Red working on a DSLR competitor

After taking on the motion picture camera industry, Red is now coming after Nikon and Canon with a DSLR replacement targeted for late 2009. They're calling it a DSMC (Digital Still & Motion Camera), which brings to mind the recently announced Nikon D90.

What is the Red DSMC? No one knows yet. Jim Jannard says its the product in their pipeline that he's most excited about.


Tech product reviews: Kodak Zi6, Microsoft Photosynth

Positive review of the Kodak Zi6, which is the little handheld video camera that's like the Flip except it shoots HD (720p up to 60fps).

I'm curious about the audio quality, but I have a Flip, and if the Zi6 combines the Flip's simplicity of use and portability with HD quality it seems like a handy little gadget. Not even film school students and camera snobs always want to deal with busting out a full-sized camera and pro-level gear.


Walt Mossberg reviews the upcoming Microsoft Live Labs release of Photosynth (releases this Thursday to the public for free). The demo seems to have floated around for years, and I'd long since given up hope of seeing it in the wild (when's the last time anything from Microsoft Labs made it into the public?). So to hear it will be released as a website for free for anyone to use is a pleasant surprise.

Mossberg has mostly positive things to say. Sadly, the Mac version is not ready yet, so it's Windows only for now.

I've been testing this service for about a week, and while it has its flaws, I believe that Photosynth offers a dramatic new way to use your photos and to share them with others.

Photosynth works within a Web browser, using a small plug-in you install. Currently, it works only in Windows, using Microsoft's own Internet Explorer browser or its rival, Firefox. A Macintosh version is in the works, but for now, you can't even view others' synths in the Mac operating system.

When Photosynth works right, the results are wonderfully satisfying. But it takes some skill to get a set of photos the service can match up well, a quality Microsoft calls being "synthy." Ideally, portions of each slice of a 3-D scene should show up in at least three photos, with 50% overlap between them. After you upload your pictures and Photosynth does its best to make them into a 3-D scene, the service assigns them a percentage number that indicates how synthy they were.

Interestingly, you can only run Photosynth on a Mac if it's running Windows XP or Vista via Boot Camp, not via Parallels or VMWare Fusion. The error message if you try to use Photosynth on a Mac:

Unfortunately, we're not cool enough to run on your OS yet.

8 short notes on the day of Phelps' 8th gold medal

You wouldn't think a man would have much leisure time in a race in which he sets a new world record of 9.69 seconds, but Usain Bolt had enough of a lead at the end of the men's 100-meter dash to blow out finger pistols, flash Jay-Z's Roc-A-Fella triangle hand sign, and check his watch.

If I were racing against him, I'd be intimidated just seeing "Bolt" on the back of his jersey.


I thought I saw Michael Phelps ride across the pool to his last medal ceremony standing on the backs of two dolphins, holding a trident.


I was wondering about something at dinner yesterday and saw that someone else had asked Marginal Revolution the same thing: for such a populous country, why has India won so few Olympic medals?


Visual evidence that Nikon has made a huge comeback against Canon in the professional sports photography market. Look at the lenses in this shot of the press photography area at the Olympics.

Black lenses are likely Nikon's mounted on D3's, while the light gray lenses are the Canons that used to dominate.


Is it worth carrying an airline-mile credit card? Probably not unless you are a big-spending, high-flying, elite status traveler. I ditched mine several years ago in favor of various cashback cards.


Is it really possible Anthony Lane didn't know right away which actor was playing Les Grossman in Tropic Thunder? From his review:

He is a doughy, balding monster with big spectacles and even wider hand gestures, all his power distilled into profanity: a grotesque update, if you will, on the movie executive with the shock of white-hot hair, brought to life by Rod Steiger, in “The Big Knife,

Literally, a photo finish

Sports Illustrated has a series of photos showing just how close Milorad Cavic came to upsetting Michael Phelps in the 100-meter butterfly yesterday. It's easy to see why, to some outside the pool, it looked like some conspiracy that Phelps won. He was so far behind before that final half-stroke that chopped the wall that it looked like an error when they superimposed that #1 graphic in his lane on TV.

I don't understand the advantages of wearing the high neck Speedo LZR Racer suit versus just the legskin, but I wonder why Phelps only wore the legskin for this swim, and whether that would have made a difference. Cavic wore the high neck bodyskin.


When I saw this photo of Spain's Olympic basketball team making slanted eyes in an ad, I thought there couldn't be any possible way they could have known what that gesture meant. How could anyone be so blatantly racist? I haven't seen that gesture since the playground days in elementary school, and the feeling it evokes has evolved. Then, it stung. Now, it angers.

But the Spaniards have not apologized, and participants like Pau Gasol are quoted saying, "It was supposed to be a picture that inspired the Olympic spirit."


Jason Kidd is right, if the U.S. team had done something like that, David Stern would have disciplined them. But no one, not even FIBA, has done anything, not even a public rebuke.

I'm rooting for the U.S. Olympic hoops team to remedy this by meeting Spain in the finals and kicking their asses up and down the floor.

That intersection

No spoilers. In The Dark Knight, there's one scene in which some vehicles go from traveling above ground in Chicago to a down ramp that takes them to the underground street levels in the loop. If you've seen the movie you'll probably know which scene.

I stood out there a few years ago and took a long exposure picture of that ramp down to lower Wacker Street. I recognized it in the movie because of the Lyric Opera sign.

Entrance to lower Wacker St. in Chicago

Nikon vs Canon

James Duncan Davidson writes about Nikon's comeback versus Canon in the battle for digital SLR market supremacy. The first salvos were Nikon's release of the D3 and D300, and now it's the D700. And sometime later this year, perhaps the D3X. Meanwhile, after years of seemingly being always a step ahead of Nikon, Canon is suffering a tough year.

The truth is that for the average photographer who has committed to either Nikon or Canon, switching is possible but a hassle, especially with a significant lens investment. You can sell your lenses and camera body on eBay and cross brand lines, but for most people the hassle of doing so and learning new controls would be prohibitive. And on a day-to-day basis, it doesn't really matter.

The biggest advance with the new Nikon FX sensor SLRs is the low-light performance. Not having to use a flash except for fill is life-changing.

Style icons

June 14 weekend I was in Chicago for Jae and Esther's wedding and to visit with Joannie and Mike, who were moving back to Chicago, and Karen, who was in town for a wedding also.

Here are some pics from Jae and Esther's wedding which was held in Woodstock, a town I haven't visited since I was in grade school, when a family friend used to live out there. The wedding was held on Esther's parents apple orchard.

My favorite photo of the weekend came from a table setting and was of Esther's parents James and Ae Soon. James, in Seoul, looked up Ae Soon, a nurse, for a hospital tour.

If you look at the photo below, it's no surprise that they were married three years later, in 1976. His generous shirt collar coming out to grab some sun, his left hand on his belt, his right hand casually tucked behind her waist--he's the Korean Stetson man. She's rocking the stylish specs and hip handbag, and her expression says she's not playing second fiddle.

Seeing this photo I just feel like going shopping.

Esther's parents

Innovators and innovation

Lots about innovation this past week. The May 12 edition of The New Yorker was the Innovators Issue, and one of the better ones in recent memory.

It features an article by Malcolm Gladwell, ostensibly about Nathan Myhrvold and his company Intellectual Ventures, a sort of idea-generating patent-filing machine, but really about the radical idea that innovation or innovative ideas may not be as rare as we think, may not be the result of genius and eureka moments. Can you capture innovation or ideas merely by dedicating time and resources to searching for them?

The issue also features a profile of someone who I've never heard of but whose work I've undoubtedly seen dozens if not hundreds of times: Pascal Dangin, the world's foremost digital retoucher of fashion photographs.

Vanity Fair, W, Harper’s Bazaar, Allure, French Vogue, Italian Vogue, V, and the Times Magazine, among others, also use Dangin. Many photographers, including Annie Leibovitz, Steven Meisel, Craig McDean, Mario Sorrenti, Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin, and Philip-Lorca diCorcia, rarely work with anyone else. Around thirty celebrities keep him on retainer, in order to insure that any portrait of them that appears in any outlet passes through his shop, to be scrubbed of crow’s-feet and stray hairs.

I'm aware that most fashion photographs are worked over in post-production, but seeing an example of Dangin's work in the actual print copy of the issue surprised me with how much he actually alters body parts and features. Manipulating the truth, or giving the public what it wants?

But playing with the representational possibilities of photographs, and the bodies contained therein, has always aroused the suspicion of viewers with a perpetual, if naïve, desire for objective renderings of the world around them. As much as it is a truism that photography is subjective, it is also a truism that many of its beholders—even those who happily eliminate red-eye from their wedding albums—will take umbrage when confronted with evidence of its subjectivity. Eastlake was responding to the distress of certain members of the London Photographic Society over a series of photographs taken deliberately out of focus. More recently, Kate Winslet protested that the digital slimming of her figure on the cover of British GQ was “excessive,

Extra extra

Interesting rumor: 24.4MP Nikon D3 replacement on the way? Or are some D3s 24.4MP cameras in waiting?

Unused script by Michael Chabon for Spiderman 2. (UPDATE: link to the full script PDF was removed, sadly)

New York state passes bill forcing to start charging New Yorkers sales tax. Ouch.

Steven Spielberg acquires the rights to make a 3-D live action version of Ghost in the Shell.

What do you see?

One of yesterday's hot Internet stories was this photo from the White House website which appeared to show Dick Cheney leering at a nude female sunbather.

In a bit of PR control, and perhaps as evidence that we see what we want to see, the powers that be released a larger version of the photo which reveals that the reflection in his sunglasses was nothing more than a hand holding a fishing rod. [via popurls]


A plug to watch Arrested Development on Hulu via Airbag's Longboard: "Thanks to Hulu, the world no longer has an excuse for not watching Arrested Development. Sometimes the Internet just gives and gives and gives."

Another fun place I found a Hulu embedded video: in Sasha Frere-Jones New Yorker blog.


PicLens, a cool browser plugin I often use to show people photos on Flickr, has a beta version that supports YouTube video browsing in Firefox, including Firefox 3b5, and IE. I couldn't get any videos to actually start playing, but I saw it working in a demo. Select a video and it starts playing right there within PicLens' 3-D wall.


Who is Jimmy Carter endorsing? Seems pretty clear it's Obama.


Is it possible to go out both with a whimper and a bang? This may be the business equivalent. RIP ATA and your dirt cheap airfares which I've taken advantage of a few times over the years.


One of the cooler hacks I've encountered recently: hack your portable Canon digital camera to enable new functionality like RAW file formats, live historgram displays, unlimited interval shooting, high speed shutters, and much more. I'm so going to do this once I can track down a card reader.

Happy birthday Sadie!

The birthday girl

I was shooting a classmate's film recently, and there's a line in her script about how the first ten years of your life go by slowly, but every decade after seems to accelerate. There's something to that.

I remember Sadie turning 1 and trying ice cream for the first time, and now she's 5 and ready to enter kindergarten. Meanwhile, the last 4 years of my life are smeared across my memory like some broad, impressionistic paint stroke.

I think we get along because she reminds me of me as a kid, somewhat shy.


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