Category Archive : analysis

Want a Fully Loaded iMac Pro? That’ll Be $13,199, Please

PetaPixel Michael Zhang

When Apple’s new iMac Pro arrived on the scene yesterday, there was one crazy detail that jumped out at a lot of people: if you choose to include all the optional upgrades, the computer will cost a staggering $13,199. Here’s a closer look at how you get to that price.

Base Price: $4,999

First off, the base configuration of the iMac Pro already costs $4,999. By comparison, the lowest-end Mac Pro you can purchase costs $2,999.

What you get for $4,999 is a 3.2GHz 8-core Intel Xeon W processor, 32GB of 2666MHz DDR4 ECC RAM, a 1TB SSD, and Radeon Pro Vega 56 graphics with 8GB of HBM2 memory.

+$2,400 to Max Out the Processor: $7,399

Instead of a measly 3.2GHz 8-core Intel Xeon W processor, you can upgrade to a 2.3GHz 18-core one.

“Up to 18 cores in an iMac,” Apple says. “No, that’s not a typo […] [Y]ou can render images, edit up to 8K video, manipulate photos, create real-time audio effects, or compile your next five-star app — all at lightning speed.”

+$2,400 to Max Out the Memory: $9,799

Why settle for 32GB of 2666MHz DDR4 ECC memory when you can have 128GB of RAM? You know, for if you’d like to keep your entire photo shoot open in separate tabs in Photoshop…

+$2,800 to Max Out the Storage: $12,599

Instead of a 1 terabyte SSD, you can quadruple the storage by upgrading to a 4TB one.

“iMac Pro storage is not user accessible,” Apple warns. “If you think you may need more storage capacity in the future, consider upgrading at the time of purchase.”

+$600 to Max Out the Graphics: $13,199

You can go from a Radeon Pro Vega 56 graphics card with 8GB of HBM2 memory to a 16GB Vega 64 for an extra $600.

Final Price: $13,199

Select all the max upgrades above, and your computer will have a ginormous price tag of $13,199, about the same price as a base model 2018 Chevrolet Spark LS car.

And by comparison, the fully loaded Mac Pro costs $7,128, or about 54% the cost of the fully upgraded iMac Pro.

(via Apple via DPReview)

The Sony a7R III Eats Stars: New Report

PetaPixel Michael Zhang

Has Sony actually fixed its “star eater” issue in the new a7R III? Photographer Drew Geraci tested the camera earlier this month and found that the problem “is no more,” but now new reports are suggesting that the a7R III does indeed still “eat” stars and cause them to disappear in long exposures.

DPReview sent engineer Jim Kasson a set of star photos from the a7R III to analyze, and after analyzing the spectra and generating a series of graphs, Kasson concluded that “the Sony a7R III eats stars.”

“It turns out that the spatial filtering, which is called the ‘star eater’ algorithm because of its effect on some kinds of astrophotography, is readily identifiable by looking at Fourier transforms of dark-field exposures,” Kasson writes. “You don’t need to shoot stars to tell whether the camera has an appetite for them.”

Kasson finds that once exposure time hits 4 seconds, “spatial filtering kicks in big-time.”

DPReview writes that after it examined star photos shot with both the a7R III and a7R II (running its latest firmware), only stars larger than 1 pixel appeared in the images, “suggesting that smaller stars are indeed ‘eaten’ or dimmed due to a spatial filtering algorithm.”

“This is a missed opportunity for Sony, and something dedicated astrophotographers will want to consider […],” DPReview says. “But for now, we can say this with confidence: while a lot of stars still survive ‘Star Eater’, the a7R III continues the trend of noise reduction that dims or erases small stars at exposure longer than 3.2s.”

These findings contradict Geraci, who found through examining his photos that there doesn’t seem to be any noticeable difference in the number of stars between 3.2- and 10-second exposures:

Crops of the 3.2-second exposure (left) and 10-second exposure (right) compared side-by-side. Photos by Drew Geraci.

Geraci says he agrees with Kasson’s findings but disagrees with his (and DPReview‘s) assessment that this is an issue astrophotographers need to worry about.

“Jim is correct in the fact that spatial filtering is still ‘active’ on the camera, but to the degree in which it actually affects the image is another story,” Geraci tells PetaPixel.

“If you do a side by side comparison of the a7R II IQ vs that of the a7R III IQ (from 2.5″ up to 5″ which is the range in which the original debacle began) you can visually see no change in star depth, and in all cases the stars increase in brightness value (as they should as the exposure increases),” Geraci says. “Compare that to the A7RII, where stars are literally being deleted, and it’s another story.

“A change in .06 to -.06 DB worth of spatial filtering, while present, I believe does not affect the image to the point it’s going to ‘eat’ stars, which is what my photos are meant to prove. I would love to see some of Jim’s tests actually showing it visually, verse that of a graph chart and a photo taken of a black body cap.”

Geraci also points out that comparing Kasson’s latest findings to his previous data on the a7R II, spatial filtering was 2 or 3 times higher in the a7R II compared to the a7R III.

“My honest opinion is that it’s a pixel witch hunt,” Geraci says. “I definitely wish Sony would give us a full uncompressed spatial filter free shot (and it may be coming) but also believe the situation is getting blown way out of proportion.”

How Instagram’s Photo Filters Are Used by Top Users

PetaPixel Stefan Pettersson

My name is Stefan, and I’m the CTO of the marketing firm Relatable. To facilitate execution of global, large-scale influencer marketing campaigns, we rely a lot on data to give us insights. Using a sample of about 2 million Instagram accounts (with a minimum of 1,000 followers) and 40 million posts, I’ve been digging deep, compiling statistics, finding insights, and just discovering some quirky facts. In this article, I’ll share some of my findings.

Instagram filters are used to enhance photos, to give them that extra edge or just set the mood. But to what extent are they used?

Using the sample of about 40 million posts we can conclude that 18% of all photos use a filter.

Filter Popularity

When looking at the distribution of filter popularity there is a clear winner. Clarendon is in the lead with 25% followed by Juno which is used 8% of the times a filter is applied.

The popularity of filters used on Instagram.

While Clarendon is the uncontested winner, the battle for second place is fierce between Juno, Gingham, and Lark. At the bottom are Willow and Perpetua.

The top four filters. Photo credit: @elepetrella for the Polaroid Eyewear campaign.

Here’s the full list:

  1. Clarendon 24.6%
  2. Juno 7.9%
  3. Gingham 7.4%
  4. Lark 7.0%
  5. Ludwig 6.1%
  6. Valencia 4.6%
  7. Aden 4.1%
  8. Lo-fi 3.7%
  9. Inkwell 2.9%
  10. X-Pro II 2.8%
  11. Slumber 2.8%
  12. Amaro 2.7%
  13. Moon 2.5%
  14. Mayfair 2.4%
  15. Hudson 2.4%
  16. Sierra 2.1%
  17. Rise 1.9%
  18. Crema 1.9%
  19. Reyes 1.8%
  20. Hefe 1.7%
  21. Nashville 1.7%
  22. Perpetua 1.0%
  23. Willow 1.0%

Who’s Using Filters?

I also wanted to find out whether filter usage would be different depending on how successful the account was, where, in this case, success is measured by the number of followers.

Let’s make a chart showing filter usage (defined as the percentage of photos using filters) of account size.

Filter usage of accounts based on accounts’ number of followers.

The trend shows that the fewer followers an account have, the more likely it is to use a filter. And the more followers, the less likely the account will use filters. A hypothesis is that a person behind an account with more followers invest more time on the content, possibly using more professional tools like Lightroom to edit photos and therefore has less need to use one of the built-in filters.

This made me think of photographers. They would surely be more likely to use a tool other than Instagram filters to touch up their photos, right? Compared to the average of 18.0% filter usage, accounts with the word “photographer” in the bio use filters on 14.6% of the photos.

Photographers tend to tag their photos with the hashtag of the camera manufacturer. Is filter usage different on photos tagged with #canon and #nikon versus #iphone?

Filter usage among photos with hashtag #canon, #nikon and #iphone

Nikon users use filters on 10.0% of their photos, Canon users 10.7% and iPhone users 18.6%.

Content and Filter Usage

I finally wondered if there is any particular content where filter usage would be much more common. I asked myself; at what time would it be most important for you to make sure the photo you post looks the best? When taking a selfie, of course!

Indeed! Way above the 18% average, #selfie posts use filters 25% of the time.

What would the other extreme be? Let’s look at content using the hashtag #nofilter.

Surprisingly, 10% of photos posted with hashtag #nofilter actually use an Instagram filter! Who would have thought…?


About the author: Stefan Pettersson is CTO and co-founder of Relatable, a marketing agency that uses data and technology to help customers like Google, Lego, Adobe, Tinder, Verizon and Spotify to do super efficient, large-scale influencer marketing campaigns. This article was also published here.

How Photographer Peter McKinnon Got 1 Million YouTube Subscribers in 9 Months

PetaPixel Will Nicholls

Photographer Peter McKinnon first started his YouTube channel 9 months ago, but since then he has racked up over 1.1 million subscribers. In this 11-minute video, Paddy Galloway looks at how McKinnon managed to achieve this incredible feat and what makes his channel so different from everyone else’s.

Galloway estimates that the ad revenue alone is pulling in $13,000 per month for McKinnon, with sponsorships for individual videos on top of that.

But why is he so popular? What made him different?

McKinnon originally started by producing “typical vlogs” with titles such as “spicy food” and “wrecked my shoulder.”

Despite being well-made, they didn’t get the traction McKinnon was no doubt hoping for.

He then changed things up, producing much more punchy videos like “8 Camera Hacks” and receiving millions of views for them.

Galloway has produced a really great analysis of McKinnon and his channel. Addressing a number of stages every aspiring YouTuber should pay attention to:

  1. Gaining Initial Attention
  2. Providing Quality Content
  3. Growing Relationships with Viewers

Check out the video above to dive deep into the world of McKinnon and his YouTube phenomenon, and subscribe to Paddy Galloway for more YouTube analysis videos.

(via Paddy Galloway via ISO 1200)

The Expanding Universe of Crowdfunded Photo Gear

PetaPixel Tim Greyhavens

I confess: I’m a photo gear junkie. I’ve bought dozens of cameras and lenses, way too many tripods, camera bags and backpacks, and many thousands of dollars’ worth of filters, flash units, and other accessories. I’ve tempered my obsession over the last few years, mostly because there’s only so much room to store these things, but from the flood of new products hitting the market recently I’d say I slowed down just in time.

Most of the gear I’ve bought has come from what are still the dominant camera brands―Canon and Nikon. Of course, there have always been many more choices: Leica, Pentax, Olympus, Hasselblad, just to name a few. Now, however, thanks to crowdfunding we’ve entered a different photo gear universe. And, as Monty Python so cheerfully sang, this one is amazing and expanding.

To learn more about this new universe, I looked at the data behind the top 100 most successful photo gear campaigns on Kickstarter and Indiegogo. I also spent some time talking with the people behind some of these campaigns to get their perspectives. Here’s what I found out:

In the last five years alone, nearly $50 million has been raised for the development of new photo gear on major crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. And whether you’re interested in serious fun (like Furbo: World’s Best Treat-Tossing Dog Camera) or serious work (like The Lomography Daguerreotype Achromat 2.9/64 Art Lens), there’s something for everyone in the new invest-and-buy marketplace.

Crowdfunding for photography gear has grown from non-existent as little as ten years ago to what has quickly become an important force in the development of new products. As someone who has bought an unreasonable number (50? 100? I’ve lost track) of camera bags and backpacks over the years, it’s hard for me to believe that the marketplace for new bags is not already well saturated. And yet, the two largest Kickstarter campaigns for photo gear were both for camera bags (admittedly, really cool camera bags) that brought in a combined total of $11 million.

*Other includes lens caps, software, sliders, tripods, and other mounts.

The company that produced those bags, Peak Design, is now the undisputed champion of crowdfunded photo gear. Overall they’ve raised more than $14 million for their products, and they proudly call themselves “the world’s most crowdfunded active company”.​

Founder and CEO Pete Dering started the company in 2011 with the strategy of using crowdfunding for all of their major products. He says that “crowdfunding lets us do what we love”, and he claims that much of their success has been due in part to what he calls “radical transparency”. By that he means they communicate with their audiences every step of the way, including showing their problems as well as their successes.

Dering and his team are such big fans of crowdfunding that they include a Kickstarter 101 section on the company’s website. There they share what they’ve learned about crowdfunding, starting with these five key points:

  1. Solve a real problem. They emphasize that it’s not enough to simply find a solution to a problem—you have to know that there’s a big enough market for your solution to justify the time and expense it will take to develop it.
  2. Tell a great story. It has to be about real people who see a real need for your real solution.
  3. Pay attention to your customers. Peak Design holds on-air Google Hangouts with their backers so their customers get answers to their questions and the designers get ideas for product improvements.
  4. Tell everybody about it. This is Marketing 101, and it can’t be ignored. Start before the campaign is launched, and continue as long as the product is still offered for sale.
  5. Be ready and able to deliver. They say “going from zero to funded is much less difficult than going from funded to fulfilled.” A key part of their success was knowing every facet of the production and distribution processes before they ever launched a campaign.

Staying true to their radical transparency promise, they’re quick to follow up on these points with this confession:

We have mastered none of the above things. As a matter of fact, we maintain that they’re un-masterable. We’ve learned a lot in the past 5 years, enough to formulate some broad advice to the crowdfunding community. But we are always learning, the tables are always turning, and nothing ever goes exactly to plan.

For the most part, though, innovative companies like Peak Design have been able to deliver time and time again. As of this date, ten photo gear campaigns have raised more than a million dollars each, and another fourteen have raised more than $500,000. Perhaps more importantly, the top twenty campaigns all exceeded their initial fundraising goal by an average of 2250%. And all of them met their initial goal with 24 hours of launching!

Some successful Kickstarter campaigns for photo gear.

Ryan Stout, whose “intelligent camera assistant” Arsenal is now the third most successful photo gear campaign (raising more than $3 million), told me crowdfunding has several advantages over going to venture capital sources:

  • Immediate feedback: Developers get product feedback that continues throughout the funding campaign. People who contribute to the campaign offer encouragement and suggestions that help the developer improve the product and to reach an even larger customer base.
  • Market confirmation: Crowdfunded designers know upfront what the initial size of the production run should be. This saves a lot of time and money that might otherwise have to be spent on research and logistics.
  • Viral marketing: Contributors to the campaign become willing but unpaid advertising assistants. Many of the people who invest in these campaigns are influential early adopters whose mention of a product can reach tens of thousands of people through blog posts, list serves, and in-person presentations.

Stout also made a strategic decision to run his Arsenal campaign on more than one platform. He says there wasn’t much data on the overlap between the two platforms, and it was fairly easy to adapt the work they did to develop a Kickstarter campaign to also create on Indiegogo. In the end, his risk was well-rewarded. Kickstarter’s 15,766 backers contributed $2,650,310, and Indiegogo’s 2,123 backers added an additional $423,420 (note that the total shown on Indiegogo’s website includes the amount raised on Kickstarter).

On the lower end of the funding scale, nearly 40% of the top 100 photo gear campaigns raised less than $100,000. Many of these were for simpler products like camera straps and lens caps, but even so on average they exceeded their funding goals by 240%.

One of the more unusual products in the lower-end category is the SolarCan, a soda can-shaped pinhole camera that’s designed to create “extreme time exposures” of the sun as it crosses in the sky. The images it produces directly on paper are as unique as the design of the SolarCan itself, but the SolarCan stands out as a great example of the range of new products now being developed through crowdfunding.

Is there a downside to this new wave of photo gear campaigns? Like all entrepreneurial efforts, some don’t succeed. In 2015 a company called Triggertrap raised nearly $500,000 on Kickstarter for their high-speed shutter trigger. Unfortunately, they ran into serious problems between the time they developed their prototype and when they were supposed to start mass production.

Their product budget and their timeline were vastly off the mark, and they wound up spending five times more for research and development than they’d estimated only to find it would cost them three times more than they’d budgeted to manufacture each unit. Ultimately, they abandoned their product after having spent 80% of the funds that people had contributed. Needless to say, no one was pleased with this outcome.

Other failures have led to similar results, but so far the success stories far outnumber the missteps. Photographers will always love their gear, and clearly there’s a need for innovation and smart design in a wide range of products.

If you’d like to see a list the most successful crowdfunded gear campaigns so far, go to my Photo Funds Database. Then add a filter to display records where “For contains ‘gear'”. I update the database at least twice a month, so you’ll always find the latest crowdfunded photo gear campaigns listed there.


About the author: Tim Greyhavens is a Seattle-based photographer, writer, and researcher who helps to highlight photography that’s advanced by philanthropy. You can find more of his work and writing on his website and Twitter. This article was also published here.


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