Monday, January 30, 2006

White House Prefers Staged Photos to Real Photojournalism

Apparently the Bush Administration prefers to hand out staged photographs of the president, rather than let the White House News photographers do their jobs.

According to an article in Editor & Publisher here, the Bush White House has handed out 500 staged photos in President Bush's five years in the White House. In contrast, under President Bill Clinton's Administration, they only handed out 100 staged photos in eight years.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Yahoo! Can't Tell Film from Digital

The guys over at Yahoo! apparently can't tell a film camera from a digital camera – even when the correct description is in the lead of a story they are writing about.

As this screen capture shows, a Yahoo! Buzz Log story about the demise of film camera and the amount of searches for digital subjects on their search engine uses a Konica-Minolta SLR camera to illustrate the story. The problem is, while the caption under the photo says "Film Camera," the camera shown is a Konica-Minolta Maxxum 7D digital camera, not a film camera.

The photo is part of a story from Reuters about Konica-Minolta getting out of the analog camera business. The caption of the photo reads:

A Konica Minolta digital single-lens reflex (SLR) camera is displayed in Tokyo September 15, 2004.

Apparently the guys at Yahoo! can't read.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

This Kiss – It's Criminal

From the "Land of the Rising Sun," where all things weird and sometimes downright surreal originate, comes a new ad campaign from Canon for its EOS Kiss digital camera. In the US, the EOS Kiss is known as the EOS Rebel.

This bit of imaginative advertising (trademark infringement?) features a bunch of young kids (decidedly un-Japanese looking kids at that) made up to look like the rock group Kiss.

There are a couple of "music videos" here wherein the kids sing the praises of the Canon EOS Kiss to the tune of a bunch of Kiss songs.

Pretty strange.

Back to the Future

Apparently German camera manufacturer Rollei Fototechnic is going back to the future. According to the British Journal of Photography, the professional division of the venerable camera maker has gone on its own and using the company's old name Franke & Heidecke.

The magazine said Franke & Heidecke will take over the manufacture of all professional medium format cameras and projectors.

The new company is named after the original founders of Rollei – Paul Franke and Reinhold Heidecke, who launched the company in 1920. They announced the first Rolleiflex twin-lens reflex camera in 1929. The company was then named Franke & Heidecke, but changed it to Rollei-Werke in the 1960s, before taking the name Rollei Fototechnik in 1982.

The company said it splt off the division into a new company because the firm that recently bought Rollei wants to concentrate on digital consumer cameras and MP3 players.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Zeiss Officially announces Nikon Lenses

After weeks of teasing us with cryptic banners on its web site, Carl Zeiss today officially announced its new ZF lenses for the Nikon F mount. The company said the lenses are for both analog and digital cameras, though there aren't any Nikon analog cameras left, save two, the F6 and FM-10.

Zeiss plans to release a 50mm f/1.4 Planar T* ZF lens in the Spring, followed by an 85mm f/1.4 Planar T* ZF. Both lenses, the company said, will be "competitively priced" with Nikon's F lenses. Several more lenses are planned for introduction this year.

In addition, Carl Zeiss is making ZS lenses, to fit M-42 sized screw-mount cameras. The company said using an adapter, Canon owners can utilize the ZS lenses.

The company also said there is a new camera with a Contax mount that uses Zeiss lenses, even though Contax cameras are no longer manufactured.

Surprisingly, there are still SLR cameras with Contax/Yashica mounts coming to the market, even though Kyocera has discontinued the Contax business a year ago.

We have recently come across the Braun SR 2000. This camera is obviously no Contax. But it can take all the Zeiss lenses with Contax/Yashica mount. And it is surprisingly affordable.

Those with a bunch of Zeiss lenses for Contax/Yashica may want to check it out.

Zeiss did not say how much the Braun 2000 costs, however. I suspect the Zeiss lenses cost at least three-times as much as the camera.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Nikon Sounds Death Knell for 35mm Film Cameras

Wednesday, January 11, 2006 will go down in analog photography history as the day film photography officially died.

Nikon announced today that it will cease production of nearly all of its 35mm film camera and most of its manual focus lenses. The company plans to continue manufacturing its flagship autofocus F6 and manual focus FM10 cameras. It also will continue producing the following manual focus lenses: Nikkor 20mm f/2.8; Nikkor 24mm f/2.8; Nikkor 28mm f/2.8; Nikkor 35mm f/1.4; Nikkor 50mm f/1.2; Nikkor 50mm f/1.4; Micro-Nikkor 55mm f/2.8; Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 and the PC Micro-Nikkor 85mm f/2.8D.

Nikon also said it will discontinue manufacturing all of its large format and enlarging lenses.

The company announced the devastating news this way:

With film cameras accounting for an ever smaller percentage of Nikon's total sales volume, the company has decided to concentrate its vast resources toward those business categories that continue to demonstrate the strongest growth. Consequently, as Nikon focuses more on the digital camera business, the company must adopt appropriate measures to ensure its continued success. With that, the Nikon film camera lineup will be reshaped, allowing more of Nikon's planning, engineering and manufacturing resources to be focused on the digital products that now drive our thriving industry.

The company said it will continue selling its inventory of film cameras and lenses until its stocks are depleted. Nikon will continue to offer support and repairs on these cameras and lenses for 10 years from the item's last sale date.

Well, we can always keep checking those eBay auctions for some great deals on the F5s, F4s and FM3As. Or we can shell out big bucks for the upcoming Zeiss Nikon F-mount manual focus lenses.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Adobe Bitchslaps Apple

I don't usually diss Apple Computer. Hell, I'm writing this on an Aluminum PowerBook. I've been using a Mac for nearly 20 years, ever since I got my first Mac SE. But, this time I think Apple has dropped the ball -- and they deserve all the pain we can inflict on them because of it.

I'm talking about Adobe's new software for photographers called Lightroom, which is intended to directly take on Apple's Aperture. And, frankly, Lightroom could potentially kick Aperture's ass.

Lightroom is in Beta right now, the first iteration being released on Jan. 9. Adobe says it will continually update the software and release the official version sometime later this year.

Both programs have a similar look and feel. Both do essentially the same things -- and do it damn well, too. Both programs offer similar "key features," including: Advanced RAW workflow, Professional Project Management and Nondestructive Image Processing.

The problem with Aperture, however, is that it only runs on high-end Macs. And apparently my lowly 1 GHz PowerBook with 1.5 GB of memory isn't high-end enough. Aperture will not run on my computer. So Apple has effectively shut out a large segment of the photographers who would otherwise now be using their software.

Apparently Apple thinks photographers are made of money and that if they presently don't have the equipment to run Aperture, they'll run out and buy new machines so they can run it. Fat chance. Particularly at $499 for the program.

Anyway, since Lightroom does everything Aperture does and it can run on any Mac running OS X 10.4, Adobe will have a major hit on its hands if the software is priced right. If Adobe prices Lightroom below Aperture's $499, it's adios Aperture.

Adobe will win many of the photographers who don't want to buy a new computer just to run Aperture. They also will win the photographers who would balk at paying upwards of $600 for Photoshop. Adobe smartly included many of the image editing features found in Photoshop that are indispensable to photographers, but in an easier to use -- and frankly, a nicer looking -- program.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

A Change is Gonna Come

After using the same corporate logo for nearly 35 years, Kodak decided it was time for a change. So it redesigned its familiar red and gold box logo.

The familiar "Kodak Box" logo that we've all come to know and love was introduced in 1971. In 1987 the company updated the logo with what it called a "more contemporary font" in the Kodak name.

Again, Kodak is going for that "contemporary" look, noting:

The box is gone, simplifying the logo. The rounded type font and distinctive "a" give the Kodak name a more contemporary look.

I guess the company figured if it wants to be a leader in the digital revolution, it was time it's corporate identity reflected the new technology. The "yellow film box" logo, like much of the film Kodak used to produce, is dead.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

No Margin for Error

I have in my photography library a 50-year old book dedicated to the venerable Omega Enlargers. I've been using various models for years, ranging from the low-end C700 to the unstoppable DII 4x5 version.

The book, Omega Enlarger Guide, by Dr. Kenneth S. Tydings, copyright 1954 (that's nearly 52 years old for the mathematically challenged) is basically a 120 page press release for Omega enlargers. While there's some good information about the old enlargers and about darkroom practice in general, what's even more interesting is the previous owner's marginal scribblings.

I bought the book used (naturally) and in the margins of some of the pages the previous owner scribbled his/her thoughts in pencil.

For instance, on page 13 next to this passage: "It is axiomatic that only an excellent enlarger can bring out all the infinite middle tones inherent in a good negative," the previous owner commented "The hell it is!"

No doubt he/she does not buy Omega's boasts that its enlargers are the only ones that can bring out all the nuance in a negative.

On page 36, under an illustration of various negative carriers, next to one called the "35mm Kodachrome Negative Holder," the previous owner wrote: "There is no such thing as a Kodachrome negative."

And, of course, he/she is correct. Since Kodachrome is reversal film (better known as slide or transparency film) there are no "negatives." The result of developing reversal film is a "positive," not a negative. Hence the name reversal film.

It's snarky comments like the previous owner's marginal rantings that make the book infinitely more interesting than Dr. Tydings could ever have imagined.

Monday, January 02, 2006

It's Two, Two, Two Cameras in One

Ever wish you could carry your digital camera and a bunch of lenses in your shirt pocket and be ready for any shooting situation?

Well, thanks to Kodak, now you can. The company introduced the Kodak Easyshare V570 Dual Lens camera, a 5 megapixel digital camera sporting a 23mm wide angle lens and a 39-117mm zoom. The lenses are Schneider-Kreuznachs, made by the venerable German optics company Jos. Schneider Optische Werke GmbH.

Kodak says its new camera is the first of its kind to offer Retina Dual Lens technology. Each lens has its own image sensor (so there are two image sensors in the camera). The Easyshare V570 weighs less than 5 ounces, sports a 2.5 inch LCD screen and offers five color modes, including black & white and sepia.

The suggested retail price is $399.95.