One of the things that I personally struggle with when it comes to producing video content is color grading. This is especially true when it comes to log profiles and for that reason, I generally just rely on using LUTs that I’ve bought or downloaded for free.
Sony just released a financial report for the second quarter of 2019 and sales are down compared to 2018.
Do you track your own development? By looking into the past of our photography career, we can learn a lot about our progress and how to move on.
Did you know a lot of people use their camera without setting it up for their needs? If you have done this already, you may find nothing new in this article. If you don’t know what I am talking about, perhaps you should read it.
Panavision and its family of companies will be returning to the EnergaCamerimage International Film Festival from November 9-16 in Torun, Poland, with an immersive, end-to-end experience for attendees. Torun’s newly renovated Karczma Damroki facility, across the street from the Jordanki Festival Center, will be transformed into an interactive festival space called PanaVillage, and will showcase […]
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Over four years ago in 2015, when we were all still optimistic about the Canon 5D Mark IV, Sony released the a7R II. This was a 42.4MP full-frame camera that also offered the ability to shoot 4k video using the full width of the sensor. This camera took many photographers by surprise because almost no one was expecting Sony to release such a camera. Sure, it had lots of flaws and it was somewhat of a beta release; but still, it put Sony on the map.
Soon after, Sony released the a7S II, a camera that offered incredible low light capabilities. It appeared that Sony was on a roll and from that point on, it went from strength to strength. Sony single-handedly changed the industry by making everyone take mirrorless seriously. Companies like Canon and Nikon were wholly unprepared and didn’t have any real response for quite some time. Fast forward to last year, and Sony took the number one spot in several key categories both in Japan and in the US.
Recently, however, Sony seems to be slowing down and now we’re seeing many of the other manufacturers start to catch up when it comes to both camera features and specifications
Dated Video Features
Sony was the first manufacturer within the photography industry to produce a camera that offered 4k video using the full width of the full-frame sensor. Even now, there are still only a few companies that offer this feature. Unfortunately, Sony hasn’t really improved this feature by much in the last 4 years.
The 8-bit video features that were first introduced in the a7R II have remained mostly unchanged and continue in all of Sony’s new releases. Cameras like the a6600, which are really popular, remain stuck with the same dated video features that were first implemented in the a6300.
The a6600 is a camera that directly competes with the Fujifilm X-T3. Looking at the price points and features between the two, the Fuji camera is far superior in almost every regard. The X-T3 offers incredible image quality with its much-loved film simulations. When it comes to video features, the Sony cameras are far behind what Fujifilm is offering. The X-T3 now offers 4k at 60p and 10-bit internal recording. Sony, on the other hand, hasn’t offered a single meaningful update since the a6300.
Aside from the poor 8-bit video that Sony is still stubbornly sticking to, another feature it refuses to offer is 4k at 60p. It’s ridiculous how Canon has been offering this feature in its 1D X Mark II for almost 4 years now and Sony is still dragging its feet.
Now that the 1D X Mark III has been announced, Sony is even further behind. Sony’s current and very recently released flagship camera is still only comparable to the 1D X Mark II; a camera that was released in 2016. With the Mark III on the way, Canon is far ahead of Sony when it comes to flagship cameras.
A recent article by Jaron Schneider discusses how Sony may be coming to the edge of what is feasible within its cameras. The issue is that although it may be the edge of what’s feasible for Sony, other manufacturers have continued to develop more interesting and useful features.
Companies like Panasonic have produced the first camera that’s been certified by Netflix and, as mentioned several times in this article already, Canon is due to release an incredible update to its 1D line of cameras.
I get the feeling that Sony is stuck on trying to fit in as many features as it can in the tiniest body possible. Every new update requires Sony to produce a slightly larger body to accommodate more features and now we may be coming to the edge of what’s feasible for the current style and size of body. Every other manufacturer has given themselves the flexibility of a larger body, which hasn’t prevented their ability to add new and interesting features.
The edge of feasibility seems to be a Sony-specific problem and I feel this could be easily remedied simply by producing a body that actually fits in the hand.
The Mythical a7S III
Sony has been teasing a supposed update to the a7S II for so long it feels like people have lost interest. Personally, I gave up waiting on this camera and moved over to the Fujifilm X-T3 because it offers most of the features that I currently need. The a7S II is now more than 4 years old and most of the industry has moved on. There are plenty of more effective and viable options available both from Sony and most other manufacturers.
I get the impression that Sony waited too long to release something that would be exciting for the industry and other manufacturers took advantage of the delay. Now we have companies like Panasonic and even Nikon offering cameras with more useful video features like 10-bit recording. Sony could be trying to position itself to offer a camera that does it all and completely shocks the market with incredible features, but that can only happen if it actually releases a camera.
Expectations have been growing and Sony hasn’t exactly played down these expectations either. At this stage, if this camera doesn’t shoot 4k at 120p and have the ability to record raw video (even if only externally), then it’s inevitably going to end up disappointing many. There are also reports of Sony needing a built-in cooling system just so that the camera can offer the features it’s trying to produce.
Maybe Sony is reaching too far to try and impress everyone when instead it should probably just release something that offers the features many photographers and videographers need right now.
In Defense of Sony
There is still one line of camera that Sony has continued developing and updating, and that’s the a7R series. The latest update, the a7R IV, is quite a brilliant camera for those that need high-resolution images especially due to its pixel shift features. Even the single shots this camera produces have a whopping 61mp worth of resolution which is plenty for most people. It’s now the highest resolution full-frame camera on the market, taking the top position from Canon. Add to that the improvements made in autofocus and eye detect, and the camera puts Sony beyond any other mirrorless manufacturer by quite a margin.
Another area where Sony has focused a lot of its energy is lenses. Sony has a wide range of lenses available for its E-mount cameras, and most of these lenses offer incredible image quality. Currently, no other manufacturer offers a full line of native lenses for their mirrorless systems and Sony has worked extremely hard to offer high-quality lenses.
I appreciate that I’ve spent the majority of this article complaining about how Sony is falling behind and in several key areas — this is true. As with most things, these issues tend to be a little more nuanced than to simply say that X manufacturer isn’t great anymore. Maybe the issue is that we’ve been spoiled by the constant updates Sony had been pushing over the last few years, and now that Sony is spending time to develop its infrastructure and iron out issues, we’re not seeing the big numbers and specs improving on paper anymore.
In any case, I feel it’s a great time to be a photographer or videographer due to the number of very capable cameras currently on the market.
About the author: Usman Dawood is the lead photographer of Sonder Creative, an architectural and interior photography company. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of his work on his website, Instagram, and YouTube.
Canon engineers have designed a lens that quite literally and intentionally sucks. The lens pulls in air, swirls it across the image sensor in the camera body, and then pushes it out in order to get rid of the internal dust that causes nasty dark spots in your photos.
In a newly published patent filing over in Japan (2019-191432), first reported on by CanonWatch, Canon describes a clever solution it came up with for removing sensor dust. It describes the invention as (translated): “An air intake channel for sucking air from the outside into the interior of the imaging device by the pressure difference generated by the air flow generating means.”
What the company came up with is a new lens that sucks in outside air through channels around the outer rim at the front. This air is channeled back into the mirror box of the DSLR while the mirror is up and sensor exposed. The dusty air stirred up is then channeled through the internal areas of the lens until it’s expelled out the front of the lens through channels surrounding the front element.
Here’s what the patent describes as Canon’s effort “To provide a dust removing device capable of easily removing dust adhering to an imaging element inside a camera body while confirming an actual influence degree”:
An outer housing having an engaging part for engaging with a lens mount detachably holding an imaging lens, and an inner side of the outer housing; A communication unit for electrically connecting an inner housing and an imaging device to be arranged, a 1 passage penetrating into the body of the imaging device formed between the outer housing and the inner housing, a 2 passage penetrating into the body of the imaging device formed inside the inner case, and an engaging portion; The device is provided with at least one optical member arranged on a photographing optical axis when engaged with an imaging device and on the inside of the inner case, an aperture mechanism, and an empty flow generating means arranged at a position not to erode a photographing light flux of the optical member in the 1 passage. A part of the 2 flow path is formed by the periphery of the optical member and an opening of the throttle mechanism.
The patent illustration also shows the system for confirming that dust is removed:
The sensor cleaning features found in many modern cameras these days generally vibrate or shake the sensor in order to get the dust to fall off the surface. Canon’s idea would go a step further by getting dust out of the mirror box and camera.
As with all unusual patents of this sort, all this tells us is that Canon has brainstormed this idea internally, but there’s a good chance we may never see this invention show up in a real-world camera and lens.
One of the most unintentionally useful influences on my photography has turned out to be the time I’ve spent playing computer games. Some photographers use cinema as a learning tool to observe the way cinematographers and DOP’s use their cameras to capture a scene. This can be a great source of inspiration, but I think it can lead to some photographers heading out and seeking to recreate shots or aesthetic styles (color palette, depth of field, grain, etc) rather than capturing anything unique for them.
In a computer game, you are an active participant in the process, whether conscious or subconscious, and in many games, this involves a directorial/DOP role in terms of camera control. As your character explores the world (in first or third person) you move the camera around to see what’s around you.
Many modern games feature beautiful and intricate worlds, and some even feature photographic mechanics so that you can capture parts of the gameplay to share on social media.
There is a similar, and perhaps enhanced, experience of this in 3D rendering software, which I used to play around with a lot. Here you have not only control over the camera, but the positioning of objects and movement/lack of movement. You are freer to play with angles, and distance, and perspective, and can position the camera anywhere, leaving you infinite possibilities for examining the scene.
This act of moving the camera in three dimensions is the crux of it – as opposed to observing the decisions made by another artist you are free to shift your perspective yourself and discover angles that have certain effects. I often shoot with other photographers and, when watching them work, often observe how they notice a detail and then promptly root themselves in space and capture an image from where they’re standing. For me, the opposite is the case — the subject is what I consider a fixed point, which leaves me to do whatever it takes to move around it in space before making the image from the best angle.
I often pre-visualize my images when I see potential, which means I can look at my surroundings and imagine what the image will look like from different vantage points, without having to physically move myself. This is useful and cuts down the amount of time I spend working a scene drastically. I usually know where I’ll want to position my camera in order to make the image I have in my mind.
I really think this is a skill I’ve developed through computer games as I’ll often have to look around an environment and figure out where to be for certain objectives.
Moving around physically is still a useful thing to cultivate, and can help you arrive on fresh ways to view a scene, but having the spatial awareness to map out an environment by eye is an underrated skill, well worth cultivating.
On top of these visual skills, there are some other valuable lessons you can practice through games. Resource management, strategic planning, lateral thinking, noticing details, problem-solving, even memory improvement, can all be key in games, as well as many genres of photography – and I can definitely say that playing a number of different titles over the years has correlated with an increased capacity for all of these. Puzzle games are particularly excellent at helping you see possible ways to fit pieces of the world together; my main approach for most compositions is to mentally separate out each element and then fit them together in the neatest way, like a puzzle.
In no particular order, here are a few games I really encourage other photographers to play (or at least to find gameplay videos of on YouTube) to get a feel of the mechanics and the way they augment sight and spatial learning.
- The Witness
- Mirrors edge
- Titanfall 2
About the author: Simon King is a London based photographer and photojournalist, currently working on a number of long-term documentary and street photography projects. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can follow his work on Instagram and you can read more of his thoughts on photography day-to-day over on his personal blog. Simon also teaches a short course in Street Photography at UAL, which can be read about here.
Chris and Jordan pay a visit to friend and studio photographer Rene Michaud to test out the Sony a7R IV. Is it compelling enough to tempt a staunch DSLR shooter to switch to mirrorless? And do Canadians wear parkas indoors during the winter? These questions and more will be answered.
- Rene and Brooke
- Studio Shots
- Shooting in daylight
- Burst Shooting
- Shadow Push
- Would Rene switch?
- Landscape and Multishot
- Image Quality
- Video Quality
- Who is the a7R IV for?
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Sample images from this episode
© Vincent Frei – The Art of VFX – 2019
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