Business of Photography

Canon: we’ve hit a roadblock. And, it’s over…

I never thought I’d write this post.  I’ve been with Canon for years; my first ‘real’ film camera was  a Canon, my first DSLR and every camera since until this week was a Canon.  I owned several L lenses; I never thought I’d be here writing about switching platforms and ‘going Sony’, but here we are and that’s exactly what I’m writing.

Three days ago, Canon marked down its 3rd quarter outlook due to weak digital camera sales.  How big was the hit? Just a minor $10 Billion dollars!  Now, I’ve been thinking about writing my “breaking-up with you Canon post” for a few days, and now with the Canon earnings outlook, I thought: “yah, I better get on this”.  I figured I should tell Canon why just a few thousand dollars of the big $10 Billion were not coming from me.  So, how did we get here?

I remember when the first few micro 4/3 cameras made it to market in 2005/2006.  “Mirrorless, bleh,” I remember thinking.   Sure these new-fangled mirrorless cameras were small and light, but micro 4/3?  I couldn’t understand why anyone would want a sensor even smaller than APS-C.  Who would want a smaller, noisier, sensor just to save a bit of carry weight?  Besides, how good could the lenses be- Canon has a history of excellent lenses?  I rightly outright dismissed the early Olympus and Panasonic cameras.  No serious photographer would really go mirrorless.

In June 2010, though, Sony released the Nex-7 and things got interesting.  APS-C sensor, 10 frames per second, OLED viewfinder, in-camera HDR, whoa. Sure the lens collection wasn’t big, but Zeiss lenses…now we’re talking!   Tempting, but still just APS-C (I wanted big, clean, pixels!).  I’m wasn’t about to dump my 5D Mark II.  The Nex-7 was compelling, but it wasn’t compelling enough.  Besides, I had a big Canon lens investment.  I wasn’t going to switch but, for the first time, I thought:  “not bad mirrorless camp, not bad.”

As one Sony Nex camera after the other was released, I thought: “Canon is going to respond- there’s market here.  I wonder what Canon will do?”  And, what did Canon do?  Canon waited a full two years after the Nex-7 before announcing the EOS M- a camera as compelling as dental surgery.  It was as if Canon said: “Let’s think of the worst camera we can make, and let’s make it mirrorless.  Maybe then those kids out there will see the error of their ways and buy DSLRs.”  Predictably, no one bought the EOS M.  The AF was slow, the ergonomics were less than impressive, and no one was interested- at least I wasn’t

Things got more interesting just a few months after the announcement of the EOS M.  In September 2012, Sony announced the first full-frame mirrorless: the RX-1.   Ok, it had a fixed 35mm f/2 lens, but still: it had a full-frame sensor (and that was a Zeiss lens boys and girls.)  What did Canon do? Canon waited a full year before releasing the less than compelling EOS M2 (a me-too 18megapixel APS-C with slightly improved AF and built-in wifi).  Mind you Canon announced the M2 just 3 days before Sony announced the A7 and A7R (24 megapixel and 36 megapixel full-frame pro class cameras that turned the world upside down).

Some would call the A7R the iPhone moment for the Canon blackberry.  I wouldn’t go so far.  Canon still has a fantastic product line, but Canon was dug in and, it seemed, worried about cannibalizing its own product line.

Sony A7II

Sony’s A7II full-frame mirrorless just made it into my camera bag

Canon, it seemed, just wasn’t seriously interested in the mirrorless market.  But, guess what, photographers were.  Specifically, I was.  I wanted a small, light, full-frame body- not to mention the host of features Sony was touting (focus peaking, manual assist, OLED EVF, the list goes on).  Canon, wants me to buy a DSLR.  I looked at the 5D Mark III many times, but I can get a larger sensor, excellent image quality (not to mention fantastic dynamic range) and a host of features from the Sony A7II.  And so, I write this as the last few bits of my Canon gear sit on eBay.  Last week marked the farewell to my 5DMKII and all my L lenses.  It also saw the purchase of a Sony A7II and Zeiss lenses (Zeiss 16-35 f/4 FE and Zeiss 24-70 f/4 FE.)

Canon: I wanted it to workout, but it didn’t.  Maybe one day our paths will cross again, but right now, I don’t see it happening.  Switching platforms was not easy and if Sony keeps on innovating like Sony has been (hello A7RII, you beautiful beast), I won’t switch back.  Canon now has 10 billion reasons ($) to build a pro-grade mirrorless camera and I hope Canon does as competition can only make things better.  Who knows, maybe I’ll pickup a Canon again someday, but not now.  Now, I’m building my  Zeiss lens collection.

Adobe’s Photoshop Photography Program: Is it right for you?

Adobe Photoshop Photography Program

 

Adobe announced the Photoshop Photography program today.  It seems like a great deal for photographers who were largely non-plussed (read: outright enraged) by Adobe Creative Cloud.   So let’s talk about it.

What is it?
If you currently own any version of Photoshop CS3 or higher, you can get Photoshop Creative Cloud, Lightroom 5, a Behance membership with ProSite, and 20GB of storage for $9.99 per month.  Yes, you can also get Bridge CC for your $9.99.

Why does it matter?
At $19.99 for photoshop alone, Creative Cloud just didn’t make sense for photographers.   You see, way back when, before the world went to the clouds, you could buy Photoshop upgrades for $199 roughly every 18months.   All was well with the world – and if you ever wanted to skip a version or two you were ok.  Sure you wouldn’t have the latest and greatest, but you were still working.  In the  least, you could get the latest Lightroom upgrade and get new tools to add to your war chest.

Then came Creative Cloud.  At $19.99 per month that $199.99 you used to pay ballooned to $359.82 (that’s $19.99 x 18months for ye math types).  Ouch!  Oh, and stop paying, and your software stops working- no Photoshop for you!  Insurrections and rebellions ensued; posts and posts were written on blogs and social media (even on this blog) about how Creative Cloud just wasn’t a good value.

Now, though, Adobe has listened and sweetened the deal.   Now, you only pay $9.99 per month – that’s $179.82 every 18 months.  But that’s not all, now you also get Lightroom, Behance, and 20GB of storage. But, and it’s a big but, you still have to pay every month.  You don’t pay, you don’t work.  On the plus side, this isn’t an introductory price for 12 month only.  Adobe has been very explicit about explaining that this the price.  So, Adobe gives you more, but you’re expected to let Adobe into your pocket every month.

The catch(es)
There’s always a catch and in this case there are a few:

  1. You have to have previously owned a version of Photoshop CS3 or higher.
  2. You have to sign up by December 31, 2013.
  3. If you stop paying at any point, you can’t get the $9.99 price again.

Should you get it?
Is it a deal?  Should you jump on it?  Think of it this way: if you give up 2 lattes month, you can get the latest and greatest photoshop has to offer.  If you’re making money in photography: buy this when it releases.  Also, if you were someone who regularly paid for Photoshop upgrades in the past then the answer is yes.  What’s the worst that can happen?  You downgrade back to your old version of Photoshop and buy the latest Lightroom.  That’s not the end of the world.  Yes, it’s a major pain, but at least you’re still working.

If, on the other hand, you’re not making at least $120 per year on your photography then don’t buy it.

I suspect the major pain point is photographers don’t want to feel like Adobe is in their pocket every month.  Understandable – I don’t like it either, but I do feel like Adobe is meeting me halfway here.  I’m getting more for my money if I think of photoshop as a service.  I’m much more comfortable with the ~$180 every 18th months than the ~$360 Adobe wanted me to pay.

I’ll admit, I’m a bit worried about Adobe luring me in then doubling the price in a couple of years.  Can this happen?  Yes: Adobe holds all the keys, but, Adobe was pretty adamant about the stability of the price.  So, time will tell.  Again, what’s the worst that can happen?

If you still can’t stand it.  Well, enjoy your lattes.  They’re yummy and you’ll get a nice caffeine kick twice a month.

If, however, you’re going to buy in, you still have to wait a couple of weeks for Lightroom 5.2 before buying.   Just remember, you have to pick it up before December 31st, 2013.

Finally, you can read the Adobe announcement here.

Adobe Photoshop Creative Cloud and What it Means to You

(This article was contributed by Kevin Graham, owner of DSWfoto.  Kevin is an Orlando based Wedding, Event, and Portrait Photographer.)

Adobe Photoshop Creative Cloud

Yesterday, Adobe made an announcement at the Adobe MAX event – Adobe Photoshop Creative Cloud (CC) is replacing Adobe Photoshop Creative Suite (CS). They demoed a bunch of new fun features, most of which I’ll never use, and then slipped in a piece of information – Adobe Creative Cloud will be available in a subscription-only plan.

Like a bad circus magician, Adobe moved on to the next act, “Look at this shiny new hardware pen where you can”…. Woah. Wait a second, rewind. Did you just say that Photoshop can’t be purchased anymore?

The Internet erupted, as it loves to do when any cheese is moved. And, then the rumors and misinformation began to flow, which also the Internet is so great at.

So, let me state the facts first:

  • Photoshop CS6 is the last version that you outright own.
  • Adobe is using the word Cloud “creatively” in their branding:
    • You don’t access Photoshop via a browser.
    • You don’t need an Internet connection to edit your photos.
    • Your images don’t belong to Adobe.
  • Photoshop Creative Cloud is $19.99 a month. The more commonly recognized suite of all of the Adobe software is $49.99 a month. This suite includes all of the tools that you, as a Photographer, never really cared about.
  • You can still buy Photoshop CS6 (B&H has it on sale for $590).
  • Lightroom will still be available to purchase, although they do include it in the $50 suite.
  • Photoshop CS6 will still be supported in the next version of Windows and MacOS.

Pricing (bunch of numbers)

There’s a lot of spin both ways on pricing. Adobe says it’s cheaper with their fuzzy math. End users are saying it’s extremely expensive with their equally fuzzy math.

So, what does it mean to me? These charts are done on some grounded facts:

  • Photoshop upgrades have always been $199 and come out every 18-24 months. (For this chart, I’m assuming a more aggressive 18 month schedule)
  • Photoshop costs $699 retail.
  • Adobe Photoshop CC for new customers is $19.99 a month.
  • Adobe Photoshop CC for existing customers is $9.99 a month for the first year (if you switch by July 31, 2013) and then it goes to $19.99
  • Some bureaucrat decided years ago that 5 year plans were pertinent, so these charts are based on a 5 year(60 month) cycle.
  • Prices are based on US figures. Adobe has even more confusing international prices that I’ll never attempt to figure out.

So, let’s let the charts speak for themselves.

Adobe Photoshop Creative Cloud - Pricing 1
Chart 1 – Buying Adobe Photoshop Today.

This chart shows what the costs would be to someone who purchased Photoshop brand new today. It’s assuming the purchase and subscription models continued to live in parallel.

If you aren’t upgrading every 18 months, it’ll take 3 years before the price of the subscription would have bought you Photoshop.

If you are upgrading every 18 months, at the 5 year mark, Creative Cloud is still cheaper. So, maybe Adobe is correct?

Adobe Photoshop Creative Cloud - Pricing 2

Chart 2 – For those (such as myself) that already own Photoshop

This chart tells a much different story. This pertains to all of those that have already invested in Photoshop. Later this year would have marked the 18 month mark for CS6. So, it’s assuming we would have been shelling out the $199 for the upgrade. But, long term Creative Cloud is going to be costing us more money from today forward.

What this chart doesn’t show is the person who already purchased Photoshop and has no plans on upgrading. Their ongoing cost will be $0.

Oh, these charts don’t show one “minor” other thing.. At month 61, you still own Photoshop CS. You don’t have to spend a dime to use it.

Removal of Consumer Choice

The fact is, Photoshop hasn’t had competitors for years. They could have doubled their prices and people would have screamed, but we would have still bought it. Adobe Photoshop is $699 today not because of the “ingenuity” of the product, but because of the lack of competition.

The only time we could tell Adobe that we weren’t awe-inspired was when they would release a new version of CS. We would look at the features and decide if it was worth upgrading, or save the money. It was a good relationship in that Adobe was pressured to innovate to appeal to us. CS4 offered nothing for Photographers, and many spoke out by not upgrading.

Switching to a subscription model takes that choice away from consumers. What if Photoshop lays stagnant for the next few years? People will still be forced to pay that money to get the already existing features.

I wouldn’t be surprised honestly if Photoshop does become stagnant. A recent episode of the The Grid listed features we want to see in Photoshop and the best that Scott Kelby and company could come up with is a “Do it again” option.

The options Adobe has been “Teasing us” with are more so centered on what they can do on a mobile solution than the bread and butter Photoshop. That is further proof that even Adobe is running out of innovative ideas.

Did I need CS7? CS8? CS9? Possibly not. Adobe may have known that, which makes today the perfect time to take that choice away from me.

The only thing I do know that I need future Photoshops for is their support with newer camera models. Every day, I read comments like, “Why doesn’t CS3 read my D800 raw files”. If I stick with CS6, I know I won’t be able to open RAW files from the 5dmk4 or the D900.

Face it. Photoshop is now just like your utility company. When was the last time you looked to your water company for some great ingenuity? But, you still continue to pay that bill each month.

Buy vs. Own

The core issue to me is stability. I bought my home instead of renting one. I bought my car instead of leasing one. I prefer to buy my software instead of renting it.

Nobody knows our future and what it may bring. If my bank account suddenly read $0 tomorrow, I at least own my home, my car and my copy of Photoshop.

Adobe’s Roadmap

I have a hard time understanding Adobe. It almost seems to me that they are scurrying. They’ve never been upfront about their roadmap and it makes it very hard to make a decision investing in them ($699 is an investment. So is paying $20 a month in perpetuity).

When Photoshop CS6 was announced, I had an option. I could have upgraded from CS5 to CS6 or I could have jumped on the cloud. I chose to upgrade to CS6 for many reasons. But, one of those reasons was knowing that I’ll be able to upgrade to CS7 someday. How little did I know. Perhaps if Adobe had been more forthcoming at that time, my decision would have been different.

Adobe Creative Cloud is Adobe’s roadmap/future (for now….). Could they change direction again in a couple years? Quite possibly. Would knowing their 5 year vision help me make better decisions? Absolutely.

Adobe Lightroom / Photoshop

The big elephant in the room here is Adobe Lightroom. It’s a tool I use 10x more than Photoshop, and the two go together like peas and carrots.

Since its’ inception, Adobe has not known what to do with Photographers. We use Photoshop and Lightroom. Adobe offered all sorts of bundles, but never a Photoshop/Lightroom bundle. Why not? It would have made sense. Heck, they even had a Photoshop/Premiere bundle.

Adobe still doesn’t know what to do with this. Tom Hogarty, product manager for Photoshop, was on the Grid just last Wednesday asking for help. I viewed it as Adobe’s way of saying, “We really don’t know what to do”. Now that I know a little more facts, Tom knew what was going to be announced and knew he didn’t have answers.

Could Adobe come up with some Photoshop CC bundle for Photographers? Perhaps. But, right now they aren’t offering that. In the meantime they are putting pressure on us to upgrade to CC by July 31st at a reduced rate. Again, how can I make these decisions when Adobe is holding back on options?

Adobe Lightroom Retail

It was announced that Lightroom will continue to exist as a retail purchase. Aside from the Creative Cloud suite, there is no other way to rent Lightroom.

That’s with good reason. See, unlike many of the other Adobe tools, Lightroom doesn’t have the market cornered. There are plenty of other Digital Asset Management and basic photo editing tools out there – Photo Mechanic, Capture One, On One Photo Suite, iPhoto, Aperture, etc.

Lightroom hasn’t matured yet. There are countless improvements that they need to still make to this tool in order to compete. This gives a compelling argument to continue the “Oooh! I gotta buy the latest version of Lightroom” mentality that we used to have with Photoshop.

Conclusion

It’s hard for me to make a conclusion since even the Adobe Product Manager and the NAPP president have come out saying that there isn’t a cloud option that makes sense for photographers.

I do know that Creative Cloud, as it exists today does not appeal to me. I don’t want to be paying $20/month for the less than exciting features announced.

The best thing about Lightroom is that it is the true bridge to Photoshop. My one definite need for having the latest Photoshop is support for new camera models. Thankfully, Lightroom can continue to be that tool.

So, I’ll continue to use Adobe Photoshop CS6 and upgrade to Lightroom 5, Lightroom 6, etc.

Of course, as soon as I make that decision, Adobe will change their direction again.

From Amateur to full-time professional

QT Luong from TerraGalleria.com published a six-part article about his journey from an amateur photographer to a full-time pro.

QT covers everything from his early forays into photography to how to use web effectively and what income streams photographers need to leverage in order to be successful.

This is a fascinating read that holds nothing back.  If you’re looking to make the switch, this is a must read.

Checkout Part 1 of the full article here and be sure to read it all the way through:
http://terragalleria.com/blog/2011/04/07/ten-years-ago-terragalleria-com/
(from TerraGalleria via APhotoEditor)

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