I have been furiously working on the huge print installation that I have been speaking of over the last few months. Summertime seems a long way off but when you look at everything involved with producing and installing a few hundred large prints it's really not far away at all.
I have a really good feel for the paper choices available out there at this point in time. That took a while but was really worth the time and effort. I have also acquired as much current knowledge as I care to on state of the art large format printers. The choice of printers came down to Canon vs. Epson. After an amazing amount of research, including meeting with people that use both brands on a consistent basis, the bottom line for our endeavors is price. Yep, whatever printer we could get at the lowest cost. There are fantastic deals on large format printers to be had right now. Canon has done a lot to put the quality, and price pressure on Epson. Epson not only responded with price but with cleaning up a significant amount of operational issues that were worrisome in the past. As promised, I will be posting additional detail on our printer selection and workflow as we get deeper into production.
Look at all there is to talk about in the photographic world at the moment. I stay away for a month and it seems like everything changes. Let's count the ways…
- You can actually get a Nikon D4 and a Nikon D800. Me - I won't be investing in either of those but I will be letting you know what I think of the D800 shortly. My colleague received his last week. Of course I will be doing all the post production and printing for him so you will have a completely unbiased view of it's imaging performance. My D7000 is perfectly fine and completely disappointing in numerous ways. No need for additional investment and additional disappointment right now.
- Canon finally has a new 5D - wooooohoooo. Not. Who cares. I am sure it is not a fantastic upgrade from the old one and certainly nowhere near as operationally friendly as the old or the new Nikons. The one thing I kind of like is that the Canon pixel count snobbery crowd will finally get a smack-down from the Nikon camp with the D800 being a more mainstream product than the D3x. Oh, oh - it probably is slightly better at movie crap which counts for exactly zero without a huge investment in real moving making stuff that you need that makes the cost of the camera amount to a rounding error.
- Wow - we all now have the Photoshop CS6 beta. Color me underwhelmed. This thing better get a whole lot better real quick or you will be coloring me very unhappy as I am eventually forced to hand over a couple hundred bucks for nothing I want, need, or could care less about. Let's see what we have here. Some refinements and additions of content-aware bullshit (should have been free point releases to CS5). A whole brand new UI - not really. Just a dark version of simulated Apple slickness - sort of like Lightroom with not a lot of real thought or analysis on what would actually be better and slicker. Like usual the eye candy part is even half-assed like dialogs and HUDs that look like they belong in Windowz98, etc, etc. We do now get a fairly useless and strangely annoying overall Photoshop containment window that has nothing to do with anything if you choose not to use the tabbed/contained image windows. What it does is make Photoshop sort of half work like it used to which was okay and half work like other applications that have a containing window. You see now all the toolbars, panels, palettes, etc are contained in this window and only dockable to this window or free-floating vs. being docked to the sides of the screen or free-floating. Hmmm - kinda stupid, purposeless and annoying all at the same time with no upside at all. Well at least Photoshop CS6 now does video - I know we have all been just chomping at the bit for that… WTF? Who the hell wanted this and why? As long as we are adding functionality to "Photoshop" that has nothing to do with "Photos" why don't we just add in word processor stuff, maybe toss in email, we already have a function specific we browser sort of, how about some video conferencing, a twitter client, Flash, a layout tool, some FPS games, screw it - let's just make it an operating system and forget all that other software out there. All the rest of the stuff you need will all be plug-ins… Yea. That will be fantastic. You can put anything in a layer and set blending mode to overlay, and make really cool real time effects to your outgoing or incoming video chats. Yea - anything in layers - and you can add an outer glow. Cool. WTF? Okay - I am getting way to heated over Adobe foolishness. We did get all new algorithms on all the sliders in ACR - oh yea maybe that should have been a point release too. Oh maybe I hate that the ACR's are locked to Photoshop versions at all… and you have to upgrade to get new camera support. Oh. Yea this sucks. Not amused.
- Fuji - WOW we can now actually get an X1Pro. Not only that but it looks like Amazon has a super special price that you have to look at in your cart. Cool. Yea. Let me see… Ummmm, what, the list price is $1699.95 and the super secret in your cart price is $1699. What's this? Out of stock? God damn it. Here we go again. Well - I will just wait to see what happens after the initial emotions calm down. Looks like the X100 is not so great anymore. Remember way back when you couldn't read anything about photography anywhere without the X100 being drooled on by every photographer everywhere? You know - like a few months ago. Wonder what happened? Yea there are still a couple of people that actually paid dearly for them shouting or more like mumbling praises but not so much. How about those fantastically magical rangefinder-like images like all the iconic wonderful Leica M type stuff from the old days? Hmmmmm… take a look on the fanboy flickr groups. We have some grass, a kitchen table, ummmm a sunset, an old see-saw. Where the hell are the photojournalistic people stuff in the heart of the action. Where the hell is the moment in time stuff. The reaction to the instant stuff. You know that stuff that actually makes compelling images? Nowhere, that's where. I dare you to find a steady supply of really good "rangefinder-y" photos from the X100. You know why you can't? Because it sucks at rangefinder-y like subjects. So it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, but is actually some completely different type of waterfowl. Great - get me one of them Leica iPhone sticky-on-y things for $5 instead. I will be way ahead of the game. Well then why is the price still so stinking high on the X100? Let's just call it lagging X100 drool combined with people that paid astronomical markups looking to "get their" money sorta back as they ditch them. Give it a bit - they will be cheap soon, unless of course the fashion value end of the market holds up. Don't get me wrong - I am sure the X1 is a nice piece of gear with most likely really nice glass. Is it 1700 bucks nice? Ummmm - no. At least if you buy into that you have the hope that Fuji will actually make a really really nice body that works like it should for the kind of images you imagine a camera that looks like this would be good at for you to use that nice glass on. I am glad Fuji is trying. I cannot wait until they get some real competition in that form factor. Which brings us to…
- The Canon G1x - Game on. A camera in the same sensor class for a more reasonable price. Yes - it's a hunk of crap with a lot of personal no-go's for me. A really shitty viewfinder from all reports, so-so lens performance, slowwwwwness. This is the first try - it will get better. It will bring in even more competition into the segment from the m43 camp, the other APS-C camps, and best of all look at the price a month in… $799. Very cool. The compact high image quality - hopefully useful camera game may actually produce some uncompromised results soon at a price that makes any sense whatsoever.
Well, I have rained on enough new product parades today. I will leave some for another day. I just look at it as my duty to interject some reality into the gear acquisition inducing photographic industry machine. Next post will be a little more uplifting I hope. I have been trying to succinctly describe why I still like Apple Aperture 3 so very much in the context of using Lightroom 3 and 4 almost every day as well as trying my best to like other image cataloging solutions that I have continually evaluated.