“Cameras are like beer!” Vitaly Kiselev interviewed by 43rumors.


Vitaly Kiselev is the famous hacker working on the GH1/GH2 hacking project. He just updated the new GH2 Ptool software which you can find on his website: http://www.personal-view.com/.
I had the pleasure to Interview him and I am going to post the text without any cosmetic arrangements. The language in the Interview is direct, natural and sometimes very provocative. So be warned that you are going to read some very “extreme” thoughts! Click the link below to read the veeeery long interview!

43rumors: There are so many rumors about new Nikon, Sony and Panasonic stuff in these days….

Vitaly Kiselev (V.K.): Yeah, many interesting stuff. You saw good part on Ken site about upgrade? With simple motto – if you ask about it you don’t need it.
Most of active commenters on rumor sites do not need any updates, they are just having fun waxing their carrots and looking at fancy gear pictures.
So, new big costly lenses, new bodies are good objects for lovers of carrot waxing.
This is my personal view :-)

43rumors: Yeah, but you read rumors too or not? Confess you cannot resist :)

V.K.: I do, sometimes. But I try not to comment on them.
And I see nothing wrong with waxing carrot from time to time, you know. It is healthy :-)
Just do not use gear pictures for this, ok?

43rumors: As long as you don’t confuse the rumor fun with real photography everything is fine. But I guess companies are happy with the situation.

V.K.: They are. Big corporate motherfuckers :-)
The more press coverage they get, prior release and during release, the more they sell.
No one buys things that are unknown. So, any publicity is always good.

43rumors: Actually Japanese companies do not understand that. My soruces do say companies do not like those leaks.

V.K.: I think you misunderstand them.
They do not want unauthorized leaks.
Mostly they don’t like them because leaks save some money for their competition.
They’ll spend some more time making new copy of fresh product instead of outdated one :-)
But they do like ones they made intentionally.

43rumors: But you don’t see many Nikon and Canon leaks for example. The most “leaked” companies are Sony and Samsung.

V.K.: Of course, S&S want to be leaders.
But something is really fucked up in their camera departments.
I hardly understand both companies sometimes.
It looks like their head is not connected to many important body parts.

43rumors: Let’s talk a bit about Nikon. Big news coming! Do you think those rumors about the 2.7 crop sensor mirrorless system are correct? Does it make sense to release such a system?

V.K.: It looks so.
Some Nikon proponents like Thom started again their long fucking song about “aging m43 sensors”. I think they have both a reason and request to do this :-)
About sense. It makes perfect sense. If you think about it a little.
They want to make camera that is cheap to make, but this is not most important.
Most important stuff is what they do not want new camera system users to use existing lenses or lenses from other manufacturers, including old lenses.
And 2.7x crop allow them to sell high priced, cheap to make, lenses without fear that guys could buy this perfect $50 metal stuff from 80s.

43rumors: So, will they sell those cameras or will it become a flop like most of their high-end Coolpix cameras?

V.K.: As far as I remember they sold quite a lot of Coolpix cameras.
About flop. I am not sure.
It’ll depend on too many variables.
Economic situation, also yen/dollar exchange course.
Overall I think that many will be badly surprised by actual prices of new upcoming cameras.

43rumors: On the same day (August 24) Nikon and Sony will announce their new mirrorless cameras. Who will receive more publicity?

V.K.: In the short term Sony.
On long one, it is clear – Nikon :-) More money I think.
But from pure technical side it is clear that Canon and Nikon are losers for now.

43rumors: The NEX-7 looks good or not? On paper it has AVCHD 2.0, built-in EVF etc…

V.K.: It looks good as almost every other Sony body before it.  Even better.
Most probably August 24 could be considered “EVF is now mainstream” date.
But Sony is very good to find a way to do something that makes all tech pluses into poor experience in some aspects.
Not for everyone, but for really serious “photo gear testers”. The ones who never shoot anything but test charts.

43rumors: But it looks like they are willing to learn. The firmware updates made some steps in the right direction or not?

V.K.: Yes they did.

43rumors: Let’s stay with Sony, 2012 will bring new FF cameras. Why did it take so long? Do you think Sony priority is the amateur-enthusiast market?

V.K.: FF bodies are not important, at all.
People like to talk about it. Many even buy them.
But from economic standpoint they are not very important.
Good EVFs, fast contrast AF, good video side, and specialized lenses – this is that is important.

43rumors: Uh, you make me remind the latest rumor…about Panasonic X lenses. Extreme compact, with inner focusing, power-zoom. Is that what amateurs and enthusiasts are looking for?

V.K.: Something like this shit, yes.
Something cheap, plastic with buttons to zoom in or zoom out.
And big red glowing button “Master-fantaster” so camera could zoom in automatic mode.
This allows you to get good money.

43rumors: Place your bet. Which company will make the biggest gains in share in year 2012?

V.K.: I hope it’ll be S&S (Sony and Samsung).

43rumors: Hope? Why? You don’t like C&N? :)

V.K.: C&N do not have win-win solution. This is why we see this stall.
In reality most of their lenses park is not suitable for next camera generations.
But lenses form their current advantage.
If they go out and openly say – “Guys, sell all this stuff, we are going to make new lenses made for contrast AF and video”, many people could make decision to leave this camp.
So, you must think in terms of lenses park.

43rumors: What would be the camera/lens rumor that really you would love to see on a rumor website?

V.K.: Nikon is about to file chapter 11 :-)
Or, wait. Ricoh is about to bough Nikon and rename all of the cameras and lenses into Pentax.

43rumors: LOL :) Seriously, what would you do as chief from one of those big companies?

V.K.: I think I’ll start thinking on software side.

43rumors: So the real improvements are in the software. But Asians are not so good in designing software. Maybe Apple or Google should design the UI for cameras!

V.K.: I do not agree what “Asians are not so good in designing software” :-)
It is more about US and European companies terribly bad at producing any real stuff.

43rumors: A year ago you suggested that companies should open their software (create API’s). Nothing changed in that year. Can we still hope someone will learn that?

V.K.: Yep. Mostly nothing changed only few things under the hood.
But things are slow in big corporations.
As I said previously, too much is at stake. I mean too much warm seats.

43rumors: I guess the chance is bigger to see a huge economic crash that will lead us to go back to stoneage again. Are you worried about our economic future?

V.K.: Nope.
I am like small smart suricate who looks around and you can see in his eyes how amazed he is :-)
I am trying to regularly write about most amazing things at personal-view.com .

43rumors: Let’ keep that depressive mood :)  Olympus, Ricoh, Kodak, Fuji. Who will look the worst in 2012?

V.K.: How about Canon or Nikon?

43rumors: Really?

V.K.: I do not see anything wrong with Olympus or Ricoh.
All this fucking stories of aging sensor do not mean anything.

43rumors: So you welcome Olympus decision to stuck on 12Mp sensor? For what reasons?

V.K.: For many reasons.
They concentrated on improving AF speed. Body quality.
Made really good capacitive touch screen.
Improved lens looks and quality.
High ISO RAW sensor noise is much less important.

43rumors: To tell you the truth I still use old film cameras for 95% of my photography. I use the Pentax K1000 (which I bought for $22).

V.K.: So, it is true that people like to advertise something that they do not use, nor they intent to use it in the future? :-)

43rumors: I do not advertise, I like to “talk” about products. But I do not buy the stuff. And every reader has his own needs.

43rumors:  I think there is still a lot of confusion in Internet. People are not focused on the real needs. They cannot understand the basics. Do you think the mass will “learn”? Or will the quality remain low? I mean with Internet theoretically you should improve your knowledge and skills. But it doesn’t look like this is happening or not?

V.K.:It is simple. About 5-10% of any amount of people want to learn something themselves :-)
Same with forums – about 1-5% actively contribute.
Internet won’t change this.
If someone is full of shit, browsing few web pages won’t make this shit go away.

43rumors: Can I confess you something? I hate pictures; I mean all those website full of pictures. It doesn’t excite me, I feel that overdose of brain-heartless images.

V.K.: I think that you could do revolution thing – photo site without sole photo or banner :-)
Only samples from Dostoevsky and Tolstoy :-)

43rumors: Love Tolstoy! I made one semester of Russian literature and language only because of him :) Who is the Tolstoy of photography in these days? I don’t see many.

V.K.: If you need to find something similar, you need to look at famous painters, not photographers.

43rumors: So, there is no photographer you really like? Not one of the Magnum photographers for example?

V.K.: I like many photos, but this is personal.
About photographers. May be I like couple of female ones, otherwise no, I am not gay.

43rumors: Should I really post this?

V.K.: :-) Do as you wish. But you must cite that I am not gay, really.
It is rare thing these days, big evolutional advantage.

43rumors: You are catholic?

V.K.: I am atheist, of the worst kind :-)

43rumors: That’s also a religion ;)

V.K.: Religion want you to believe, atheism do not want this. It wants you to check fucking thing.

43rumors: Let’s stop here. I studied philosophy, and this could become a very long discussion :)

43rumors: Back to cameras and lenses. What camera do you own?

V.K.: Pentax K20D, Samsung GX20 (same thing). And various Panasonic bodies.
I do not count compacts.

43rumors: Strange, why did you buy the Samsung?

V.K.: It had been much cheaper compared to K20D :-)

43rumors: If you would buy a mirrorless camera, which one would you buy (including the NEX-7 and Nikon)?

V.K.: None. I am happy with GH2 for now.
Most probably I better invest this in something like… gold, or lenses, if gold is not an option.
Camera bodies are bad investment, you know?

43rumors: Yeah I know (that’s why I own the K1000). Which lenses would you buy? Leica? Should be better than Gold :)

V.K.: Nope.
Samyang 24mm is nearest target.

43rumors: Samyang is making impressive lenses! High mage and body quality for a low price!

V.K.: And as it turned out, quite big amount of MF guys exist in this world.
Some of them even want metering and focus confirmation on manual lenses, some even want to use flash.
I still do not understand why they want all this. :-)
Surprise for camera companies.

43rumors: Back to your GH2 hack project: I see that many users are posting videos made with hacked GH2. Is there a visible improvement in image quality?

V.K.: Yes. Visible and easy to measure. As we added not only bitrate adjustment, but also quantizer adjustments. And many other things. With good SD card you can go to 100-150Mbps range.
For example, you can use low quantizer to get very high bitrate in very low lit scent reducing banding and all nasty stuff you see at default settings.
In future we plan to make few other adjustments.

43rumors: What are the first things you noticed while hacking the GH2?

V.K.: It is GH2 firmware. None of the aliens traces found so far.
To be more serious.
Good thing is that all video related setup and other things are now executed in RAM.
So, in the future it’ll be possible to make hacks on the fly using parameters stored on SD card.
Other good thing is that we now have one video encoder instead of separate 1080 and 720 ones in GH1.

43rumors: What kind of new GH2 features can we expect?

V.K.: We are not making major features.
We allow tuning existing features mostly.
Plus add minor ones.
Now we mostly focus on video side, hope that we’ll have time to look at stills side and make few improvements on this.

43rumors: What are the next steps? What can we expect in the next days and weeks?

V.K.: We are concentrating on AVCHD encoder for now.
Also on other small things.
After this we’ll move to HDMI and Film Modes.
Ideally it must look like Sony S-log and 4:2:2 output :-)

43rumors: What kind of help do you need?

V.K.: We already have strong and fast growing www.personal-view.com community that provides many kinds of help from money support of our project to testing, etc.
It is hard to express how grateful I am to all of supporters, testers and community members.

43rumors: Do you know some of the Panasonic engineers? Are they in some way supporting you?

V.K.: Nope. Most probably they don’t speak English.
As for supporting. I am still waiting.
Just checked email. Nope. Still nothing. Sad thing.
If any smart man exist in Panasonic management, they’ll contact me, sign NDA on data and provide some help.
Most probably they’ll like eliminating firmware reflashing, so we could move to just loading hack parameters from SD, making hack totally safe for newbies.
I am all for this.

43rumors: At what point will you stop to work on the GH2 hack? I mean there must be a “limit” or not?

V.K.: We do not have limit.
For example, GH1 will be used to work on Film Modes.
I hope that some AVCHD encoder knowledge could be also ported to GH1. But their encoders are very different, so hard to tell this for certain.

43rumors: You work with other guys? How is it to work in groups?

V.K.: We have strike teams consisting from best testers :-)
As for core team, we have few guys who work on this for long.

43rumors: So you chose to hack the GH1 and GH2 only because you like those cameras?

V.K.: Something like it.
But also GF1 and TZ10 :-) And G1.

43rumors: Will you ever get tired on that daily hack-work? What is your “personal” goal?

V.K.: As for my personal goal – do things according to plan, if it is possible.

43rumors: What’s Vitaly’s plan?

V.K.: Global domination :-)

43rumors: Now that was what I wanted to hear from you!  You Russians always try to do that…global domination stuff :)

V.K.: Nope.
Russian always stopped motherfuckers who wanted global domination.

43rumors: You failed with comunism ;)

V.K.: How you know?

43rumors: I have found Cocal Cola in Moskva!

V.K.: And? This is just one very advanced plan to conquer capitalism being undercover.
Look at Russia, it is only country who constantly sell USA treasures for last 9 months and will continue to do so.
Japan wanted to sell some after disaster, but US officials did not allowed this :-)

43rumors: And back we are on that economic crisis :)

V.K.: As I said, I am just little suricate.
It is so fun to look around.
I think most people do not understand how you supposed to watch news.
These things are not intended to make you think. They are made for primitive parts of the brain.
Boom, bunch of dead bodies, you see it and you get hormones dose and do not want to have more children.

43rumors: So news are like digital cameras….lies to get power over the mass?

V.K.: Nope it is not lies only (but Sirya and Libya are about 99,99% pure lies).
It is like beer.
Provide people their daily hormones dosage, so they won’t kill their boss (even if he deserves it).


That’s it! We thank Vitaly for that exlcusive Interview!

Ale, 43rumors

  • Boooo!

    Haha, “waxing the carrot” :D I always thought it was about “polishing the lenses” ;)

    Interesting guy, a very smart hacker. It’s a shame that none of the hotshots in big camera companies notice exactly how smart he is.

  • What was he smoking and where can I get some?

    • admin

      Have to ask him that :)

      • mpgxsvcd

        Is his name Vitaliy or Vitaly?

        • Виталий, that is, Vitalij


    • incase anyone finds out, i want in

  • kloun

    Very nice interview, really strong one.
    We are russians – he talks all what we about. We hate corporations, government and even little bit ourself. But we are good!

    • Good Empire


  • Thought they are like Vodka first :)

    • peter

      we dont like vodka, we just drink it)

  • Chris

    I suppose he honest not like some manufactures. I made myself a custom battery for the GH2, he said it look like a very small bomb. O thanks V for that- Some people in the “West Side” would call that a compilment :-)

  • lnqe-M.

    Haha, VK. is, cool, crazy and brilliant. :-D

    • Brilliant? maybe at software, and at polishing carrots.

      “High ISO RAW sensor noise is much less important” then “lens looks” and “really good capacitive touch screen”
      yea right…very brilliant, i’d say i prefer vitalis hacking skills over interview skills

      “43rumors: I have found Cocal Cola in Moskva!” good one :)

  • Jim

    bit of a wasted oppotunity…

    I wish it had asked about the possibilities of FW hacking and where it might lead… just panasonic or will there be possibility for others?

    What does he see as hard to implement and what is fairly in reach?

    I liked talk about usability over sensor and that stuff but the rest just bombed out! – needed more focus to it. soz

  • mpgxsvcd

    Sometimes I wish Vitaliy would just quit beating around the bush and tell it like it is. :)

    Direct is an understatement when referring to something Vitaliy says.

    Great interview and actually a very funny read.

  • Jeffrey S.


    That interview made my day,

    Thank you!

  • Daemonius

    Now just add focus peak into GH2, ok? :D (or any G body)

    Btw. absolutely awesome interview!

  • stonebat

    awesome. more beer. more peace!!! haha

  • James

    If atheism is a religion, then “not collecting stamps” is a hobby, and bald is a hair color… It’s not.

    • admin

      Uhhhh, that coule be a long discusssion as I said. It all depends from the basic deifnition of religion. The very basic!

      • Raist3d

        I have a simple answer for you on the atheism/philosophical issue. Atheism is the best religion we’ve got :-)

    • lnqe-M.

      Also a atheism, need believe the not he know ;-)

    • spam

      Atheism is a belief, but not a religion

      • Mr. Reeee

        Atheism is neither.

        • spam

          Of course it is, atheists believe that no God exists, and they can’t possibly know for sure. The only thing you can know (unless God decides to reveal him/herself) is that you don’t know. Which is why being an agnostic makes sense and being an atheist don’t (unless you include agnostic atheism).

      • George H. Smith

        Atheism is best viewed as the absence of a belief in a god. A newborn, for example, is an atheist. Absence of a belief is obviously different from a belief…

        • admin

          ABsence of believe, could also been seen as a believe :)

  • Aleo

    Good interview, nice to read it, and I think many don’t go to understand what he means for real, another positive thing is that he have good taste on camera brands

  • MikeS

    So I guess we’re all alcoholics, then.

  • Absolutely not interested in the hacking related interview part, but for the remaining i can dig Sir Vitaly

  • Aleo

    Ah, forgot something, one thing Vitaly Kiselev did not said is that Panasonic sensors are good for the firmware hack, because they don’t warm up so much like others at such high bitrates, but I believe that he really likes Panasonic Lumix, he seem to have good taste, and I liked the replys he gave when they talked about Russia, Russians are really good people, from my personal experience they can not be compared to the politicians, and this is valid to all countries.

    Other thing I liked is that he said to going to make some hacking on the still image, it will be nice to see other Film modes and other things, I like video but still prefer image taking

    Well done Vitaly Kiselev, and the site Admin

    All the best

    Aleo Veuliah

    • JM

      I guess they didn’t invade your country…

      • Daemonius

        And was it decision of those soldiers in tanks back in 68, or it was by some crazy CCCP politician? Plus if you would be average russian Ivan in that time, it wouldnt be like “I dont want into army, I dont want to invade that country.” It would be like “Follow orders or die.”. Easy choice, eh?

        Russians are ok.. their goverment and politics usually not. Im pretty sure its same in your country. :D

        • JM

          Ask Vitaliy about that. He fully supports that invasion. In fact, most of Russians nowadays take Soviet period as the best period for them.

          • Daemonius

            Some of them does, some of them dont.. They are welcomed to try again, but I doubt that will happen. Talking and doing are quite different things.

      • Boooo!

        Please don’t go into politics. It doesn’t belong on this site.

        • JM

          It’s very hard, if we got an interview with Vitaliy here. Because he’s not apolitical person at all.

          • Jim

            +1 you got very little about the hack and lots about his fave colour, religion & politics….

  • pdc

    Gotta love this guy. A bit like Bill Maher.
    So w…..s, uh … carrot waxers, at least those that can dig him, go to personal-view.com and help the cause.

  • henrik

    Interesting interview partner sure.

    Still this interview would have profited immensely from some serious editing – like cutting out the foul words, or completing rudimentary sentences. I guess today’s SMS-Facebook generation just doesn’t know any better than this stammer, but people used to decent language (decent meaning 1) correct and 2) not vulgar) might just click away.

    Then, who cares, we are not a target group. Just continue spreading trash lingo, as long as The Product remains on the altar.

    • Yep I agree…

      For exemple I’m not sure I understand what the expression of homophobic statements – let’s call a cat a cat – is doing on 43rumours…

      • dumbo

        he’s a hacker, remember, not exactly a bunch known for their gift of social adeptness. they get power from hacking other peoples code. useful – extremely, but they will never be someone you’re going want to hang out with at a party, unless you’re an uber geek.

    • Mr. Reeee

      It’s refreshing to hear from someone who has not been poisoned by political correctness and speaks unfiltered.

      Plus, he’s one funny motherfucker, even if he is partially full of shit! ;-)

  • Everyone called Vitaly seems to be a really great down to earth person. Like Vitaly “Oksana is just my manager” Petrov for instance. He swears during interviews too.

  • I have something to say…
    “Vitaly” has super similar pronunciation as a drinks brand at Taiwan.


    • lnqe-M.

      Aha, he talk carrot juice, and not lens :-D

  • Vitalty speaks a lot of unpalatable truths:D one point I don’t think he factors in when he talks about how conservative the camera companies are is that another part of the problem is how conservative DSLR camera customers are…

    • Daemonius

      Truth.. little boxes, little boxes..

      In this case little boxes made of black plastic and all look just the same.

      • tmrgrs

        This audience won’t know or care who Pete Seeger was Daemonius. I saw him singing outside of NYU during an anti war student strike in ’69 but there aren’t too many of us from that crowd 40+ years later hanging out on these silly camera sites!

        • Anonymous

          Nope on Seeger, but people know the original theme for Weeds.

  • sadwitch

    Thanks, it’s really an enjoyable read.

  • Nice contrast to Thom Hogan ;) and good thoughts about people’s motivations for propagating certain ideas.

  • Nick Clark

    I would’ve said ‘chat’ rather than ‘interview’, but interesting none the less :)

    Thanks for posting something a little different!

  • Michael

    Totally disagree, his efforts to be cool by tough-talking only prevents this interview from being boring to death… Nothing new or special about industry at all.

    “But from pure technical side it is clear that Canon and Nikon are losers for now.”
    He rather pleases the readers who like to hear that, but cannot name any facts.

    “But you must cite that I am not gay, really. It is rare thing these days, big evolutional advantage.”
    Pretty proud of his ability to propogate himself, that guy… Another person looking for attention and feeling like the king. Nothing new…

  • che

    Nice, one thing i dont uderstand is why did you talk about sony so much… The only real company is Olympus…
    But how could you ask a Russian is he catolic…i mean are you not aware that for the most part of Slavic people are Ortodox… (Russians, Belarusians, Ukrainians, Serbs…) Catolics are Chech, Slovaks, Slovenians, Croats, Poles…
    The right question would be Are You a Christian?

    • Jim

      who cares – you either belive in some god fantisy or not – which fantisy you belive makes little diffrence :)

  • andy

    As much as I respect what he has done with the G Firmwares it dont change the fact that he talks a lot of attention seeking pap.
    “japanese dont do business correctly” “west not good at products” on and on and so on…his website has a lot of western hating mumbojumbo…that occasionally can make him come across as a western hating pro communist nut job (again seems like attention seeking).
    Id like to see russia deliver some good camera gear that does not involve hacking…then I would take on board his opinion about the current camera industry.
    He likes Pentax though so thats okay I guess.

  • Jason

    Is this the same Vitaly who made CHDK?

  • Thyl

    Does someone know if the GH2 supports the xvYCC gamut? Could not get any info on this. It would be a great way to enhance the video quality without raising the bitrate, I guess?!

    If not, could it be hacked in?

  • Thyl

    Duplicate deleted (trouble with mobile version)

  • Jojo

    Cameras are like beer – is that why so many comments after a disappointing release are “XXXX”?

  • whensly

    What does he mean when he speaks of “lenses park”?

    Panasonic should put Vitaly on retainer.

    I hope the come out with a Video hack or upgrade for the Panasonic G3…

  • robertopentaxman

    Excellent interview!!! I really enjoy it. Very refreshing points of view. The naked truth according to Vitaly!!! I´ll be waiting for a second part.

  • donny

    Great to have him and Chris hack the GH2, however I just don’t like him as human being. He constantly bully testers and give us these meaningless black and white statements just to see how we’ll react, very poor emotional development.

    He also worship one of the worse mass murderer, Stalin, as god and savior of humanity. Yeah, I wish I was kidding. That pretty much kill the amusement for me.

    I used to think his odd behavior was a “lost in translation” thing, but alas, I realized he really is an asshole.

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