Photo News You Can Use
Photo news you can use regarding the photo trade getting back on track. OM Digital Solutions, DxO PhotoLab, Luminar, Sony A7 Mark lV, and Lumix GH6 all are making headlines. There are lots of reasons why photography vendors have been laying low. Most notably? The damn pandemic. Pretty simple, those of us in North America would all be out of this by now if some people thought about the collective rather than the individual. Those who want a great read on this topic take a look at the book titled TRIBE by Sebastian Junger. But as is often the case, I digress.
Getting back to photography; the chip shortage is another underlying factor along with the slowdown in real camera sales. With all the headwinds trying to knock the photo trade off their feet, there does seem to be light at the end of the tunnel or at least a hole in the parting clouds.
A few examples…
Big Olympus News
Olympus has been tweaking our curiosity for many months with their announcement of a “WOW” camera they plan to release. Rumor has it we’ll know more on October 27, 2021. What does “WOW” mean? I have no idea, but there’s speculation it might have something to do with astrophotography. I hope that’s not it. That would be interesting to an awfully small group of photographers. Other ideas include a new sensor with a global shutter. A global shutter would be nice to have but not a need to have. Another rumor is a new sensor. Now that’s been something I’ve been screaming for, for a very long time. Sony semi-conductor has announced a new 21MP stacked CMOS Four Thirds sensor. It will be capable of shooting 4K video up to 120 FPS. Its additional benefits are better low light performance and faster AF capabilities. Both improvements MFT needs badly. If the new senor is real, the only downside is its 21 megapixels. I would love to see a few more megapixels, but if need be I can live with what’s rumored. Combine that with the new Olympus 150-400mm and I can see Olympus keeping me firmly entrenched for 80% of my wildlife work.
Panasonic Lumix GH6 Rumored
Another update in the world of Micro Four Thirds is the semi-announced Lumix GH6. Lumix had a major hit on their hands with the Lumix GH5 and I’m guessing the GH6 will keep the excitement of Lumix MFT cameras alive. There’s been speculation that MFT was on the way out. Some YouTube heroes have done their absolute best to try and make sure that happens. Thankfully the market is more powerful than one individual. Why anybody would want fewer options is beyond me. More GH6 specs are on the horizon, but the current rumors are very much predicting the GH6 will be a video-centric camera. I’m pretty well convinced this will be the case too, but I’m not convinced that means still photographers won’t also love what it brings to the game. The new Sony A7 Mark lV proves you can do stills and video equally well in a truly hybrid camera. I’m guessing Lumix has figured this out too.
Sony A7 Mark lV Announced
As I began writing this blog post I came across the announcement of the new Sony A7 Mark lV. It looks exciting! With a sensor of 33 megapixels, it certainly piques my interest—33 megapixels is a reasonable size. So many thought the new A1 with the 50-megapixel sensor was the Cat’s Ass, as my buddy Jim Mahoney used to say. But for me, 50 megapixels is just too many. I don’t need a file that large for most natural history photography. Many people love the idea of 50 megapixels since they can crop the crap out of a poorly planned image. That’s just not my style. I do everything possible to capture my vision in-camera, in the field. No doubt there are times I’m happy to do some cropping but if I can avoid it, I’m thrilled to do so. 33 megapixels is a superb happy medium. Combine that with the potential AF I’ve experienced with other Sony camera’s and you have an exciting new option in the Sony lineup. There are lots of new features you can see for yourself in the official Sony announcement video below.
DXO PhotoLab 5
I’ve been a big fan of DxO PhotoLab from almost the day they came on the scene. They pushed others, including Adobe to compete with their state-of-the-art lens and camera modules. I still feel DxO has a better handle on this, however. That along with DxO’s amazing noise reduction tools has kept me from moving to other options for RAW processing. DxO could do us all a favor and update their UI to something much more user-friendly and visually interesting. But I can live with what they have since it works so well. My other complaint is the confusion DxO has created with its insistence on continuing to develop the old Nik software. Even though DxO has incorporated some of the Nik tools such as the class-leading, unequaled U-Point Technology, they continue to try and convince us we need to buy both DxO and Nik. I don’t get it. They’ve created nothing but confusion which opens the door for Luminar. Another piece of software that’s worth a look.
One final note on the DxO PhotoLab 5 update. If you already have DxO PhotoLab and you want to do is upgrade, make sure you sign in to your DxO account first. If you don’t, there is no indication of any cheaper price for an UPGRADE as opposed to a totally new license. The upgrade is $79.99 for the Elite version. An entire new license is $165.00. As usual with DxO, they specialize in making things confusing.
I have to say I purchased Luminar and there have been numerous times it’s dramatically simplified tweaking an image. Their Edit>Tools>Enhance is absolutely amazing! The video below shows an image of an elk I recently captured. His head was turned away from the sun, while his body was not. You can watch this video to see how easily Luminar AI balanced the dark shadows on the head without blowing out the brighter highlights on the body. I can accomplish the same results with DxO PhotoLab but not with a single slider action.
So those are a few things happening that have piqued my interest lately. I’m grateful the photo industry is beginning to come alive once more. I love my iPhone and use it extensively for people pictures. But at this time, nothing can replace a real camera. Especially for wildlife and nature. I wouldn’t bet against cell phones eventually being everything we need for natural history photography, but until then I plan to support the photographic industry as much as possible.