Australian Camera – May/June 2019
English | 86 pages | True PDF | 39.9 MB

IN CASE YOU HADN’T ALREADY NOTICED, this issue of Camera marks the magazine’s 40th birthday; forerunner Camera Craft having been first published in June 1979. This, of course, is cause for a bit of champagne-quaffing and high-fiving, accompanied by the inevitable look back at just what’s happened over the last four decades. Well, this being photography, a lot has happened over the last four decades… in fact, “a lot” doesn’t really cover it. Photography has been changing ever since we set out coating glass plates and developing them with mercury vapour; the ongoing objectives being to make it ever more accessible, achievable and affordable. But nothing quite matches the wholesale changes – extending to every area of photographic practice – that have been brought about by the digital imaging technologies. Consequently, this has been a big part of our history too, especially if you accept that the first moves towards “electronic” imaging started with the development of video recording – using magnetic tape – which was already starting to take over from home movie film when Camera made its debut. With the arrival of the first camcorder in 1983 and the more compact cassette formats over the next couple of years, video was the consumer electronics phenomenon of that decade (big enough for use to publish an offshoot magazine called Shooting Video), and it was logical that still photography would be next. The convenience factors – especially from eliminating the need for film processing – were just too significant to ignore. And, bear in mind, many of the so-called ‘photo companies’ got involved in video at this time, including Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Pentax, Kodak(which pioneered the popular 8mm format), Fujifilm, Konica, Agfa and Polaroid. It was logical, then, that still video – an analog format – was considered the next step forward, until at the 1988 Photokina, Fujifilm showed that digitisation made much more sense and had much greater development potential. The Fujix DS-1P was a little camera – and, incidentally, never made it into volume production – but its impact on photography has been huge and far-reaching. And big changes are still happening. At this year’s judging of the TIPA World Awards it was revealed that there was just one new D-SLR launched during the eligibility period. In past years, the awards have included up to six categories for D-SLRs, but in 2019 there’s just one… versus eight for mirrorless cameras across a range of sensor sizes. We all knew this was going to happen sooner or later, but such a dramatic confirmation that the D-SLR’s reign is essentially over still comes as a bit of a shock.
Both Canon and Nikon maintain they have new running a test anyway – but a user manual fills in all the gaps, especially as things aren’t always as they seem when it comes to functionality. I might be able to work it out based on experience (although not always especially when various combinations of settings are involved), but if you’re a newcomer to the brand, perhaps even the
type of camera, you’re likely to be stumped and just a tiny bit frustrated. The old trial-anderror approach could end up consuming a lot of time… making you just a tiny bit annoyed, too. Now I know these days it’s common practice with any consumer product to only have online manuals (don’t get me started on Apple), but why? Is a printed user manual so expensive to produce? It’s small in format, it’s all in blackand- white and you’re going to print tens of thousands of them… so I reckon the unit cost will be in cents rather than dollars. Yet the value to camera buyers is so much more, starting with the convenience factor. As you get to know your new camera it’s so much quicker and easier to dive into the printed manual than navigate around a PDF version, especially if it isn’t interactive. And, of course, you can stick the printed manual in your camera bag so it’s immediately on hand if you need some help when you’re shooting in the field.
A key component of a camera manual is the specifications, and I’m noticing another, perhaps even more disturbing, trend… they’re becoming less detailed, or not included at all, which is unfathomable all these will be inside Australian Camera pdf magazine of this month. There’s really only one reason for leaving out information and that’s because the spec obviously isn’t up to spec, but potential buyers deserve to know… how else can you make meaningful comparisons? Full disclosure should be mandatory, especially for key specifications such as metering zones and autofocusing points, and, to be absolutely blunt, an omission is simply covering up the truth. If it’s a spec worth advertising, you can be sure it would be, otherwise you should start asking the hard questions. And, if you aren’t satisfied with the answers, move on. That’s sure to fix it.
Eventually. – Paul Burrows, Editor