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Author Topic: Nikon imaging division in trouble  (Read 4834 times)

BernardLanguillier

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Re: Nikon imaging division in trouble
« Reply #40 on: November 15, 2019, 08:36:58 pm »

Not odd at all. Being “class leading” in technical sense doesn’t necessarily translate into sales, which are a function of multiple possible factors, one of which might be that majority of people do not know or care about “class leading.” Economic history is littered with examples of companies having a technically superior product, yet losing the market.

Exactly.

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Bernard

gkroeger

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Re: Nikon imaging division in trouble
« Reply #41 on: November 15, 2019, 09:49:27 pm »

I agree with Bernard about the viewfinders. Having used both the Z7 and the AR7IV, the Nikon viewfinder is still the most comfortable and natural. Between that and the ergonomics, the Nikon wins my heart. The Sony, particularly with the Voigtländer and Loxia lenses still wins my head. Third party adapters that have to reverse engineer the Z mount connections don't seem to me to be the way to build a reliable system. Sony could close the deal with a firmware update that includes lossless compression and focus stacking/shifting.

Glenn
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Martin Kristiansen

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Re: Nikon imaging division in trouble
« Reply #42 on: November 15, 2019, 09:57:24 pm »

I agree with Bernard about the viewfinders. Having used both the Z7 and the AR7IV, the Nikon viewfinder is still the most comfortable and natural. Between that and the ergonomics, the Nikon wins my heart. The Sony, particularly with the Voigtländer and Loxia lenses still wins my head. Third party adapters that have to reverse engineer the Z mount connections don't seem to me to be the way to build a reliable system. Sony could close the deal with a firmware update that includes lossless compression and focus stacking/shifting.

Glenn

Focus stacking for Sony. Yes please.

I think Nikons problems relate more to a lack of market analysis than anything else. They make the best of stuff that people don’t seem to want or need and then forget to make the things people really do want. Marketing isn’t selling stuff you make to people. It’s making things that people want to buy. Nikon often seem totally blank on this one.

Nikon make great equipment and seem to forget to listen to their clients. Sony really seem to be able to react to clients in all sorts of little ways. So come on Sony. Focus stacking.
« Last Edit: November 15, 2019, 10:02:39 pm by Martin Kristiansen »
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BernardLanguillier

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Re: Nikon imaging division in trouble
« Reply #43 on: November 15, 2019, 10:06:03 pm »

Third party adapters that have to reverse engineer the Z mount connections don't seem to me to be the way to build a reliable system. Sony could close the deal with a firmware update that includes lossless compression and focus stacking/shifting.

That's true. If you need reliable/fast AF, this isn't a credible at this stage.

However if fast AF isn't needed, I find the Techart to be suitable to adapt E lenses on the Nikon Z.

This is really great because I can invest in Sony lenses and will still be able to use them on the Nikon the day they catch up in terms of eye AF, at least for slow moving models.

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Bernard

chez

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Re: Nikon imaging division in trouble
« Reply #44 on: November 15, 2019, 10:21:57 pm »

That's true. If you need reliable/fast AF, this isn't a credible at this stage.

However if fast AF isn't needed, I find the Techart to be suitable to adapt E lenses on the Nikon Z.

This is really great because I can invest in Sony lenses and will still be able to use them on the Nikon the day they catch up in terms of eye AF, at least for slow moving models.

Cheers,
Bernard

It's not only slow AF with adapters...but they typically are limited to the centre part of the image for AF...which really limits their usefulness. Back to the focus and recompose days of 10 years ago.
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BernardLanguillier

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Re: Nikon imaging division in trouble
« Reply #45 on: November 16, 2019, 12:32:21 am »

It's not only slow AF with adapters...but they typically are limited to the centre part of the image for AF...which really limits their usefulness. Back to the focus and recompose days of 10 years ago.

Speaking specifically of the Techart adapter enabling to mount Sony E mount lenses on the Nikon Z, the corner AF points work fine, at least in AF-S/AF-C mode on static subjects, and the result is tack sharp even in pretty dark environments. It's also pretty fast.

The only problem really is moving subjects, but even that is not always the case.

And I am trying with a Sigma 35mm f1.2 that is slow to focus on the Sony a7rIV also. I have not tried yet with the Sony 135mm f1.8.

Cheers,
Bernard

RPark

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Re: Nikon imaging division in trouble
« Reply #46 on: November 18, 2019, 05:00:34 pm »

I don't think it's just Nikon that's in trouble. Indeed, the smartphone has become the Brownie of the 21st century. I use mine for snapshots and even thumbnails and b-roll video. I have an Pine XS and, going on what I've seen, the 11 is quite amazing.

But I'm not about to give up my "real" cameras ... though I am leaning towards liquidating my DSLRs and moving fully to mirrorless. Three years ago, I invested in Fuji mirrorless. This spring, I bought the Nikon Z-6 and I'm impressed. The Fuji will be sold soon (never did fully embrace) so I can add to my z-mount lenses.

So Nikon still have me as a customer, after more than 4 decades, for what that's worth. But it will be interesting to see how all this shakes down. I suspect there will be blood.
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ericbowles

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Re: Nikon imaging division in trouble
« Reply #47 on: November 24, 2019, 07:39:29 am »

All the camera companies are facing major declines in volume.  The market is declining by 18-20% annually.  There is no compelling reason to buy a new camera today as there was 15 years ago.  The cameras of today are excellent - but so are the 5 year old models they are replacing.

The low end of the market is infrequent consumer buyers.  They get a lot better results with phone cameras than a full size camera, they don't post process or edit images, and most of the images have a final output on social media rather than a print.  Prints are infrequent.  That market includes the segment that will move up to enthusiast in the future, but it's mainly people who will put a camera in a closet and use their phone more and more.  Nikon is decreasing emphasis on this market - and Canon has a similar strategy.

Nikon's mirrorless segment is actually growing - it's just falling short of overly aggressive projections.  The cameras are good and the lenses are terrific.  There are some niches where a DSLR is better - such as fast action - but for most use the mirrorless is better than their latest DSLR.

Nikon is facing writeoffs and restructuring as they shrink the business to match future volumes.  You don't go from 20% declines to growth in a year or two.  They are facing a 40-50% decline from today's volume before things stabilize.  They are making a transition from DSLR to ML, but that's not going to be a big growth segment compared to the decline in DSLR sales.  Why would a DSLR user continue to invest in lenses? 

Canon faces almost exactly the same issues.  They had a 17% decline in revenue, increasing inventories, and they lack any cameras compatible with CFExpress cards.  They are fighting that with price by discounting older products.  They have a growing mirrorless segment, but don't yet have the camera bodies to go with the pro lenses.  Their strategy - like Nikon - is to target the enthusiast and professional markets.  But they have reduced their sales and pro support staff, they provide less support to the Canon Explorers program, and they are struggling to maintain profitability.  Canon indicated the transition will take at least two more years.

Sony has stopped breaking out all the detail for their imaging division - it's combined into a broader segment.  They did a good job of moving to mirrorless - when their DSLR business was dying.  They are well positioned but still are not seeing sales growth.  When there is growth, it comes from discounting older models - which might be a good strategy.  They do face issues with having a smaller mount, so the Canon and Nikon lenses will have a performance edge, and Sony will be in a position where many of their lenses are not as good as Canon and Nikon alternatives.  Right now they have a good lineup - and performance is good compared to DSLR lenses - but Sony users will need to see an upgrade cycle to compete with the newer Canon and Nikon lenses (which benefit form the larger mount).

Nikon is in reasonable shape for now.  You can go a long time making small profits - it's operating losses that kill you.  Smaller competitors will exit first.  Olympus is losing 30% of every sales dollar right now and has no real opportunity to increase sales.  Fuji has a small niche market that is in decline.  Panasonic is doing well, but it's in the small camera market and they face market declines.  I'm not sure any camera company is "safe".   Big companies that have money losing camera divisions are even more likely to bite the bullet and close money losing businesses.

Perhaps one of the most telling things about the camera market was the exit of Lexar from the market.  The new Micron CEO - which owned Lexar - came from Sandisk.  They looked at their businesses which were all growing rapidly, and decided the memory card business was better off discontinued since it was never going to grow or be worth investment of management time and capital.  Micron could sell memory to others and not fool with the small Lexar product line - even with the number two market position.

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Eric Bowles
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gkroeger

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Re: Nikon imaging division in trouble
« Reply #48 on: November 24, 2019, 04:56:22 pm »


Sony has stopped breaking out all the detail for their imaging division - it's combined into a broader segment.  They did a good job of moving to mirrorless - when their DSLR business was dying.  They are well positioned but still are not seeing sales growth.  When there is growth, it comes from discounting older models - which might be a good strategy.  They do face issues with having a smaller mount, so the Canon and Nikon lenses will have a performance edge, and Sony will be in a position where many of their lenses are not as good as Canon and Nikon alternatives.  Right now they have a good lineup - and performance is good compared to DSLR lenses - but Sony users will need to see an upgrade cycle to compete with the newer Canon and Nikon lenses (which benefit form the larger mount).


I highly doubt that Sony will be brought down by the size of their lens mount. There is no question that if, starting from scratch, a larger mount gives optical designers more flexibility... but that's theory. Evidence is that Zeiss created the Otus lenses with the constraint of the Nikon F mount, Voigtlander has created spectacular APO lenses for the Sony E mount, the Sony G Master lenses are first rate (albeit with some QC issues), and the Sony 35mm f/1.8 is at least as good as the Nikon S 35mm f/1.8. Perhaps Nikon and Canon will produce a few better f/1.2 - f/0.95 lenses, but the Sigma 35mm f/1.2 for Sony E mount is apparently class-leading (again, with some QC variability that seems to be industry wide). The only clear advantage I see for a larger lens mount is a bit more room for IBIS to operate.
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ericbowles

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Re: Nikon imaging division in trouble
« Reply #49 on: November 24, 2019, 05:17:27 pm »

I highly doubt that Sony will be brought down by the size of their lens mount. There is no question that if, starting from scratch, a larger mount gives optical designers more flexibility... but that's theory. Evidence is that Zeiss created the Otus lenses with the constraint of the Nikon F mount, Voigtlander has created spectacular APO lenses for the Sony E mount, the Sony G Master lenses are first rate (albeit with some QC issues), and the Sony 35mm f/1.8 is at least as good as the Nikon S 35mm f/1.8. Perhaps Nikon and Canon will produce a few better f/1.2 - f/0.95 lenses, but the Sigma 35mm f/1.2 for Sony E mount is apparently class-leading (again, with some QC variability that seems to be industry wide). The only clear advantage I see for a larger lens mount is a bit more room for IBIS to operate.

The benefits of a larger mount are referenced by both Canon and Nikon.  It shows up in better sharpness toward the edges and corners, and improved CA.  Those advantages are noteworthy in all of the Nikon S lenses to date.
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Eric Bowles
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BJL

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[insert brand name here] imaging division is in trouble
« Reply #50 on: November 24, 2019, 07:46:52 pm »

Eric,  I like your overview, with just a few quibbles where I am a bit more optimistic for the lower levels of ILC usage:

The low end of the market is infrequent consumer buyers.  They get a lot better results with phone cameras than a full size camera, ... and most of the images have a final output on social media rather than a print.  Prints are infrequent.

There is at least one place where even a basic ILC kit with a zoom lens has a fairly visible IQ advantage: at the long end of that zoom range, where the phone camera is cropping massively from a lens with a far wider angular FOV (even the new "telephoto" lenses on phones have the angular FOV of about a 50mm "normal" lens in 35mm format). And this is dramatically more so for those who go for a two zoom lens kit or a "super-zoom" (like the 28-200 that was the standard lens for much of my casual SLR photography days.)

Relatedly, you overlook one common and more demanding way that casual photographers share photos these days: on their big-screen TVs, and for many younger people, on their computer screens ("kids these days" do still often have at least a laptop as well as a phone!) This is for example how my relatives share their photos when I visit, and TVs often have wireless photo-sharing with phones as a built-in feature.

With 4K TVs and computer screens becoming common, quality that can keep up with that is likely still a selling point, and massive "digital telephoto" crops to well below 4K resolution will not hold up well.

There is also the easy temptation of zooming  on a photo, to look at a friend's expression or whatever, so image files with true resolution well beyond what is seen on the phone's screen can be desirable.
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chez

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Re: [insert brand name here] imaging division is in trouble
« Reply #51 on: November 24, 2019, 08:07:09 pm »

Eric,  I like your overview, with just a few quibbles where I am a bit more optimistic for the lower levels of ILC usage:

There is at least one place where even a basic ILC kit with a zoom lens has a fairly visible IQ advantage: at the long end of that zoom range, where the phone camera is cropping massively from a lens with a far wider angular FOV (even the new "telephoto" lenses on phones have the angular FOV of about a 50mm "normal" lens in 35mm format). And this is dramatically more so for those who go for a two zoom lens kit or a "super-zoom" (like the 28-200 that was the standard lens for much of my casual SLR photography days.)

Relatedly, you overlook one common and more demanding way that casual photographers share photos these days: on their big-screen TVs, and for many younger people, on their computer screens ("kids these days" do still often have at least a laptop as well as a phone!) This is for example how my relatives share their photos when I visit, and TVs often have wireless photo-sharing with phones as a built-in feature.

With 4K TVs and computer screens becoming common, quality that can keep up with that is likely still a selling point, and massive "digital telephoto" crops to well below 4K resolution will not hold up well.

There is also the easy temptation of zooming  on a photo, to look at a friend's expression or whatever, so image files with true resolution well beyond what is seen on the phone's screen can be desirable.

The huge majority of images being viewed these days are on phones with things like iPads being 2nd. I have 3 children in their 30's and none use a computer these days, nor do their network of friends. The current phones exceed the quality this generation requires.
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BJL

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Re: [insert brand name here] imaging division is in trouble
« Reply #52 on: November 24, 2019, 09:18:21 pm »

The huge majority of images being viewed these days are on phones with things like iPads being 2nd. I have 3 children in their 30's and none use a computer these days, nor do their network of friends. The current phones exceed the quality this generation requires.
That might be true for some significant cohort; my comments and experience is with adults who have big screen TV’s—and who in my experience, like to use them to look at photos. But neither my tiny data set nor yours is a good way to decide this question! A hint for me is that both Apple and Samsung ( the world’s two leading camera makers) put efforts into apps and other software support (like Apple’s AirPlay) for beaming photos from phones to TVs and computers. They would not be doing that if “everyone just views phone photos on phones”, so I think a real trend in viewing habits is being exaggerated into an oversimplification.

Note that if just a few percent of phone-camera users want the extra abilities I talk of, it creates a very healthy market for stepping up to a basic ILC kit; thus observations that “most people do not do it can be true and yet overlook a substantial market sector.
« Last Edit: November 24, 2019, 09:22:33 pm by BJL »
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chez

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Re: [insert brand name here] imaging division is in trouble
« Reply #53 on: November 25, 2019, 09:06:01 am »

That might be true for some significant cohort; my comments and experience is with adults who have big screen TV’s—and who in my experience, like to use them to look at photos. But neither my tiny data set nor yours is a good way to decide this question! A hint for me is that both Apple and Samsung ( the world’s two leading camera makers) put efforts into apps and other software support (like Apple’s AirPlay) for beaming photos from phones to TVs and computers. They would not be doing that if “everyone just views phone photos on phones”, so I think a real trend in viewing habits is being exaggerated into an oversimplification.

Note that if just a few percent of phone-camera users want the extra abilities I talk of, it creates a very healthy market for stepping up to a basic ILC kit; thus observations that “most people do not do it can be true and yet overlook a substantial market sector.

Well so far data shows the opposite, people are dropping the low end camera and using phones in droves.
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Jonathan Cross

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Re: Nikon imaging division in trouble
« Reply #54 on: November 25, 2019, 07:02:33 pm »

I am in a situation that may have some bearing.  I shall be photographing a family christening, and will use my mirrorless.  I will process the images in LR and then use Wetransfer to send them to the baby's mother some days later.  She would like to see and share some images quickly. I can transfer images to my phone via an app, but it has to be done in a precise way starting by getting the camera and phone to talk to each other wirelessly.  Once on my phone she can have them quickly via airdrop.  That is the reality of what many want these days, to share images quickly and easily.

What I do not understand is with only really 2 systems, Apple and Android, both of which can enable sharing, why can't camera manufacturers make sharing easier?  It is no wonder camera manufacturers are having a hard time competing with smartphones.  They are not responding to the uses people want.

There may be something I am missing.  How do sports photographers transmit their images quickly to a remote media organisation?
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Jonathan in UK

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Re: Nikon imaging division in trouble
« Reply #55 on: November 25, 2019, 07:18:10 pm »

Chez, what you say about most people dropping dedicated for phones is true, but does contradict what I am suggesting, which is that things like the desire for more telephoto reach and still having images that look good on a big screen TV can lead a few percent of “casual photographers” to get an ILC kit, and a few percent of about a billion smart phones per year is still a viable market.

Even with the dropping sales, ILC sales and revenues are still above what film SLR sales ever were; the bigger potential market and shorter lifetime of electronic devices has a good chance of offsetting the smaller fraction of people who want an ILC.
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John Camp

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Re: Nikon imaging division in trouble
« Reply #56 on: November 25, 2019, 07:46:24 pm »

There may be something I am missing.  How do sports photographers transmit their images quickly to a remote media organisation?

There's a difference between "extremely" fast and "instant." Take a snapshot in Seattle with your iPhone and your friend in New York can be looking at it five seconds later. Take a high-res telephoto image at a football game in Seattle, pop the card, import it to your telephone-enabled iPad (or use wifi where available) and send it to your friend in New York, and he's looking at it almost 25 seconds later than he would be if it were an iPhone shot.
If you have two or three cards, and learn how to use them and import them to a laptop or iPad, you can actually have hi-res telephoto shots processed through (simple) enhancements in Lightroom and sent on their way in a minute or two each. If the difference between, say, five seconds and one minute is critical, best to stay with an iPhone. 8-)

It sorta depends on whether you're a photographer or a snapshotter.

This whole thing about Nikon or Canon or whatever being in trouble, is like Leica has been in trouble, etc. They're only in trouble if they try to staff and research like they did in the glory years of the transition between film and digital. In my opinion, it's probable that Nikon will survive, as will Canon, but they will have to reduce their staffing, reduce the number of new (and often pointless) releases, going back to what they were in the '80s, when they were smaller but still quite profitable.

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chez

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Re: Nikon imaging division in trouble
« Reply #57 on: November 25, 2019, 08:42:24 pm »

Chez, what you say about most people dropping dedicated for phones is true, but does contradict what I am suggesting, which is that things like the desire for more telephoto reach and still having images that look good on a big screen TV can lead a few percent of “casual photographers” to get an ILC kit, and a few percent of about a billion smart phones per year is still a viable market.

Even with the dropping sales, ILC sales and revenues are still above what film SLR sales ever were; the bigger potential market and shorter lifetime of electronic devices has a good chance of offsetting the smaller fraction of people who want an ILC.

Tell this to the CEO's of both Nikon and Canon which are saying their industry is changing with revenues of cameras dropping every year...and for the foreseeable future. Your numbers look somewhat compelling, but they are not playing out in reality.
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chez

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Re: Nikon imaging division in trouble
« Reply #58 on: November 25, 2019, 08:48:01 pm »

There's a difference between "extremely" fast and "instant." Take a snapshot in Seattle with your iPhone and your friend in New York can be looking at it five seconds later. Take a high-res telephoto image at a football game in Seattle, pop the card, import it to your telephone-enabled iPad (or use wifi where available) and send it to your friend in New York, and he's looking at it almost 25 seconds later than he would be if it were an iPhone shot.
If you have two or three cards, and learn how to use them and import them to a laptop or iPad, you can actually have hi-res telephoto shots processed through (simple) enhancements in Lightroom and sent on their way in a minute or two each. If the difference between, say, five seconds and one minute is critical, best to stay with an iPhone. 8-)

It sorta depends on whether you're a photographer or a snapshotter.

This whole thing about Nikon or Canon or whatever being in trouble, is like Leica has been in trouble, etc. They're only in trouble if they try to staff and research like they did in the glory years of the transition between film and digital. In my opinion, it's probable that Nikon will survive, as will Canon, but they will have to reduce their staffing, reduce the number of new (and often pointless) releases, going back to what they were in the '80s, when they were smaller but still quite profitable.

This will all depend on what the shareholders want. Personally I'd find it hard to invest into a technology company that has revenue dropping through the roof...and adjusting to a company maybe 1/4 the size it was in its heyday. Ask the shareholders of blackberry how they felt when the company went through its restructure to a small more focussed company.
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KLaban

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Re: Nikon imaging division in trouble
« Reply #59 on: November 26, 2019, 03:33:05 am »

This will all depend on what the shareholders want. Personally I'd find it hard to invest into a technology company that has revenue dropping through the roof...and adjusting to a company maybe 1/4 the size it was in its heyday. Ask the shareholders of blackberry how they felt when the company went through its restructure to a small more focussed company.

Over the last 20 years I've invested in Hasselblad, Leica and now Nikon. Despite the constant whining of armchair CEOs and naysayers the manufacturers have survived and the cameras have served me well. Long may it continue.

Back to making images...
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