Allow us to to reintroduce ourselves. We’re Lux, a tiny studio you might know from our photography apps, Halide and Spectre, or our obsessive articles on photography. Until now, we published though Medium, but today everything changes.
First, a little history.
Almost four years ago, we were pushing our first app across the finish line. We knew writing would be an important part of our business, but we had to devote all of energy toward the app itself, not SSL certificates, security patches, and other chores that come with self-hosting. Medium had the best reading and writing experience, and for a nominal fee, they even let us bring our own domain name. It was a no brainer.
Flash forward a few years, and our publishing matters as much as our product. Many discover our writing thanks to Halide, and vice versa. Sometimes we even use writing to feed product development; we draft the announcement post before we build the feature, to help us define what we’re building.
Last year, we mapped out the future of the company, and it became obvious we’ve outgrown Medium. We don’t want to bash Medium. It’s likely their simple, one-click “Follow” button helped us build an audience. We don’t think there’s anything particularly evil about Medium, compared to other big platforms. We’ll touch on that in a bit. First, let’s show off our new and shiny platform!
Wide Gamut Images
As a blog about photography, we need total control over our images. The first thing we wanted to tackle was wide-gamut color. The following chart shows all the colors in the visible spectrum:
The inner triangle covers the range of colors in the Standard RGB (“sRGB”) color space. While this palette worked fine for decades, in 2016 the iPhones 7 added support for even more colors, shown by the outer “Display P3” triangle. If you’re viewing this from a wide gamut display, look closely at the following image.
The bottom half uses the wider range, which enables a greener green. The difference subtle in everyday photos, but we think these details matter.
It’s unfortunate that so many platforms fail to support wide gamut images. Maybe they only see themselves as platforms for text? That would explain why, when we requested an export of all our articles, Medium only gave us an archive of our text and no images. (We ended up running Python script to scrape our own images from our posts, and Jackson spent many hours manually porting our old posts to the new site.)
MOV is the New GIF
Many of our posts call for short video examples. Medium only supports animated GIFs, while our new platform supports h264 video. It’s hard to believe this tiny, grainy 256-color GIF is the same file size as this giant, detailed video!
Gotta Go Fast
Performance is an invisible element of good design. Whether it’s an app or a website, we think you should never notice load times. To see how the new site stacks up, we ported over articles over from Medium and measured load times. We think a video shows you everything you need to know:
While Medium takes several seconds to display a page, our new site takes half a second. Not only does this just feel better, but it’s kinder on battery life! The most power hungry activity of your phone is transmitting data with a cell tower. The less time wasted downloading a site, the better.
Hey, while we have both designs side-by-side, did you notice more content fits above the fold? Neat!
We Are Not a Social Network
We admit we’ll miss that Follow button, but we won’t miss monitoring and moderating another social network. That why we’ve completely eliminated comments from this site. We still love your feedback, but rather you use Twitter, Reddit, or Instagram.
If you want to keep up-to-date on the latest posts, rather than subscribing to a feed on a social network, consider our new newsletter. You’ll stay informed of our new articles, online lessons, and more. You can sign up in the form at the bottom of this page. If newsletters aren’t your thing, we also have an RSS feed!
Newsletters and RSS give you complete control over the content you consume. Social Networks love algorithmic feeds that keep you glued to their site, so they can show advertising. We hope you enjoy our site, but we’ll never show you memes, tabloids, or conspiracy theories to keep you here.
That brings us to the challenge facing Medium, Substack, and any free platform that seems too good to be true: investors. From The Verge:
Medium entered the year with more than 700,000 paid subscriptions, putting it on track for more than $35 million in revenue, according to two people familiar with the matter.
How could $35 million a year possibly be cause for concern? Well, a long time ago, investors handed Medium $132 million. They expect at least 10× back, so Medium needs to be worth billions of dollars. (We promise that if we ever make $35 million in a single year, we’ll just throw an amazing party.)
To Medium’s credit, our worst product grievance are annoying “Install our App” and “Sign In to Medium” banners covering our articles. But as pressure builds to show ridiculous profits, we’ve got a bad feeling. Unfortunately the big alternatives, Substack and WordPress.com, have also accepted gigantic investments in recent years.
We wish them all the best, but there’s only way to guarantee our platform won’t change out from under us: owning the platform.
Changes Moving Forward
This site is very much a 1.0, and we still have a lot of cool things to iterate on. We apologize in advance if anything catches fire.
We expect to publish a bit more frequently than the past, with topics ranging from hardware reviews, photo essays, product retrospectives, and many more surprises. Think of it as a podium for elevating imagery, whether it’s pushing iPhone RAW to its limit…
… or highlighting the larger camera images we strive to match in our products.
Our new site is content-first, with no more nags, better color, and design we own. If you’re as excited as we are, don’t forget to subscribe.
We didn’t want to launch the new site with a bunch of self-congratulations, so we have one more post to share: Sebastiaan’s months-long camera review of the iPhone 12. Enjoy!