Eamon Hickey

Lives in United States NY, United States
Joined on Mar 22, 2001

Comments

Total: 105, showing: 1 – 20
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350-year storm? I'm feeling bad for that alien lizard man who left his umbrella back in the office when he stepped out for a sandwich and is still standing under the awning waiting for the rain to let up. I'm glad he has a sandwich.

Link | Posted on Jul 14, 2017 at 19:17 UTC as 16th comment | 4 replies
On article Now we know: Sony a9 is sharper than we thought (394 comments in total)
In reply to:

cosinaphile: is getting the best focus out of a lens really this much of a struggle? and under labortory conditions .....what implications does this have for the average person nailing focus consistently under normal, day to day, conditions ?

It's a lot tougher than most people think, in the context of critical lab tests where tiny errors may have consequences. Anyone who cares about these things, should try shooting 10 consecutive shots, at a wide aperture with subject matter in front of and behind the subject (so you can easily detect the exact plane of focus), refocusing each time, then pixel peep them. It can be a little disconcerting, no matter the camera brand or technology in use. More disconcerting is how variable the wet biological focusing technology is. I'm a good manual focuser, but I never get 10 out of 10 perfect, or identical.

But as Rishi correctly and wisely pointed out, these small, basically inevitable precision errors are almost meaningless in any other context besides critical lab tests of flat objects. I feel confident guessing that no great pictures have ever been rendered mediocre by this "problem".

Link | Posted on Jun 22, 2017 at 19:19 UTC
In reply to:

Negative287: So, think about how this could potentially change the entire landscape of photography for generations to come.

Right now the only companies committed to the technology are Fuji, Olympus, Panasonic, and Sony... With Nikon mostly abandoning their failed entry level model, and Canon half heartedly releasing bodies that are good, but not so good that they will affect their cash cow.

It's looking more and more like the new big 3 will be Fuji, Sony, and M4/3 (Olympus and Panasonic). The only area that needs improving right now, deal with the AF capabilities of many of the mirrorless brands.

Oh and Pentax is a bit of an after thought in every phase.

@ Dr Blackjack

First, I think you're over-valuing one aspect of business success, as if innovation was the only thing that matters. Why shouldn't brand equity count? How do you think Canon and Nikon acquired theirs? Both companies have spent decades building high-quality (and often very innovative) products and gaining customer trust and goodwill. (With plenty of ups and downs along the way, of course.) Should that not be worth something? Shouldn't companies be rewarded for building it? I'm pretty certain that most company executives would say that building excellent brand equity is both harder than short-term innovation, and more valuable once you have it.

Secondly, you're underestimating Canon's innovation history by a lot (they are , for example, perennially among the top 3 or 4 companies globally in patents issued). Mirrorless ILC camera construction is not the only laudable innovation in cameras and optics.

Business success requires many skills.

Link | Posted on Jun 11, 2017 at 17:07 UTC
In reply to:

TwoMetreBill: CIPA is shipments, not sales. The conclusions in this article, while possibly true, are wishful thinking. Fake news.

Yes, worth remembering that shipments and sales are not exactly the same.

But over large time periods, as discussed in this article, they are functionally the same.

Link | Posted on Jun 10, 2017 at 15:23 UTC
In reply to:

Ruekon: I think there is too much buzz about mirror vs mirrorless. It's only a detail in the design of digital ILCs. Nothing comparable to the transition from film cameras to digital cameras that changed the complete workflow and brought fundamental new features, like immediate image review.

Yes, mirrorless can be made smaller. The difference reduces though when including lenses into the equation. Also DSLRs exhibit significant differences in size and weight -- comparing e.g. an EOS Rebel or D3400 with D500 or even D5.

The real questions are if people are willing to carry around anything more than a smartphone with ever better photo capabilities and how ILCs will address the new demand for immediate image sharing.

The decline of the Japanese market sounds alarming for Japanese manufacturers -- I believe that innovative strong industries rely on strong home markets.

@ I think there is too much buzz about mirror vs mirrorless. It's only a detail in the design of digital ILCs.

Agreed; people make much more out of this than is warranted — all the camera manufacturers have been making what are fundamentally mirrorless digital cameras since the late 1990s.

It's the interchangeable-lens part that adds a wrinkle, because to do it right typically means a new lens mount. So you do have to be ready, willing, and able to build up a new lens lineup, and that takes time. So there is a significant investment, and therefore some risk, involved.

Link | Posted on Jun 10, 2017 at 15:22 UTC
In reply to:

Negative287: So, think about how this could potentially change the entire landscape of photography for generations to come.

Right now the only companies committed to the technology are Fuji, Olympus, Panasonic, and Sony... With Nikon mostly abandoning their failed entry level model, and Canon half heartedly releasing bodies that are good, but not so good that they will affect their cash cow.

It's looking more and more like the new big 3 will be Fuji, Sony, and M4/3 (Olympus and Panasonic). The only area that needs improving right now, deal with the AF capabilities of many of the mirrorless brands.

Oh and Pentax is a bit of an after thought in every phase.

cont ...

Still, while it's not too late yet for Canon, Nikon, and Pentax, they do need to start moving seriously now. The time has come.

Link | Posted on Jun 10, 2017 at 15:17 UTC
In reply to:

Negative287: So, think about how this could potentially change the entire landscape of photography for generations to come.

Right now the only companies committed to the technology are Fuji, Olympus, Panasonic, and Sony... With Nikon mostly abandoning their failed entry level model, and Canon half heartedly releasing bodies that are good, but not so good that they will affect their cash cow.

It's looking more and more like the new big 3 will be Fuji, Sony, and M4/3 (Olympus and Panasonic). The only area that needs improving right now, deal with the AF capabilities of many of the mirrorless brands.

Oh and Pentax is a bit of an after thought in every phase.

I think your prediction is a little ambitious.

First, Canon is already selling a large number of mirrorless cameras. It hasn't sunk in around here much, but they are moving a lot of units of their limited M-series lineup in Asia. Whether they are making a profit on them is a different question, but they will soon enough. They always do.

Second, if you had taken a snapshot of the camera business in 1980, when the AF point-and-shoot was beginning its explosive rise, you'd have predicted that Konica and Fuji would be the camera giants of the future.

And if you had taken a snapshot of the camera business in 1999, when digital cameras were in the early stages of their explosive rise, you'd have predicted that Sony and Olympus would be the camera giants of the future.

In other words, being early into a market doesn't guarantee long-term success in it, and being late-ish doesn't guarantee failure. Being really late is a bad idea, but we're not there yet in mirrorless.

Link | Posted on Jun 10, 2017 at 15:16 UTC
In reply to:

NAwlins Contrarian: re: "The Cycloptic Mustard Monster utilizes 120mm film and produces 6x14 cm negatives."

No, it uses type 120 film, which is about 61mm wide. And although the frames are nominally 6 cm, in reality they are almost always 56 or even 55mm wide, reduced / shadowed by flanges that hold the film flat.

@RGBCMYK

Except that nobody has ever called 120 film "120mm" film. The "mm" is simply wrong; it's not the official name of the film format, and it's not the vernacular name of the format. Same for 220 (which is the same width as 120). It's just 220, not 220mm. See also the 127 and 110 film formats.

It's not the biggest deal in the world, for sure, but nawlinscontrarian is absolutely right.

Link | Posted on May 27, 2017 at 13:01 UTC
On article Nikon reshuffles management structure (248 comments in total)
In reply to:

mosswings: The R&D that Nikon needs to elevate is software, workflow, and communication interfaces. Which means, probably, that they need to move it to Silicon Valley and find some management that actually is interested in photography as a communication tool rather than management theories. You can't solve customer problems if you aren't in touch with your customers, and you can't develop products if you don't understand where your customers are going. Right now, it sure seems out the door.

Also, for anyone interested: Nikon Research Corporation of America. It's in Belmont, CA — part of Nikon Precision's (lithography) group, which has had a large facility there since the 1980s.

https://www.linkedin.com/company-beta/84007/

Link | Posted on May 20, 2017 at 17:56 UTC
On article Nikon reshuffles management structure (248 comments in total)
In reply to:

mosswings: The R&D that Nikon needs to elevate is software, workflow, and communication interfaces. Which means, probably, that they need to move it to Silicon Valley and find some management that actually is interested in photography as a communication tool rather than management theories. You can't solve customer problems if you aren't in touch with your customers, and you can't develop products if you don't understand where your customers are going. Right now, it sure seems out the door.

@ katastrofa

No doubt there are many great programmers around the world. And I'm sure you're right that Nikon could build a good team somewhere besides Silicon Valley, if they really knew what they were doing. But there's a reason why such a huge percentage of the software-driven innovators are based in Silicon Valley (and why, for example, Facebook relocated there, instead of staying in Massachusetts, where it was born).

Link | Posted on May 20, 2017 at 17:32 UTC
On article Nikon reshuffles management structure (248 comments in total)
In reply to:

mosswings: The R&D that Nikon needs to elevate is software, workflow, and communication interfaces. Which means, probably, that they need to move it to Silicon Valley and find some management that actually is interested in photography as a communication tool rather than management theories. You can't solve customer problems if you aren't in touch with your customers, and you can't develop products if you don't understand where your customers are going. Right now, it sure seems out the door.

@mosswings Nikon "is being tromped on by competitors ..."

Nikon's camera division has had some major missteps over the past 18 months or so (although it is still solidly profitable.) But I always like to keep things in perspective:

There have only been two consistently profitable consumer still camera businesses over the past 10-15 years, and Nikon's is one of them. They have made, literally, billions of dollars selling consumer still cameras. Only Canon can say the same.

It appears that the camera businesses of Sony and Fuji have very recently become slightly profitable, but they will have to make money for many years to recoup all the losses they posted in the period from the early 2000s to around 2014/2015. I don't mean to diminish the missteps I mentioned earlier, which are very real and troubling, but I don't see any "tromping" going on. Nikon got tromped in semiconductor lithography steppers. But not in cameras.

Link | Posted on May 20, 2017 at 17:27 UTC
On article Nikon reshuffles management structure (248 comments in total)
In reply to:

mosswings: The R&D that Nikon needs to elevate is software, workflow, and communication interfaces. Which means, probably, that they need to move it to Silicon Valley and find some management that actually is interested in photography as a communication tool rather than management theories. You can't solve customer problems if you aren't in touch with your customers, and you can't develop products if you don't understand where your customers are going. Right now, it sure seems out the door.

Nikon actually has (had?) an R&D unit in Silicon Valley — its only R&D facility outside of Japan, I believe.

It was for the semiconductor lithography business. That's the business that Nikon is dismantling because of poor performance (the lion's share of the recent "restructuring" — the job cuts and the loss write-downs — are all related to drastically cutting back the semiconductor lithography business group.)

So a Silicon Valley R&D group isn't, by itself, a big benefit.

I'm being a bit of noodge here — I do agree with you that Nikon needs to make a major investment in software engineering and design, and Silicon Valley is the most likely place to find the most qualified folks for that.

Link | Posted on May 20, 2017 at 12:41 UTC
On article Nikon reshuffles management structure (248 comments in total)
In reply to:

osv: didn't nikon just create the business support division, less than three years ago? it's musical chairs, at the corporate level... who's gonna be left standing when the music stops, lol

is breaking up the q/c group really going to fix the big problems, like the oily shutter fiasco?

"The Business Support Division is in charge of group-wide procurement management, facility management, quality control and environmental management." http://www.nikon.com/news/2014/0516_03.htm

Yeah, I guess Nikon thinks the change they made in 2014 didn't work well, so they're basically reversing it.

It's interesting, too, that in 2014 they reversed the "in-house company" system that they introduced in 1999. I remember that re-org in 1999, which was a big change for Nikon and supposedly done to promote more independent decision-making. By 2014, they didn't like independent decision-making anymore. Funny.

Still, not necessarily too much to learn from these things; the world changes, and markets change, so companies should do periodic re-structuring to adapt to those changes. Making the right changes is, however, a different kettle of fish.

Link | Posted on May 19, 2017 at 18:57 UTC
In reply to:

CeeDave: Is the Fuji 18/2 too big or dear for this list?

As a breakfast afficionado, I think the Fuji 18/2's size is right on the dividing line between pancake and not-pancake.

But I agree that it's a very nice option in this discussion; its max f-number/focal length/size combination is unique(ish?). If I could find a Fuji body that I liked a little better, this would be my choice for a simulated fixed-lens prime camera.

It's true that it's not a great landscape lens (never super sharp at the edges), but I like the look of its images a lot in every other respect.

Link | Posted on May 15, 2017 at 15:41 UTC
In reply to:

kolyy: The Sigma 19mm F2.8 is not a pancake by any stretch of imagination. If it qualifies for this exercise then lots of other M43/X-mount/E-mount primes can qualify as well. To me, the obvious E-mount solution is the A6000/A5100 + Sony 20mm F2.8.

On the other hand, the Fujifilm 18mm F2 and the Panasonic Leica 15mm F1.7 are very significant omissions.

Yes, the Fuji 18/2 is quite a nice option, if you prefer a 28mm-e focal length (as I do). Whether it's truly small enough to be considered a pancake is debatable, but it's definitely close (closer than the Sigma 19/2.8, in my mind), and the f/2 maximum f-number is unique-ish for that focal length/size combination. Paired with a smaller Fuji body, it's definitely worth considering.

Link | Posted on May 15, 2017 at 15:33 UTC
In reply to:

Gesture: May be entirely reasonable and proper to do and may have been building for some time. But haven't we seen this before with companies under competitive siege. Step One in the upgrade playbook-vigorous enforcement of intellectual property. Although in the modern age, intellectual property is clearly an important aspect of asset value. And the first to something isn't always the one to prevail in the marketplace. Talking about you, Kodak.

Actually, it looks like most observers are drawing the opposite conclusion, because ASML has been using the "open innovation" business model while Nikon (and Canon, which also lost out to ASML) pursued a go-it-alone strategy. See here for more:

http://asia.nikkei.com/Markets/Tokyo-Market/Nikon-s-independent-streak-led-to-job-cuts

I'm sure the whole truth is more complex than the simple contrast between open innovation and go-it-alone, but the Nikkei article I linked to fits with a lot of other material I've seen over the years regarding ASML's remarkable success in the semiconductor lithography business.

Link | Posted on Apr 29, 2017 at 16:50 UTC
In reply to:

Gesture: May be entirely reasonable and proper to do and may have been building for some time. But haven't we seen this before with companies under competitive siege. Step One in the upgrade playbook-vigorous enforcement of intellectual property. Although in the modern age, intellectual property is clearly an important aspect of asset value. And the first to something isn't always the one to prevail in the marketplace. Talking about you, Kodak.

This is not one of those cases—Nikon has already conceded defeat in semiconductor lithography and is intentionally dismantling that business. They aren't trying to save anything through litigation.

Obviously, they feel like they are due some compensation for past use of their intellectual property and ASML disagrees. It looks like the IP was being used past a prior agreement's expiration date. None of us is remotely in a position to judge this matter—it involves the most arcane advanced technologies in the world and an incredibly complex, long-running business arrangement.

There's no big lesson to learn here. It's a specific issue that probably only 20 people in the world understand.

Link | Posted on Apr 29, 2017 at 15:14 UTC
In reply to:

sirhawkeye64: Only time will tell what comes of this. As mentioned before, the only thing we can be sure of is the attorneys will be getting rich of this case, and I bet you that they'll let this thing drag on and on.... Apparently Nikon won a suit against ASML back in 2004 so this isn't a new thing for these companies as stated.

@RamD

Nikon is not short of cash—its balance sheet is fine, with low debt and plenty of assets. A simple glance at the company's financial reports can answer questions like this.

Link | Posted on Apr 29, 2017 at 14:35 UTC
In reply to:

Fujica: ASML has about a near 80% marketshare where 10 years ago this was exactly the way around.

If Nikon looses or can't come to a settlement then it might be 'Game over" for them. This used to be Nikons biggest income source. If it falls away then I do not see a long term future for them. Yes in this regard it is that serious.

It's been more than 15 years since semiconductor lithography was Nikon's biggest revenue source.

And NIkon themselves are intentionally winding the business down. Last fall, they conceded defeat. See here for the story:

http://asia.nikkei.com/Markets/Tokyo-Market/Nikon-s-independent-streak-led-to-job-cuts?page=1

They are now planning for a future essentially without semiconductor lithography—looking for growth in medical optics and other potential businesses, while maintaining profitability in cameras and flat-panel display steppers, both of which continue to be good businesses for Nikon for the moment. (Cameras obviously face some troubling challenges ahead.)

Link | Posted on Apr 29, 2017 at 14:32 UTC
In reply to:

HSway: What Ricoh is saying matters, not the stuff Asian Review is typing. Nikon is sold to Sony for a couple of years if I took all the rubbish floating around seriously. In the case of Ricoh - Pentax it can be damaging. OTOH, if I was using Pentax I’d be looking at things the company is producing/planning. But that’s just common sense. If there is too much of talk and speculating it’s actually a good approach the company should consider – to publish a roadmap for their products.

@ The same place I saw it stated they were not.. here online.

Sorry, that's just nonsense. There's a difference between reading a respected business publication online, and reading an anonymous forum post online. So I guess you can't provide a credible source for the unlikely idea that Ricoh's camera business has been profitable?

Nikkei's audience is investors, primarily. It is not Pentax camera users. Their job is to report, as accurately as possible, what is happening in the Japanese business world. If credible sources were telling them about possible changes in a publicly traded corporation's business operations, but they suppressed that information in order to protect a brand, they'd be guilty of breaking faith with their readers.

Now again, Ricoh may stay in the camera business; I hope they do. But I have no doubt that Nikkei has solid sources for this information — sources within Ricoh management.

Link | Posted on Apr 13, 2017 at 16:24 UTC
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