Friday, 27 July 2012

If you are about to buy a new Macbook Pro.....beware.

I love Apple products and I have spent many, many thousands of pounds on their products over the years.

My home and office have become an inadvertent Apple shrine.

But I'm a little concerned that their level of success has made them a little less customer focused in the area of customer care.

Let me explain.

I have a 5 year old Macbook Pro which still works well.

The other day when using it I noticed it did not sit flat on the table anymore.

Upon closer inspection I saw the battery has 'puffed up' like a balloon.

With a fair bit of prizing I managed to remove the battery.

I popped into the Apple rent street store and I went to see an Apple representative.

I showed him the battery and he said 'its what they are designed to do if there is a fault'

I told him that I thought the battery was probably out of warranty and he said they would not replace it.

He was unmoved when I said I accepted the failure but not the distorted and cracked open casing.

Surely it should not do this?

'You can buy one if you like but I'm not replacing it' was his response.

Perfectly within Apple's rights but I have come to expect better than this.

In fact this HAS happened before and they were kind enough to give me a replacement.

I can't help but think that Apple has a new mentality which is most unfortunate, in my opinion.

But let's just think, if you buy a Macbook Pro, one of the new super slim Retina screen models,
what would happen to your beautiful new purchase if this happened? bearing in mind you cannot remove the battery?

I put this to the Apple rep in store and he said 'it would be OK'

Now I don't know much about the internal design of laptops but surely this level of expansion would have some kind of impact on such a wafer thin design.

The new Macbook Pro IS brilliant but bear in mind if this happened to you on a big shoot you would be able to do little about it.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Canon plays it safe

Announced out of the blue the Canon EOS M is a late comer to the mirrorless market.

That does not make it bad - far from it.

Canon has a track record of following competitor products and doing a much better job.

Will anyone ever remember that Canon followed Minolta into auto focus and even trailed Nikon into video, albeit by a few weeks.

I have no doubt that it will be a fine offering, spoiling quite a few mirrorless parties that it's competitors are having, particularly as it has the largest sensor of any mirrorless camera, bringing low light performance that others have struggled with in this arena.

The design is very safe and won't win any awards for pushing the envelope for innovation.

Though I'm betting the touch screen user interface will be particularly good.

Build quality I suspect will be fine too with its metal construction.

It's not quite the camera I hoped for though.

You can't bring it up to your eye, so no '3 points of contact'

I'm guessing that Fuji in particular will be breathing a sigh of relief that Canon have played it relatively safe with this offering - leaving only themselves and Leica (who would have thought it?) in the retro/heritage market, with the the higher margins associated with being niche.

There lies the rub for me.

I feel the EOS M will be a good camera and a big sales hit, but in a sea of 'me too' mirrorless offerings will find itself slugging it out in terms of price instead of perceived quality.

Which brings me back to the Fuji X100 - a camera which regular readers of this blog will know I have had a Love/HATE relationship with (think of a camera version of an Alfa Romeo and you won't be so very far off)

At the moment, following a particularly effective firmware upgrade I'm in a 'Love' phase with the camera.

Which seems to have made the most of the good bits and helped the bad bits (autofocus in particular) and for all it's quirks and annoyances, it remains a firm favourite, and possibly the first digital camera I have had some sort of 'connection' with.

If someone were to build a 'heritage' camera which had better autofocus, speed, less weirdness with cards and a more intuitive menu they would do very well indeed.

I have suggested as much in previous posts.

As much as I would love Canon to come up with some kind of offering I sort of hope that they don't.

For as daft as the Fuji X100 is at times, it would be sad to see the demise of another film manufacturer, particularly one who was able to innovate in a retro kind of way and think outside of the box, giving the photographic world a flawed but brilliant gem - creating a Leica for the 'masses'

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Defending the indefensible

I really can be quite unsympathetic when I see bad photography.

Particularly when it is by a 'Pro' working for a major and world renowned organisation.

When I first became aware of the furore surrounding the shots of the USA Olympic team by Joe Klamar I really was pretty astounded by what I saw, and despite all the excuses from his photo editor the pictures are, apart from a couple of exceptions, pretty rotten.

Nothing can really put into words what it wrong with them, lighting, execution, concept.

They are bad.

As I'm sure Joe Klamar(whom I have never met, nor do I have any connection with).would readily admit to, over a beer perhaps.

If you are expecting me to join in giving Joe Klamar a verbal lashing, which in my mind has been similar to the stoning scene in 'The Life of Brian' where all the women are wearing fake beards, well think again.

I have committed similar photo crimes to Joe and so very much worse too.

Let me explain.

The photo's are generally indefensible until you read his account of the assignment.

'I was under the impression that I was going to be photographing athletes on a stage or during press conference where I would take their headshots for our archives [and] I really had no idea that there would be a possibility for setting up a studio'.

I have seen some pretty strong comments from all comers.

But I would ask any of them to consider this.

What would you have done?

It's all very well winning 'blah, blah' photo of the month with some unforced photo of something you like to shoot and had some kind of control or input in.

With the possibility of planning too.

Joe was sent on the equivalent of a photo suicide mission.

Without wishing to play the blame game, one could look elsewhere.

What brief was he given?

Most of my photo apocolypses have been set up by either poor briefing ( ie not telling the photographer what they were getting into) or when I have not listened to the brief properly.

I have no idea which it was but these are scenarios which are possibilities.

The comment which cropped up often was 'I could have done better with my iPhone, and in the right conditions I dare say we all could.

And there is the rub, in the right conditions.

Consider the excellent American baseball team photos by Nick Laham, shot on an iPhone in the restroom, seemingly against the odds but there was some form of preparation, note the KinoFlo's ( I LOVE them!), and I'm prepared to wager he was not fighting with every other news organisation to get the shot either.

Imagine it was you who was sent to shoot this super high profile assignment unprepared, not knowing what the possibilities were, and having all the wrong gear.

On the AFP blog, Joe tells how he arrived with 2 bodies, 3 lenses and one flash unit..........oh dear.

After the wave of nausea had swept over you and, providing you were still standing, you would have to come up with some sort of plan, and quickly.

You might have done better than he did or you may have cracked under the pressure and done even worse.

He shot something which was not his finest moment, though I do actually like the shot of the guy with the dreads.

There is a native American saying which we could all do well to pay heed to

' never judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes'