Tuesday, October 18, 2011

EOS-1D X - notsomuch

I'm underwhelmed by the announced 1D X that Canon says will be available as of March 2012. (Nice summary by Rob Galbraith's site). Basically it's an 18 mpix full frame fast-firing pro camera with lots of video extras and rather substantial redesign (again!) of the AF system amongst other things. Given my experience of the 1D III and 1D IV AF performance is less than totally stellar, I reserve judgement and enthusiasm on that part.

Most significant for me is the pixels. There are more pixels than the 1D IV, but it's 18 vs 16 and the move to full frame means that the pixels are larger on the chip. This is great for noise - it should certainly decrease, but pixel density decreases over both the 1Ds III (21 mpix, full frame) and the 1D IV (equivalent density to 27 mpix full frame). Since my wildlife photography is almost always pixel-density limited I'm not going to drop $6K to have the number of pixels on my subject drop by 1/3. That's a very large number and enough to offset any improvements that may be under the hood.

This is probably a recognition that Canon have reached the upper limits of signal/noise for their current chip technology so the only way to lower noise is to drop pixel density. It's going to be very interesting to see where they go with the 5D Mark II and 7D successors - in the latter case the 7D noise level is too high for my taste, but since it has a pixel density equivalent to 46 mpix full frame it can afford to lose 1/4 of them and still be a very interesting upgrade over what I'm getting on the 1D IV.

Upside: this leaves extra cash to consider the new 600/4L II (which is about the same size/weight as my 500/4L).

Thursday, October 6, 2011

R.I.P. Steve Jobs

All my digital photography processing has been done on a Mac - a succession of G4, G5 Power Macs and iBooks, and intel MacBook, MacBook Pro and iMac. I do research in structural biology using Apple's underlying Unix operating system (open Terminal.app and see what I mean). I have the inevitable iPod (music and image backup while traveling) and iPhones. I'm writing this on my Mac Pro octacore at work. I also owned a NeXT, once upon a time.

So it was appropriate that last night I found out about the very sad news of Steve Jobs death from a NYTimes alert read on my iMac. While not the only visionary in technology he was the most iconic, and it is so sad to lose him this soon. For those of us that remember Apple's darkest days when it was perilously close to bankrupcy (e.g. Wired's "Pray" cover - shown here), Apple's ascendency in the second Steve Jobs era was nothing short of breathtaking. Pray that it continues.

Addendum: Jobs has, in ways small and large, altered the ways I have done things and reacted to technology. The iPhone is iconic and much impersonated because it is both functional and beautiful in ways that enhance using it. However his vision, will and force of personality is also conveyed in the ideas and products he created. That why I had an emotional response to his death, like many other people. However I'm not sure he is someone I would have liked to work closely with - the other aspect to his character, which also made him effective, is nicely illustrated by this piece on him at the PDN site. If you read that, and also his 2005 Stanford commencement address, you get a sense of just how singular a person he was.