New life for old trends – the photo news of week 20/2023
After the flood of cameras of the last week, there is now a certain amount of low tide, but there is always something interesting to be found even in shallow water. At the beginning a little flashback to the beginning of the 2000s, which becomes very relevant in a moment. Back then, the super professionals used Photoshop to assemble umpteen levels, brushed extensive beauty retouches onto the graphics tablet – and the ambitious photographer with a small budget struggled with the poorly functioning automatic functions of inexpensive software.
Until then the plug-in collections from Nik Software appeared. Combining tasteful, not-too-aggressive automatics for a specific look with the very simple selection of areas to apply them to. Dubbed “U-Point,” these tools are much more intuitive to use than masks and layers, although they produce similarly accurate results. By 2008, the product range was complete, from the first Color Efex package to HDR and black/white filters including plug-ins for Photoshop-compatible programs, and then nothing happened.
Nik Collection extensively modernized
First, Google took over the financially troubled company Nik Software in 2012 and made the photo filters available for free download as the “Nik Collection” in 2016. Mind you: Hardly anything has been developed further for eight years, and for example the once indispensable noise filter Dfine had long since been overtaken by other tools. Google sat there – as so often – on a veritable treasure trove of software and it was foreseeable that the Nik programs would end up in the infamous Google product graveyard.
There was some hope for U-Points fans only when DxO Google bought the Nik software, and new versions have been appearing continuously ever since. First for free, and now with the DxO Nik Collection 6 only against payment – but it is moderately designed, the new purchase costs 149 euros, updates from version 4 and 5 are possible for 79 euros. There are not only the usual plug-ins for this, but also standalone programs, and in addition to integration into Photoshop-compatible software, use with Affinity Lab is now also possible. A license can be activated on three computers, and even the aged Dfine has been updated – the rest of the new functions are described in a detailed message.
Pentax reinvents the transport lever
A good 20 years ago, the Nik Collection also took away the pain that some felt when switching from analog to digital photography, as the Analog Efex plug-in contained the look of popular films under the original name. Today found as “vintage” or “retro” in the filters of every social network, the analogous peculiarities of color, contrast and noise remain popular. And, as studies by Pentax in Japan and worldwide show again and again, especially among young people.
And the development of a new camera for 35 millimeter film, which has been known for a good six months, is mainly intended for them. Since the current generation has at least grown up with digital compact cameras, if not with the smartphone as the only image catcher, the new Pentax should also be small. A compact camera with a permanently installed lens is the plan, and if it’s analogue, then right from the start: the film is transported with a lever, and the Pentax will certainly soon be gone from the name “wind-up camera”. How quickly important knowledge is lost for decades is also shown here, because some former Pentax engineers, when asked, found the first drafts for the mechanics not great when asked, which probably means for the current development team: Back to the drawing board and CAD program. That is meant literally, because according to Pentax, the first ideas were actually sketched out on paper.
Leica Q3 in sight
Leica is one step further, albeit in the digital realm, because: The unconfirmed but now complete technical data for the Q3 are now available. They suggest that it is actually the best compact camera with a full-frame sensor, which, as is typical for Leica, is reserved for a small target group: the predecessor Q2 has become more and more expensive since it was introduced in 2019 and is now scratching the 6,000 euro mark – the Q3 will hardly be cheaper . And that, where many elements such as the sensor and the processor are said to have been carried over from the M11. In a few days you will see what the rumors are all about, because the presentation of the Q3 should take place soon.
Fake images of real crises
It doesn’t work that quickly with a sensible regulation for the use of AI-generated images. The well-known US photojournalist Michael Christopher Brown, who worked for National Geographic, Magnum and the New York Times for many years, was tempted by the image, which does not show any real events. He created a series of pictures called “90 Miles”, which illustrates trouble spots, humanitarian and political rifts of the last decades – and exclusively with Midjourney. Since Brown was on site with the camera for some of the events, his results are amazingly close to a real representation, only: the people, the places, do not exist as shown.
His approach was to tell the “inaccessible stories” with images, and that at least brings a new aspect to the debate about Generative AI. Only: If you then go so far as Brown does, selling some of the images as NFTs as a kind of original that cannot be forged, the intention to make a profit probably outweighs the idea behind an illustration of what could not be captured as a photo. While we wrote in the printed c’t photograph a few weeks ago that history can now be falsified with AI images before it happens, Brown has provided convincing proof that this is also possible with the actual past. Not everyone pays attention to the imperfect hands of the synthetic characters, even in Brown’s work.
Easy entry into the creation of AI images
The fact that the images are convincing at first glance, as in the case of winning the competition for an AI image, is due to the fact that experienced photographers wrote the prompts for the generators. If the statement of the picture is not so important, but rather a specific, quite artistic look, it works much easier. And with very simple prompts, as the house counsel at our publishing house, Jörg Heidrich, has now shown. He also wrote the guide on how photographers can protect themselves from using their images as training data.
To home page