Disclaimer: I have not really written about cameras a whole lot, so I am looking for feedback here. My field of expertise is with electro-optics and optoelectronics, not really with optomechancial systems, although I dabble in a little bit of everything. If image sensor and camera world is of interest to you, tell me and I will explore it further.
Camera companies have been hurting. They have been hurting for a while because cell phone companies have destroyed a significant portion of their business. There are two main reasons camera phones have been able to make such a huge impact. One of them was, rather prophetically, first uttered by the famed Olympus camera designer Yoshihisa Maitani: "If you do not have camera, you can't take photographs... With a camera you can carry with you everywhere, you'll never miss that once-in-a-lifetime moment again." That was the original driver for Olympus historically focusing on compact and rugged camera systems. What he did not realize back in the 60s was that the camera you can always have with you will turn out to be a camera phone. Noone really realized that until fairly recently. I have a bunch of nice cameras and I am willing to carry them around quite a lot to get the picture I want. However, more than half of the pictures I take are still taken with a cellphone, so I always upgrade my smartphone to the latest and greatest. Apparently, I am not the only one and all that demand has pushed smartphone manufacturers to develop ever more spectacular camera modules for their camera phones. They were spectacularly successful at it because of much larger financial resources than any camera company that ever existed and because they are not in Japan. I have worked for two Japanese camera companies in my career and Japanese engineers, on average, are not good engineers. There are always exceptions, of course, but by and larger, they have too much respect for authority and not enough creativity and willingness to make a mistake. Japanese corporate culture does not forgive mistakes. To re-iterate: they are smart and capable, but corporate culture in Japan is just not conducive to goo engineering. They are, however, incredible craftsmen and optimizers.
That is one of the reasons why in terms of image quality Apple or Google can get out of a particular sensor size, they are several generations ahead of what any Japanese camera company can do. Same goes for user interfaces.
The other big reason camera phones were so amazingly disruptive is the workflow. Taking a picture, doing quick edits and sharing it with the world takes seconds with a camera phone. It is not quite so quick with a camera. Japanese cameras have god-awful menu systems and antiquated user interfaces aimed at the existing pro photographers. There is a reason why I am so fond of Leica cameras. Aside from amazing lenses, Leica cameras have much simpler user interfaces. With most Japanese cameras, I can't grab one without accidentally pressing on three buttons and then spending 20 minutes trying to figure what that did. When traditional camera companies try to simplify the user interface, they always assume that their target audience is complete retards with single digit IQs who just learned that cameras exist. Leica's Q2 camera gives me the core controls I need for photography and keeps everything else out of my way. Then again, Leica is not a Japanese company. In a Japanese company, noone except for the very top level of the management can make any decisions and the guys at that top level are so far detached from the technical and user aspects of the design that they are really risk averse. They would rather not change anything that they do not understand. That appears to encompass a lot of things. Then, within the electronics industry In Japan, there appears to be a pecking order where some companies are supposed to be the leaders and others the followers. It is a little too rigid to be successful, so camera companies really got slaughtered, revenue-wise, in recent years. They basically had to retreat into two market segments: mid-to-high end system cameras and "tough" weather resistant cameras, although the latter is really being eroded by action cams that are mostly not made by Japanese companies. I can see why. I have Sony's RX0m2 (not quite an action cam, but something along those lines) and the user interface is the worst I've seen yet and by a solid margin.
Every time I think that Japanese camera companies have gotten beaten up enough to evolve and modernize, I get a reminder that I am wrong.
Today, OM, which is what used to Olympus Imaging, had a PR event. They have been teasing it for a while, and everyone thought they would release a new camera or two. Some sort of a product introduction would go a long way toward convincing people that Olympus Imaging being sold to someone else might pave way to newer and better products.
Nope. They made an announcement that they have finally figured out how to rebrand themselves and now they are called "OM System" and that they have a new mission statement that is different yet just as awkward as what they had before. Somehow, when Japanese camera companies formulate their English language mission statements they steadfastly refuse to ask anyone who speaks fluent English to help with the wording. All of their mission statements are uniformly awful and uniformly useless.
They did say (for the eleventh time this year) that a new camera is coming and they mentioned that it will rely on some sort of computational imaging techniques. The latter is potentially a good thing, except we have no clue what form that will take. I am cautiously pessimistic, but I am open to being surprised.
Here is some unsolicited advice to the new OM System company: fire everyone involved in the release of the today's news. Every single marketing and PR person who had anything to do with it, especially everyone with any decision making power.
Introduce some new hardware.
Outsource the software.
Definitely outsource the smartphone app.
Hire a bunch of young content creators to use your new camera and talk about it on social media.
Go back to the lab and work on new hardware.
Traditional marketing for cameras is dead and the sooner you get away from it, the better.
I got home yesterday and fished Steiner MPS from the mail. I am going to go live in an hour, right here, with some early impressions of it.
I originally planned to do a live show on the Rittenhouse verdict take-aways, but figured you'd want to get the scoop on the MPS first. It is an interesting new option for compact red dot sights and the last thing I needed for the red dot comparison I have been working on.
Let's talk about optics today and touch on the political stuff tomorrow.
Here is a review of the 15x56 "Big Eyes" binocular from Tract.
I ended up liking it a lot more than I expected given the price.
Here is the third installment of this series, recorded after a rather long break.
Let me know if you have any questions.
Here is the rough parts list:
VC Defense billet lower
BCM upper https://bit.ly/3wcHIQX
Proof Research 16" CF barrel https://bit.ly/3whEg7I
Odin tunable gas block https://bit.ly/3EJk8hO
Bootleg adjustable BCG https://bit.ly/3BLeQAl
Q HoneyBadger 12" handguard https://bit.ly/2ZRt7hr
ACE UL Stock https://bit.ly/3mIWpbc
Vortex Razor Gen3 1-10x24 https://bit.ly/3BJkR0j
Hiperfire 24 4Gun trigger https://bit.ly/3bCaykj
Zero Bravo offset sights
Crimson Trace CMR-301 light/laser https://bit.ly/2ZPQrfy
ACE UL stock
Riflecraft RS-3 sling
Here is how I chose to build a general purpose AR-15. That does not necessarily mean it is ideal for everyone. If you are thinking of doing such a build, this is a good starting point. Take a close look at my reasoning and see what you need to change to make it fit you.
During the last couple of livecasts, multiple people brought up a recent article in the Recoil magazine that discusses the MPVO concept. MPVO stands for Medium Power Variable optic, similarly to how LPVO stands for Low Power Variable Optic.
The article in question is this one: https://www.recoilweb.com/medium-powered-variable-optics-mpvo-the-optic-you-dont-know-you-need-170236.html
It is generally a well written piece that makes a reasonable argument. I agree with some parts of it and disagree with other parts, so there is some nuance there.
Before I get into the specifics, there are a couple of things to point out:
1) It will occasionally sound like I am attacking the author of that article. I am not. However, I also have to call a spade a spade sometimes and if I think he has no clue about something specific, I will say exactly that. I have never heard of the guy until today. I did look up a few of his other articles and he seems like a good writer and a competent gun guy. I did not, however, find anything resembling an understanding ...
There is a very fair chance that your e-mail is filled with hundreds of "once-in-a-lifetime" or "today only" deals. If you are not careful, you can end up with a once in a lifetime credit card bill next month.
I am generally not hugely pre-occupied with deals and I do not wait for a particular season to buy something. If I am looking for something specific, I usually need it and I am unlikely to spend months analyzing what deals are out there.
There are some exceptions to that, most notably with backup optics (see my earlier post on Primary Arms) and tools.
I have a good assortment of tools to use, but I have been keeping an eye out for deals on Fix-It-Stick kits since I like to have a few spread around different bags/backpacks/etc. It turns out that I am pathologically incapable of remembering to move one from bag to bag, so I ended up accumulating a few here and there I am picking another one up this time since they have a healthy Black Friday discount going on: https://bit.ly/3nTqzsL
They seem to have a...
Rather than inundate you with a long list of things we are thankful for this year, I'll just leave you with a couple of points
We should all be grateful for our families. I certainly am. I really am blessed and I wish you all to be as fortunate.
All of us who live in the US, should definitely be grateful for that. It is the greatest country in the world (I know people from other countries may disagree, but everyone has the right to be wrong) and I am truly fortunate to be here.
I made a long drive to California yesterday with my kids, so I had some time to think. As irritated as I am with Big Tech at the moment, I have to say that I truly am grateful for the modern marvels of technology. They did not give me a voice, but they sure extended its reach.
Happy tryptophan day, ya'll!