Saturday, 28 March 2009

Canon 500D Available from Amazon UK*

Body only, EF-S 18-55mm IS and 18-200mm kits also available:

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Canon News: New 270EX Flash - with zoom and bounce

Canon have also announced a new compact flash, the 270EX

Features are:
  • High power flash with a maximum guide number 27 m
  • Fast, silent recycle times
  • Manual flash output (settable via camera menus)
  • Speedlite controllable with compatible camera's menu
  • Zoom head
  • Bounce flash head

New Canon 500D Confirmed

Canon have launched the next model in the xx0D lineup - the 500D (also known as Rebel T1i and Kiss X3 Digital overseas):

The highlights include:
  • 15.1 MP CMOS sensor
  • Full HD (1080p) movies
  • High ISO up to 12800 for low-light conditions
  • 3.4fps with up to 170 JPEG burst
  • 3.0” Clear View LCD with Live View mode
  • 9-point AF system
  • DIGIC 4
  • EOS Integrated Cleaning System
  • EF/EF-S and EX Speedlite compatibility

More details here.

Stealing plenty of features from the recently launched 5D Mark II, it leaves the 50D ripe for an upgrade, although it's getting close to being squeezed out of their lineup altogether!

Body only, EF-S 18-55mm IS and 18-200mm kits now available from Amazon:

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

iStock Founder leaves Getty

As mentioned in a cnet article, iStock's founder and CEO, Brian Livingstone, has left its parent, Getty.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

New Canon Rebel / 500D ?

Rumours suggesting there will be a new Canon Rebel (DSLR entry-level) launched in the next few days... Likely to be called the 500D and the usual form is that the previous model EOS 450D*will linger around at a slightly reduced price too.

Canon's likely approach is to drop-in some specs from the higher-end cameras, so expect to see something like a 15Mp sensor, Digic IV processing, upgraded screen and HD 1080P video mode. They need enough 'sexy features' to ensure a steady supply of beginners are attracted to the Canon range... albeit, such a spec will cannibalise potential upgrades to the 50D.


*** an early image seems to suggest an articulated screen, much like many camcorders have...***

Alamy subscription update

Further to my post earlier in the week about Alamy considering a subscription model for their UK newspaper clients, a couple of things have been cleared-up by the CEO, James West:
  • UK newspapers accounted for 8% of Alamy's net revenues
  • Any subscription model may not necessarily be for unlimted downloads for a client, thereby preserving the revenue per image (and commission to the photographer); however, it's also pointed out that with falling newspaper publications/pages, there may not be as much need for a growing number of images, so an unlimited option may not be too much of an issue
  • There is an option for photographers to 'opt-out', but this will mean getting no revenues from any model that's agreed, which sounds a little worse than simply less

My first few Alamy images are here. As I haven't sold any yet, anything which puts me in a more likely position to generate a sale works for me!

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Alamy pushes for a subscription model for UK newspapers

Alamy's CEO, James West, has posted a blog update which is yet another insight into the changing stock/microstock landscape. He's been talking to UK newspaper contacts, from where he's seen dramatic falls in revenues.

The printed newspaper industry is in terminal decline (or at least significant consolidation) and so, in a way to minimise their cost-base, most picture editors are turning to subscription-based models to source their photography. Alamy see little choice but to adopt a similar model to stay in the game.

Although some comments on Alamy's blog imply it's a short-term over-reaction to the recession and falling advertising revenues at newspapers, I'd say it's a needed change to match the more fundamental shift which is part of the inevitable changes which digital media brings.

As I've stated in an earlier posting, much like the music industry, the production of good quality imagery is much easier/quicker/cheaper to produce and distribute - that will inevitably lead to a fall in price (simple economics). This is compounded by the reduced demand (people are buying less newspapers and want video online) - something which the microstock business model supports. Sure, you still need talent and creativity to generate content, but that talent pool is much larger than before and everyone's got a global stage... close to what economists call perfect competition.

So, Alamy get the thumbs-up from me for not being like the large music labels in the 1990's, hoping digital downloads would go away. Unfortunately for Alamy though, as they'll be squeezed from both the contributer and buyer sides, they'll need to reduce their cut (and therefore costs), but if they follow-through on their need to adapt, they may just survive!

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

First macro approved microstock photo

Well, hot on the heels of me trying out these new extension tubes, I've had my first photo approved for sale on Shutterstock. It's not very exciting subject matter (so may not sell!):

This was taken inside a very cheap light-tent, outside using bright sunshine as the only light source. I also 'isolated' the image, using a really simple technique - I'll cover that in a post soon.

Getty announces 110 (5%) job cuts

See here for more information.

I wonder, is this largely due to lower marketing/design budgets in the companies that would have happily spent lots of money buying stock from Getty?... or a more fundamental shift in the stock/microstock industry...?

Sunday, 15 March 2009

New toy - Kenko Extension Tubes

Although my plan is to see if it's possible to earn £250 from photography, I never said I couldn't invest some money too!

So, a couple of weeks ago, on eBay, I ordered a 'Kenko DG Auto Extension Tube Set'. They look a little something like:

What are they? Well, they are basically a tube, with air in the middle! All they do is move your lens further away from the sensor than normal, allowing you to have a MUCH closer minimum focusing distance, i.e. a cheap way into macro photography. And with three combinations of tubes, there's loads of variability in composition of a shot, as they can be stacked in any combination (the three sizes are 12mm, 20mm and 36mm).

The official manufacturer's website (at least I think it is!), is pretty appalling, but there is a link to a .pdf file. Here, as on most places on the internet, it suggests the tubes don't work with EF-S lenses, but they actually do now - just make sure you get the newer ones.

They cost £91 including delivery from Hong Kong, which is much more reasonable than UK high-street prices here and as there's no glass in them, I wasn't too bothered about international couriers. To contrast this, Canon sell one tube for about the same price - you get the same pass-through of focusing/exposure info from lens to camera body and it's the same air inside the tube.

Are they any good? er...nope. They are amazing! I'm genuinely impressed about how effective they work. I've tried them successfully with my 70-200 f/4 L, 24-105 f/4 L and the 50mm II f1.8. So far, the latter lens seems to be the best for me.

I've uploaded a couple of shots to some microstock sites to see if they'll be accepted... hopefully they will and I can start getting some of my investment back!

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Phishiness at iStockphoto

It looks like iStockphoto suffered a phishing attack yesterday, March 3rd. Details here.

Phishing isn't a compromise of their website as such, but it was tricking users into following links via forum messages/site mail, which then led to a fake page asking for username and password.

It's confidence-inspiring that iStock discovered the problem relatively quickly and took the site offline to clean up the mess, but slightly odd that the incident and recommendation to change password is somewhat buried in their forum. I actually found out about it on a competing site's forum!

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Sigma zooms along

Sigma have relased three new zoom lenses, for Sigma, Canon, Nikon, Sony, or Pentax mounts:

Acronyms are:

DC - designed for digital cameras with smaller sensors (APS-C)
EX - superior external build and image quality
OS - Optical Stabiliser
HSM- Hyper-Sonic Motor

LInks to Sigma press release below each image.

50-200mm F4-5.6 DC OS HSM

10-20mm F3.5 EX DC HSM

18-50mm F2.8-4.5 DC OS HSM

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Getty gobbles up JupiterImages

Following the recent announcement of Getty's succesful aquisition of JupiterImages, more details have emerged of plans.

Time will tell what that means for the StockXpert microstock site, which Jupiter had owned... And of course, Getty already own iStockPhoto

Most commentators would expect a little more consolidation/acquisition - the traditional stock agencies need to control the microstock industry - and as they can't fight it, they have to buy it!

Canon TS-E lenses available to pre-order at Amazon

Apparently released at the end of May in the UK...

Canon TS-E 17mm f/4.0 L Lens (Ultra wide 17mm focal length, ± 6.5° Tilt & ±12mm Shift)*

Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5 L II Lens ( Wide 24mm focal length, ± 8.5° Tilt & ±12mm Shift)*