810D) replacement is numbered 77D. The differences between the two previous models were minor, largely confined to external controls, and the new models follow this same pattern. The M6 is a more compact mirrorless camera, but features the same sensor and faster Digic 7 processor. The principal difference is that it has the EOS M-mount for lenses as opposed to the fitting for EF or EF-S lenses of the DSLRs. (The latter can be fitted to the M6 with a lens adapter)

Common features to all the cameras are the 24 megapixel sensor and updated Digic 7 processor that improves autofocus speed, allows faster capture of images and is responsible for the improvement in autofocus function. The revised autofocus system on the 77D and 800D has 45 all-cross-type AF points which should be operable down to -3EV with an F2.8 or faster lens. Canon claims that when composing pictures on the camera's Vari-Angle screen it is the world’s fastest live view autofocus system, focusing in as little as 0.03 second. (Qualified as follows on the Canon web site - *Among interchangeable-lens digital cameras with APS-C sized sensors with phase-difference detection AF on the image plane as of 14th February 2017, based on Canon research)

For those interested, fuller details of the camera specifications can be found on the Canon web site. However, one notable addition that comes with the DSLR models is a a remote control. This is shown in the images below, together with those that show the difference in control layout between the 77D and 800D

The 77D with control wheel plus top screen, 800D just with control wheel on opposite side

Fully articulated screen with guided user interface - BR-E1 remote control

As mentioned previously, the M6 shares many of the internal features of the two DSLR models. There is one significant difference in that the specification mentions the existence of 49 AF points, but it would seem that these act in a slightly different manner. It will also be seen that the M6 only has a a single hinged rear screen rather than the fully articulated one of the other two models.

Canon M6 showing folding rear screen and optional EVF-DC2 viewfinder

The new models are currently available on pre-order, with deliveries expected in April. Prices, body only, are as follows – 77D £829, 800D £779, M6 £729. The optional viewfinder for the M6 costs £220 (giving a total cost of £949), pricing it higher than the 77D with its inbuilt optical viewfinder.

Notes on autofocus response times

As mentioned in this report, Canon is claiming that these new DSLR models have the world’s fastest live view autofocus system. Up to this time the Sony A6500 claimed the fastest autofocus response time for an APS-C exchangeable lens camera of 0.05 seconds. This dated from tests in October 2016. To quote Sony 'Among interchangeable-lens digital cameras equipped with an APS-C image sensor as of October 2016, based on Sony research, measured using CIPA-compliant guidelines, and internal measurement method with an E PZ 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 OSS lens mounted, Pre-AF off and viewfinder in use.' The Canon statement 'Measured using CIPA-compliant guidelines, and internal measurement method with the lens EF-S18-55mm F4-5.6 IS STM mounted and set at 55mm using 1-Point AF with centre point selected, one-shot AF, Live View and Manual modes in use, EV12 (ISO 100 at room temperature).'

It should be noted that both these claims are based on timings with very specific lenses. It is unlikely that such fast responses would be achieved with other lenses in the range. The speed is very dependent on the ability of the individual lens focus mechanism to respond to feedback from the autofocus sensor. Nevertheless, the fact is that 'live view' autofocus capabilities have advanced considerably in recent times to the extent that they are now able to compete with those of dedicated focus units in optical viewfinders of DSLRs.

Adox expansion plans


The analog revival seems to gain further credence. Film producer ADOX has announced it is doubling the size of its facility that produces photographic chemicals, film and papers. This latest facility comes shortly after ADOX acquired a facility in Marley, Switzerland, which itself joined the company’s Berlin facilities. The new production plant is being constructed alongside the company's current 'crowded and stuffed' facility in Bad Saarow near Berlin, Germany. ADOX announced that the additional space will enable it to construct additional laboratories, a new emulsifying machine, build a large freezer for storing master rolls, incorporate a Super 8 production line, relocate its packaging factory and set up more offices.

Wild East”: Mirko Böddecker with the building plans in front of the space where the new hall will be built  -  Photograph courtesy of ADOX

Note: The company was founded by Dr. C Schleussner in 1860 as a manufacturer of photographic chemicals. From 1880 it made dry plates, and from 1903 roll films. Film cameras were introduced from the 1930s. A milestone in the history of camera manufacturing was the introduction of the Adox 300 at Photokina 1956, the world´s first 35mm camera with interchangeable film magazines.

In 1962 the company was bought by Du Pont. They later sold it to Agfa who applied the brand to X-Ray products until 1998. With the closure of Agfa´s consumer imaging branch in Leverkusen ADOX became engaged in manufacturing again trying to save as much knowledge as possible and transfer it to a smaller level of production. ADOX successfully brought back Agfa's MCP, MCC, APX (Silvermax) and the entire Agfa B&W chemical line.

Albany Cup, hosted by Guildford Photographic Society – 20 February 2017

Report by John Fisher

It was a packed house, as usual, at Guildford Photographic Society's venue in Burpham on Monday 20 February for the annual Albany Cup competition. The event, which has run regularly since 1963 is by invitation only and comprises 8 teams from Bracknell, Farnborough, Godalming, Guildford, Kingston, Molesey, Windlesham and Camberley, and Reigate. I don't know how we got invited in the first place but it is an invitation worth hanging on to.

One of the attractions of the event is that we don't usually meet people from these clubs or see their work, so it gives us a chance to do so. The judge this year was David Eastley, who hadn't come across the event before and wasn't sure how he would cope with judging panels out of a score of 40, after judging each individual photo from 10. In fact, he did so, excellently, with great consistency and sense of humour. The rules require four pictures from a total of three people in each team. How to prepare the entry is something of a challenge.

Bracknell had chosen 'Life on the Streets' - images of tradesmen and women in far-flung corners of the World. Two of them scored 10.

Farnborough's were images of Winchester cathedral.

Godalming' were long exposure 'Sea structures'.

Guildford were 'In the Arctic'. Goodness knows how they organised that!

Kingston's panel was 'Action', a very interesting group, perhaps let down as a panel as all the images were of different sizes and shapes.

Molesey had four images of Ice, including two from Rachael Talibart and two of them got 10.

Reigate's panel of 'British Coastal Structures' was the only Mono entry this year, which was perhaps fortuitous, as the subject was similar to that of Godalming. Our scores of 9, 8.5, 8 and 8 compared well with their 8.5, 8.5, 8.5, 7.5.

Windlesham & Camberley had entered portraits entitled 'Pretences' and one of these got the final 10.

After scoring the individual pictures the results were as follows:-

Molesey - 37

Bracknell - 36

Windlesham - 35

Kingston - 34.5

Guildford - 34

Farnborough and Reigate equal 33.5

Godalming - 33

The judge scored the panels by giving his favourite the maximum score of 40 and the others in order, down to 33. Windlesham and Godalming's portraits got the 40 and Reigate were second with 39. So the final results were Windlesham & Camberley and Molesey equal on 75.

Bracknell 73

Reigate 72.5

Guildford 70

Farnborough 68.5

Kingston 69

Godalming 67

Windlesham & Camberley were selected winners on a count back of the judge's preferred individual shot and this meant that they have won for the last 3 years. Well done to them.

Although we can be proud of our result, we need to try and do better next year and my suggestion is that we establish a small group who start by looking at the prints at our next exhibition to see if there are any obvious themes that we could follow. Then we either select images that work well together and consider others that have scored highly in the year. Then we can decide whether to arrange a day's shooting to build on what we have already.

Co-ordinating it would be a worthwhile task for any keen photographer in the club and volunteers are keenly awaited.

Below are some photographs from the evening showing our panel, some of the images entered, members spectating and award ceremony.

Top left 'The Old Pier' - John Fisher – 8 Top right 'Coastal Defences' - Tony Peacock - 8

Bottom Left 'The Jetty' - John Fisher – 8.5 Bottom Right ' The Pier' - Dave Lyon – 9

Photographs by John Fisher and from Nick Bale

Message from Nicholas Bale

Many thanks for participating in the Albany Cup Competition yesterday evening. Well done to both Windlesham and Camberley and Molesey for getting equal top scores, and congratulations to W&C who were awarded the trophy on judge David Eastley's decision.

We look forward to next year's competition and before then, we will add a tie-breaker mechanism to the competition rules.



Amateur Photographer Awards

Peter Flower

In the 25 February edition the magazine listed its 40th annual awards for cameras, lenses and other equipment. In each category there are up to four nominee products, from which the winner is chosen based on the tests carried out by magazine staff. There is also an overall winner – Reader Product Of The Year. I was particularly interested to realise that Reigate PS members were so in touch with the best products, as will be seen from the following selected winning categories.

Compact Camera of the year - Panasonic TZ100

Quote - “Best compact travel camera that money can buy.”

No less than three members have chosen this superb camera. John Fisher purchased one prior to a holiday in South America. He has since been joined in this choice by Colin Hodsdon and Carol Hicks.

Premium Compact system camera - Olympus Pen-F

Quote - “It's a camera that fires up your creative juices, and simply begs to be picked up and used.”

Steve Lawrenson recently purchased this camera and expresses himself well pleased.

Enthusiast compact system camera - Panasonic GX80

Quote - “A compelling option for enthusiast photographers who also have some interest in film making.”

This is a variation to the GX8 (which I own) introduced more recently and with some reduced specification features that allow it to be sold at a lower price.

Sony RX10 III - Bridge camera of the year

Quote - “Stellar camera that's flexible in both stills and video recording.”

The other nominee in this category was the Panasonic FZ2000. Rosemary Culliman is owner of the FZ1000 bridge camera, an earlier model. Looking at a test (July 2014) from another reputable source the FZ1000 was given a Gold rating.

Enthusiast DSLR camera - Pentax K-70

Quote - “The K-70 offers great value and a solid set of features in a compact body that's easy to use.”

I don't know of any owners, but coming close is Stephen Hewes with at least two Pentax cameras, including the full-frame K-1 which was a nominee in the 'Premium DSLR Camera of the year'. It was up against two APS-C camera, including the Nikon D500. This was not only rated by AP as “without doubt the the finest APS-C DSLR yet.” but also won the 'Reader Product Of The Year' award.

And finally . . . . . . .

Image from internet source – Acknowledgement to Ed Book