Yes that is true, another legendary photographic name is now consigned to the history books..

Bowens,  the studio lighting company that produced some amazing lighting systems for studio, and on site portrait/product photographers has been shuttered by its investment group a little more than 1 year after they purchased it, thus ending 94 years in the photographic industry…..

 


Yes it is not often i have a rant on here, but today i think it is warranted

I have had several conversations lately with potential customers who are looking for equipment and have said but why buy from you and pay x amount of dollars more when i can buy it from an offshore based online retailer?

Well there are a couple of reasons, firstly  the NZ govt will charge GST on any item purchased online from offshore, and if a certain (and pretty low) threshold is hit, they will also add on Customs and Import processing fees, which makes many items, now within single digit percentages of the price of buying here in NZ

Sure the lure of saving money is always good, BUT when it comes to photographic/electronic equipment, saving a few bucks is not always a good thing, especially when something goes wrong and it needs to be fixed under warranty.

In the event of something going wrong with your Parallel imported photographic product even under warranty, you have 2 choices, why 2 choices i hear, well most photographic items now come with what is known as a regional warranty..  These warranties offer warranty protection in the country where the item was purchased from, not outside that country.

1st choice is to spend your own money and courier the item back to the country you purchased it from to get it repaired under warranty then spend your own money to get it back to you repaired, which will cost you around $200 there and back if going to the USA depending on weight, AND you could be without the item for several weeks…

2nd Choice is to send it to the NZ service centers, and pay to have it serviced as most Authorised Service Centers will not perform warranty repairs on items that are parallel imported due to most brands now having region specific warranties. This means you will pay the standard service rates for those brands, which here in NZ can range from $70 per hour incl Tax to $115 per hour PLUS tax which is 15% and most offer turnaround times of approx 10 working days but if you do chose this option, check before sending to make sure the wait times are not longer.

Sure you might save a few bucks to start, but IF something goes wrong, then your choices become rather limited and could prove to be expensive no matter what way you go.

The other reason to shop local,  person to person service, advice and the ability to go back to them and get aftercare service and even tips and tricks to use the gear, here at Southern Cameras,  with every DSLR* or Mirrorless camera we sell, we offer FREE sensor cleans and Firmware upgrades while you own the camera as a standard part of our aftercare, plus you can come in, and get some tips and tricks for using the camera too. (heck I recently attended an airshow out of town and stood at the fenceline with a customer showing him a couple of tricks to get better results out of the camera he had recently purchased from us.)

Also looking big picture, if you buy online from offshore, then the only $$$ to stay in NZ are the $$ that go to the govt ie GST and Customs fees…  The local price for properly sourced items goes up as the camera companies make it more expensive to buy in NZ as there is less coming in via the official channels which makes the prices go up as it costs more per unit to ship, making in store even less competitive because more expensive prices for non parallel imported product make it more attractive to go off shore.. more off shore sales means less in store in NZ, stores close, all that in store after sales care and advice is lost, and it becomes harder to get things serviced in NZ as things close and service centers get moved offshore as well, making servicing gear harder and away for longer.

My advice,  Buy local, support your local stores, sure not every store has 100% of every range in stock and right there to go, but more often than not, from the factory warehouses here in NZ are 1-2 days to get them plus you get friendly, helpful advice  from staff who are generally as passionate about photography as you.  Plus you help the economy too buy letting those precious $$$ circulate around NZ and not go straight offshore!!

*please note that Sony SLT-A series DSLR cameras cannot be cleaned by us instore and will need to be sent to Sony or another photographic tech center for cleaning due to the fixed mirror SLT design


2017 has arrived with a bang,  and now nearly 3 months in a big portion of the talk in the photographic world has been about film.  Yes that Silver based, emulsion on an acetate base that captures light, that old out of date technology that nobody uses anymore because its so expensive etc etc etc.

Why has there been so much talk about it, well its simple, photographers are finding the love of film for the first time, or photographers who started with film and gone digital are also now going back to film (i am one of the latter) in some capacity.

Okay Okay, i can hear the choruses now, why go backwards, why shoot film?

For me, the answer is it slows me down, makes me more selective of what i will shoot and how i shoot.  I mainly shoot 120 roll film in a Pentax 645 or Bronica S2a. These cameras give me 8-12 frames in the case of the Bronica, or 16 frames in the case of the Pentax, so i can’t use the digital mantra of spray and pray and pick from thousands of images later on, I have to be careful and chose wisely.

The big thing with film is it is not only photographers going back to film,  several major motion picture directors including JJ Abrams, Christopher Nolan have committed to shooting some massive projects, including the last 3 Star Wars films on film stock.

Why? Because once the film is shot, edited and mastered, the negative is there, and will be there in 50+ years, whereas digital files, will have to be converted, and storage mediums changed with a rather high frequency to keep the files useable.

It seems like there are new films, and old films being announced as coming back almost every month, and it’s not just small companies like Lomography who are keeping things alive,  Adox, who produce Agfa,  the new Film Ferrania company in Italy, Kodak and others are all still producing, and re-introducing films to the market. The other side to this is Darkrooms are being re-commissioned, or in some cases, brand new darkrooms are being built, by Universities/Colleges, Schools and  in camera cafes as community darkrooms.

On the film side, lets start with the big Yellow & Red… No not Hulkamania to you wrestling fans, but Kodak.

Yes Kodak – THE legendary film maker who pretty much dominated film markets with classic emulsions like Kodachrome, Ekta, T-Max, TriX, Portra and many others, but suffered immensely in the digital age by not embracing the tech early on (despite building the first ever digital camera way back in the 1970s) which ultimately led them filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the USA in Jan 2012. But after basically a decade (they really never accomplished much between 2006 and now) they have made big waves at the beginning of 2017.

Kodak making big waves i hear you question, yip big wave, Kodak  has released a new Super 8 movie camera, that also records sound onto an SD card, so when you send the roll of film for developing, send in the SD card as well and sound will be added to your movie and sent back on DVD with the roll of film.

As part of that announcement, Kodak also revealed that they are reviving one of the most popular slide films ever in Ektachrome, which will be available in Super8 and also 135/36 from late 2017.

Kodak also are apparently investigating the feasibility of bringing back Kodakchrome.. which if that happens is a REALLY big deal as Kodachrome had a very unique processing formula and the last lab that was able to process it anywhere in the world closed the line to process Kodachrome in 2006!

Kodak are not the only ones bringing out ‘new’ film.  Thanks to crowd sourcing and a group of passionate investors, legendary Italian film company Film Ferrania is back from the dead, and returning their classic colour slide emulsions to the market in 35mm, super 8 and 120 formats, and also they have announced the return of the P30 Panchromatic 80ASA black and white film which is about to be released in Alpha testing form!

Ilford still make their classic films, PanF, HP5, FP4, Delta 100, 400 and 3200 Professional and SFX 200 are all still available, in 35mm and 120 formats.

There are Agfa, Rollei, Adox and a heap of other brands still around making film in a variety of formats,  Fujifilm still have films available too, the legendary Velvia, Provia and NPH films plus Acros B+W and some consumer level films.

The cool thing is there are blogs popping up all the time about film photography, and lots of people getting into it, or going back to it.

Its not just films that are being made again, papers are being made for printing, and there are lots of interesting products being developed too.  Lomography are becoming well known for re-creating some amazing old lenses, such as Petzval and Daguerreotype Achromat types as well as Juipter and Minitar lenses.

Another cool product for film photographers, especially those who would like to develop their own film at home  is on kickstarter, the LAB-BOX  is a modular design to process film at home without resorting to using a darkroom or large change bags.
The kickstarter had a modest goal of 70,000 Euro, and with 21 days left to run (7th March 2017) it had over 490,000 Euro pledged and they have added a fourth stretch goal.

Currently looking on the likes of Trademe (NZs version of ebay) or Ebay there are heaps of film cameras available, and still at reasonable prices, but i can see prices will inevitably rise as more people start looking for film cameras again.

Here at Southern Cameras (Located inside Dunedin’s Musselburgh Pharmacy) we have a range of film in stock, with Ilford B+W, Lomo color and B+W, and others arriving,  As part of the resurgence, we have created a few Intro to film packs in both 35mm and 120 to get photographers who are either new to film, or returning after a long digital hiatus, some different emulsions to see  differences and what films they like the look of once processed as each manufacturer produces things a little differently so the end results often have different tones, color saturations.

 


One of the most popular market segments for cameras is the action camera market.. Everyone knows GoPro, the original small form factor video camera with the ultra wide angle lens, that seems to sponsor so many action sports athletes from surfers and snowboarders to rallycross and drifting.

For a long time, GoPro absolutely owned the market space, with even major actions sports/motor racing movies being filmed using them for onboard action footage.

But times are a changing in the market segment, and GoPro have gotten into a pattern of releasing a bunch of new models and each model has some features, that others don’t or a mix of features, but if you want everything you have to buy the top model, but then to get certain mounts you have to buy a certain model, or spend another bucket load of cash on the accessories you need.

2 major factors have changed this market segment.  The first change has been the rise of cheaper imitation cameras from China, that deliver pretty much all the same features and specs as the GP models,  but at a fraction of the cost, and come with most of the accessories you will need, and this has squeezed the bottom end of the GoPro lines., but also the big camera making companies have started to get into the action camera market.  Sony were the first with their Action Camera’s  that have taken straight aim at GoPro and their market levels, with cameras designed to go up against each price point GoPro set, and these cameras have generally delivered with high specs, quality output and Sony corporate backing and marketing.

Ricoh entered with the WG-M series which are excellent rugged little cameras that do not need massive housing etc to survive outdoors, delivering pretty nice footage quality at great prices.

Olympus who have always had tough cameras entered earlier in 2016 with the TG-Tracker.. this awesome little camera shoots 4K video at 30fps, has GPS built in, wifi that connects to a smartphone or other iOS or Android device and can be controlled from that device, but also the GPS logs your course, altitude, direction the camera is pointing, acceleration/speed AND is Waterproof to 30m and shockproof to 2.1m without a special housing , and all this for the price of a mid range GoPro!

and lastly, Nikon entered the market with the KeyMission Range, with cameras designed to be wearable, rugged, and the top model will also capture images with a 360 degree view!

These cameras are meant to be fun, and almost as rugged as a mountain goat,  many cameras come with some form of protective case, others like the Ricoh, Olympus TG range and Nikon KeyMissions have a fair amount of protection already within the camera’s body. and no doubt there will be accessory cases that will improve the ruggedness even more come on to the market.

Action cameras are definitely something that are more than just fun, especially with many now boasting such sophisticated specs, and the ability to deliver supremely high quality footage that can be used in production of videos. It is certainly an area of the imaging business that is hotter than ever and even the originators are either struggling, or gone.

 

 

 


It’s Photokina time again, and like normal there are the highly anticipated/rumored/leaked product releases that get confirmed or not confirmed.

This year one of the big rumors has been the announcement of new mirrorless medium format systems.
Hasselblad startled most several months ago when they announced their new X1D-50 Mirrorless System.. This system has a body that is not a lot larger than Sony’s A7, but the sensor is a larger 51mp unit with a new lens mount, lenses and accessories, and for Hasselblad, they are priced a lot cheaper than the H series of Pro Medium format systems, though still expensive as current Pricing Estimates here in NZ are around $15000 body only and the lenses around $4500-$6500NZ each.. Considering the Hasselblad H system with a body, back and lens will start around $50k NZ

When Hasselblad started teasing the announcement, most thought it was going to be another Hassleblad re-imagining of a discontinued Sony model like the A7R mk I in the vein of the stupidly over priced Hasselblad Lunar and Stellar models which in essence were glossed over Sony NEX-7 and RX-100 models, so when the announcement of a new lens mount and a CSC with a medium format sensor was made.. Suddenly Hasselblad had done something to make people take notice in a good way and no doubt inspired other companies to innovate and look to new markets..

Now at Photokina this year, Fujifilm have confirmed the oft-rumored Medium Format Mirrorless system in the GFX-50S,   For Fujifilm, this is a return of sorts to a market where their 645 and 6×7 rangefinder Medium Format film cameras are legendary.

The GFX uses all of Fujifilm’s expertise in Sensor design, industrial design and optical design to create a pretty neat looking system that will have 3 lenses available on launch, and 3 more to follow reasonably quickly too. Fuji’s trip into Medium Format Digital is not that unexpected really considering they are known to build several of the Hasselblad H series lenses.

Ricoh/Pentax can be said to have started the affordable Medium Format market place when they announced the Pentax 645Z. The 645Z while it is a traditional Medium Format sized DSLR, it has dual SD card slots, its weather sealed, uses the excellent 50 megapixel sensor that is used by hasselblad and others as well, and it was affordable.. on release in the US, the 645Z was $9999 Body only, which put it well under Phase One/Mamiya and Hasselblad, but not much more than Canon or Nikon’s top end DSLRs

Today the 645Z is still the same, here in NZ they are about $15,000NZ body only, and lenses start at under $1000 so you can pick up a 50 megapixel larger than 35mm sensor weather sealed DSLR that also shoots 1080p video with a fast lens for under $16,000

Both Canon and Nikon have got very quiet booths this year with no major announcements as the Nikon released the D500 and D5 earlier in the year, and last month Canon released the long awaited EOS 5D mk IV, and the pre show announcement of the EOS M5 was disappointing as Canon built it up to be a game changer, when infact its 2 years to late.  There have been rumors going around for a Loooong time that Canon are working on a Medium Format system…

Now with both Hasselblad and Fujifilm in the segment that will surely take wedding, fashion and landscape photographers away from those higher end Canon and Nikon systems with the larger sensors delivering higher resolution in bodies that are just as small and light as the Canikonian systems, we may see the big 2 jump in to the market over the next couple of years.

I think personally, that IF Canon, Nikon and to an extent Sony want to compete, they are going to have to innovate and produce something, as i can see many a photographer start seriously looking to Hassy and Fujifilm for wedding and fashion cameras that are smaller and lighter…. yet deliver bigger sensors with better performance, especially in areas such as low light as the real estate on the sensor allows bigger pixel wells and pixels and still keep a decent resolution of 50+ Megapixels.

 


Ok, i had hoped to bring you a reasonable post by now about mobile editing apps, but the sheer volume of apps left me rather bewildered as to what apps to chose to try out..

As you can see here, this screenshot is the top 27 FREE apps on the google play store, and thats only the top section, with about 4x that down below.. and its the same for paid apps too, the sheer amount is absolutely mind boggling.

TopFree

What i will probably do now is just pick 2 or 3 random ones and have a little play and see what happens, as to paid apps, i probably will just stick to free ones…


Today is the second of my little series about the changing world of photography, and my changing perspective of ‘mobile photography’

The first part for me is definitely the device itself,  aka the smartphone or tablet. Yes ive seen people using their iPad or Galaxy Tab devices as cameras.

But lets start with a little history..

The first cell phones with cameras started to appear on the market in the early 2000’s in Japan,  by 2003 over half of all phones sold had a camera in them, and by 2006 Nokia was the biggest camera seller in the world with more Nokia phones with a camera sold than digital cameras.

Then in 2007 the whole scene changed again when Apple released the iPhone, and the Samsung Galaxy Android phones started to appear enmasse. The smartphone market made mobile photography even easier, with the ability to instantly upload images to the then  social media.

Since then we have seen the imaging side of smartphones evolve rapidly, with cameras gaining features like auto focus with face detection, LED flashes, and increasing resolution.

In my experience, sure the cameras may be gaining in resolution, but the sensor size has not increased so all those new pixels gotta go somewhere, how do they do it, they make them smaller, and pack them closer together, which means loss of sensitivity, and more noise because the signals are closer together.

Anyways… Enough tech stuff, the real point is how i find shooting pics using my phone.  I have 3 different camera apps on my phone, but generally use the stock standard app.. Sure there are no doubt better ones, that have more options and better controls but if im using my phone for pics i want it done fast and without too much thought, and if i want to i can upload to social media to share.  Will i print images from my phone, nope, never they just are not good enough for me to take the trouble to print.  If i am going somewhere and im likely to want to take pics to print,  i will take one of my proper cameras.

Sure there are millions of younger photographers who have only used phones for their photography because they only ever upload to social media like Facebook, Instagram, and others,  but as a retailer, i am also seeing those photographers go past what can be done with a smartphone, and want better images and move toward stand alone cameras.

Mobile Photography has most definitely changed the way many people take and share photos,  and with the rise of Instagram and Twitter, many people have become ‘celebrities’ because they have  figured out how to best promote themselves and now products for companies in the social media channels.