It’s been a busy few weeks but there is no photo to go with this post. I make a habit of turning down photography offers. Being retired I take photos because I enjoy doing so. Any money made is icing on the cake.
When a well known company with an international profile contacts you with an assignment that involves complete artistic freedom and photographing something that you love how can you turn that down? Stay true to your vision and good things will come your way. ‘Nuff said.
I hadn’t planned on posting a blog until I came across a post on a Mac website. The post was actually sidebar headline linking to the story on another website. Here’s a link to the story, click here.
The gist of the story was that Taiwan’s Fair Trade Commission has fined Samsung $340,000 after finding it guilty of paying bloggers and staff to post fake product reviews on forums, praising Samsung products and criticizing competitor ones. Why did that ring a bell with me?
Over the last few weeks I’ve been looking for a tripod to replace the heavy Manfrotto that I have been using for a few years. When I bought it I wasn’t serious about shooting landscapes. I just wanted a tripod to haul around in the car to practice my HDRs with. HDRs are what got me interested in pursuing landscapes after a long hiatus.
The Manfrotto was good. It was on the heavy side and after years of being banged up and taken outside during all kinds of weather it was showing its age. Of course one of the top landscape tripods these days are the Gitzo carbon fiber models. At around $700 without a tripod head that seemed like too much money so I decided to search the internet to see what was out there and what people had to say about them.
A week before I bought my new tripod I came across a photography blog that had a review of a tripod that I was interested in. Expecting to see the author say that they had “bought” this model and were or were not happy with it instead the author stated that the tripod manufacturer sent the tripod for review. Hmmm? That didn’t raise suspicions so much as the fact that the author got to “keep” the tripod. The writer never said that the tripod was paid for or a gift. My guess is that the tripod was a freebie. The comments on the tripod were glowing. It was the best tripod ever! Maybe it is? I don’t know. But this I do know.
Does anyone really believe that we would get an honest assessment of the product if the reviewer keeps it. It is worth a few hundred dollars. I don’t.
I personally knew someone that for years did product reviews for a national publication. They received tens of thousands of dollars of things to review over the years. Much, no lots of it was never returned and the supplier would seldom ask for it back. There seems to be an unwritten understanding between many bloggers/writers about things like that. I’m not saying that all reviewers are like that but you have to question reviews that come off to much like an advertisement instead of a review.
The world is changing. I used to work for a newspaper. They’re dying. The internet is killing them. They struggle to remain profitable and relevant in an age when news can is ever more accessible and free.
Camera manufacturers are also feeling the pinch. How many people take photos with their smart phones instead of dedicated cameras these days? A huge majority. Hardly anyone hauls a camera around unless they’re serious about their photography. As a result major camera manufacturers are losing sales to smart phones. They have to adapt to the change or they’ll become as irrelevant as newspapers.
An area in which Canon and Nikon are getting left behind is in the manufacture and sale of lenses. Since I became interested in astrophotography landscapes I have been looking for fast, wide lenses that are well corrected. If you take a star photo with a poor lens you can end up with purple fringing on stars, stars that appear oblong, etc. Canon and Nikon are getting absolutely killed in this regard. Samyang also known as Bower or Rokinon make very well corrected, fast and inexpensive lenses often at a quarter of the cost of Nikon and Canon’s.
The two lenses that I have 24mm f1.4 and a 35mm f1.4 have better image quality wide open than their counterparts made by the camera giants. They’ve very constructed too. They lack autofocus which for me is fine because doing night photography autofocus is useless.
Lens manufacturers are nipping at the heels of the major camera companies. I don’t care about what brand my equipment is only that it does a good job.
Today’s modern digital SLRs have so much bloat. I don’t need 80% of the stuff that is on there but I still have to pay for it. I used to shoot landscapes with a wooden view camera that had only the most basic of controls. The photos taken with it match up well with any taken with the semi-computer with a lens that I use today.
Do you think that one day a company like Samyang will come up with a simple camera body that JUST TAKES PHOTOS and that it’s a third of the price that Nikons and Canons are? I think so.
A couple of years ago I bought what was then the fastest iMac out there. The fastest processor. The most ram. The biggest hard drives. It’s still a rocket. Over the last couple of weeks my secondary hard drive where I keep photos before archiving them was getting slower and slower. At first I thought that it was because the folder the photos were in held so many photos. That’s what I thought.
It turns out that the S.M.A.R.T. hardware monitoring system said the drive was failing. For the last 24 hours I’ve been backing up the contents of that drive to four other drives before I replace it. Hard drive failure is more usual than most people know. I’ve had a computer in the house since the early nineties and over the years I’ve accumulated a little pile of failed drives. Backup your data. Back it up not on a different partition of the same drive but on a different physical drive or two or three. 2TB external drives are cheap enough to buy a couple. Keep them apart from your computer. Your photos are valuable if not monetarily then for the memories.
Lots to do. Lots. Be back with photos next time.