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Mike Smith
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Articles written by Mike Smith

Protests Are Iconic, So Why Do We Want a Riot?

If there is one type of news story that is a recurring theme in journalism it is the protest. Think "Tank Man", "The Burning Monk", or "Taking a Stand in Baton Rouge" (with Ieshia Evans). They stick in the memory, their iconographic status forming a peg from which we hang related memories. So why then are we more interested in riots as opposed to protests?

Canon Benefits From the Death of the DSLR

Notwithstanding problems with ramping back up production to pre-COVID levels, manufacturers have been generally optimistic about the emerging camera market as consumers start spending money that has been hoarded over periods of lockdown. Canon looks set to be the big beneficiary, but what about the other manufacturers?

Why Does the Nikon Z fc Have an APS-C Sensor?

Nikon's new Z fc has been widely praised for its return to retro styling and — indeed — taking the design cues of the much loved FE/FM series. It's one thing to make a retro camera, but it's quite another thing to sell it. So, who is it targeted at?

Is This the Oldest Photo of a US President?

It is a truism that the rich and famous are early adopters of the latest technology. Given that photography was unleashed on the world in 1839, what is the earliest surviving photo of a US President?

The A Mount: Sony's Future That Never Was

Sony's not a camera company or at least hasn't been until relatively recently. Its heritage is as un-optical as any recent manufacturer can be and is certainly far removed from the heritage of the likes of Nikon, Canon, Leica, and Pentax. Yet, among the gravestones we see littering the photographic landscape, it seems likely that the A mount will soon join them, finally severing any link to the past. So, why wasn't the A mount Sony's future?

Who Was the First Global Social Media Travel Infuencer?

You take photos, you write books, you're published in weekly and monthly newspapers and magazines, and travel the world with the sole purpose of... traveling. You sound like one of the early social media influencers of the 2010s who was "living the dream," constantly on the road, distributing a drip of photos and articles to the travel-enthused general public. However, it's 1888, and your name is Frank Carpenter.

Medium Format: Why Did Fuji Get It Right and Pentax Get It Wrong?

Leica pretty much took the world by storm with the 35mm camera, and manufacturers haven't looked back since. In the film and digital realms, 35mm has been the mainstay for any serious photographer, however, it is also true that those who wanted a little bit "more" went medium format. This tended to be the mark of certain professionals with a price tag to match. So, why then is Fuji capitalizing on a digital market that Pentax seemingly had at its feet?

Is Nikon's Business Heading in the Right Direction?

Another day, another dollar. In Nikon's case, it wishes it had a whole load more dollars, as its annual financial report shows significant losses. So, is it making progress to get itself back on a level footing with Canon and Sony?

What Does the Future Hold for the Camera Manufacturer?

The film era was a cash cow, with cameras being high-precision instruments from specialist manufacturers and because they used film that needed developing and printing, a huge service sector that surrounded it. From the 1960s onward, the sector innovated and grew at breakneck speed. And then, it fell apart. Is that about to happen for digital?

Is the Camera Industry Recovering Post-COVID?

The last year has been pretty dire for the camera industry, as the impact of COVID forced a general shutdown of manufacturing and sales outlets. As parts of the global economy have reopened, we have seen the shoots of revival start to spring up. Will the camera industry return to its 2019 pre-COVID levels?

If Fuji's Instax Is the Cash Cow, Should It Produce Digital Cameras?

Fuji's Instax line of products — the legacy of its film heyday — is successful. They've sold more than 50 million cameras, with 10 million alone in the 2019 business year. However, more than that, it's the financial powerhouse for its Imaging division, turning over twice as much money as its digital counterpart. It's strange to think that film is where the money is, but for Fuji, that is the case. So, why is it making digital cameras?

Camera Industry Expects Sales to Slide Further

CIPA recently released February shipment figures for the camera industry, which paint a picture of mixed fortunes and a complex path ahead for manufacturers. This generally looks to be positive news for Sony and Canon but is a warning for Nikon and Pentax.

Is Canon's R3 Enough to Challenge the Sony a1 and Nikon Z 9?

The Sony a1 has arrived and the Nikon Z 9 was recently been announced, so it's now Canon's turn to make an announcement about its forthcoming top-end camera, the R3. Last month, I compared Canon's then top-end R5 to Sony's and Nikon's offerings, commenting on the different strategic approaches of the three companies. Now that the R3 has arrived, what does it say about Canon's approach to the burgeoning mirrorless market, and what are the portents for Sony and Nikon?

Not the Moulton Barn: Carol Highsmith's America

It's not the famous Moulton Barn in Jackson Hole and those definitely aren't the Tetons rising majestically in the background, yet this image of a barn in Idaho is perhaps more impressive. Not because of what it is, but what it represents in the form of the Carol Highsmith Archive.

Why Is the Best Photo an Instant Print?

In an age of digital, of Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat; photos are de rigueur when it comes to promoting yourself. News is fast, which means if you want to get noticed, you need to be faster. The tool of choice is obviously the smartphone because it can take and deliver photos instantly. So, why on earth is an instant print desirable?

Is 35mm the New Exotic Focal Length?

I've never been terribly attached to 35mm as a focal length of choice and, given I'm principally a prime lens shooter, it was the last focal length I bought. In short, 35mm is passe, so why now do I find myself attached to it?

Should You Buy Photography Products From Kickstarter?

The traditional route for startups to bring great product ideas to market was to fund them directly or find willing venture capitalists to invest. The advent of crowd platforms such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo have dramatically changed the product funding landscape, and this is as true for photography as elsewhere. So, should you buy products from the likes of Kickstarter?