Home Film Jason’s Newsround: Lies, damn lies, rumours, and statistics

Jason’s Newsround: Lies, damn lies, rumours, and statistics

Copyright: Markus C. Hurek

How do you feel about RUMOURS? Not the monster-selling, 1977 album by Fleetwood Mac, but the gossipy kind of camera gear rumours that may or may not be true? There are a lot of them about. Our theory is that many photographers secretly love to read about rumours, especially if they concern long-awaited pieces of desirable kit. Well, this week we have stories about soon-to-be-released cameras, news of an up tick in digital camera sales, a diminutive macro-lens, and a photojournalist who likes to shoot in black and white. Some of these might actually be true.

Rumours, rumours, and perhaps a grain of truth

There’s nothing as fascinating to gear addicts as a good, unadulterated rumour. Or even a good rumor. Among the current drop of camera gear rumours is the dream of a small, cheap medium format camera from Fuji, attempting to squeeze full-frame between its two chosen formats. Panasonic is said to be coming for Leica, Fuji and Ricoh in the hotly contested fixed-lens market, while it’s likely that Leica’s next-generation screenless wonder is imminent.

Fujifilm, having decided to leapfrog full-frame and offer just APS-C and medium-format cameras, is apparently contemplating a lighter, cheaper MF camera to put the squeezers on top-end full-frame mirrorless offerings from other manufacturers. There’s some sense in this, although there are natural limitations on how small the body can be — and those lenses are far from small and light.

It’s the APS-C versus full-frame argument in reverse. Fuji is effectively saying that if you want the best, go for medium format. With Leica reported to be working in on a medium-format mirrorless camera to replace the S range, could the arrival of such a beast also squeeze SL3 sales? However, if the S is anything to go by, the price difference will be substantial.

Panasonic upgrades

Meanwhile, Panasonic is known to be in the process of updating its S range of cameras, which are very similar in size and weight to Leica’s SL. The smaller S5 range has proved popular, especially among videographers, and has an enviable reputation. But is Panasonic about to go off at a tangent and create a full-frame competitor for the Leica Q3? Such a camera, with a price tag closer to the Fujifilm X100IV than to the Leica, could be a great move for the Japanese manufacturer. Here at Macfilos this is a camera gear rumour we can get behind, and it would be interesting to discover how close it would be in specification to the Q3.

It’s probably heresy to suggest that there could be some shared technology between Leica and Panasonic on such a camera. Leica has the experience of nearly ten years of success with the Q concept, while Panasonic has the latest technology. It’s intriguing to look at the Q3 lens, which incorporates much of the camera’s technology, including the shutter and stabilisation. Might we see a version of this unit in a new Panasonic Lumix compact?

And let’s not forget that there are strong rumours that Leica will replace its four-thirds D-Lux with a new exclusive compact that will not be a rebranding of a Panasonic camera. It’s something else to look forward to in 2024.

A camera gear rumour worth betting on

Back on safer ground, we are seeing more and more leaks on the rumoured coming M11-D. We will have to wait until the launch, which is probably coming sooner than later, to see what Leica has done to create this third-generation of the screenless camera. But the previous models, the M-D and M10-D were quietly successful among an epicurean band of Leica rangefinder fans. The scarcity of second-hand models leads us to believe that buyers hold on to the screenless model, and are not as keen to upgrade because they don’t need all the “modern” features. A lens, a shutter, and a sensor instead of a roll of film: That’s what D buyers like to think, and we’re with them all the way.

So if (or when) this new camera arrives, we expect there will be a great deal of interest and a ready band of potential buyers.

Macfilos coverage of earlier D models

Rumours of the death of cameras have been greatly exaggerated

There are signs that the decade-long slide in camera sales might have bottomed out. The advent of smartphones, together with their convenient and increasingly impressive built-in cameras, put the kybosh on many types of traditional camera. Compact cameras, in particular, were in danger of extinction. However, recent data from Japan — the world’s most significant producer of digital cameras — offers encouraging news.

The Camera and Imaging Products Association (CIPA) is a trade body for Japanese camera and lens manufacturers. CIPA’s latest report on camera shipments indicates year-on-year increases across all camera types. Mirrorless cameras saw a 43% increase in shipments, corresponding to a 47% increase in overall value shipped. Although increases in shipments of DSLR and compact cameras were more modest, the value of shipments saw a significant increase in both categories. Rather than a camera gear rumour, this counts more as one of those damn statistics.

The picture in Japan

Domestic sales data in Japan support this promising trend. Nikkei Japan reports that 2023 sales of digital cameras increased by 7%, the first increase in thirteen years. The overall market is literally a tenth of its size in 2010, which I think counts as an official decimation, again the impact of cell-phone cameras. Nevertheless, the pendulum swing away from dedicated cameras towards smartphone cameras may be coming to an end.

What might be the underlying reasons for this trend? Perhaps, ironically, the greater exposure (no pun intended) to photography resulting from smartphone camera use, has rekindled interest in ‘proper’ cameras. In particular, perhaps a younger generation of photography enthusiasts is emerging, who want ‘the real thing’, rather than an add-on to a phone. Whatever the reason, we will be keeping a close watch on these developments from our vantage point at Macfilos Towers.

A macro marvel from Panasonic

The latest Panasonic L-Mount lens is no longer one of those camera gear rumours, but the real thing. If you are a macrophotography enthusiast with an L-Mount camera, the new Lumix 100mm f/2.8 lens is definitely worth a closer look (no pun intended). It joins an impressive line-up of lightweight, identically sized, high performing Lumix lenses, now covering 18mm to 100mm focal lengths 1All, except for the f/2.8 Macro discussed here, have a wide maximum aperture of f/1.8 . And, guess what, they are all more or less the same weight. This new 295g2Without hood macro lens focuses down to 20 cm, delivering a 1:1 reproduction ratio. It is significantly lighter and smaller than macro-lens options from Sigma, Canon, Sony, and Nikon, as well as possessing a closer minimum focus. Impressive.

Panasonic has created this marvel through several technological innovations. These include the use of movable lens element groups and a dual-phase linear motor. The latter uses multiple magnets to allow more rapid focusing. The following video provides a detailed overview of the lens design and performance. It costs $998 (before tax) in the US and £999 in the UK (including 20% VAT).

His magazine is printed in colour — but a senior journalist prefers to shoot in black and white. Why?

The world is colourful, and it is best represented in colour images. Right? That is, after all, why black and white television has long been superseded by colour TV. And news magazines, newspapers and almost all other media have gone to colour, all over the world. And definitely, the choice of black and white always was a compromise — it was cheaper, faster, easier. As soon as colour photography became more accessible, pros and amateurs crossed over. “Focus”, the German news magazine, was founded on in 1993, when colour images were standard.

All the more surprising is that one of their most prominent journalists, Markus C. Hurek, prefers black and white in his personal work. The magazine he and his team are compiling week by week publishes next-to-no black and white images. But Hurek, heading the politics department in the newsroom, is a big fan of monochrome images — and he is a talented photographer, as his current exhibition in the Leica Galerie Konstanz proves. All these journalistic photographs (portraits, scenes, places) are in black and white.

“It adds depth to the images if we remove the effects of colour”, Hurek said at the opening, and continued to explain: “The reduction forces us to look at the images more closely, and only then we discover layers that might otherwise be covered by eye-catching colours”. And he believes that the black-and-white aesthetics make the images in some way timeless because fashion and trends are less prominent. A visitor asked him at the opening night why he didn’t publish more b/w images in his magazine then. The answer was honest: Readers want to have the would represented in the way they actually see it.

Old rumours sell cheap

Classic digital cameras continue to hog the headlines. It’s as though owners of the latest high-resolution cameras have suddenly realised that there was life before 60 or, even, 24MP. We’ve looked Leicas, including the Digilux models from the early 2000s to the digital Ms, starting with the M8 and progressing through the breakneck improvements of the last 16 years.

Most, though, are not cheap, especially when the red dot is affixed to the body. The Digilux 2 is one of my favourites and the photograph below is taken with this 2004 5MP camera with its stunning Leica SDC Vario-Summicron f/2.0-2.4 lens but tiny 5MP sensor.

Yet, there is a general appreciation of the charms of even cheap digitals. John Wade, one of Britain’s foremost experts on vintage cameras, has taken to Amateur Photographer to guide us through some early digitals costing less than £50. And he warns us of the pitfalls to avoid when buying. John is a stalwart of the very active Photographic Collector’s Club of Great Britain, and he has written over 30 books on photographic history, photographic techniques and social history. This is a man who knows his stuff.

You can even print them

John Wade shows how a photograph taken with a 3.34MP Nikon Coolpix 800 over 23 years ago can still hold its own, even up to a print of A4 size. And you can bag one of these for just £35. But as John rightly says,

Given this, it’s tempting to ponder why you need to invest thousands of pounds on the latest digital gear when it’s still possible to get images of this quality from cameras that cost less than $60 / £50. That said, it has to be admitted that today’s supersonic, all-singing, all-dancing, whistleblowing, bell-ringing digital cameras are not merely in a different league to these 50-quid wonders. They are a whole new species. 

The article is fascinating, as John takes you from the Pentax EI-C90 of 1996 (sensor: 0.41MP) through the Minolta Dimage V, the Sony Mavica CS400, the many Nikon split-body cameras to the early models to the ubiquitous tiny point-and-shoot cameras such as the Casio Exilim EX-Z77 of 2007.

Read the full article here at Amateur Photographer

Jason’s earlier Newsround editions

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