If you haven’t seen Pixelrights – check it out…

When friends of yours start up a new business it is natural to wish it well and then forget all about it until you see those friends again. That’s kind of what happened with me and Pixelrights. Shaun Curry, one of the founders is an old mate and when he rang me out of the blue a while ago to explain his new business venture I was happy for him and offered my support as I would with pretty much any of my friends.

A few months later Shaun got back to me and asked to ‘borrow’ a couple of pictures for their development website. Always happy to help I sent him a couple of JPEGs and signed up for email, Facebook and Twitter feeds to remain abreast of their progress. Once more, nothing much happened and then Pixelrights offered to develop the new website for The BPPA and suddenly there I was having an in depth explanation of their ideas complete with a demonstration of what their idea could offer.

Passive supporter becomes active advocate over the course of one afternoon. I love the idea and I really love the fact that these are people doing what they are doing for money AND for the love of what they might achieve. So what is Pixelrights? Here’s a cut and paste from their own concept page:

Working in photography and the visual arts ourselves, we wanted to create something that we would not only use, but also enjoy using. We saw the need for simple, functional yet sophisticated portfolios which would serve photographer’s interests and needs, in an honest manner with no marketing trickery.

Pixelrights provides a secure, simple, classically-presented choice of website designs, backed up with state-of-the-art technology, all for a single price. There are no hidden charges to remove branding, no divisive price plans and no subscription fee traps.

What it actually provides is a portfolio of the simplest form with good image protection and the option to allow carefully controlled and monitored sharing. There are quite a few design options and there will probably be more by the time the current “Beta” phase is completed. I have three folios on my pages and I have a range of hidden galleries which are invite only so that clients can go and look at images that I have uploaded for them to Dropbox making use of a cool and simple interface. The whole point of a beta phase is to gather opinions of users and make things even better and that’s exactly what is happening.

I’d strongly recommend that you go and check out Pixelrights for yourself and the best way to get there is via my members page. Make sure that you look at the features and the pricing because this is a good idea from good people with an awful lot of backing from working photographers.

The new Canon EOS5D MkIII – to buy or not to buy?

The heart says “YES” but the wallet asks “WILL IT PAY FOR ITSELF?”

One of the worst kept secrets in the photography world over the last few weeks seems to have been the exact specifications list of the new Canon ESO5D MkIII. When an email arrived in my inbox this morning it was headed “We’ve been listening, so now you can too!” An intriguing headline if ever I heard one… but what is it referring to? Could it be the addition of a headphone socket for video shooters? Could it be the vastly improved sound of the shutter over the slightly apologetic click and whirr of the mark 2? Maybe it is the rather good ‘silent’ shutter option? Who knows.

And to some extent, who cares? The decision that working professional photographers now need to make is whether or not buying one or two new camera bodies alone will be justified on purely financial grounds. I have written before about the calculations that you need to make before deciding to invest in new gear. The sums here are pretty easy to do:

  1. List price including VAT £2999.00
  2. Life expectancy of a pro body 36 months
  3. 3 years servicing costs £300

Take 1. and add 3. then divide by 2. = £91.64 which is the cost per month including VAT of owning the camera. Buy two and you double that. You could argue that the kit will have a residual value when you have finished with it and sell it on. I’ve just phoned a couple of dealers to see what my old Mark II bodies will be worth in part exchange. I was honest about their age and condition and was told that I’d be lucky to get £900 each. Factor that into the equation and the cost per month of the new camera would come down to £63.86 a month inc VAT each, which equates to £56.71 excluding VAT.

That’s the health warning over. What does this camera offer me? To start with I keep a Canon EOS7D as a back-up camera as well as for use when I need better auto focus that the 5D MkII can offer. I guess that the improved AF on the 5D MkIII will remove 50% of the need to have that 7D. The new camera also boasts improved low-light performance – which would be more than useful for me too. In fact, every improvement they have made is a definite bonus but exactly how I monetize those bonuses is a tough call. I know that I’d like to replace my three year old cameras with nice shiny new ones, now  all I have to do is to justify the costs. I look forward to the three hundred Canon EOS5D MkII Vs Nikon D800 comparisons. For most professionals swapping systems represents a massive cost and so it would take an awful lot for me to swap to the D800 – even if I thought that I could afford the extra storage space that using a 38 megapixel camera would mean. For me, the more important comparison will between the MkIII and the wonderful, if flawed, MkII.

I haven’t used the camera yet and so I will reserve judgement until I have. I’m not going to bother to cut and paste the whole press release either so if you want the opinion of someone who has handled the camera you can read what Getty Photojournalist Brent Stirton thought about using it on assignment in France or go to wedding photographer Jeff Ascough’s blog about it or if you want an anorak style description of what it does you can go to DP Review. I hope to get to play with it soon as well as the very interesting (if very expensive) new flash system that has also been announced today and when I do, I will be straight onto WordPress to blog about it.

To wrap it up, I just saw a great tweet originating from a user called @PolvoPolvo which said

5D3 could well go down as a gamechanger in the sense that’s its the first major release in memory not being described as a game changer