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Gary Fong ‘Virtual Cameras’ Aim To Interactively Teach You How To Tap Your Camera’s Full Potential

By Kishore Sawh on January 15th 2015

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Unless you’re a particularly new recruit in the world of photography, a real neophyte, you’ve heard of Gary Fong. His light modifiers are as ubiquitous at weddings as a bride, and his products are often imitated. He’s also the primary spokesman for his line of products making him almost as identifiable as they are. What many familiar with him may be less aware of are his offerings in the world of photographic education and instruction.

What Fong has done, essentially, is take popular cameras (currently all Sony) and created in-depth tutorials on how to use those particular cameras so any user may tap into the camera’s true potential, and get the most out of it, rather than leaving it as it came out of the box. These tutorials have been available for some time, but recetnly Gary has changed the approach a little, and cameras he does tutorials for from now onwards, will be found within a new series called ‘Virtual Cameras.’

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Rather than reading through a manual, or sitting through a straight exploratory lecture as his videos have been thus far, the virtual cameras will be interactive, and less abstract.

Each camera will appear on screen as a still image of the camera body, but by hovering a mouse over it, you’ll find that almost all the buttons and dials are clickable, and with each click a video will pop up explaining what the particular functions of that button are, and how and when to use it. Lest you think it’s entirely superficial, it’s prudent to point out that as you click buttons which would bring up menus and submenus on the back of the camera, so will you see those and be able to navigate them from your computer. For the purchase price of $12.99 per camera, you’ll also have access to all the tutorials grouped together in a more traditional multi-hour dissection.

[REWIND: 5 Ways To Think About & Improve Your Food Photography Two-Fold]

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Currently, the only Virtual Cameras available at launch are the Sony A6000, and Sony A7 II, with more to come. The virtual treatment will not be retroactively applied to older cameras for the time being, but it wouldn’t be a stretch to think that Gary will take some of the biggest sellers from Nikon & Canon, like the brilliant Nikon D750, or D7100, or Canon 5D MK III, and add them to the list.

Thoughts

You can go on Gary’s site right now to take a trial run at the A6000 to get an idea of how the system will work, though you only get a few seconds of each video. It’s enough to get a feel. Is it for me? I’m not sure. I think there comes a point when you’ve played with enough cameras, especially of the same brand, that you become very familiar with the general ins and outs of the function buttons and menus and so forth. Whatever other changes there are, I think you may be able to figure out, or follow along with the camera in hand as you watch a traditional video.

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That being said, there’s a sort of immediate gratification that comes with the ability to just see something, click it, and understand it, without the need to flip through indices to find what you’re looking for. The familiarity that translates from moving a mouse around, through a sort of muscle memory, right into doing it on camera may also exist, and I can certainly see the temptation to learn your camera this way. I think these sorts of videos are actually really good, especially if it’ll be your main camera, or you’re planning on keeping it for a few years, but I just haven’t made up my mind if the actual interactive part means much, especially if I’m getting this for a camera I already have, and likely will have in my hands. Does this interest you?

Source: Gary Fong Vimeo

About

Kishore is, among other things, the Editor-In-Chief at SLR Lounge. A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

9 Comments

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  1. David Blanchard

    When the A7000 hits the streets, I’ll give it a look here. Hmmm, RX100M3 is another candidate.

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  2. Greg Silver

    I followed Gary’s tutorials for awhile now. He’s really helped me get the most out of the a6000. Feel like my camera is now supercharged compared to what it was when I first tried it out.

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  3. David Hall

    Not for me either.

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    • wowzar zar

      WOW!
      Feedback like this is the reason this worlds IQ is dropping fast!
      Sorry David Hall, but your post is just beyond pointless. It’s negative, hating, non-constructive and does nothing to offer feedback to the designers of these things as to what WOULD appeal to you.

      Just take my own post about yours as a prime example. I’ve not just simply taken the time to point out how pathetic your post is, but I’ve explained why!

      If you only have comments like ‘not for me either’ keep it to yourself because no one gives a damn about what’s for you and what isn’t!. You could be hit by a big bus, and no one will care, thats how important you are in this world.

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    • John Sheehan

      To Wowzar Zar,

      I find your entire comment uncalled for. David just made the comment that the product featured in the article wasn’t for him. At NO time, did he say anything negative or hate filled. YOU read too much into the four words David used.

      As for non-constructive, not all comments need to be essays on the subject and waste three to four paragraphs. Take your own comment to David. You could have instead just wrote how you think the product will benefit you and others, but you choose to attack someone else. The product wasn’t for him, and he expressed it in a precise manner.

      I also find your “Keep it to yourself” comment childish. People who say that are those who can’t stand that someone else has a different opinion than their own. Everyone is free to express themselves. Get over it.

      I have to wonder why someone would create an account this month to, from what I see, just to reply to David’s comment. Do you have a financial stake in this product, or are you just a troll?

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    • John Sheehan

      I really like the idea of an interactive camera to teach people about their camera. I know a lot of people who learn the basic operation of their camera, but don’t go further because the manual is too dry or they say it’s hard to follow. Brilliant idea on Gary’s part to do this series.

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    • David Blanchard

      @WOWZAR ZAR
      On the one hand, David’s comment was not all that useful. On the other hand, your overly harsh criticism just makes you look like a jerk. In the future, take your pick: 1> not useful; 2> jerk.

      @ SLR Lounge
      It is possible that David was responding to the SLR Lounge practice of awarding “points” for comments. What these points and levels do is a mystery to me, but they may be contributing to a spate of useless comments. I hope this comment is not one of those.

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  4. Barry Cunningham

    Good idea if the tutorials go through the features in enough depth.
    Not really useful for comparison of different cameras until many more cameras are added, but then probably not affordable if the tutorials for each of the cameras being compared have to be purchased separately.
    I not exactly sure who the target audience is unless they are simply designed to compete with 3rd party camera books such as those by David Busch.

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  5. Kevin Sutton

    I think this would be good for someone who doesn’t know exactly what camera they want OR those of us who want to try before we buy ‘virtually’.

    Probably not for me though.

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