Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Opportunity Knocking - The Swedish Connection

From those wonderful people who brought you Gustavus Adolphus, overweight battleships, and the Billy bookcase...a great new opportunity to get into medium format photography.

I mean Hasselblad - suppliers of photographic equipment to the house of Windsor and the moon. The people who made medium format work easily and well. Now they have made a deal for Australian photographers that means that more artists can afford to do art. Here's how:

 For a limited time the Hasselblad H4D-31 camera body with an 80mm lens, grip, prism finder, digital back, and memory card will be available locally for $ 12,995. I mean locally as in avaialble from Camera Electronic brand new and warranteed by Hasselblad.

This is a camera that has a 31 megapixel sensor - and those sensor sites spread over a medium format area so that there are bigger, fatter, juicier pixels - more sensitive to light and less prone to electronic noise than smaller pixels on 35mm sensors.

The camera is fitted with Digital Lens Correction to get rid of distortion before it has to be put onto a computer file. It is capable of Ultra Focus accuracy.

If you are shifting your point of view with it, the camera is also fitted with a True Focus and Absolute Position lock. You can focus once and lock it in then look up or down and the same place will be kept in the memory as the focus point.

Remember that this will be the gateway into a massive range of lenses and accessories - hasselblad has always been known for this sort of systematic planning. There is a tilt/shift mechanism that can be fitted and a GPS unit if you need to know where the camera has been.

This sort of money - $ 12,995 -  is the kind of spending that is well within the reach of working professionals and dedicated amateurs. It is going to produce an increase in the quality of the photographic results that is a whole new level past even the fanciest of the new DSLRs. This is museum-quality capability, but I'll bet that there are a lot of fashion and wedding photographers that are going to realize that this is the way ahead for them. It may certainly be the way ahead for their business rivals....so now is the time to investigate a golden opportunity.

We've got the Hasselblad H4D-31 in stock in the rental department - we could see the bargain that it is - and you'd do well to come in and rent it out. You'll fall in love.


New Fuji Day - The Arrival Of the X-E1

I love new camera day because I get to play with the toys before anyone else does. I have long passed my excitement point when it comes to point and shoot equipment and even the latest daguerreotype studio camera on the mahogany stand gets just a passing glance before we wrap it and put it in a post-pak for shipment to the South-west. Same old, same old. What DO they do with all those studio cameras down in Bridgetown? And the Klieg lights?And the crates of mortar shells?

But today I get to have fun - the new Fuji X-E1 has arrived. I'm a Fuji fan as it is, owning an X 10, and I have long been impressed with their innovative approach to equipment. The X100 and the X-Pro1 sold well and led to a lot of professional photographers re-discovering the truly portable digital camera. They were not disappointed with the results - these cameras use the full APSC-size sensor and their optics and electronics are finely tuned to match the sensor.

But at last we have the new X-E1. If you were used to thinking of the X-Pro1 as an X100 with interchangeable lens, think of the X-E1 as an X-Pro1 with a slimmer body and a tightened spec. You pack the same great processing power and image handling into a smaller package but with a redesigned hand grip that allows very firm camera control.

They've decided to keep the Northwest position for the viewing eyepiece but instead of incorporating a complex optical finder, they have sealed the front plate of the camera and kept the electronic finder screen. It is fast, bright, and detailed, and allows viewfinding in the dimmest of conditions. Of course you can also use the back LCD screen as a finder when it is on a tripod, but the eyepiece is the king in glaring outdoor light. Thankfully, there is a dioptre adjustment for it as well.

The camera body is, as we said, slimmer than the X-Pro1 but is finished to the same high specification. Users will recognize the control layout and the menus system as pure Fuji.

The real question for new Fuji fans will be what colour they want to body in - you can have pure black or a retro silver. It will take the current range of Fuji X-mount lenses such as the 18mm, 35mm, and 60mm and when we see kits in mid to late November we'll be seeing the new 18-55 zoom lens on it. There will also be a 14mm superwide coming along at some stage of the game and then we'll be into next year and we'll get to see what goodies they think up.

This not going to be expensive - think the 1199 mark for body or 1599 for a kit. The results are every bit as good as APSC-DSLR cameras and the convenience and sophistication of the rangefinder-style is legendary. Remember what I said about the eyepiece at the Northwest? Well consider that most DSLRs put it fair in the Northern central position and when you go to look through it your nose splots onto the LCD screen. Ouch. The Fuji layout is 1.6 kilometres better than this - your nose has somewhere comfortable to go to when the camera is at your eye.

Anyone who thought the X100 was just a novelty last year has discovered that the Fuji company are really committed to the system now. They have also introduced an adapter to allow people who have M-mount lenses from Leica and other manufacturers to be bayoneted onto the front of the camera - this is a system that is going to be versatile for a long time to come.


Monday, October 29, 2012

Epson Promotion Worth A Look

Epson - makers of enormously successful large-format printers - and equally successful scanners and projectors - have just announced a promotion for their Stylus Pro 4900. This is the big one that does roll and sheet printing up to 17" wide.

It is an offer aimed at end-users. You'll be able to get $ 500 cash back on purchase of this printer, or you can elect to take a FREE Epson digital projector valued at $ 1199. Either way this is the icing on the cake of what is a very professional inkjet printing system. I know the value of the K3 inks and the precision of the Epson heads - I use one of the Stylus Pro 3800 printers for professional output.

There will be a flier and detailed information up on the net shortly - go to the Epson site and see what they have to say. This is a good opportunity to advance your photography, whether it be in print or projected on a big screen.


Something Free With Lytro

The newest camera on the block has just got newer - well the Lytro people have announced a free update, so I guess that counts as newer than new.

Up till now people have relied on the Lytro to choose an automatic ISO number and shutter speed. Now with the free update the shooter can specify ISO, shutter speed, add an internal neutral density filter, and go to auto-exposure lock when they recompose a picture. Pretty snappy stuff for a light field camera.

If you've got a Lytro right now, get on the net and go to their support site and download. If you don't have your Lytro yet, come into Camera Electronic and let us make you happy.

You can be 16Gb 750 picture happy for $ 599 or 8 Gb 350 picture happy for $ 499.


Beware The Spring Magpie Season

Those of you who have been in Perth for a number of years know that Spring is the season for the magpie. They nest in trees on main roads and are a menace as they swoop on school children and bicyclists - the whole thing is over in a month or so but it can be quite a nuisance while they are active. As they are a protected species of some sort - as opposed to schoolchildren who can be pecked with impunity - you are not allowed to protect yourself. Hey, if the school children had got to harry Butler first it might have been different...

But take heart - this is not a new problem - it has been going on for just ages...

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Nothing To It - With Alien Skin

Those of you who read the post that welcomed you to the nineteenth century...look it up in the older posts...will remember that I advised you to get Alien Skin software to supplement your Photoshop program. It is easier to show than tell, so here are a few examples.

First, a studio shot from the 1860's. I'm sorry the image is so poorly preserved, but it was part of the household effects of Mrs. Olesen in Atlanta, Georgia and was barely saved when Sherman burned the place down.

The second shot is a little more complex. Apparently Atelier Mutze did a whole series of shots intended for the macabre market in Berlin in the late 90's. These were sold at a little kiosk on the Brocken on Walpurgis Night but never caught on with the general public. They went on to much greater success later with their presentation folders of  views of the ruins of Fort Vaux and Fort Douamont tastefully hand-coloured. So far none of these have been seen on offer in the Perth collector's market.

The last is an autochrome taken by M. Henri Crapaud of the star of the Folies Bergere - Mme. Veronica Baudoin. She also can be seen in a number of paintings by Toulouse-Lautrec and was the inspiration for a small war on the border of French Indochina.

We shall bring more of these to your attention as they are discovered.

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A Positive Attitude With The Workshop Camera Club

It takes a good positive attitude to be a successful photographer. And a thorough command of the technical aspects of the art. And the permission of the Main Roads Department.

Apparently the Workshop Camera Club missed out on the last thing yesterday. They held the October meeting of the Photo Market at the usual venue - the Leederville Town Hall on Cambridge Street - at the usual time on a Sunday morning. This is something that runs three times or so in the year.

Trouble is the MRD and the local shire council decided to pull up the bitumen road outside the hall - closing off the suburb so that sellers couldn't get to the hall and buyers couldn't get to the sellers. Oh, we still went, and we still got the goods to the front door by dint of abusing the road workers - and there was still an early morning rush of customers before the blockade really took effect. But the main business of the day was pinched off something chronic.

Fault of the club? No. No-one notified them beforehand, and they had the hall booked for months in advance. Fault of the MRD? Probably not - they just get a call from the shire of whatever to rock up and bomb the place as per orders.

Shire of Vincent, or Council of Leederville, or whoever the bureaucrats are at this point in time? Yep. But I bet no-one down at the office admits to it or offers the Workshop camera Club free hire of the hall for February. After all, they are The Council...

I wonder if that nice bright shiny hall in South Perth is available for Sunday mornings...?

PS: I still had fun. Sold some goods, bought a racy book about Hollywood scandals, had two cups of coffee and possibly the best home-made Melting Moment biscuit in Perth. Whoever you are madam, thank you.


Friday, October 26, 2012

Tokyo From Ground Level - With Guy

Here's a good reason to go to visit Gallery Central at the Central Institute of Technology - that's located at 12 Aberdeen Street, Perth.

Guy Vinciguerra visited Tokyo and concentrated his photography on monochrome images. He mentions that it features the city, its people, and their built environment. He also characterizes the images as reflecting his own emotional dramas. I'm not sure what this means but hopefully he does not burst into tears or throw things at us in the gallery...

In any case, you can judge for yourselves on weekdays between 10:00 and 4:45 and on Saturdays between 12:00 and 4:45 - it will run until the 13th of November.


Something For All Tastes - Sigma

I cannot remember -  were you meant to have red wine with head and shoulders portraiture and white wine with full-length shots or was it the other way round? And on which side of the studio do the fish knife and soup spoon go? I must look out my copy of Emily Post and make sure - nothing looks worse than ignorance of etiquette at 1/250 second and f:8.

In the mean time, consider two fresh lenses from Sigma. Fresh in the shop, I mean - not gutted and laid out on a slab, glinting in the sunlight.

First is the head and shoulders specialist - the 50mm f:1.4. This renders bokeh as it should be - with everything soft and no intrusive shapes of highlight points. It has very good figures for CA at the corners - look it up on DP review where it got a glowing comparison to other 50mm primes. It is a big lens, mind - 77 mm filter size and the feel of hefty glass within.

The second member of the studio team is the 30mm f:1.4. Same idea but a wider field of view and the ability to do a full-length figure at a distance of 2.7 metres with the model's limbs in proportion. You can get away with a 62 mm filter on this one. Note: both lenses have a lenshood and carrying case included in the price and both are supported by a two-year manufacturer's warranty.

Small bacon bits? Common lenses? Not interesting? Well, consider that the prime 1.4 is probably the best choice in the studio for most portraiture with APSC sensor cameras. You''ll have no distortion to bother you or the sitter and with no zoom ring to fight you'll be able to work faster than ever. If you need to adjust your image size, move closer or further away - it's a novel concept in the era of the zoom but run with it...

Oh, one final note - the Sigma delivery came in today and there are a lot more bits of fun glass there. Come down a peer through the macro lenses. At something really close.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Lenshoods And The Zombie Apocalypse - with JJC

I have been instructed to mention a product each time I post an item in an effort to interest you in purchasing it. I have also noted that zombies, apocalyptic or otherwise are very popular in the media. Hence the title. Come in and buy a zombie.

Believe me - around 5:15 each day we can supply them from the staff....

On the other hand, the reason I included the major camera makers and the JJC people in the labels for this post is that they really all are related to each other and to you in a good way. Think Nikon, Canon, Sgma, and Tamron lenses and you in strong sunlight and see what I mean.

Point that camera toward the sunny side of the world and look at what happens to the image in your viewfinder. Snap a shot and peer into the LCD to see what you got. Big white patches of big white flare and glare. Multi-coloured spots and streaks. Overall flat images.

Now clip a lenshood onto the lens and do the same. No streaks, no spots. Contrast back in the image. Art and joy reign supreme.

Well, it is not quite that simple - you can still get flare into your lenses if you try, and if you are shooting in a studio with a multi-light setup, you can get it from several directions. You can smoosh up your image with fingerprints on the front of the lens - different problem. You can have light bounce back onto your lens when you are shooting flash onto bright objects on a dark background and end up with a kaleidoscope of dots on the image - this is the effect of dust on the front of a wide-angle lens. These are all problems that you have to squash one at a time.

Remember I said all those manufacturers had a relationship - well the JJC people have a unique one with the Nikon people and the Canon people ( and the Fuji people as well...) - they quietly stalk them and copy the manufacturers designs for lenshoods. You can get perfectly functional fair copies of proprietary equipment for bargain prices - as these are plastic hoods they do just the same job. If you do not have one for your lens, or have lost your, or have broken it - get a JJC now and beat the sunshine this summer.

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Thank You Mr. Canon - I'll Treasure It

For me? This whole box is for me? Oh, thank you. Can I open it?

Umm. Well this is certainly wonderful. I shall make sure I read the information on the Canon cameras. I look forward to the EOS 6D when it appears. I do hope we get to see it before Christmas - I think a lot of people might like to have one.

And the tabletop presentation board for the other new camera - wow, that seems interesting. And the little wooden block puzzle that folds in on itself infinitely. Sometimes I feel just like that myself.

And the EOS Photo 5 competition box - spaghetti, fishing line, HO scale people and red tissue paper. I can see art in the making. Move over Dali. Howza Picasso. Yo, Hanna Hoch. I wonder if there is any space left at the MoMA for me...

And what does this bit say...its a new word..."Playfessional... a person who lives in the moment. A spontaneous soul who wants the best of both worlds.".

Gosh, not what I initially thought at all. I imagined that it might mean people who play at being professionals. Like a hobby dentist with a little surgery in the garage. Or a studio photographer with a box of business cards and a 350D. Or Fred Demara. I'll certainly have to revise my vocabulary - I think being a playfessional might be a lot of fun.

I wonder if there is somewhere that sells DIY books for jet aircraft engine maintenance? I like airports.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Lighthouse In The Garden

Here's a good idea for photographers who would like a pleasant day out - tootle along to the Romancing The Stone garden at 3 Lilian Road, Maida Vale on the 17th of November. It is a Saturday and from 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM Cyrus Roussilhes of Lighthouse Studio Productions will be in attendance to conduct people through the garden, advise on flower and portrait photography, and let people test out Canon and Nikon gear in the field.

The afternoon will be limited to 20 or 25 people and won't be expensive - you can book a place by contacting Cyrus on email:


The cost will be $ 20. We'll be going along with a good deal of Canon and Nikon gear to let people try and compare. Hopefully a fine day to showcase the gardens. If you'd like to see what the venue has in store, go to:


It would also appear to be a venue that is suited to wedding celebrations and photography - I daresay Cyrus will be able to give you more details. Tell him we sent you.

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Security For The Media - Today's Case

The recording media that we use for our photographs have changed quite a bit recently. Silver-plated copper and glass plates coated with liquid gun-cotton seem to have given way to small plastic biscuits with electronics inside. In between these were the rolls of plastic film and in between the rolls of plastic film was dust, fungus and insects...

That's actually something that happens with everything - the silvered plates got scratched, the glass plates got broken, and the plastic memory biscuits get left in shirt pockets and go through the washing machine. Or they get lost down the back of the couch, or the front of the dog. In short, anything we use to record the scene is subject to attack by the elements and we need to do something to protect it.

Leaving apart the glass plates and the film negatives - I recommend IKEA Kassette boxes for the former and negative sleeves for the latter - we come to the plastic biscuits known as memory cards. Lots of manufacturers make memory card wallets - Think Tank and Lowepro come immediately to mind, and these are a good way to make a collection of cards big enough that you cannot leave it in the shirt pocket or ignore it in your trousers. You are in control of where the cards go.

If you are in danger of getting doused yourself or are going into dusty or muddy conditions, consider a Pelican or GePe memory card case. These are hard plastic with waterproof seals around the edges and hold anything from 2 to 4 cards. Generally the manufacturers arrange the inside so that these can be either CF or SD size.

Consider any of these to be physical protection from the environment but remember that you can also be protecting your work from Man. It is not unknown for memory cards to be filched, as it was not unknown for film to be filched. I do not know about  12" x 16" glass plates - seems hard to sneak out of a party or wedding reception with one of these under the arm...

Remove the temptation if you are working or travelling. Spread your shoot over several cards and house those cards in something that sits close to you at all times. You might lose equipment, but you do not lose images or the job.

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Move Toward The Light - with Manfrotto

The Italian manufacturer Manfrotto is intimately acquainted with light - light stands, light booms, light tracking systems. Granted, some of their camera supports in the past have been anything but light...but they have always been well built and practical.

Well, now they have added a new section in light - lighting panels. These have been occasioned by the new capabilities in DSLRs - that of video and of image recording in low light situations.

Bear with me if that seems a little contradictory - lighting for low-light - let's take the idea of the video first. A great many video works are done with frontal lighting - think interviews and street entrapments. These are perfectly lit with a panel attached to the hot shoe of a camera. If it is not too weighty, you can leap around with the DSLR and capture anything that swims in front of the lens.

Manfrotto have introduced three new LED panels for this - they are encased in neat plastic housings with a variable dimmer switch on the left hand side and in the case of the two larger panels, attachment points for the hot shoe mount on two other sides of the case.

The smallest panel runs on AAA cells while the midi and the maxi have rechargeable lithium cells. They come with the appropriate mains charger. These two larger panels also have the intriguing feature of a "flash" setting - you can plug in a synch cord and pulse out the light with your camera PC socket.

The smallest panel has 24 LED's - the midi has 35 and the maxi has 84.

These are perfect for video as there is no operating noise to interfere with sound recording.

Now if you are a student of low-light stills - supplying just enough light to emphasize your subject in a world of gloom - these panels are your best friend. They let you add your touch with surety - you will see the light effect before you shoot. And they are small enough and light enough to go on the end of booms and poles easily - even if hand-held.

Mini is $ 125. Midi is $ 310, and Maxi is $ 465. In store now - come and try them.

PS: the larger panels also include colour-correcting gels to balance them to ambient lighting.


Monday, October 22, 2012

Welcome To The Nineteenth Century - with Alien Skin

I am not quite so old as to remember the first photographic processes...as being new on the market. I do remember Kodak and Anscochrome films. and once purchased a fresh roll of Kodak Verichrome Pan 616 film but that is about as far back as it goes. I was fortunate to be issued with film in a double dark holder for my first professional job instead of a glass plate and a bottle of liquid gun-cotton.

 But the fascination with the early processes still continues. People still want to do ambrotypes, calotypes, tintypes, lithotypes, and daguerreotypes to feel what it must have been like in the early days. Wise students of history will look at some of the chemical lists and workflow procedures for these early processes and wonder if feeling like the early days will involve being poisoned or burned or dead...lots of photographers suffered just that.

I have found a better alternative for myself.

 Note, I have done some of the early chemical stuff myself - all to no great artistic effect. None of it was easy, none of it was cheap, and none of it seems to have lasted. Even my efforts to find chemical alternatives to the more disasterous processes was not successful - you can do very little with ex-Czechoslovak traffic camera film.

But on to the better way. I invested some years ago in a plug-in computer program by the Alien Skin people in North Carolina called Exposure 3. It was a B/W conversion and colour simulation program that added onto my Photoshop Elements and gave me a number of early process looks to digital images. I recall there were about 8 different things that it did in monochrome and another couple of of dozen in colour.

Well, they have a new Exposure 4. It is way ahead of even their original program. Leave the Kodachrome A and the Anscochrome and the Lomo film colour alternatives for another discussion. Look intot his program on the net and look at the B/W Vintage section. It is the best simulation of early process I have ever seen.

Each process division seems to have about 6 alternate masks and effects, ranging from soft focus to scratches to vignettes or plate holder intrusions. There are at least 7 processes covered - remembering that there are at least 4 orientations for each image, that is 148 chances to make a modern digital image look as if it came anytime from 1839 to 1910. If you also figure that some of those original processes were reverse images, well you can see the possibilities.

Photographers who wish to really wow their friends might also care to look at the website for the Amazon Pickle Works or Dixie Gun Works. They do modern reproductions of Union cases for daguerreotypes. Of course there is also a good supply of antique-style framing in gift and specialty shops.

Oh, can't forget the Autochrome. The program also does a simulation of Autochrome. Move over M. Lartigue!

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National Children's Week - with Lomo

This is National Children's Week. And the theme is "children's right to play". While this may be bad news for those of us who own coal mines and spend most of our day whipping kiddies to force them underground, it can at least benefit the manufacturers of fun cameras.

Lomo are the people. Those fun-loving Russians. They have a range of plastic-bodied film cameras that bring some of the original feel back to photography.

These are basic bits. They focus, they have one or two shutter speeds, and one or two apertures. They take 120 film, and you can crank out either 12 or 16 exposures on a roll. They can fire electronic flash guns - indeed some kits have a flash included. They are brightly coloured and amusing.

Do they work? Does a Golf-class submarine work? Does a Ukrainian reactor work? Need you ask?

Okay, yes, they do work. You get the occasional funky little surprise...well, see the above sentence...but mostly you get a basic toy-camera image that can be surprisingly attractive. So much so that a number of major software programs contain controls designed to emulate these visual effects. It seems a little wacky to spend thousands on a DSLR and computer and software and carefully get the best exposure and then massage the files with a sledgehammer when you can do the thing fresh with the Lomo and a roll of film.

So what does this have to do with the children? Come in and buy the tots a Lomo camera and a handful of film. Show them what to do, and send them on their merry way. Pay for the prints - you may well be surprised at the creativity and vision of your offspring. They don't know as much as you and therefore have no idea that they can't do it...so many of them will go ahead and succeed. If nothing else they will be playing quietly.


Ten Days In October - Missile Crisis Sale

My fellow Australians, we have just received photographs and information that have alerted us to the fact that there is more stock on the Camera Electronic shelves than strictly required. This equipment must go. To this end we have considered two courses of action: a naval blockade or a ten-day sale. As most of us get seasick, we will pursue the second choice.

To this end, email messages have gone out to the subscribers of Camera Electronic's newsletter informing them of severe price reductions on items noted in the labels of this posting - Canon, Nikon, Manfrotto,Datacolor, Elinchrom, etc.etc. These will continue in force until the end of trading on the 31st of October, 2012.

Our terms are not negotiable. Stock must be in-store. Payment in full - cash or card. First come-first served. No online sales of these special items.

We will  maintain visual surveillance of the camera sites until the stock is gone. Until that is done, units of  SAC ( the Shop Assistants Command ) will orbit at predetermined stations ready for a sudden swoop upon designated customers. This is a case of Mutual Assured Satisfaction.

Thank you. I will now retire to my armoured command bunker.

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Friday, October 19, 2012

Retro With Canon And Nikon

Some events are more fun in retrospect than they were at the time - the Cuban Missile Crisis and a Lady Gaga concert come to mid -  and this also applies to some equipment. Anyone who has ever serviced a car with a Lucas electrical system or a Holley four-barrel carburator will know what I mean.

The same might be said for two new little secondhand offerings in the shop. We've just taken in two little film-era camera outfits that took themselves very seriously at the time but have arrived at  a point in time when they are altogether fun - not hard work.

The first is a Canon EOS 5 film camera with a 28-105 Canon lens and a Canon 540EZ flash. Tough little beast, all-rounder lens, and a flash that can illuminate a decent area of the surroundings. $ 300 the set.

The second is a Nikon F 801 film camera with a 35-70 lens and a 70-210 lens. They were a popular lens combo in the 90's and for good reason - they covered the most used angles of view for most people. WE all bought something similar and shot travel, weddings, and short sport with them. $ 250 the set.

Both of these sets are in excellent condition and carry our 3-month warranty.

Both of them are the IDEAL entry for someone into 35mm film work, as their lenses are perfectly compatible with the Canon and Nikon digital camera systems respectively.

Film ain't going away. Our fridge bears witness to that. Good film labs are still all around town. You can shoot confidently with these cameras and have negatives and slides that won't disappear into a dead hard drive. Or with a mistaken push of a mouse button. Ask me about the job that had to be recovered from the client as finished prints ( " Just to assure quality control, of course. Have 'em back to you in a coupla hours. Nothing to see here, folks. Move along there." )

Damn right there was nothing to see. I'd deleted the NEF's, the PSD's and the jpeg's in one fell swoop and needed to scan back the paper prints to get the images back in the system. Read and learn, Grasshopper...

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The Red Eye Special - Stroboframe

Somewhere out there right now is a Canon, Nikon, or Pentax shooter sitting in front of a computer wishing that they could go to bed. They have been sitting up for 4 hours with a batch of photos that they took at the dance school graduation or the big wedding and they are poking away with a mouse at the faces of their subjects. They are patiently placing the cross-hairs of the red-eye removal tool onto each little face and clicking the right button.

120 children at the graduation. 12 photos of each plus the 5 group photos. That's 2040 little faces times two eyes apiece. 4080 clicks. Click. Click. Click...

Let us not decry the power and utility of the red-eye removal tools. You'll find them everywhere - Photoshop, Aperture, Lightroom, Picasa, etc. Set them up carefully and target the glowing retinas and they do a good job. But when you are using them for 2 hours you eventually are overcome by a desire for strong drink. After the 4th hour that becomes a desire for a cup of drain cleaner.

The answer to the dilemma is not to get the red-eye in the first place. If you are using a footling little compact camera that tries to strobe out a pre-flash burst of light in an effort to get the iris of the eye to contract, good luck. You can't do it over a long distance and it rarely works anyway.

What you need if you are putting out a decent amount of light over a distance - like the stage photography - is to get that flash up and away from the center-line of the lens. You need a Stroboframe bracket.

I would suggest either one of the Press-T or Pro-T style or one of the new Pro-Digital Folding Flip. In all these cases you have a whole range of options for mounting the flash on the top bar - Stroboframe make a universal holder or you can screw the Nikon or Canon coiled extension cords straight on. Then you either command the flash via a pop-up or just go straight ahead with the cord. When you're in landscape orientation the flash is centered over the lens but high up, and when you move to portrait orientation you simple flip the top bar to bring the flash right up to the same position.

You are well and truly way from the center line of the lens axis and your flash as it goes out will not reflect back as a red eye.

We've got a wide range of Stroboframe here in the shop and can fit out pretty nearly any camera and lens combination you use. Come along and experiment and say good-bye to red-eye forever.

Note: That does not apply to early morning flights to Sydney or Melbourne from Perth Airport. They are still going to produce red eyes. Visine.

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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Plugging Into The Power Grid With Honl And Elinchrom

How many of you out there watch YouTube? I mean for detailed instructions on the use of professional photographic equipment as well as the videos of kittens falling in toilets? If you restrict yourself to the latter you may be missing out on a real training resource.

I thought of this when I was rigging out the studio for a shoot this last Sunday. I wanted to achieve a deliberate lighting effect of a pool of light falling on the models' shoulders. I went searching. Sure enough someone wanted to do the same thing and showed how.

It was simple. If I shot an Elinchrom mono block straight down it would work but it would splash far too much on the floor - and it would have been far too powerful even at the lowest setting. But the simple addition of a honeycomb grid in the reflector narrowed the beam and attenuated the light - and the model looked fabulous.

I use the 18cm general purpose reflectors - Elinchrom make a set of three round grids to fit. They are progressively restrictive ( don't ask me the arc of degrees - I don't know. Big, medium, small...) and leave a nice soft edge to the pool of light. If you are using the 21cm reflectors you can get an analogous set of grids - $ 145 all up.

No spare Elincrom head for the overhead or hair light? Got a speed light? Trigger it with the IR pulse from your main lights and do the same grid thing with a Honl 1/" or 1/4 " speed grid. You velcro this onto your speed light and get the same effect of a restricted pool of light. We can sell you the neatest little mounting feet and clamps you ever saw to attach it to an overhead support.

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Not Safe For Work - With Sigma and Tamron

As with many companies, our employers have forbidden us to access pornography at work. This is a good policy, but I sometimes wonder whether it does not go quite far enough. You see, we are still allowed to read Ken Rockwell.

I have been informed by those in the know that porn is a guilty pleasure. Sort of like spending money in the toy car section of the local hobby shop. Or getting the last bit of curried chicken and leaving the uninteresting bits for the rest of the diners at the buffet. I suspect that reading Ken is a little different - the guilt without the pleasure.

His post today is a wonderful example of damning with ephithet and innuendo. He has decided to bag Tamron and Sigma lenses in comparison to Nikon, Canon, and Leica lenses and has elected to use the term 'junk' freely - repetition that purports to be true advice. He has damned retail camera stores for stocking them. He has vaguely sailed by saying that these lenses do not work on older equipment.

He's entitled to put forward his opinion - or the opinions of the big New York retail stores that advertise near his website...goodness knows whether he needs to believe any of it - he needs to write nevertheless. But we need not believe him.

Case in point. I keep a Nikon camera outfit - bodies,lenses, flashes, accessories. Use it in the studio and in the field and am delighted with the results. ( Mind you, I have not yet shot over-saturated restroom signs in New Mexico so I cannot say whether it would be capable of pleasing Mr. Rockwell...) I use three new and one old Nikon AF lenses and find they do what I need perfectly.

I also keep a Sigma lens and Tokina lens in the cabinet - they answer specific imaging purposes, such as extreme wide angle and macro work. The operation of them and the files they produce are every bit as good as their Nikon counterparts would be. I know - I have tested out every damn lens in the place in my own setup and have chosen these products as perfect for my use.

I daresay if I needed a specific fast long zoom that I would also be happy with one of the lenses from Tamron - I've watched them in action with our customers and seen the good results therefrom.

And the joy of the thing is that in most cases the Sigma, Tamron, or Tokina lens offers a significant cost saving vs other lenses. I am bouyed by the fact that the Sigma and the Tamron people also offer two-year warranties on their lenses. I think that many Australian photographers who have not read Mr. Rockwell are out there taking great pictures with these lenses.

Ahh, perhaps I am just being too concerned. This is Thursday. Ken has the Greatest Camera That Ever Was Or Ever Will Be right now and it will reign supreme until the next GCTEWOEWB is on his desk. Next week just before lunch? Then it will be consigned to the 'junk' bin...possibly along with his opinion and the pictures of the restroom signs.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Be Prepared - With Hahnel

It never fails. You are in the studio. You have set up the perfect shot, with 3 metres square of product, two anorexic models, enough flashes to be seen from space, and an alpaca. Neither the models nor the alpaca will take direction and the alpaca has been eating something all morning....this is a shot that needs to be done ...now.

You reach for your trusty radio trigger. Dead battery. No spare battery in your studio cabinet.

You reach for the good old synch cord. It has been wrapped up tightly and has a good old break in the wire somewhere in the 5 metre length.

You reach for the aspirin bottle.

If you are lucky enough to be using a Nikon D300, D700, or D800 you hurriedly dive into the menu and select Manual for the control that deals with the pop-up flash. Then you dial it down to 1/128 power, put your hand in front of the flash to shield the subjects from the flash, and fire it to see if it will trigger the IR receptors on your studio flash units. Yes? Let the alpaca loose and shoot that shot!

Or you could keep a new spare radio trigger in case your old valve and steam job packs it up. ( Note I have one so old that it is marked as the property of Benjamin Franklin...). We have the Hahnel units for a mere $ 110 that will do remote triggering of speed lights and for $ 20 more you can get a plug-in synch cord that goes into a Bowens flash.A little jiggery pokery and you can get that pulse into an Elinchrom.

Note for the studio cleaning lady - the alpaca was fine. That's actually one of the anorexic models. Sorry about that.

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Today's Nikon D600 Fact

You never can tell whence knowledge will stream. Someone left an old Nikon D300 book here at the shop as part of a trade in. As I use Nikon D300 camera I started to read it at lunchtime. It made some of the custom setting menu business a little more comprehensible than the official Nikon manual, and I was grateful for that. It also uncovered a hidden command that is actually very useful.

 This command also appears on the new full-frame Nikon D600. I have one here at the editorial desk to verify this. There is a little difference between the D300 and the D600 in this hidden command but the essence is the same - it is a convenient way for a studio worker to ensure that the correct shutter speed is set in the camera.

You see, studio product work that is done with monoblock or power pack flash units is dependent upon the light those flashes put out - it is rare that you want to mix this with natural light or other light sources in the photo. You set your lights to make the illumination that will enhance the subject, and exclude other influences.

The way to do this is to make the camera "blind" to these other sources of light. I mean the sort of light that leaks in through thin curtains, or open doors, or exists at a low level in the back of the studio where you need to avoid power cables and find the coffee cups. The way you do it is set the ISO of the camera down low to 200, 100, or less. Then you boost the shutter speed up to the maximum synch speed of the shutter you are using and dial in a moderate aperture like f:8 to f:16. Pop your shutter and look at the LCD screen at the back of your camera - darkness.

Now you can relieve that darkness with your studio flash - put on the modelling lights, boost up the power, position the lights, staple the model to the floor, and have at it. Even if the outside of studio is in noonday sunshine, the inside of the camera only sees your flash arrangement.

Here's the fly in the ointment. The maximum synch speed for the D300 on a studio flash is 1/250 sec. The max for the D600 is 1/200. Above this the flash coverage starts to run out and the dreaded black cutoff starts to creep in from one edge of the picture. And unfortunately it is all too easy to hit the shutter speed wheel on the back of the camera with your thumb or heel of your hand and move it to 1/320, 1/500 and up. You don't notice what you are doing and a whole sequence of files is ruined.

The Nikon D3 and D4 address this by giving you a lock setting for the shutter speed that you can punch in - once set you cannot move it until you punch it out. The D300 and D600 use a different idea. They have special settings in either M or S mode that are titled 250x or 200x respectively. These settings are not locked with a physical button like the D3 and D4, but they ARE right next to the Bulb setting on each camera.

If you put the 250x on my camera you can shoot safely in studio...should you inadvertently jog the wheel off this setting there is only one place it can go - to the Bulb setting. That alerts you that you have done something wrong and you do not go off in a whole sequence of great images that only show half their frame. You can recover your setting immediately.

Bonus day. Two Nikon facts for the price of one. Someone rang in yesterday to see when we were going to get stocks of the Nikon D600. Good news. Right now. Sittin' on the shelves. Bring your wallet and take your camera home. Buy some lenses. Got them too. Don't sit there dobbing away on the net when you could be out in the spring sunshine with a new Nikon D600 taking wildflower pictures.

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Monday, October 15, 2012

Swiss Li Lite Light - Elinchrom

Those of you out there using the Elincrom Ranger Quadra flashes in their various configurations will be buoyed by the news that we have the new Li-ion batteries for these in stock now.

The box in front of me is surprisingly light - the battery itself is only 730 grammes. The price is moderate - $ 345. The life expectancy is good - they say you you can expect 320 full-power flashes from this battery.

I wondered about the amount of time that you would need to charge it up again if you discharged it flat - and whether it would have some sort of weird memory effect if you did it at a lesser rate. Apparently not - 90 minutes full charge from flat and no memory effect. For those of us that remember Ni Cad and Ni MH battery systems this is a great relief.

I am a great believer in lithium batteries, having discovered how well they suit the portable speed light flashes that I use and realizing their light weight means an easier job to do - at the end of a day's shootjng the last thing you want to tote around is a lead acid battery. And the fact that most of the lithium is grown in South America makes it even more attractive.


Friday, October 12, 2012

Leica Pure and Simple

Some people are gifted with the ability to say clearly what they mean. Every sentence they speak or write carries an unambiguous message - everyone can understand it.

I think the Leica company has realized that this is the case with some photographers as well. They looked at their primary rangefinder camera - the M9 - and decided to manufacture a variant of it that deals with the world ONLY in monochrome - a true black and white camera. It is the Leica M Monochrom.

To do it they designed a new full-frame sensor. It doesn't need to deal with colours and so has no filters to separate these out. It does not need a great deal of the electronic processing that other sensors use - as a result the files are crisper, sharper, and more contrasty. They approach medium format quality.

The camera can run from ISO 320 to 10,000. The shutter is a simple focal-plane type and there is no crashing mirror each time you trigger it. You can fire it in a quiet mode that allows you to melt into the background.

Of course it takes all the M-series lenses. Leica are famous for forward and backward compatibility. The Leica lenses are universally recognized as the best small format glass in the business. They are lenses you buy once and keep forever.

One of the philosophical points that this new approach to black and white digital photography raises is that of white balance and colour temperature. When other photographers flinch and fuss to cope with or modify this, the Leica M Monochrom shooter simple focuses ansd shoots. For him or her..light just is.

Will this camera make a better photograph? Will it make a better photographer? Will it see the world in a purer light?


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A Modest Proposal...With Canon

Those of you who have read Swift may recognize the phrase...but I assure you I am not going to horrify you too much. It really is a modest proposal that I have in mind.

 Darren Jew is coming along to the Shoot Photography Workshops in a week or so - please Google on over to the Shoot website and get the details for yourself. Darren is the underwater specialist for Canon - or maybe that should read that Canon is the equipment manufacturer for Darren Jew. Whichever, Darren makes anything look good underwater - whales, sharks, whale sharks, Queensland politicians - anything.

He uses...wait for it...Canon cameras and lenses. I believe his are the big DSLR models - probably the 5D MkIII but go along to the lecture at Shoot and find out for yourself. He'll be letting people see and try the gear and if anyone can advise you on underwater housings or operation it will be Darren. He's been there, done that, and floated to the surface.

Here's the modest proposal - you might like to get your feet wet in the underwater business, so to speak, with a small compact underwater camera form Canon. A new shipment of them came in at the start of the week and are in the showcase now. I've got one on the editorial table right now - the new PowerShot D20.

It has been developed from the previous PowerShot D10 model - that one was an appealing little egg-shape  that had the best reviews for image quality on DP Review of all of the compact underwater cameras. The D20 has changed the shape somewhat to provide a more secure grip. Amusingly enough, it has morphed from and egg shape to a fish shape. One presumes that there will be an accessory that is shaped like a chip...

Sorry, couldn't resist that.

The camera will fire out 12.1 megapixels, full HD video, SDHC card, jpeg images,and GPS log files. It records sounds ( presumably "glub, glub...") and is waterproof to 10 metres. Interestingly, the instruction booklet that comes with it has a chart of accessories that are available and there is a separate waterproof case called a WP DC 45 - presumably this lets you go to a greater depth for a longer period.

It might not be what Darren uses, but it suggests itself for use as a great beach and surf camera as well as for surface snorkeling. You could get an armful of plastic Schleich whales and sharks and dive underwater in your bathtub and break into the big-time art market.

Actually,don't mention that to Darren. He's a nice guy and it wouldn't be fair to take his market away.

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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Colour Your World - with Honl

It is often tempting to colour a backdrop with our lighting systems - whether it is flash or steady , we have all been fascinated by the business of shining the light through something translucent and seeing what happens on the backdrop. If you pop a piece of coloured glass or cellophane in there you can get amazing tints. Tempts you to just keep one roll of paper on the back and change the appearance from the flash.

Well, if you are using a roll of backdrop paper that is white or very light grey, you may be disappointed with what you get. You can generally see a strong colour when you are  setting up the shot but when full power goes through the gel and records on the sensor surface, it can be nearly a complete washout. You see a little colour round edges or where there is some shadow, but very little else.

What you need is a mid neutral grey or even a black. These give some "tooth" for the gel to bite on and depending upon the level of lighting, you can get some very strong colours.

Honl make a number of small gel sets that can be attached onto most speedlights and you can choose Hollywood, Colour Correction, Deep Colour, Autumn...well you can match the foreground mood no matter what it is. They are not expensive, and are the best way to experiment with this form of illumination.

If you need to do bigger lights such as LED panels, or hot lights, you need Lee theatrical gels. These can also be bought in a large set, or ordered in rolls. Generally you have to make your own holder depending upon what sort of light housing is used. It is not hard - my studio has several sets that flop onto the front of Elinchrom lights and the holders are variously 1/8" ply or a couple of sheets of stiff cardboard. There's nothing quite like a hatchet lighting scheme with magenta and electric green to liven up a portrait. Add a smoke machine and a pile of plastic skulls and you have a wedding to remember. 

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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Big Blog Day - Genus

Gosh this is a lot of writing to do. I'm fading away. Fading to black....

You can too, particularly if you come in and get one of the Genus Faders. These are starting to become a favourite for the makers of videos - either on dedicated video cameras or DSLRs.

Imagine your average filter for the front of a lens. ( And remember that some lenses have filters at the back but not this morning.) Picture a circular polarizer out there in front and try it out on a blue sky with fluffy clouds. Look directly toward the sun and nothing happens. Look directly away from the sun and nothing happens. Look at 90 degrees from the sun and the sky goes deeper blue and the clouds still stay fluffy and white. Lovely.

Now put another polarizing filter in front of the lens. Never mind whether you are pointed at the sun or not. Rotate that second filter. Ooh, it's gone all dark. That's the point - that combination of two polarizers can attenuate the light practically to black. Video makers can achieve the fade-to-black effect on their cameras in real time as they shoot. To help with the smooth fade, there are a couple of little detachable levers that you can grip as you rotate the front filter.

Stills people who want to get progressively deeper ND effects can also use them - you know, the misty waterfalls and seashores look or the city street with no people visible.

We have just gotten in a batch of them and I saw 58mm, 62mm, 67mm, 72mm,  77mm, and 82mm.

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Big Blog Day - Epson

Yay! Good news about a good product.

I am an old photographer. I sell new equipment to other old photographers. Yesterday I sold a new Epson 3880 printer and a stack of Epson and Ilford paper to one of our keen customers and drove out to his house to install it.

Don't read too much technical expertise into that last statement - the Epson 3880 is a printer that makes being a camera salesman a pleasure - not only does it sell really well, but it is soooo easy to hook up and set into motion that it makes even me look good.

Basically, with the 3880 you haul in the box, open it up, and put it out on the benchtop. You unfold the pictorial instruction sheet and do what it says, in order. About 20 minutes  later you are ready to print.

The Epson people have made the computer instructions easy too - the basic form of computer installation is just a matter of clicking on through the on-screen prompts. Fortunately they have made sure that the language used really is English, and logical English at that. If you can read, you can understand what they have written. As an aside, even some of the major European manufacturers have not mastered this basic skill - I could show you instruction books for superb photographic equipment that are undecipherable by anyone outside of Peenemunde...

Back to the Epson. The Epson K3 inks and the Epson papers are a precise match - so too are the Ilford papers when you crank in the ICC profiles. We elected to test the printer with a file that was sitting in an older Photoshop program but in the first instance we decided to let the Epson do its own colour management. Loaded the paper, set the size, pressed the button and stood back. It did not hesitate - produced a perfect print first go. We compared it to a commercially-printed copy and a copy that had been made on another brand of printer - very close match and totally pleasing. The real acid test was to take the print out into the clear morning sunshine and see what 5500 K would do - it was wonderful.

Epson 3880 came through again and the client can launch out into years of success with his digital files. He'll likely take control of the colour management with the Photoshop program and fine-tune matters to his own satisfaction - since he knows darkroom processing very well I think he will be able to put a very critical eye onto the work.

I would encourage anyone who wants to experience the magic and independence of their own colour or monochrome printing to seriously consider the Epson range of equipment and papers. We can supply units from the R3000 upwards and, as happened yesterday, we can do it confident that the things WILL WORK WELL.

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Big Blog Day - Lytro

Ooh, Ooh. They're here.

The Lytro cameras are here in the shop right now and you can make them work right now. You point the camera at your subject, press the shoot button, and it shoots.

No delay. No waiting for it to focus on the subject. Immediate. Bad light? No problem - 80-3200 ISO - f: 2 lens. Auto shooting to your heart's content.

Do it yourself? Manual shutter speed from 1/250 to 8 seconds. Adjust the ISO wherever you fancy. Lock your exposure by touching the screen on whatever you want.

Macro? Easy. You can get so close your lens is practically touching the subject. Tap on the screen. Shoot away.

But. But. But...Does it have a zoom lens? You bet your but. 1X to 3.5X in the everyday mode and 1X to 8X in the macro mode. You just swipe along the top of the camera to do the zooming.

We've got the Red Hot in action right now with the capacity to hold 750 light field pictures and the blue and gray models that hold 350 light field pictures.

Light field pictures? Whazzat?

Remember at the start I said you didn't have to wait for the Lytro to focus? That's because it takes Light Field Pictures that capture ALL planes of focus. You tap the viewing screen on your saved image and wherever you tap the picture comes into focus. Tap around the screen and the focus changes wherever you want. And when you load it into your computer, the same thing applies - you can refocus all your Lytro files wherever they are!

More Lytro news as we discover it. Stay tuned.


Monday, October 8, 2012

Wet And Wild With Nikon

That title probably conjures up a number of images for Western Australians - not the least of which the name of a water theme park up in the hills East of Perth. It may still exist - years ago I remember it had an enormous tube water slide as a main feature. You jumped into the top end on a rubber mat and were digested in all positions for about thirty seconds before being debouched at the bottom of it into a pool of other people. It was a bonus when you were not shot into someone's backside.

It occurred to me again last Saturday while doing a wedding in Doubleview.  Small memorial park, medium size crowd, bride in white satin and groom in cream linen - the usual nuptial thing. Fortunately the day was clear and bright and there were no trees or gazebos to confuse the camera or dapple the complexions. Kept the white balance on sunny, fired in a bit of fill and just kept tracking the bride. ( Note to new wedding photographers - lose your camera bag, your car keys, your trousers if you must - but never lose your bride. The groom makes a nice optional image somewhere in the day, but ALWAYS know where the bride is and what she is doing.)

All went swimmingly through the ceremony, the kissy line, and the big group shot...then the automatic timing mechanism that the council had set for the in-ground sprinklers cut in - at 4:00 in the afternoon. It only caught half of the guests...and they were pretty fast movers...and it was a warm day so they dried out.

My D300 cameras and lenses were safe - I parked them well away from the lawn and well above the tide line. But I think I will get myself a little Nikon 100AW waterproof camera and keep it tucked into my top pocket for the next occasion. Provided the council does not plan to water the gardens deeper than 10 metres I should be fine.

On a serious note - the 100AW is a very good idea for summer - shock, water, and sand-proof. 5X zoom lens and full HD video. Small and neat so you can pack it everywhere. Casing in discrete professional black or funky colours - that you can find underwater when you are dumped on Scarborough beach. Or a park in Doubleview.

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Oh My Gosh - LYTRO Again

Wednesday the 10th of October is going to be a lot of fun around here. The new Lytro cameras will be available for demonstration and sale. You'll be able to play with the Red Hot Red and the Cool Blue - and the Sophisticated Graphite models.

Our two resident Lytro experts, Michael and Gavin ( Trained at Lytro University including Spring Break...) will make sure that you get to see the unique things that these cameras do.

You'll find yourself amazed and delighted - and you'll probably go pester all your friends by taking their pictures and showing them. And they'll be amazed and jealous. Try not to be too mean to them - tell them where you got your Lytro camera and let them join in the fun.

Hint: once these cameras get out there and start to gather images, watch the social media. It will be better than kitten pictures or lame old video clips. People will be zooming in to your images in preference to all others, just for the fun of interacting with them.

Remember - We're the store with Lytro. You can see it on the net and pine away wishing and dreaming or you can come right down here to 230 Stirling Street from Wednesday onwards and actually get one in your hands!



Oh My Gosh - LYTRO!


Friday, October 5, 2012

A Very Good Idea For Summer - Leica

If you plan to be a tourist this summer, you need a camera. If your plan also envisages style, sophistication, and impeccable images, then you need a Leica camera.

Let us suggest the perfect one - the Leica X series. I currently have a Leica X2 on the desk in front of me and I know there is an X1 downstairs in the Leica cabinet. The X2 is in silver and black and the X1 is all over black.

The other difference that people notice right away is a slightly higher casting that holds the hot shoe on the X2. If you slide the plastic cover off it you see why it is higher - it conceals a port for an electronic viewfinder. X2 users can use the Leica EVF for precise framing and information even in the harshest environmental light.

Another difference that people might discover happens when they wish to use the on-board flash. The X1 flash is concealed in a round tub that pops up when you press it - rather like a pillbox on the Maginot Line. The X2 flash is actuated by a conventional button at the back of the body and pops forward on an articulated stalk.

Difference in the lenses? Don't think so. They are both superb Leica Elmarit 24mm 1:2.8 and they both pop out when you turn the camera on.

Difference in the operating dials? Nope.

Difference in price. Yep. The X1 is currently on special - ring us up and ask for it.

Both of these models are close to the classic Leica A, B, or C models that made the Leica reputation in the 1930's. M. Cartier Bresson would be instantly at home were he alive to handle one today - it is just the sort of discrete but serviceable device that he chose for the best of his candid photography - so can it be for you.

One thing that also has not changed for Leica - perhaps has even become more important in the 21st century. Leica is recognised as the pinnacle of small camera development, particularly in regard to the performance of the lenses. This means that it carries a prestige - and MAINTAINS that prestige - long after other cameras have been forgotten. A Leica owner is never disregarded.

Perhaps this is the time for you to become that Leica owner.


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Fastest Thing In The Shop - Hoodman 1000X

I think this is it. The faster than the proverbial speeding locomotive. Faster than a seagull on a chip or the ATO on your pension. The fastest thing in the shop.

Hoodman Steel 1000X cards have arrived in-store. These are professional Compact Flash cards in 16 Gb size. They are in a steel-clad case so that you cannot squash or distort them. They are tested individually in the USA to make sure that Hoodman can offer a lifetime warranty on them.

Fast? These will accept data at 120MB per second and fire it out at 150MB per second. I suspect that this far outstrips most of the camera equipment and computer ancillary gear that we use right now....BUT imagine what transfer speeds will be in the future. The new USB 3.0 standard is just now starting to appear in computer connections and the associated readers and has speeded life up - imagine how this will accelerate in the future.

Note that the Sony XQD cards list a read/write speed at 125 MB.second but these are currently only going out to service the Nikon D4 cameras.

Any rate, back to the Hoodman 1000X. These are an ideal match to modern professional cameras that will be trying for a high burst rate - or seek to record full HD video shooting. They are perfectly suited to the Hoodman RAW Steel Superspeed USB 3.0 reader - and this sort of combination should be at the cutting edge of imaging for some time.

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Stack 'Em, Danno...With Manfrotto

I used to look at some of the Manfrotto equipment from the 1980's and wonder if they were drinking at lunchtime. It was sturdy, well-built, angular, black, and heavy. Some things really caught your eye, like sharp edges and protruding handles. Some of the ball heads were massive enough to generate their own gravity.

Things have changed somewhat - new Manfrotto designs are smooth and stylish and elegant. Still well-built and heavy castings, but nowadays there is a lot of thinking in the design - thinking that has obviously been stimulated by contact with working photographers.

Case in point are the new ( to me...) light stands that have just come into stock. These are the 1004BAC model. They are a standard three and a bit metre tall stand with regular half inch spigot on the top and a 3/8 inch screw. Tripod legs. Black with thumbscrew lock for the extension tubes - nothing exceptional there.

Where it scores big in convenience is the basic framework - it has been compressed so that when the legs are folded, the tripod becomes a flat package rather than a round one. A rest and a lock have been incorporated into the yoke and base so that one tripod can be locked onto another when stored flat. You could link up a whole line of them like guardsmen for compact storage.

Okay - you are rarely going to do that, but if you do outside events there are a lot of times when you want to transport three light stands to the job. Putting three old cumbersome stands into he back of the Hyundai hatch used to be a real mess - and at the first sharp turn you were guaranteed to get the pile shifting and one of the legs would hit you in the ear.

This stack is a breeze - three fit in about the same space as one of the old ones and you can carry them upstairs and through submarine hatches or hobbit holes with ease. Plus you look cool and professional.

Come try them here at the shop - the Rental Department has a whole phalanx of them ready to go when you hire light sets. We've got plenty for sale as well.

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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Focus On This

Well, actually you don't need to focus right now - you can do it later...from any computer screen on the planet. Why? Because LYTRO is coming.

We've just sent two of our keenest staff members, Mike and Gavin, to Sydney to attend the Lytro University course. I am not sure if they get to wear academic gowns and sit at High Table now, but they did bring back useful information about the new Lytro camera system.

We'll be getting the Lytro cameras on October 10th.

We will get the red camera - with 16 Gb of memory, and the graphite and the blue cameras with 8 Gb of memory each. The red one costs $ 599 and the blue and grey ones cost $ 499. There will be various mounting accessories.

Gav and Mike got to play with the cameras in Sydney, taking numerous tourist shots, and we can look at them here on the shop computers. The camera shoots a picture all in one, with no initial focussing - you just press the computer screen when you are looking at it and it focusses at the point you press.

Apparently there will be provisions in the future for this sort of interaction on lots of the social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Users will be able to send the pics they take directly to these broadcasters and their viewers can then cruise around at will

Gav and Mike also saw something that seemed to produce a three-dimensional effect from a single image, but this was a pre-release development thing and we will have to await official announcements. And explanations, I hope.

Suffice it to say this is a chance for Perth photographers to try out one of the most exciting new technologies on the scene. It will not replace the DSLR for portraiture or weddings - it will not replace the medium format digital camera for complex studio shoots - and it definitely will not replace the wet-plate ambrotype camera for high speed sporting event coverage - but it will be a lot of fun. It might even challenge the people who take pictures on their mobile phones, though it won't allow you to order pizza.

You can reserve a camera right now - and several people have done so - by ringing us up and CC'ing us a deposit. If you talk to Mike and Gav you can get a lot of enthusiastic information.

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