Saturday, June 29, 2013

Miroslav Tichy: Outsider Photographer

 Photo by Miroslav Tichy.

Almost from the beginning of photography, at least after the advent of Kodak cameras that put photography into to hands of the common person, photography has had something of an unsavory reputation. Photographers would lurk around the swimming holes of yesteryear hoping to spy upon and capture the images of naked or nearly naked young women. It actually became something of a public nuisance for a while. Currently, our distrust of photographers working in the public spaces is more related to issues of terrorism, but that is another story.

Miroslav Tichy and one of his cameras.

Anyway, the folks at Messy Nessy Chic have done an excellent story on a photographer that captures that quaint, old-fashioned air of "perv-i-ness" and also manages to serve as an example of the outsider (or folk or naive) artist that happens to use a "camera." Outsider photographers are kind of rare. His name was Miroslav Tichy and he lived and worked in the small town of Kyjov in the Czech Republic. One of the things that set him apart was that he built his own cameras out of spare parts and trash, including grinding and building his own lenses. His photographs are an interesting combination of crudeness and elegance and the article is worth checking out here. Thanks to Wayne Kraft for pointing this story out to me.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Closer Look at the Fuji X-M1

I mentioned this new camera, the Fuji X-M1, the other day, but I didn't really look at it all that carefully. Seemed at first glance to be just another boring camera, but maybe I was still reacting to Leica's X Vario/ Mini-M debut. So now after reading up on it a bit more, it turns out to be more interesting than it first appeared. The X-M1 continues the updated retro look of the other X-series cameras, like the X-Pro1, X-E1, and the X100S. While it is true that it doesn't feature an optical or LCD viewfinder or manual-oriented dials and switches, it manages to fit in with the rest of the X family quite nicely.

I like the new selection of colors it will be offered in and I really like the smaller size. That's a direct benefit of leaving off the viewfinder; you can cut down on the size of the body. People are now used to using the rear LCD screen for composing anyway. And I like that it uses the same 16 MP sensor as the two models above it in the line-up. So people can approach the X-M1 in at least two ways. You can see as the entry-level camera that it can be used like; its controls are intended for easy full-auto and point-and-shoot use. Or you can see it as a back-up body or stroll-around camera that will deliver images nearly identical to those produced by its higher-priced and bigger siblings. Plus, it has built-in WiFi for connecting and downloading images to your phone. And the prices is pretty good. The X-M1 body goes for $699 and the kit with the new 16-50mm zoom lens goes for $799. This is a smart, well-considered camera offered at an attractive price point. Fuji continues to follows its own lead in matters of camera design and execution, and I think they deserve a lot of praise for that. I wonder what they have planned for next?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

CamRanger now includes Android devices!

CamRanger has been successful with their device which allows you to remotely control your DSLR through your iPhone or iPad. Now they've extended that to include Android phones and tablets, and will soon add Windows 7/8 PCs to their compatibility list. There are about 30 Canon and Nikon cameras that will work with this system. The CamRanger is a device that plugs into your camera and then allows for WiFi connection to your phone or whatever, up to a 150 feet distance. You also need to download the app to your phone or device to make it work. The CamRanger device sells for $299.00. Sounds like a cool idea.

Friday, June 21, 2013

News From Around the Web

Sigma announced the price of the upcoming APS-C zoom, the 18-35mm f/1.8 HSM Art lens, and it's a bit of a surprise. It will sell for $799, which is something of a steal. I know that $800 is still $800, but considering that Canon's new 35mm f/2 IS USM lens goes for $850, the price of the Sigma zoom looks pretty good. Not much has been seen of this lens, but lens tests are starting to show up and reports are very positive. Sigma is becoming a lens company to watch, that is for sure.
Fuji will announce a new camera in its X-series, called the X-M1. It's a smaller, less expensive model, more of an entry level one, to fit in with their X-E1 and X-Pro1 cameras. This picture shows it with their new lens, a 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS. It won't have a built-in viewfinder, instead, viewing is done through the LCD screen on the back, like other P&S's.

Finally, Samsung is really upsetting the old apple cart these days! Get it? Apple cart? Phones? Oh, well. Anyway, Samsung is announcing a couple of new products that illustrate the merging of medias and technologies. First, the have the Galaxy S4 Zoom, which combines a real 10x zoom lens 16 MP OIS camera with a smartphone. So instead of a smartphone with a built-in camera, you have a camera with a built-in smartphone. We can only hope it works well as a phone when you want to make a call. Still, it would be nice to always have a decent camera with you. I'll be checking this one out.

And then Samsung takes it further, in announcing the Galaxy NX, an interchangeable lens 20.3 MP sensor mirrorless camera with a 4.8-inch touch screen that uses the Android 4.2 Jelly Bean OS and has 3G and 4G WiFi connectivity. While it isn't a smartphone, you will use it like one. Post your pictures to Instagram. And you'll be able to stream and watch movies on your camera. And surf the Web. Wow.

"M" is for Meh!

Yes, I know this is late, but I just about couldn't work myself up to post about this when it became news. The new Mini-M camera from Leica turned out to be the X Vario, which as its name suggests, it is a zoom version of the fixed lens X2. So both of my guesses were dead wrong. But I think Leica's reasoning on calling it a Mini-M was misleading, to say the least. Companies should be careful about building up too many expectations about the products they are releasing. It's too easy to disappoint. And frankly who cares about another over-priced zoom compact from Leica? Meh.