No doubt 2020 will stay in the records as a year of significant negative events. Covid-19, George Floyd and BLM, heightening tensions between China and US, HSBC stock at record low and no dividends, Barcelona’s ass kicked by Bayern, Ferrari struggling at Monza, Olympic Games postponed to a non-leap year. You name it.
It’s becoming quite eventful and with November US presidential elections just around the corner, this is going to be a saga from which the ultimate result — whichever way it goes — will certainly dictate the geopolitics and New World Order for years to come. Whatever place you live on planet Earth, chances are your life will be affected by this, directly or indirectly.
World politics and international affairs aside, for photo enthusiasts 2020 will probably be remembered as the year photo blogs started disappearing one after the other. It took me a while to realize what’s happening and, once it hit me, I immediately thought about writing this post.
It so happened that a few photo blogs I followed for many years are now losing steam or just disappearing for good. Kirk Tuck from The Visual Science Lab announced he is taking a break from blogging, citing decreasing audience and lack of interest from readers as reasons to question his time spent keeping the blog alive.
In the mean time, Ming Thein took a more radical approach and decided to stop his blog forever with a farewell post addressed to his readers.
Then there is Steve Huff — the guy who started the concept of real world reviews and coined this term. He took some short brakes when Covid-19 hit the US and now seems to be more dedicated to audio equipment reviews than photography.
You can positively say that these writers — and I want to highlight I’m calling them writers, not bloggers — do not represent the industry. Moreover, there are other photo blogs that are still alive and kicking.
Sure, point taken.
Yet what I’m trying to demonstrate is that these authors are probably feeling the same I’m feeling now: the exciting revolution we experienced over the past 10+ years is no longer the case and there is not much innovation now — not much to make us feel excited or to write about.
You know the story of the mirrorless revolution so I’m skipping the details. David Taylor-Hughes from Soundimageplus was among the first blogs I started following when I bought my first mirrorless camera — the Olympus Pen E-P1. His writing and comments on his Micro Four Thirds cameras and a bunch of other mirrorless cameras that he kept buying, testing and selling was very refreshing compared to traditional sites like DPReview and Camera Labs.
But what made me want to follow Soundimageplus was that the author was an avid mirrorless supporter — remember, this was early days and things were just starting — and emphasis was put on the (small) size of these cameras VS the innovative features and image quality they were able to produce.
Camera manufacturers in those days were releasing new versions on a yearly basis — in fact, sometimes even before a year had passed! The reason being that technology was evolving at a super fast pace and breakthroughs were abundant — so new releases had to come out to beat the competition.
In just a couple of years, we went from slow and hunting AF to lightning quick AF. We went from no EVF to plug-in external EVF and, finally, built-in EVF — with magnifications and resolutions validating their usefulness. Video capabilities also progressed, together with better and better stabilization performance that turned these cameras into legit equipment for videographers.
And so on. Not to mention the mouth watering fast primes that camera brands kept launching to furnish their new mirrorless systems. Changing your camera every year was a duly justified thing to do, because the features and technological upgrades were really significant.
No doubt those days were exciting.
… and now
It’s all history now because things had evolved to a point where performance improvements are marginal and barely significant in real world use. There seems to be no room for big breakthroughs like before. Why would you upgrade from, say, a Sony a7R III to an a7R IV? Enthusiast or pro, both cameras are likely overkill for your needs anyway.
As far as I’m concerned, the Fuji X-Pro3 was the last camera that really got my attention due to its looks and that provocative hidden screen. I must say it got my attention, but didn’t get me overly excited. Other recent releases like the Leica M10R or the Olympus OMD E-M10 IV… Just have me yawning. And please don’t even mention Canon and Nikon.
From the latest Soundimageplus posts, apparently its author is going back to DSLRs now. And, as said, he was an avid mirrorless supporter. I guess it just shows how boring things are at the current stage.
In two words: no innovation.
Back to the main topic of my favourite blogs losing steam. What’s sad for me is that those authors were interesting to follow not only because of their comments and views on photo equipment, but because of the way they often mixed their posts with a human touch: the occasional personal story or philosophical writing on topics unrelated to photography.
Leica guru Thorsten Overgaard wrote interesting things about the pandemic, and so had Steve Huff. Ditto for Kirk Tuck on how things changed in Austin with Covid-19 and how it affected his daily life and business. His writing on his photographic sorties during this period were particularly interesting to read.
Hence I highlighted above that these authors are writers, not bloggers. Put them side by side with these sub-standard big hair or whatever weird and funky looking dudes publishing video reviews of photo equipment in YouTube nowadays, and I guess you know what I mean and why I thing everything is sad and a shame.
So to all the aforementioned writers: I salute you and I thank you for all you had done over the years, all your hard work and dedication keeping your blogs interesting and ultimately giving me the inspiration to keep writing here in Measuring Light.
Cheers to you and all the best.