Sunday, 27 April 2014

Video in a Photographic Magazine. About Time Too

Still photographers seem to hate video in the same way that they hated cine. During the rise of cheap, amateur cine cameras Amateur Photographer covered both. Eventually, however, that magazine became still photography only. I find video far more rewarding for travel and family. Not only do you capture movement but also the ambient sound. Sound may be the key because even sound with still photographs is better than no natural sound at all.

A reader, Michael Dennis, wrote to Amateur Photographer (19 April 2014) complaining about that magazine's review of the Fujifilm X-T1, 'where you ignore the video capabilities of the camera under review…You probably feel you're being professional by focusing on the stills side, because professionals don't want/need video. But I think that more and more people do want good video—in my case it's 50:50 between this and stills." I could not have put it better myself.

Instead of being brushed off, the editor replied, "…we have plans to give more attention to the video side of things, without detracting from our camera tests, in our forthcoming redesign of the magazine. There will also be some video-related editorial features in the magazine starting in a couple of months' time."

Well, is the amateur photography press eventually catching on to the fact that video is important even if not to members of camera clubs/photographic societies that the magazine was for so long the house journal.

Incidentally, Michael Dennis concluded by quoting from other reviews that the video performance of the XT-1, "is not just poor, but terrible."

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Cameras for Birding: The Bridge Camera Superzoom War. Yet More

No sooner had I finished the latest post on superzoom bridge cameras for birding than even more appeared, this time from Sony.

Unless anything major happens, I shall not do any further comparisons in this blog. The major manufacturers are producing cameras that, on paper, are now very similar. The basic information can all be seen at:

My Nikon P510, still to me a new camera, is old in terms of its replacements and all the competition that arrived in the market very quickly.

The key for any future purchase I now see as the autofocusing speed and accuracy at full zoom (i.e. the zoom setting most likely to be of interest to birders). I have found figures in some of the manufacturers' websites but insufficient to make comparisons. Given the methods of detecting focus and of mechanically driving the lens components, is there any real difference between the latest models of the different manufacturers?

The next requirement for me would be RAW output. And then weight would be an important but tertiary consideration, especially for carrying in hot climates.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Is Amateur Photographer in a very dull patch

Is it me, or is Amateur Photographer in a very dull patch? As an on-and-off reader since the mid-1950s, I have noticed that AP has gone into periods of decline many times in the past. It feels to me that we are seeing such a period now, with endless 'reviews' of unimportant cameras sporting minor 'improvements', Lightroom/Photoshop tips, well-known biographies of photographers and numpties writing letters about the nature of photography. With no historical camera articles now appearing, only the Roger Hicks column is worth reading. Properly explained technical articles are also few and far between.

Producing a weekly magazine must be a nightmare and with circulation still falling, maintaining the sort of editorial set up that a magazine such as this needs must be very difficult. On this note, I see that the total (print and digital) sales of AP averaged 16,878 during 2013. Print sales averaged 15,505 and digital sales only 1373 (just 426 in UK). As far as I can see that's a decrease of around 2% compared with the previous year. To put these figures into perspective, AP had sales of over 100,000 copies in the 1980s.

The removal of the last editor by a redundancy procedure, as is the story in websites, must be a manifestation of the decline in circulation. But is AP now in the vicious spiral of lower circulation →  less resources  → lower quality → lower circulation, and where will it all end? Is the venerable photographic magazine now a vulnerable photographic magazine?