To some, Apple’s yesterday keynote wasn’t all that impressive. After all, the new iPhone 7 doesn’t look all that new, the new Apple Watch looks exactly like the old one, and minor improvements aside (water resistance, GPS for the watch, new processors), there wasn’t really anything impressive shown in San Francisco last night. Except one small detail—the camera(s) on the upcoming iPhone 7 Plus.
This is the photograph Apple showed during the keynote, initially leading everyone to believe it’s been taken with a “high-end camera”:
only to later explain it’s been shot with the upcoming iPhone 7 Plus, which features two lenses—one wide-angle, and one tele—that are then used by iPhone’s software to infer the depth of field, and to create the bokeh effect. While far from perfect (there’s something wrong with how the face of the model is separated from the background), this, to me, is a major breakthrough in smartphone photography. As the technology matures, we will see the “bokeh software” improve, and the dual-lens technology perhaps applied to other areas (VR?), but most importantly it’ll render cameras obsolete, to most people at least.
My grandfather was the first professional photographer in my hometown,1 and I loved playing with his cameras. His darkroom was my favorite place on Earth, filled with cameras, lenses, and a huge enlarger in the middle of a table. I spent hours playing there, and perhaps that’s what sparked my interest in photography, but it was definitely what sparked my interest in photographic gear.
My grandfather gave me my first camera. It was a DDR-made Praktica B100 semi-automatic SLR with a 50mm Pentacon f/1.8 lens. It was so superior to all the Soviet Zenith SLRs my high-school friends had, and its optical performance made my poorly composed photographs look at least decent. I cherished that camera and enjoyed every minute with it, and I actually still do, although sadly I haven’t shot film since 2010.
I learned a ton2 shooting film with the Praktica B100, and I learned to love bokeh of f/1.8 above all, like every mediocre photographer. Shooting film was, unfortunately, expensive, and when I finally got a part-time job in college in 2006, I was able to afford one of the greatest cameras ever made—the Nikon D40.
I had a very long layover at Narita airport and decided to go see the city, if only for a couple of hours. Turned out to be a great idea, and I’m definitely coming back for a longer stay. Tokyo is absolutely brilliant.
Fujifilm X-E1 and its 35mm f/1.4 lens are excellent. I picked it up in Japan and I’m very happy. It’s a relatively compact camera with excellent manual controls, fantastic image quality and a great, bright and sharp prime lens.
The single best thing about Fujifilm X-E1 that people often fail to mention is that it comes with an aperture dial on its R lenses, and a dedicated shutter speed and exposure compensation dials. It is orders of magnitude better than using the (now ubiquitous) exposure mode dial.
So it finally happened: we have a full-frame mirrorless camera system. I suppose everyone expected it would, but at least I expected this camera would come from Olympus or Fujifilm, and not Sony. Kudos to Sony for making this bold move.
(too bad my trip to Japan is in October and not December)
We were surprised (and delighted) when Sony decided to create the RX100 – its first compact camera for serious photographers, but that’s nothing compared to our surprise when we were told about the RX1. This isn’t just Sony’s most serious compact camera, but arguably the most serious compact camera we’ve ever seen. It features a full-frame sensor and a fixed 35mm F2 lens, making it a real heavyweight in terms of lightweight photography. Sony has said it is targeting professional photographers and we see no reason to question that.
There’s hasn’t been a better time to look for a good compact(ish) camera ever before. When I recently wrote about being on a market for such a thing and listed my options, I was quite surprised how many there were (compared to, say, 2008, or even 2010). Now not only has Fujifilm introduced the X-E1, and not only has Sony presented the NEX-6, but we also have a first ever full-frame compact camera. At $2800 it’s not cheap at all, but boy is that a fantastic idea.