SHOCKING News About The iPhone! by James Shanks

A client just sent me a photo that was taken with their iPhone 5s, they want some "help" to make the image OK to print. Basically, the image, on a technical level, is crap. It was taken handheld in low light and has a lot of noise, is blurry and underexposed. I'll do what I can but it reminds me of a huge secret that people don't seem to be aware of and are shocked when I tell them. Many refuse to accept this fact and argue with me but the truth is: iPHONES ARE NOT CAMERAS! It's true that they have cameras (plural - one in front and one in back) but that's not what they are. They are not phones either, although I wish they were. There is an old expression, "Jack of all trades and master of none." This very aptly describes the iPhone (or any "smart" phone.) They can do all kinds of amazing things but people seem to think that the camera is as good or better than any other camera - stupid me, why am I hauling around all this gear all the time?! How can the camera on this phone which is like 1/4" thick and 1/8" wide take photos as good as a "real" camera that is several times bigger than the entire iPhone itself? Well, it can't. My wife and I have a lot of friends and family with children and all I ever see them do is take snapshots with their iPhones or iPads and these images (which are almost never printed or downloaded by the way) are the only record they have of the kids growing up. It's sad. Ten years from now most of them will be scratching their heads wondering why they have no pictures of little Johnnie at age 3. People would be better off with an old 35mm film camera that would have pictures of a whole years worth of holidays on a single roll of film that ended up in a shoe box under the bed, really! So what is my point besides acting like a cranky old grandpa telling all you kids to get off my photo-lawn? Well, I'm just hoping that people will understand that if an event is important enough to record that maybe you should at least consider doing it properly AND that you don't need to be taking pictures and video all the damn time. Last few times I was in MoMA I was sickened by all the people experiencing the entire museum via the little screen on their phone. Put the phone away, open your eyes and try actually looking once and a while.

LYTRO - ! or ? by James Shanks

Saw this CNN article about the newest Lytro camera: Lytro refocuses with a new $1,600 camera

In case you are unfamiliar with this technology, it allows you to select the focus of an image after you take the photo. Kind of cool but sort of a one trick pony as far as I am concerned. This new camera is supposed to be marketed towards higher end users:

"The company says its new camera is "professional grade" and should appeal to full-time photographers and artists."

Um, I'm not so sure this is such a good idea or what "professional grade" is supposed to mean. Even this new camera yields a very small (4 to 6 megapixel) image that, in my opinion, would be useful for little more than on-screen applications.

I think eventually it could be a useful tool and am glad that there are companies doing this research but for now, well, not so interested.

R.I.P. Calumet by James Shanks

Wow, I just learned that Calumet photo abruptly closed today without warning and filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. I am a little shocked. Although I didn't shop there much lately (neither did others apparently) I have had a 20+ year relationship with Calumet and bought equipment & supplies as well as rented gear from them in New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Amsterdam. I am most sorry for the employees who must now look for work elsewhere - they have some great people on staff and I wish them the best. I think this is a sign of the changing photo marketplace and indicates the shift away from the specialized "professional" world of the good 'ole days (back when I was buying 4x5 film and Polaroid at Calumet) to the "everyone is a photographer" digital world of today (the B&H universe, if I may.) Calumet also had a line of it's own branded items (strobes, backdrops etc.) and I am sure, or at least hope, that those will be purchased by someone and marketed under a different name? We shall see. They have (had) the best, most neutral white background seamless paper I ever found...

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