News editor Chris Cheesman looks back at the year's ups and downs

January-Nikon-D5500January

  • As the festive season ended, Nikon unwrapped the D5500 DSLR, featuring a new vari-angle touchscreen.
  • Fujifilm primed its new X-A2 compact system camera for a March debut. It would feature a 175° tilting LCD screen and ISO extendable to 25,600.

Feb-EOS-FDS-and-5DS-R

February

  • The Mark II version of the Olympus OM-D E-M5, boasted a 40MP composite mode.
  • Canon served up a double helping of high-resolution DSLRs with the 50.6MP EOS 5DS and EOS 5DS R.
Simon-Morris_United-Kingdom_Shortlisted_Open_People_2015[1]

Image by Simon Morris/Sony World Photography Awards

March

  • This image by Simon Morris was among five by UK amateurs to be shortlisted at the Sony World Photography Awards.
  • The D7200 became the first Nikon DSLR to support a Near Field Communication (NFC) wireless system.

Nikon 1 J5April

  • A photo of Durdle Door, a Dorset hotspot favoured by many photo enthusiasts, won a £10k landscape photography prize for local man Ollie Taylor.
  • The 4K video-enabled Nikon 1 J5 joined the growing army of compact system cameras to adopt a retro look.
John-Moore_United-States_L-Iris-d-Or_2015_4

Image by JOhn Moore, US, L’Iris D’Or/Photographer of the Year/Sony World Photography Awards

May

  • US photographer John Moore struck the $25K Sony World Photography Awards’ jackpot with his powerful photos documenting the Ebola crisis in Liberia.
  • Pentax added Pixel Shift Resolution to its K-3 II, but took away the built-in flash featured on its predecessor.

Mary-Ellen-MarkJune

  • The photography world mourned the death of documentary photographer Mary Ellen Mark (left), aged 75. She had been a headline speaker at the Photography Show in Birmingham in March.
  • Sony debuted its new flagship full-frame camera: the Alpha 7R II, boasting a 42.4MP imaging sensor.
Albert-watson-OBE

Image by Gloria Rodriguez

July

  • RG Lewis, set up by a man recruited as a British spy before the Second World War, closed down its last store.
  • Scottish photographer Albert Watson (right) was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Tamron-lensAugust

  • Canon showcased a ‘4 million ISO’ video camera, the ME20F-SH, built for uses such as astronomy filming and wildlife at night.
  • Tamron claimed a world first with its 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC zoom, billed as the lightest in its class.

OM-D_E-M10_Mark_IISeptember

  • Olympus added 5-axis image stabilisation and chunkier dials to its OM-D E-M10 for a Mark II incarnation more classically styled than its predecessor.
  • 10,000 cameras were primed to photograph archaeological sites in the Middle East feared to be under threat from Islamic State.
Don-Gutoski_-Wildlife-Photographer-of-the-Year

Image by Don Gutoski

October

  • Canon’s EOS M10 features an 18MP sensor and Digic 6 image processor.
  • Amateur photographer Don Gutoski landed Wildlife Photographer of the Year, beating professional entrants in the process.

a68_frontLargeNovember

  • Deer oh deer. Amateurs were accused of interfering with the mating habits of the four-legged residents of Richmond Park, London.
  • Sony announced the Alpha 68, a 24.2-million-pixel A-mount model that uses a 4D focus system plucked from the Alpha 77 II.
Red.Bull-Illume-image-quest

Image by David Carlier/Red Bull Illume

December

  • Ilford Studio inkjet paper was billed as the ‘digital equivalent’ of traditional papers.
  • The Red Bull Illume Image Quest 2016 searched for ‘mind-blowing’ action images.

What’s up in 2015

  • High-pixel cameras.
  • Uncompressed raw shooting.
  • Slow-motion video, as used by Moneypenny.
  • 4K cameras.
  • Death-defying rooftop photography.
Dave-Tyler,-blind-photographer

Registered-blind Dave Taylor lands dream role as photographer at football club

instagram-app-iconWhat’s down in 2015

  • Paparazzi – blasted for alleged tactics over Prince George.
  • Selfie sticks, which kill more people than shark attacks.
  • Bizarre 1932 tripod rule, which ensnares Guardian editor on London’s Hampstead Heath.
  • North Korea, which blocked access to Instagram within its borders.
  • Lens cameras, as Olympus dithers over launch of Air AO1 device in Europe.

A world exclusive under our noses

One of the biggest stories of 2015 was very close to home – within striking distance of the AP newsdesk, in fact. AP was the first to report that previously unseen Beatles photos had been found after languishing in boxes for 50 years, alongside forgotten images of other famous names from the 1960s.

Beatles, John and Paul

Superb unearthed stills of The Beatles at Granada Studios in 1965. All images www.timeinccontent.com

The Beatles photos, captured during a shoot at Granada Studios in Manchester in December 1965, were among around half a million newly discovered images from the worlds of music, sport and entertainment captured by photographers for TV Times magazine, which is based in the same building as AP and shares the same publisher, Time Inc (UK).

It turned out that only a tiny fraction had been published before they were stuffed into A4 envelopes inside boxes at the British Film Institute in London – and had seemingly been forgotten about ever since.

Beatles, JohnIn all, 11 rolls of black & white film of the Beatles were unearthed – plus a roll of colour – from a television show called The Music of Lennon & McCartney.

The collection also revealed never-before-seen photos of legends such as Woody Allen and Peter Sellers.

Beatles, PaulFor each image published there were up to ten rolls of film.

A crazy plan… and a rogue tripod

shard

The Freedom of Panorama plan was overruled by a huge majority of MEPs. Image by Andy Westlake

Every so often photographers are confronted by a threat to their liberty that’s so serious, it triggers a mass outpouring of resentment. This was the case when a bonkers plan emerged to change European copyright law, requiring photographers to obtain permission from architects – and possibly pay them royalties – before publishing pictures of tourist attractions.

 

Similar curbs on the use of commercial images of buildings in public spaces are already in force in some European countries but, thus far, not in the UK. Luckily, the plan to abolish Freedom of Panorama did not pass, thanks to a vigorous campaign led by organisations including AP and a petition that attracted more than 500,000 signatures. AP contacted every UK MEP and, in the end, an overwhelming majority of MEPs voted against the move.

On a lighter but no less bizarre note, The Guardian’s then-editor Alan Rusbridger was stopped over the use of a tripod on London’s Hampstead Heath, under an 83-year-old by-law. The editor was with photographer David Levene and his assistant when police gave Rusbridger a written caution.

March of the drones

Billed as the ‘must-have’ gift for Christmas last year, drones developed a more sinister side in 2015. There was growing evidence that they pose a real danger to our skies and to people, amid reports that the devices were being flown close to commercial aircraft.

As drone camera maker DJI promised greater camera control for the photographic enthusiast with the Phantom 3, safety warnings by aviation experts went unheeded.

Phantom-3-droneNigel Wilson, 42, from Bingham in Nottingham, was convicted of flying drones over buildings and congested areas, and banned from flying drones for two years in the first prosecution of its kind in the UK.

Wilson pleaded guilty to nine offences in contravention of the Air Navigation Order 2009 after flying a drone over Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament and football stadiums.

But the march of the drone was unstoppable, as commercial drone-use permits doubled in ten months, and organisers of the UK Drone Show in Birmingham had to add an extra date to their event in December due to demand.

All this was happening as Forbes business magazine reported that DJI, the world’s largest consumer drone maker, had grown to be worth $10 billion.

Waging war on ‘Armageddon’

In 2015 we were warned to archive our digital photos properly – and if at all possible print them out – to avoid losing them forever.

In what doom-mongers swiftly dubbed ‘photographic Armageddon’, the lurking 21st century menace was first raised by Google vice-president Vint Cerf. He warned of a ‘digital dark age’, where data stored on computers will be lost forever.

stored data

Stored data is vulnerable to a potential ‘digital dark age’

Then, right on cue, photographer Jacques Nadeau, from Montreal, Canada, lost up to 50,000 images captured during a 35-year career, when thieves stole hard drives from his home.

Experts lined up to say we should back up our images in triplicate and store them in different places. However, there seems little use storing pictures on hard drives and USB sticks if the devices wear out in years to come.

And will machines be around to play back files stored on CDs and DVDs in 50 years’ time even if the discs last that long?

Headline-grabbing, scaremongering? Not according to Kodak Alaris, which cautioned that a potential 11.8 billion photos are lost in the UK owing to our ‘nonchalant attitude to protecting content’.

Research also revealed that 30% of people have lost photos due to ‘defunct tech’, yet only 12% print them out.

Megapixel ambitions and ambience-sensing cameras

Anyone who thought the megapixel race had drawn its last breath had better think again.

Although it was a relatively quiet year, camera-wise, for Nikon, Canon wasted no time in kicking off 2015 with two 50.6-million-pixel full-frame DSLRs aimed at professional photographers in the form of the EOS 5DS and EOS 5DS R.

Canon-250mp

Canon revealed plans for a 250-million-pixel sensor

Later in the year, Canon proudly declared it was developing a 120-million-pixel DSLR. Not content to stop there, the company also revealed plans for a 250MP imaging sensor capable of distinguishing lettering on the side of a plane around 11 miles (18km) away. It hoped the sensor would be used in surveillance cameras and other industrial equipment.

No less intriguing was Nikon’s prediction of a future where cameras can sense the ambience of the moment, ‘read emotions’ and automatically change settings such as colours and tones to reflect factors like temperature and lighting.

The new sensory technology could change how we see and experience images over the coming decades. A world of ‘contextualised cameras’ will treat us to a new generation of sensor technologies, enabling future cameras to read the external ambience of a moment.

contextualised cameras

The idea of ‘contextualised’ cameras taken hold

Such cameras, added Nikon, ‘will adapt to the situation being photographed, by enhancing certain colours, tones, exposure and contrast levels to reflect and enhance the emotion of the image as the photographer intended’.

A year in numbers

30% of film users are under 35 years of age [source: Ilford Photo]

50 years since Elliott Erwitt shot images of Che Guevara and Fidel Castro

6,500 images submitted to Food Photographer of the Year 2015

£100 press photographers were told to pay this sum to shoot the Notting Hill Carnival

52% of photojournalists admit they sometimes stage images

25,000 Fox Talbot prints and negatives exist [source: The Bodleian Libraries]

20,000 people attended the first Photo London photography fair in London

48 stores run by Jessops, which collapsed under former owners

$628k worth of prints allegedly stolen from photographer Steve McCurry

460,000 Instagram followers of Eelco Roos who quit his IBM job to pursue photography