Friday, November 29, 2013

UD On The Df

Move over, Ken.

Uncle Dick has had two days to play with the new Nikon Df camera - we got them on Wednesday of this week and held a big launch for them after 6:00 on the night. Today he gives his verdict.

As a quick aside - I scored a bottle of beer and a piece of sushi on Wednesday and  thoroughly enjoyed the picture presentation by David Dare Parker. Other people were faster with the food. A LOT of people crowded into the shop and a goodly number of cameras and lenses were sold. The buyers are all out there right now skiving off work so that they can go out with their new cameras...and who could blame them.

To quell your fears, the device is a good one. It is an interesting take by Nikon on what people MIGHT want in a digital camera. I would be fascinated to see who they surveyed and how they asked the questions to arrive at their design plan. The aesthetics of it argue that they are targeting a particular market - the operational characteristics may am at something else.

Here - what I mean is that it has been constructed to look like a film camera of the 1970's and 80's - not a dead simulation, but a design that has a great deal of mimicry about it. Not a new thing to do - think of Fuji's X100 and X100s camera and their echo of the 35mm rangefinder camera. This is Nikon trying the same thing with the big DSLR.

Students of the camera will remember that Nikon replicated some of their 35mm rangefinder cameras just at the turn of the millenium for nostalgic collectors. They were available in Japan, and B&H, and ECS for some time but have now settled into eBay and Uncle Boris' various shops. Pursue them if you will - they work about as good as ever they did.

This new camera is of another stamp. Nikon don't want the collectors to buy it - they want to sell this one to users. They have pitched the appearance to those of us nostalgic for the older gear, but the guts of it and the functionality are right up with the best new practise. One point to mention: if you want to do video you cannot do it with this device. It is pure still photography.

Okay - Nikon takes the body style of the film SLR and puts the sensor and computer processor of their best full-frame camera in it. The legendary D4 sensor - thing that has improbably high ISO and impossibly low noise combined. They put the controls for the thing up on metal dials like the old days. They lighten the body by making the panels of magnesium. They opt for a smaller battery than the big cameras - so that it can go in a slimmer hand grip. No pop-up flash. Traditional PC connector and mechanical cable release.

But remember that this is a digital camera and modern users are used to adjusting the shutter and aperture with thumb wheels - so they put that on there as well. You don't need to use them - you can do your adjusting on dials. You can also add all your old Nikon-mount lenses from the film era - they have incorporated the special little dedicated tab on the lens mount that talks to the lenses. You might be scrapping to put 1962 lenses on it but all the later ones go very well.

The battery compartment bears an EL-EN14a battery and an SD card slot and WHOA NELLIE there is a heavy rubber seal and metal locking key to get into it. It speaks well for the weather sealing of the rest of the body. Retro-look notwithstanding this is going to be a camera that can can withstand hard service.

Hard service: Can't tell whether people who get shot at for profit will be taking this out amongst the rockets and machetes. David Dare Parker said he would - he has been using the big D3 and 4 series for just that for a number of years. Now he'll get a chance to get that level of performance at a very much lighter weight. He will be wise to take a couple of spare batteries on a bandolier, however - the EN-El14a is a 1230 mAh pack.

Soft service: This is all any amateur photographer will ever need - as long has it as a good selection of Nikon lenses. I do not wish to suggest that the amateur should stop buying cameras - this is a business and we want to eat...but if you get this one you have a vast vista of capability in front of you and you will be working long and hard to exhaust the possibilities.

Pose service: This is new and if you are fast you will have it before your brother in law. Hurry in and bring your card.

Uncle Dick

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Thursday, November 28, 2013


Nikon Df digital camera.

Yes, we have them.

Here - 230 Stirling Street, Perth.

Now - 9:15 AM Thursday, 28 November.

Ready for sale.

08 9238 4405

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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The All-Time Undisputed Best Lens In the World

We have just received a shipment of the all-time undisputed best lens in the world - acclaimed by international superstar mentors and multi-award winning iconic ambassadors. This lens is so good that federal law prohibits allowing any other lens in the same camera bag - there are stiff gaol sentences for people who contravene this.

The lens is so sharp that it has been constructed without a filter thread on the front - lest anyone be tempted to degrade it with another layer of glass. Some of them are made without a camera mount on the back incase the user selects an inferior camera. It is a pure lens for pure photographers who take pure photographs.

This is a lens so good that Ken Rockwell has liked it for longer than a week.

Most lenses have an aperture system inside them. This on has four. One to take the picture and two to make sure that the first one is doing the right job. And one spare in case it is needed.

When you use this lens you immediately are accepted into Magnum, The MOMA, and the Tate gallery. Portraits taken with this lens are so good that the Tate throws out their Constables and Whistlers to make room for the prints. Some of the pictures have been worshipped by cults.

Chuck Norris wants one of these lenses but his application for ownership is still pending...

People don't ring us up about these lenses - we ring you. If you haven't had the phone call never will.

And there is a MkII model coming out in January. Be the first on your block to lose sleep about not being able to afford it.


Wow! Look At This! The New Camera!

Wow! First pictures of the new Nikon DF camera - right here on my blog! And I took the picture! I can hardly contain myself.

Oops. Didn't. Back in a minute.

Now, where were we? Oh, yes, the new Nikon DF camera that everybody in the town will be crowding in to see tonight - we're hosting a tease-a thon between 6:00 and 8:30, whereupon we will start selling the camera and taking orders. People finally get to see whether the rumours were true. They get to see and touch and spend.

I'm counting down to 6:00 and so should you.

Uncle Dick

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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Steal Me - I'm Worth It

Look at the heading image. Now close your eyes and tell me what you saw.

You saw a $ 50 bill, didn't you? And a cup of hot chocolate, perhaps...but you did see the $ 50 bill.

People are like that. We focus on what we want, whenever we see it. This is the principle that sells the Louis Vuitton bag and the low cut blouse. It drives the new camera sales whenever the manufacturers release a new compact camera - they flood the market with superb photos of the product. The cynics amongst us in the trade then take bets on which 4 x 5 or 8 x 10 studio monorail was used to illustrate it...

Back to the heading image. Did you see the black jumper draped over the bag? It cost the owner $ 7.00 apparently. A cold wind blowing on the way to work or home and that is the most valuable object in the picture.

No food for a day? Blood sugar level at nothing? There's a cup of hot chocolate there...

Somebody ringing on the phone and you need to write down the phone number before you lose it? Pads and pens are cheap things but they become invaluable in 10 seconds.

So what's the blue bit you missed? A Think Tank Retrospective 5 camera bag. You'd never know that it contains a camera, flash, and spare lens worth about $ 10,000. Neither will the bag snatchers or pickpockets. Keep it strapped over your shoulder and it just looks like a tatty old student bag.

It is padded inside, has a general utility pocket, has a rain coat included, and looks like a tatty old student bag. The webbing straps and buckles are military grade and it look like the ones on tatty old student bags.

If you too, contrive to look like a tatty old student bag, you might get busted but you won't get mugged. And your $ 10,000 camera kit is safe.

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Monday, November 25, 2013

Open Wide...

In 2007, having peered down cake-holes for nigh on 40 years on a professional basis ( as opposed to doing it for a hobby...) I sold the old dental chair and retired. It was time to get rid of it - it had had three changes of stained upholstery and the armrests were deeply finger-marked.

 During the 4 decades I attended hundreds of lectures illustrated with thousands of  intra and extra oral photographs. Three of them were good. The rest were masterpieces of illustrative skill but all you could see was teeth. It was like looking at the front grilles of Buicks, but at least the Buicks flossed...Thus my general advice to anyone wanting to take dental pictures is - don't.

If you insist on it, however, the best way I know is to use a digital SLR or mirrorless camera. I used to advise people to use ring-flash units for the illumination but that has stopped with the advent of the white LED light. Nowadays you can get a decent ring-shaped LED set that runs on AAA batteries or a mains adapter and mount it on the front of nearly any decent camera. If you then set the ISO of the camera to 400-800 ( or higher if it is a modern camera ) you can put the mode to "A" and set an aperture of f:8 to f:16. If you put your lens on manual and at the shortest focusing distance you can generally make a rather decent extra-oral shot. An excess of decency.

If you need a closer shot or one that goes far back in the arch, the true macro lens may be necessary. Costly, but close-focussing, and it lets you stand back a bit from the customer as you work... Some of the customers have breath that makes this a relief.

If you need to have more light - really - you can use the ring flash systems. Nikon, Sigma, Canon, and Metz make them. They are in various sizes and degrees of sophistication, and some of them are automatic enough to work most of the time. But there is an almighty pop as they go off that might spook the patient. Plus they generally are more complex so you end up with a system that your staff might not find as easy to use. If you consistently get overexposure or out of focus results it is advisable to beat the nurse with a stick.

What you do with the results is different than the old days. The Carousel slide tray full of VMK preps is long gone. Slide shows on Powerpoint and Show Off can be integrated with text, sound, and music. There is no way to describe the experience of a professional presentation on gingival recession when it is accompanied by John Cage.

Please note that the above notes also apply to dermatology illustration, but with knobs on. Pulsating multi-coloured knobs...

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Begone Dull Care - Begone Dull Car

 Did goe to Gillam Drive yesterdaye for to see the hot rods and was greatley entertained.

This follows upon a visit to a celebration of the motor car on a previous weekend. The venues could not have been more different, nor the visitors, nor the cars. Indeed the photographers were similar, but with an important difference.

The venue is a strip of street that is lined with panel beaters, spare-parts yards, and chop shops. If you know what a chop shop is I need say no more about it. The street is hot in summer, cold in winter, and dusty withall. There is a lunch bar, that serves Chiko rolls and pies and pasties. With sauce.

The people who frequent the Gillam Drive show are variously described as rockabillies, rodders, rednecks, bogans, or motor-car enthusiasts - depending upon the prejudices of the observer. They dress well, and not so well, and badly, and appallingly - again based upon the observer. They wear caps, and hats, and mullets. Sometimes all three at once.

They are invariably cheerful, and well-behaved. They respect each other's cars and conditions. They appreciate the opportunity to show and see and cooperate with each other. They may not have as much money as the classic-car enthusiasts who gather under the gazebos of the expensive venue...but by God they have a great deal more style.

On to the photography - several Black Rapid rigs seen. Several people using battery packs - at least three of the experienced hands using fill flash. Lots of mobile phones and one iPad being aimed clumsily. No Hoodman loupes in use, but they were needed. I am still puzzling over the chap with the extreme wide angle lens and the 64X ND filter over the front of it...

For most shows I recommend a wide-range zoom but this time I experimented with a single focal length - the equivalent of 35mm on a full-frame camera. Had to frame tightly in small spaces, and would have appreciated a 28mm for that but still happy with the results. Not having to haul a big rig has advantages, particularly when you are trying to juggle a Chiko roll and a choc milk as well.

Ah, the taste of grease in the morning...

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Friday, November 22, 2013

Moom Pitchers - A Particularly Handy Small Hand

Our Video Lady, Melissa, has popped this on the blog desk with the note that it is a very good idea for videographers who are using DSLR cameras and want to mount a separate monitor screen or microphone. A still photographer might fancy mounting a flash unit at an odd angle to fire down on a macro subject. You could slip a doughnut over it in case you get hungry during the shoot.

The arm is 7" overall but you can also get them out to 11". The knob clamping the movement is smooth and positive - no creeping of the arm in operation. If you just need a particularly sturdy column up from the hot shoe, the articulated portion unscrews.

Best of all is the reasonable price:  $49.95.

Magic arm. Melissa-approved.

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New Fuji - Wooo....Geee....

Did goe to the launch night of the new Fuji X-E2 camera laste night and was greatley entertained.

The man who heads the sales for Fuji nationally - and the man who heads the sales for Fuji in this state brought a man who uses Fuji to shoot wonderful documentary essays through out the world. They also brought the new Fuji X-E2 cameras - black and silver bodies and kit sets as well.

The speaker, Mr Piccone has been a photojournalist and a documentary photographer for decades - and has chosen to take some very confronting images in dangerous places. He showed a moving anti-war essay on the screen as part of his presentation but then had a happier message as well - he uses the Fuji X system in Thailand and Cambodia and was able to show some charming things as well. he certainly likes the X-Pro1 and the X 100 cameras - and has taken a shine to the new 23mm f:1.4 lens. We let him have one to show but we made sure we got it back...

Quite a turnout amongst the Perth street photographers too - To their credit they polished off the sushi and a great deal of the cheese platter but they were very well behaved during Mr. Piccone's presentation. And they didn't ask funny questions afterwards - they were quite to the point. I was proud of them!

Note the little report pictures are also taken on a Fuji camera - EXR mode and literally point and shoot. makes it easy to gather images for the web.

Final note - the Fuji X-Pro1 isn't meant to be a diving camera but we saw a film of Mr. Piccone sprinting through the rain in Cambodia with one in  hand - possibly he misjudged the weather forecast- apparently the Fuji survived as well as he did...

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Tiny Cinema - Giant Results

By now a lot of people are familiar with tiny cinema.

No, I don't mean those boutique multi-cimemas that they cram into basements - where you get 6 seats and a slushy machine and pay $24 for a ticket to a movie for French people sitting around a table eating*...I mean machinery to let you make your own motion pictures via video. Without having to have a Technicolour camera and a crew of fifteen to operate. Little cameras.

Some people use handicams. Some people use compact cameras. Some people use DSLRs. All good, but not many of them can produce images and operating streams that are good enough to go on a really big screen - professional work.

Black magic make a big camera that can do just this. It's big, sleek, takes Canon lenses and lots of audio feed. They also make a very small camera that can do this - the Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera.

Get a largish pocket if you want to keep the micro 4/3 lens on it, but if you don't mind demounting the optics you can indeed slip it into a shirt pocket. The illustration has a beautiful Panasonic Lumix 12-35 lens but remember that you could put an Olympus or Sigma lens on as well. And it needn't be a zoom - a pancake 18 or 20mm is available.

Whaddaya get in the camera? 1080P. Lossless CinemaDNG RAW files, and SDXC recorder,Apple ProRes 422 (HQ). High resolution monitor.Super 16 sensor with 13 stops of dynamic range.

And a particularly simple menu interface in the screen for the cinema adjustments.

There are 1/4" threaded sockets top and bottom on the metal chassis - tripod and mic mounting is easy.

Quite frankly, it looks like it blows your average handy cam corder out of the theater.

We've got 'un for rent and we're gettin' 'em for sale. Come see what then next generation of  tiny cinema will look like.

* And smoking. Eating, smoking, and sneering at the bourgoisie. I'm glad they did not make " Mary Poppins " in France, as it would have been ghastly.

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Gapping The Generations - Or Not Poking The Bear

I was scrapping for a topic this morning until I talked to Ernest, our chief technician. He mentioned that he had read a request from me for information - I had put it out on the internet. When I expanded on what I wanted to know and why, he had a word of caution for me.

I tend to take Ernest's words of caution seriously. I remember he once advised me NOT to stick my fingers into a live light socket and this proved to be quite correct. I wish I had listened then - at least I can listen now.

The question I posed was what the new operating system for my Macintosh computers was like - I was looking at the advertisement for the OSX Maverick. It seems to be three steps on from the one that is in the computers now. The underlying reason for this is the advent of some new cameras that attract me - if I am to use RAW files from them I need to upgrade the ACR rating...and in turn this means a later operating system.

At this point the image of a beagle chasing its tail in a circle comes to mind, but read on...

Ernest mentioned that the newer operating systems are now involving themselves with information storage elsewhere in the electronic universe - the "cloud" system. Call me paranoid, but by accepting the benefits of the new software I think I might  be sending my images who knows where and in turn they might not come back to me. They might come back to other people. Hmmmm.

Personal data? I don't mind mine going everywhere, except I don't want people to know exactly what I think in case I don't agree with me. I had a garlic curry that didn't agree with me and that was unpleasant enough...I think I have come to terms with the thought that whatever I write or look at is noted down in Langley, Virginia or somewhere in Russia. I can only hope that when I become feeble-minded with age they can send some of it back to me.

Ernest said it best - if what I have now does what I need now, I would be a fool to chase the electronic rainbow on the basis of a colourful advert from Apple or the pressure of the next camera. If I change my computer to a new one, I can go in clean with a new system and all the current ACR keys will be good - and a considerable number of ones for the future. But if what I got ain't broke...don't fix it.

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Authentic Photography

A few years ago I decided to be an Authentic Photographer. So I went out and bought things to make myself look like I was living in the 1950's. It was an easy choice - I still had a number of inherited articles of clothing from the time in my wardrobe and they were not worn-out yet so all I needed to add was the camera and film and darkroom equipment and film and chemistry of the period.

I chose a Crown Graphic camera and a Graphic View with lenses and shutters from the same company - I think the glass was by Wollensack. I chose Ilford HP5 and Kodak Portra 160 sheet film. I used Rodinal developer and Fuji's version of C-41 chemicals. the paper was Ilford Multigrade IV. I ate pastrami sandwiches and drank cups of tea.

I include the last reference because I haven't have a big breakfast and I'm hungry. It is equally authentic and equally false. The photography of the 1950's had nothing to do with me - any more than it had to do with C-41 chemistry from Fuji or Multigrade IV. I never encountered pastrami in the 1950's - we called it corned beef - and I didn't drink tea. The whole attempt at being authentic was actually playing at being someone else.

So I sat and thought what would be " authentic ". I could go out and capture the universe on a Kodak Starflash camera if I care to - you can find them at junk sales and on eBay. I could wind the clock forward to 1966 and get myself an Asahi Pentax SV and some Plus X and  Kodachrome II. Or not, as the Kodak case may be...

Would my pictures look better? Would I be able to go to the hot rod show and bring back certain results? Would I spend 5 x the amount of money and time getting 1/5 of the results? I think I know the answer to that question...

This train of thought was occasioned by seeing a van on the road this morning with the sign " Authentic Bathroom Renovations ". It caused me to ask myself what an inauthentic bathroom renovation would look like...probably a lot like me with a Crown Graphic camera.

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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Cinematographers' Consumables

That's bits for moom pitchers to the rest of us - the accessories that make professional video and film shoots go smoothly. If you are a cameraperson or art director or set or props expert you may well need to tape up something, or clean something, or mark something for sound - or just find something to throw at the actors to get them moving.

If you need to mark spaces or bits of gear we have multicoloured tapes. If you need to string something p or tie something down we have all sorts of super gaffer tapes. If you need to clean screens or filters or other surfaces we have all sorts of wipes and polishes. If you just need to get the actors to behave we have a bag of professional-quality rocks.

There's clapper boards. padded eyepieces for video cameras, and X-Rite colour cards to let you get the same look in each shot. You might advance from making inadvertent art to  crafting deliberate science...

Here's a celebration of goodies on offer right now:


Black Or White - There Or Here - You Choose

We're just about to launch into the Christmas and holiday season and people are thinking about their vacation travel and their holiday snaps. The wise ones are, at any rate - and I am including the readers of this blog in that august group. Indeed - the smartest ones would have been starting to plan about August...

Let us not think about those who will pull a dead compact camera out of laundry cupboard, come down here to ask the technicians to fix if for free and claim that they never, ever had it at the beach - despite the dribble of sand and out of the lens and a starfish stuck on the LCD screen...Their vacation pictures will be fine, as long as they buy postcards.

If you're gearing up to do it right and to make the most of your chances on a domestic or overseas holiday, consider one of the Big Two from Fuji. Big Two? The X-Pro 1 and the X-100s. The black and white cameras in the picture. Please note that white is really silver but it reads better as white - I had my poetic licence renewed.

Okay, what do you get with the X-100s? An APS-C sensor, a lens exactly matched to it - 35mm focal length in the old filmspeak, and you get enough processor power and options in the computer functions to make it perform perfectly. The business of matching that lens to that sensor is really the key to it all. As well, you get a number of options in the way that you see the image - optical or electronic, and a precise framing for close-ups. It has a fill-flash and computer control that leads to confidence in any interior situation - you get a balanced result no matter what the backdrop is doing.

You can switch it to auto and give it it's head or do aperture and shutter speed via good big traditional dials. You can command a MF on the lens ring. Do it old or do it new, but do it.

Want to do it with interchangeable lenses? The X-Pro 1 really is pro. A superb set of Fujinin lenses made for the system all the way from 14mm to 200mm, zooms and macro in there as well. Superbly sharp with MF direct drive for a number of them. More automation and manual than its direct competitors. Excellent Q display to assist with settings. The basis of a thoroughly professional system of optics - a money-earner.

Both of these are in good supply right now and you can get up to speed with what they can do before you fly. Tip: If you're going to be doing closeup urban holidays pick the X-100s. If you're going to Churchill, Manitoba to see the bears, pick the X-pro 1. And the 55-200 lens. And a Mauser. Black bears are one thing but white bears are a whole different deal...

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Monday, November 18, 2013


I knew it. I knew I had seen that camera somewhere before. It has been bugging me for months, but I knew I had seen it.

Then I googled the Kodak Retina Reflex IV. Snap. Olympus are channelling the German Retina Reflex. Okay the original is a leaf-shutter mid-quality plastic-bodied 35mm SLR camera and the Olympus is a metal-bodied micro 4/3 mirrorless that can turn out 1000% better photos...they have obviously been designed by the same person. Now as the Retina Reflex was produced 50 years ago, it begs the question where they hid the designer in the interim.

Questions must be asked.

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You've Got 60 Days To get Outta Dodge...

Which makes it the slowest posse on record.

No, no, what we really mean is remember that you can recover the GST that you pay on your new DSLR or other fine camera here at Camera Electronic if you are going to travel out of the country.

You have 60 days from purchase to departure, you must have your tax invoice and the equipment with you, and it must be a total of $ 300 or more - you can combine invoices from different shops, though we would prefer if you would only shop with us...

Yo visit the desk at the airport or seaport that deals with the TRS. They say on their brochure that you must give them adequate time to do he computer entry so it is no good running in with your underwear dragging out of your suitcase and the Boeing warmed up at the end of the runway. Arrive at a sensible time.

It's a nice bit of change to recover on the price of that new camera you've coveted.

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This Is No Reflection On You, But...

Have you ever seen those cans of dulling spray that studio photographers use to control reflections in silver or glass surfaces? It's sort of a thin waxy stuff that you can spray on then wipe off later. I forgot to take my can of it when I went to photograph the Jaguar XKS 120 at the car show. The alternative - a high screed of cloud - was inconvenient to arrange as I have not paid my account with the Meteorological Bureau. I still owe them for a rain storm in July and they won't give me any more credit...

I decided to be brave and take the picture anyway - I figured if the flash bouncing back was too strong the worst it could do would be to blast my clothes off and burn my face. In the event, nothing bad happened. The Jaguar is polished aluminium and seems to fire the light off into all directions - it is curved enough never to present a flat surface. I think it would be a nightmare for fingerprints but what a fabulous shape!

If you are confronted with a similar problem in your studio on a smaller scale, think of a light cube from Glanz or Promaster. These act as an overall shield from direct light and in themselves are a smooth white . You can do silverware, gold, or jewellery easily and you never have blown-out highlights.

Now when it comes to cars with metallic paint surfaces, you tend to get a different reflection - more spread-out but more problematical in some ways. It can be difficult to get the smear that you get back to register in the right place. The safest thing if you have a slab side or a flat plane that has metallic paint is to position it at an angle and shoot the main reflection out in another direction. I tried this with the Alvis.

Whether I succeeded or not is another matter - I suspect that someone may have been laughing at me while I worked...

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Don't Look, Don't Look....Ahh...Too Late...

Did goe to the " Celebration of The Motorcar " at Cottesloe Civic Centre yesterday and was greatley amused.

The first point of note was the method of entry - the cash desk was unprepared for the hordes who assaulted them. $ 20 to get in - money to charity - but so many bank machines issue $ 50 notes that you need a big float to cope with ticket sales. It is a point that catches many small traders at markets, too. You only need one $ 100 note man at the start to screw up sales for the rest of the morning.

Once in, I assembled my professional-quality internationally-famous state-of-the-art image capture system ( Also known as my Fuji X-10 and a Nikon SB 700 on an old Metz bracket.) out of it's high-tech carrying system ( An old Tamrac bag and a spare woollen sock.) and started to take pictures of the cars. Then it started.

It always starts. Whenever I am out with other photographers I start to notice what they are carrying - and what they are doing with it. I try not to look - but the instinct of the sales trade is too strong. I MUST look...

I can look with some degree of pity - I have been where many of them are now, and I can recognise the symptoms. I know what impels some of them - like the man with the Black Rapid double harness and the two battery gripped DSLR cameras depending from the straps. I saw that in the shop and I saw myself as the sportswar correspondent running through the shell craters with two rigs...Fortunately I snapped out of it here in the shop before I did myself an injury. I hope the gentleman is similarly lucky - I admire his fortitude in the sunshine. And I was amazed when he pulled yet a third grip-equipped DSLR from some other portion of his person for the fisheye lens. I stopped myself from following him in case he had an 800mm telephoto and all my concepts of space and time would have been voided.

The other end of the equipment spectrum was much in evidence - the mobile phone camera. Held at arm's length and waved in the sunshine. I have been assured by mobile phone salesman that this produces a file fully as detailed as that from a full-frame DSLR with full studio lighting plus you can order pizza on it. This is patent nonsense - I tried calling Domino's on a Canon 5D Mk III and got nowhere. The man with the iPad was wrong - just wrong.

Somewhere in between were the small DSLR users  - I saw plenty of APSC Canon and Nikon cameras and the users were doing pretty well in their framing and angles. But not a one of them popped up their integral flash for a bit of fill. In some cases it would have made all the difference to a shot into dark wheel wells and the shaded side of a car. But they will get better and good on them.

One enthusiast was using a Leica M digital camera - with what looked like a 28 mm lens. He had on the correct lens hood and was focussing, squaring, and settling himself for his shots. I think he will have some good results from that Leica lens.

Later in the day I believe that Thorsten Overgaard and Saul took a number of their Leica enthusiasts to the show with a lot of the new equipment. With Mr. T's instructions they should have gotten some very good shots - particularly as the light would have been settling in from the west. Of course I still say "fill" but that is just me.

One final note for car show photographers. Car shows are crowded affairs and you sometimes want to get an undisturbed view of a car but are continually being baulked of your desire by people wandering into the frame. There are two methods of dealing with this - a pea shooter and a pocket full of small pebbles to blast them away from your front - or the Jedi Mind Trick.

For the latter, you just position yourself where you need to be for the car and stare at it. As the oicks wander in you direct vibrational mind messages to them that this is not the car they are looking for. Eventually they move away - be pre-focussed and ready for a snap shot when it is clear. May the Force be with you.

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Saturday, November 16, 2013

Hot Car Day Tomorrow

Cottesloe Civic Center tomorrow, folks. Classic Car Day. They are doing it for charity and I am doing it for art.

The attendee's at Thorsten Overgaard's one-day workshop will also be there at some stage of the afternoon exercising their Leica cameras and lenses.

I do hope they remember the value of fill flash - I do, and whether I opt to take out the Nikon D300/SB700/Stroboframe rig or the little Fuji X-10/SB700/ Metz outfit, I should be able to soften the shadows under the cars - and see into their deep, dark interiors.

There will be crowds, so a wide lens setting is going to be necessary, as well as a sharpened stick to clear a space. If you see me coming, prepare yourself...

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Friday, November 15, 2013

Gather Round The The Tabletop

Tabletop photography attracts some strange creatures. I know - it attracted me. Let's see if we can interest you...

The tabletop photo can be easy to define but hard to do. It is anything that you can make as an artificial scene - and surprisingly may not be on a table top in a studio. Some of the best of them are photographed on portable sets out in the sunlight.

They have traditionally been seen as an activity that filled the long winter months for northern hemisphere photographers who could not travel to exotic climes. As it is, these days everyone seems to be travelling either too or from exotic climes so there must be another charm to the genre. There is - when you create your own world you can sometimes be more than a mentor, superstar, or ambassador - you can be a deity. If you are a good deity you get good pictures.

As with all close-range subjects, your chief bugbear is going to be gaining sufficient depth of field to make things look real. Of course you will have some images that benefit from bokeh - believe me as soon as you relax your vigilance in this game the bokeh will run out from under the couch and bite you.

The best way to get the depth of field you need is to use as short a focal lenght as you can consistent with the angle of view that you want. If you are using a camera with a big sensor, you will need a longer focal length so consider deliberately choosing an APSC or micro 4/3 camera. You really will gain an advantage.

Consider getting a camera that will display what you do on a clear screen as you do it - peering into a small optical finder or through a dusty ground glass and hoping for the best is not only inconvenient but unnecessary. I know - I did just this for years and now revel in the clear view that the digital screen delivers. If you can find a camera that has a swivelling LCD screen so much the better.

You definitely need a camera that will allow manual focus - there is very little need for AF in tabletop work. There are times when you need to create layers in the picture with manual focussing onto each layer - get a lens that focusses easily.

Cable or wire remote release is mandatory and a synch socket or at least a hot shoe to let you use studio lights is perfect.

Which leads me to the pictures of the panasonic GH3 camera - Micro 4/3, and all the other necessary attributes right there on the body. Chose a lens to suit your point of view -I favour the 12-50 or the 14-42 - and away you go.

Quite what you choose to put on your table top is your own affair - I do toy cars and buildings and then combine them with live models. I've seen marvellous model seascapes on acrylic sheets. One worker makes paintings using food...

And DO check out Paul Michael Smith on the net.

Note - we've got the Panasonic and a shelf of great lenses for it in shop right now. Come see.

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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Fuji Introduce An Air Force And A Navy Version Of Their Camera

Well that was a flat-out lie, but you must admit from the look of the things that one looks as though it is land-based and one looks as though it flies off a carrier. The truth is a little more complex.

The silver camera is the Fuji X-M1 fitted with their 16-50 mm f:3.5-5.6 OIS lens - a beautiful all-round piece of glass. The lens delivers the same angles of view that we would expect from a 24-75 lens on a full-frame camera. It is very well built.

The X-M1 is based around the new Fuji X-Trans sensor with a slightly different arrangement of the colour sensors on its surface from the standard Bayer-array that other manufacturers fit. Users can see an increase in colour fidelity and low-noise sensitivity even in jpeg images.

Here I must put a personal note in - I use a Fuji X 10 camera and have never even bothered to shoot RAW with it - though it does do RAW - as the jpegs were so good right from the start. Anyone who gets any of the Fuji cameras would be well advised to test out the jpeg for themselves before switching to RAW. You might find it does all you need without using up extra memory.

Any road, the Fuji X-M1 with that lens is about the $ 1049 mark, give or take an argument
or two.

The blue Navy version is actually the Fuji X-A1. Same body, I think, and same lens, certainly - but the sensor in this one is the more conventional Bayer-array. I'll have to refer you to DP Review to see the complexities of that but it may be that your photo needs would be well met by this level of light handling.

If so, pocket the difference in price - the Fuji X-A1 is about $ 849 - or spend it on a second lens for the camera. I'd pick the 14mm myself, but then I'm a studio and closeup shooter and I'm biased.

Not biased about the Navy or the Air Force, though. Both fine services.

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