Strange Things Said XXIII

“I never expose the camera to any rain, even if it is only a drop or two. There isn’t a picture worth the risk of bricking the camera.” —forum post

Sometimes I have to question why someone even owns a camera. Related to the above are: don’t carry a camera in big cities and keep the camera in the backpack until it’s needed. The basic tenet is “never risk your camera to anything.” 

I’m pretty sure that these same people never drive their car to the grocery store, only take their phone out of a protective cocoon case when they’re using it (and never in public places), never wear new clothes outside the house or for longer than a hour, and so on. 

This all gets back to the “investment” mentality (that cameras and lenses are investments). They are not. They are tools. Tools to do something very specific: be ready to capture a moment in time that will not likely repeat. According to the poster, such moments never happen in a drizzle, let alone a thunderstorm. 

Tools are meant to be used. When you use them, they show wear; sometimes they fail and need to be replaced. 

But the underlying problem with the quoted lines is this: photos have no value. Or at least very little value (as the value can never exceed the cost of a camera). Tell that to a professional photographer. We rely on our photos having enough value to pay our mortgage and fund our retirement accounts. Even an enthusiast has to believe that a photo has some value, otherwise all they’re doing is collecting equipment that devalues over time. 

"APS-C cameras are usually seen as the poor relation, but that’s because companies that make both formats market them that way – as cheaper ‘amateur’ alternatives.” —Amateur Photographer magazine

This really shouldn’t be a strange thing to say on the Internet, but it is. For some reason the world doesn’t seem to want talk about the truth. The camera makers don’t really want to talk about their strategy for some reason, either. 

Fujifilm has recently shown that APS-C doesn’t have to mean that an APS-C product is crippled—due to their 40mp and 26mp stacked image sensors in advanced cameras—but then again, Fujifilm doesn’t have a full frame camera they’re competing against ;~). 

I’m a little tired of the camera makers all claiming that they’re going after a higher average selling price—e.g. advanced product—and then simply making more expensive cheap cameras. 

Canon? Guilty with the R50 and R10. (I’ll give them credit for the R7, though.)

Nikon? Guilty with the Z30, Z50, and Zfc.

Sony? Guilty with the ZV-E10. (I’d give them credit for something like the A6600 if it weren’t three+ years old and now very much not in sync with their full frame offerings.)

“Oh, but we’re catering to creators and vloggers.” Yes, with “cheaper ‘amateur’ alternatives.” Gotcha! 

“Show me your [photo type] taken with [camera]” — oft-asked question on fora

Often times this request is a little on the wonky side at first appearance. For instance, “show me your Z50 BIF photos” is different in context and expectation than “show me your Z9 portrait photos.”  Many would claim—often without any experience using said gear—that the former isn’t possible and the latter is a waste of money on camera. 

Every time I see one of these requests, I try to put myself in the shoes of the asker. Why are they asking that question? What do they think the answer will be? Almost certainly the result (from at least one responder) will exceed the asker's expectations. More than that, it will likely exceed what the asker would achieve with the same camera in the same situation. Oops. 

What many of these questions really are trying to get an answer to is this: “is the [camera] capable of [outcome]?” The answer is yes. You don’t even have to fill in the [camera] or [outcome] blanks. [Camera] can do [outcome]. I’m more than sure of that. 

Heck, I’ve been writing a version of that for decades now. 

In fact, things were clearer in the days of film. Back in the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s, your favorite professional photographer was often using the same camera you were. The same film. The outcome was different. Nobody asked "can [camera] do [outcome]?” Everyone asked “how did you do that?” 

When I teach photo workshops these days, there’s a dozen or more Z9’s in the mix. Mine seems to do a consistently better job; everyone else should send theirs’ into NikonUSA and have it checked ;~). Oh. You get it now that I’ve gone sarcastic? ;~)

It’s not that I’m the best photographer in the world. Far from it, and I work every day to becoming better at what I can achieve. It’s not that I have the best camera in the world (nor do you). It’s the combination of using decent modern gear coupled with using it from advanced training and knowledge. 

We haven’t had snow this year and the birds are already trying to build nests in my yard (one has literally selected my front door!). I see this as an opportunity to practice, to try new things, to get to my desired result faster with the gear I already have. I don’t see it as a need to buy new cameras and lenses. 

So, if you’re one of those asking the can X do Y question because you think your current gear is inadequate, it isn’t. Someone will post an image in response to your query that will make you say “why can’t I achieve that?” The important word in that question is “I”. As in you. Your eye. Your brain. Your imagination. Your planning ability. Your motor control. 

Excuse me, there’s a bird knocking at my door…

“The basic rule governing [sharpness] is that sources of blur all contribute to the final blur. Some people think that one source of blur can mask another, but that isn’t the case. We can regard low pixel count as a source of blur. Other sources are…aberration blur…and diffraction blur… Mathematically, the blur functions ‘convolve’ together to create a combined function. The ‘functions’ are the point spread functions for each source of blur.” —Bobn2 replying to a post on dpreview

Often when I post “strange things” it’s because they’re wrong, confusing, or just right outrageous. This quote is an example of something that’s “strange” on the Internet because it contains truths in it that just don’t get written about. It’s strange because you don’t find people talking about this, let alone understanding it, and they should understand it.

Resolution (and blur) are both a chain of their component sources. 

I’d add to Bobn2’s list low pass filters and perhaps veiling glare in some designs. I’m sure if we all sat down and tried to come up with a complete list of blur contributors, the list would grow. But the main point in what was written is that blurs essentially require a cumulative formula to assess properly. Resolution is another cumulative formula. And while we can come up with other possible blur sources, the two Bobn2 mentioned are the ones we see most clearly in our work. 

I do have one small modification to Bobn2’s description, though. If the photosite size is 2x or more the Airy disc size, then yes, diffraction blur doesn’t tend to be masked. However, as many of us discovered with the low resolution D1h and D2h, they didn’t really have small enough photosites to record much in the way of diffraction blur. Best case was that all the diffraction fell on one photosite, worst case was that it crossed between two. However, the demosaics of the time were looking much further out from a single pixel during processing. Thus, the very low pixel count did seem to mask diffraction. Technically, it was being recorded, but the way the demosaics produced “edges” had them looking beyond where the diffraction was recorded, so diffraction didn’t seem to show up as expected. 

“…the demand for [m4/3] is decreasing very sharply, and therefore it is quite difficult for us to develop completely new optics for this ecosystem.” — Sigma CEO Kazuto Yamaki talking to PhotoTrend at CP+

I’ve already read plenty of folk reading this the wrong way. So here’s the way I look at it: m4/3 camera sales today derive mainly from current m4/3 users upgrading. There’s a reasonable-sized base that means that new cameras can continue to be developed and profitable, but in terms of building a larger base, that’s not happening. Indeed, the m4/3 installed “active user” base is currently in decline, much as has happened with DSLRs. 

The problem for a lens maker is that, over time, an active user base buys and builds a full set of lenses. As time accumulates, it takes something very substantive and new to get those users to buy additional lenses actively. There aren’t many “holes” in the m4/3 lens set, so “new” also sets a higher bar. Plus m4/3 lenses, in general, are already high performers, so the bar sets still higher for anything new to get a wallet open. 

This is the reason why I started worrying about “growth” in the camera market well over a decade ago. New products tend to always target the growth aspect of a market: they want to “ride the wave.” 

Let’s face it, the K-mount, m4/3, F-mount, EF-mount growth waves have broken and we’re seeing the final splashes on the user shore. There’s one reason why Canon and Nikon are now all in with RF and Z, respectively: they created a new wave and they want their surfers to paddle back out and catch it. Sony did that well before them, and their users are currently riding the crest of the wave. 

But, here’s the part of Yamaki-san’s answer that isn’t being discussed as much: Sigma never really produced a true m4/3 lens, and isn’t actually currently marketing m4/3 lenses, so the answer is self-serving. Go ahead, go to Sigma’s Web site and see if their product filter allows for m4/3. Nope. Full-frame and APS-C are your choices. The Systems heading lists Sony, Canon, Nikon, Leica, Panasonic, Sigma, and Fujifilm. The Panasonic area is mostly filled with L-mount lenses, not m4/3. 

All of Sigma’s m4/3-mount lenses are really APS-C lenses with a different mount. Because of that, they’re all big for the small m4/3 cameras and compared to similar m4/3 optics. So, of course Sigma doesn’t have any demand for m4/3 lenses.

So, those using Sigma’s statement to say “m4/3 is dying” are doing so either (1) without looking at the actual situation; or (2) because they have an agenda. 

Looking for gear-specific information? Check out our other Web sites:
DSLRS: | mirrorless: | Z System: | film SLR: all text and original images © 2023 Thom Hogan
portions Copyright 1999-2022 Thom Hogan-- All Rights Reserved