In today's episode I talk about the new iPad Pro announcement this week from Apple, Insta360 under fire and Canon's R1 which hasn't been officially announced yet.

You can find the show notes here.

Show Notes

Greetings everybody you’re listening to the Liam Photography Podcast, I’m your host Liam Douglas and this is Episode 402 for Thursday May 9th, 2024. In this week’s episode Apple’s new super thin iPad Pro, Insta360 Under Fire and Canon’s EOS R1.

New iPad Pro

After much anticipation and rumors, Apple has finally unveiled its redesigned iPad Pro tablets. These tablets feature the largest OLED display Apple has ever used, the company’s newest silicon chips, and a sleek new form factor. There’s a lot to like here for photographers and videographers on the go.

“We’re not going to just push the limits of what you can do on iPad, we’re going to crush them,” Apple promises.

Extremely Thin Design

The iPad Pro sports a new design, display, improved performance, and revised accessories. The new iPad Pro still comes in 11- and 13-inch models, although the new 13-inch version is Apple’s thinnest product ever. Yes, ever — even thinner than the old iPod Nano.

The 11-inch iPad Pro is just 5.3 millimeters thick, while the 13-inch model is even thinner at 5.1 millimeters.

The 11-inch iPad Pro weighs just 0.98 pounds, while the larger 13-inch model is a mere 1.28 pounds, which is about a quarter of a pound lighter than the prior 12.9-inch iPad Pro. The devices are also constructed using 100% recycled aluminum and come in silver and “Space Black” finishes.

Beautiful OLED Display with Perfect Black Levels and Beautiful Colors

Apple has finally embraced OLED technology for iPad Pro to deliver inky black levels. However, OLED displays can be a bit limited in terms of peak brightness, at least in a small form factor like a tablet. So Apple has combined two OLED panels, dubbed Tandem OLED, to achieve higher brightness.

There are presumably other reasons apple has gone this approach beyond achieving a higher peak brightness, including achieving the desired image quality and power efficiency in a thin panel. While there have been rumors of tandem OLED technology for a while, it seems Apple is the first to bring the solution to market — assuredly with the help of one of its typical display partners.

Despite rumors to the contrary, the “Ultra Retina XDR” display is available on both iPad Pro models. It offers a peak brightness of 1,600 nits while maintaining truly perfect black levels. Full-screen peak brightness is capped at 1,000 nits. In either case, there is some serious contrast, which Apple says will be incredible for HDR photos and videos.

For pros requiring matte displays and more consistent color performance in different lighting conditions, Apple is bringing its Nano-texture etched glass to iPad Pro for the first time. This glass ensures minimal reflections when working in bright environments, which should be a welcome addition to photo and video editors and artists.

However, the Nano-texture option is only available on iPad Pro models with at least 1TB of storage. Plus, the upgraded display is an extra $100 anyways, so the price is getting pretty high here.

Regardless of the size or display type chosen, Apple says its new iPad Pro models feature the company’s most advanced display technology ever — not just for iPad, but for anything Apple has made.

Apple Debuts M4 Silicon for the iPad Pro

The new iPad Pro also gets a brand-new Apple chip: the M4. This is the first time Apple has debuted new silicon in a tablet, so the iPad Pro has gone from M2 to M4.

Thanks to the jump from M2 to the new M4, the new iPad Pro is up to four times faster than the prior generation. These new chips are great for another exciting announcement for creators — Final Cut Pro 2, more on that soon.

The M4 offers up to a 10-core CPU and a 10-core GPU. It sports three-nanometer technology and over 28 billion transistors. The M4 supports dynamic caching, hardware-accelerated ray tracing, 120GB/s memory bandwidth, and more.

Given that Apple is all-in on AI these days, it should come as no surprise the M4 has some Neural Engine improvements, too. It is faster and more efficient than prior Neural Engine iterations and has a 16-core design.

While top-end performance gains are exciting for power users, efficiency matters more for some tasks. Apple says that the M4 can deliver the same power output as the M2 using half the power, which should be a boon for battery life.

New Cameras

The iPad has never been particularly adept at taking photos and videos. Apple hopes to change that with a new 12-megapixel rear camera that shoots 4K ProRes video via an f/1.8 lens

A new front-facing TrueDepth camera has also moved from the top to the side, ensuring that it works better when the iPad Pro is used in landscape mode.

Although there are new cameras on the new iPad Pro, there are also some omissions. The last-generation iPad Pro sported a 10-megapixel ultra-wide camera — that is not present on the new iPad Pro. Apple has gone back to the single rear-camera setup of much older iPad Pro models.

USB-C Port with Thunderbolt 3 and USB 4 Support

The new iPad Pro supports speeds up to 40GB/s via its USB-C connector, meaning it can connect to an extensive array of external devices, including Apple’s Pro Display XDR at its full 6K resolution.

iPad Pro also supports Wi-Fi 6E; the Wi-Fi + Cellular version supports 5G with eSIM. However, it is worth noting that the previous iPad Pro with cellular had a physical SIM card slot. Further, mmWave support has been removed in the new iPad Pro, although Apple has not yet explained why

Apple Brings a Real Keyboard to iPad Pro

While the previous Magic Keyboard is fine, it lacks some critical features for power users, including function keys. The new Magic Keyboard is thinner and lighter while delivering direct access to functions like volume and brightness — much like a MacBook Pro keyboard.

It includes a refined, larger trackpad and an aluminum palm rest. The Magic Keyboard’s trackpad also offers haptic feedback, and the device has a USB-C port on its machined aluminum hinge. The port isn’t new, but the hinge design is.

Unsurprisingly, the Magic Keyboard isn’t cheap. The 11-inch version is $299, while the 13-inch version is $349. Both will ship next week alongside the new iPad Pro.

Apple Pencil Pro

Many artists like an iPad and Apple Pencil combo, and that is true of the iPad Pro series as well. The new iPad Pro works with Apple’s new Pencil Pro.

The new Pencil is taller, has USB-C, supports Find My for the first time, and promises improved accuracy and gesture support. Users can squeeze, double-tap, or snap using the Pencil Pro. Rotating the barrel changes pen and brush shapes in supported apps and supports hover functionality. It will be interesting to see if photo or video editing apps fully utilize these new functions.

The Apple Pencil Pro is $129 and ships next week.

What Apple Says About its New iPad Pro Tablets

“iPad Pro empowers a broad set of pros and is perfect for anyone who wants the ultimate iPad experience — with its combination of the world’s best displays, extraordinary performance of our latest M-series chips, and advanced accessories — all in a portable design. Today, we’re taking it even further with the new, stunningly thin and light iPad Pro, our biggest update ever to iPad Pro,” says John Ternus, Apple’s senior vice president of Hardware Engineering. “With the breakthrough Ultra Retina XDR display, the next-level performance of M4, incredible AI capabilities, and support for the all-new Apple Pencil Pro and Magic Keyboard, there’s no device like the new iPad Pro.”

And what says PetaPixel? Apple’s event will be a hot topic on this week’s podcast, so be sure to tune in to hear what photographers and video editors think about the new device.

Pricing and Availability

The 11-inch iPad Pro starts at $999, while the 13-inch version costs $1,299. The base models include 256GB of storage, with 512GB, 1TB, and 2TB options, pushing the price up to $1,999 and $2,299, respectively. The Nano-texture glass, available only on 1TB and 2TB models, adds $100 to the total price. Opting for a cellular model adds $200.

This means that without accessories or a case, the most expensive iPad Pro in Apple’s lineup is $2,599.

The new iPad Pro is available to order now, and shipping starts next week.

Insta360 Under Fire: What the Company Did to Lose Trust and How It Hopes to Win it Back

Insta360 has been having a tough go of it lately on the public relations front. While the company undoubtedly hoped it would be basking in the afterglow of a successful X4 release, it has instead been mired in controversy concerning its interactions with content creators.

Allegations of Improper Conduct Concerning Sponsored Content

Thanks in large part to YouTube creator Faruk Korkmaz, who goes by iPhonedo, Insta360 has been under a microscope for the past couple of weeks, and it hasn’t been pretty. iPhonedo was a longtime Insta360 partner, and based on information shared by other creators and his personal experiences, he has recently scrutinized Insta360’s recent interactions with content creators.

Allegations include increased toxicity, unfair demands, and perhaps worst of all, claims that Insta360 has asked some creators not to disclose sponsored content — a severe violation of trust and, no less, a crime.

Insta360’s Response One of Regret

For its part, Insta360 has been relatively quiet, even as other creators make videos of their own. This is due at least in part to the company’s Chinese headquarters being on holiday last week. Nonetheless, the company chatted exclusively with PetaPixel over the phone to explain a bit more about allegations being made against the company on social media, where the company has failed to live up to expectations, and what it intends to do differently moving forward.

“Exclusively” is used here because, according to Insta360, nobody else contacted the company with questions about the claims made against it.

It is worth discussing the most significant claim first: that Insta360 asked some creators not to disclose when content was sponsored. This is a substantial violation of trust, and it asks creators, at least those in the United States, to commit a crime.

“The issue about asking creators to mention or not mention sponsored posts, we investigated this internally,” Insta360 tells PetaPixel. “It was an isolated incident that affected a handful of creators, probably less than 15 or so out of 1,500 creators.”

Pushing a bit further, Insta360 admits that the issue was primarily with new hires who were necessary for Insta360 to maintain personal communications with all its creator partners. The company insists on handling these relationships internally and says that with a growing creator network, it needs more employees.

PetaPixel can attest that Insta360 performs all communications internally, which, while not entirely unique, is not necessarily common.

Insta360 Says Incomplete Documentation and Insufficient Training Caused Problems

Insta360 says the sponsorship issue resulted from incomplete training processes and poor internal documentation, which the company is currently addressing.

“We are taking this extremely seriously and we’re going to make sure that all of our new employees have proper training,” the company says. The revised documentation and training process should take a few weeks to complete.

“This is not a practice the company supports at any level,” Insta360 says of the requests not to disclose sponsored content.

As for how all the bad press is being propagated, Insta360 says it is taking “this incident with these two influencers who are out there spreading information about us very seriously.”

Insta360 explains, “We’re going to implement some new policies” to avoid these sorts of issues.

The company says the ongoing controversy will “help us scale our marketing team and understand how we navigate the world as a bigger company and not just a startup.”

“It’s been really helpful the last week to hear how people are feeling about these things because it is going to give us some learning and it is going to enable us to grow more in the future based on the changes we implement,” the company explains to PetaPixel.

Amid Growing Controversies, Insta360 Hope Its Products Speak for Themselves

“We’re going to continue innovating, we’re going to continue putting out rock solid products that people love, and this cloud of judgment that people are putting in over whether an influencer’s video is fake or if it’s not fake at the end of the day it’s going to take a backseat because we’re not faking anything. The products speak for themselves.”

On the one hand, Insta360 is correct — its products are impressive, although the company is now facing some pressure from GoPro and the United States government concerning patents; add that to the growing list of troubles the company is facing.

“We’re confident that this matter will be resolved in our favor. There will be no impact on current business operations. We remain committed to creating innovative products for the world and helping people capture and share their lives,” the company told PetaPixel in separate communications regarding the patent situation.

As for improving its communication with partners and media, Insta360 says the team has been “all hands” on deck, and the steps it must take to ensure nothing like that happens again will take “a couple of weeks to a month.”

Integrity is of Utmost Importance

Given that PetaPixel has worked with Insta360 before, both in terms of organizing review units for cameras and through sponsored content, it is essential to note that PetaPixel will always follow not only the law concerning labeling sponsored content but go above and beyond to ensure that readers and viewers always know when something is sponsored content.

If a company ever requests otherwise, it will be rejected in no uncertain terms because it is entirely unacceptable for a company to request that sponsored content not be identified as such.

Bringing this back to Insta360, the company made numerous errors in judgment and professional conduct and violated the trust of its partners and customers. The company appears to take responsibility for these missteps and is taking corrective action to prevent similar mistakes.

Ultimately, it will always be down to the consumer to determine what content they trust. It is important to know that some of what is being said about Insta360 is true, albeit in a limited scope.

While the company didn’t directly address iPhonedo’s other accusations of increasing toxicity, it reiterated that it has experienced growing pains and has room to improve its internal guidelines concerning communication with content creator partners in the Insta360 network.

It doesn’t necessarily matter much, but part of what makes Insta360’s mistakes incredibly frustrating to creators is that the company’s products are good — more than good enough to stand on their own merits without any deception.

Due to mistakes on multiple sides, inadvertent and intentional, the line between authentic, honest content and paid advertising has become increasingly blurry on social media platforms. No company, no matter how big or small, gets a pass.

On the other hand, a company is ultimately a collection of people, and all people make mistakes. Time will tell if Insta360 has successfully learned from its errors to come out the other side a better company, but the first step is acceptance, and it seems to have managed to do that.

It Might Not Be Possible for the Canon EOS R1 to Overcome Its Expectations

There have been murmurs of an “EOS R1” camera for more than three years now — since before Canon announced the EOS R3. The camera has been in development for at least five years and a lot has changed in that time.

Typically, the length of a camera development cycle is about three years. PetaPixel sources heard whispers of an R1 back in 2021 with an intended initial target of a 2022 launch, meaning that it had been on Canon’s radar for at least three years prior to that — let’s say 2019. Given that the R series and RF mount was announced just the year prior, it’s actually more likely that the R1 was part of Canon’s roadmap for its mirrorless series from the start, but we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt here.

Now we are rapidly approaching the halfway point of 2024 and the R1 remains a myth. Today’s news cycle brought with it a rumor that the camera has been delayed again (this time due to a buffer clearing issue), and while we don’t give rumors much credence and typically don’t report on them, this story is about expectations and with another delay — perceived or real — the R1’s burden of expectation grows ever heavier.

It’s hard to imagine that the camera Canon started with back in 2019 is the same camera it is working on now. PetaPixel sources told it last year that the main reason for the delay from 2022 to 2024 was that Canon was struggling with the sensor it wanted to put in the R1 — we didn’t get any more information than that, which means any number of things could have gone wrong.

Maybe the sensor was not clearing data fast enough, maybe it wasn’t high enough resolution, or maybe — and this is where I think the truth lies — Canon decided it could go with a global shutter or something close enough to it that it was, from a performance perspective, indistinguishable from a global shutter. Last year, separate PetaPixel sources mentioned that there was some distinct disappointment when the Sony a9 III was announced because it beat Canon to the global shutter punch, lending credence to previous sources.

Given that the latest rumor is that Canon had to delay the R1 again due to an issue with the buffer, it would make sense that changing the sensor midway through development resulted in other unforeseen issues with tangential hardware.

This entire development cycle has been nothing but hell for Canon, and while this is purely speculative, I think it’s because the company’s product development team continues to move the goalposts for this camera. That, mixed with the high expectations of the “1-series” name has made Canon constantly iterate on its design to assure it doesn’t disappoint like the R3, largely, did.

Canon is living in the complete shadow of a product it has never acknowledged it’s even working on. It can’t even start to hype something without the conversation immediately turning to, “Is it the R1?” Last week, it published a tweet that it eventually took down (which is another level of odd) and that got the rumor mill spun up on the R1 again even though the context of the tweet and the attached image wouldn’t make a ton of sense for it to have been.

All this is to say that the R1 is now trapped and completely overshadowed by its own expectations. There has never been a digital camera that has been in development this long that it was able to build up like this either. At this point, it might be entirely possible that Canon just kills the project because it knows that nothing it does will live up to this hope.

Other camera companies were referring to the R1 by name in conversations over a year ago — none of us can recall a time where competitors were referring to an unreleased, unannounced product before like this.

It’s a really tough situation to be in, and I’m afraid that no matter how good the R1 may end up being — if it ever does get announced — all Canon is going to hear is disappointment.

Personal News

On a personal note this week, my mother-in-law is still hanging in there and even doing better, it was touch and go there for a few weeks, although the doctor’s still say she can go at anytime.

My late father’s truck is being finished up this week at the body shop and the man working on it told me Monday that it is coming in cheaper than originally thought which is good. I cannot wait to get her back looking nice with the new paint and spray on bed liner. Once we get back home the only thing I’ll have left to do is add the mural commemorating my father to the rear window and I look forward to that and will post images once all this work is done.

Also while up in New York I managed to snag a great deal on a 1994 Suzuki Intruder 800 cruiser motorcycle. The bike belonged to the late father of my son Alex’s best friend Derek and Derek decided it was time to tell it and let someone enjoy it rather than having it sit rusting away in the garage. I had to put a new battery in her which if you know anything about the Intruder models from Suzuki is a chore since it’s the only bike I’ve ever seen where the battery loads in from the bottom of the bike.

On most motorcycles the battery loads down in from the top when the seat is removed. Once we got the battery in the bike fired right up and I rode it back to my son’s house but the last two miles she starting bucking and back firing so she needed plugs as well, which is no biggie, $24 and a few minutes of time later today and she will purr like a kitten again.

I also found out that Derek is looking to sell his 2012 Kawasaki Ninja 250R and I am planning to pick that up from him later on this summer as well. I have always wanted a Ninja as a play toy and the fact that it is the smallest one is fine since it will be a play bike and the cruiser will be for serious rides.

Also, when we get home Tina and I will be looking to replace her 2015 Nissan Rogue with a Chevy Bolt electric car. Our son Alex has one and they are not only a great way to save money on commutes and town driving but they are a ton of fun to drive in the so-called golf-cart mode. With all the doctor’s appts Tina and I have in Durham all the time and running 30 miles into town to shop, the Bolt will save us tons of money per year on not buying gas. Our electricity is a Co-Op so our juice is cheap and I plan to built a solar charging station for it as well by covering our carport with solar panels and using deep cycle marine batteries to charge the car.

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