Normandy 1944: Then and Now

This is a wonderful series of 204 images, depicting scenes alternating between 1944 wartime conditions and present day. The contrast is fascinating, as well as humbling.

It’s surprising to me how little things had changed in the 65 years. Most streets and buildings remained more or less the same and were refurbished, rather than being removed and redeveloped multiple times over that period.

Posted on Tuesday, September 29, 2009 in Ramblings • (0) Comments

Phase One Announces New Medium Format Camera Body

Phase One has announced a new camera body, the 645DF, which accepts their medium format digital backs and Mamiya-mount lenses. The development of this camera body has been rumored, and then leaked, but timing of an official announcement and it’s ship dates have been unknown. I’m anxious to see what improvements over the predecessor, the Phase One/Mamiya AFD III, are designed into this new body.

During the same press release, Phase One has also announced a cooperative collaboration arrangement with Schneider Kreuznach (of “Schneider Optics” fame) and Mamiya Digital Imaging, Ltd. Phase One is said to be a majority stakeholder in Mamiya since late last year. This collaboration is expected to contribute to the development of more quality optics for the Phase One/Mamiya cameras.

Of special interest to pros shooting with strobes is the additional announcement of the long-awaited leaf shutter lenses for the Phase One/Mamiya system – a result of the above mentioned collaboration. These new lenses with the new body will provide a sync speed of 1/1600th of a second – the highest in the industry. Focal lengths are 55mm, 80mm and 110mm. The new lenses are expected to ship in the fourth quarter of this year and can be ordered now.

Posted on Monday, September 28, 2009 in News • (0) Comments

Elliot Erwitt

Elliot Erwitt is in Austin, Texas this week, at the Austin Center for Photography, participating in the “Icons of Photography” lectures. You can visit his website to view his work, and puruse his collection on Magnum here. An amazing and humbling body of work.

At 81 years of age, Elliot Erwitt is still very active, traveling around the world sharing his passion for photography.

Posted on Friday, September 25, 2009 in Ramblings • (0) Comments

ColorChecker Passport

imageX-Rite has released a new product called the ColorChecker Passport. It’s slightly larger than the X-Rite Mini ColorChecker and includes several other patches, plus a cool new enclosure so that the pricey tool doesn’t get mangled in your gear bag. Watch the video available on the right side of the linked page for an explanation of its use and the integration with Lightroom as described by Seth Resnick. Lightroom isn’t required, but X-Rite supplies a plugin for Lightroom users.

I use the X-Rite Mini ColorChecker for certain work, which is sold for around $58, but this new offering at around $99 seems like a better choice with the additional patches and protective case.

*ColorChecker Passport image ©X-Rite

Posted on Wednesday, September 16, 2009 in Gear • (0) Comments

Are Open-Source Cameras the Wave of the Future?

A team of computational photography researchers at Stanford University are working on an open-source camera which allows the user to control how the camera records a scene. Some of these controls can (in theory) even be applied after the image is captured – referring to controls not currently provided by shooting RAW images. Watch the video for the description in a nutshell.

Stanford photo scientists are out to reinvent digital photography with the introduction of an “open-source” digital camera…”

I love open-source projects (at least in principle), but I have somewhat mixed feelings about the paths traveled by photography and technology as the two advance. I appreciate the technology side, but hope that photography doesn’t simply evolve (or is that “devolve”) into “digital manipulation”. There are several ways to appreciate and interpret all of this I think. Check it out here. What do you think?

Posted on Sunday, September 13, 2009 in Gear • (2) Comments

The Much Anticipated Leica Anouncement: “9/9/09”

Leica M9Today Leica has announced the M9 rangefinder digital camera body. This has been a much anticipated release, with many Leica users—pro and enthusiast—waiting to see what this 9/9/09 announcement encompasses. As of now, the official announcement has yet to come to light—this will occur later today, but dealers are apparently allowed to leak the information starting at 9:00 a.m. on the 9th. A couple jumped the gun, and hence we learned the price and specs a few hours ahead of schedule.

The Leica M9 is a full-frame-sensor replacement for the cropped-sensor predecessor, the m8/m8.2. It has an 18 mega pixel CCD sensor with 24x36mm coverage — same as 35mm film. The M9 will be available in black or silver, as in previous models. Lowest advertised price is to be $6,995 U.S. and comes with a two year warranty.

The Leica M8 had its problems, but filled a special niche that was once the bastion of the film rangefinder. The problems were eventually addressed (mostly), and a “new and improved” model was released last year in the M8.2. Leica enthusiasts have been clamoring for a full-frame digital version of the renowned Leica range finder, and in fact there were many photographers shooting Leica film cameras who hesitated in buying the M8 because of the reduced imaging surface size, as well as functioning issues. I think that most enthusiasts who wanted to shoot digitally with their Leica kit eventually accepted the cropped-sensor offering of the M8, but that didn’t stop the pining for the anticipated M9.

I’m a huge fan of Leica optics and I love the “M” line of range finder cameras, but I don’t have a Leica kit. I have considered adding it to my kit many times, but the price as well as the cropped sensor format of the M8 have always given me pause. I truly feel that the Leica M series is the ultimate “street photography” kit. Legendary photographer, Henri Cartier-Brasson, used a Leica rangefinder (mostly with a 50mm lens) for his street photography, as have many who came after. The Leica M cameras (M3 - M7) have also frequently been used by journalists working in all parts of the world, recording war and hardship and joy. But the digital Leica M8 had numerous problems that caused many professionals to reconsider, or abandon, the idea of using Leica digital cameras for serious work. Let’s hope that Leica has learned from past experience and will supply an M9 worthy of the Leica red dot.

It’s expected that the official announcement will also include the rumored X1, as well as updated information regarding the S-2. I’m very curious about the X1. The Leica S-2 was officially announced last summer and is due to ship in October.

Leica X1Follow-up: Leica did, in fact, reveal the X1 today as well. While not cheap (what Leica product is?) at $2,000, it does look like a very nice compact. It’s due to ship in December and I’m anxious to see how it performs. But for less than half the price, and offering interchangeable lenses in the micro four thirds mount, I may be more drawn to the new Panasonic GF-1.

*M9 & X1 images ©Leica Camera AG

Posted on Tuesday, September 8, 2009 in Gear • (0) Comments

Fractal Dreams: Roman Loranc’s New Book

Roman Loranc is a Polish-American photographer who emigrated to the U.S. in 1981 and is now living in the Central Valley region of California. I discovered his work some time ago, but was reminded to visit his site again when I heard of the publishing of his new book Fractal Dreams: Photographs from Two Decades. The book is $150, and reports are that it is beautifully published. I have yet to see it, but intend to check it out. A collector’s edition can also be ordered, which includes an autographed copy of the book and an original print.

The book can be ordered via his website or from Photography West. Neither website is ideal to navigate, but the photographic work is inspiring.

Posted on Wednesday, September 2, 2009 in Ramblings • (0) Comments

New Canon 100mm Macro Lens Announced Today

Canon has announced a new EF 100mm f/2.8 L IS Macro lens. This lens carries the “L” moniker as part of Canon’s “Luxury” line or upper-end pro series, and most significantly, the lens is image stabilized (IS). This lens is exactly what many have pined for, in that the IS feature should allow us to get better hand-held close-up shots when a tripod is not available or impractical to use. Canon is billing the lens as a macro and portrait lens, so hopefully it will exhibit buttery “L-style” bokeh when used for portraits. Kudos to Canon for adding this lens to the line-up of EF lenses.

[via Richard Wanderman]

Posted on Tuesday, September 1, 2009 in Gear • (1) Comments