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Author Topic: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial  (Read 40991 times)

amolitor

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Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
« Reply #20 on: May 20, 2015, 12:28:35 AM »

I certainly agree that passion is a good thing, even in an engineer. My point is that it needn't be a passion for photography, even if you're designing camera systems!

It could usefully be a passion for optics, or efficiency, or reliability. Or smallness.

Michael may be saying that the engineers designing photography-relevant systems may not be photographers. Things like menu and control layouts, things like focusing rings. And that would be a bad thing, to be sure.
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aduke

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Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
« Reply #21 on: May 20, 2015, 12:55:40 AM »

The analogy with rocket designers is what do they do on Sunday afternoons?  Do they watch football on TV or or they out in some field shotting their own model rockets? How many equip their model rockets with cameras? Basically, is their interest merely professional or are they involved on a personal level?

Alan
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michael

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Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
« Reply #22 on: May 20, 2015, 06:35:14 AM »

Last year I spent some hours discussing features which a next-generation camera system might have. This was with the head of engineering for a major Asian camera maker.

I suggested that since the sensor "knows" in real-time how every single pixel is responding to light, an auto exposure system could be designed that created the prefect technical exposure...one in which no pixels were blown (or at least ones where the user had set a threshold for the number of 255+ pixels allowable (specular highlight accommodation, for example).

In other words, the system that displays a live histogram knows which pixels are overexposed, so why not harness this information to create the perfect ETTR exposure, thus producing optimum dynamic range and SNR.

It would be very simple to then "normalize" the exposure for rear LCD display, for in camera JPGS, and for display on the rear LCD. I told him that Adove even already had a place holder for a "normalization" value in the raw file's data field, in anticipation of such a system

His reply was they traditional DSLR metering was what photographers preferred; ie: the type that measure multiple zones in the image and then balances them out according to set algorithms.

I replied that this made sense for film-based systems a decade or more ago, but that digital solved its own problems, and that the tools for creating a much more accurate and advanced system already was in the camera, but just needed to be harnessed.

I won't bore you with the rest of the conversation, but I can assure you that this particular head of engineering liked what his predecessors did, knew that it worked well for film, and that he therefore saw no reason to switch to something that his competitors didn't do.

He understood the problem. He understood the proposed solution, and agreed that it was a superior approach. But, his reply showed that he just didn't want to start drawing outside the lines and get in trouble with his conservative management.

Michael
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Chris_Brown

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Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
« Reply #23 on: May 20, 2015, 11:21:18 AM »

I, for one, would love to see Canon bring a smartphone to the market. If a watch company can do it, why not Canon?

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Isaac

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Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
« Reply #24 on: May 20, 2015, 01:40:29 PM »

There's no space for Canon, Nikon, Sony, Fuji in there, except possibly as OEMs? There's a "Nikon Inside" play that's possible, maybe.

"How Sony Makes Money Off Apple’s iPhone"

"40% of All Camera Sensors Sold in 2014 Were Made by Sony"
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kikashi

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Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
« Reply #25 on: May 20, 2015, 02:39:11 PM »

A link would have been useful.

Given recent experience, I'm not sure that that's true.

Jeremy
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Zerg2905

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Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
« Reply #26 on: May 20, 2015, 03:03:09 PM »

I agree: "Market Slice One" is huge.
On the other hand, to collate another reply, a Lamborghini can transport you from point A to point B. A Toyota will do the same. But DIFFERENTLY. So, for the ultimate photo experience, some will still buy (a) the Lamborghini. DSLRs (with all enhancements) will still be with us for a while, I believe.
Zerg
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Telecaster

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Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
« Reply #27 on: May 20, 2015, 03:49:00 PM »

…but I can assure you that this particular head of engineering liked what his predecessors did, knew that it worked well for film, and that he therefore saw no reason to switch to something that his competitors didn't do.

He understood the problem. He understood the proposed solution, and agreed that it was a superior approach. But, his reply showed that he just didn't want to start drawing outside the lines and get in trouble with his conservative management.

IMO companies where attitudes like this are prevalent are pretty much asking to be plowed under. And likely will be.

I'm not all that fussed about the equipment used to take photos. Taking the photos matters to me. Even having them as records is less important than having been there, and seen that, then to take them. Photo tech is always changing, yet we always seem to think our preferred tech represents a plateau of accomplishment that can/will never be supplanted. This is delusional.

Tech drives style…so it'll be interesting to see what creative people create using smart devices with their increasingly sophisticated capabilities.

-Dave-
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amolitor

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Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
« Reply #28 on: May 20, 2015, 04:05:14 PM »

The thing is that even a relatively modest software change such as Michael is going to cost something like $100,000.

You need to develop the algorithms. Then the menu items to control the new feature. Then update the documentation. Then you need to build test equipment to test the feature on the manufacturing line. Then you need to train manufacturing people to use it, and write documentation for the test equipment, and so on.

Since we're not philanthropists, we need to see $200,000 in profits, at least. This means you gotta show me a couple thousand units of sales based on your new feature.

Is that going to happen?

I dunno. Sure, Michael might buy one (but probably not, because it would be in the wrong body or at the wrong time, or, or, or). Would anyone else buy a camera based on a new esoteric exposure mode, or is virtually every single buyer out there pretty much happy with the gigantic sheaf of time-tested exposure modes already available?

Is this the sort of thing that moves the needle on sales? I am dubious, but I don't know.

What I do know is this: Michael doesn't know either. There are ways to find out, but I don't see Michael talking about the focus groups and market surveys he's performed. He's simply telling people at camera companies about this idea he has.

It's not a bad idea, and manufacturers do like to hear these ideas. But if they only ever hear about ETTR and new exposure modes from one source, they're simply not going to care. They need to hear it, or similar ideas, or problems that would be solved by the idea, from multiple sources. Then they'll consider spending some money to focus group it, or otherwise measure the value of the new feature. And then if THAT proves out, they'll go ahead and implement it.

My sense is that camera makers are not hearing anything about how they need to improve their exposure calculation technology, except from Michael.
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Telecaster

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Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
« Reply #29 on: May 20, 2015, 04:30:33 PM »

My sense is that camera makers are not hearing anything about how they need to improve their exposure calculation technology, except from Michael.

The "camera" makers that really matter now have already got this covered. Because people now working for them were listening—or maybe even had the same thoughts themselves—years ago when such ideas were first proposed. Their names are not Nikon, Canon, Fuji, Olympus, etc.

-Dave-
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amolitor

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Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
« Reply #30 on: May 20, 2015, 05:26:21 PM »

Soo.. what ARE their names?
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foxhole510

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Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
« Reply #31 on: May 21, 2015, 01:23:02 PM »

 I agree with Michael rant and think his vision for the next camera is a logical step but there is part of the equation that includes our addiction to better more sophisticated cameras at a pace that never seems satiated. This might be a function of our seeing practical camera features not being implemented fast enough.
I am not sure where the line is of unimaginative overly cautious manufacturers and our constant need to be fed yet another camera.
We all have friends/photographers that are on a tight budget and make due with old equipment, producing images that are indistinguishable from newer equipment. I am glad Michael pushes for better equipment and I am equally glad for friends that work with old equipment and keep me humble.
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ripgriffith

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Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
« Reply #32 on: May 21, 2015, 03:46:15 PM »

... there is part of the equation that includes our addiction to better more sophisticated cameras at a pace that never seems satiated.
When I buy a new camera, it is usually because of only one or two improvements over my previous one, and within the same family because of my investment in glass.  On the other hand, it frequently comes with a whole raft of new features I may never learn or use.  If the instrument provides me with the means of making a picture of adequate resolution, sharpness and dynamic range under the conditions in which I am shooting, then I am satisfied, and I do not care if it has 57 varieties of films to mimic or a touch-screen which will immediately send images to my Aunt Tillie in Hoboken. If it has these features, I generally disable them if I can.  As with my computer, I would take them off the start menu if I could (this might be a useful new feature: the ability to completely remove unwanted feature-bloat from your camera).  I hasten to add, this is just me.  I am very conservative in this respect:  my camera serves one, and only one function... to take pictures.
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jjj

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Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
« Reply #33 on: May 21, 2015, 04:33:45 PM »

He understood the problem. He understood the proposed solution, and agreed that it was a superior approach. But, his reply showed that he just didn't want to start drawing outside the lines and get in trouble with his conservative management.
Is this a cultural issue? Whether of that specific company or a country that is conservative in some ways.
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jjj

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Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
« Reply #34 on: May 21, 2015, 04:39:55 PM »

I dunno. Sure, Michael might buy one (but probably not, because it would be in the wrong body or at the wrong time, or, or, or). Would anyone else buy a camera based on a new esoteric exposure mode, or is virtually every single buyer out there pretty much happy with the gigantic sheaf of time-tested exposure modes already available?

Is this the sort of thing that moves the needle on sales? I am dubious, but I don't know.
Let me see, you release a camera with same features as usual plus one extra trick - a USP which is that no longer will your highlights be blown or shadows be murky and noisy. Because all parts of the image will be perfectly exposed - with manual tweaking of said exposure to bias attributes of the 'perfect' to be exactly how you like it.  Nah can't see that selling, other than to photographers who want well exposed shots.
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jjj

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Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
« Reply #35 on: May 21, 2015, 04:52:03 PM »

I am very conservative in this respect:  my camera serves one, and only one function... to take pictures.
Yet there is a huge number of ways of doing just that and features not directly involved that can be of use - wifi offloading for news reporters for example. I don't think I've ever used shutter priority on a camera for example, yet others love it. SP doesn't get in my way, so I don't really care that it is there. However I do appreciate that cameras with a multitude of functions like that will then sell to a very large number of people. More specialized and more limited cameras tend to appeal to far fewer people and will thus be very expensive. So the 'less is more' attitude taken to camera design may well result in more money being paid out for a less functional camera.
However what would be a good idea is cameras that are far more customisable than they have started to become now with some manufacturers. Your being able to choose the functions a camera has, where they are accessed and maybe even analogue knobs and dials that change to reflect that would be a big step forward in ergonomics.
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Damon Lynch

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Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
« Reply #36 on: May 21, 2015, 05:44:38 PM »

Is this a cultural issue? Whether of that specific company or a country that is conservative in some ways.
As a hypothesis this idea has a common-sense appeal, but in my opinion it would be exceedingly difficult to test empirically. To test it properly we need to understand sufficiently well the multiple systems that companies and peoples inhabit, which is an extremely difficult task. By "multiple systems", in a company I mean production system, product design system, payroll system, etc. From a systems perspective it is impossible for any one person or even a team of people to have a deep understanding of these systems and how they work and interact internally, let alone how they interact with outside forces. In a society and its multiple cultures it's far more complex.

To take a real life example, did you know that companies like Intel hire cultural anthropologists? They do so because they learned the hard way it's a good idea to have people who are not engineers anticipate how their products will be used in the future that has not yet fully emerged. As you may know the duration from initial CPU design to production is approximately 5 years, loosely speaking. A lot can happen in five years, so anticipating future needs to inform design today can be incredibly helpful. Some of us no doubt remember the Pentium 4. It was a failure in laptops, running too hot and using a lot of power. Failing to anticipate how people would use their CPUs was a costly screw-up for Intel. Thanks in part to the field research of its anthropologists Intel is less likely to do something like that again.

I mention this because when the first ever cultural anthropologist was initially hired at Intel, he was invited into a senior level meeting and the guy running it (a luminary in modern industry) asked people to introduce themselves. When he learned the anthropologist was there, he told him to get the hell out of there, because his work was not needed. As I recall his choice of language was not polite. In any case, the luminary was wrong. The anthropologist was needed, and he went on to prove his value. Now, was the luminary "conservative" or did he merely not yet understand the ways the anthropologist -- who had special skills and approaches the luminary was ignorant of -- could fit into the various systems at work in Intel?
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jjj

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Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
« Reply #37 on: May 21, 2015, 05:52:59 PM »

I mention this because when the first ever cultural anthropologist was initially hired at Intel, he was invited into a senior level meeting and the guy running it (a luminary in modern industry) asked people to introduce themselves. When he learned the anthropologist was there, he told him to get the hell out of there, because his work was not needed. As I recall his choice of language was not polite. In any case, the luminary was wrong. The anthropologist was needed, and he went on to prove his value.
In what way?


Quote
Now, was the luminary "conservative" or did he merely not yet understand the ways the anthropologist -- who had special skills and approaches the luminary was ignorant of -- could fit into the various systems at work in Intel?
I'd definitely use conservative to describe the lack of wanting to understand. So it seems like you are asking was he conservative or was he conservative.
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amolitor

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Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
« Reply #38 on: May 21, 2015, 06:11:27 PM »

My bad, I didn't realize that Michael's proposed exposure mode was magical.
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Damon Lynch

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Re: "No Guts, No Glory" rantatorial
« Reply #39 on: May 21, 2015, 06:28:45 PM »

In what way?

By using standard anthropological field research methods. For instance Intel now has empirical data showing how features like being able to very quickly increase processor frequency in one or more CPU cores within thermal constraints  (aka "turbo boost") is actually used by on a day to day basis.

I'd definitely use conservative to describe the lack of wanting to understand. So it seems like you are asking was he conservative or was he conservative.

Then by definition every person on the planet is conservative, because there is far more to understand than we'll ever be able to.  We all make our choices as to what we ought to focus on in our limited time. In any case, I'd be extremely cautious to describe a leader of one of the most innovative post-WWII industries as "conservative", especially considering the stunning manner in which Intel has come to dominate large swathes of the industry.

To take another example. Is Pakistan a more conservative society than the U.S.? Most Americans who know something about South Asia would say "of course it is". Yet Pakistan elected a female leader to national office years ago. There are still U.S. states that have never done the same, let alone nationwide.

The term conservative in this context is totally meaningless and its usage reflects only the value judgements of the person using it.
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