Discussions: MT x Lloyd Chambers on the Pentax 645Z and Nikon D810

Today’s post is going to be a little bit of an experiment: the first in I hope a series of discussion-collaborations with Lloyd Chambers of diglloyd.com, respected technical expert and all round good guy. We’re covering the Pentax 645Z and Nikon D810 and a whole bunch of other diversions for the kickoff…I do realise it’s a bit lengthy, but this is probably the closest you’re going to get to being in the conversation. Let us know what you think!

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OT: Of cars and cameras

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Race girl

In many ways, the two industries are frighteningly similar: technologically complex, requiring huge capital investment for relatively small margins, enormous marketing machines, some semblance of ‘celebrity’ endorsement, and ever shrinking improvements just waiting for whatever technology is just over the bend (hybrids, Foveon sensors, etc.). Perception over substance rules, too. And there’s a lot of crossover between the enthusiasts of both – I have a huge number of students who are also petrolheads. But there are enough differences that one could learn from the other, I think…

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Ricoh Pentax update: confidence restored, resolution and conclusion

Ming Thein Official Letter

Firstly – and a lot of you will probably consider this ironic – I’d like to attempt to retain some objectivity in this matter. Here are the facts:

  • The developer/ agency at the instruction of the locally appointed Indonesian representative, and without any protest from them, used one of my images without permission or licensing.
  • The Indonesian representative – or claimed representative of Ricoh Pentax – was clearly aware of the matter and removed the image together with an unacceptable reply of “The decision to used your picture are my decision to fulfill my target to make my company’s website looks wonderful, therefore please accept my deepest apology.”
  • Ricoh Pentax HQ was informed through every possible channel I have had access to. Though they were not directly responsible, an agent claiming to represent their brand and acting as their brand was. However, it is the responsibility of the principal as any person who sees that representation would assume in good faith that it is affiliated with the principal.

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A little (well, big) celebration: 10 million visitors.

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Visitor count for the geek

Just now, two years and three months since mingthein.com first went live, we’ve received our ten millionth visitor. It’s not a big deal for the likes of DPR etc.; however for a site that deals primarily with the philosophy of image making and images themselves – I think that’s a huge achievement. Especially considering I’ve spent nothing on advertising and promotion though an enormous amount of time and effort has gone into content. Even so, without the active community and comments it would never have happened. I think a little celebration is in order before I get on the plane to Havana*, as well as a huge thank you for your continued support! MT

UPDATE: Flickr just rolled over 20 million this morning, too!

ANOTHER UPDATE: I just noticed this is post #800. It’s a day of milestones!

*I might not be as fast as usual with the replies due to limited internet access.

New Olympus E-M1 firmware

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I don’t normally post about firmware updates, but this is a) quite a major one, and b) there are a lot of E-M1 users amongst the reader pool. Amongst other fixes to audio recording, the shutter mechanism is affected. Some cameras – mine included – are affected by a resonant shutter vibration specifically at 1/180s that causes a slight double image; higher and lower speeds are fine. The new firmware adds an option that switches “the first shutter curtain from mechanical to electronic to reduce blur caused by shutter impact”. In our initial testing, it appears to make a significant difference on two of the three cameras we have here (all of the workshop videos are filmed with them, we have a spare, and I shoot one myself).

I first raised this issue to Olympus back in December; it’s highly commendable that they’ve listened, been in regular contact, and given us not only a solution, but a highly innovative one that doesn’t require sending the camera in. Kudos.

The firmware update can be downloaded here. You will need the original (proprietary) USB cable that came with the camera to upload it, though. MT

We are two: second anniversary!

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Pick your analogy: organic growth in a semi-structured, harmonious way, or deeper down the rabbit hole we go…

Mingthein.com celebrates its second birthday today. There’s not a lot to say other than a huge thank you; without the support of my readers, students, clients and customers, I’d probably have packed it in way back when. In the last two years, we’ve had:

  • 780 articles
  • 1.9 million words of content
  • 36,000 comments
  • 3,800 published images
  • 9.5 million visitors to the main site, and 17.5 million to my flickr page
  • 13,700+ accepted images in the reader pool, filtered down from >100,000 with >1,400 active members
  • Somewhere around 6,500 Facebook followers
  • 165 email school students
  • 21 workshops, with another 3 planned (one space each for Melbourne and Havana)
  • I’ve lost count of the number of emails; my guess would be somewhere around 120,000?
  • Two dead keyboards

Suffice to say it’s a much, much larger community than I ever expected; sometimes I’m overwhelmed by it all. I’ve come to realise that my opinion is taken very seriously by a lot of people; perhaps too seriously by some. That’s a good thing and a bad thing, and I never take that responsibility lightly – especially if any of the findings are thoughts run contrary to expectation or common sense. I have always been and will always continue to be independent; even in the highly unlikely event that some camera company throws large sums of money my way. There’s no point doing otherwise: I, and this site, have always been about the images first and foremost, with everything else taking a secondary – but still important – back set. In any case, there’s plenty more to come as long as I can keep up with feeding the bear. Cheers to you all! MT

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Places left for 2014 Making Outstanding Images Workshops: Havana and London – click here for more information and to book!

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Images and content copyright Ming Thein | mingthein.com 2012 onwards. All rights reserved

The attraction of clouds, water, fireworks, trees…

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Over the last couple of years, I’ve noticed that there are a few subjects that tend to be universally attractive to a wide audience – and I’m not referring to cats, bikinis or brick walls (or strange combinations of all three). They tend to be of the type clouds, water, trees, fireworks etc. I’d like to explore that a bit more in today’s article.

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The science of teaching

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I don’t have any photographs of me teaching, for obvious reasons: it’s just not physically possible without having a doppleganger, identical twin or astral projection capabilities.

I take the teaching portion of my job seriously. Very seriously, as any of my previous students will tell you. What isn’t always so obvious is the amount of thought and preparation that happens before a workshop or video. There are a lot more factors to consider than are immediately apparent – and I suspect many attempting to teach workshops don’t quite realize this until it’s too late. Unfortunately, most of the time price is not at all reflective of quality.

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Christmas humour: You know if you’re a real photographer if…

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Following on from the popularity of the last stereotype post that left no single photographer un-insulted, and in an attempt to bring some comedic relief to what is otherwise a very, very serious site: enjoy today’s post. Laugh if you recognize yourself or your friends. And feel free to suggest any additions in the comments.

And last but not least, Merry Christmas, everybody – I hope Santa brought you something photographic! MT

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Judging the 2013 Maybank Photo Awards

MPA POTY 2013
One of the winning images from photographer of the year, Yaman Ibrahim.

Sometimes, choice can make life difficult. A couple of weeks ago, five judges and I sat down (virtually, since everybody was in different parts of the world) to decide on the category and overall winners for the 2013 Maybank Photo Awards. I had the privilege of working with Raghu Rai from Magnum; Mike Yamashita from National Geographic; Jim Liaw and Manny Librodo. Submissions closed on 31 October after three months, with a grand total of nearly 70,000 entries from 9 ASEAN countries. Shortlisting these down to approximately 1,500 final contenders was a panel of secondary judges, with myself overseeing.

Winning images and detailed results may be viewed here at the Maybank Photo Awards website.

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