Eamon Hickey

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

Comments

Total: 98, showing: 1 – 20
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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 (244 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 (244 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 (244 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 (244 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 (244 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
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.

Where did you hear that Ricoh's camera business is profitable? I'd need to know the source before commenting.

But listen, Nikkei is a very well-respected, very credible business publication; it would be very unusual for any publication of that kind to make a mistake about past profits. That's just really basic business reporting; you can't get that wrong.

We can't be as sure about future events based on anyone's reporting — but Nikkei clearly said that withdrawal from the camera business was just one option being considered. They did not say it had been decided. So their reporting is careful and professional (their headline is probably a little too sensational.)

When potentially bad news arrives, people like to shoot the messenger. That doesn't change the news; it just makes a dead messenger.

Link | Posted on Apr 13, 2017 at 15:47 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.

As rrccad pointed out, there's a difference between reporting by a respected news organization and forum or blogger speculation.

Nikkei never said anything about Sony buying Nikon. That idea was never reported by any credible news organization. You're confusing uninformed forum nonsense, or goofy blogger speculation, with actual news reporting.

Now it's certainly possible that Ricoh will end up staying in the camera business — especially if the ILC market stabilizes — but I'm sure Nikkei has very solid sources within Ricoh for what it reported, which is simply that withdrawing from the camera business is one option being considered. It's a very credible idea — it would be surprising if it wasn't under discussion, given that Ricoh's camera business is a consistent money-loser.

Link | Posted on Apr 13, 2017 at 14:19 UTC
In reply to:

Eamon Hickey: I wonder if this is partly a consequence of Nikon's decision late last year to drastically scale back its IC lithography business. (That decision, by the way, is by far the main driver of Nikon's restructuring and early retirement personnel cutbacks.)

Tochigi Nikon, which is not the "main Nikon company" but is Nikon's leading-edge lens facility, is where the stepper optics were developed and manufactured. So I wonder if part of the company's goal here is to find productive ways to retain and redeploy some of the optical scientists and engineers who were dedicated to stepper lenses but will have a lot less to do now that Nikon is largely withdrawing from that business.

Yes, I wasn't suggesting that Nikon had plans to adapt 3-ton, 2-meter, $15 million UV catadioptric lenses to consumer cameras :-)

I just meant that Nikon undoubtedly wants to find good ways to retain and benefit from the talents of some key personnel -- optical physicists, engineers, and technicians -- who were formerly working on IC stepper lenses at Tochigi Nikon. Their knowledge and expertise could potentially be useful for all of the hundreds of different optical products Nikon makes, not just camera lenses. (Also worth noting: Nikon's flat-panel stepper business is doing fine, so there will still be stepper lens development going on there, just not anywhere near as much of the ultra-precise IC stepper lens work.)

In the same vein, some of the facilities and equipment that Tochigi Nikon hosts for IC stepper lens R&D can undoubtedly be re-purposed (although I'm sure much of it cannot be). In other words, there's a ton of newly freed-up capacity there.

Link | Posted on Apr 4, 2017 at 17:23 UTC

I wonder if this is partly a consequence of Nikon's decision late last year to drastically scale back its IC lithography business. (That decision, by the way, is by far the main driver of Nikon's restructuring and early retirement personnel cutbacks.)

Tochigi Nikon, which is not the "main Nikon company" but is Nikon's leading-edge lens facility, is where the stepper optics were developed and manufactured. So I wonder if part of the company's goal here is to find productive ways to retain and redeploy some of the optical scientists and engineers who were dedicated to stepper lenses but will have a lot less to do now that Nikon is largely withdrawing from that business.

Link | Posted on Apr 4, 2017 at 14:11 UTC as 16th comment | 4 replies
In reply to:

Sangster: What sort of synergies are possible between engineers who work in high energy lithography optical systems and those who work in visible light?

Well, maybe one at least: according to Nikon, the Nano-Crystal Coating technology that it has been applying to more and more photographic lenses was developed originally for stepper (lithography) lenses.

Link | Posted on Apr 4, 2017 at 13:54 UTC
On article Hasselblad X1D-50c First Impressions Review (316 comments in total)
In reply to:

bobn2: If the GFX50S and X1D have the same sensors then they have the same ADCs, because it's a Sony Exmor design with the ADCs on the sensor. I'm wondering whether the innards of the two might not be very similar, and possibly also the lenses - the H cameras have a lot of Fulifilm in them and Hasselblad's lenses are Fujifilm.

HowaboutRAW is correct -- the lenses are made for Hasselblad by Nittoh, one of the many little-known but quite venerable and highly expert optical manufacturers in Japan. Nittoh goes back to the early 1950s, but I had not heard of them until relatively recently.

Just as a general aside, despite having been in and around the business for several decades, I'm still often surprised at the size and scope of the optical manufacturing field and the number and expertise of OEMs in it.

Link | Posted on Apr 3, 2017 at 21:35 UTC
In reply to:

Old Cameras: I have a pair of Nikon's excellent 8x32 Superior E's from about 15 years ago. To this day I get compliments on the image quality when I offer to let someone look through them. A compliment that usually starts with a spontaneous "wow!" I believe the 8x30E2's more or less replaced them.

Yes, the 8x30 E binoculars -- all of them going back to the original model -- are just a delight to use in some way that transcends their specs.

Link | Posted on Apr 3, 2017 at 12:25 UTC
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