Glyphs of Time :: a blog by jarvis grant

January 22, 2012

Technical Innovation and the Basics: Part 1

Filed under: Digital Tech,Innovation,Observations,Photography — Tags: , — Jarvo @ 2:43 pm

I was recently reading about the new Fujifilm X-Pro1 camera. This camera looks to be the “professional” version of Fujifilm X100.  I was very excited about the X100 even though I wasn’t in the market for a new camera. What excited  me about the X100 was the fact that this camera looked great! Any camera with a shutter speed dial and the f/stops on the lens barrel has got my vote. At least for now. When I saw the first X100 reviews, the camera seemed wanting. Then I thought about the criticism. Beyond the usual bugs found in first generation technology, the reviewer spoke about the “handling” of the camera. The photos were “blurry”. Not out of focus, but blurry. In the days of film cameras, blurry pictures were not the fault of the camera. It was then I realized, “This guy is new to photography, and has only handled digital cameras.

A few years ago I heard a very interesting comment from a pro shooter. He said that, “All digital cameras are point & shoot.” The comment was referencing a statement made by another photographer about difference in “quality”  (and probably more so, price) between pro cameras and amateur ones. The down play of cheaper/amateur cameras was that , “They to everything for you, not like a real (pricey/pro) camera. With the statement that “all” digital cameras are point and shoot cameras, this means that if a photographer actually understands the concepts of the photograph’s relationship to exposure and the situation, they can “program” the pricey camera to simply perform to the needs of any given situation. This allows the photographer to concentrate on getting the most compelling image, without concerning themselves with mundane technicalities of f/stops and shutter speeds.

The point of this little rant is that, when the reviewer said the camera produced blurry or soft photos, he blamed the camera, not his  technique. Film cameras had no “Image stabilization”. That was your job as photographer. You had to practice handling your camera. What’s the slowest speed I can get away with and have a sharp image? How fast can my thumb advance the film? How quickly can I load the camera (with film!)? These were basic issues and skills, back in the day. You were carful, not carefree. You looked hard, immersed yourself in the scene or situation, and you took your time without wasting any. The innovations in digital photography addresses these issues by allowing you to perform these skills with greater ease. Hey it’s great to be able to carry the equivalent of a brick of film (20 rolls) in your pocket! Yet, when photographers do not address the basic elements of photography, then the cameras and Fotoshop are taking and making the pictures.


February 10, 2011

The Fujifilm FinePix X100: Back to the Future

The Fujifilms FinePix X100 Camera

Is the X100 the shape of things to come?

I think that the professional digital photography industry is starting to settle down. In the beginning just being able to capture an image was amazing stuff. Back in 1991, the first Kodak cameras the DCS 100, were mangled Nikon F3 bodies attached to a humongous contraption were all of its computer components lived.

Kodak DCS 420 body

The 1994 Kodak DCS 420 was a lot of camera for 1.2 megapixels!

Quite a monster, considering it was 1.2 megapixels! Since that time the DSLR has evolved into a tool of more manageable size, speed, and power. The typical pro DSLR body is a grand configuration of buttons and wheels, digital readouts of text, numbers, graphs, and images. While it looks kinda like a camera, I’m still reminded of seeing Dean Collins give a presentation at Photo Expo East in the mid 90’s. He had a “high-end” Foveon digital camera which looked like a laptop with a lens on it. Hey, in essence, that’s what a digital camera is , a computer attached to a lens.

This year Fujifilm has announced a camera that has shaken things up a bit. They have introduced a camera with mechanical parts. A camera with a shutter speed dial on the body, and an f/stop ring on the lens. It looks like a rangefinder, but it’s not. It looks expensive, but it’s not, relative speaking that is. It is the FinePix X100. It actually reminds me of my very first camera, the Petri Racer, but looks more like a Leica M3. Leica also as a mechanical looking camera that’s less than $2000, the Leica X1. The X1 doesn’t have its f/stops on the lens, but on a dial on the body. The X1 is a good looking camera, very sleek. It maintains its heritage and looks much like the camera Oskar Barnack created back in 1914 and introduced to the public in 1925 Still the X100 has got its “retro” down.

I received an email today from Fujifilm releasing the first “official” sample images created by the X100. As usual these aren’t great pieces of photographic art, but they do show off the technical aspects of this 12 megapixel camera. I won’t bore you with the technical specs, you can check out the preview of the camera at Digital Photo Review. The thing that excites me about this camera is that, well, it’s a camera. I love cameras and their gadgets. The X100 takes me back to that time were the magic of photography had embraced me. I time were all I needed to know was shown to me at a glance without having to turn the camera on. Yet the X100 will give you that warm fuzzy feeling plus all of the techno stuff one feels they must have with a modern camera.

This was a bold, brave move on the part of Fujifilm. They know there are photographers out there who know what they’re doing. And by that I mean photographers who love making images, or maybe I should say , love taking shots! Great shots with a minimal equipment complement. This camera doesn’t seem as “pocketable” like my Panasonic LX3, but it has a bigger APS-C CMOS sensor. I don’t any other compact camera has a sensor as big except for the Leica X, that is not a 4/3 camera, which is smaller than the APS sensor. So it’s closer to my Nikon D200 DSLR with out the bulk. A good “take everywhere” camera. I hope that this will be a new trend for camera manufactures, making small “serious” cameras.