Sharing pictures from a dedicated camera on Instagram: what works and what needs fixing

June 17, 2015

Over the past couple of months I’ve been more active than usual in my photography. Thanks to the photography course I’ve been taking and thanks to a few photographer friends of mine, I’ve had some opportunities to work with really talented models and it’s been a terrific experience. I’m so happy I enrolled in the course and I’d definitely recommend it to anyone with an interest in photography.

“Look at me”. Olympus OM-D E-M10 with Panasonic Leica 25mm f/1.4 lens.

A side effect of this increased photographic activity is that over the past few weeks I’ve also been sharing more of my pictures on Instagram. I’ve never been crazy about Instagram but for all its faults, there’s a really vibrant community of users there and it’s one of the best places — probably the best place — to share your pictures, even those taken with a dedicated camera instead of a smartphone.

Una foto publicada por Álvaro Serrano (@analogsenses) el

“Look at me”, as shared on Instagram.

If we compare Instagram to Flickr, the other photography-oriented social network in which I’m an active user, the differences are stark. While Flickr is all about showcasing your pictures in their original form, Instagram was always meant to share the magic of special moments conveyed through images more than the actual photographs themselves. As such, Instagram pays very little attention to preserving detail or accuracy and instead emphasizes emotion over everything else. Filters are the perfect embodiment of that philosophy, with each filter imbuing your images with a different mood. That ability to provoke an emotional response is what makes Instagram a great service used and loved by millions of people, and it’s easy to understand why.

And yet, despite Instagram not being oriented towards the more academic or technical side of photography, more and more “serious” photographers are sharing their work there in recent years. Meanwhile, Flickr just kind of continues to exist in some shape or form without many people really caring about it anymore. If I’m being honest, that saddens me a bit because I still love Flickr and I’d love nothing more than for it to really thrive again, but I guess that’s just how things have played out.

Unfortunately, and I don’t mean to take anything away from Instagram’s success here, sharing pictures from a dedicated camera on Instagram is not nearly as convenient as it could be.

A matter of principles

When it comes to sharing pictures from a dedicated camera on Instagram, there are several hurdles to jump through. The most obvious one is the fact that Instagram doesn’t allow third-party apps or services to post images through their API, so the only officially supported way to upload pictures is through their mobile apps. What that means is that before you can even begin to upload your images, you must get them into your smartphone one way or another.

This first hurdle, at least, is readily solvable. In today’s mostly cloud-based world, moving pictures across devices is a relatively straightforward task. You can go old school and email them to yourself, you can use a Dropbox folder to sync the pictures, you can import them to Photos for Mac and use your iCloud Photo Library to sync the images, or you can use the syncing feature in Lightroom CC, which allows you to access your shared images from the mobile Lightroom app. All of these methods work reliably and securely and will get the job done just fine.

Whatever your preferred method, it’s relatively easy to get your pictures onto your phone, but all of these solutions present their own sets of inconveniences, and you’re always left at the mercy of some opaque system you can’t control. Unless you go really old school and connect your smartphone to your computer with an actual physical cable and import the images directly from the computer, that is. Heck, you could even use Apple’s Lightning to SD Card Camera Reader and import the pictures straight from your camera.1

Once the pictures are in your Camera Roll, there are still a couple things to take care of. That’s when the real fun begins.

It’s the format, dummy

As you know, Instagram was designed to share pictures with a square aspect ratio. However, most dedicated cameras don’t shoot in square mode, so the default way the Instagram app deals with non-square images is by offering to crop them. But what if you want to share the entire image area?

Above: “Lie with me”. Canon EOS 3 with Kodak Portra 160 film.

Una foto publicada por Álvaro Serrano (@analogsenses) el

“Lie with me”, as shared on Instagram.

Instagram doesn’t natively support turning rectangular images into square ones without cropping. Luckily, there other third party apps that can do this for you, so feel free to browse the App Store and try a few of them. The one I personally use is InstaSquarer, which is free and has all the features I need. To me, the most important feature is the ability to choose the background color, and InstaSquarer does this beautifully.

Above: InstaSquarer allows you to post pictures to Instagram without cropping. Below: final uncropped version.

So the format problem is also solvable, but why doesn’t Instagram allow for rectangular images to be posted natively in the first place? If we check out their Media Endpoints documentation, we find this relevant bit:

At this time, uploading via the API is not possible. We made a conscious choice not to add this for the following reasons:

  1. Instagram is about your life on the go – we hope to encourage photos from within the app.

  2. We want to fight spam & low quality photos. Once we allow uploading from other sources, it’s harder to control what comes into the Instagram ecosystem. All this being said, we’re working on ways to ensure users have a consistent and high-quality experience on our platform.

I suppose it’s a valid point, although I still think they’ll eventually need to evolve and accept reality. For better or worse, Instagram’s popularity has grown well beyond smartphones and sooner or later, the service will need to reflect that. Constraints and limitations are a good way to keep your product focused and true to its original vision, but all services need to evolve at some point. For example, Twitter recently announced they’re getting rid of the 140-character limitation for DMs, and it’s only a matter of time before they do the same for regular tweets as well.

“Golden Light”. Canon EOS 3 with Kodak Portra 160 film.

Megapixel race? What Megapixel race?

The final problem when it comes to uploading pictures from your dedicated camera to Instagram is the fact that Instagram resizes all images before publishing them. Even though you do get to save a high-resolution image to your phone’s Camera Roll, you’re the only one who gets to see that file. Everyone else will only see a 640px by 640px resized version. That may be enough to see your images on a mobile device’s screen, but it severely limits Instagram’s appeal as a serious way for photographers to publish and distribute their work.2

Una foto publicada por Álvaro Serrano (@analogsenses) el

Above: Instagram’s 640px by 640px file. Below: High-resolution version generated by InstaSquarer and saved to Camera Roll. Both pictures scaled for Retina displays — that is, displayed at half their native resolutions.

Not a great social citizen

Let’s say we’ve managed to jump through all these hoops and our pictures are finally on Instagram. Yay us. Now we’d like to share these pictures to other services like Flickr, Facebook or Twitter, for example.

“Beautiful Strength”, featuring Brenda Stecconi. Canon EOS 3 with Fuji Superia 400 film.

On the ease department, Instagram gets top marks. Once we’ve connected our Facebook, Twitter and Flickr accounts to our Instagram account — a process that only takes a couple taps to complete — sharing to these services is only a single tap away. Plus, we can also share our description and even the location where the image was taken.

All social sharing options on Instagram are only a single tap away.

This works very well because Instagram was born primarily as a sharing service built on Twitter’s backend. In the early days, everyone would share their Instagram pictures on Twitter and it seemed both services were destined to merge one day.

That all changed, of course, when Facebook bought Instagram to the tune of one billion dollars in April of 2012. That sounded like a lot of money at the time but looking back, it was probably the bargain of the decade considering how much Instagram has grown since then.

With Instagram now being owned by Facebook, their sharing priorities seem to have changed. Integration with Facebook continues to be excellent, albeit with some of the same limitations that apply to all sharing options. They do allow you to select where you want to share your images, in case you manage several Facebook pages, which is a nice touch. And Facebook will display a link back to your original Instagram picture in the description, which is also useful.

In the case of Twitter, sharing was a bit of a mess until Instagram integrated their userbase with Twitter’s own. It used to be that if a user you @mentioned on Instagram had a different Twitter handle from their Instagram username, things usually became confusing on the Twitter side. However, and somewhat surprisingly, Instagram fixed this back in October of 2012, roughly six months after being acquired by Facebook.

And finally in the case of Flickr, the whole process is relatively straightforward. After sharing on Instagram, your image will appear on your Flickr photostream, along with any accompanying text you may have included. There are precisely zero customization options though, which is unfortunate. It would have been nice to have at least an option to publish the images in a particular album, for example.

“Smile”. Olympus OM-D E-M10 with Panasonic Leica 25mm f/1.4 lens.

Unfortunately, even though sharing Instagram pictures with other services is remarkably easy, things are not so rosy when it comes to the quality of the shared files. By default, Instagram will only share the resized 640px by 640px images, which is just ridiculous. There’s simply no good reason why they couldn’t share the original high-resolution images other than being overprotective and defensive. The 640px by 640px image size is self-imposed by Instagram’s own design, but none of the other services share that limitation.

Una foto publicada por Álvaro Serrano (@analogsenses) el

Instagram’s low-resolution images are already barely suitable for embedding in websites, and considering the quick adoption of desktop Retina displays, the situation is not going to get any better.

There are ways to overcome this problem, though. Apps like IF by IFTTT — hat tip to Richard J. Anderson for this one — will allow you to automatically share the high-resolution images that Instagram saves to your phone instead of Instagram’s own resized versions. Best of all, the images will be shared as native Twitter images, together with a link back to your Instagram picture.

The IF app by IFTTT automatically posts Instagram pictures to Twitter as native images.

High-resolution picture automatically posted as native Twitter image by the IF app, including original image description and a link back to the Instagram post. Click on the image to enlarge.

These solutions work fairly well, but they remain an unfortunate necessity and they’re only really appropriate for those instances where you’re fine with cropping. Otherwise, you’d be posting a square photo with white borders to Twitter as opposed to the original rectangular version, which makes just about as much sense as tweeting the low-resolution Instagram version when you think about it. None of these are real long-term solutions, and it’s Instagram who should give users the option to share high-resolution images natively.

The fact that they won’t share the higher quality files with other services is very indicative of Facebook’s priorities for Instagram. They won’t outright eliminate every other sharing option, but they clearly can’t be bothered to work on improving them anymore. Unless something — or someone — forces their hand, it looks like things will stay the way they are for the foreseeable future.

Final words

All this goes to show that there are many non-trivial issues preventing Instagram from being a reliable, convenient way to share pictures from a dedicated camera which, frankly, makes its recent boom among models and professional photographers all the more difficult to understand.

“Memories of Summer”. Canon EOS 3 with Kodak Portra 160 film.

Una foto publicada por Álvaro Serrano (@analogsenses) el

“Memories of Summer”, as shared on Instagram.

Facebook knows all this, of course, which leads me to believe it may not be a lost cause entirely. That said, Facebook is also a particularly greedy company, so I wouldn’t be surprised if any potential improvements were exclusive to Facebook sharing, at least initially.

Whatever they do, Instagram’s biggest strength — much like Facebook’s — comes from their enormous userbase, and that’s not going away anytime soon. They can afford to take their sweet time because it would probably take years for any competing service to eclipse that massive userbase. Besides, any changes would need to be carefully studied in order to not jeopardize usability for the existing users, so the situation is not easy to resolve. Still, I’m hopeful.

If I were a betting man, I’d say Instagram will probably start doing something about this sooner rather than later. The photography and modeling industry is just too attractive and profitable to be ignored for long, and it’s only a matter of time before these users start actively demanding better features tailored to their own particular usage.

I just hope Facebook is listening.

  1.  If you shoot JPEGs, that is. For whatever reason, iOS remains unable to handle RAW files.

  2. Which is of course an entirely deliberate choice made by Instagram, as they state in the quoted excerpt above.

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Amazon launches new Kindle Paperwhite with high-resolution screen →

June 17, 2015 |

The new $119 Kindle Paperwhite has a 300 ppi screen, just like the one in the $199 Kindle Voyage. It also includes support for Amazon’s new typographic engine, with features like their all-new Bookerly font and hyphenation, which will be added via a future software update.

Compared to the Kindle Voyage, the only features the new Paperwhite doesn’t have are the glass display, the dedicated page-turning buttons and the auto-adaptive brightness technology that automatically adjusts display brightness depending on ambient lighting conditions. Those are all nice to have, but definitely not deal breakers. For my money, that makes the new Paperwhite a fair better deal.

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Sony at E3 2015: the 11 most important announcements →

June 16, 2015 |

Adi Robertson covers Sony’s announcements in yesterday’s E3 keynote for The Verge. There are plenty of awesome games coming, most notably among which are The Last Guardian, Uncharted 4, Shenmue 3 and the long, long awaited remake of Final Fantasy VII, which is one of my all-time personal top-2 games:

It appears Sony is throwing the kitchen sink at the PS4, and I couldn’t be happier. I suppose one could argue that these are all well-established franchises and that the lack of some high-profile new and original releases is somewhat worrying. Then again, any chance I can get to kick Sephiroth’s treacherous ass all over again is fine by me.

There are still a few months to go before any of these titles are available, and some of them won’t show up for well over a year but if they live up to their names, it’ll be well worth the wait.

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Panic’s upcoming Firewatch game will be released on PlayStation 4 →

June 16, 2015 |

Cabel Sasser:

We’ve already announced that Firewatch will be coming first to the Mac and PC. (And at WWDC we announced that the Mac version will support Metal for ultimate performance and fidelity! We’re really excited about this.)

But we just announced the other half of the equation…

Firewatch will also be coming to your PlayStation 4.

Great news, and yet another perfectly good reason to buy a PS4. I’m still living happily with my PS3, but some of these recent announcements are making my 1-click-buying finger extremely nervous. Check out the trailer they put together for Sony’s E3 keynote:

I can’t wait to get my hands on this game.

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The ATP World Tour re-launches flagship website — and fixes exactly nothing

June 15, 2015

ATP staff, in an official statement released earlier today:

LONDON – The world’s leading tennis website devoted to men’s professional tennis stepped up its game today with the re-launch of the ATP’s flagship website,

Delivering an enhanced, immersive experience across multiple platforms, the full breadth of the website’s vast content and statistical information is available for the first time on smartphones and tablets. Following a successful soft launch over the weekend, the enhancements can be seen immediately on the ATP’s responsive-design English-language website, with the re-launch of its Spanish website to follow shortly. The ATP’s Chinese website will re-launch later this year.

What a train wreck of a redesign.

All that “responsive-design” talk on the official statement above is complete and utter bullshit. If this is the ATP stepping up its game, then tennis fans around the world are all pretty screwed.

Before the redesign, only limited functionality was available on mobile devices. The majority of sections simply refused to load, redirecting users to the homepage instead and showing fans exactly how much the ATP cared about responsiveness for years.

The new site, on the other hand, loads all the elements just fine on Mobile Safari, but that’s about the only good thing I can say about it. This is without a doubt one of the worst mobile designs I’ve seen in a pretty long time.

The guessing game

Allow me to walk you through how some of the site’s great new responsive elements work on an iPhone 5S:

Partial view

Loading the homepage gets you a zoomed-in partial view by default, so you’re only seeing part of the content. That would be pretty bad in and of itself but worst of all, there’s no way to zoom back out and see the entire page. If there’s a full-width picture on the site — and there often are — there’s no way to see the entire image area.

Incomplete headlines

Came here for the headlines? Too bad. We hope you’re good at figuring out which words were cut out, or that you don’t really care about these thumbnails because no matter what you do, we won’t show you both at the same time.

Incomplete sections

Who’s the current World No. 2, FedEx? I didn’t know they played. And how many points do they hold? Is it 9,500,000? That doesn’t seem fair. Who’s No. 1 then, UPS?

Incomplete banners

Challenger Tour. Freaking Yeah!

Incomplete galleries

Who’s that guy in the blue shirt? All I’m getting is that Rafael Nadal blasted into his first grass-court fine, for some reason. Perhaps he was driving cross-country and broke the on-grass speed limit. Is that a thing? And how exactly does one blast into a fine? I’m no expert, but I think you’re doing it wrong, Rafa.

Those were just a few examples — there are plenty more where those came from — but you get the idea. And though some could be described as fairly minor issues, some of them are just ridiculous. I mean, what’s the point of having an image gallery if you can’t see the actual images?

Serious design takes work

The ATP World Tour’s official website has a long, sad history of being atrocious when it comes to mobile optimization, and the new version does little — if anything — to address that. What a wasted opportunity. They finally do a complete redesign after years of neglecting the website, and they manage to screw it up on the most basic elements.

All this goes to show is there are no shortcuts to doing great work. Responsive design is hard, but the ATP has no excuse. This is not a couple guys in a basement we’re talking about, it’s a major conglomerate that moves hundreds of millions of dollars around every year. They can afford it. This half-assed attempt is embarrassing to watch, and all the PR-speak in the world won’t fix it.

That, in 2015, a major sport’s website can’t even get the basics of responsive design right is appalling. That it comes right on the heels of a major redesign is quite simply inexcusable.

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Morning Coffee, issue #2

June 13, 2015

It’s been an interesting week, marked of course by Apple’s WWDC. This is a very special part of the year because most of the people I admire and follow on the Internet get together for a few days in person, and for a brief moment we get to see them as real people, outside of their Internet personas. I love that. That there also happens to be an Apple event during the week is just icing on the cake.

But there was indeed an Apple event during the week and in typical fashion, the long-awaited WWDC keynote came and went, leaving behind tons of speculation and replacing it with almost-certainties about the future.

This time around though, there were lots of different things about Apple beyond the keynote itself. We’re not used to seeing Apple Vice Presidents talking to the press, much less to the independent press in an unscripted recording in front of a developer crowd that was live streamed and watched by millions of viewers. It just doesn’t happen.

Well, this week it did happen, and boy was it awesome. John Gruber hosted the annual live episode of his podcast, The Talk Show, and the guest of honor was none other than Apple’s own Vice President of Marketing, Phil Schiller. If you haven’t watched the video yet, you can find it here.

Now, Schiller is a pretty cool and smart guy, and he knows it. He clearly knows he can handle himself but even then, he was still taking a massive risk by putting himself in such a position. That he did it at all sends a pretty strong message about Apple’s newfound openness when it comes to dealing with the media and frankly, it’s refreshing.

That said, the reason this interview was so special was obviously John Gruber. He managed to turn what could have been just another Apple PR event into a genuinely interesting conversation for the audience. He wasn’t overly pushy with questions he knew Schiller wouldn’t answer, but he did press him on a few important topics and got honest answers that really showed what’s important to Apple and what their vision for the company is. That’s a pretty hard balance to strike and in my opinion, John did it masterfully.

All in all this was a great week for Apple, with plenty of cool announcements for both developers and customers alike. If you’d like to read more about it, I published my own thoughts on the announcements and the event the day after the keynote.

Now let’s move on to some of this week’s most interesting pieces of writing.

Issue #2: on WWDC, making a hit podcast, Stan Wawrinka, the economy and taking a 16-year-long holiday

Naturally, a number of links in this week’s issue are WWDC related, but there’s also plenty of great stuff about photography, tennis, travel, politics and more. Let’s get to it.

Live with Phil | Marco Arment →

Marco pens a great analysis on Schiller’s appearance on The Talk Show. I pretty much agree with everything he said in this piece, and I envy him for having the opportunity to shoot some awesome pictures of the event. Definitely worth a read.

Initial thoughts on iOS 9’s iPad multitasking: a deep transformation | Federico Viticci →

When Apple announced the new multitasking features for iPad on iOS 9, pretty much everyone on my Twitter timeline went crazy — myself included — and we all thought of the same man: Federico Viticci. He’s been asking for serious productivity features for the iPad for nearly as long as the iPad has existed and in this week’s keynote, he finally got his wish. Here are his initial thoughts on these much-awaited features.

How to launch a top 20 podcast | Aaron Mahnke →

Aaron Mahnke shares the secrets that took his Lore podcast to the 11th spot overall on iTunes, which is just ridiculously huge:

I use a condenser mic, which is apparently not a good thing. $99 microphones cannot create popular podcasts (snicker, snicker). Until last week, that mic sat on a cardboard box on my desk, with no shock mount or boom arm. Like a cave man. I use GarageBand to edit the episodes because Logic seems to be developed by a team of NASA engineers and cryptozoologists. Plus it’s expensive. I have zero “acoustic treatments” in my office, which is shaped roughly the same as the Great Pyramid of Giza and contains nothing but hard surfaces.

I’m breaking the rules, guys (don’t tell mom).

The triumph of Occupy Wall Street | Michael Levitin →

Terrific piece for The Atlantic on the Occupy Wall Street movement and the work they’ve done on income inequality, environmentalism, student debt and more. Their potential impact on the 2016 Presidential elections should not be underestimated.

How to build a meaningful career | Amy Gallo →

Solid career-building advice over at Harvard Business Review. I don’t usually go in for these pieces, but I admit this one was full of interesting information and sound advice from beginning to end. If you’re going through a coasting period in your career or if you’re trying to find your true call, you may want to check it out.

Stan Wawrinka: tennis’s unlikely, deserving champion | Kevin Craft →

Last Sunday, Stanislas Wawrinka shocked the tennis world by winning his first French Open title at Roland Garros over Novak Djokovic, the overwhelming favorite and current World No. 1. Earlier in the tournament, Djokovic had beaten 9-time champion Rafael Nadal, claiming his first win over the Spaniard on the red clay of Paris in seven attempts. After that milestone win, Djokovic seemed poised to complete the Career Grand Slam by winning Roland Garros, the only major tournament he hasn’t won yet, but Wawrinka had different plans. Having beaten World No. 2 Roger Federer himself in the quarterfinals, Wawrinka was not about to give up without a fight. In fact, he fought so hard that he basically overpowered the World No. 1 from every angle, clinching the title in a shockingly comfortable 4-set victory.

This piece for The Atlantic is a wonderful profile on the unassuming nature of Stan Wawrinka and why, although his triumph caught so many by surprise, those of us who really love tennis knew better. I was so happy to see him lifting the trophy, and I’m glad the tennis world is finally giving him the respect he always deserved. A true champion on and off the court, now with a trophy cabinet to match.

Every Serena Williams win comes with a side of disgusting racism and sexism | Jenée Desmond-Harris →

On the other side of the coin, Serena Williams’s victory in the French Open final caught exactly no one by surprise. But what is surprising to me is that, no matter how many tournaments she manages to win, some people just can’t get over the need to belittle, insult and harass her on social media. In this piece for Vox, Jenée Desmond-Harris goes over this hard reality that has accompanied Serena during her entire career.

Serena Williams is an amazing athlete, and quite possibly the best tennis player of all time. She’s strong, she’s black, and she’s a total badass, too. If you have a problem with that, it’s time for you to grow up.

This is your brain on writing | Carl Zimmer →

Great article from last year, but I only discovered it this week. Carl Zimmer writes about a study on the human brain led by Martin Lotze of the University of Greifswald in Germany. The study attempted to decipher the physiological reactions of people engaging in creative writing vs other forms of writing, and also between professionally trained writers and people with no previous writing experience. Fascinating.

The beginner’s guide to film photography | I Still Shoot Film →

Incredibly useful and comprehensive resource for all film photography lovers out there. If I were you I’d start with this excellent essay by Nathan Jones: Why Film Matters.

12 films worth shooting with before they’re gone | Stan Horaczek →

Another oldie but goodie over at Popular Photography. I’ve shot with most of Horaczek’s selected films, and they’re all amazing.

The couple who went on holiday for a week - and didn’t come back for 16 years | Wales Online →

The amazing story of a couple who spent 16 years (!) circumnavigating the world on a 35-foot yatch with a budget of £130 a week. Unreal.


Like I said at the beginning, this has been an interesting week. Before finishing up this week’s issue though, I wanted to mention all the feedback I got from readers regarding this new weekly article roundup. Thanks to everyone who took a minute of their time to write in, I really appreciate it and I hope I can quickly get this section to be the very best it can be. I know I have a ways to go, but I’m working on it.

I think I’m already starting to get a sense for which pieces I should link to during the week, and which ones are better left for the weekly roundup. My current method is quite simple: anything newsworthy or time-sensitive I will probably link to as it happens, while the more reflective and editorial pieces will be left for the weekend. I think this strikes a nice balance between the urgent and the important, and I’m quite happy with the way things are turning out. Hopefully most of you will feel the same way but as ever, if you have any comments or suggestions, please feel free to send them my way.

As a finishing touch, I’d like to leave you with a cool image. This morning there was no coffee for me while I worked on this issue. The reason for that is that I’m in my hometown of Plasencia for the weekend visiting my parents, and my dad asked me to help him out with something. Not many of you will know this, but my dad has worked in the radio business for most of his life. He founded a broadcasting company over 30 years ago and at 69, he’s still going strong.

This morning he asked me to work the control room while he covered a live press event, so I’ve been working on this issue while sitting at the wheel here at the station’s HQ. I’ve always loved radio and I guess you could say it’s in my blood. I supposed that’s why I also love podcasting so much.

Who knows, maybe one day I’ll follow in my dad’s footsteps but for now, I’ll leave you with a picture of him doing what he does best. Have a wonderful weekend, and thank you for reading.

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Twitter Ditches 140-Character DM Limit →

June 12, 2015 |

Stephanie Mlot, writing for PC Magazine:

Twitter is finally removing the 140-character limit in Direct Messages. Starting next month, users can send DMs the that are up to 10,000 characters in length.

Fantastic news, but it comes right on the heels of Dick Costolo’s sacking. I wonder if he opposed this change of if the two moves are completely unrelated. In any case, this will be great for users and in the long run, probably for Twitter as well.

That said, the question needs to be asked: how long before they remove this limit for regular tweets too, not just DMs?

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Jordan Steele on the Sony A7R Mark II →

June 11, 2015 |

Jordan Steele:

However, Sony didn’t stop with those improvements: they’ve introduced a new shutter mechanism, rated for 500,000 actuations and with much lower vibration than the original A7R. Plus it gains electronic first curtain shutter and completely electronic shutter capabilities. They also added 399 phase-detect autofocus points to the sensor, which should give improved AF, even compared to the A7 II. The biggest thing with the new AF system? Adapted A mount lenses can use the PDAF autofocus system and focus as quickly as on the native DSLR (or at least as fast as the native E-Mount lenses can focus. DPReview noted that their testing even showed Canon EF mount lenses via the Metabones EF-E adapter to utilize the PDAF points and focus as quickly as a native Canon body. This is HUGE. Canon shooters can switch over now and use their lenses with near native AF speed if they so choose.

If this checks out it’s going to be huge indeed. Up until now, the only thing stopping me from buying one of the A7-series cameras had been the slow AF performance of adapted Canon glass. If this new AF system is indeed able to match the AF speed of native Canon bodies, many people are going to start wondering why the hell they should stay with Canon.

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Christopher Lee dies aged 93 →

June 11, 2015 |

Sad news today. Benjamin Lee, writing for The Guardian:

Sir Christopher Lee has died at the age of 93 after being hospitalised for respiratory problems and heart failure.

The veteran actor, best known for a variety of films from Dracula to The Wicker Man through to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, passed away on Sunday morning at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London, according to sources.

The decision to release the news days after was based on his wife’s desire to inform family members first. The couple had been married for over 50 years.

Christopher Lee was definitely one of the all time greats. I loved the insane intensity and total commitment with which he inhabited each and every one of his roles. There were far too many of them to pick one as the cornerstone of his legacy, but I’ll always have fond memories of Francisco Scaramanga, the cold-blooded assassin he portrayed in 1974’s James Bond movie, The Man With The Golden Gun. That movie was a personal favorite of mine growing up, and Mr. Lee’s performance was mostly to blame for that. He will be sorely missed.

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Sony A7R Mark II with 42.4 MP back-illuminated sensor officially announced →

June 10, 2015 |

Today Sony officially announced their new A7R Mark II camera, boasting a 42.4 MP back-illuminated full-frame sensor and the same 5-axis in-body image stabilization system found in the recently announced A7 Mark II, which was fine-tuned to match the performance of the new high-resolution sensor.

Other improvements over the original A7R include the ability to capture 4K video in Super 35mm format as well as full-frame 35mm format — that is, using the entire sensor surface as opposed to only a central crop. It also includes improved AF performance with 399 AF points and a new Fast Hybrid AF mode for video recording.

On the minus side, the new camera is still not fully weather sealed, with Sony claiming only dust and moisture resistance as opposed to full water or splash-proofing.

The new Sony A7R Mark II looks like an amazing camera, with many substantial improvements over the previous generation, as well as over the A7 Mark II. However, with a recommended retail price of $3,200, it will not come cheap. It will be available for preorder on June 17.

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