The year 2013 was a year packed full to the brim with new developments in the photo industry. It started with CES in Las Vegas and CP+ in Yokohama in January, then along came IFA in Berlin in September, followed by Photo Plus in New York in October. In the meantime, manufacturers didn’t pause with their announcements of new products. We saw a lot of exciting stuff launched, but also some things that had us scratch our heads. And then, there were those announcements that nobody could really wrap their head around. Here’s a list of we here at The Phoblographer consider this year’s top and flop five industry developments.
The Top Five
Magic Lantern Hacks the Canon 5D Mk III
This year, Magic Lantern has been busy again hacking Canon DSLRs in order to bring users a better video experience. Their greatest accomplishments this year were undoubtedly their hacks for the 5D Mk III. First, in April, they discovered that the Canon 5D Mk III is theoretically capable of 2k video output. Unfortunately, they didn’t find a way to enable it.
Then in May, the team found a way to stream 24p CineDNG raw video out of the camera. Unfortunately again, the camera’s buffer proved not to be up to the task of continuously streaming raw 1080p video. Finally, Magic Lantern announced a hack for both the 5D Mk III and the 7D in May, giving both cameras the capability to record HDR video with up to 14 stops of dynamic range.
It’s been a great year for videographers using Canon’s 5D Mk III for sure, and we’re excited to see what the Magic Lantern team will come up with in 2014.
Instagram Receives Video Functionality
And more happened on the video front. In June this year, everyone’s favorite photo app Instagram received a huge additional feature: the capability to record and share short video clips. Previously, the app’s functionality was purely photo based. The new video function proved extremely popular within the first couple of days after its release, with almost five million clips uploaded in the first 24 hours.
Though by now excitement over Instagram’s new video function has calmed down a bit, the addition of it had a huge impact on the way everyday moments are being shared.
Sony Announces A7 and A7R Full-Frame Mirrorless Cameras
Later this year, in October to be precise, the long-awaited dream of many enthusiasts finally came true. With the A7 and A7R, Sony finally announced the world’s first digital mirrorless full-frame cameras (not counting the Leica M system here.) What makes these cameras both so special and so desirable–besides the fact that they’re the first of their kind, is the fact that they allow the use of each and any legacy lens ever made for 35mm, without a loss in angle-of-view due to a cropped sensor.
The announcement of these two magnificent pieces of gear is only one in a series of recent inventions that have made Sony one of the, if not the forerunner in the photo industry these days. As concerns Sony, we’re especially excited to see what they’re going to come up with in 2014, and whether the competition decides to hop onto the bandwagon or to keep going their own respective ways.
Profoto Announces the B1 500 AirTTL Monolight
Not only the fans of cameras have been spoiled this year, also the fans of lighting equipment. With the B1 500 AirTTL, Profoto announced the first monolight that can be remotely triggered while still being able to use TTL metering to adjust its output. While this may not sound exciting to the uninitiated, rest assured that this announcement was quite a bombshell in the world of flashes and other shiny things.
In our first impressions with the B1 500 AirTTL, we loved it a lot and assessed that it would probably find a liking with many wedding photographers. It may not be the cheapest monolight around, but it’s well worth its price considering that it’s somewhat a small revolution.
Film is Dead! Long Live Film!
The Nostradamuses of this world have long announced the demise of photographic film, but their voices seem to get quieter and quieter in the light of recent developments. First, it was announced that the Fotokemika project is trying to preserve the old factory where the Efke film was made–as a museum. Then, the Italian film manufacturer Ferrania announced that it was “alive and kicking” and planning to get back in the game with new films next year. And finally, Kodak Alaris, the new owner of Kodak’s film business, cozied up to Lomography who will henceforth sell their products.
So film is dead, you say? We’re not so sure about that, really.
The Flop Five
Sakar Copies the Nikon J1, Gets Dragged to Court
One of the biggest flops of this year began in January and ended in December. It all started when US-based equipment manufacturer Sakar announced a Polaroid-branded mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera with a design remarkably similar to that of the Nikon 1 J1. Apparently, Nikon didn’t appreciate that, and consequently dragged Sakar to court over it. In December then, the case was decided in Nikon’s favor, and Sakar had to immediately pull the camera out of its product range–in its current form, that is.
Whether or not the company will reintroduce the camera with a different design at some point remains to be seen. We hope not.
500px App Gets Pulled From App Store Due to “Pornography”
Okay, we all know that 500px is a huuuge platform for sharing pictures of boobies. There’s no denying that. Besides the occasional landscape, 500px is clearly dominated by pictures of barely dressed females. So what. Well, apparently Apple doesn’t like boobies, and so they temporarily pulled the 500px iOS app from their App Store. After a bugfix, when the app had already been around for quite a while.
The app has been made available again shortly after the pulling.
But still. Really, Apple?
Adobe Decides to Go to the Cloud, Gets Hacked
Earlier this year, Adobe decided in a bold move to switch over to cloud-based services for the majority of its product lines. Affected by this, among others, was the Creative Suite, part of which are both Photoshop and Premiere. While cloud computing does have its advantages, such as a much easier way to distribute updates, it made many long-time users very angry out of fear of higher effective cost in the long run due to the new subscription fee that came with the move.
Later, after taking much heat, Adobe decided to offer a special bundle for photographers, combining Lightroom and Photoshop in a bundle with a significantly reduced subscription fee. But as if the company hadn’t upset its customers enough by moving most of its software to a cloud-based subscription model, back in October Adobe’s servers were hacked and millions of users’ data was put at risk. Not a very good year for Adobe, or for Adobe customers for that matter.
Nikon Introduces the Retro-Styled Df, and (Almost) Nobody Cares
When Olympus first launched its Pen E-P1 retro-styled mirrorless camera, it ushered in an era of products riding the nostalgia wave. Next up was Fuji with its X-series cameras, which combine retro styling with innovative technology. At some point this year, Nikon officials must have felt the need to hop onto the bandwagon to snatch a piece of the cake for themselves.
With the Df, Nikon introduced a retro-styled and photo-centric camera to the already highly satiated DSLR market. To make things worse, except for the retro styling there was nothing that would set the Df apart from Nikon’s other offerings, let alone those of the competition. Consequently, demand for the camera was nowhere as high as Nikon presumably hoped when conceiving the product.
So here’s a lesson in marketing: if you absolutely have to do what everyone else does, don’t do it half-assed, do it right. In this particular case: copy Fujifilm. Not to entirely shame the camera, though: it turned out to be one of the best low-light performers currently available.
So What Did You Say Again About Film Being Dead?
In our top five list above, we mentioned that there were some great developments concerning photographic film, and that the medium was far from being dead. Well, that’s only half the truth. Because for some, film really is dead. And who else would these some be but the former major players in the game?
After a whole armada of discontinuation announcements last year, this year was no different. First, Kodak (then still Kodak, now Kodak Alaris) announced that they’d stop producing their own acetate film base–the stuff that forms the basis of all film emulsions. Then, Fujifilm axed some of our favorite slide and negative films, among which were Provia 400X, Neopan 400 and Reala 100. And finally, Fujifilm (again) would announce the discontinuation of FP-3000B, one of the last medium format instant films around.
Just like 2012, 2013 was a sad year for those in love with a number of classic film emulsions. Let’s hope and pray that it’s not Velvia that goes down the drain in 2014 …
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