Monday, December 28

Martin Parr's photobooks of the decade

Courtesy of the British Journal of Photography

The Kids Are Alright – Ryan McGinley, self-published, 2000
Pretend You’re Actually Alive – Leigh Ledare, ppp Editions, 2008
Berlin in the Time of the Wall – John Gossage, Loosestrife, 2004
Flamboya – Viviane Sassen, Contrasto, 2008
Utatane – Rinko Kawauchi, Little More, 2001
Slime the Boogie – Dash Snow, Peres Projects, 2007
Checked Baggage – Christien Meindertsma, Soeps Uitgevererij, 2004
Hackney Wick – Stephen Gill, Nobody, 2005
Why Mister, Why? – Geert van Kesteren, Artimo, 2004
A Shimmer of Possibility – Paul Graham, Steidl/Mack, 2007

Saturday, December 19

Take 2: Jumping the shark...

Sharks have no swim bladder - they have to keep moving to avoid sinking. These photos were taken in 2008 and 2009.


Photo: © Paul Russell, 2008



Photo: © Gary Shrimpling, 2009

Tuesday, December 15

Print "giveaway" - December 2009, no. 1




As part of my occasional print "giveaway" series I have four sets of the above two photographs available for a total of £20 including postage if you're in the UK, or £25 if you're outside the UK. The prints are 15 by 10 inches (image sizes approximately 13 by 9 inches) and are printed on Fujicolor Crystal Archive paper. Pictures are despatched in a poster tube, and sent via first-class post (UK) or air mail (Europe and USA).

If you would like one of the four sets of the two prints, please email me on paul.russell99@btinternet.com, stating your country location. Payment is via PayPal -- so you just need a credit or debit card. Please email me first, as this will be first come, first served!

Edit: 17 December: two of the four sets have been sold. Two still available.
Edit: SOLD OUT.

Sunday, December 13

Now that's what I call 2009

Tis the season of the round-up, so here are the most significant photographic events of this year, from where I'm standing:

1. Blake Andrews introduces mixer reviews into his blog.

2. Borders UK closes down, as people treat it like a library and forget to buy the books that would have kept it open, just to save a few quid by ordering those books on Amazon. Boo hiss.

3. Nick Turpin’s Publication magazine is published. It’s nice.

4. Some new compact digital cameras are released. They look promising, but prove to be rubbish.

5. Edgar Martins gets into a bit of trouble, and then uses some elaborate waffle in the hope that everything will just go away.

6. Shepard Fairey gets into trouble for something else, involving a photo and an election.

7. I fail to take a good picture of a pig.

8. Colin Pantall takes half the year off (because he’s worth it).

9. The police hassle a load of people for taking photos. After a few journos are questioned, it becomes news. Good!

10. Joni Karanka’s Print Stravaganza continues.

11. Erm, that’s it.

Friday, November 20

That Olympus EP-2 Press Release in full...

I’m a bit late to this but the new Olympus 4/3rds camera sounds very tempting. I’ve cut and pasted the press release below (sorry, more lazy journalism):

London, 5 November 2009 – Welcome back to the PEN story and the next chapter: "Back in Black".

Hot on the heels of the Olympus EP-1, which was widely acclaimed as a ground-breaking photo enrichment device, Olympus are proud to introduce the Olympus EP-2.

Building on the strengths of the EP-1, the new EP-2 offers a host of new iconic features. The inclusion of a "model village" art filter fully realises the unique photographic and video potential of the legacy Pen series. In addition, the cross-processing, fisheye microphone socket will allow tomorrow's users unlimited leverage into a vast arena of gaping emptiness.

This second digital model takes f-utility even further with diverse, fresh functionalities including:

– Wi-Fi transmission teasmaid port.

– In-camera selective desaturation (red bow and black-and-white puppy mode).

– Remote probability fun control (via HDD-XRT).

– Elephant stun gun.

– Scratch 'n' sniff padlet for mood enhancement (smells include crystalised lemongrass and essence of David Bailey's old camera bag).

– Two new art filters – the model village filter, and the Vettriano filter, which can transform even the most ordinary photo into a fourth-rate watercolour heritage art piece that celebrity chef Gary Rhodes will take off your hands for a couple of grand.

The new model is cloaked in classic retro hyper-babble and is available from larger John Lewis stores.

ENDS

Sounds great! Hopefully Olympus will send me a review copy.
Source

Monday, November 2

The Axe Vale Festival, joined up transport, and the great horse of Emo

A few months ago I made the journey to the Axe Vale festival on the outskirts of Axminster, billed as ‘probably the best gardening and crafts festival in the southwest’. Enticing!

Planning the journey, my natural instinct was to check the train times first. In a frustrating case of not-at-all-joined-up transport policy, it turned out that I could get a train from Weymouth to Yeovil Pen Mill and then a train from Yeovil Junction to Axminster. The two Yeovil train stations are separated by a couple of miles but despite being joined by a working train line, no passenger trains currently run between them.

Trains occasionally tootle along the line as an emergency measure when flooding occurs, or if a steam train needs to turn around at the Yeovil Junction turntable but there’s no passenger service. Possibly the fact that one station is run by Southwest Trains and the other by Great Western Trains doesn’t help integration.

I spent hours on Internet forums trying to work out how to get between the two stations. Looking at Google maps, the direct route looks like a pleasant stroll along a river, but it turned out to be private property, containing the splendidly named Jack the Treacle Eater folly. There is a road between the two stations but my new contacts on Internet forums told me there was no footpath or verge at all, so it would involve a quite dangerous walk. (At this point, I like to think that Lord Adonis is getting interested.)

So the options were taking a bike to cycle between the two stations, or walking into Yeovil town centre and walking back out, or getting a taxi, or waiting for a bus that might not come. Or a million other combinations that made my brain hurt.

Then, somehow, after spending about half a day researching how to travel between two train stations, 2 miles apart, I realised that there was a bus that would take me directly from Weymouth to Axminster, although the journey time was ominously long relative to the distance covered.

On the Sunday, reaching the bus stop I grabbed some cheapo coffee as the shops were opening and was puzzled by the sight of people crouched over pints in the Weymouth seafront pubs. Had they just started drinking, or were they winding down from last night?

From the top of the bus a series of interesting scenes presented themselves. A civic-minded lady with a small white dog was clearing beer cans and litter from a cricket pitch near Dorchester. Crows loitered ominously around a garden bird table in a front garden in Poundbury. At Martinstown, a Little Egret reared up right in front of the bus – strange to think that just a few years ago these birds were a rare sight in England. At some point I passed a sign that said ‘Revolutions’ next to one that ‘ironically’ said ‘No turning’, which I had previously seen only on the Internet. I didn’t bother to photograph these scenes – the reflections and dirt on the windows means that it’s usually a waste of time.

At last, and feeling a bit travel sick, I arrived in Axminster, and took a few photos at the festival.






After a pleasant day’s shooting I meandered around the town a little, waiting for the vomit-inducing bus journey back. My last view of the town was a group of emo kids leading a very large horse along a pavement.

Sunday, November 1

Clone towns and lazy journalism

Yesterday I paid a quick visit to Dorchester, which like most English towns has been adversely affected by the credit crunch. The town has always had a sizable proportion of independent shops, some of which closed down in the recession. However, more than 20 new businesses and shops have moved into the county town in the last year. I bought a tasty leek and cheese lattice thing from the newly opened Joshua’s, a ‘wholesome natural food’ shop.

In 2004, Dorchester appeared in the Top 10 of UK clone towns in a story that was widely reported in the UK press. ‘Clone town’ is a term for a town or city dominated by chain stores. Puzzled by this, I looked at the source of the data, a report by the New Economics Foundation (NEF). Their ‘methodology’ was a request, via their web site, that members of the public fill in a questionnaire based on a walk down their local high street. One hundred and thirty usable questionnaires were received. Southampton, clone town extraordinaire, presumably doesn’t appear anywhere in the report because no-one filled in a form.

Not exactly rigorous stuff – relying on unverified reports from random people off the Internet. The inclusion of Dorchester is obviously completely incorrect. However the top 10 was reported by the serious press as if it was authoritative research:

BBC
‘Researchers found chainstores dominated the main shopping street...’
Researchers? Not really. It was based on questionnaires sent in by members of the public.

The Independent
‘according to a report published today’
Sound quite official, doesn’t it?

The Guardian
‘It found 42 of the 103 towns it surveyed in England, Scotland and Wales...’
‘It surveyed’? Well, the NEF didn’t survey the towns itself, it just compiled the information received.

In the book Flat Earth News, journalist Nick Davies describes how much ‘news’ consists of press releases regurgitated without question by overworked journalists. At least, I think that’s what he says – in the true spirit of lazy journalism, I haven’t actually read the book or spent much time writing this blog post, to be honest.

While agreeing with the NEF’s polemic against clone towns, I think what this shows is that the media love a good list, and any old press release with a top 10 will get published without question. Meanwhile, good luck to Joshua’s and all the other new and old independent shops in Dorchester.

Tuesday, October 13

Vivian Maier – lost photos from Chicago




These fascinating photos are by Vivian Maier, a French-born photographer who died in April 2009 in Chicago, where she had lived for 50 years.

A Chicago photographer, John Maloof, recently purchased around 40,000 of her negatives from a small auction house that was selling all her possessions, including furniture. He is gradually going through the negs, which date from the 1950s to 1970s and posting selected pictures on a blog.

The pictures do not seem to have shown in her lifetime; in fact Maloof only found out her name as it was written on a photo-lab envelope. Also, there are around 1000 rolls of her 120 film that were never developed, which Maloof is working his way through.

Research into the photographer’s life has yielded few details so far – she seems to have no living family, and an obituary that appeared in a Chicago paper was probably placed by people she worked for as a nanny. Maloof was contacted by a researcher who said that she was a Jewish refugee from wartime France, was a loner and poor.

Shocking to think that this collection could easily have ended up in skip and never seen...

Edit: 15 October 2009 - John Maloof has now added a more detailed account of how he came by the pictures on the blog...

Tuesday, October 6

The ongoing characters (continued)

Going through my country show pictures can throw up surprises as the same faces turn up again and again in different guises...

2009:

2006:

Monday, August 31

Don't give up the day jobs: multi-tasking with Philip Glass

I came across this interview with composer Philip Glass in The Independent the other day.

Interesting to note that while Glass started composing in his teens, he relied on driving taxis, plumbing work, and removal jobs as sources of income until his 40s. Only after 20-odd years of composing did he start to make enough money not to feel the need to renew his taxi licence.

[quote]
"At 20, he went to study composition at the Juilliard School of Music (where Steve Reich was a fellow student) and then enrolled in a composer-in-residence scheme for two years in Pittsburgh schools. In 1964, he moved to Paris to study with the composer Nadia Boulanger and in 1967 moved back to New York where he founded the Philip Glass Ensemble. Looking at his CV from this time on, it would be tempting to say that the rest is history, but artistic output, as so often in life, did not automatically translate into money.


Glass didn't earn a living from his music, in fact, until he was 42. Until then, he drove cabs, shifted furniture and worked as a plumber. "I was careful," he explains, "to take a job that couldn't have any possible meaning for me." Stories of famous-composer-actually-working-man-shock from that period abound. The art critic Robert Hughes was astonished to find the avant garde composer mending his dishwasher. On another occasion, a woman tapped on the side of his cab and told him that he had the same name as a "very famous composer.

Gradually, the commissions trickled in and, by the time Glass was 44, he realised that the cab driver's licence that he'd renewed as a precaution might not be needed."
[unquote]

Sunday, August 30

Continuity errors





Two photos taken at the Melplash Show in Dorset.

Can you spot the continuity error(s)?

Thursday, July 23

Now you’re stalking – celebs in the wild

Today I came across my list of celebs I've spotted out and about. I must have been pretty bored when I compiled this. A couple of things struck me – firstly how many celebs I had bumped into on trains or train stations, and secondly how few sports people I had seen (they obviously don’t use trains much). The only footballer on my list is Ian Wright... I am currently pondering the sociological and psychogeographical significance of the data. Meanwhile, here’s the list:

Andrew Marr – near Waterloo Station, 2006.
Annie out of Elastica – sat next to me on a train from London to Brighton.
Adam Mars-Jones – London.
Alan Bennett – cycling in London.
Anne Nightingale – Brighton.
A bloke who used to be in the Bill – big, black hair, looks like a friendly bear.
Arthur Smith – in Bath, twice in 2004.
Billy Bragg – shopping in Weymouth.
Billy Connolly – at the Wimbledon tennis.
Bobby Gillespie – on a train from Brighton to London. Looking a bit wasted.
Charles Kennedy – emerging from a Brighton hotel smoking a fag.
Cheryl Baker – ex Buck Fizz. On a train from Nottingham.
Chris Ellison – out of the Bill. In Bournemouth.
Chris Morris – in Borders in Oxford Street (RIP).
Chris Moyles – in a pub, London. I missed my chance to kill him.
Dennis Waterman – Littlehampton.
‘Diddy’ David Hamilton – twice. Once at Nottingham train station.
Edward Fox – talking to himself like a mad person in Oxford.
Edwina Curry – at a London train station.
Fenella Fielding – star of Carry on Screaming and voice of The Blue Cat. Walking around Covent Garden – still looking good..
Gaz out of Supergrass – loads of times in Brighton and Oxford. Plus Danny quite a few times.
George Cole – Littlehampton.
Ian ‘Wrighty’ Wright – near the British War Museum.
Jacqueline Wilson – loads of scary rings, London 2005.
Janet Street-Porter – Bournemouth, 2005.
Jarvis Cocker – sat opposite him on a train to Sheffield.
Jeremy Paxman – having, ahem, difficulty walking at Reading Station.
John Sessions – in a hurry near Liverpool Street station.
Keith Allen – Southampton train station – asked me where the “nearest boozer” was. Sneered at my answer for no apparent reason. Prick.
Ken Russell – sat opposite me on a train to London.
Kevin Rowland – twice in London – once during his “lost” decade.
Lesley Joseph – Brighton. Not as gorgeous as you might think.
Lucy Ellmann – writer, London Zoo.
Mark Kermode - film critic, presenter, Swanage 2010.
Mark Lamarr – London, 2005. Looking like someone with no friends.
Martin Rossiter – out of Gene, on a train.
Marty Wilde – on Bournemouth Pier, 2005.
Maryam D’Abo – Bond girl, sorry, famous actress. Victoria Station.
Melvyn Bragg – South Bank, of course, 2005.
Michael Foot - RIP – quite a few times on trains. Often with little dog – a very polite man.
Michelle Collins – in sunglasses for no apparent reason, Oxford.
Micky Dolenz - In Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem pub, Nottingham, 2011
Mike McShane – comedian.
Neil Pearson – in Bath MVC (RIP).
Nigel Planer – near London’s South Bank.
Nick Cave – being very tall in Brighton, many years ago.
Paddy Ashdown – Brighton.
Paul (Gazza) Gascoigne – mucking around and playing mini-golf – Bournemouth, 2011
Paul Heaton – in a pub, twice. In fact, it looked like he hadn’t moved from the spot in the intervening period.
Paul McCartney with Heather Mills. No entourage – just the two of them strolling in Hove.
Paula Yates – RIP. In Brighton – looking at rock and assorted seaside tat.
Polly Jean Harvey – quite a few times around Bridport.
Princess Di – RIP – got out a car in front of me.
Ray Alan – RIP - ventriloquist – in an Isle of Wight café.
Robin Day – RIP – Oxford.
Rod Hull – RIP – on Nottingham Station, wearing a gold lame jacket, smoking a pipe. No Emu.
Rory McGrath – London, waiting to do some filming.
Ross Kemp – walking along Brighton prom.
Sharon Duce – on a train.
Simon Callow – ACTOR, etc. – Victoria Station.
Steve Davies – on train station complete with cue holder thing.
Stephen Fry – walking along a narrow passage in Soho.
Stu and Michelle – or something, off of Big Brother on Brighton Pier.
Thom York – Oxford – in sunglasses for no apparent reason.
Van Morrison – numerous times in Bath. Always looking or sounding grumpy. What a surprise.
Vic Reeves - dining outside a restaurant near the British Museum.
Wendy Richard – RIP – walking a little dog, London.
Zoe Ball featuring Fatboy Slim – Brighton. He’s a lot bigger and taller than I expected.

Monday, July 20

Two tents print sale [sorry: sold out]



[The prints have been sold now]

I have three sets of the above two of my photographs available for £20 (that’s £10 each, maths fans) including postage. I think the two go together quite nicely, so am selling them as a pair. The prints are 15 by 10 inches (image sizes approximately 13.5 by 9 inches) and are printed on Fujicolor Crystal Archive paper. Pictures are despatched in a poster tube, and sent via first-class post (UK) or air mail (Europe and USA).

If you would like one of the three sets of prints, please email me on paul.russell99@btinternet.com, stating your country location. Payment is via PayPal – so you just need a credit or debit card. Please email me first, as this will be first come, first served!

Sunday, July 19

Justin Sainsbury – On the Waterfront exhibition at Worthing Museum & Art Gallery



Sussex-based photographer Justin Sainsbury currently has an exhibition of 29 street-style seaside pictures on display at Worthing Museum and Art Gallery, alongside Rob Silverstone’s black and white studies of the English and French coastline.

Using the seafront as a stage, Justin takes a look at how relationships develop throughout life and how these can be played out through gestures and action. The result is a contemporary account of life in the resorts along the south coast of England. Justin says, ‘The challenge – or problem – is to make an essentially ordinary situation stand out...’

See more of Justin's photos here.

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Justin a couple of times and hope to take a look at the exhibition sometime soon...


When:
Saturday 4 July to Saturday 12 September 2009
Open Tuesday to Saturday 10 am to 5 pm

Where:
The Studio,
Worthing Museum and Art Gallery
Chapel Road, Worthing BN11 1HP
West Sussex, UK
(About half way between the train station and the beach)

Sunday, July 12

A major retrospective of my Very Important Work in Arles, France



Well, almost.

I was amazed to see that a couple of my pictures have temporarily sneaked into Arles, courtesy of Joni Karanka's stravaganza, fds and mindfist, and other mysterious forces that I don't quite understand...

This punk-rock style, constantly evolving photographic exhibition was started by Joni in Cardiff – first in his house, and then at a Cardiff Liberal club where David Hurn made a guest appearance. Next it travelled to a bigger venue in Bologna where hundreds of pictures were on show, and now it’s fetched up at a pharmacists in Arles to coincide with one of the most prestigious photography festivals in the world.

The collection of photos is open to all photographers, and along the way prints have been added, lost, stolen, used as toilet paper and, even worse, curated.

If you're in Arles, the window you're looking for is the Pharmacie du Forum, 1 Rue Place, Arles, near Rue du Dr Fanton...

Kudos to all the people who have made this happen along the way. It's an inspiring thing...

Mobile phone photo by Cyril Costilhes

Monday, July 6

"No Such Thing as Society" exhibition: Cardiff

An exhibition of British documentary photography has just landed in Cardiff, UK.

Described as a document of photography from the late 1960s until the late 1980s, No Such Thing as Society is drawn from the collections of the Arts Council and the British Council, and claims to present "a radically new picture of these two turbulent decades".

The show, curated by David Alan Mellor, brings together 150 photographs by over 30 documentary photographers including

Keith Arnatt, John Benton Harris, Ian Berry, Derek Boshier, Victor Burgin, Vanley Burke, David Butterworth, David Chadwick, Tarik Chawdry, John Davies, Ian Dobbie, Peter Fraser, Gilbert & George, George & Zippy, Paul Graham, Brian Griffin, Christine Hobbeheydar, Alexis Hunter, Phillip Jones-Griffiths, Chris Killip, Bob Long, Markéta Luskacová, Ron McCormick, Peter Marlow, Daniel Meadows, Peter Mitchell, Raymond Moore, Tish Murtha, Martin Parr, Gilles Peress, Tony Ray-Jones, Jurgen Schadeberg, Graham Smith, Chris Steele-Perkins, Homer Sykes and Paul Trevor.

Phew.

When:
4 July to 4 October 2009
Open 10am to 5pm, Tuesday to Sunday

Where:
National Museum and Gallery, Cardiff
National Museum Cardiff
Cathays Park, Cardiff
CF10 3NP
20 minutes' walk from the train station

Event details


The exhibition has previously been shown at venues in Aberystwyth, Carlisle, Leeds, Penzance, Warsaw (Poland), and Norrkoping (Sweden), and will go on to the Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle for 31 October 2009 to 24 January 2010. It is a Hayward Gallery touring exhibition.

Cardiff's National Museum also has a Diane Arbus exhibition, which runs until 31 August 2009.

Sunday, June 28

A Long Exposure: 100 Years of Guardian Photography at Bridport Arts Centre

If you're in Dorset, there's an exhibition of photos from The Guardian's staff photographers upstairs at the Bridport Arts Centre.

The exhibition showcases work taken since the paper appointed its first photographer, Walter Doughty, in 1908 and features photos by Denis Thorpe, Don McPhee, Walter Doughty, Graham Finlayson, Tom Stuttard, Robert Smithies and Christopher Thomond. There's a reasonable number of largish prints, well printed and presented. Don McPhee's miners strike pictures will probably be familiar...

When:
Thursday 25 June to Saturday 18 July 2009
Open Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 4pm, free admission

Where:
Bridport Arts Centre
South Street, Bridport DT6 3NR, UK


Event details
(Exhibition toured by The Lowry, Manchester)

Guardian slideshow here

Friday, June 26

Bruce Springsteen, Robert Frank and the dark side of the American dream?

As Glastonbury prepares for a rare weekend of sunshine, all the British papers seem to be offering a Bruce Springsteen primer for the younger festival goers. Picking up The Independent today, I was surprised to read that Springsteen may have owed inspiration for some of the darker side of his work to Robert Frank!

"Springsteen's ex-rock critic manager Jon Landau is credited with educating him away from the escapist street-romance of his 1975 breakthrough Born to Run. It was Landau who handed him a Woody Guthrie biography, and guided him towards Robert Frank’s 1950s photos of lonely roadside Americans and John Ford's film The Grapes of Wrath.

The idea that Springsteen was manipulated into acting out his mentor's literary fantasies is tempting, but the initial results can't be faulted. Darkness on the Edge of Town (1978), The River (1980) and Nebraska (1982) are his work's core. The previously apolitical singer wrote Nebraska under Guthrie's influence, as a stark tour of the small-town America he grew up in, laid waste by Reaganomics. The River's title song remains his best. Its young married couple in a closing factory town have no future in a way more crushingly solid than punk's teenage mantra. "Is a dream a lie if it don't come true/Or is it something worse..." the man wonders, of an American Dream he has been forced awake from. It was a heartbreaking political song because it barely looked up from personal concerns; as good as Guthrie, but Springsteen's own."

Nick Hasted, The Independent.


The Guthrie and Grapes of Wrath influences I'm aware of, but Frank is news to me. Well maybe the cover of Nebraska and the video to Atlantic City were clues.

Wednesday, June 24

Country Show update




I've recently updated and tidied up a short edit of my country show pictures.

The photos have been taken over the past few years at the Dorchester County Show (recently renamed the Dorset County Show), The New Forest Show and the Melplash Show. I hope to add to the collection this year...

Jump right in here

Thursday, June 18

Jonas Bendiksen - Satellites Exhibition in London


Prints from Bendiksen's excellent Satellites book are being shown in London for the first time. Thanks to Chris Moxey for the photo of Jonas Bendiksen at the gallery.

When:
24 June to 9 August 2009
Tuesday-Friday 1-5pm
Saturday 11am-5pm
Sunday 1-5pm

Where:
PM Gallery
Walpole Park, Mattock Lane
London W5 5EQ
United Kingdom

Travel:
Tube: Ealing Broadway
Rail: Ealing Broadway
Buses: 207, 83, 607, E1, E2, 112, 297, PR1, E7, E8
Car park: Ealing Broadway Centre, access via the Grove from Ealing Green. Springbridge Road, access via the New Broadway.


Exhibition details

Travel details/opening times

Watch the Satellites slideshow on Magnum

Wednesday, June 17

The Olympus E-P1 – climbing Mount Improbable?



Olympus have generated a torrent of publicity and interest in this new digital camera, billed as a successor to the old film Olympus Pen.

On paper, the E-P1 looks to be just what a lot of serious photographers have been waiting for – a smallish, compact digital with a large sensor, and an array of small lenses in the pipeline. Not so small as to be fiddly, but not so large as to be conspicuous, and possessing decent manual controls and dials.

And as someone who has tried to use a digital with an LCD screen for composition but never really took to that way of working, the large external viewfinder designed to work with the small prime lens looks like a perfect combination.

The only dark clouds on the horizon seem to be mutterings about focusing speed. For example dpreview says, ‘the samples we’ve tried have very slow focus in anything but perfect light’. OK, these are samples and not the final cameras, but it doesn’t seem to tally with Olympus’s claim of 3 frames per second...

In theory, with the new pancake prime lens pictured above – which is about 35 mm in 35 mm terms – a manual focus to about 5 ft and f/8 would cover most bases, but according to www.dcresource.com, that doesn’t sound too promising either: ‘Manual focus allows you to set the focus distance yourself, though that can be difficult, since there are no distance markings on the lens, nor are any displayed on the LCD’. Hmm, curious...

****

Of course, we’ve been here before, with cameras that promised much but were let down by details such as the shaky build quality of the Ricoh GR digital cameras, and the general sluggishness of the Sigma offering. But Olympus have built this new camera up so much – and even reprised David Bailey as ambassador – that they must be confident in the E-P1, so here’s hoping its performance lives up to the publicity.

Meanwhile, Britain’s leading cartographer of the psychogeographic landscape is awaiting a review copy... Oh, and a black version would be nice.

**** Update, 23 June 2009 ****

More reviews coming in suggest that the focusing speed is similar to a fast compact, but not up to digital SLR standards. For example:

www.digitalcamerareview.com
"In outdoor light at the wide end of the kit zoom, the E-P1's focusing generally felt as fast as a decent point-and-shoot, and at times maybe faster. There was some definite lag and hunt when shooting indoors, though – more than you'd expect from a DSLR. If action shooting, especially indoor sports photography, is a primary interest, the E-P1 (or any other MFT camera, to be honest) probably isn't the best choice."

It also mentions a "a great quick-shift AF to MF transition".


Digitalarts online are more forgiving
"When you turn on the E-P1, it's ready to shoot in about a second. Focusing is fast using its 11 focusing points, and shutter lag is minimal. Burst mode is 3 fps. In other words, it feels like DSLR when you press the shutter button."

**** Update, 6 July 2009 ****
A few more reviews I bumped into both flag up the focus speed. Doesn't sound good:

cnet reviews
"Sluggish autofocus"

NYTimes.com Gadgetwise Blog
"I found the auto-focus a bit imprecise and slow. In particular, it was difficult to focus on anything that was moving (even when using Continuous AF)."

**** Update, 9 July 2009 ****

I had a quick try of the camera with the kit zoom today, courtesy of Jessops in Bournemouth. After all the talk of less than stellar autofocus performance, it didn't seem too bad to me in terms of speed.

Saturday, May 30

All the fun of the fair


Photograph: Paul Russell

Several years ago I read an account of a trial in my local paper detailing the case of a young man who fed a large amount of money – at least £50 – into one of those grabbing crane amusement arcade machines. He was so incensed by his repeated failure to win the cuddly toy that he returned to the arcade with a sledgehammer and smashed the machine up.

He was found guilty and made to pay damages...

Saturday, May 16

When sub-editors do "street" (Phil Selby)

Browsing the latest issue of Adbusters in my local library (Borders) I came across a cartoon by Phil Selby that had me laughing like a madman:



Phil's blog is here:
http://bigeyedeer.wordpress.com/