2020 was s**t, but here are some of the things that didn’t send me into a spiraling depression
2020 has been a strange year. It’s been a difficult one for all of us and for some more than others. It’s been a challenge at times to look on the bright side and think of the good and fun stuff that’s happened in the world around us.
These aren’t in any particular order, but here are some of my favourite stories from this year that have made me laugh, smile, be inspired or have made me want to fire up the 3D printer or pull out the soldering iron.
Start as you mean to go on. In hindsight, this post seems like a fitting one to kick off the year. It was a little bit weird and surreal, which is exactly how the rest of 2020 has been. I never actually imagined what a GoPro spinning at 1800rpm might capture before I saw this video, but after I did, I’m glad somebody else wondered and decided to find out.
This might seem like an odd one to put on here, given that it seems to have been something of a failure, but the announcement of this camera so relatively soon after it was announced that Yongnuo had joined the Micro Four Thirds System Standards Group got me excited. It still does get me excited. Sure, the original iteration might not have been great, but this whole idea holds a lot of potential and promise for the future of cameras, and not just from Yongnuo, either.
I’ve been experimenting a lot with my own DIY LED projects this year and seeing what I can make them do that might offer me benefits outside of the usual commercial options from the likes of Godox, Spiffy Gear, Nanlite, Aputure, etc. So, I’ve been following the LED journeys of Matt at DIYP Perks, as well as several others, with keen interest this year. We’re still waiting for the follow-up video to this one, but I can’t wait to see it when it’s done!
We’d never advocate animal cruelty here on DIYP, and Mark Rober did everything he could to ensure that his Squirrel Ninja Obstacle Course was as safe as it possibly could be for the squirrels that attempted to take it on. And as a former NASA engineer, you know anything Mark designs is going to be overkill and over-engineered to perfection. It’s always nice to see him using his powers for such hilarity.
This one was kind of a “Surprise! But not really” sort of an event this year. Rumours had been around for years – which had been constantly denied – but then suddenly, nope, the rumours turned out to be right. Perhaps those rumours were always true and Olympus just didn’t want to admit it publicly. Or maybe they just one day decided “Yeah, maybe the rumours are right, we should probably just sell”. I’m sure we’ll never really know, but I’m looking forward to seeing how Olympus carries on under the ownership of JIP.
I watch a lot of DIY YouTubers, and not just in the fields of photography, video and lighting, but just generally making stuff. But because they’re YouTubers, they’re creating videos for a living and sometimes they decide to go a little extra. One of the people I watch occasionally is Jonathan Katz-Moses, who decided to film the stopping power of the Sawstop with a Phantom high-speed camera at 19,000fps. Seeing something that acts so quickly being slowed down so much really shows you the level of engineering that goes into some of the extreme products we use in the most beautiful of ways.
I’m a big fan of buying cheap stuff just to see if it’s any good – especially lenses. Can it really stand up to its more expensive competition? Even a little bit? A lot of my favourite lenses are some of the cheapest (or oldest) that are available today, so when I saw this one from Tommy, Mitchell and Stephen at TMS Productions, I was immediately fascinated. I don’t think anybody would be using this lens to shoot fast-action sports or wildlife. It just doesn’t have the speed. And it’s certainly not the sharpest one out there, but at $120 or less, it sure does look like a fun toy!
This is one that many people have been waiting for, the follow-up to 2017’s Panasonic GH5. Mirrorless technology, particularly when it comes to Panasonic and video, has come a long way in the last three years. Their full-frame lineup is more capable than just about anything that existed in the mirrorless world only a couple of years ago, but the Micro Four Thirds sensor still has a pretty huge fanbase (myself included). Only two weeks after initial word that a GH6 had not been ruled out, Panasonic announced that it was definitely coming… At some point. They didn’t say when, but I have a feeling that this is a camera that will definitely be going on my list.
Facebook always seems to be dealing with some controversy or other over the past couple of years, but outside of Zuck’s International and American legal issues, not to mention Facebook’s latest problems, this will probably be the most memorable for a while. Yes, that’s right, it’s the time they thought a photo of some onions was just too sexy for Facebook. Richard Fairbrass would be proud.
DJI has had a stronghold on the global drone market for quite a while now. Things might be about to change with the recent addition of DJI to America’s blacklist, especially as Sony has announced that it was planning to enter the air with a range of drones all of its own. Sony’s experience in the consumer electronics market is pretty much unparalleled. They’ve led the way in a number of industries throughout the years, and I think that if they really set their mind to it, they’ll present DJI with some much stiffer competition than GoPro ever could have – even if they hadn’t failed miserably.
Those aren’t the only stories that have gotten me excited, inspired, made me laugh or think “wtf?” this year, though. Also worth mentioning is Sigma journey into space with the Sigma fp. Hopefully, that’s something they’ll revisit once they sort out the lens fogging issues! After 16 years on the market, Nikon issued a recall for the Nikon F6 35mm SLR and then finally retired the model completely just a few months later.
2020 not only brought us the world’s first 8K resolution mirrorless camera, but also Blackmagic’s insane 12K resolution URSA. Sigma’s been working on making their popular Art lenses smaller and better, specifically for mirrorless cameras. Deep learning AI technology has let us see videos of people and places from the past in ways we’ve never seen before.
We’ve seen some pretty awesome DIY projects, too, including this open-source 6-axis motion control rig that was made primarily from 3D-printed parts, as well a 3D printed reproduction of a $10,000 camera stand that actually does what it’s supposed to and works as intended.
While 2020 might not have been a great year for many of us, there were certainly a lot of good and interesting things that happened.
Over the next week or so, hopefully, we hope that you can all enjoy the Christmas and New Year and tackle next year with renewed enthusiasm. We can’t wait to see what you create in 2021!
John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.