Jessops: 1934-2012

Another sad victim of online sales in Britain - Jessops, the high street photography chain, is no more. Jessops joins Jacobs, which shut down in June 2012.

Sadly, this isn’t entirely surprising. The primary market for Jessops was the average consumer. People who had no idea about photography but wanted something for their snapshots, or who wanted prints made up. The thing is, everybody uses their phones now. The average consumer no longer wants to carry a point and shoot around. And it’s easier to share a photo online than mess around with prints.

Meanwhile the high end of the market is split between professionals, who often shell out for the support from companies like Calumet or Fixation, or advanced amateurs, who shop around and then buy the cheapest thing online.

Either way, the end result is the low end in photographic retail is gone. Probably won’t be missed by the average photographer - I have a now-useless £20 gift certificate lying around the place that someone gave me years ago and which I never got around to spending. But a tragedy for the thousands of laid-off staff, and photographers who funded their way through life by working in a shop.

Powershot N

Well, this is an interesting one. For years camera makers have been releasing cameras that, well, seem a bit on the unimaginative side. They sort of parrot generations of previous designs with some little design tweaks here and there.

But the Powershot N looks quite interesting. I don’t know how practical or actually usable it is, never having tried one, but it’s definitely a case of a camera manufacturer having a little sit down and coming up with something new and unusual!

Basically it’s a small compact camera, square from the front, which can be used from any orientation. It has a flip-up touchscreen display, and some fun user interface tricks like a rotating ring for adjusting zoom.

Sigma Dock

Okay, so this is old news - the product was apparently announced last September. But I missed it. Still, very cool idea. Naturally it only supports Sigma lenses, and a recent subset of Sigma lenses at that, but hopefully other manufacturers will produce similar products. Not a ton of people will want to fiddle with their lens firmware like this, but for those who do, it’s an awesome concept!

Yet another slimy rights grab

Instagram users may want to consider using a different service for creating their intellectual property. The new terms of service for the Facebook-owned company contain a pretty massive grab. Consider some of these specific points:

  • “…you hereby grant to Instagram a non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide license to use the Content that you post on or through the Service…”
  • “…you agree that a business or other entity may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos (along with any associated metadata), and/or actions you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you.”
  • “You acknowledge that we may not always identify paid services, sponsored content, or commercial communications as such.”

If you don’t want Facebook to sell your photos in perpetuity to other corporations without your consent and for their profit, you have until 16 January 2013 to remove your photos from the service.

Update 18 December. Instagram now seem to be backtracking, basically saying, “we didn’t mean what we said.” Guess we’ll see how that works out.

Bryce Bayer

Just about every digital camera sold today uses an internal pattern of colour filters over the image sensor. This pattern, known as the Bayer filter, was invented in 1976 by Kodak researcher Bryce Bayer.

Apparently Mr Bayer died this week, aged 83. While it must have been tragic to watch the firm he worked for much of his life go down the tubes, it must also have been an amazing thought to know that just about every modern camera out there contained his invention!

Canon lens news

So Canon have released two new lenses - a 24-70mm 4L IS USM and a 35mm 2 IS USM EF lens. But more interestingly, Canon have finally decided to join the rest of the industry by switching to centre-pinch lens caps! Exciting news.

Of course, I’m still waiting for a 24-105 2.8L IS USM lens. That would be my ideal!

Canon 5D III update

Canon keeps surprising us with updates. The company has announced a firmware update to the EOS 5D mark III, adding uncompressed HDMI and support for f/8 lenses when using the central AF sensor. Very impressive that they’ve enabled this functionality without hardware changes.

The only odd thing is that it’s a massive preannouncement. Users have to wait until April 2013 for these goodies!

Arrival of the Sixes

So, between Nikon’s new D600 and Canon’s new 6D, it seems that affordable full-frame (35mm equivalent) digital SLRs are finally coming of age!

Both cameras look like great bodies, with various advantages to each side. (Canon for high ISO, WiFi and GPS; Nikon for better AF and viewfinder) Pretty exciting stuff.

EF-M: Canon mirrorless

No, it’s not a resurrection of the strange manual-focus semi-EOS film body from 20 years ago… EF-M now refers to the new line of Canon mirrorless cameras that’s rumoured to debut this coming Monday.

Rumoured specs from this Japanese site.

Summary: APS-C size chip, 18 megapixels and touchscreen for the base model, EOS M as the marketing name, introductory lenses pancake 22mm and an 18-55mm.

The myth that flash damages art

Interesting piece on the ongoing myth that flash photography can damage artwork.

Personally I feel that museums should ban the use of flash, simply because it’s incredibly annoying to have bright bursts of light fired off while you’re trying to contemplate art. However, the way this tends to translate to blanket bans on photography altogether is frustrating.