Earlier this year, PetaPixel highlighted some of the stellar images from the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition. As a follow-up, the organization has announced this year’s People’s Choice Awards, where fans of wildlife photography are asked to submit their pick for the top image.
Ahead of the Natural History Museum in London reopening on December 3, the organization selected the 25 images below from over 49,000 submissions from around the world. The organization is now asking the public to vote here for their favorite image by February 2, 2021. The winner will be showcased alongside the other winners of the competition in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition in the Natural History Museum until July 4, 2021.
The top five People’s Choice Award images will also be displayed online, joining the winners of the fifty-sixth Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition announced in October.
The selection of images includes two endangered Iberian lynx kittens making an abandoned hayloft their playground, a family of beavers in their favorite feeding spot, a distinctive portrait of a Japanese warbonnet, and a group of burrowing owls living in a suburban neighborhood in Florida’s Ten Thousand Barrier Islands.
Wildlife Photographer of the Year is developed and produced by the Natural History Museum and offers a global platform for amateur and professional photographers alike. The fifty-seventh competition is currently open for entries and will close on Thursday, December 10 at 11.30 am GMT, which you can register for here. Cast your vote for your favorite image in the People’s Choice competition here.
Image credits: Photos provided by the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, which is developed and produced by the Natural History Museum, London.
Very rarely does a photographer only have one type of battery these days. From your camera’s battery, to rechargeable AAs, to drone batteries, it can be cumbersome to try and carry a charger for each when traveling. Bronine wants to change that with the Volkit.
The Volkit is a free voltage charging device with modular charging bricks that work with an assortment of brands and batteries. Bronine calls the Volkit an “AI charger” because it is able to analyze the battery that is attached to it and automatically adjust the correct voltage to charge it between 1 and 20 volts. Depending on the model, the Volkit can charge four of any combination of supported batteries at the same time while managing the voltage output to each individually. Bronine says that it has been working on the technology that allows the device to accurately determine the correct voltage automatically since 2017 and it is only now at the point where it is ready for consumers.
Calling it AI might be a bit of a stretch, but the technology does sound complicated.
The company supports a huge list of camera batteries from Canon, Nikon, Sony, Panasonic, and Fujifilm, to DJI drone batteries, GoPro batteries as far back as the Hero 5, and cylindrical lithium-ion batteries in various sizes (like rechargeable AAs). You can see the full list of supported camera batteries here.
The Volkit does require power, but Bronine says it can work using either a power bank, a wall outlet, or the cigarette lighter plug found in vehicles.
Bronine recognized that not all chargers are going to fit neatly against one another beside the central brick at the same time, and created extension cables that will allow you to connect different battery chargers without running into physical space issues.
The Volkit connects to what Bronine calls “Camera Kits” using a four-pin connection and is held in place with a battery. Once a battery is connected, it takes the Volkit a few seconds to analyze the correct voltage and begin charging. The top of the main unit has a screen that displays the current voltage output, the mAh of the connected device, and indicates the level of charge.
There are several different configurations that Bronine is offering, ranging from a two-port Volkit to a four-port and starting as low as $70.
The Bronine Volkit is currently slated to begin shipping from South Korea by March of 2021 and is fully backed on Kickstarter. Bear in mind that this is Bronine’s first project, and just like with any Kickstarter campaign, please remember that crowdfunding is not pre-ordering. Do your research and back accordingly.
When the mirrorless race began in earnest at the end of 2018, nobody knew who would come out on top. Three years and more than 10 full-frame mirrorless camera bodies later, the answer is obvious: Canon is winning big, and they’ve done it by going “all in” on the RF Mount.
To understand how and why Canon has done so well, let’s turn back the clock to mid-2018 and unravel the options that lay before Canon and Nikon on the eve of the full-frame “mirrorless revolution.” Sony was entrenched in the segment after 5 years of fast-paced innovation, and both would-be competitors for the full-frame crown chose to challenge them in a different way.
Nikon: All Function, no Flash
Despite all the crap they’ve taken over the past couple of years, Nikon clearly came to play. Single card slot aside, in August of 2018 the company released two great first-generation cameras, at two different resolutions and price points, with two very different and well-defined functions. The Z7 was to be the high-res stills camera for D850 owners who wanted to go mirrorless, while the Z6 attempted to make inroads to the video community.
It was an abundantly pragmatic plan. So pragmatic, in fact, that it failed to truly entice either audience that was critical to the Z Series’ success outside of Nikon’s established userbase.
The professional shooters and technical camera review community found the Z7 lacking when compared to the workhorse Nikon D850. The autofocus wasn’t up to par, vintage screw-drive lenses were not supported by the FTZ adapter, and the single card slot was a genuine deal breaker for event shooters who are accustomed to using that second card as a fail-safe.
The young, Sony-, Canon-, and Panasonic GH5-toting influencers and aspiring YouTubers saw nothing there that was sufficiently exciting to pull them away from the brands they had already bought into. This was always going to be a tough audience for Nikon. Almost no established YouTuber shoots with the brand, and the company has never really tried to win over that audience until now. So despite excellent video specs on the Z6, there was no “wow factor” like 6K video, a built-in ND filter, or a piece of coveted glass that could set them apart.
In other words: Nikon played it safe. They released a perfectly adequate pair of cameras and a set of very practical lenses that were highly functional, but lacked sufficient “flash” to draw anybody away from the brands they were already using. As first generation products, the Z6 and Z7 successfully prevented many Nikon stalwarts from jumping ship as they awaited the improvements coming to the Mark II and (eventually) Mark III variants, but nothing more.
In the years 2018, 2019, and 2020, camera makers are competing on the battlefield of eyeballs and emotional appeal, not logic. This is a lesson Nikon has yet to learn. While they continue to waste resources developing full-steam-ahead for two mounts at the same time, they’re losing more and more ground by the day.
Canon: Going All In
From the very beginning, Canon understood that if you’re going to steal market share from a company as established and popular as Sony—or at least stop the bleeding—you need to give people something exciting… something to brag about.
This is tricky, because looking strictly at camera technology, Canon wasn’t ready to compete yet in 2018. The first EOS R, though perfectly fine for the average consumer, was the weakest full-frame mirrorless debut of the bunch. Too expensive for its feature set at launch, useless function bar gimmick, 1.7x crop in 4K, slow continuous shooting, single SD card slot; in retrospect, the EOS R was primarily released to buy Canon some time as they finalized the technology that would go into the EOS R5 and EOS R6.
But Canon didn’t catch any flack on YouTube. They didn’t get crapped on by every influencer looking to tell you “the TRUTH about the CANON EOS R and why Canon is FAILING.” How did they release an objectively worse camera than Nikon—by a wide margin—but somehow avoid getting raked over the coals for it?
Three reasons: understated marketing, a very large user base that’s pot committed to Canon and Canon products, and—the biggest driver of their success—they immediately began releasing flashy, exciting, wow-factor glass to get people excited about the future of the RF Mount.
Unlike Nikon, who is still announcing plans for more DSLRs and F-mount glass in 2021, Canon went all-in on the RF Mount, shifting all of their resources over to RF lens development and releasing the kind of glass you usually only make once you’re confident the mount is here to stay. While Nikon was saving most of its f/2.8 zooms and all of its fast primes for 2020 and 2021, Canon came out with the kind of lenses you can brag about to your friends (and enemies) who shoot Sony: they immediately released a 28-70mmm f/2 and a 50mm f/1.2, then followed those lenses with *two* variants of the 85mm f/1.2, and a 70-200mm f/2.8 that’s different than anything we’ve ever seen before.
Complaints that there wasn’t enough affordable glass were muted, because everyone was too busy gushing over the foundation that Canon had just laid for its RF Mount for many years to come. And in case you haven’t heard, they’re planning to release 14 more lenses in 2021.
Two Strategies, One Winner
To be sure, Canon had other advantages going into 2019 and 2020. For several years, the company disappointed its user base with mediocre DSLRs that fell short of expectations, relying on the solid performance of Dual Pixel AF for video to staunch the bleeding, even when Sony was releasing objectively better cameras. You could say Canon woke up just in time…
But the story of Nikon and Canon’s full-frame mirrorless debuts is the story of two entirely different strategies, only one of which had the desired effect.
Canon’s success in full-frame mirrorless—both objectively in terms of sales, and subjectively in terms of excitement for its mirrorless products–is the result of an “all in” strategy that paid off big. They realized that nothing short of a full-frontal assault on Sony’s territory would do and put all of their R&D dollars into making the RF Mount the future of Canon cameras—first with exciting glass, and later with crazy specs like 8K video. DSLR and the EF mount development would suffer, and Canon wasn’t afraid to say so on the record.
Nikon’s so-so performance—not an abject failure by any means, but certainly not the success they were hoping for—is the result of a tentative strategy that’s forcing them to split their limited R&D budget between pacifying DSLR/F-mount shooters and enticing would-be mirrorless converts. As if to underscore my point, just as I was finishing this column on Tuesday morning, 11/24, Nikon Rumors published a report on the company’s plans for 2021: two new DSLRs and “several new F mount lenses.”
Canon is winning because they chose to go all in. Nikon will continue to struggle until and unless they do the same.
About the author: DL Cade is an art, science and technology writer, and the former Editor in Chief of PetaPixel. When he’s not writing op-eds like this one or reviewing the latest tech for creatives, you’ll find him working in Vision Sciences at the University of Washington, publishing the weekly Triple Point newsletter, or sharing personal essays on Medium.
Nikon has seen huge financial losses this year, and it isn’t just the camera business that’s in trouble. Nikon’s other core business, semiconductor manufacturing equipment, supplies 70-90% of their chipmaking machines to Intel – but the US company’s investment in the machinery has run its course. To make matters worse, Nikon’s management baulked at investing large sums in next generation extreme ultraviolet lithography technology – a significant growth area. According to Nikkei, Nikon now plans to cut 2000 jobs – around 10% of its workforce. Once the market leader in chipmaking machines, Nikon has fallen to just 7% of the …
This past year has not been kind to any camera manufacturer, but Nikon is reportedly in “dire straits” as it had yet to financially recover from previous business decisions even before it was hit with the worst slump in camera sales in years thanks to the proliferation of COVID-19.
According to Japanese publication Tokyo Keizai and summarized by Digicame-Info, “the prestigious Nikon is in dire straights” thanks to the deterioration of the main camera business. In the video business, which includes cameras, sales for the coming financial quarter are expected to decrease by around 40% from the previous term to 140 billion yen (~$1,338,809,640), leaving the company with an operating deficit of 45 billion yen (~$430,331,670).
The most common scapegoat for poor camera sales, the growth of the smartphone market, is not entirely to blame here. Tokyo Keizai says that Nikon’s fear of conflicting with its DSLR camera sales made the company reluctant to produce a mirrorless camera. By the time it entered the market, Sony had long since entrenched itself. In 2019, Sony produced 1.65 million units, while Nikon had only produced 280,000. Canon similarly waited to enter the market but has fared much better with strong sales of the EOS R5 capping a couple of years of what is proving to be a better mirrorless strategy.
It should be noted that a major difference between Canon and Nikon is that Canon is far more diversified. It was able to wait out entering the mirrorless market because of this model, which hurt Nikon more because of its far more focused business.
Even outside of consumer camera manufacturing, Nikon’s limited diversification has been performing poorly. Nikon’s healthcare business has been in a deficit since 2017 and its precision machinery business – where it has traditionally had the largest sales figures – is down 98% from the previous year.
Coming into 2020, it is very likely that Nikon had yet to fully recover from its third consecutive new product failure in consumer products. The Nikon 1 series of cameras failed to find popularity, the Keymission line of action cameras similarly collapsed, and the Nikon DL line of compact mirrorless cameras was canceled before a single unit was ever sold. Its struggles were magnified as camera sales plummetted in early 2020, leaving the company particularly vulnerable. Needless to say, the company’s struggles over the past four years and its inability to turn itself around before 2020 proved particularly untimely.
Conversations between PetaPixel and industry professionals over the years have indicated that of those three lines, the KeyMission failure was particularly disastrous for the company.
This more detailed financial analysis comes after Nikon’s announcement in May that it would lay off 700 employees in Southeast Asia and news from earlier this month that the company was cutting 20% of its international workforce. Nikon’s latest moves appear to be an attempt to reorganize itself back to profitability, but the many decisions the company has made leading up to this point appear to be making recovery sluggish.
Tokyo Kezai reports that “the medium-term management plan up to 2021 aims to create new pillars of earnings by actively investing in growth areas such as new businesses.” Still, the publication expressed concern with this strategy and wonders if Nikon can achieve sustainable growth when existing businesses are stalled.
Nikon has just updated its Z-mount lens roadmap and added three new lenses. Silhouettes of three new primes have been added, and they are 400mm, 600mm, and the “Micro 50mm.” When you look at the roadmap, you’ll notice that there are more than three silhouettes. But some of them were already teased in the previous […]
Nikon recently published an updated lens roadmap that shows a total of eleven silhouetted, to-be-released lenses, but this latest version includes three that the company had not previously mentioned: a 50mm, and two giant super-telephoto primes.
Nikon has been rapidly filling out its lens lineup for the Nikon Z system, but a sports and wildlife-focused super-telephoto prime had thus far been absent. The Nikon 200-600mm was part of an updated roadmap that the company published last year, but it is not part of Nikon’s high-end S-line. The two new, towering silhouettes in Nikon’s latest promotional image on the other hand, will be: a 400mm and a 600mm.
Nikon released a chart that shows all its current and upcoming lenses across the range of focal lengths they will cover:
When all are released, Nikon will have solid coverage from 14mm through 600mm, with most of its efforts between 24mm and 100mm.
No further information on the expected aperture or a more concrete release date was provided with this latest roadmap, but Nikon does state that all lenses pictured will be available by the end of 2022. With the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics set for next year, Nikon fans can remain hopeful that these two telephoto primes will make their debut before the global sporting event.
Every camera comes with one, but very few have ever tried to make them more usable in more situations: the camera battery. The X-tra battery promises better performance with more options in a necessary camera accessory that is often overlooked.
X-tra admits that the battery isn’t exciting, but knows no photographer can deny how important they are. The company promises its product will solve multiple photography headaches and offer solutions most did not even know they wanted.
Most importantly, the company says that its battery holds twice the charge of Canon’s LP-E6 at 3,700 mAh but mostly retains the form factor of a single battery unit. Conventionally, to get this much power you would need a battery grip that housed two batteries.
Part of X-tra’s selling point is that you mostly avoid having a larger, bulky addition to your camera, and instead its product just extends slightly beyond the base of your camera. This obviously requires the battery door to be removed, but it allowed X-tra to create a fast quick-release system similar to the ones found on Hasselblad and Leica cameras: To release the battery, you press up on it.
This design does have one major drawback: that slight extension below the base may prevent your camera from properly working with certain tripods, especially for video work. Before backing this project, make sure that your intended use case isn’t upended by this design decision.
Another major problem X-tra wanted to address was the inability to see the level of charge on conventional camera batteries when they are not inserted into a camera. In a bag, unless you adhere to a strict organizational regimen, it can be easy to lose track of which battery has a charge and which do not. The X-Tra has a charge indicator to avoid this problem, which shows an approximate level of charge by lighting up four LEDs.
If your camera does not support charge via USB, X-tra solves that problem too by allowing an external source to plug into the battery while it is inserted into your camera, giving you additional hours of use. That same port can also provide power to camera accessories that may require it.
X-tra supports multiple Canon, Sony, and Nikon cameras:
The company also says they will support the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K.
X-tra has launched its product via Kickstarter, where a single battery and charger costs $99. When the product fully launches, the company intends that single battery to cost $145.
You can read greater detail about the multiple backing options on the company’s Kickstarter. As always, remember that Kickstarter is not a pre-order platform, and we recommend doing your research before backing a project.
Ever since the pandemic began, Nikon has seen delays, job cuts, and revenue loss. The pandemic continues and so do Nikon’s struggles, and the company recently published that it’s ceasing all operations in Malaysia. On 4 November, Nikon issued an announcement that it will no longer manage the business in Malaysia directly. Instead, the company will […]