Category Archives: Business

China using #drones to enforce quarantine

Source: China adapts surveying, mapping, delivery drones to enforce world’s biggest quarantine and contain coronavirus outbreak | South China Morning Post

They are being used with sensors to detect people out and about, and to broadcast public health announcements from overhead speakers.

I wonder how long until the AmazonUPSGoogle drone fleets decide to play loud advertising as they fly low over our homes and cities?

“No glasses” 3D Holograms?

Light Field Labs has raised an additional US $28 million in funding to develop and produce free air holographic display technology. They are said to have a working prototype now and the additional funding will enable them to scale up to an actual product.

The aim is to create holographic objects that appear to be three dimensional and float in space without head-mounted gear such as augmented reality or virtual reality goggles.”

Source: Light Field Labs : 3D Holograms no glasses Deep Dive – fxguide

The principle people behind the technology had developed the Lytro camera technology. As best I can tell, it may be similar to a digital implementation of a conventional, analog, film-based hologram. In the original hologram technology, you look at a flat image that is, basically, like a window pane. As you move to the left or right, you see the true 3D image visible from that point in space. In the laser-based hologram, the window pane is a film that has recorded light interference patterns.

From the description down the page, here, my interpretation is they have created a currently small window pane that is replicating the light interference hologram concept, but in the digital domain. Obviously, it takes a tremendous amount of computational horsepower and for video, high bandwidth, both of which are becoming available as tech advances.

I presume, also, that this technology can be used to project objects in front of the viewing plane, as is done in stereoscopic 3D. In other words, actors or objects can be appear to be between you and the viewing screen – or behind the screen.

This tech creates true 3D that does not require glasses for viewing.

‘Avatar 2’ sequel in 2020 could kick start #3D again

Avatar was a huge success and caused many studios to rush out 3D conversions of existing 2D content – but which were, frankly, terrible conversions.

Certain studios took the time to make high-quality 3D films, but some films that were put into 3D were garbage. As a result, not all 3D was created equal,” says Eric Handler, a media analyst with MKM Partners. “There was a lot that people didn’t want to pay a premium for anymore.”

There’s hope from certain sectors that the release of “Avatar 2” in 2021 could reignite passion for the format. Cameron is planning three subsequent sequels in the coming years, with a fifth installment wrapping things up in 2027.

Source: ‘Avatar’ Anniversary: James Cameron’s Box Office Epic Turns 10 – Variety

Olympus says it has no plans to sell its camera business

“For Imaging, however, we currently have no plans to sell the business. The task is therefore to stabilize and strengthen its market position. To achieve that, we are actively running marketing activities, and have already established a clear and exciting product roadmap for the coming months and years. We are actively pursuing future technology developments that will enhance photography and video for creators. Furthermore, Imaging is and will continue to be an important technology and innovation driver for our other businesses.

Source: Olympus addresses rumors of sale | Photofocus

A few days ago, a Russian blogger posted rumors that Olympus Imaging staff were looking for new jobs and that the camera division would be sold or shut down in January.

Then Bloomberg ran a report that implied the Olympus CEO was not opposed to selling the division, but did so in a unusual way without direct quotes. This only furthered the rumor. (Bloomberg ran a fake news story last year claiming a secret chip was installed on servers at Amazon, Apple and other U.S. companies during manufacturing by agents of the Chinese government, for the purpose of spying. All of the companies and Homeland Security denied any such chip existed.)

Olympus has replied with a statement that it has no plans to sell the business.

The weirdest is that the micro four thirds community that posts to online forums, is the most negative group of people ever met. Those that post frequently focus on gloom and doom and seize upon every poorly source rumor to further their victimization mentality. I do not get this attitude at all.

Olympus is still recovering from their mega accounting scandal in 2011 and like all camera makers, is in the midst of a shrinking market that impacts all camera makers. They have, however, continued to introduce new cameras and lenses and have moved manufacturing to a new factory in Vietnam.

3D theaters continue to increase in number

From: 3D is “dead”, but 3D cinema screens rise is steady – Personal View Talks

And while “3D TV” is mostly gone at present, 3D video projectors are very common. Most video projectors support 3D because it is very inexpensive to add 3D to a projection system while it was expensive to put the tech into flat panel TVs.

If you are looking for 3D viewing options at home, 3D projectors are a good option. Another option is 3D computer monitors, which are used in gaming and engineering and other visualization applications.

2018 Camera Market at 1985 Levels – Thomas Stirr Photography

Thomas Stirr observes the tremendous changes in unit sales that have hit the camera gear market.

This lengthy article discusses the fact that the 2018 camera market has fallen to 1985 levels and provides thoughts on the impact of this shift.

Source: 2018 Camera Market at 1985 Levels – Thomas Stirr Photography

Thomas ends his post with suggestions for what you might want to do with your existing camera gear: sell, adapt, extend?

  • Push yourself to use your gear more fully. Many of us do not fully utilize all of the capabilities of the gear we currently own. Using it more fully will extend its useful life.

  • Experiment more in post. Every piece of camera gear comes with some kind of trade-off. Spend some time in post to experiment with your current software to learn how you can squeeze more quality out of your current images.

This is spot on. Since last fall I gave much thought and investigation to whether I should move up to “full frame”, due to indirect peer pressure and marketing hype.  I realized I continue to learn how to use my existing 1″ and micro four thirds cameras nearly every time I put them to use – and for what I typically shoot there is little to no advantage to full frame – and actual drawbacks (bigger and heavier). Instead, I’m learning new tricks that make my existing gear deliver expanded capabilities.

Second, I downloaded the DxO PhotoLab 2 trial version and quickly discovered its noise reduction is so good that it was like increasing my camera’s useful ISO range by several stops. I no longer needed a larger sensor to achieve the results I wanted at higher ISOs. This was a far less expensive alternative than buying a new camera and lenses!

Third, I began using various well known techniques such as averaging multiple exposures to reduce noise, and shooting multiple-image panoramas to achieve enormous resolution (typically 80 to 200 megapixels).

Software post processing completely changes how we look at photography – and for us hobbyists, is a practical way to expand our gears’ capabilities.

IMAX to close its “VR experience” centers

The company behind the biggest screens in cinema is giving up on bringing VR screens within a few inches of users’ faces. The company announced today in a SEC filing that it will be shutting down its three remaining virtual reality centers including its flagship location in Los Angeles.

Source: IMAX pulls the plug on its dream of VR arcades | TechCrunch

VR is cool, but I am not so sure it is going to be the mass market that many hoped. VR has its place though, but apparently this was not one of them.

Rant: Is the photo industry dropping casual photographers and hobbyists?

Many of us have watched as the price of cameras have gone astronomical. I see people with $3,000 camera bodies attached to $8,000 lenses hanging around their necks. This is insane.  You can buy used cars – even two of them – for what some people carry around their necks!

Micro four thirds, the lower tier of the interchangeable lens market (and what I shoot) has pushed cameras up to the $1,000 to $2,000 price range with hints that even higher priced offerings may emerge in 2019.

Online camera reviews breathlessly tout the latest camera offerings with more megapixels, better focusing or what have you, but which rarely make much difference to anyone except professionals and some high end amateurs. All those online review sites have become “latest tech you gotta have” pushers. And why not? They make their money with affiliate links, earning a commission each time someone clicks through to Amazon or B&H and makes a purchase. They are the camera gear equivalent of drug pushers!

The pressure to upgrade is everywhere – and few people recognize how they are played to spend more money.

If you are a pro, who earns money with your photography, you are in a different league than most people out taking photos. You can likely cost justify your purchase of the latest high priced gear.

Today, Flickr announced they will delete photos from free accounts with over 1,000 photos as of February 5, 2019. If you want to keep your photos, you’ll have to upgrade to “pro” – and oh, they doubled the price on that too! Again, for a pro that’s making money on their photography, that’s not a big obstacle. For all others, Flickr has decided the customer hostile approach to their business is the right one for Flickr, but may be not so much for users.

The message from Flickr is clear – they are no longer interested in the casual hobbyist market. They are after the “pro” market and some high end amateurs who can cost justify the new prices.

Meanwhile, as we already know, camera phones have obliterated the point-n-shoot market so all camera makers have been moving up scale. The reality is that beyond certain megapixel limits, most of us will not see personal benefits from buying new cameras and lens priced in multiples of $10,000 🙂 The camera makers are steering their business towards high end photographers willing to shell out the big bucks.

The photo industry seems to be bifurcating into smart phone shooters who share on Instagram, and high end “pros” (or pro wannabes) on Flickr and other platforms.

What will happen to the middle ground segment? There are still APS-C cameras and micro four thirds but even they seem to be moving upscale.

The casual/hobby market is moving up scale very rapidly – and may leave many photographers behind as photography becomes an activity limited to the high heeled elite of the future. Or just using smartphones …

A related issue is that the old idea of buying a product has gone away – today we merely rent them. Adobe did this with their photo editing tools. Flickr is doing this with photo sharing. Microsoft has done this with Office. Before long, we will be paying considerable amounts of money – forever – as we get locked in to tools used to create and access our own content. How long before we are charged an annual fee to use certain features of our cameras, such as say, SLOG or VLOG video color grading? This seems to be the holy grail of the industry now – lots and lots of user fees!

Nikon discontinues Nikon 1 product line, abandons Nikon 1 consumers #Nikon @NikonUSA #Nikon1

Nikon discontinues entire Nikon 1 line, including cameras and lenses. Consumers who bought into Nikon’s 1″ sensor system stuck with a dead end lens system.

As seen in this chart, the camera line de facto existed for about 4 years, from its introduction in September 2011 to its last new camera introduction in late 2015:

Photography and Camera News, Reviews, and Inspiration

Source: Has Nikon Shuttered Its 1 Series Line of Mirrorless Cameras?

After 2015, they just milked money from their customers before abandoning them.

Nikon executives repeatedly said during the past 3 years that the Nikon 1 line was not dead. And then in July 2018, they killed it, abandoning users who had invested in the Nikon 1 lens systems.

This impacted me and I will never again buy a Nikon product. At NAB, I spoke with every camera manufacturer except Olympus. I mentioned that someone needed to produce a camera body with a software development kit. All – except Nikon – were interested in the idea.

The Nikon rep told me with a straight face that Nikon would never allow third party products to potentially damage the Nikon brand name.

I could hardly contain my laughter – you mean like how the iPhone was ruined by third party app developers? Hah hah!

That exchange told me Nikon management are dimwits. Since then their revenue plummeted and it was not because of third parties harming the Nikon brand – it was because Nikon shot its own brand in the foot.

In so doing, they enshrined themselves in business school case studies forever – how not to launch, mismanage and lose customers all at once!

So long Nikon. I won’t be buying Nikon products again. Good bye!

DxO Labs files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection, will restructure business

​DxO Labs have issued a statement saying that they have chosen to file for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection​.

Source: DxO Labs Goes Bankrupt, Will Not Affect DxO PhotoLab or Nik Software Collection Customers | Photography Blog

DxO makes the DxO PhotoLab RAW image processor software (previously known as DxO Optics Pro) and the Nik Software Collection (which they acquired from Google). Both are very good products.