Category Archives: Uncategorized

Yahoo Flicks the Fickle Finger of Flickr at its Followers

Gosh, photographers sure are an angry bunch, aren’t they?  Last week everyone hated Adobe. This week it’s Flickr.  I didn’t agree with the anger that people were spewing forth at Adobe but with Flickr, it seems to be well-justified.

Flickr was way overdue for a change.  The whole site was very 2008 and they seemed to just sit there twiddling their thumbs while other sites left them in the dust.  So a radical redesign was needed and I quite like the way the site looks now.  Giving users 1 terabyte of free storage is also a massive step forward.

But one step forward, two steps back as they say.  The new pricing structure makes no sense at all and spits in the face of all the people who invested time and money in the site over the past decade.

 

(The above image is from Trey Ratcliff.)

The switchover has been badly handled.  If you look at Flickr’s FAQ page, you can see it has been only randomly updated, so that all of the old Flickr Pro info is still there, even though one can no longer subscribe at that level.   Apparently going forward one can only renew an existing Pro account if it was set up before the change to be automatically renewed.  And tell me who the hell is going to subscribe at the $500 a year level?  Pay $500 to add a second terabyte of data?  Or just get a free second account for that extra terabyte?

And then of course there’s the above quote from Yahoo CEO Melissa Mayer, “there’s no such thing as professional photographers anymore.”  While I don’t think there are publicly released numbers, Flickr is apparently saying that their conversion rate was poor and the number of Pro accounts they had was relatively small.  Even if that is the case, is it wise to blatantly insult such a huge portion of your audience, especially the audience that was paying to support the service all these years?

Others are upset that Flickr will now be running context-based ads alongside the photos.  There’s at least two different sides to this story.  There’s Yahoo’s side, that all this software and infrastructure costs a lot of money that they have to recoup one way or another.  And then there’s the user side, which is well aware that Google offers profit sharing to content creators on YouTube, some of whom are getting rich via the revenue sharing they get for the ads Google runs with their videos.

For me, it’s not such a big deal.  To be successful on any of these services, one has to be very active – not just posting photos but also liking and commenting on other peoples’ photos and participating in forums, and it’s just something I have never had the time to do.  I post to my Flickr account very randomly (so randomly that the cover photo on my page, thanks to the new layout, isn’t mine, at least not until I get around to updating it, which will take some time).  I’ve had 52,000 views total on 1,700 photos, which is either respectable or horrible depending on your point of view.  (I’ve had almost 25,000 views of far fewer photos on 500px and even there I’m not that active but the site is set up far differently, making discovery an easier process, meaning more people do it.)

Well, Yahoo also just announced that they’re buying Tumblr and one result is thousands of Tumblr users rushing to WordPress.  If Yahoo is attempting to stop the bleeding and get back some of the cool, they’re so busy shooting themselves in their feet that they might never get there.  Will the outrage subside or will Yahoo end up having to backtrack on some of these poorly thought out changes?  Time will tell.

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Deceptive Advertising From 500px.com

I received an email today, Christmas Day, from 500px advertising a “Boxing Day” special – 50% off on a renewal of an “Awesome” account, which is what I have with them.   Here’s a portion of the email that they sent to me:

Got that?  Boxing Day special.  “Renew your Awesome account.”  I’ve been a little bit ambivalent about continuing as a paid customer with 500px but I figured at $25, why not.

There’s nothing there about any restrictions.  Nothing there about a date that this expires.  (Note that most Americans have no idea what “Boxing Day” is.)  Anyway, I clicked on that fat red bar to go to their site and got this:

Note how it says here “For the first year.”  More importantly, note how the button at the bottom, the one that says “Upgraded,” has been grayed out.  So clicking on it does nothing.

Anyway, I can’t figure this out.  Why would they send me an ad for a renewal that they won’t let me buy?  If the sale is only effective on Boxing Day and if they are sending out the ad early, why can’t they mention that in the ad somewhere?   In the heavily competitive world of online photo web sites, I don’t think they’re doing themselves any favors here.  About the only thing one can say is that they didn’t shoot themselves in the foot the way Instagram did last week.

Well, I’ve emailed their customer service.  I’ll update this post when I get a reply.

UPDATE

My email from 500px customer service:

Sorry about that, it seems to be amazingly broken :-S

I can manually downgrade your account, so you can purchase your discounted renewal and then I’ll add your existing membership back on. Just email me back once you’ve purchased your renewal.

But this just screws me up a little further.  Because my account auto-renewed in October, it was a valid Awesome account through October 2013.  What happened now is that they downgraded me to a free account, I upgraded for $25, and my Awesome account is now valid through December 2013.  In other words, I just paid $25 to extend my account for a mere two months.  So instead of $4.16 per month (or $2.08 for this sale), what I got was two months at $12.50 each.

I’ve written to customer service again.  🙁

UPDATE

Yes, they’ll adjust my account so it expires October 2014 instead of December 2013.  Thank you 500px.  Next time you have a sale I hope I don’t have to go through all these steps.

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New Cameras From Canon

Next up from Photokina, Canon.  (Okay, actually they announced before Leica.)  Canon of course had lots of new gear to announce.

First up is the Canon 6D, a full frame SLR meant to go head to head with Nikon’s new D600.

20.2 megapixel CMOS sensor

97% viewfinder coverage (Nikon is 100%)

Just one SD slot

burst mode to 4.5 fps (Nikon is 5.5)

larger pixel pitch than Nikon D600

higher resolution LCD than Nikon D600

But where I think Canon really got it right is the inclusion of built-in WiFi and built-in GPS, two things that require expensive accessories with Nikon.  Body-only price matches Nikon D600 at US$2,099.

You can pre-order the Canon 6D from  Amazon.

Next up is the Canon G15.

So rather than a G2X (at least for now) they’ve updated the G12 – skipping G13 (unlucky number in the west) and G14 (unlucky number in the east).

5x optical zoom starting at 28mm (35mm equivalent) F1.8-F2.8, not too bad!

1/1.7 inch 12 megapixel sensor

maximum ISO 12,800

burst mode 10 fps

fixed LCD panel (some of the earlier G series had articulating screens, can’t remember if the G12 did or not)

List price US$499

You can pre-order the Canon G15 from  Amazon.

Not last (but the last one I’ll mention) is the S110

Obviously this is the successor to the very popular Powershot S100.

Same 1/1.7 inch 12 megapixel sensor as the G15

built-in WiFi (which begs the question why they couldn’t fit it into the G15)

The 5x optical zoom starts out at 24mm (35mm equivalent) and starts out at F2.0 but rapidly gets to F5.9

3 inch touch screen LCD

List price US$449.99

You can pre-order the Canon S110 from Amazon in black or white.

Canon is claiming that both the G15 and S110 feature “advancements in Canon’s AF system with improved AF times and reduced lag.”  Both of these cameras will be available in October.

(Please remember, clicking on the pre-order links above won’t cost you a penny more but helps support my blog. Thanks.)

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Fuji X-Pro1 Firmware 2.0 Coming September 18

Along with a new camera body and new lenses, Fuji announced that new firmware for the X-Pro1 would be available for download starting September 18th.

Fuji’s press release says the following:

Improvements made after firmware update:

  1. Improved performance of auto focus*1
    Focussing in challenging lighting conditions, where light is low or bright, will now be much faster in Auto Focus mode. The focusing distance has also been improved, allowing you to get closer to the subject and capture a great shot without switching to macro mode.
  2. Manual Focus improved performance
    • Improved operability
    The speed of the image coming into focus when turning the focus ring has been vastly improved. When adjusting the focus ring using the electronic viewfinder or the LCD panel on the back of the camera it is now much easier to focus, always displaying the image closer to full aperture with minimum depth of field.
    • New addition of 3x magnification for checking focus
    The 10x magnifications / focus check feature on the X-Pro1 has been well received and in this firmware update an additional 3x option is now available. It is also now possible to find the optimum focus point whilst viewing the entire screen.
  3. Improved writing speed/ processing speed.
     • Improved wirting speed to memory card
    At maximum speed the X-Pro1 can now write to memory card twice as fast as before. *2
    • Improved speed for playback after shooting
    Image playback now occurs less than one second after pressing the image playback button. On some occasions previously, for example when using continuous shooting, you had to wait until the images had been processed before they were shown on screen.
  4. Other additional functions:
    Auto (6400) has been added to the ISO setting. This increased ISO not only speeds up the shutter speed, but also stabilises the image and mitigates blurring of the subject.

*1: The effect will differ according to the lens attached.
*2: the effect will differ according to the card type and image compression.

It’s item #1 that I care most about.  DPReview has been playing with a beta of this release and they write:

The write times are the most noticeable improvement with the last firmware. Using a comparable SanDisk 45MB/s UHS-I card as used in our review, we found the time taken for the buffer to empty dropped from about 14 seconds in JPEG mode to 10 and from 55 seconds to around 29 seconds. The camera also gains the ability to enter playback mode during card writing, making those write times much more less of an irritation.

Both autofocus and manual focus feel much more responsive. Manual focus in particular is greatly improved – the lens aperture stays fully open when trying to manually focus, meaning that depth-of-field is minimized and focus precision is increased. This is a big step forwards from the original behavior that would adjust the aperture uncontrollably. The ‘feel’ of manual focus has also been tweaked so that you don’t find yourself repeatedly turning the focus ring with no obvious change in the focus distance.

Well, I’ll know for certain in two weeks’ time how much of an impact this release makes.

To be honest, my frustration level has been increasing rather than decreasing.  I find myself leaving the camera home and taking my Nikon D800 out with me more frequently – in particular the last few times I was out at night, simply because I knew the Nikon would give me the shots I wanted while I felt that the Fuji’s slow auto focus in “challenging light conditions” would make things more of a crap shoot.  This firmware will be a “make or break” for me in terms of whether or not I stick with this system.

 

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Galleries Gone, Portfolio Added

A little bit of moving things around tonight.  The Galleries pages have all been removed and replaced by a single Portfolio page.  This is a selection of my favorite photos across all categories.  Please take a look (and leave a comment or two)!

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