The Worst Tech Letdowns of 2016

Here are the biggest gear disappointments of the year according to our writers and commenters.

Every year, we get our hopes up for the next wave of technological toys that will make it easier and faster to tell our stories, and some of them don't quite meet expectations. See examples A, B, C and D below.

Craft Camera

Craft CameraCredit: Craft

When the Craft camera was announced, it offered a lot of amazing features at a spectacular price. However, instead of going for the crowdfunding path (like the successfully financed Chronos), Craft choose instead to take deposits for a promised ship date of 2016. As the end of December 2016 approaches, we haven't seen any Craft cameras out in the field or heard from any owners receiving their cameras, which is a disappointment.

RED went through a similar process nearly a decade ago with its initial launch, using an announcement for an amazing camera at a crazy price point and a small deposit to get in line to own one. RED, too, missed all of its initial shipping deadlines, but eventually shipped a camera that dramatically changed the industry. Fingers crossed that Craft will do the same, and ship in the near future with performance that makes us forget about missed deadlines, but for now we're definitely let down.

GoPro Karma

GoPro KarmaCredit: GoPro

Karma drones keep falling from the sky. It might seem like we're stuck on this story, and it probably gets mentioned every week on the Indie Film Weekly podcast, but it is indeed big news. Drones falling from the sky could really injure someone, and a reputable company like GoPro making a drone that falls from the sky is a shocker. While there have always been hiccups with drones, it's often with a DIY kit or a smaller brand, and the bigger drone brands like DJI and Yuneec make very reliable flyers that you can trust to be safe if safely operated. A mainstream brand like GoPro making a drone is going to put that aircraft in the hands of a much wider swath of the public, and it has to do everything possible to ensure safe operation, which it failed to do.  

In its defense, after initially trying to hide the announcement in the election news cycle by announcing the recall at 6pm on election day, GoPro has gotten its act together and managed the recall well, with everyone who purchased a Karma drone getting a free Hero5 in exchange, which is pretty cool. We're still just glad no one was injured.

Macbook Pro 

Apple Macbook ProCredit: Apple

Some called it dongle-gate. Others called it the "bad-touch bar." Apple had to discount the dongles, and marketing VP Phil Schiller had to make a statement on the reasons for the RAM being limited to 16GB. Apple product launches have always had some controversy (Where did the disc drive go? Where did the floppy drive go?) but eventually the product was strong enough to overcome the criticism and find its place in the world.

While the full NFS review will be out later this week, the first impression of most users hasn't been strong enough to overcome the drawbacks, and even longtime Apple diehards found themselves disappointed. For many tasks, the computer is not faster, and for some it's even slower than the previous generation. Digilloyd returned his, but did make it clear that it was a tough call and the new model will work well for many; it just doesn't fit his needs. There are a few places where it really excels, but for many the jury remains out on whether the upgrade is worth the price. Which, for a new Macbook Pro, which used to be an item worth the immediate upgrade no matter what, is a major disappointment. 

Canon 5D Mark IV

Canon 5D Mark IVCredit: Canon

First love is hard to get over, and can linger on for years after you think you've moved on. While there wasn't any reason to expect that Canon was going to make the 5D we want, there was still hope, and when it was released, longtime fans were majorly disappointed. 4K via crop, mJPEG codec, limited bandwidth files—overall it felt like video was still an afterthought and that the 5D was primarily meant to be a great stills camera. Which we always knew, of course—even in the Mark II video was an afterthought—but we were so hungry for beautiful video images we ate it up and bought the camera in droves.

After that magic period with the Mark II, when the whole DSLR revolution (and this website along with it) exploded, Canon moved on to the C line (pricier than the 5D), and we indie folk moved on to Sony A7 and Panasonic GH and others. But, in our hearts, we hoped that with the Mark IV Canon would let us know they were still thinking about us the way we were thinking about them. It turns out that they aren't.  But that's OK. We've got better cameras to play with now. Still, we'll always think fondly of that summer with the Mark II, way back when.

What about you? What were your best/worst gear fails this year?


See all of our 2016 Year-in-Review coverage.

Your Comment

15 Comments

Canon really broke our heart.... u r very right about the first love quote.... I still love Canon, it is my first love. D color of canon is something I jst really love... but well, we have to move on. I jst hope they wake up from their sleep eventually. I still love canon but they are faaaaaar behind #crying

December 19, 2016 at 9:55AM, Edited December 19, 9:56AM

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Afolayan Dammy
Director/Cinematographer/Editor
168

How was the 5d4 a "tech" letdown it fulfills its purpose arguably better than any other camera in the world. Its a photography camera and takes amazing pictures, this is article is called "TECH DISAPPOINTMENTS" not video disappointments. Canon yet again released another amazing camera. That doesn't mean im going to buy it , its ridiculously prices and a sony is so much better for my work "VIDEO". continuing on the new macbook is F***ing amazing, Why not do a post on best indie films of this year or best tech this year ( which the 5d4 and new macbook should be on) instead of giving as a pointless list of disappointments (WHICH HALF OF ARE WRONG in my opinion)

December 19, 2016 at 10:17AM, Edited December 19, 10:17AM

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Hey Kieran, we did do a best cameras post, and have "best of" posts on the way in almost every category: lighting & grip, drones, indie films, cinematography, docs, etc. so stay tuned! http://nofilmschool.com/2016/12/best-cameras-and-lenses-2016

December 19, 2016 at 11:26AM

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Liz Nord
Documentary Filmmaker/Multi-platform Producer
892

What was the reasoning behind limiting the MBP to 16GB of RAM?

December 19, 2016 at 10:35AM

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Joe O
Videographer/Editor
375

Apparently, according to Phil Schiller, it's mostly about the batter.
http://appleinsider.com/articles/16/11/21/phil-schiller-again-defends-to...

Which is, well, mostly not what filmmakers need it for.

December 19, 2016 at 11:56AM, Edited December 19, 11:56AM

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Charles Haine
Filmmaker, Tech Nerd

Macbook Pro? What are you guys talking about?!?!?!?

For video editors and colorist who need a mobile work station what could be better?

1. 15" Retina 10 bit P3 color gamut 500 NIT screen! Check.
Who else is offering this? And this is a first on a Macbook
2. Fastest SSD in ANY laptop on the market. Check
3. Cabable of driving TWO 10bit 5K ULtra fine Monitors with one cord! Check
No other laptop can do that.

4. Four Thunderbolt 3 ports with potential transfer speeds of up to 40 GBs. Check
Just bought a Sandisk 900 external drive for usb-c and I'm getting 770 write and 790 read!!!!! On an external drive! What? I can't do that on a MBP2015

(Got rid of my lagacy drives and readers OR I switched cables so I could take advantage of the new hardware Apple just released with the new tbMBP.) You know, those little things you do when new tech comes out and you want to take advantage of it's new potential.
Kinda like new camera tech, a professional camera has XLR ports but someone will complain that there isn't a 3.5 jack to plug their video mic pro in to get audio. LOL

5. Optimized work flow with FCPX capable of playing R3D 6k footage in realtime, and scrubing in real time. Check
High spec'd Windows DESKTOPS have a hard time doing this in Pr.

You guys have literally gone crazy, lol. WTF more do you guys want? 32GB RAM? Yes cool, that would have been awesome, but a let down or computer disaster is just people trolling the internets, or this site really doesnt know what they're talking about when it comes to "film industry tech".

December 19, 2016 at 1:38PM, Edited December 19, 1:59PM

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Timothy Cook
Self employed storyteller.
300

Agreed.

December 20, 2016 at 9:19AM, Edited December 20, 9:19AM

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It's true if you really want to edit full-scale on a laptop. Why would you do that, I don't know though. If you do dirty edits on the go, it's easy to use proxies and you don't need supermonitor for that. Nice build quality though, those Apple laptops -- only the higher end PC laptops can rival it.

December 22, 2016 at 4:54PM

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zetty
Filmmaker
841

I give honorable mention to the Sony a99ii. After several years of a7 users wishing Sony would put those great sensors in a body large enough to take advantage of them (no heating, room for internal ND), the much delayed a99ii has nearly all the faults of the 5D Mark IV (huge 4k crop, etc.), plus crippled video AF, no touch screen, and no 10bit out, years after the gh4 threw down the gauntlet.

December 19, 2016 at 2:11PM, Edited December 19, 2:12PM

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J Robbins
843

I agree with a lot of what you say, but I bet both of us would sure as heck take one! Sounds like a pretty nice camera to me.

December 19, 2016 at 8:35PM

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I don't know how you put the vaporware "Craft Camera" in the same category as the fastest Macbook Pro ever created.

December 20, 2016 at 8:08AM

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I think you missed one on your list. The original BM Ursa. Those sensor upgrades never did materialize nor is there any indication it's likely to happen anytime soon (if ever). To add insult to injury, those owners can't even upgrade to the new firmware that was just released.

December 20, 2016 at 11:18AM

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I find it very ironic the number of anti Apple comments by people who seem to have it better figured out, yet still have the time to write lengthy posts about it..

December 20, 2016 at 11:26AM

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Tyler McCool
One Man Show
341

5D was a film tech let down for sure but the sensors ability in low light for photos is incredible.

December 28, 2016 at 6:55PM

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Missing from this list - Atomos failing to complete the original Shogun's firmware to match the advertised claims of what the device would do.
If you bought it for Raw, you're shit outta luck, even Sony FS cameras are only getting 'Beta' support, nothing for the Canon crowd, and definitely nothing for the Aja fans or Arri owners.
Got myself blocked from Atomos's facebook page for asking questions on this subject, and ya gotta wonder, is the planned action to not complete the firmware the real reason Atomos closed the user forum?

January 2, 2017 at 10:14PM

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You voted '-1'.
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Stewart Fairweather
Cinematographer
573