Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011 the year in retrospect.

Xmas is over and we are awaiting the New Year. I for one hope that its a considerably better year for us here in New Zealand. 

For a good many  people the current year has been very arduous to say the least, with few bright points along the way. Even my own family have not been spared, with several illnesses and hospitalization for some of them right up to Xmas eve. We are I'm happy to say all on the mend but there is no doubt that others have fared far worse than us.
How cruel mother nature can be? Having been hammered in the earlier part of this year and the latter of 2010 the people in Christchurch were just starting to feel that there was light at the end of the tunnel. Summer was finally on its way as was the rebuilding, and then on the 23rd of December four major earthquakes struck within a five hour period, the largest being a 6.0. Areas that had been cleared for rebuilding in the suburbs are now likely to be reassessed as uninhabitable. 

How do you cope with this sort of cruelty, life is hard but does it really need to be this harsh? I fear that Christchurch may be muchly reduced in both size and population after this round of quakes. Many folk have said to local media and TV news that they are no longer prepared to stay and I cant say I blame them. I seriously doubt that I would.

On a brighter note, a little earlier in the year we won the Rugby World Cup, managing to beat the old foe (France) by a meager one point no less. How good was Stephen Donald? Arguably the hero of the hour. Prior to his arrival for the game, in this case the final, he had been on holiday in the Waikato, and when contacted, had been out in the middle of no where , white baiting. Whats the old saying "commeth the man commeth the hour" It certainly was and he delivered when his team and country needed him to. It dont get better than that.

Of course for the Royal watchers there was the "Kate and Will" show ending in the wedding that was about as spectacular as that of Charles and Diana's some some three decades before.
Apart from these more noteworthy events it was by and large a pretty dismal year for most. If you weren't being plagued by earthquakes then it was other things like a depressed economy that was staggering along at best, with poor employment opportunities. Jobs were and are still hard to come by that pay a half decent rate. An election that really was a Clayton's election. I mean come on, who really didn't think that the National Party wouldn't win. The spectacular lack of leadership and drive from the other side of the political spectrum had the sound of a resounding vacuum.

On a more personal note, the acquisition of the Fuji HS20EXR was a highlight. I was able to finally get some decent photography in during downtime, that didn't feel like I was forever having to coax the camera to do what I wanted. When it comes to photography I'm a generalist. I don't aspire to one particular arena of the photographic world. Purists would no doubt say I'm nothing more than a happy snappa. To some degree that's accurate although I prefer to think of it as recording many different moments in time that only happen once and are gone. If I see something of interest I will take a photo. If I dont like it later then its deleted from the files.

Which leads me to the new generation to come. We have seen the arrival of the X100 then the X10 and the very soon to be X-S1. I've been a proponent of Fuji cameras for some years now and have always felt that they had the ingredients to produce some really nice technology, and in some degree they have. The HS series demonstrated what they could do in the superzoom world since the now famous S100fs and the S200EXR.

The newer X series has show that innovation isn't a dirty word at Fuji and that they are able to produce some very nice premium compacts. Unfortunately in some ways both the X100 and X10 suffer from poor build quality and insufficient testing. I refer to sticking aperture blades and slow focus in the X100 and more alarmingly to the X10's ongoing issue with specular highlights been over blown  to an unacceptable degree. In the price point these cameras are marketed in, they need to be top quality. If you want a premium price then you need to supply a premium product and sadly this has not been fully achieved by Fuji. 

On an even more worrisome front, for me personally is the sensor issue with the X10. As the X-S1 shares the same sensor and EXR technology, it appears the X-S1 may well fall foul of the sensor blooming seen in the X10. Indeed initial sample images of lights at night have shown the resulting hard white disc seen in X10 night shots. If you need more information read through the threads over the last month a Dpreview's FujiFilm Talk Forum to better get an understanding of this.
There has been some suggestion of an impending firmware update/fix for this issue. I fervently hope so as I was looking to add the X-S1 to the current Fuji stable on the shelf here in the office.

There has also been some suggestion that there will be a HS series replacement for the HS20. Perhaps an HS30, with the issues pertaining to the HS20 being addressed. The HS20 was and is a good camera, let down a little by slow AF & write speed and poor video. Fix those issues and an HS30 would be a winner. Then theres the interchangeable lens camera that Fuji Has announced. It will be interesting to see what they have come up with. It will have to be very good to sway people away from the DSLR manufacturing giants such as Nikon and Canon as well as Sony.

It would appear that for everyone, the promise of better things to come in 2012 may stave off some of the disappointments of 2011, and allow people to recover and move forward and perhaps spend a little more time taking photographs.

Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year to you all.


  1. I read your comment in some answer on your blog and i try to use HS20 on A (aperture priority ) f 6.4, and my fotos are cristal clear even on L size. Without photoshop efects, and withouth sharpening. After 6 months i use my fuji like a first day i bay it. Txn and Happy New Year to you and your family
    A little bad english, sorry
    Prof. Steven from Montenegro

  2. Lets all pray for a better 2012! We have been lucky here in California, so far, no major natural events. My family has also been spared and are in fairly good health. The sad part is the economy and watching hard working people in dire straits.
    My wife and I have been spared and are just moving along. I am lucky and have a job in IT that pays well and more OT than I really want, but is helping with the little joys(my HS20)
    Lets all Hope for better times!!
    Here's wishing you and your family the best and safe New Year!! Keep up the great site!!
    Richard Bliss, California, USA

  3. Thanks Richard, I will endeavor to do so.
    Have a good New Years celebration.
    A an enjoyablr start to the New Year.

  4. my name martin hošek.I am from czek republik in europe.
    tvoje stránky mi pomohly v koupi fujifilm hs20.thanks.Martin

  5. My Name hošek.I am martin from czek republics in Europe.
    Your site helped me in purchasing FUJIFILM hs20.thanks.Martin

    Translated to English for us.
    Hi Martin. You are welcome. Enjoy the HS20 its a good camera and will serve you well.
    Happy New Year .

  6. This looks like the latest post to properly introduce myself. Hi Ralph. My name is Mark and I reside in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania USA. I recently purchased an HS20 and came across a link to your blog. "Thank you so much for the wealth of information you share here."

    I absolutely adore photography but have never been able to afford perusing the hobby other then stretching a Canon A490 to it's photographic limits. But that P&S camera began a journey that only photography offers.

    I'm happy with my HS20 but I've much to learn. I hope to learn much from your incredible blog, so Thank You again. Happy New Year. :-)

  7. Hi Mark
    Happy to help, thats one of the reasons I do this :)