How much information is enough? And how much is too much?
In the context of PocketChris this was a question that I spent a lot of time trying to figure out.
If you have ever been on one of the workshops, you know that getting me to talk about photography is a lot easier thangetting me to stop talking.
After having built several test versions with different chapter lengths and after carrying them around on my iPhone for a while, about 1000 words per chapter felt about right. Short enough to provide for a quick five-minute information snack, but long enough to feel like you got your money's worth.
This is actually a huge problem that a lot of writers face. Writing a lot of text is easy. Expressing an idea in many words is simple. Simple for the writer that is. It places most of the strain on the reader, who has to sift through more text to pick out the good information.
So less words in a PocketChris article does not mean that I was too lazy to write more. It means that more time has gone into making the chapter contain all the important information in an as easy to digest way and in as little writing as necessary. One thousand words to be precise.
There are audiobooks that cost a lot more in their abridged form just for that reason. Time is a valuable good in today's world as much as I don't want my own time to be wasted, I don't want to waste anybody else's time.
I didn't always manage to hit the 1000-word mark. Some of the articles are over 1200 words long, but I still feel comfortable that I've managed to boil things down enough to give you your money's worth.
I write. Articles, chapters for PocketChris, notes for podcasts. A lot of this writing needs to be managed, some chapters for PocketChris are in draft, some in review, some at the editor, some ready for testing. It has a tendency to turn into a real mess.
Things have been a lot easier since I found Scrivener. It helps me structure the work and it helps me track status. It helps me output my work into a clean format. It is not a word processor, it'sa writing tool.
There's just one thing that keeps bugging me, one thing that I keep tripping over again and again, several times a day, and it happens while I'm not even using the application.
It's the icon.
Or rather a side-effect of it. It's not that I don't like it. This is about the way it interacts with the OSX dock.
The dock has been designed among other things to give you one important piece of information at a glance: if an application is running or not. For a while now, OSX has been doing that by placing a bright dot below the icon.
Here's the Lightroom icon with the app not running:
And here it is while Lightroom is on.
Here is the Scrivener icon with the application not running:
And here it is with Scrivener running:
Do you see the difference? The reflection of the white dot/apostrophe/comma of the Scrivener icon almost looks like the dot OSX adds when the app is running. The placement of the reflection is almost exactly where the dot is. And it's bright enough that almost every time I look at the dock I do a double take to see if Scrivener is running or not.
It's a minor thing. It's small. It's really not important. Most people will never notice it.
It drives me nuts.
(I still love you Scrivener)
Wait a minute, excited about a digital camera? After all the analog journey you've seen me take?
That journey is still in full swing, and I still have quite a few things to learn in the analog realm. But I'm also a digital photographer, I use the 5D Mark II, I've got the older 5D Mark I as a backup, the Panasonic LX3 is my main point-and-shoot camera and of course there's the iPhone that I use most often simply because I always have it with me.
I have a soft spot for rangefinder cameras. They are smaller than DSLRs, they are quite inconspicuous, they have an optical viewfinder that shows more than the actual picture, so you get lots of context when composing an image, you frame the image by using a bright frame inside the viewfinder, the viewfinder is all the way to the left of the camera, so you can compose without squeezing your nose against the back of the camera and with your left eye unblocked, so you can get even more context of the scene when composing.
All that together makes an ideal street photography setup, as demonstrated by innumerable street photographers over the years.
Epson of all companies tried with a digital rangefinder and stopped the experiment after a while. Leica came out with the M8 and now the M9, but those are not really on the affordable side. Then Leica released the X1 in the rangefinder form factor, using an APS-C size sensor with a fixed focus f/2.8 36mm equivalent lens.
The concept of the X1 appealed to me. The form factor is great, the rangefinder concept in general is pretty much up my alley, but after a short while it started to become apparent that the camera apparently wasn't without its issues. Slow AF, no video feature, no built-in optical viewfinder (you can get an optional one) and the list doesn't seem to stop there.
Then I heard about the upcoming Fujifilm X100. It's supposed to be out in March. It's supposed to cost around 1000€/$1200. And it has gotten me very excited even though I still have to see a single test shot or review.
A few of the things that got me interested:
1. Control: direct access to shutter speed, aperture and exposure compensation through wheels. Aperture ring is on the lens where I want it. Manual focus ring is on the lens where I want it. OVF/EVF switch is a real hardware switch. Automatic modes: shutter priority, aperture priority, program, manual. Scene modes: none (Yey, no "baby's first steps" or "fireplace in the log cabin" or "group of three people in front of sunset" scene modes. Thank you thank you thank you!). Dioptre correction for the viewfinder.
2. Viewfinder: Optical. Wait, electronic. Wait, both! The hybrid viewfinder gives you an optical picture that shows more than the actual picture will show, so you get the context. It will give you a bright frame inside the viewfinder so you know where the image ends. Nothing too spectacular so far, cameras had that fifty years ago. But this bright frame and the surrounding information such as aperture, shutter speed, ISO, and quite a bit more comes from a 1.4 megapixel LCD panel and is an overlay to the optical view you have. It's like a fighter jet heads-up display providing you with accurate information but it won't obscure your fast and precise optical view. It could be a dream come true. Nice tidbit #1: the switch on the front of the camera will switch between the hybrid and an electronic viewfinder, so you can also use an electronic picture inside the viewfinder if you prefer. Nice tidbit #2: the bright frame will give you an automatically parallax corrected placement depending on your focus. Someone's been doing some serious thinking here, and I like it.
3. Lens & Sensor: Apparently the first thing Fuji started to work on was the lens in conjunction with the sensor. The sensor is an old friend, I've read that it is the same 12 megapixel APS-C sensor used in the Nikon D90. The lens is a completely new construction. Actually Fuji says they had to start from scratch a few times to incorporate all the wish list items without compromising on image quality. The sensor has received a new micro lens array and the back element of the lens is about the size of the sensor, helping to keep the incidence of incoming light in check. They also say that image quality was always their highest concern. They are clearly competing with Leica here.
4. Build & Design: The camera hits a nerve with me. Its retro design gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling, and if the build quality is as solid as I've been told, I am going to feel right at home with it. I've seen enough plastic cameras lately.
Here are some interesting bonus features in no particular order:
The X100 features a RAW button. My understanding is that it lets you shoot JPG and if you decide to shoot the next picture in RAW mode, that's when you press it. Supposedly it will also be used to do in-camera RAW to JPG processing of individual pictures.
The camera also features a 3-stop ND filter that you can engage. I've had enough sunny days where I wished to have an ND filter, just to be able to open the aperture a bit further or to get a shutter speed a bit longer. Now it's built right into the camera the same way you find it in many professional video cameras. If you don't use it, it's completely removed from the optical path and out of the way.
The shutter button features a nice retro touch that made me smile: it allows you to use a screw-in remote release.
The X100 is also said to feature a 720p24 video mode with stereo sound. Did I mention video is important to me?
The autofocus is supposed to be super fast, the official FAQ states that the shutter lag is extremely short, I actually find it hard to believe that they expect it to be only 0.01 seconds. Of course I so want that to be true!
The shutter is built into the lens, which will allow the X100 to offer high speed flash sync, something photographers love outdoors on sunny days.
If you shoot JPG, the X100 offers you PROVIA, Velvia and ASTIA film simulation modes. I know I know, I'd rather shoot those actual films, have them developed and scan them, but hey, it's Fuji. Adding simulations for the dynamic and color characteristics of some of their signature films into this camera is actually a nice touch.
It will use the pretty standard NP-95 battery which is readily available and not as overpriced as many other camera manufacturer's batteries are.
The X100 features a 49mm filter thread, a fairly standard size that should make it easy to get high quality filters at decent prices.
I could go on and on with this list, there is plenty of official information out there, but I have still to find the one thing that would make me go meh. I find it hard to believe what a prefect match this feature list is for what I wish in a camera this size.
But of course no matter how much a feature list makes me smile, the real test will be in using the camera, spending time with it, and looking at the pictures that it will produce. Until then I will say a little prayer to the photography gods each night before I go to sleep and really hope I will never have to write a disappointed follow-up post to this one. Ever.
Is it March yet?