April Fools’ Day in the photography community is always a bit of an odd occasion. Some companies like to prank us with downright silly press releases, such as Three Legged Thing’s “Fiber Fiber Tripod”. Other companies, and of course any bored photographers in general, simply like to circulate rumors or “announcements” of products that sound totally believable.
After trying way too hard to think of something crazy that we could announce today, I decided that, well, I was trying way too hard. And let’s face it, I’m just not a master prankster. Everything I could think of was either really dumb or just way too mundane to qualify as an exciting, viral April Fools’ joke.
So, instead I decided to simply rattle off the things that I WISH were actually going to happen. This is a small collection of random equipment and features that I would love to see, but are entirely wishful thinking at this point. Or they’re downright hair-brained ideas. Enjoy! (Warning: If you’re not a pixel-peeper, you might get really annoyed by some of these, especially #10. Sorry!)
1. That Nikon 135mm f/2 G ED N (VR?)
Despite being 99.9% sure the recent “leak” is a fake, this is one of the main lenses I’d love to see from Nikon. In fact, if they don’t get around to announcing it in the next 6-12 months, I’ll definitely be buying either the current Nikon 135mm f/2 DC, or the Sigma 150mm f/2.8 EX DG OS Macro. BTW, while I’m wishing, Nikon, I’d love for a new 135mm f/2 to cost no more than $1399 without VR, or no more than $1499 with VR. Thank you!
2. A New, Sharper Nikon (or Sigma, or Rokinon?) 17mm, 18mm, or 20mm f/1.8 FX (Full-Frame)
Nikon seems to be on a roll lately with their affordable f/1.8 G primes, now covering 28mm, the newest 35mm, (Review HERE) 50mm, and 85mm. What is next? The only other (common & affordable) f/1.8 primes in existence are Sigma’s 20mm and 24mm, and Canon / Nikon’s old manual focus 105mm f/1.8′s.
Personally as an astro-landscape photographer, I’d love to see that medium-ultra-wide angle covered with a new, super-sharp f/1.8 full-frame prime lens. Sigma could probably do it for $699-$899, considering that the current (and admittedly abysmally soft wide open) Sigma 20mm f/1.8 EX is $450. Nikon would probably charge at least $899 for such an exotic lens, but I’d be happy to pay if it were as sharp as the Nikon 28mm f/1.8 G!
Sure, Canon might make one of these too. But so far their recent affordable primes have been a little bit out of touch with my own personal style: the 24mm f/2.8 IS and 28mm f/2.8 IS are “only” f/2.8 and contain stabilization which I don’t need. Their new 35mm f/2 IS is pretty nice, but its optical performance doesn’t match the Sigma 35mm f/1.4, and again I don’t need IS in an astro-landscape lens. Besides if Canon is going to update their affordable prime lineup, they’re most certainly going to start by making a new 50mm f/1.4 and 85mm f/1.8 first, since those are much more common focal lengths
3. Alternate: A Sigma 18-35mm f/2 ART (Full-Frame)
If Nikon doesn’t get around to making a new fast & wide prime soon, maybe Sigma will expand on the current success of their crop-sensor 18-35mm f/1.8 ART with a full-frame version of some sorts. I’d love to see a 16-24mm f/2, but that’s a little exotic. Maybe an 18-35, or something somewhere in between. Either way, Make it weight less than the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8, and cost $1499 or less, and I’d be all over it!
4. Nikon Autofocus Redesign
Here’s one of the April Fools’ pranks that I personally thought would be hilarious, but would probably just start a flame war and/or sound pretty lame to everybody else: Nikon needs to get their act together with regards to off-center, cross-type autofocus points. Canon’s flagship cameras have had a long history of spreading out fantastic, highly reliable cross-type AF points all around the viewfinder. Oppositely, ever since 2007 when Nikon debuted their new 51 point AF system, they have never had more than a central chunk of cross-type AF points that run in three vertical columns in the dead-center of the viewfinder. So, dear Nikon: please re-design your AF system from the ground up, for the Nikon D5 and all subsequent cameras, and do it ASAP. I would love to see an AF system that spreads out cross-type AF points at least out to the rule-of-thirds area of the viewfinder.
6. Phase-Detect Autofocus Redesign / Hybrid
Here’s something that every traditional (optical viewfinder) DSLR maker can toy with: When are we going to see phase-detect autofocus become as accurate and consistent as the latest generations of contrast-detect AF systems?
I recently purchased a Nikon D5300, as readers may know, and while I absolutely love the camera for travel, landscape, and general adventure photography, I gotta say the dang thing can’t phase-detect for beans. Yet the contrast-detect AF in live view can focus on a star / planet in the dead of night, with pin-point accuracy!
It is high time that DSLR makers start competing in earnest with the incredible advances in AF technology that we’ve been seeing in the hybrid AF systems of some mirrorless cameras.
How big is a phase-detect AF sensor in a full-frame DSLR? Probably no bigger than the size of a cell phone camera sensor. There’s gotta be an affordable way to create an array of tiny little imaging sensors that can supplement 6/9/12 of the most prominent cross-type phase-detect AF sensors with contrast-detect capabilities.
Like I said, this is a hair-brained idea. I’m sure a half-dozen electronics / optics geniuses will reply with comments about how this is totally impossible. But it sure would be cool to see some sort of revolution in digital imaging technology; it seems like the past few years have been almost completely void of significant breakthroughs in DSLR technology.7. Canon / Nikon Declare The Demise Of Optical Viewfinders
You can file this one away with “never gonna happen,” or at least not for the next ~5 years or so. But part of me is very concerned that Canon and Nikon are about to pull a Kodak, and get totally eclipsed by Sony and the other camera makers that are going whole-heartedly in the direction of mirrorless cameras.
To be perfectly clear, I love my optical viewfinder cameras, and I’m the last person to jump on any bandwagon that smells like “change for the sake of change”… If your optical viewfinder camera system works for you, then stick with it! Just don’t whine about how the rest of us are whining about Canon and Nikon’s complete lack of interest in competing with the likes of the Sony A7R. What I am in favor of is Nikon / Canon simply staying in business, period. Regardless of whether or not I switch from DSLRs to a mirrorless system, if making such cameras helps them turn a profit then that’s what they should do.
So, while Canon / Nikon declaring that optical viewfinders are dead would surely be an April Fools joke, I do think they need to wake up and smell the coffee. There has got to be a way for them to embrace this new technology without cannibalizing sales of their current systems. Or even if they do have to cannibalize sales of current DSLR systems, wouldn’t they eventually make far more money in the long run? It seems like they’re making the mistake of clinging to what used to be a huge profit center, but is vanishing quickly. At least for beginners / amateurs.
7. Nikon Does Away With 100-Shot Continuous Shooting Limit
For some weird reason, Nikon assumes that no photographer would ever want to jam their shutter down for more than 100 clicks at a time, and so they actually limit their cameras to 100 clicks in continuous shooting mode.
Why, why, WHY, Nikon? The only thing I can think of is maybe they’re worried that photographers might get angry if their camera gets flipped on inside their camera bag and the shutter button gets depressed for 4,000 clicks or something. Which is dumb, because pretty much all camera refuses to click if the memory card is full.
Either way, I don’t get it. No, I don’t need to blaze away at 8-10 FPS for 10 minutes straight. Actually all I want to do is to be able to click 300-600 images in sequence at 2-3 FPS, for “hyperlapse” style timelapse recording from moving dollies and vehicles.
(Don’t try this at home. No seriously, DON’T. From my recent “Ubertrip V2.0″)
My best idea for a work-around is another thing that has yet to be invented, as far as I know: An intervalometer that allows for intervals of less than 1 second. This way I could put my Nikon DSLRs back in single shot mode, and then just use an intervalometer to shoot continuously for however many images are necessary at 2-3 FPS.
8. Super-Geek Points: Camera LCD 100% Image Playback With “Quick Corner Checking” Feature
Here’s another hair-brained idea for the serious pixel-peepers out there. It is going to be a little tough to explain, so pay attention: Many cameras nowadays have a customization that allows you to avoid having to zoom in slowly to your images, and go straight to ~100% with a single click. Nikon and Canon even have programmed in the intelligence of which focus point was used, so you no longer have to hit “zoom, zoom, zoom, zoom, scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll” …what a waste of ~5 seconds!
So, here’s my brilliant idea. Usually when you’re zoomed in, one of your control dials will scroll between images. The other control dial, however, is un-used or at least customizable. I really wish we landscape photographers could program that un-used control dial to toggle through all four extreme corners of our images! While most traditional photographers are probably just groaning at this idea, and how it will only increase pixel-peeping flame wars by 500%, I’m sure that dedicated landscape etc. photographers can imagine how useful this feature would be.
9. Magic Lantern For Nikon
On that note, I’d love to see Magic Lantern offer support for Nikon DSLRs. Why? Mainly because I have many, many more hair-brained ideas like the corner-checker customization, and I have little faith that Canon / Nikon / Sony etc. will ever implement such features. ML on the other hand seems to be a much more down-to-earth company that listens to it’s users, and would directly benefit from offering such wacky customizations.
10. Home Optical Calibration Tools
Autofocus Microadjustment is so 2007. (??) I never got on board with those over-priced AF calibration targets, I always found that I could perfectly calibrate my lenses just by shooting a stationary object from a tripod, and dialing the AF adjustments back and forth. (Okay I have a a method to the madness, but that’s another article for another day!)
Instead, what I’d love to see would be a home kit for actual optical alignment or lens “sharpening” so to speak. Why not? Digital photography seems to be a haven for people with way more money than they know what to do with. In fact considering the number of hobbyists I’ve spotted toting around $1500 tripods and raving about their $300 optical calibration target, (and showing up to roadside photo locations in their BMW X5 or Mercedes G-class SUV) …I’m actually quite shocked that we haven’t yet seen some ambitious entrepreneur do a Kickstarter to fund their $5,000 home lens optical calibration tool.
Once again, of course, I’m sure that a handful of people will pipe in with comments about how this isn’t even remotely possible for less than a quarter-million dollars. However the folks over at LensRentals do seem to be on to something with Roger Cicala’s latest toy which you can read about by clicking here.
What the heck is this monstrosity, and how soon can I use it?!!!
[via LensRentals Blog]
I mentioned in an earlier post about how some of my lenses seem to always “rattle themselves soft”. Yes, I heavily use my gear. I certainly don’t abuse my gear in a reckless manner, but inevitably working full-time as a wedding photographer takes its toll on my gear. Then there’s the added personal vacations that involve many miles driving down bumpy dirt roads, and many miles hiked with lenses and bodies crammed into backpacks.
So, there you have it folks! Now I’d love to hear from you! What crazy April Fools’ photography ideas would you love to see happen? (Aside from 100%-off rebates, or that legendary 10-100mm f/1.0 zoom lens we’ve all been looking for…)