Nikon China recently invited members of the media to its headquarters in the region where the developers of the Z7 II answered many questions about the new camera and Nikon’s future. After reading responses, Nikon expert Thom Hogan questions what Nikon has done to differentiate itself.
But even Hogan seems unimpressed and a bit confused with what he is hearing out of Nikon engineers during media briefings. With regard to this set of answers in particular, Hogan seems concerned that Nikon poorly differentiates its products from competitors’ offerings.
“The thing that struck me most about the overall interview, both in context and specific answers, is that Nikon doesn’t have a strong sense yet of differentiation, at least at the marketing end,” he says.
In the interview, Nikon Z7 II engineers state that the primary benefits of the new camera are improvements to focus and image processing, better battery life, better buffer and continuous shooting performance, and improved video functions among other things. All these adjustments are modest improvements and while welcome, are not particularly impressive when compared to the competition.
“That’s not a great ‘marketing’ list, as all those things are mostly subtle changes to edge cases,” Hogan writes. “The heavy-hitting improvements aren’t really there — pixel count, global shutter, improved low light capability, better viewfinder (no blackout), and so on.”
There is some sentiment in the photography community that the Z7 II and Z6 II feel like they mostly have improvements to functionality that could have been implemented via firmware update. Based on how Nikon responded to the Chinese press, Hogan believes that the reason Nikon did not do that was to create a more defined line between the older models and new ones. Without that, there would not be much in the new cameras worth upgrading for.
Whatever the case may be, Hogan seems to be arguing that Nikon isn’t doing enough with its features to compete well with market leaders. Incremental, modest updates are always welcome, but Nikon is seemingly lacking direction with why its cameras are better than those from Sony or Canon.
Additionally, Hogan admits that Nikon seems sincere in its attempts to understand user requests for its cameras and regularly seems to be addressing specific concerns, but fears that Nikon may be approaching the problem the wrong way.
“If you poll users about things to add, change, or improve, they’ll give you a list, but that list probably isn’t as important as finding the pain point the user doesn’t realize they have, or can’t express well, and fixing that,” he says.
Ken Rockwell has announced that he has patented a software addition that would leverage the ability for full-frame cameras to shoot in crop modes and automatically apply that feature when a lens is zoomed for extra optical throw in situations like bird photography.
Rockwell says that he along with optical patent attorney and co-inventor Ben Langlotz have been granted a ptatent that he claims will be a “huge benefit” for bird shooters and “just about anyone who uses zooms.”
The patent covers the concept of a firmware update that would allow the camera to live smart crop as a photographer zooms a lens to its long end.
“It shoots full-frame at wider settings, and intelligently starts cropping-in as you zoom to the longest settings,” Rockwell explains. “Instead of shooting in APS-C all the time for birds, but not being able to get full-frame as you zoom out, with a firmware update your camera can be smart enough to shoot full-frame at most zoom settings, and only start cropping-in as you zoom your existing lenses to their very longest settings.”
Rockwell says in other words, a photographer’s camera can be set to add an increasing amount of crop (digital zoom) at only the longest end of each of a photographer’s zoom lenses.
“It allows a broader zoom range, and especially for birders or others who often crop,” Rockwell says. “Now cameras will be smart enough only to crop as you get to the longest zoom settings. You won’t have to stop and select image areas or crops; your camera will be able to read the zoom setting and automatically start cropping at the longest end of your zoom range.”
Rockwell explains using a 100-400mm lens as an example. He says that in this particular example, a camera would shoot normally (full-frame) from the 100-300mm range of that lens but as the photographer approaches the 400mm end, the camera would intelligently apply an APS-C crop until the full zoom length is reached, effectively turning the final zoom into 800mm.
“It works just as well with other zooms; your 16-35mm could shoot full-frame from 16-30mm, and from 30-35mm gradually start cropping-in to a 70mm equivalent! This works just as well with APS-C and other cameras,” Rockwell says.
The actual patent language specifies a camera and zoom lens with an electronic connection that would work with a controller to apply software where “the digital zoom function includes a transition from no digital zoom at an initial selected focal length to the maximum at the greatest focal length.” You can read the full details of the patent here.
The feature would of course be able to be toggled on and off, and the only hurdle that needs to be overcome to see this implemented would be simply for camera manufacturers to start adding it to their devices.
That is of course after it has been licensed from Rockwell and Langlotz. Rockwell is encouraging those interested in the feature to contact Canon, Nikon, Sony, and Fujifilm directly and ask for this feature, and has provided Langlotz’s contact information that can be sent to these companies as part of that request.
With as many sensors as Nikon buys from companies like Sony, TowerJazz, Toshiba, etc. it’s easy to forget that Nikon can and does actually design their own imaging sensors, too. That’s exactly what they’ve done, though, announcing a new, slightly odd square format 4224 x 4224 pixel CMOS HDR sensor that they offers “the industry’s […]
While the Nikon Z6 II and Z7 II have received some nice updates over their predecessors, they have received a little criticism. Their autofocus, while better, still seems to lag behind Sony and Canon in certain situations according to various reviews. The Z6 II, in particular, has also received quite a bit of flak regarding […]
Nikon is set to cease operations at two of its Japanese factories in March. Those two factories are used to produce interchangeable lenses for its digital cameras, and the remaining domestic operations will be consolidated into its one remaining factory in Otawara City.
According to a report from Nikkei, Nikon intends to consolidate its domestic production of lenses as part of its efforts to reduce costs amid a shrinking camera market. While operations will cease in March, in August, the two factories – the Nagai Plant in Nagai City in the Yamagata Prefecture and the Aizu Plant in Tadami Town in the Fukushima Prefecture – which are owned by the subsidiary TNI Kogyo will be closed.
“We will ask 108 employees working at the Nagai factory and 54 employees at the Aizu factory to move to the factory in Otawara City, and if it is difficult to move, we will support reemployment,” a Nikon spokesperson said to Nikkei. “The site of the Nagai factory will be sold, and the site of the Aizu factory will be returned to the local government.”
Nikon currently manufactures lenses both in Japan and in Thailand, with the Japanese factories mainly focused on high-end models. The goal, according to the company, is to improve production efficiency by consolidating the workforce into one factory. This also, clearly, would reduce overhead as the company seeks to meet its 59% cost reduction planned over the two years.
Nikkei says that due to the growth of the smartphone camera market, Nikon says the camera market has shrunk significantly and therefore its business with it. Nikon already announced that it would be discontinuing its camera manufacturing in Japan and moving it entirely to Thailand, but it appears that at least some lenses will still be made in Japan out of the one remaining factory.
Nikon was reached for comment but did not reply ahead of publication.
This is very likely a good thing for Nikon’s future. The company’s current leadership’s extremely ambitious goal of a 59% reduction in operating costs would significantly help the company turn around its financial prospects. While Nikon expects to run negative for a couple of years, it can recover through cost-saving actions like this. Additionally, Nikon’s promise to continue to employ the workers from the two closing factories shows a dedication to its staff that should be commended.
Yongnuo has announced the second-generation YN685 Speedlite for Canon and Nikon cameras that makes minor changes to the flash’s performance without straying too far from the original design.
The YN685 is was one of the first speedlights that integrated a 2.4 GHz trigger that allowed a series of flashes to work with a radio remote without needing a separate wireless connection part. The YN685 II remains compatible with Yongnuo’s wireless TTL trigger system, and will therefore work with existing YN622C-series radio remotes.
The flash also supports manual triggering and remote control with the YN560-TX and YN560IV, wireless group control with the RF-605 triggers, and basic synchronization with the RF-603 and RF-603 II radios.
As is the norm with flashes from Yongnuo, it features high-speed sync, a 20mm to 200mm zoom range, and a pull-out diffuser. The recycle time has been improved to two seconds at full power, which is up from the previous model’s three-second recycle time. It doesn’t appear that much else, if anything, has changed as far as features go. The same can be said about the exterior, which is largely the same except for the addition of a USB port which should make firmware updates easier to install.
Alberto Ghizzi Panizza, an Italian photographer, has captured a stunning photograph showing the moon surrounded by a celestial rainbow, as light reflecting off the silvery surface was split by water particles in the air.
Panizza, who is a teacher at Nikon School, shot the photo from the city of Parma. This phenomenon is known as a lunar corona and is created by light reflecting off the moon being refracted by either ice crystals or water particles in the air.
Lunar coronae are much more familiar than those around the sun. They are seen when the clouds are thin enough. Small droplets make the largest coronae as they scatter the moonlight.
This is the blending of a good portion of these shots to emphasize the colors of both the corona and the lunar minerals. – Alberto Ghizzi Panizza
“Tonight, the moon gave us another show. Between 10 p.m. and 12 a.m. I took a few hundred photos of the moon that created halos, iridescences, and crowns among clouds and veils,” writes Panizza on his Instagram.
The Ethics of Street Photography: This Man from My Walk Looks Like Gru From Despicable Me – Reddit
Street photography is considered a legitimate genre, and generally, there is no permission taken from the people in the photos.
This photo is different as the author has captioned it as “This Man Looks Like Gru from Despicable Me.” Does that change the equation? Is that insulting?
Most of the over 600 comments in just one day seem to be outraged.
“I’m glad so many of the top comments are calling out the photographer for taking pictures of strangers without their consent. It’s very unsettling and invasive and not at all amusing. This poor guy was just minding his own business, and now his image is floating around the internet forever against his will. Disgusting,” says one of them.
What do you think? Would this photo have been OK without the caption? Is it unethical to post this photo even without a caption? Should street photography not show people in a bad light (no pun intended)? Let us know in the comments below.
Warning: This link contains distressing details of images centered on child sexual abuse, as well as sexual violence against women.
Magnum Photos’ reckoning began in August last when Fstoppers revealed that a collection of images entitled “Bangkok Prostitutes” produced by Magnum photographer David Alan Harvey included sexually explicit photos of females tagged as “teenage girl – 13 to 18.”
Harvey, who has become the center of multiple scandals that have brought to light Magnum’s supposed shortcomings, has denied all allegations made against him. A letter by Harvey’s attorney republished on Twitter ends emphatically with “David Alan Harvey will not be canceled.” So, this saga is not likely to end soon.
Check out the full story and analysis at the link above.
Photographer Corky (Young Kwok) Lee made it his life’s mission to record Asian-Americans’ contributions and their everyday struggles for five decades. “He died of COVID-19,” reported The New York Times.
Lee documented social injustices and community events of all Asian Americans, and the community loved him for it. “I had to think that every time I take my camera out of my bag, it is like drawing a sword to combat indifference, injustice, and discrimination and trying to get rid of stereotypes,” he toldAsAmNews in 2020.
Joshua Kissi’s, photography embodies a classical feeling but is wholly modern. Kissi’s projects vary in subject matter—he has shot Michael B. Jordan for the cover of People magazine and Fuel the People activists for The New York Times’ T Magazine.
Kissi, who started shooting in 2008, has shot for Google on Creator Labs and Nike, and has an instantly recognizable style. He is a first-generation Ghanaian American and has often photographed personal projects there.
“I go to Ghana a lot, and I’m really connected to the culture. Making work there is another way to look at the global Black perspective, and not just from an American perspective,” Kissi tells W magazine.
Instagram is sort of the bane of our existence, considering the amount of time we spend scrolling through it; that said, I’m so thankful for it. I wouldn’t have this career without it… I don’t think the photography community has ever been as connected as it is right now because of it. – Joshua Kissi
The Beatles’ appeal, besides their music, was visual. It included their album covers, which were works of art in their own right.
Abbey Road has an iconic photo of nothing more than the Fab Four popping out of EMI studios’ front door and crossing Abbey Road on the last album that the Beatles recorded.
With the Beatles, their second LP cover was shot by Robert Freeman with available light in just a hotel passage while they were on tour. As George Harrison said, “That cover was the beginning of us being actively involved in The Beatles’ artwork.”
Check out all the details of all the album covers above.
Quiz: Which photographer was Paul McCartney referring to when he said in 2019, on the photographer’s death, “He was one of our favorite photographers during The Beatles years, who came up with some of our most iconic album covers”?
Answer: Robert Freeman.
Sarah Meister has been named executive director of Aperture, a not-for-profit foundation that supports and promotes the art of photography.
Meister, 49, has spent her entire career at The Museum of Modern Art as a photography curator. She joined MoMA in 1997 as a curatorial assistant fresh out of college. She was the last person to work with legendary photography curator John Szarkowski who dominated the field for three decades.
Aperture publishes photography books and a quarterly magazine along with organizing talks and exhibitions.
Amateur Photographer, a UK-based magazine, caught up with the previous winner of the Next Generation Award Single Photo Gold Prize, Sara De Antonio Feu, to find out more about her work and get some tips for entering photo competitions.
Dr. Feu is a physician and visual artist based in Madrid, Spain, who has been entering photo contests since she was 14 years old, and persistency is essential.
She starts by looking at the topics and then checking her archive to see which image fits the particular theme. The last competition’s theme was identity, and the above image worked perfectly.
She captured the winning shot while volunteering with an NGO called Future for Africa in Northern Ghana. She was visiting Ayimpoka, who was just recovering from malaria, and her family. It was while playing with her she decided to take a picture.
Note: The Instagram photo shows only the left side of the panorama. Click on the right arrow to see the other half.
Stephen Wilkes, a Nat Geo photographer, has combined 1,500 photos spanning dusk to dawn on the National Mall during inauguration day.
At 5:30 a.m., he took his position in a shaky scissor lift for an overhead view and only came down 15 hours later at nightfall. He has in the past also done 36-hour captures and called this collection “Day to Night.”
It usually takes about 4 months to go through all the images, but he worked with a faster turnaround for the Biden inauguration.
While in the car on the way to the studio in Connecticut, Wilkes selected parts from 50 frames he wanted to keep. These were moments that defined the story, like Trump’s helicopter ride, the bright sky, and President Joe Biden taking the oath of office.
Photographer/artist Lorna Simpson has captured Rihanna for the cover and 12-page portfolio for ESSENCE magazine’s Jan/Feb issue.
“The collaboration between Rihanna and the acclaimed artist is an extension of Simpson’s ongoing project reinterpreting images of Black women who have posed the pages of Ebony and Jet magazines,” says artnet.
“In 2018, she received the J. Paul Getty Medal and she has been honored by The Whitney Museum of American Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and the Studio Museum in Harlem,” writes ESSENCE. “Saying yes to this exclusive project allowed Simpson, 60, to continue exploring narratives around gender, race and identity.”
Photographers are familiar with the lens compression from large focal length telephotos. But recently, the general public is also becoming familiar with the term “lens compression.”
Wide-angle lenses make the crowd look thinner, and telephoto lenses make the crowd look thicker. It has become a heated debate whether certain media are exaggerating crowding by using telephoto lenses.
“If we search, if we listen, it can reveal worlds of brutality and kindness, of shame and glory,” writes the book’s author, Deborah Willis, a photo historian and New York University professor. “In this book, I want you to see and hear the world of the black soldiers and the wives and mothers of the civil war.”
The book features more than 70 images of black soldiers who fought in the civil war, alongside handwritten letters and old newspaper clippings. “Men of color to arms!” reads a recruitment poster from 1863.
Adam Schultz was appointed as chief official photographer at the White House on January 15 by President Joe Biden. Schultz was earlier the lead photographer for the Biden campaign.
Shealah Craighead was ex-President Trump’s chief photographer, and before that, Pete Souza was Barack Obama’s chief photographer. The majority of Craighead’s photos were not released for public consumption, unlike Souza, where we saw all the candid and official moments of the Obama presidency.
Watch 100 photos by Reuters shooters as they take you through Donald Trump’s four years in the Oval Office, which have been marked by “America First” nationalism, two impeachments, a pandemic, and contentious stand on race and immigration.
I like this photo because it brings me back to my own track & field dreams, because it represents the culmination of a legendary career, and because it reminds me for 9.8 seconds, I was a part of it. I’ve had a love of track & field since my own track days in HS and college, and being in that stadium working as a photographer was a big bucket list moment for me.
What makes this shot interesting is the comparison of expressions and visible exertion on the runner’s faces. The composition is different from a lot of photos from that day because of my location to the finish line and long focal length. You get to see the more relaxed composure of Bolt as he sees he has won juxtaposed to the look of pure determination of Andre De Grasse from Canada who shaved 0.1 sec off his personal best to take bronze and the strained side glance from Ben Youssef Meïté of Ivory Coast who set a new national record for his country.
I took this photograph of the Men’s 100-meter finals during the 2016 Rio Olympics in Brazil. It was an evening race, and the stadium was packed with energetic fans. There are always multiple events going on simultaneously, and I was positioned so I could photograph the men’s High Jump, but this also put me near the finish line for the Men’s 100-meter finals.
You don’t always get to choose your assignments, and the high Jump was my priority, but I set up my second camera with a long lens to get a few shots of the finish. This was going to be Usain Bolt’s last Olympic appearance, and the 100 meters was the race to watch with several record-holders in the finals.
I knew from watching the prelims that there was an opportunity right after he crossed the finish line where he would look up at the clock for his results, and that was the moment I wanted to aim for. From the gunshot to the finish line, it was over in 9.8 seconds. If you blinked, you would have missed it, and just like many races before, Bolt crossed the finish line with ease.
The crowd roared, and most of the other events stopped for a brief second to look at the big screens. At that moment, every eye was on Bolt, the stadium atmosphere was electric, and he looked up towards the sky and raised a single finger. After that moment, Bolt, ever the showman with a massive grin on his face, started playing it up for the crowd and cameras.
Michael DeStefano is a Boston, MA, based photographer and writer specializing in adventure, outdoor lifestyle, product, and travel. Combining his education in anthropology with photography, he blends the cultures of the locations he journeys to with outdoor lifestyle brands. DeStefano creates beautiful, often environmentally based images that capture both the subject and surroundings to tell a more in-depth story. When he’s not behind a camera or on assignment, you’ll find him off traveling on an adventure: camping, hiking, or riding his motorcycle around the country.
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We welcome comments as well as suggestions. As we cannot possibly cover each and every source, if you see something interesting in your reading or local newspaper anywhere in the world, kindly forward the link to us here. ALL messages will be personally acknowledged.
About the author: Phil Mistry is a photographer and teacher based in Atlanta, GA. He started one of the first digital camera classes in New York City at The International Center of Photography in the 90s. He was the director and teacher for Sony/Popular Photography magazine’s Digital Days Workshops. You can reach him via email here.
Image credits: All photographs as credited and used with permission from the photographers or agencies.
Relax. Take a deep breath. Stop believing everyone else’s (sometimes uninformed) opinion without question.
At this point I’m aware of quite a bit of future Nikon product being developed. I’m not going to go into very specific details. Assuming my (multiple) sources aren’t pulling my leg for what would seem to be illogical reasons, Nikon will have some moments in the sun soon, too. And the Z transition will continue.
Why did I write “non-surprising” in the first sentence? Because Sony Imaging did exactly what they said they would do: try to bring speed, pixels, and low-light into some form of conjunction in a product. I’d grade them an A, B, and C, respectively in that. Speed is without question here. The stacked sensor design and dual BIONZ is a lot of horsepower that we’ve not seen working together before, and the A1 is basically as good as it gets right now in terms of internal bandwidth (speed). Thus, the A grade there.
Pixels are a trickier thing. For 8K you need to be at a minimum of 33MP to do full sampling. For some esoteric reasons (getting to the 16:10 crop some want, for example), you may want to provide at least 42MP. Being able to oversample provides a few additional benefits. I’d judge 45-50MP to be where the gang will all congregate, and Sony’s right there. B grade for getting there early.
Sony disguises a few things in their low-light claims. What a lot of folks aren’t noticing is that Sony took a small step back, with ISO 32000 being the top value before the camera resorts to multiplication. The 15-stop DR claim is once again akin to an engineering DR claim (and unspecified as to SNR). One of their claims is that the Medium size images—which would be binned or otherwise downsampled—are “clean.” Sure. So is a Z7 II Medium image. I’m not grading this aspect above average; so C. (I might change my mind after reviewing the camera, but the low light claims in Sony’s marketing don’t seem to suggest clear improvement.)
To me, the big news with the A1 is the combination of pixels with no EVF blackout, the expanded flash sync, and the communication capabilities (particularly in conjunction with the Xperia Pro phone). Personally, I would have preferred to see a beefier body, a better LCD panel, and more crop choices. But no doubt the Sony A1 is a high-end body, and currently the mirrorless “leader” in that respect when all is taken in together. A bar has been set.
So the question those of you reading this have is whether Nikon will get over that bar or not (Canon shooters have the same question, though the R5 is closer to the bar than the Z7 II). In the interest of answering that question for you, I’ll try to answer some of the sub-questions that arise based upon what I hear out of Tokyo:
Will a higher-end Nikon Z arrive in 2021?
Yes. I’m not entirely sure as to the timing. My suspicion is that the idea has been to launch this camera in late spring after the yearly results, or perhaps early summer. The pandemic, the supply chain issues, the chore of moving all production to Thailand, the lure of being ready for the Olympics, as well as other things—including Sony’s launch of the A1—probably all come into play.
I think not. What I’m hearing is that Nikon has put significant resources into improving their sensors at the 20MP, 24MP, and 45MP points for the next few cameras they’ll announce. More pixels will come later, and it may be more than you expect.
Will it shoot faster than a Z7 II?
Will it have pixel-shift?
I don’t know. This is something Nikon needs to catch up with (as does Canon).
Will it have a different body?
Will it have more control, more performance?
Will it have a better EVF?
I don’t know. Better EVFs are available to Nikon, so I’d be surprised if they didn’t make an improvement.
Will it match Sony’s smartphone connection?
No. Sony has an advantage there in controlling both camera and phone.
SnapBridge and the other Nikon connectivity has been improved over time and will continue on that path with this new model, but I believe Nikon’s still missing something obvious, particularly for high-end cameras that might appeal to PJ’s, sports shooters, and other professionals. The missing element could be fixed with the right app and camera support, and amplified with a few key image review changes.
Will it cost more?
Absolutely. The camera I’m (not, wink wink) describing here will become the new high-end of the Nikon Z lineup.
No, not exactly. Nikon’s targets are a little different than Sony’s. But I’m comfortable in saying I think that the camera as it has been described to me would be entirely satisfying to the Nikon faithful. In one way, it might be seen as better.
That’s about all I can say without revealing details that might point to my sources for the information.
I’ve also heard details on three other Z bodies in prototype at this point. One of those will definitely be of interest to you. One probably wouldn’t be of much interest to this site’s current readers. Moreover, I’ve now heard details on six new Z-mount lenses that haven’t shown up on the Road Map yet. I think we’ll also see the missing screw-mount lens adapter, too. I know that Nikon has heard the screams on that.
So let’s dispense with the “Nikon isn’t trying” nonsense. As far as I can tell, they’re in hurry-up mode and juggling more new stuff than they usually do for any given time period in recent history. One decision they seem to be exploring would really surprise most of you readers and would pretty much blow up the notion that they’re on the outs and can’t invest in their future; you wouldn’t make that sort of decision if you thought you couldn’t compete.
So, I’m not bearish on Nikon. I’m somewhat bullish.
Great job Sony. The A1 has introduced competition that will drive cameras forward and make them the tools we all want. The A1 sets a bar that I hope Canon, Nikon, and Sony all try to clear and best in the coming years.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.
About the author: Thom Hogan is a writer and photographer who operates specialty Web sites for Nikon film SLRs (filmbodies.com), Canon and Nikon DSLRs (dslrbodies.com), mirrorless cameras (sansmirror.com), and Nikon Z System cameras (zsystemuser.com). Thom’s photographic specialties are wildlife, sports, and general nature. You can follow him on Twitter @bythom. This article was also published here.
If you’re a Nikon fanboy or fangirl, prepare for something extraordinary. Heck, you’ll love this video even if you’re like me and not a gearhead at all. Bellamy Hunt, a.k.a. Japan Camera Hunter, visited the Nikon Museum in Tokyo, and he brings you a piece of this Nikon shooters’ mecca. Bellamy takes you to a […]