It all depends…


Yes, it all depends.

Something that seems right to you could seem wrong to others. Something that is acceptable to you could be unacceptable to others. In the end, it all depends. It depends on each individual’s value, needs, upbringing, requirement and etc.

For example, X-Pro 3 released with a inward-flipping screen. There are those who love the idea, and there were those who felt it is plain stupid. Take another example, Face ID login on an iPhone, some find it as a game changer, while some prefer to stick with their fingerprint recognition. Some say Leica is overpriced, some say Leica has soul. At the end of the day, it really depends whether something resonates with you.

The photo you took could mean a lot to you and perceived as a great shot, but to others it could be just a meaningless snapshot. Sometimes, it is very hard to draw a line that’s clear enough for everyone to agree with, especially when it comes to photography, something that’s art-related, something that everyone would have their own opinion on.

So?

You can choose to be bothered and argue with people who disagree with you. You can choose to stand firm and continue to believe in what your faith leads you to. It all depends… again, on your choice on how to react and respond. For me personally, I don’t bother too much on what others were saying or doing, I’m more focused on what I want to say and what I want to do. Of course I’m not saying I will totally shut off suggestion and advice from others, but I will try my best to be aware of my end goal while dealing with differences.

Well, you may agree or disagree with me, it really depends. Till then.

Are we getting “Smarter”?

Nowadays, everything seems to be getting “smarter”… Smart home, Smart phone, Smart TV… getting stuff connected to internet and create an app to control them seems to be on the rage and the new standard of defining “smart”… add in a few AI, Big Data, IoT and you have a full package to market it.

But with all these “smart” devices flooding into our lives, are we really getting smarter? Is our lives really improved? It reminds me of a few instances when I visited a couple of my friends’ home. Walking into the room, my friend will proudly show me his trick by using voice command to turn on the light or air-conditioner.

“Ok Google, turn on the lights.”
From the moment we step into the room, to my friend finished his command, to Google finally understood it and get the lights on… it took like 5-10 seconds? If I were to walk in the room and press the physical switch, it would take me probably… 1-2 seconds?

“But… it’s cool!”
“This is the future! Voice command and hands free!”
“I don’t want to be left behind! I must be at the forefront of technology!”

Sadly, a lot of people just don’t seems to understand what they are getting themselves into. To me, I don’t see a point of wasting 10 seconds to replace a task that can be done in 1 second. It just doesn’t add up, why automate something that’s already been so efficient to begin with?

Now, that’s not to say I’m against the idea of… say a smart home. In fact I find that there are quite a lot of advantages (and disadvantages) of having everything connected to the internet. You can turn on or off appliances at home remotely, monitor power consumption, understand and study your usage behaviour or pattern, group several devices together and control them at once under scene mode… just to name a few of the good and meaningful things that you can and should be doing with your smart home.

Collecting data, providing insights and control in improving life, automation… these are genuine reasons for us to celebrate “smart” devices, but to turn on a switch in front of you with voice instead of your hand? Oh please… Okay, I might be pissing people with this post. I’m not trying to make fun of anybody. If you want to be cool, want to be ahead of times, then invest a little more time into doing some of the things that really harvest the best of technology.

We all can get a little “smarter” with all the smart devices around us, but we still need to take the effort to do so. Having the devices alone will not be enough, we still need to think, understand and extract the best of them, just like how we have been living our lives in the pre-smart era.

Does it spark joy?


There are times when I took a picture, and then edit them in Lightroom, when everything seems well executed from composition to other technical aspect. But as I stared at the final picture… I tend to feel… empty. Something is lacking, and I wonder what it is.

Some said there needs to be a story, some said there needs to be “soul” in your picture. I think ultimately, the important factor of whether a picture will be included in your collection is: “Does it spark joy?”

There are times when we have some very ordinary pictures, but because it brought us some sentimental values, it carries a meaning, it “sparks joy”, hence it became a keeper for us in the years to come. The same goes to every other aspects in life, if what you are doing at the moment does not spark joy in you, you can hardly deliver a good result. If an item does not spark joy in you, no matter how well made it is, you wouldn’t buy it and bring it home.

I believe the same can be said to photography, and this has become one of the aspect I look into when I’m shortlisting pictures from my pile of collections. Not just the technical aspect, but also the feeling it gives me. Well, everyone has their own selection criteria, so what’s yours?

Camera technology… what’s next?

In recent years, traditional camera technology has not changed much. You get better sensor performance with better noise control, you get higher speed performance that allows blackout-free shooting through EVF, you get better auto focus performance in the form of eye and animal eye AF… other than that, there seems to be not much going on.

Whereas for smartphone camera technology, computational photography has evolved and allows user to capture HDR image and video with live view, night mode that allows handheld low light photography to be possible, blurring background without the need of large aperture lens, creating lighting effect without the need of studio light and so on.

It’s an obvious threat for sure to the traditional photography industry, smartphones have been eating their piece of pie ever since they were introduced. To photography geek like us, we jolly know the difference between the two in terms of what each can achieve and their limitations. However, for the vast majority of average consumers, it simply doesn’t make sense to buy a camera anymore.

So, can traditional photography platform catch up and make a come back? Or it will slowly fall into a niche? I wonder. Maybe they can add computational photography into traditional cameras, but that would require a crazy amount of processing power that current technology simply couldn’t deliver. Maybe they can innovate by adding internet connectivity and adding apps on their camera to ease content sharing, but that would probably eats in their battery life and annoy some purist along the way.

We are already seeing camera sales dropping year over year, it would be interesting to see how one would react to stay relevant in the business. What do you think is necessary for traditional camera brands to survive the storm?

Innovation?


What is innovation? This word has been used so loosely that every single thing that appears in front of us nowadays need to tie themselves to it.

“This is an innovative solution!”
“This is an innovative design!”

For example, people hyped about curve edge on phone screen, but is that innovation? How about foldable screen? More megapixels on your camera? A camera with no LCD screen or one that folds inward? My personal point of view is that innovation can only be “innovation” when it brings value to users and solves problem.

Take the very first iPhone as an example, it was an engineering marvel back then, and I think all of us would agree that it is innovative. It solved the problem of clunky user interface, putting a computer and browsers on your palm, allowing you to be always connected to the internet and ultimately blurs the line between a smartphone and computer.

As Xiaomi unveiled the Mi Mix Alpha (the all screen phone from front all the way to the back) and calling it innovation, I can’t help but to wonder what innovation is there. Maybe from engineering point of view there’s a breakthrough in developing such screen. But from a user point of view, such design will only generates more problems than what it could potentially solves. Foldable screen on the other hand, is something I felt is legit innovation. However, the current implementation by both Huawei and Samsung are just lack lustre, as both device companies are just trying to be “the first” and didn’t spend time to refine and wait for the technology to mature.


In the case of camera, mirrorless system was innovative when it first launched. It brings in features which were not available on DSLR during that era, great live view experience, electronic viewfinder that enables “what you see is what you get” and so on. It solves the weakness of videography on DSLR, and had now blurred the line between still and video camera. However, there seems to be little innovation breakthrough (at least meaningful innovation) thereafter. There was in-body image stabilization, some improvement on sensor technology (stacked sensors, backside illuminated sensors etc.) and that’s about it. In fact, most of the innovation in photography came from the smartphone space, namely “computational photography”. I wonder if traditional camera manufacturers are able to adopt some of those technologies into their camera?

The world is flooded with yearly refreshed gadgets, where most of them didn’t have much of a leap in innovation to begin with. I do know that companies need to survive by selling us stuffs, and sometimes stuffs that we don’t need. But I can’t help but to think that such frequent and minor refresh had killed our sense towards “innovation” and diluted the excitement of some real innovations. Anyway, I do hope companies can bring in true innovations that enrich our life, solve our pain points, and allow us to truly enjoy technologies in the days to come.