The retreat continues: Fujifilm axes 50% of its compact line

The Fujifilm J10 - not long for this world?

It started with Olympus at the end of May, and now Fujifilm has followed suit: it has announced that it will be axing about 20 cameras from its compact range, mostly at the bottom end of the scale.


Scaling back compact camera production, and in particular slashing the cameras that once-upon-a-time would have fulfilled the needs of the smartphone picture-takers, is a business move I've advocated for quite a while. The smartphone crowd have gone and won't be coming back until their iPhones or Galaxys no longer meet their photographic needs, if at all. Should they reach the point when a fixed aperture, bad zoom, and no control over shutter speed is frustrating them, they certainly won't be looking for a cheap, plasticy, garishingly coloured camera with a slow lens and horrible auto-focus.

The margins on these lower-end cameras are minimal and why would a serious camera company want to put their name to a camera like that, anyway? It hardly inspires confidence in their manufacturing abilities, nor in the benefits of having a stand-alone camera.

Instead, these manufacturers should be concentrating on the compact camera market that does still exist and needs fulfilling. The premium compacts are the obvious focus, but there's a bigger market out there than just those. People like my parents want a reasonable camera, but not one that's all-singing and all-dancing. People like my cousin and his wife want a camera that they can safely take sailing or snowboarding, but won't drown, freeze, or smash.

It seems to have taken a while, but it looks as if some manufacturers are beginning to re-focus their efforts. (Pentax doesn't appear to be subscribing to this new model, seeing as it announced the £80 Ephina yesterday, but that's okay.) Discerning who needs what from a camera, and providing these consumers with the products that they need can only be a good thing for photography.

It's my food and I'll photograph it if I want to!

Halloumi I know, it's a title that makes me sound like a spoiled brat. You might have visions of me stomping my feet and tossing my iPhone to the ground in the throes of a tantrum because I can't have my way to take a picture of my sweet potato and chickpea tagine with jewelled saffroned rice. That's not quite how it might seem, I promise.

Last week, the New York Times reported on the growing number of eating establishments that are prohibiting their clientele from photographing their food. No iPhones at Ko in New York and no flashes at Seiobo in Sydney or Shoto in Toronto. It's all becoming too distracting and disturbing, for diners and staff alike, especially when people start rearranging furniture and standing on chairs. Their houses; their rules. And with behaviour like that, I'm not surprised that restaurateurs have called time on wannabe Bon Apetit photographers or people who are too involved in Instagram to actually enjoy their slow roasted pork belly properly.

So I'm here to plead for a little moderation.

I'm the first person to stand up for no flash; apart from it being a terrible disturbance to other people who are eating or working, it does horrible things to images of food that can make them look distinctly unappealing as opposed to wickedly tempting. If you want to do justice to the raspberry and mascarpone creme brulee with brandy tuile, that you're meant to be enjoying and a pastry chef has burned his fingers making, you'll switch off your flash. We don't want slimy looking custard, thankyouverymuch.

As for people who think that they can stand on a restaurant chair in order to get the perfect overhead of their grilled seabass with steamed vegetables, they can go to bed with no supper. You wouldn't do that at a dinner party hosted by a friend, so why do you think it's acceptable when you're in public? Besides, by the time that you've finished faffing, your meal will be cold, you'll not enjoy it as much, and it will have been a waste of time, effort, money, and a dead fish.

Furthermore, if you're meant to be enjoying delicious food, wonderful wine, and charming company, why are you pansying about on Instagram or wittering on Twitter?

But not allowing a discreet smartphone snap or a compact camera capture? That feels a little draconian to me. Without doubt, I'm biased. I take a lot of photos of food. I love cooking and eating, and obviously I love photography: I photograph food that I make and I photograph food that eat when I'm out. I do it because I'm proud of what I've created, because I think that what I've been served looks beautiful and I want to capture that, and because I like to make memories of my restaurant experiences.

I don't want to disturb other diners and I don't want to ruin my own enjoyment of my meal, especially if I'm paying a lot of money for the privilege. What I want is a swift image to revel in. No flash, no furniture rearrangement, no Instagram. Just a discreetly snapped picture that I can look back on years to come to help me recall how perfect that grilled halloumi salad on a terrace a few hours outside of Auckland was.

When I take photos of food in a restaurant it's a compliment. Please accept it as such.

Call your phone to trigger your camera

One of the most awesome things about working on the Triggertrap is the community we've built up already. And, like any great community, we keep getting fantastic ideas via our Get Satisfaction forums.

triggertrap_tt_d2_004.jpgAs soon as Triggertrap Mobile launched, we had a fantastic idea from Travis, who wished he could trigger his camera by calling his iPhones... The big dirty secret, however, is that this is already possible, if you have a Triggertrap Mobile Dongle! The little trick is to choose the top secret special triggering sound we use in the Triggertrap App as your ring tone, and then to turn the ring tone sound to maximum. Here's how

WARNING - It's worth pointing out that if you're planning to do this, make sure you keep your Triggertrap dongle plugged in the whole time, and switch the special Triggertrap tone for another ring tone before you unplug it. The tone is meant to be listened to by the Triggertrap Mobile Dongle only; It isn't great for human consumption (For exterior use only; do not swallow; consult a doctor if you spill this sound in your eye socket, etc). Anyway.

How to trigger your SLR by calling your telephone

To be able to call your iPhone or Android phone to trigger your camera:

  1. Plug your Triggertrap Mobile Dongle into the headphone socket of your iPhone.
  2. Download the Triggertrap Mobile Ringtone for your iPhone as a .zip file.
  3. Unzip the tone (it's a .m4r file; Apple's special m4r ringtone format.)
  4. Install the tone to your phone2
  5. Choose the Triggertrap Tone as your ring-tone3
  6. Set up your camera using Single Shot1 and preferably manual focus, too
  7. Call your iPhone from another phone to take a photo.
  8. When you're done, choose your old ring tone3 again, before un-plugging your Triggertrap Mobile Dongle from your iPhone

Brilliant, eh? 1) You could also set it to Continuous mode, but we'll be sending a very long shutter signal to your camera (5 seconds in total), so it would be like pressing and holding your shutter button for 5 seconds. Try it now; press and hold your shutter button. If it takes 30 photos in quick succession, that's what'll happen when you use this trick to trigger your camera. If you'd prefer to just take one photo, use single shot mode!

Additional help and assistance

2) How do you install a custom ring tone to your phone?

  1. Set your computer's sound to mute.
  2. Drag the .m4r ringtone file to your iTunes. If you forgot to set your computer to mute, you'll now get a horrible sound playing through your speakers. Trust me; you don't want this sound: It's bad for your computer and for your ears.
  3. Plug your iPhone into your computer with the USB lead
  4. Click on your iPhone within iTunes
  5. Select 'Tones' from the bar across the top (this is also where you select what music, movies, and apps you want to sync to your phone)
  6. Either choose 'all tones' or just 'Selected Tones' and then tick the Trigger Tone box.
  7. Click 'Apply'
  8. Click 'Sync'.

3) How do you choose a ring tone on your phone?

  1. Go into the Settings app on your iPhone
  2. Choose Sounds
  3. Click Ring Tone
  4. Choose the ring tone you want as your ring tone. In this case, Trigger Tone. If you've only just uploaded it to your phone, it'll show up right at the top.

No more standing still to self-record with Swivl!

Ever wished that your camera could follow you around when you're making a video of yourself, without having to resort to bribing your loved ones or paying off your friends in their own weight in beer? Then you should check out Swivl.

It's an IndieGoGo-funded automated camera mount that will move to record you whilst you prance around your kitchen or boogie in the living room.

There's a base and there's a marker. You attach your camera to the base and the marker to you. Whilst you perform your all-singing, all-dancing recording activity, the base will swivel horizontally and vertically to follow the marker - and therefore you - ensuring that you're always in the picture.

Swivl will work with iPhone 4S and 4s and fourth generation iPod Touches. However, it can't cope with older iPhones or iPod Touches or iPads. Although it isn't Android-enabled at launch, the basic following capability will still work without any software, so provided that your Android phone isn't any thicker than 11mm, it can still follow you around.

Any kind of tripod-mountable pocket-sized video camera or sub-six ounce (170g) point-and-shoot will also attach to the base and let you record yourself in all your mobile glory. If you want to have a go with your dSLR you're out of luck, though.

Swivl's makers, Satarii, are anticipating that the device will ship early next year. If you're interested, you'll need to sign up now and when they're ready to go, you'll be asked to convert your interest into an order. But the bad news is that at the moment, they're only shipping to North America and there isn't any word on how much it'll cost yet, either.

Still, it's so cool when a crowd-funded project comes together!

New toys from Flickr

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With over five billion photos on Flickr, it has moved far beyond a niche hangout for photographer-types. It’s mainstream and it’s social, and it’s embracing that. Or at least it’s going a bit of way towards running with realising that it’s part of the social media phenomenon but trying to maintain some olde worlde charm by introducing Photo Session.

The idea is that you can get all your friends who are scattered across the globe together in one virtual place, be it from their laptops, iPhones, or iPads, to look at photos of your latest trip kayaking down the Nile, at the same time, with conversation, possibly some wine, and doodles. Yes, doodles.

It might be the doodles that gives Photo Session a glimmer of hope

You choose the photos and invite upto ten people to join the session. Then you can flick through your album and yak about the icky colour of the Nile and its fearsome crocodiles until your hearts are content. There are no special requirements, but if your guests want to play with the stuff, like the doodles, then they need a Yahoo! ID.

Now I don’t know about you, but I was kinda glad when photo-sharing websites like Flickr allowed me to escape the mind-numbing marathon sessions of sitting through other people’s interminably boring holiday snaps that left me wondering whether eating the photographic paper might induce a faster death. The Photo Session oodjimaflip seems somehow regressive, no? Maybe the doodles features will salvage it?

In other slightly more practical news, there’s also a shiny new Android app for Flickr. You can take photos, mess around with filters, and then send them on to Flickr, as well as Facebook, Twitter and anywhere else that you share photos online. The interface has been custom-designed for Flickr, so that you can make use of maps and tags and navigate it easily. And of course you can see the comments and activity on your own Flickr photos and look at them full-screen.