7.22.2017

Thinking about the closure of Bowens. Where is the flash industry headed?


People on various forums and on photo industry blogs have suggested that Bowens, a long time maker of electronic flash equipment for photographers, was forced out of business because they either could not compete with the lower priced gear coming out of China or because they were unable to innovate fast enough in order to stay relevant to consumers. 

Of course I think there is a quite different reason for their demise and it's one that must be haunting Profoto, Elinchrom, PhotoGenic, and even Alien Bees. I think there is a tidal wave of change coming in the practice of photography and it's rendering traditional working methodologies, gear and business constructs obsolete. And it's happening at an accelerating pace...

While photography is a growing hobby and pastime the traditional approaches to photography as a business are in flux. The mainstay customers for studio electronic flash gear (especially stuff that plugs into the wall); the kind of lighting Bowens was selling, was aimed at, and mostly purchased by, photography studio owners. The gear was set up in a "camera room" and used on a daily basis for years and years. Every studio had its own collection of electronic flashes and as technology advanced the studio owners might upgrade or add to their collection. 

In the beginning nearly everything on the market was some variation of a central power pack/generator and an orbit of flash heads with long cables that were plugged into the generators. When I taught photography in the early 1980's the only people we knew who

7.21.2017

It's hot here in Austin. But that didn't stop the intrepid VSL testers from taking a long walk with a GH5.

Selena.

We matched a long standing heat record here in Austin today. It was 104(f) at camp Mabry which matched a record from 2000. With the humidity moderately high the "feels like" temperature is simmering around 108. To be frank, it's a crappy time to be here in Austin. The lake water is about 86 degrees and keeping the swimming pool cool enough to actually do heavy duty swim workouts requires running multiple aerator sprays all night long. It also means that working outside is iffy for a lot of people.

If you are working outside you move a little slower and try to always stay in the shade. A nice, insulated bottle of water helps.

I swam this morning and then I had stuff that had to get done today in the morning. Around noon I was ready to take my first excursion with the new camera. I put on one of my favorite anonymous shoulder straps, latched in a 64 gigabyte SD card, and headed downtown with my newest camera, the GH5.

I have only two things to report. First, the EVF is very nice and much preferred to an OVF. I love being able to see a representation of the camera's reality in the finder. This one is beautiful. The second thing I have to report is that there's nothing remarkable to point a camera at in downtown Austin today. I have made much progress though in getting deep into the 300+ page owner's manual.

Since I had nothing of substance from the walk to post I thought I'd toss up this image of Selena from a few years back. As I remember that was a pretty hot day as well....

More soon. KT

The GH5 in VSL. First Up: The rationalization. Sure to be an interesting flight of fancy....

Ah. The "good old days" of shooting fill flash with film. We actually used light meters then....

I was pretty sure I'd get a lot of responses to my latest purchase along the lines of: "He needs an intervention." "Here we go again." "He's back into m4:3." "But wait, I thought you said Sony (Nikon, Canon, Leica) was best!?!" "It's just Gear Acquisition Syndrome." etc., etc.  But I was equally sure I could come up with at least one convincing rationale for my seemingly illogical purchase.

A few years ago, around 2013, I looked at the market for photography and made a few decisions. My read of the trajectory of paid photography was not optimistic. I saw evidence of financial decline in the actual profession that mirrored the slow down in the camera sales world. Not being anxious to ride the trend to the bottom without some sort of plan "B" I started looking around at options which could leverage the position I built in my market and also leverage many of the skills sets I'd learned over the years. While re-engaging with my advertising background seemed possible it was more of a long shot, in my mind, than ramping up my comfort level with video production and setting marketing goals to sell more video services. The benefit with this second choice is that I would get to play with technical toys (always a plus) and learn new things. If I played my cards right

7.20.2017

So, which VSL reader had "July" as the anticipated tipping point month for a GH5 acquisition?

Was it the same wag who called the fz2500 a "gateway drug?" I was working on video files today and marveling at how great the files looked from the fz2500 camera. Then I grabbed some of the handheld video files I'd taken with the G85 and marveled at them. The next thing I knew I was driving up Mopac Expressway toward Precision Camera and Video with the intention of grabbing for the new gold ring of consumer video cameras; the GH5. It just came over me like sun stroke. But with far fewer ill effects.

As of 3:30 pm, CST, I am in possession of a GH5 and two extra Lumix batteries. I'm setting up the menus this evening and the daily reporting about the camera will most likely begin tomorrow. I have to shoot some stuff first.

Here's how the reporting will go: Part one = The big rationale.  Part two: All the stuff I like about the camera and the files I get from it.  Part three: The stuff that bugs me.

Since the temperature hit 104(f) at the house today and the "feels like" temperature was closer to 108(f) I wonder if the purchase was a subliminal response. You know, buying a camera that isn't prone to shut down from overheating.....

So far it's almost exactly like the GH4s I used to own only with a much more complex menu and a much more robust video feature set. More tomorrow....

I tried to put into words the "personality" of some older lenses I was using; maybe photos are worth thousands of inaccurate words...



Yesterday, in a blog I wrote, I was trying to describe the difference in the look and visual "personality" of a set of older Olympus Pen FT lenses. Lenses from the late 1960s and early 1970s. As I swam this morning I wondered to myself, "Why talk about it? Just show some images!" So here are a dozen images from the shoot I did on Tues. evening at a Zach rehearsal of "Million Dollar Quartet." They were shot in a 16:9 aspect ratio so I can slip them into video without cropping. All shot with a Panasonic G85 camera and mostly with the 60mm f1.5 and 40mm f1.4 lenses. 

These were not made as "standalone" images for public relations or marketing but I'm sharing them here so you can see what I mean when I talk about a "rounded" sort of sharpness or a richer color palette. I guess it's all subjective. I hope Google's Blogger doesn't compress these in a ham-fisted fashion. Ah well, back to the edit...