Why does the Nikon One have the easiest workflow of all the electronic cameras I have tried?

Relax, there are photos at the end of this. But I read this last night and I suggest you go and read the original (and use the links at Thom Hogan’s page to get your next lot of film from B&H: support a good critic and keep analog going. He’s talking electronic here.

…. just saw another private report this past week that predicted what would be 30% upswing in ILC camera sales by 2018. There’s just one problem with that report: not a single person can tell me why we’d have 30% more buyers in a few years, let alone the author of that report. They can’t point to a camera idea that they think will drive that. It’s as if they magically think that the camera buying public—who’s currently deserting the market in dramatic double digits a year—will suddenly discover their folly and come back to cameras that just have more pixels, more features, incremental performance gains.

Not going to happen folks.

What has to happen is simple, and I’ve been saying it for seven years now: the camera needs to be reinvented. Workflow is a huge part of that.

Maybe I should just stop using the word workflow, because even some of you reading this who have that problem just don’t resonate with that word. How about this: convenience? Substantive improvements in convenience will make me want to buy a new camera. 1.18x more resolution won’t (that’s 50mp versus 36mp, by the way). Heck, even half the weight and size for the same results wouldn’t excite me as much as this scenario:

Before heading off to Patagonia in March, set my camera to reflect that (file name = YYYYMMDD_Patagonia_SUBLOCATION_SEQUENCE#). Hmm, SUBLOCATION and SEQUENCE# seem to be variables (as is YYYYMMDD, actually). When I move to a new location within Patagonia, I just pick it from a predefined list I made before the trip (I know where I’m going ;~). Better still, the camera uses its GPS or a connection to my smartphone to figure out the SUBLOCATION.
Whenever I get within communication distance of my computer, the camera automatically moves all files over to the computer. This is verified by the two upon completion of the move, as well. Whenever my portable computer has the bandwidth to do so, it automatically sends a copy of the files to my archive, which lives in the cloud. This, too, is verified. When I get home the laptop automatically moves and integrates my images onto my desktop machine and into my chosen image browser. Status of these things are clearly shown to me on at least one convenient display on the camera, and on the computer.
When I chimp on my camera, I can start the select/output process by marking these files in numerous ways (selects, send to Facebook, send via email to Mom, etc.). And yes, when those files get to my computer, the things that can and should be done automatically are, and when I ask my photo editing program to show me my current selects, I see just them.

That alone would cause me to upgrade my D810 to a D811, my E-M1 to an E-M2, and so on. It would also be a selling point to the smartphone crowd: want better quality but the same convenience?

Frankly, I’m not sure why the camera companies are in a panic. There’s actually a huge opportunity sitting out there for the one who figures out the real problem and the real answer to it first.

When I am at home I have a quiver of cameras, for different jobs and different moods. Doing scenery and not worrked about fast autofocus? Medium format: either a TLR or rangefinder, and both are from Mamiya.

Need to add street photography but want the ability to change up and shoot scenery? 35 mm Rangefinder — with either internal metering or a Gossen Digisix on the hotshoe. Alternatively, Ricoh GXR — APS in a cheap small and discreet size, and I can use the same lenses for both digital and film.

want really fast autofocus? Or Macro? Or wildlife? Nikon one.

But if I want to do all my big question is how far I will be travelling. If it is car based and I have a very fast computer to deal with big, big photos — DLSR. I like my Nikon D800 and I don’t think the iterations (D810 and the 50 MP Fx which is surely planned) are going to make me want to move on. If I want to carry the kit a long distance or am travelling, Micro 4/3, which can do almost everything well enough.

But consider workflow.

For analogue (film) it is easy — send the film to Reatha if colour and get her to scan it: I can develop black and white develop myself,but not scan as well as she can. (There is a huge problem with scanners. You have to get them locally and slide/film scanners are specialized things, not easily available in NZ. If you get one from overseas — after being clobbered by duty and GST — you better make sure that it can handle NZ voltage or you will brick it). When I get the scans in dropbox, then convert them for export, or send to directly off for printing.

For colour it is worse. Download into shotwell, which at least puts things in date order, and extracts JPEGs. Open Rawtherapee or Darktable. Manipulate until correct. Export. Or… for the Nikon one, if using social media, download photos to phone (use “recommended” not raw), and then post them to dropbox and facebook.

What electronic cameras need to be able to do is share the jpegs freely (lofi) and then use the cloud to backup the RAW files for when you need them.

But at present, that half occurs. In part this is because bandwidth, particularly in the wild places, is via 4G, which is very expensive. In part it is because the tools we have don’t talk well to each other. In the analogue world this all happened in the lab. But the lab is now bits.

Google has this automation working for Android phones (probably better than Apple does with icloud) The Camera makes would be wise to leverage the work done by these organization,s particularly as a fair amount of it is under open source licensing.

And now some Nikon One photos — doing what it does best, dealing with rapid focus of flowers mainly, while a strong nor-easterly is blowing — the embedded JPEGs, extracted by Shotwell

Nikon One V3, 18mm F 1,8 lens wide open. It’s worthwhile noting that the wind was blowing these flowers about 5 cm away from rest at times.

Old school, new school.

One of the interesting things about micro four thirds is… four thirds lenses. I have (and it still works, but it is a horrible camera, don’t get one) a first generation Olympus 4/3 camera, an e300. And the lenses work via an adapter, including photo information.

So… a couple of test shots of this.

And in the same pile of gear was a grip and lens cap (f/8) lens. Old school and new school… these are taken by a cellphone, simply because that is what was out and it worked.

IMG_20150119_212126

IMG_20150119_205818

The Mamiya will be modified a bit over time — and it is worthwhile noting that the manual for this is available here.

Workflow (Hooper’s inlet, not by me)

This post began when I was trying to upgrade a couple of phones. I have used android phones for a while, most recently, while travelling a Moto G with the most recent upgrades which include the ability to shoot with one swipe. It led to a few trouser photos (of the inside of my pocket) while biking, but it worked. But I was asked to upgrade my Mum’s windows phone.

Oh my… install zune on computer, zune cannot pick up phone because USB support is flakey… gave up over an hour later.

Which brings me to processing. While I was travelling, I just used shotwell. It does a reasonable job, and it is fast, and when you only have a laptop and lousy wifi (or worse a stick) you post good enough.

But you cannot process as you ought.

But now I am at home, I still use shotwell (it imports everything, and the auto jpegs are often used on my other blog). But I can process properly.

So… this was taken today by the Pro Photog using the Olympus. I was fussing about with a film camera. I know it was her because she asked very quickly for a longer zoom.

I have corrected for the lens (recognized in Darktable) done some minor adjustments to exposure and added a graduated filter. Takes five to ten minutes. Exported (jpgs not pngs — 1.4 MB vis 15 MB files)

One final note. The Olympus OM-10 with two lenses fitted into a corner of the bag I use for my Medium format film camera… and added very little weight. It meant we were carrying two bags — cameras and tripod. Not the three bags or backpack one would need for a medium format rangefinder and a Nikon DSLR kit.

Tokomaru bay wharf

This is an abandoned wharf next to an abandoned freezing works (meat processing plant). There is a small settlement around the now ruined factory buildings. It is quite remote, and with the move to larger ships and centralized processing of meat the factory became uneconomic decades ago. It is now the haunt of artists, and the sea is slowly demolishing the works of man.

Olympus OM-10 with 14-42 Zuiko Kit lens. Processed in darktable to 2000 bit jpgs.

Gray’s Bush: Darktable vs Shotwell: shadow correction.

There are five photos here, one has been processed both ways. Three photos (the .jpg) are automatically generated from darktable. The other three (the .png) have been processed in Darktable: the shadow recovery has been pushed up, the saturation decreased, and highlights adjusted.

And this demonstrates that if one can, processing from raw is worthwhile. The fact the pngs are 16 bit is a bonus.

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Grey’s Bush is a small stand of Kahikitea rain forest that was not cut down. It is now managed by the Department of Conservation: DoC

Poverty Bay

Gisbourne is poor. About one in three people are on the dole or benefit of some sort. But the surrounding country is fairly fertile… until you get into the hills.

Olympus OM-10, generally wide angle 14 -42 lens. Processed in shotwell. No augmentation

Poverty Bay and Cook’s cove

This is our third day in Gisborne, counting the travel day. Photos from the trip in, and yesterday, where we did a walk at Tolaga Bay to Cook’s Cove, where Captain Cook was “stuck” unable to get out for a week or so.

Olympus OM-D 10, zuiko 14-42 f3.5-5.6 kit lens, processed in shotwell.

Napier, two

Napier markets itself as an Art Deco city. Some photos, emphasising the symbolism.

Olympus OM-D 10, Zuiko 14-42 mm f 3.5-5.6 lens, raw photos processed in Rawtherapee.