Despite Brazil being a massive market — it has a population of around 210 million (the US is around 326 million) — Nikon failed to thrive in the country. Its struggles were apparently due to both the country’s policies and its thriving gray market. Brazilian hobbyist photographer Renato Murakami weighed in with some background info when sales were shuttered in November 2017:
“Not only [is the] Brazilian bureaucracy […] extremely horrible for foreign companies, […] but also there’s a huge grey market of not only cameras but all sorts of electronics and other types of products to contend with.
“[T]ax on electronics are around 60% of anything that’s over $50. But the rule is extremely confusing. […] In the end, any end consumer buying imported products in Brazil might have to pay over double the price and wait an extremely long time to actually get what they want.
“The situation is so ridiculous that it’s often cheaper to fly to Miami, purchase a bunch of electronics there, spend the weekend, and fly back… and still pay less than if you bought those products in Brazil. Particularly for expensive gear like cameras.”
Nikon Brazil says that valid warranties on photography equipment it sold will still be honored by the Nikon mothership and that those assistance and repair requests can continue to be submitted through its website’s form. Out-of-warranty products will now have their technical assistance services handled by Nikon USA.
Adobe’s Next Major Creative Cloud Release Won’t Support Older OSes
If you’re a photographer who uses Adobe Creative Cloud apps but refuses to upgrade from an older operating system version, there’s trouble looming on the horizon. Adobe says the next major release of Creative Cloud won’t support older versions of Windows and Mac OS.
Your Windows won’t be supported if you haven’t upgraded beyond the Windows 10 Anniversary Update (v1607) that was released to the public on August 2, 2016. And if you’re on a Mac, you won’t be supported if you haven’t upgraded beyond Mac OS 10.11 (El Capitan), which was released on September 30, 2015.
Adobe says that forcing its users to be on the newest versions of the operating systems will allow apps to “take advantage of the latest operating system features and technologies.”
If you’re on an older OS version that isn’t supported by the next update, you’ll still be able to run and install the current and previous versions of Creative Cloud apps that are already released today. But you’ll be stuck on these latest versions of Photoshop and Lightroom after the next major Creative Cloud release unless you upgrade your OS as well.
The Creative Cloud Desktop software that manages app installs will continue to work on older OSes (at least Windows 7 and Mac OS X v10.9 Mavericks) even after the next major CC release.
“Focusing our efforts on more modern versions of Windows and Mac operating systems allows us to concentrate on developing the features and functionality most requested by members, while ensuring peak performance that takes advantage of modern hardware,” Adobe says.
Photographers have long complained about performance and bug issues in Adobe software, particularly Lightroom. It will be interesting to see whether dropping its support for older OS versions will allow Adobe to give its apps the major performance boost users have been begging for.
The Japanese camera rumor site Nokishita reported that Nikon will be selling its own “genuine” XQD memory cards, with a 64GB priced at ¥17,820 (~$160) and a 120GB one with a price tag of ¥29,160 (~$262).
Both memory cards were officially announced by Nikon today. They boast a maximum read speed of 440MB/s and a max write speed of 400MB/s.
The Nikon Z6 and Z7 cameras feature a single XQD memory card slot — a strike against them for many photographers — and those card slots will one day be upgradeable to support CFexpress memory cards of the future through a simple firmware update.
While it’s unclear what the exact pricing in the United States will be, Nikon says the cards are scheduled for release in late September 2018.
Adobe Releases August 2018 Update for the Lightroom CC Ecosystem
Adobe has announced a new wave of updates to the Lightroom CC ecosystem, including new features in both Lightroom Classic and Lightroom CC for Windows and Mac users — features “based off of top customer feature requests.”
Lightroom Classic CC
Lightroom Classic CC can now import a zip archive of presets and profiles. Simply click “Import” from the preset panel or profile browser and select a zip file, and Lightroom will automatically import those presets and profiles into the correct locations.
There are also major updates to the Book Module. New Blurb book styles include Layflat (seamless spreads), Magazines (semi-gloss cover and velvet finish paper), and Trade Books (affordable books for distribution).
Book pages now have custom-sized cells, allowing you to refine the layout to what your envisioning.
“Add multiple cells, move specific cells to the front or back, and drag the cell exactly where you want with the help of new grids and guidelines,” Adobe says. “You can even save the custom layout to use it in another album in the future.”
Lightroom CC will now let you save an album’s photos locally for offline editing. You’ll find a new “Store Album Locally” setting that tells Lightroom to keep an original copy locally, which can be useful for people who often pass through areas with limited or no Internet for connecting to the cloud.
The Info Panel now displays the album any photo is part of, making it easier to explore and organize your work.
You’ll find this detail under the new “Albums” box by scrolling down in the panel.
Lightroom CC Mobile
Lightroom CC Mobile users on iPhone, iPad, Android, and ChromeOS are getting new features as well.
iOS users will see organizational improvements, including new smart folders (Lr Camera Photos and Recently Added).
There’s also a new Shared Album tab for browsing the albums you’ve shared on the Lightroom website. When viewing multiple photos, you can now multi-select by long tapping.
The filter menu has been updated to allow filtering by media type, camera, location, keyword, and whether the photo has been edited.
Adobe has optimized HDR and long exposure photos captured in Lr Camera, making them take up less size without any loss in quality, helping you save your precious smartphone storage space and bandwidth. Adobe says the files are now 2/3 smaller.
Finally, Adobe has also released a new technology preview called Depth Map Support. Lr Camera now has a mode that captures HEIC photos with depth maps — the same kind used by Apple for its Portrait Mode. There’s also a new selective tool that can be used to turn any depth map into a selection that can be edited with a brush.
The Android version of Lightroom is getting an improvement in the Optics section that lets photographers reduce chromatic aberrations in photos. You can also now manually select from the lens profiles Adobe makes available inside Lightroom CC, of which there are over 1,200.
Apple’s push into HEIC images is spilling over into Android as well, and HEIC/HEIF format photos are now supported in the Android app.
While you’re in the cloud status tab, you can now pause and resume synchronization.
Like the iOS app, Android’s version is also getting a technology preview. It’s called Best Photos, and it uses AI and other analytics to provide a selection of your best shots (the ones with the “highest potential,” Adobe says) within any photo album.
The updates to Lightroom Classic CC and Lightroom CC are available today — just update your software through Adobe Creative Cloud. The updates for mobile will be arriving in the next few weeks.
Insta360 Pro 2 is a VR Camera with Six Cameras for 8K 3D 360 Video
Insta360 just launched the Insta360 Pro 2, a professional VR camera that packs six separate cameras and lenses in a sphere to shoot 8K-per-eye 3D 360-degree video.
The 6 onboard cameras capture every angle of every scene at once, and the photos and videos can then be fused into two 8K 360 images — one for each of the viewer’s eyes for immersive 3D virtual reality.
Shooting modes of the camera include 8K 3D at 30 FPS, 8K monoscopic at 60 FPS, 6K 3D at 60 FPS, and 4K 3D at 120 FPS, and more.
Even if the lighting in a scene is drastically different depending on which angle you’re looking, a new in-camera HDR feature helps even out the lighting in resulting photos and videos to keep it natural-looking. i-Log mode also provides flexibility for coloring the images in post-production.
The Pro 2 boasts FlowState stabilization, “bringing a high-quality in-camera stabilization system to professional VR for the first time ever,” the company says. Instead of using bulky stabilization equipment, Pro 2 users can rely on the ultra-precise gyroscope that tracks the camera’s motion on 9 axes. During post-production, footage can then be automatically stabilized “down to a hair.”
For directing shots from afar, the Pro 2 features a new Farsight technology that provides 360-degree live monitoring with a high-definition, low-latency, long-distance video stream. Using a 5.18Ghz transmitter and receiver, users can view and direct the camera’s shots from 300 meters away (~984ft) ground-to-ground and 1 kilometer away (0.62mi) ground-to-air.
In addition to recording, the Pro 2 can also do 360 livestreaming in 4K while capturing 8K at the same time it is broadcasting.
The Insta360 Pro 2 has an integrated Adobe Premiere Pro workflow that uses a low-res proxy version alongside the actual full-quality footage for fast and convenient previews.
“This proxy version can be used to edit the project as usual,” Insta360 says. “Then, when users are ready to export, Insta360’s algorithm will take over and stitch together exactly the footage they used in the final project, at full quality. There’s no wasted time, processing power, or effort. Creators stitch only what they use.”
Once you’ve captured and edited the footage you want, you can use Insta360’s CrystalView technology to quickly convert the project into an 8K-quality format that’s ready to be viewed on any mainstream smartphone or VR headset.
Physically, the Pro 2 is relatively portable: it weighs just 3.42 pounds, allowing it to be carried to difficult locations or mounted to a drone.
Other features and specs of the Insta360 Pro 2 include 4 built-in mics for 360 audio, a pair of USB and 3.5mm audio inputs, 6 microSD card slots (one for each camera), a 7th SD card slot for stabilization data and low-res proxy files, a built-in GPS module, and a top-mounted antenna.
Here’s a 5.5-minute introduction to the new Insta360 Pro 2:
The Insta360 Pro 2 is available for preorder now with a price tag of $5,000. The cameras, which come with the Farsight transmitter system and a battery, are set to ship in September 2018.
Photography workshop are a dime a dozen these days, but that isn’t stopping a retail heavyweight from launching its own: Best Buy is now in the business of photography workshops for beginner and intermediate photographers.
The workshops are being offered by Best Buy’s new Camera Experience Shop, a partnership between Best Buy, Canon, Nikon, Sony, and GoPro. The shops — there are over 80 across the US now — are staffed with camera experts and allow customers to go hands-on with a wider selection of cameras.
Professional photographers are being recruited to teach various photography techniques and subject matters — things like shooting action, capturing portraits, working in low-light, and close-up photography. Each class is capped at 30 students.
“Learn the basics in this helpful two-hour class led by our Camera Experience Shop experts,” Best Buy states. “Bring your camera along to get tips and tricks on settings, creative elements and more.”
The three upcoming beginner workshops in the next three months cover back to school photography, concert photography, and Halloween photography.
If you already have a solid grasp of photography fundamentals, there are also less frequent half-day workshops being held for intermediate photographers at select shops (currently Atlanta, Houston, San Diego, Tampa, Seattle, Minneapolis, and New York). The next two topics are “Travel & Exploring” and “Social Sharing & Storytelling.”
“After check-in you will be transported by bus from your local Best Buy store to a specially-chosen location where we’ve created custom shooting set-ups complete with models, props, and accessories,” Best Buy says. “Each set-up is designed to teach key skills in portrait & action photography.
“You will learn how to maximize your camera’s settings, learn new techniques and how accessories can advance your photos to the next level, all with the hands-on help of our Experts.”
Here’s a video introduction to Best Buy’s Photography Workshop Tours:
Unlike the beginner workshops, which are free, you’ll need to pay $50 for the intermediate workshops when you register for them through the Best Buy photo workshop site. The fee covers transportation, lunch, and a snack.
The Laowa 24mm f/14 2x Macro Probe is a ‘Weird but Revolutionary’ Lens
Venus Optics today officially announced the Laowa 24mm f/14 2x Macro Probe, one of the weirdest-looking lenses you’ll ever lay eyes on. At the same time, it also aims to be one of the most game-changing macro lenses on the market today.
First teased back in 2016, the Laowa 24mm f/14 2x Macro Probe lens weighs just 1.04 pounds (474 grams) and measures 1.3 feet (~0.4m) long with an ultra-narrow tubular barrel.
How’s THIS for a lens optical design diagram?
The minimum working distance of the lens is just 0.79in (20mm). The fact that it has a built-in LED and is waterproof opens a world of possibilities for what this lens is able to capture — things that other macro lenses can’t.
The front of the lens, which has a diameter of just 0.79in (2cm) can be inserted into water and/or into extremely narrow spaces.
You can do things like insert the lens into bushes to capture photos of wildlife hiding within or shoot the inside of a drink bottle by inserting the lens into the opening.
One unique aspect of the Laowa 24mm Probe is that it can capture wide-angle views with a wider depth of field at extremely close distances. While traditional macro lenses isolate tiny subjects with extremely shallow depths-of-field, the Laowa 24mm captures an 84.1° wide-angle bugs eye view that includes background details.
Focus of the lens ranges from 2:1 macro magnification to infinity.
Here are a few sample wildlife macro photos captured with the Laowa 24mm Probe:
Here’s a YouTube playlist with many sample videos showing what the Laowa 24mm Probe can capture:
The Laowa 24mm f/14 2x Macro Probe will be available in Canon EF, Nikon F, and Sony FE mounts and will cost $1,499 when it begins shipping (currently estimated to be September 2018). There will also be a cine version with an Arri PL mount and a click-less aperture design.
Venus Optics is currently running a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter to launch the lens and provide discounts to early supporters, who can grab one of the first units with contributions of $1,149 and up (assuming the company successfully delivers on its promises).
“Though she was tiny in stature, Gerda Taro had the heart of a giant,” Google writes. “Known as ‘the little red fox,’ the ginger-haired photographer fearlessly turned her camera lens to capture sensitive and critical images of conflict around the world, producing powerful black-and-white images that informed readers of the newspaper Ce Soir.
“In fact, Taro is considered to be the first female journalist in the world to cover the front lines of conflict.”
Born Gerta Pohorylle, the photographer met a Hungarian Jewish photojournalist named Endre Friedmann in Paris in 1935. After becoming friends and then falling in love, the two changed their names to Gerda Taro and Robert Capa, respectively, in order to break into international markets.
“Capa would go on to co-found the Magnum Photo agency while Taro became known for her fearless reportage,” Google says. “[…] During the last five months of Taro’s short career, she worked alone in Spain before tragically losing her life near El Escorial, northwest of Madrid, while capturing images on the front line of the Spanish Civil War in July 1937.”
Although her war photographs made her a famous photographer in her own right, many of her early photos were misattributed to Capa.
“Here’s to Gerda Taro, who had a photographer’s eye, a journalist’s soul, and a warrior’s courage,” Google says.
The Japanese news outlet ITmedia reports that Fujifilm has “just started the examination” of relaunching film for B&W photography.
The company heard the requests of film photographers who didn’t wish to see Neopan 100 Acros be discontinued, but it still needs to solve the logistical problems — obtaining the necessary raw materials for its film production is difficult and costly, and the company’s efforts to improve production efficiency and cut costs weren’t enough to offset the constantly decreasing demand for the film.
MacBook Pro CPU Throttling Was Due to Software Bug, Apple Says
Last week, reviewers reported that Apple’s latest generation of MacBook Pro laptops suffer from thermal throttling, or having the CPU run much slower than advertised during intense processing because of heat issues. If that turned you off to the laptop, there’s some good news today: Apple says the throttling was due to a software bug that has since been fixed.
Tech reviewer Dave Lee first reported the thermal throttling issue, reporting that the 15-inch MacBook Pro i9 processor “can’t even maintain the 2.9GHz base clock, which is absurd.” Lee also found that placing the MacBook Pro in a freezer resulted in an instant improvement in performance.
Apple released a statement today explaining its findings and announcing that the problem has been resolved:
Following extensive performance testing under numerous workloads, we’ve identified that there is a missing digital key in the firmware that impacts the thermal management system and could drive clock speeds down under heavy thermal loads on the new MacBook Pro. A bug fix is included in today’s macOS High Sierra 10.13.6 Supplemental Update and is recommended. We apologize to any customer who has experienced less than optimal performance on their new systems. Customers can expect the new 15-inch MacBook Pro to be up to 70% faster, and the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar to be up to 2X faster, as shown in the performance results on our website.
Engadget reports that Apple also tested its fix by replicating Lee’s use of Adobe Premier and recorded a 35% speed boost by the 15-inch MacBook Pro and a 70% improvement with the 13-inch version.