Editorial

Peter Flower

Having missed the start of the new season's events I am in the process of catching up on the news. In a previous Newsletter I commented upon the enthusiastic response from prospective new members to the series of Monday evening events in July. At the first competition meeting last Monday I saw quite a number of new faces.

This Newsletter contains a report by Stephen Hewes on the first talk of the new season. Because of timing there are no other reports, but if these are forthcoming they will be included in a later edition.

I noticed that a new exhibit of prints has now been mounted in the corridor of the Reigate Community Centre. I spoke to Colin Hodsdon who arranges our exhibits. He is not certain how long this will be displayed, but is hopeful that it will still be in position at the time of our annual exhibition. He also confirmed that new exhibits had been set up in the Redhill Harlequin Centre, the Reigate Town Hall, Paul Whiteman opticians and two of the Greensleeves florists shops.

On the subject of exhibitions, just before going off on holiday I attended the opening day of Grahame Singleton's exhibit in the Yard @ Railway Station, where I took the following photograph.

© Peter Flower

I apologise for the lack of information relative to society activities in this Newsletter but with the prospect of attendance at upcoming events, especially the next Saturday Natter, I hope to be able to report on more local matters next time. In relation to general photographic topics I think that the influence of the iPhone, on which I base one article, should be of interest. I also recognise that film, and especially instant film, are not necessarily products that readers are likely to rush out and buy. However, it is of interest to see how this niche market is expanding.

Passion projects with Robert Canis - 4 September 2017

Report by Stephen Hewes
Robert opened his presentation saying how much of his photography is local to him in short distances from his home in Kent. Having adopted a passion for photography and the natural world at a young age, Robert was coached by a local naturalist and photographer.
Robert is motivated by projects. His first series were all taken in a local wood on trips with tripod, beany bag and right-angle view attachment. He explained the need to get down literally to ground level, hence the utility of being able to compose the image with the view attachment, or failing that an adjustable screen. The subject – fungi – and Robert explained how he endeavoured to convey a sense of place.

The second project involved shooting leaves on dull grey days with aperture set to 3 full stops overexposed. This high-key technique blows out the dull sky and gives the leaves and twigs a delicacy, creating graphic images. Presenting images as a panel strengthens the effect.

Robert also encourages going out simply with a prime lens, making the most of their wide apertures to be able to control depth of field. Spending time in the woods watching how the changing light affects the colour temperature, took him into yet another project, of capturing flowers at dusk. What was going to be a project for 2 months rapidly extended to 3 years!

My personal favourite series was of the North Kent marshes where once again Robert captures the essence of the place. Robert explained his preference for paintings by Turner rather than Constable, who is rather more ‘painting by numbers’. With various techniques of intentional camera movement and multiple exposures, these very personal images are certainly not ‘photography by numbers’!

Other highlights were images of buzzards in the snow and boxing hares all achieved through tremendous dedication and patience – but having whet your appetite, I suggest you take a look at Robert’s website at http://www.robertcanis.com/
A thoroughly enjoyable evening to mark the start of our new season.

© All photographs in this report are copyright of Robert Canis 

Stephen Hewes

On Monday 16th October we have the Should I, Shouldn't I?, evening. We would like Club Members to submit images that they are thinking of entering or unsure about entering to the various competitions, over the coming season. Your images will be displayed anonymously and Steve Lawrenson and Don Morley (our esteemed in house Judges) will then discuss how they think the images will be received by a Judge and how perhaps they could be improved. We are hoping there will be a bit of banter between Steve and Don and even possibly with the 'audience'. There is already a folder set up in the PDI entry system where you can drop in your images. We need in the region of 40+ images to make the evening work, so come on, look out those 'doubtful' or 'Should I, Shouldn't I? images and lets have an entertaining evening.

The following week, on 23rd October, we have our 'Match a PDI' competition with Dorking. Please also submit entries for this so that we can have as strong a pool of 50 images as possible to draw from. Again, there is a location on the Photo-entry system for this.

New cameras

Techman

Since the last Newsletter a number of new cameras have been announced. These are covered in the following reports.

Nikon D850

Techman

In Newsletter 95 I reported on the development and expected release of this new model. This is a full-frame DSLR with a 46 megapixel BSI CMOS sensor. This is now available at a price of £3499 body only.

Pentax K-1 Silver Edition Limited Edition

Techman

As can be seen from the image above this special limited edition camera features a silver body finish rather than the conventional black. Production will be limited to 2000 units world-wide, with just 60 in the UK. The price at Park Cameras and SRS Microsystems is £2149.99.

Canon EOS M100

Techman

On 29 August 2017 Canon announced the successor to its EOS M10 with the EOS M100, bringing a 24.2 megapixel sensor with Dual Pixel autofocus to the entry-level mirrorless range for the first time. A DIGIC 7 processor brought other improvements like a boost from 1080/30p to 1080/60p video capture and 4 fps burst shooting with continuous AF (6 fps with single AF). The new model retains the built-in Wi-Fi with NFC, tilting 3" 1.03M-dot touchscreen, and pop-up flash. Bluetooth connectivity is also available, allowing for a constant connection between camera and mobile device. Canon says it's the slimmest and lightest of its M-series offerings yet, and touts a newly designed touch interface for its beginner-friendly Creative Assist mode.

The new model is currently available, priced £449 body only or £569 with EF-M 15-45mm kit lens.

Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mk. 3

Techman

On 31 August 2017 Olympus announced the OM-D E-M10 Mark III, a subtle update to its entry-level OM-D body. The addition of a TruePic VIII processor brings 4K video capture at 30/25/24p, and an ergonomic update introduces bigger dials and a curved handgrip to the still-diminutive camera. It retains a 16 megapixel M4/3 sensor. The autofocus points have been increased to 121 points, and burst shooting is available at 8.6 fps. Other features include 5-axis in-body stabilization, 2.36M-dot OLED viewfinder and a tilting 3" 1.04M-dot touchscreen.

The camera is currently available at Park Cameras at a price, body only of £629, or £699 complete with 14-42mm EZ kit lens.

Fujifilm X-E3

Techman

On 7 September 2017 Fujifilm announced this new model. The X-E3 is a 24.3 megapixel (X-Trans sensor) mid-level APS-C mirrorless camera, designed as a smaller, more touchscreen-driven sister model to the SLR-like X-T20. The X-E3 borrows much of its hardware from the X-T20, including a 325-point AF system with a new AF Area All option that activates various modes as the AF point size is changed. The camera also uses and updated subject tracking algorithm that claims better success tracking smaller and faster objects. The X-E3 offers Wi-Fi and adds the option for a constant Bluetooth low energy connection to a smartphone. The 3" 1.04M-dot LCD has been upgraded to a touchscreen and a new feature called Touch Function puts additional customizable touch controls at the user's fingertips. The camera's rear control panel loses the directional navigation buttons in favour of touch control, but gains an AF joystick.

At the time of writing the camera, body only, is available on pre-order for £849.

Sony RX10 Mark IV

Techman

On 12 September 2017 Sony announced this new model that incorporates some exciting new features. It will be recalled from my report in Newsletter 97 that its predecessor, the RX10 III, was voted top model in EISA awards for Superzoom Camera 2017-2018. The Mark 4 takes the performance to a new level. It retains the 24-600mm equivalent superzoom lens and 1” sensor but incorporates many improvements, some of which it has inherited from no less than the flagship a9 full-frame camera. Thanks to a newly developed Bionz X processor, as seen on the a9, it can shoot at 24 fps with AF and AE and can shoot for up to 249 JPEG images (112 Raw). Its 0.03 sec AF-lock speed is claimed to be the World's fastest. It is the first RX10 camera to include on-sensor phase detection, with 315 AF points covering 65% of the frame (slightly more than 80% in each direction). It's also the first Cyber-shot to include Sony's "High Density" AF Tracking system, from the a9, and the company says that Eye AF has been improved. It is also the first in the series to include a touchscreen, although this is limited in functionality compared to many competitor cameras. The tilting, 1.44M-dot touchscreen LCD with "touchpad AF" is paired with a 2.36M-dot OLED electronic viewfinder. Sony claims that the increase in processing power has dramatically reduced EVF display lag. The lens has optical image stabilization built-in, rated at 4.5 stops of shake reduction. A focus range limiter switch has been added to the side of the Mark IV's lens, with a choice of 'All' or 3m-infinity.

This camera has an impressive specification, but be warned that this does come at a price. It is currently available at £1799. The Mark III version (introduced 29 March 2016) is £1399 and the Mark II version (10 June 2015 – with only a 24-200mm zoom) is £999. The recent decline in exchange rates may account for some of the price hike.

Kodak Ektachrome

Techman

In Newsletter 89 I announced Kodak's plans to bring Ektachrome 35mm film back. At the time the potential timing was vague, but I can now reveal more detailed information. The confirmation of timing came from a surprising source. This news broke over Twitter, of all places, thanks to an inquisitive Kodak fan named Karen Wink. She asked Kodak what the ETA on the Ektachrome comeback was, to which Kodak replied:

'We're working towards having limited supply of Ektachrome film available for market testing by year end with availability in 2018.   6:39 PM - Aug 21, 2017'

Polaroid and other instant photography news

Peter Flower

I have reported extensively on the history of Polaroid with some major reports in Newsletters 81 and 82, plus more recent activity by the licencees of the Polaroid brand name. 2017 marks the 80th anniversary of the founding of the original Polaroid company by Edwin Land so it is not surprising that there have been a flurry of announcements of new products, not all associated with photography.

Earlier this month there was an announcement from PLR IP Holdings, LLC. This company had been responsible for production of the 'Impossible Project' instant film that could be used in Polaroid cameras. The announcement - 'The Impossible Project has renamed itself ‘Polaroid Originals’ as part of a major rebranding effort. The film itself is still the same, so for our purposes in this article the Impossible Project and Polaroid Originals are the same. To clarify, ‘Polaroid Originals’ are the films and cameras developed by the Impossible Project, while just ‘Polaroid’ refers to the original instant film line that was discontinued in 2008.'

Associated with this came the announcement of a new camera and film.

Polaroid Originals OneStep 2 camera

In 1977 the original Polaroid OneStep camera was introduced and rapidly became the best selling camera in the USA. Not surprisingly, the new camera emulates that camera's design and features. The formal announcement - 'The Polaroid OneStep 2 instant camera features a clean, contemporary design referencing the original Polaroid OneStep. With the same easy point-and-shoot usability as its predecessor, the OneStep 2 camera is an invitation to everyone to join the revival of analogue instant photography. The OneStep 2 camera features a fixed-focus lens, a powerful built-in flash, easy USB charging and a self-timer. The battery lasts up to 60 days, and the high-quality lens guarantees a sharp image from as close as 2 feet to infinity – perfect for selfies. The camera works with a new generation of Polaroid Originals i-Type and 600 instant film with colour, black & white and a range of special editions to choose from.

The camera is expected to be available in October at a price of £109.99

Polaroid Originals i-Type film

Coinciding with this was the announcement of a new film - 'i-Type film is a new generation of instant film, optimized for i-Type cameras like the OneStep 2. That means you get the best photos possible with your OneStep 2, as crisp, clear and colorful as every photo should be. And because i-Type cameras have their own rechargeable batteries, we don't have to put one in the film, meaning you save money on every single pack.'

Film prices for Color(!) or B&W are £14.99 for an 8-pack. The individual film frame size is 4.2” x 3.5” (107 mm x 88 mm) with a square image area 3.1” x 3.1” (79 mm x 79 mm).

Development time is 10-15 minutes.

Polaroid Flexible LED light panel

 

The company has recently launched a lightweight, flexible LED light panel that can be bent into various positions and shapes. The 12x12-inch (30.5 x 30.5cm) panel offers flicker-free 5600K colour temperature light at a thickness of just 16mm / 0.6in. Inside are embedded 256 total LEDs that output 4500 lumens of light, which Polaroid says makes it nearly as bright as direct sunlight. However, the panel does include a diffusion filter to produce a softer "dreamy glow." According to the product's Amazon page, Polaroid's new panel includes a remote control for toggling the light's channels and settings. It is dimmable and it's being described as durable, though Polaroid doesn't detail the exact materials it used to make the product. I cannot find a UK price for this item but it is available in the US for $125, or for 133.40 euros from another source. Other lighting products from Polaroid can be found on the Amazon site, such as the Polaroid 512 LED dimmable Ultra Bright Light Panel at £122.99 (with free delivery).

Kodak Printomatic

On 11 September 2017 this new instant print digital camera was announced. This is the first instant film camera in years to bear the famous Kodak name and branding. The Kodak Printomatic is a pocketable digital camera that combines a 10-megapixel sensor with the ability to instantly print 2 x 3-inch sticker photos on non-ink Zink paper. An exciting new product? This looks awfully like the Polaroid Snap, released in 2015, which also shoots 10 megapixel pictures and prints them on 2 x 3-inch Zink paper. Since Kodak doesn’t really make its own consumer cameras any more, the Printomatic is actually being produced by a company called C+A Global, which is just licensing the Kodak name and branding. C+A also licenses Polaroid, and was behind the two-year-old Snap. Both cameras were designed by Silicon Valley firm Ammunition Group, which confirms to that the Printomatic is basically the same camera as the Snap, though simplified and rebadged.

The similarity can be seen if you compare this image of the Polaroid Snap with the Kodak.

Lomo'Instant Square instant film camera

Lomography has just announced the Lomo’Instant Square, the world’s first fully analog instant camera that shoots Instax Square film (Fuji’s own SQ10 square format camera is a hybrid camera that mixes film and digital). The camera has a compact foldable design that uses bellows, paying tribute to some of the popular cameras that were used in the history of photography. The following images show the range of colours available and the folding design.

It features a 95mm glass lens (45mm equivalent in 35mm terms) that’s paired with a zone focusing system for easy focusing. There is also an advanced automatic mode that handles settings ranging from shutter speed (which does 8s to 1/250 in auto mode) and flash output. Other features include unlimited multiple exposures, two apertures (f/10 and f/22), exposure compensation (+1/-1), a bulb mode for long exposure photos, motorized film ejection, a built-in flash with a guide number of 9 (m), a tripod mount, a minimum focusing distance of 0.8m (~2.62ft), a 10s self timer, an infrared remote control, and a self timer. Lomography launched this camera through a Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign, which has already reached its goal. At the time of writing it is still possible to obtain a camera at a discount with a pledge, but it is expected that the full price will be $199 when it becomes available in March 2018.

Revolution in 2007

Peter Flower

Readers might ask – why are we featuring a device with a miserable 2 megapixel camera? The reason is that the introduction of the original Apple iPhone not only revolusionised the mobile phone market, but was also the catalyst for a very different photography market today.

When Steve Jobs walked onto the stage of the theatre at the huge MacWorld venue on 29 June 2007 he commenced a masterly introduction of what he described as three exciting new products. These were, a widescreen iPod with touch controls, a revolutionary mobile phone and a breakthrough internet connection device. But then the master-stroke. These would all be contained within one device! He then showed the following spoof shot of what the new device would look like, accompanied by laughter from the audience.

He then went on to explain the many advanced features of the iPhone. He reminded the audience of the shortcomings of what were typical mobile phones at that time. Their features consisted generally of a phone, plus email, simple internet connection capability and QWERTY keyboard. An image similar to the one below showed the most obvious problem. Not only did a physical keyboard take up so much of the space, limiting the screen size, but also meant that it limited the ability to control any added or changed applications.

The iPhone, in comparison, had a three and a half inch (diagonal) screen with stunning quality, the ability to tailor the display with application icons and invoke them at a touch, and a single 'Home' button to return to the home screen. The iPhone was also much slimmer than the others. The following image compares the Palm Treo, which was a popular phone at the time, to the new iPhone.

The ability to use a finger rather than a stylus (which could be lost, or difficult to store) was also a major advantage that Steve stressed, together with the two-finger image stretch feature. To this was added the orientation feature that allowed 'landscape' images to be shown (including videos) at a larger size. However, the features that would have a most significant for the future were those of internet connection and synchronisation with other devices. The already available iTunes service that, for example, enabled download of music to iPods was expanded to include all forms of software and data. This ability to synchronise across iMacs, laptops and iPods was a major advance in simplifying this process. Just plugging the iPod into an Apple charging device also performed automatic synchronisation. The inbuilt camera did not have amazing performance but the ability to create a secure album or to send pictures to friends in a simple manner was a breakthrough.

Just to remind ourselves, I selected three digital cameras that were announced in that same month. The Pentax K100D Super APS-C compact DSLR (28 June 2007) had 6 megapixels and a 2.5″ screen. It had USB 2 connection, but no orientation sensor, no GPS and no HDMI. The Kodak EasyShare Z712 IS compact camera (29 June 2007) had 7 megapixels, a 2.5″ screen and 36 – 423 mm zoom lens, USB 2 connection, but also no orientation sensor, no GPS and no HDMI. The HP Photosmart E337 compact camera (22 June 2007) had 5 megapixels, a 1.5″ screen and 36 mm lens, USB 1, no orientation sensor, no HDMI. None had a touchscreen. Uploading pictures from these cameras was a relatively laborious process, usually involving direct connection via cable to a computer or via some form of card reader.

Over the years the iPhone has evolved. To those original three products, phone, iPod, and internet communicator, have been added a high quality point and shoot camera, a camcorder, GPS device, scanner, portable gaming system, wallet replacement, e-book reader, TV, newspaper, flash light, and much more. The introduction of the original model truly marked a decisive moment in the advancement of digital photography and the way that so many images are captured at the present day.

Note: This article was written before the formal announcement of the latest iPhones. Having seen the specifications of these it seems unlikely that even the most avid Apple fans will welcome them with anything like the same enthusiasm.

Merger of Calumet Photographic and Wex Photographic

Techman

In March 2017 Aurelius, an investment company, announced the acquisition of leading photographic retailer Wex Photographic (“Wex”) from Barclays, for an undisclosed sum. In June 2016 Aurelius had already acquired Calumet, a a multi-channel photographic retailer. The following announcement appeared on the Calumet site - 'From Tuesday 26 September, Calumet Photographic Limited UK will be merging with Wex Photographic, offering an improved experience and wider range of products to photographers across the UK. Tomorrow, www.calphoto.co.uk website will be closed and moved to www.wexphotographic.com. All outstanding orders (including pre-orders and back-orders) will be shipped as soon as possible. All our stores are unaffected with this announcement and will continue with business as usual.'

The Aurelius web site announced - 'Servicing half a million customers across the UK, Wex is the country’s largest online specialist photographic retailer, with an annual turnover of EUR 84 million. The integration with Calumet will offer significant strategic benefits to both companies with scope to couple Wex’s award winning, online expertise with Calumet’s pan-European in-store experience. Once combined, these factors will create a strong multi-channel business that will serve both the UK and the wider European market, supported by the firms’ complementary management teams and organisational infrastructure.'

The merged companies will have combined revenues of over 175 million euros.

As an aside to this story, I would remind readers of the announcement in Newsletter 95 in which we reported on the fact that lighting giant Bowens, another company acquired by Aurelius, and a company with 94 years of history and millions of customers worldwide under its belt, had entered liquidation. The news had not been officially confirmed by Bowens or Aurelius, the investment firm that acquired the company one year ago, but several independent sources had corroborated the story.

I can now confirm that a formal notice of liquidators being appointed for the company was posted on 16 August 2017.

'Chimping'

Peter Flower

Chimping is a term used in digital photography to describe the habit of checking every photo on the LCD camera display immediately after capture. But where did the term come from? If you look at the following images you may think that you understand!

Images from internet source

Research suggests that the earliest use of the term originated from an article by Robert Deutsch, a USA Today staff photographer, in September 1999 when writing a story for the SportsShooter email newsletter. He did not invent the term but heard it passed down by word of mouth. Robert wrote about the experience of covering the US Open Tennis Tournament of 1999 - 'Most of the wire and newspaper shooters here use digital cameras, either the DCS520/D2000 or the Nikon 620. This leads to a whole lot of "Chimping" ...5 or 6 of us looking at our preview screens to examine each backhand. ("Chimping"...a series of photographers all looking at their screens like monkeys!). Or better yet, "cross-chimping": defined as comparing your shot to the others.) Someone will always announce "I'm done!" after the first backhand. This brings up a whole new category of reasons for missing pictures: looking at the previous shot and missing the next! But the ability to see when you have the required tight action shot means that you can stop looking for any more, and concentrate on getting something else, something different. We do like the preview screen...just bring lots of batteries!'

Of course, if you have a camera with an electronic viewfinder (referred to as mirrorless) you don't need to chimp. Within the limitations of shutter lag the image you took is the one that you got!

And finally . . . . . .

Peter Flower

A previous visit to Switzerland provided an image for this feature in Newsletter 75. Another recent holiday to the country by Jill and myself was also a source for more images. On the outskirts of Brig, in the Valais canton, we came across this sign for Naters. We had hoped that this might be the location for a Saturday Natter, but not being there on a Saturday we were unlucky. On second thoughts we were grateful when we realised that they used swear words! Also, they did not have the potential delights of a stroll around such a beautiful location as Denbies vineyard – just a rotten promenade along the riverside!

© Peter Flower

In Zurich we came across this intriguing graphic sign on the interior of the public transport trams. It warned of the penalties for activities such as busking, smoking, or putting your feet on the seats. However, the one which caught most attention, as shown in the enlargement, was one which forbade sawing up the seats!

© Peter Flower

P.S. It actually translates as - 'Damage to the facility is a criminal offence'

And finally, another warning seen on Swiss public transport. A VERY graphic illustration of the dangers to men of getting caught in closing sliding doors!

© Jill Flower