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Eamon Hickey
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Late to this thread, but: I'd say that these days if you don't have a way of watching TV (Internet streaming is fine), you're not so much missing out on culture as you are on storytelling art. A lot of the best storytelling around is on TV now (vastly more than in studio movies), and many of the novelists I know, including some bestselling ones, are feverishly trying to figure out how to get into TV. The 4th season of The Wire is one of the top 5 most moving works of art I've ever experienced.
I'm in wholehearted agreement with your take on Mr. Jones's goofy anti-photography screed(s). But for different reasons, I share his dyspepsia at the news of this sale and the taste of the buyer. I saw my first slot canyon picture 25 years ago, and I've seen about 10 billion since then (as with cockroaches, you can't ever really get rid of them) and every one looks the same. It gets my vote as the most stultifying cliche in photography. I'd rather see your cell phone snapshots of yesterday's sunset and Mister Muffins the Cat any day.
Toggle Commented Dec 10, 2014 on He's Baaa-aaack at The Online Photographer
I developed a similar affection for the Olympus 17/1.8 when I used it for a month. I could see its very modest technical shortcomings in some pictures, but I really liked its look in ways I couldn't define exactly. I also really like the snap-focus clutch mechanism that Olympus builds into a few of their m4/3 primes. It's a nice example of creative modern engineering applied to old, but very real, photographers' needs. (I just spent 2 hours trying to figure out Wi-Fi and Apps on a hot new mirrorless camera, and it was soooo not an example of such engineering.)
Toggle Commented Jun 11, 2014 on A Little Lens Tale at The Online Photographer
"Fantastic Charm: Cheating Damage" Ah, if only.
Toggle Commented May 9, 2014 on My Next Show at The Online Photographer
@ Derek Fuji hit it out of the ballpark with the "A" on the aperture and shutter setting dials. When I first saw pictures of the X100 I thought to myself, why hasn't this been done before? Why has no one thought of this before? Kudos to Fuji for using a good idea, but they weren't the first to do it. The Leica Digilux 2 that I reviewed for CNET in 2005 used this system, and I'm sure it wasn't the first time I'd seen it, although I can no longer remember where I'd encountered it before. And remarkably, Mike, in that review I made a guess about the august thinker who first dreamed of it. Gauchely quoting myself: 'A simple spin of the aperture ring to its "A" position puts you in shutter-priority autoexposure mode; move the shutter speed dial to "A" and you're in aperture-priority; set both for "A" and you're in program mode. This method was first conceived by Aristotle, we'd guess, and it's still the best.' I'm chagrined to have given Aristotle credit for your idea. That's just sloppy reporting. In my defense, it's hard to keep all the great thinkers straight. Aristotle, Kant, Johnston. Which idea is whose?
@ Roger Overall re: plastic/rubber caps ... how many hours of fun did we have trying to figure out where and how we had lost them? Roger, you are indeed bringing back memories. "Terminal covers" was the official Nikon term for those thingamajigs. In my disreputable days as a Nikon Rep, I made a habit of buying them in bulk from Nikon Parts. Yes, I had to buy them retail -- for $1.95 ea. (But I put them on my expense account, usually disguised as an expensive lunch with a dealer, so Nikon ended up paying anyway.) I carried a supply of all different types when I traveled my territory visiting Nikon dealers. When photographers like you would catch me in their favorite camera store and tell me, "man, I keep losing those little things", I'd reach into my briefcase for whatever thingamajig they needed, give a slight bow, and say, "a small gift from Nikon". Made a lot of friends that way. The small moments of a salesman's life.
Toggle Commented Apr 9, 2014 on Fuji X-T1: Size at The Online Photographer
@ psu "Image quality", to me, is not necessarily a property of the camera. I think we have similar definitions of that phrase. It was a big step forward for my photography, not to mention my enjoyment of photography, when I realized that, for me, about 98% of the quality of an image comes from what you point the lens at. (I realize I'm playing a bit of a semantic game here -- I know people mean something specifically technical when they say "image quality".) Anyway, with my preferred definition in mind, for me the overwhelmingly most important quality in a camera is usability, so give me the 8 out of 10-er. I reviewed a Merrill camera once upon a time, and had pretty much the same experience as most people: loved some of the low ISO images I got, and didn't think the camera's controls were terrible, but lamented the passing of my youth as I waited for it to focus or write images. And then the battery died. I happen to be reviewing a Nikon D4S right now. It's different.
@ William: While the sample is certainly difficult to define, I would think Nikon's and Canon's Sr. Management would become physically ill when they realize what Olympus, Panasonic and Fujifilm have done to their market share. Well, not to be a noodge (oh well, too late to worry about that now), but of course Nikon and Canon's senior management know exactly what anyone has done to their market share and exactly what they've done to the market share of others. They spend a fortune on professional market research. They could tell us market share details over time, by segment, by region, by gender, by demographic, by retail channel, and by dozens of other criteria. They have 1000X more real information than you or me. What these fun results show is information about TOP's esteemed readers, not about the overall camera business. [Very true. Our poll is not only a tiny data point, it's a crude one. Which is why I keep labeling it an "informal" poll. --Mike]
Addendum: to be perfectly precise, I guess I should say shipments are down about 20%, which isn't exactly the same thing as the market, per se, but over the time period in question (CIPA has figures for 8 months of this year) is a very good proxy for it.
Just a quick note for those expressing dissatisfaction (perhaps completely justified) with Canon's product decisions: This is not specific to Canon -- the market for interchangeable-lens cameras of all types is down about 20% so far this year compared to last year. In unit terms, DSLR cameras are down about 18% and mirrorless CSCs are down about 19%. Nikon already lowered its ILC forecast for this year. Every other ILC maker is likely doing the same. There really is a downturn, and I don't think we can blame Canon's stupidity for it.
@ Dave in NM That's the old Nikon; the Nikon that inspired confidence; the Nikon that gained a satisfied customer for 37 years. For the record, I think Nikon does a consistently terrible job of handling public relations and customer service problems. But some food for thought: That old Nikon you remember fondly could afford such great customer service because it enjoyed really fat gross profit margins. Without going too deep into it, the combination of the decade-long Japanese recession and, more importantly, the huge rise in the value of the yen since 1975, has narrowed those margins considerably (for nearly all Japanese exporters). So, yes, the Nikon of 1975 often treated customers like kings -- but you were paying them a much bigger profit when you bought their products initially. Tradeoffs, as they say ... p.s. When I was a Nikon rep, my sales sample 35mm f/2.0 had the oil-on-diaphragm problem. A tad embarrassing. I got it fixed long after I quit Nikon (and long after it was out of official warranty -- it was covered by a so-called "silent warranty", a semi-shady practice but one that many companies employ. I'm guessing the D600 is, too. Speaking way out of school here. Shutting up now. Internet? What's that. Mike, is it too late to use a fake name?
At the risk of beating a thrice-dead horse (sorry, Mike -- if you'd rather not, please feel free to trash this post): Bruno, I have to say, your take on Olympus management's actions is one of the more heroically positive spins I've ever seen. I guess my take is more mundane: does it not seem consonant with human nature that they initiated (and their successors continued) a gigantic fraud (which, by the way, they made no attempt to unwind for more than a decade), not out of fiduciary concern for their shareholders, but in order to avoid being irreparably disgraced and then dismissed from the prestigious, well-paid jobs that they continued enjoying for many years after they lost all that money? And I also wonder what corporate fraud and misdeeds wouldn't qualify for your explanation? Who couldn't cop that plea?: "I did it because I was worried about the welfare of shareholders."
@ Andre Hmmm, the Petroski book sounds interesting but gets seriously mixed reviews on Amazon. Interesting. Reading your comment made me realize I didn't even think to look at the reviews before buying it. I didn't look because Mike had praised the author, and the recommendation of somebody who I know (a little) and whose judgment I respect is worth more to me than 10,000 anonymous Internet reviews. I just clicked straight through and paid without thinking twice. Not a criticism of anyone who is guided, to whatever extent, by those reviews; just an observation about my own weighting criteria.
Toggle Commented Jul 13, 2012 on Cheap Nikon Good at The Online Photographer
@ Earl I read somewhere, recounted by a photographer encountering an Olympus camera rep, that the camera division was in good financial shape and insulated from the troubles. Sorry to be a downer, Earl, and I don't want to pile on (I like Olympus a lot and hope it thrives), but if an Olympus rep said this, he/she was completely mistaken. Olympus's camera division is losing money (a lot last year and even more the year before) and has been "troubled", as they say, for the past decade. Among Wall Street types, it's been the accepted wisdom for years that Olympus should close the division down. Olympus has been subsidizing the camera division's poor performance with the enormous profits it makes in its medical equipment division (endoscopes, primarily), which accounts for more than 70% of the company's gross revenues. And the division is not "insulated" in any way from Olympus's troubles -- there has been at least some outside pressure on Olympus (from shareholders and the banks that hold its debt) to close the camera division for years, and the recent accounting scandal, which has put Olympus in a difficult financial position, is only intensifying that pressure. Against that depressing reality, Olympus clearly wants to continue making cameras. I really hope they do, but they will have to start making money at it. And pretty soon.
For those interested in how Kodak's original technology has been extended, there's a "behind the scenes" article on Nikon's Japanese web site that discusses the development of the 14-24mm f/2.8 and 24-70mm f/2.8 lenses, both of which use very large diameter, radically aspherical PGM lens elements. The article has more than its share of the cringe-worthy "with joyful hearts, my colleagues and I strove for the glory of the company" sorts of commentary (forgive them; they know not what they do), but it has some interesting tidbits on the interplay between the design and manufacturing engineers over what could and could not be manufactured. And it's got some interesting pictures of the elements themselves, which are quite visibly large and weirdly shaped. It's here:
Always fun and interesting to see how your tastes compare to others. I voted for four images -- one of them is extremely popular, but the other three are all in the less popular half of the group. I am unable to glean a lesson from this fact, despite preparing an exhaustive choice-preference matrix that also included ice cream flavors, novelists deceased at least fifty years, sports involving a spherical or ellipsoidal ball, lip balm brands, and members of the opposite gender, sub-category certain brunettes I once knew. But I do know that I love that hummingbird shot (and every image, even the ones I didn't vote for, is pleasing to my eye).
@ Atkins: Also, Sony has nothing to learn that Nikon and Canon know, except being consistent and following up. If it weren't for those giants, we would probably be much further in camera development today. I'm as bored with traditional SLRs as the next guy, but for whatever reason I occasionally feel compelled to object when Canon and Nikon get unfairly dumped on. Held camera development back? What has either done to keep other electronics and optics giants (and they are the true giants -- several are many times bigger than Nikon) from making innovative and different cameras that people want to buy instead of buying Nikon and Canon DSLRs? Then, too, both companies have far outpaced their competitors in many critical areas of camera and lens development -- two minutes of thought will turn up a long list. Really, the only thing they haven't done is experiment with the basic form factor of interchangeable lens cameras. They may soon have to, but up 'til now, the large majority of the market has neither demanded nor rewarded that.
I agree, a very enjoyable movie. I think I would have enjoyed it even more if I could have understood the other 80% of what Jeff Bridges said. (A Netflix repeat viewing is in my future.) The ancillary benefit to me was, following my inevitable trip to Wikipedia (basically every experience of my life now ends with three hours of research about it on Wikipedia), the introduction to Charles Portis. There is a small but not insubstantial litcrit crowd that considers him a major American literary talent, with a couple of "masterpieces", whatever they are, in his oeuvre. I had always thought of True Grit as nothing more than another piece of John Wayne schlock -- always nice to have one's stupid prejudices overturned.
Toggle Commented Jan 29, 2011 on Open Mike: 'True Grit' at The Online Photographer
@ Mike: "... you could have spent all that money on booze, cocaine, prostitutes and out-of-control gambling binges in Monaco or Vegas." Now you tell us.
@ Seth: The only pro I knew that used it regularly sent his to San Francisco, the only lab he tried that could process it correctly on a regular basis. That was The New Lab, I'm sure. I was working in a camera store 60 miles north of San Francisco in those days, and I remember when the owners of The New Lab were going around signing up retail agents like us. We were soon sending them the majority of our customers' Kodachrome. They were among a handful of labs around the world that invested in a then new process for developing Kodachrome, using a converted Cine processor and (I think) newly developed chemistry. It greatly simplified the processing of Kodachrome and made it possible for independent labs to develop the film. (Of course, The New Lab made this investment at exactly the wrong time, unfortunately.) Previous to that time (1990 or so), I believe that only Kodak itself could process the film, and they used a process with (working from fallible memory here) scores, maybe hundreds, of separate steps and machinery that took up about two city busses worth of space. I saw an original, old-style Kodachrome processing line at the now long gone and forgotten Kodak Palo Alto Lab (35 miles south of San Francisco) on a tour for camera store employees. The Kodachrome line was easily the largest, most complex film processing system I've ever seen. And that giant KPL lab--a factory by any reasonable definition--built in the era before mini-labs revolutionized film processing, was itself an amazing edifice, taking in film of every type from thousands of camera stores, drug stores, supermarkets, stationery stores etc. all over the western United States using a system of daily couriers and turning it around, delivered back to its place of origin, in two days. Tens of thousands of rolls of film developed every day.
Toggle Commented Dec 31, 2010 on A Moment of Silence at The Online Photographer
I seem to like slowed down covers for some reason: Luna doing Guns n' Rose's "Sweet Child O' Mine" -- very different from the original, quiet and lovely. Mates of State doing Fleetwood Mac's "Second Hand News" -- again, slower than the original, with the beautiful harmonizing this couple is known for.
I second Geoff's opinion of Ms. Kenneally's work documenting the drug culture in and around New York City -- among the best photojournalism I've ever seen. She is not unknown (she's won several important photojournalism awards over the years, and gotten the odd Guggenheim etc.), but I think she's underknown -- doesn't have the wider reputation she deserves given the quality of her work (or at least that used to be true back in 2005 or so when I first came across her; maybe it's changed since then).
@ Player: I jumped ship waiting for a professional successor to the SF-1n, which alas, never materialized, even though Pentax never closed the door to the possibility. It's seems like the same old song and dance today. Really and truly, Pentax is no different than 99% of other companies 99% of the time. Nobody talks much about future product plans for many reasons, but one big one is that they don't actually know for sure what they will be marketing in 3 years. @ Fred: With Pentax once being top of the hill in 35mm SLR sales (annual sales more than Canon, Nikon, Minolta, Olympus etc COMBINED) Boy, you'd have to go back a long, long time for this to have been true. Maybe in 1967 (when Pentax was indeed the world's largest SLR manufacturer by unit, but I'm dubious it was by that much of a margin). More likely you'd have to go back to 1957 or so, when Pentax was essentially the only Japanese company making SLRs. I love what Pentax is doing these days, and think they've got a clearer-eyed product and marketing plan than I've seen from them in 25 years, but I just don't think you can construct a convincing business case for making a FF DSLR in 2011 based on sales figures, and legacy M42-mount lenses, from the 1960s.
Toggle Commented Nov 24, 2010 on We Hear from Ned Bunnell at The Online Photographer
Bob wrote: Surely the juries going to 'stay out' until we see the viewfinder..... How they can introduce a 'serious' camera without a viewfinder is a worrying mystery to me, and does not bode well for what is coming next! Do Japanese camera makers EVER do any market research? You know, I understand the preference for an optical viewfinder, but I guess at this point, I'm motivated to object to the disdainful tone some folks take towards the idea of a camera without one. Express your personal preference, fine, but as with most things photographic, many knowledgeable photographers -- and camera engineers, for that matter -- won't automatically share it. Me, for example. I don't. My photographic resumé goes back further into the dim past than I even want to admit to myself, starting with an SRT-101 and including SLRs and rangefinders of many brands and formats up to 6x17cm. I cut my teeth on old ... er, classic ... technology. And I have no problem whatsoever with a serious camera that uses an LCD for viewing/framing. None. In fact, in some ways it offers important advantages. (And in other ways, drawbacks, of course. Life, in my experience, is like that.) In 15 years, people will look back on the moaning about this the same way we now look at the equally loud and mournful moaning about autofocus or automatic exposure control. Electronic viewing, whether by LCD or EVF (really the same thing), is a tidal wave--it's already swept over 95% or more of the imaging world and it ain't slowing down. It will, without question, be the overwhelmingly dominant viewing system even in serious imaging devices in the not too distant future. Arguably, it already is. And we'll all be just fine. And the same thing, by the way, can be said about still/video convergence. Also a tidal wave. Put on your life jacket.
Also, since I'm apparently determined to avoid actually working today: I agree that the M3 is achingly pretty, but "possibly the ... most significant, too"? Hmmm. I don't think it's even the most significant Leica; the original Leica I, as the progenitor of small-format photography, has to rank higher, no? I'd also rank one of the early practical SLRs, arguably a 1957-ish Pentax or the Nikon F, higher, as the progenitors of the SLR era. Or perhaps the Juspin Konica. The what? The Juspin Konica. The first autofocus compact 35mm camera (1977), ushering in the era both of autofocus and of the modern point-and-shoot. Japanese camera industry folks still mark the Juspin Konica as a world-shaking development (it's often referenced in history stories on Canon, Nikon, Olympus et. al. web sites.) But really, one of the early Kodak models (1888-ish) has to be the "most significant" title holder -- the first cameras ever made that were suitable for non-expert use, bringing photography to the masses, as the cliché goes. The M3 is awesome, but it was the culmination of a dying breed, one that promptly passed firmly -- and very quickly -- into niche status very shortly after the M3 appeared. Maybe this is a topic for another post, Mike! Or not :-)
Toggle Commented Sep 29, 2009 on Remember Willi Stein! at The Online Photographer