TWiP #205 – Big Brother in Your Camera?

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This week on TWiP: Is Apple going “Big Brother” with remote camera control patents, NASA takes a Nikon to space… and leaves it there, and are still cameras on their deathbed?

Hosts: Frederick Van Johnson with Alex Lindsay, Aaron Mahler, Sara France, Tristan Hall

To kick things off, Frederick wanted to ask Alex and Aaron about what photography-related developments they saw at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference held earlier in the week in San Francisco. Alex spoke about iPhone camera app tweaks (like a shutter button on the side and quicker launch times) and how iCloud and Photo Stream will sync and display the images you take across multiple iOS devices.

Apple Patent Could Let External Transmitters Disable Camera Features
Apple has filed a patent application for its iOS devices that could allow them to process external infrared signals and possibly modify the device’s operation. This might allow the management of film studios, music artists, or museums to prevent any picture-taking whatsoever, or perhaps place compulsory watermarking on all images taken at certain venues or locations. Frederick and Sara can understand organizations’ motivations for doing this, but it will be interesting to see how this is implemented and to what extent. Aaron definitely sees the “Big Brother”-esque implementation of this technology as more likely than the also viable “self-guided tour” use of IR. Alex supports disabling cameras where people shouldn’t be taking photos anyway like theaters, locker rooms, etc. and has faith in the First Amendment protecting rights of photographers in certain situations like encounters with law enforcement.

Sigma Announces Medium-format Resolution on a Cropped Sensor Camera
Sigma’s new $9,700 SD1 APS-C DSLR out this month is targeted at medium format shooters because the company claims to be able to get 46 million pieces of color information from a 15 megapixel sensor. The Foveon sensor captures three colors of information per pixel site rather than one color per pixel in the conventional, ‘Bayer’ layout. Alex is somewhat familiar with the Foveon sensor technology and would love to get his hands on one to put it head-to-head against his Canon 5D Mark II. Aaron has always been interested in these kinds of sensors and is excited to see this technology enter this space, but for now, the pricetag is a dealbreaker. Sara uses full-frame exclusively right now and is happy with her current camera setup so she will probably not be jumping over to Sigma any time soon.

Ultimate Space Portrait Unveiled… and Nikon D3X Left to Burn Up
NASA has released some of the most unique photos of the International Space Station docked with the space shuttle. These must-see images were captured by astronauts on a departing Russian Soyuz spacecraft only 600 feet away and give an amazing view of the completed space station, one of the last shuttles to fly, and the Earth below. And in a related post on MSNBC, it was revealed that the camera used to take these stunning images – a Nikon D3X – was left to burn up in the atmosphere. Obviously, the memory cards went back to Earth safely with the astronauts, but the camera and lens were intentionally left in the module that separates before re-entry, which burns up in the atmosphere. This is standard procedure for Soyuz re-entries: The astronauts can only bring back the essentials and therefore have to shed extra weight – including $8,000 cameras. Alex jokingly wonders if the camera was a Canon – would they have tried harder to bring it back to Earth? The hosts talk about their choice of brand for their cameras: Alex shoots Canon for the video but acknowledges Nikon is better with focusing, high ISO, and bracketing. Tristan enjoys his Sony camera with Zeiss glass in terms of quality and price. Sara switched from Nikon to Canon a while back and has stuck with them because of her considerable investment in Canon lenses. Aaron also has stayed with Canon over the years but recommends either Nikon or Canon to new photographers depending on what they will shoot. Alex thinks 80% of photographers can probably get away with 2-3 lenses that will cover most occasions and recommends renting lenses from places like for the other 20% of the time.

Will Still Cameras Be Obsolete in 5-10 years?
Over at Vincent Laforet’s blog, he discusses shooting video with the Red Epic M digital cinema camera and then pulling super high-quality still images out in post. He brings up the interesting question of whether we’ll still be shooting with still cameras 5-10 years down the line as high-end video cameras’ quality goes up while their price goes down enough to enter the prosumers market or the mass market in general. Alex agrees with what Vincent is saying, but is not sure how or when we will get there exactly. He and Sara also think almost all photographers should be paying attention to the trend of still photographers being expected to also shoot video. Tristan sees a lot of changes in the Sony video product line lately such as catering to consumers more than pros to drive the adoption rate up in general.

While we are getting our Forum back up and running, feel free to post your questions you would like answered on the air on our Facebook page: Until then, here are our hosts’ Tips of the Week:

Alex: Pay attention to lighting in your environment throughout the day: where’s the light, where are the shadows, what angles work? Noticing and remembering this will help you go back and nail the lighting in your shots.

Tristan: Give something back with your photography. It could be by participating in the Help Portrait as organized by photographer Jeremy Cowart or 100,000 Photos For Hope which is a project arranged in South Africa to build the bone marrow registry for Leukemia sufferers. Tristan’s Photo Comment site is involved in the latter initiative as a gallery associated with the auction of prints to support the project.

Sara: Put down your flash and add a little more video light from Sony or Lowel which helps you see the light before you push the shutter. Especially with cool-temperature LED lights these days, the subject of the photo will not overheat.

Aaron: Even when you are out shooting stills, take something with you that will allow you to capture other kinds of media, like ambient audio, that you can mix into your final project later. Aaron likes the Zoom H1 or the Zoom H4n.

Frederick: – a great resource for folks who want to tinker, make, and use their own photography gear add-ons and accessories.

Alex: Speed-Rail: a customizable, modular adult-sized “Erector set” that lets you attach lighting, accessories, or whatever in almost countless combinations for your shoot.

Tristan: The Orbis, a ring flash adapter that can be used on most speedlight-type flashes. Priced at about $200 US.

Sara: Pinterest: a virtual “pinboard” that lets you catalog and share topics and things you love with your online friends. Frederick and Tristan also love this site. Sara uses the amazing photos she finds here for inspiration for photoshoots.

Aaron: the Giottos MH-1300-series of ball heads. Aaron fell in love with this precision-machined, lightweight, solidly-locking ball head during a recent trip.

Frederick: The Maui Photo Festival where Frederick will be speaking August 24-28th. As Frederick says, picture: models, Lightroom, and beaches! Any TWiP listeners want to meet up with him there for some Mai Tais and photog geek talk?

Follow us on
Join the Flickr critique group. You can also join our Facebook group.

Alex: or his blog, BorderSac.

Tristan:, the Photocomment Facebook page or

Sara:, her blog, or her video training at

Aaron: or his blog,

Frederick: or

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Producer: Suzanne Llewellyn

Show notes by Ernest Aguayo: or
Photo above by Jonathan Deamer
Bandwidth provided by Cachefly
Intro Music by Scott Cannizzaro

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