Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Let Us Intrude In Your Train Of Thought

Don't get steamed if we derail your train of thought. Make a bridge - or a trestle - and get over it. This is no time to be a sleeper. Switch to large format.

Aren't you sorry you started reading this?

Okay, enough of the train jokes. We are in a bind down here. We have had what appears to be a large amount of fresh large format film arrive and the fridge is getting crowded out.

Ilford HP5 - 400 ISO. Great 4 x 5 film and we've gotta lotta it.

Come down now for a bargain on this  - it is totally fresh.

Make tracks for the shop...

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Second Generation Pentax Medium Format Digital

You can draw your own conclusions about buying photo equipment that is in a line of development - whether it is better to buy the first new thing or wait until the second model comes out.

This has been the case for medium-format digital cameras for some time now. One manufacturer brings of model A then model B and model C and so on. Where you climb aboard the trolley is your choice - sometimes that choice is dictated by performance and sometimes by money.

Up until now, Pentax medium format users have been working with the very good Pentax 645D. Performance reminiscent of the Pentax 645 but with the convenience and performance of a large digital sensor. The users of this camera have remarked on the similarities to the other Pentax range in the convenience and ease of use.

Well, we've swung into the second generation - the Pentax people have just announced that the new Pentax 645Z is ready for release.

That convenience and ease of use has been preserved, and to some extent improved upon with a tilting 3.2" LCD screen at the rear. Think waist-level finder in the studio. No more aching-back shoots!

The specs are good - 51.4 effective megapixels in the sensor - 3 FPS - full HD and 4K interval shooting. USB 3.0 connectivity.

The sensor is 43.8mm x 32.8mm so you are getting a great deal of information into your files - this is coupled with a new light metering system for success even in difficult exposure conditions.

And final joy - it is a weather-esealed body. Go into the field with confidence.

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The Answer Is Right/Left To Hand

Yesterday I was discussing camera operation with one of our clients - he had just finished a trip to take surfing and landscape shots up through some wild country in the Dutch East Indies.

He was using a couple of the bigger DSLR bodies for his work, and was very successful in his capture - the surfing shots are perfectly timed and the village and lagoon images are wonderful art. All good for him, but he mentioned the difficulty he had in trying to operate a camera while he was travelling on a motorcycle.

The M/C had a throttle on the right handlebar and trying to operate a standard DSLR while controlling the bike sounded like a juggler's nightmare. Lucky he and the cameras are still in one piece. Right-hand operation being the absolute for all cameras now, he was in trouble.

Readers will remember that film Exakta cameras were left-hand operation, but this was a long while ago and a long way away. No-one seems to have been inclined to repeat  the design for the digital era.

Puzzling - the operation of digital cameras is electronic. That means the shot is done with the closing of an electrical switch. It might then cause a lot of electronic commands inside  but it starts with two bits of metal touching because you pushed your forefinger down.

Well, you can push your left forefinger down as well as you can your right one. More particularly, if the little designers in Japan can make a bolt-on camera grip with a trigger that sits on the right of the camera, they can make one for the left hand side as well. All it's gotta do is close that first circuit...


You could dial into 30% of the population right there and you wouldn't have to redesign the main body. Just make a LHS grip with a switch.

GO, Boys. DO it. And remember that I could use another trip to Japan as a thank-you for the idea...

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A Pronouncement From Olympus

One of the cheeriest things we can hear is someone offering us money. It regularly gladdens the heart and makes the day light. We welcome it here at the shop and encourage customers to do it regularly.

Our suppliers also like to do it. In this case, the Olympus company is offering cash-backs to purchasers of their fine cameras and lenses.

Like many of these offers, this is an independent thing - it is them and not us, though we commend them for their zeal and public spirit.

Briefly, if you purchase selected kits or pieces of Olympus photographic equipment between now and the end of the Australian financial year - midnight in June 30th 2014 - you will receive money back from Olympus. As with many of these, your claim for this money must be done on-line to Olympus with details of name, bank, etc. and proof of purchase/serial number/etc. All legal stuff but easy to do.

The equipment eligible for the cash-back payments looks to be quite a wide cross section of their micro 4/3 line. I see OM-D E-M1 cameras, OM-D E-M5 and PEN E-P5 bodies mentioned as well as Pen E-PL5 and E-PM2 bodies as well as a good selection of lenses.

The money offered ranges from $ 300 to $100 depending upon the equipment. You could score quite a return if you bought a comprehensive kit.

And here is the real point - cash-back or no, you still get one of the most successful and convenient mirror-less cameras to take pictures with. THAT'S why you buy it, Folks...

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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A Looming Problem - The Wide Angle Lens

Those of you who have shot 21mm Super Angulon lenses on Leica film cameras may skip this post. Also anyone who has ever owned an 18mm Hologon. You know the drill already.

I discovered the effects of superwide angle shooting at the Burswood Hot Rod Show in 2012. I took the 8-16 Sigma lens into the Burswood Dome on my Nikon D300 and shot away. The images in the viewfinder had straight edges - the 8-16 does not do fisheye distortion. They looked amazing - despite the fact that the lighting was appalling.

A recent review of those pictures horrified me. Every car shot from the front or rear quarter looms out of the picture like a cartoon monster. It is reminiscent of the worst of the old Linhof Chamber Of Horror articles. I got the cars on the sensor in the crowded conditions, but the images are neither attractive nor accurate.

I tried again with the 23mm lens on the Fujifilm X-100 at the Big Al Show this year and was pleased with the results - as the lens replicates what the 35mm lens saw on a film camera, there was much less distortion. Mind you, it was necessary to back off further on the open ground to get the entire car in the frame, and this might have been difficult in a closed venue.

The compromise between the two seems to be a focal length of 18-19 mm on an APSC sensor. It approximates 28mm on a film camera. I can achieve it on the Fujifilm X-E2 with the 18mm f:2 lens or by screwing the WCL-100 to the front of the X-100. There is more to see, but it does not loom out of the picture - a good balance.

And I can agree with Fujifilm - the WCL-100 does not degrade the image of the X-100 lens in any way.

Note: the Bugatti is a deliberate artwork in the Art gallery of NSW. Marvellous, but not driveable, except in your dreams.

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Monday, April 28, 2014

Mass Murder For Photographers - Is There An Alternative?

As I took pictures yesterday at the car show I was struck by several things. Prams, fat Englishmen, and delusional farmers from Dalwallinu. Photography in crowds can be like that, and the chief thing that it will put you in mind of is being caught in a stampede in a Brazilian football stadium.

I have tried to develop a scientific theory of crowd movement in hopes of devising some way to circumvent them. When I try to take a picture of a vehicle it is always best to have an unimpeded view - my readers don't want to see a family of five out for the day.

Public shows attract the public, however, and they move in packs  - slowly - from one exhibit to the next. It probably would not matter whether they were viewing Fabergé eggs in the Winter palace or dried fruit at the Royal Show - they would still move in a stately and disorganised manner and would block the view of anyone trying to photograph the exhibits. There is a rhythm to their wanderings - one group moves out of the way and another one moves in - it is almost as if they are doing a tag-team. They do not move quickly, but they do effectively prevent taking the picture.

The picture of the bus is a case in point. I am delighted with it, but I realise that it cost me over ten minutes of waiting and clearing my throat to achieve the empty space. I am glad that the camera was operating at 1/500 of a second as this was about the interval before the next kid with the ice cream piled into frame.

I think part of the problem is the fact that the Fujifilm X-100 outfit is so small and unobtrusive. Also I dress not to be noticed. So no one notices that I am trying to do a job there. In the old days of a medium format camera and a tripod and a bulb flash on a coiled cord you made more of a statement and people kept out of the way.

Perhaps it is time to put the X-100 on a tripod and the flash on a coiled cord. Plus wear a high-vis vest with Official Photographer on it. Or to be more accurate...Officious Photographer. Most of the crowd wouldn't know the difference.

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Proof Of The Pudding

You'll recall that the last blog posting mentioned a new wide-angle converter for the Fujifilm X-100 series of cameras. It converts the 23mm lens that is fixed on the X-100 and X-100s to 19mm. You might think that 4 mm wider is not significant...but it really is.

Wide angle photography is a funny business. Leaving out panoramas and wide-format film cameras...and these are truly funny...we come to the way that standard digital cameras can be made to see a wide view of the world. Please keep in mind that wide also means high - when you drop the focal length by whatever means you effectively pack more into the frame vertically as well as horizontally. In other words you don't change the aspect ratio as you shoot.

Except, of course, when you do, Some cameras allow you to shoot in a 16:9 format to accommodate wide-screen television display. One client recently found that his camera has an external switch that does this, and when he inadvertently clicked it over he got image files that do not print out all that well on standard 2:3 inkjet paper. Now he knows.

For my part, I exercised the new converter on the X-100 at the Whiteman Park car show yesterday. There was a Nikon SB 700 helping to add sparkle and to cope with the shadows when the sun came out. It all worked splendidly.

As far as I can determine, the shots from this show are every bit as sharp as those taken with the companion camera - the Fujifilm X-E2 - taken at a previous show. In addition, the leaf shutter of the X-100 meant that I could run the shutter speed up and down for background effect without worrying about  getting the wrong flash synchronisation.

The focal length on the camera is now effectively 19mm and this approximates to 28mm on a full-frame camera. This is wide enough to allow a little closer shooting at a car show but avoids the looming corner effect of wider focal lengths - this is about as wide as you want to go to preserve some proportion in the result.

It must be noted, however, that if you need to go close-in, you need to unscrew the converter, turn off the powerful Nikon SB 700, and use the in-built flash on the camera. If you leave the converter in place you get a semi-circular shadow on the bottom of the image where the lens blocks the light.

Methinks the next stage of experimentation is to put a Fujifilm TTL flash on a coiled cord and see if it can overcome this handicap.

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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Will Wider be Wiser With Fujifilm?

Justin put me on to it. Or is that put me up to it...?

 He looked at my car pictures and recommended that I use my Fujifilm X 100 for daytime shots - better flash integration than a DSLR and a great deal lighter burden to haul about.

I needed a bit wider view than the fixed lens on the X100. It is 23mm and equates to the view that one would get with a 35mm lens on a film camera. I really wanted the view that one gets with a 24-28mm on a film camera but on the Fujifilm sensor.

Hey, presto, Fujifilm make just the thing. I ordered a WCL X100 converter lens. Mine is black to match the camera, but we also got in two more for stock - another black and a silver. That's what you see paired to the shop's Fujifilm X100s in the picture.

I've tried mine at home in the semi-gloom and it looks like it works - now to try it on Sunday at the car show at Whiteman Park. I shall show you the results so that you can compare them next week.

Note: the converter is actually small and light so it doesn't seriously affect the balance of the camera.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Canon - A Shining Light Into The Future

Canon Australia have come up with a very interesting proposition for users of their products - if they become become members of their photo-interest club, they can submit images of subjects that inspire them. The phrase being " Shine a light on..." as if we are spotlighting something.

The photographer is the one making the decision about what it is that is to be promoted. If they are ultimately successful in illustrating their passion with the Canon products they own - and that success is to be judged professionally by Canon and other photo experts - then Canon Australia will showcase their image and promote their interest through the Library of NSW, their own marketing, and a documentary to be made involving the photographer.

They have published full details of this contest on their Canon Australia website and we encourage people to go and have a look at it. Even if you are not competing, or do not win, you will be rewarded by looking at the entries. And you will get a unique insight into the psyche of the photographers...


The Ball O Light - Gary Fong In The Steampunk Era

I am glad that the neighbours can't see me in my little studio. They would ring the department, the men in the white coats would come, and that would be the end of it. As it is, I close the curtains and put on my Mad Doctor outfit and start experimenting...

The current line of research revolves around a steampunk event that will be run in May. I've decided to run a portrait set-up and have been assembling the equipment and the lighting. The get-up is no problem - I've been wearing steampunk outfits for the last twenty years at various events and it has stopped being costume long ago - it is clothing now, and old clothing at that...

The camera is the new Moriarty Portrait camera - supplied innocently by Justin Moriarty and the Fujifilm company. Not that they knew it at the time, mind, but I'm sure they will be charmed by the results in the end. Hey, any company that deliberately gives me a sepia setting in the menu of their digital camera ( the X-E2) must expect me to grab the idea and run with it. If they will kindly put a daguerreotype, ambrotype, and tintype setting in as well I will send them a bouquet of chrysanthemums.

Camera sorted, I have turned to lighting. As tempting as it is to devise a lighting system that incorporates a miniature steam engine ( Saito Mfg.. from Japan), a motorcycle generator, and antique light fittings, the work and oily mess involved would make photography impossible. So I have chickened out and  opted for electronic flash.

The Elinchrom Quadra system would do it on a professional basis - two light stands, two heads, battery controller, Skyport trigger and such, but I don't own one and I don't want to borrow one of the Rental Department's kits. The idea of steampunk is you think it up and make it yourself.

I do own some Nikon SB 700 speed lights so I turned to one of them and the Gary Fong collapsible Lightsphere. In the top the sphere I dropped one of the silver diffusers - up until now I have never been able to make this chrome accessory do anything. Now it is brilliant. It fires the light out into a flat annular pattern while still allowing some of it to exit the top of the Fong going toward the ceiling.

The result is absolutely even lighting and some degree of reverse fill in the shadows to the back of the portrait subject. No hot spot on the frontal planes of the face and no burn-out on bald heads. ( I have found my own pate useful for test purposes...)

I've got the light on a standard light stand and  have found that the legs of it can stand within the compass of my tripod legs - thus reducing the chances for people stumbling over them in the dark of a ballroom. I am thinking of decorating the legs of the tripod to further warn off the punters.

Next experiment will be to reduce the output from the Fong and do a hand-held SB 700 with a snoot or grip for spot lighting. Steam on!

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Serving On The DEW Line

Easter in our family is traditionally spent serving on the DEW line.

No, not that chain of radar stations and weather * domes across Alaska and Canada - someone else can sit up there and freeze if they want to. No, I mean DEW all the things that have built up over summer before the rains make it impossible. This includes cleaning the arrows out of the gutters, hosing the lounge room, and burying the pets.

It is also wise to clean and oil the photographic equipment and change any parts that have broken. Dead pixels can be removed from sensors - not a job for people with shaky hands, I must say - and the computer screen can be collaborated. Or is that salivated? Well you do something to it and then it is ready for winter.

This year I tried all the lenses on all the bodies to reassure myself that the contacts still worked. One battery grip proved to be faulty but when I checked it here at work it came good. I put that down to the beneficent influence of our repair department. I am still waiting for the batteries in my Nikon cameras to give up the ghost but they are proving to be immortal.

Cleaning the sand out of the tripod legs has proved to be both a good and bad idea - I have a small beach on the floor of the computer room now. I used shotgun swab to clean the inside of the tubes and then oiled them with Ballistol. It might not be what the manufacturers use but it has proved to be perfect for every other use I have ever put it to and I can't see why this won't succeed. The smell is very comforting - Ballistol in the morning smells like victory...

The computer was not neglected. I blew through the circuits with a 24 v aircraft starter battery and everything seems freer now. I used fffg powder last year and it let quite a residue.

So we're all ready for winter. Hope you've been as busy yourselves.

* New Zealand also has a DEW line. It has wether domes...

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Saturday, April 19, 2014

I Missed A Call From This Number...

Well shame on you. There we went to all the trouble to look up your number and dial it with care and that's the way you treat us? Hah!

Today's phone technology is wonderful. And of course it is shared by the wonderful internet technology. And sometimes I am left wondering what new horrors will emerge...

Speed redial. If the number you call does not answer because the staff are all serving customers over the counter or trying to deal with other phone calls, just hang up and then press the redial button for as long as you want. You may still not get and answer because the staff are still busy, but at least you can have the satisfaction of knowing that you are making the chaos worse.

Missing a call is inconvenient. If it was the last gasp of your dying Auntie, it is sad. If it was your only chance at winning the $ 5,000,000 Lotto it is tragic. If it was just a call to tell you that your 3/8" wamblot has arrived, do not panic. We will ring again, after the fires have been put out and the dead heaved over the side.

Are you in a food hall? Are you currently operating a dragline digging coal out of an open-pit mine? Is your mobile phone held together with bandaids? If so, it might be easier for us to understand you if you send us a smoke signal or a message in a cleft stick. Or revert to Swahili click language. or Morse code. It'll sound the same.

" Who em I tokking to?" A good question, and one that we frequently get. A difficult one to answer, philosophically...I tend to retreat into " Camera Electronic Sales Department " because that is on my shirt and I can read it, albeit upside down.

You mustn't think I am entirely negative. The only part of me against the telephone is my ear, and as I have two of them I can vary the experience. One of them is deaf, and I am starting to think of it as a blessing...

Uncle Dick

PS: Excuse me, I'm just going out to find a shovel. I'm going to dig up Alexander Graham Bell and put him on the line.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Oh Myyyy....I FInd Out

Well, that'll teach me.

And isn't it always the case - the things that you find out for yourself are the ones that stick with you.

I have been using an iMac and a Macbook Pro for several years, resetting the colour video cards inside the computers with a Datacolor Spyder 2 Express each month, and printing out on Ilford and Epson paper. All good and I've been happy.

Then recently the Spyder 2 Express started to go weird and I replaced it with a Spyder 4 Express. Slightly different routine for the operation, but equally simple to do. I tuned up the home and the work computers last week and carried on blithely.

Today Dom handed me some files that were taken at last night's shop party. I banged them into the Macbook Pro and then out to the shop Epson R3000 so that some of the reps could have  paper prints. Ilford Smooth Pearl 6 x 4 paper.

Wow. Better than before. Accurate colours and NO colour cast. I think the Spyder 4 Express has done something really good for the system. What, exactly, I cannot say. And this on a standard paper.

Note: I also brought back some Fujifilm printing paper from Japan to test it. Only one print so far on what amounts to a super-quality glossy but again it looks as if printing has gotten to a whole new level of accuracy...with no especial efforts on my part.

These are standard goods straight off the shelf here in the shop - with the exception of the Fujifilm paper. I know the business of colour management and printing is said to be hard but this seems easy. Perhaps it is all just hear-say...?

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Shop Party - It's Not Just About Cameras

We wish to apologise for the noise. We have been celebrating the the refit of our showroom here at 230 Stirling Street. This is the sort of event that happens somewhat seldom, and we have been making the most of the opportunity.

I have enclosed a number of unofficial photos found in an old camera in a footlocker...there will be better pictures from our official photographer "Mr. Ernest" as soon as he returns. In the meantime you can get a feeling for the evening from this selection.

The venue.

The red carpet.

And I'd like to introduce...

The stars of the evening...

B1 and B2

One of them belongs to Leica and one of them belongs to us...

Sam And Frodo

Oh Myyyyy...

" See? I told you...

Yes, actually. They really are...

See? There's a C in the middle of the keyboard...

Now is actually a good time to come down and see us. The walls have been freshly painted and all the electrically-operated doors still open. We are stocked to the gunwales with cameras and lenses and there is space to move round the floor. Easter is upon us so get in today before it all sells out!

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Moving Light Artillery Into Battery - With The Fuji X-T1

It has often been said that putting a battery grip onto your digital camera will make you look like a professional photographer*. Perhaps, but that is not the best reason for using one.

Think in terms of the ergonomics of the machine. If you want to take a picture in vertical or portrait mode you are going to have to throw your right wrist over the top of the camera and the weight will depend upon your hand. The grip you need to hold the camera against gravity means more muscle pressure and stiffer muscles. Your hand and arm get very tired over an hour of doing this.

If you use a battery grip your hand remains upright and your muscles are more relaxed. You have the other hand free to operate a zoom lens and the whole rig can be held safely all day.

Plus some camera grips accommodate a second battery in there - you get twice as long to shoot before recharging.

This is evident with the new Fuji X-T1 battery grip - we've just gotten them into stock for the Fuji X-T1 cameras and can particularly recommend them to the users of the large 56mm f:1.2 lens. You can pick one up for $ 329.

* You can look like a professional photographer just by getting a bad haircut...much cheaper.

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Friday, April 11, 2014

Doing A Deal With The Bride/Devil/Art Director

A lot of photographers have received offers from prospective clients to do work for free - advertising, editorial, portrait, wedding, some stage of the game every shooter has been told that they will be permitted do the job for no pay. One of the favourite arguments put forward to promote this is that it will be good for the photographer's career. Exposure. Bright lights. Big name. Network connections...

If you want exposure, open up your aperture or slow your shutter speed. There are controls built on most cameras to do this - they are generally on the top of the camera body and do not connect to your wallet. If your wallet opens up, it because someone's fingers are in there...

Bright lights are available from us. We sell Profoto, Elinchrom, Nikon, Canon, Metz, and Jinbei. Come in and try them. We charge money, so you'd be better off to get the client who wanted the freebie to actually pay you and then you can spend it here. That's what money is for.

Big name? Freiherr Manfred von Richthofen had a big name and so did Feld Marschal Erich von Ludendorff....lousy photographers the pair of them.

Network connections? Get a laptop and post selfies on Facebook. Or go down to Fremantle and buy a herring net. You'll get a network and more dinner than you would have from the photographic assignment - if you can find a bottle of tartare sauce you have it made.

You need not feel sad that the client will suffer from not having you do it for free. They will move on to the next final-year student and make the same proposition. Eventually they will find a volunteer.

Note: Brides generally only try to steam you for one wedding and the devil only damns you once, but art directors will try it time after time.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Tiny Studio With Cullmann And Promaster

 For the last year I have been shifting a number of interesting boxes from Cullmann around the shop shelves. The studio support sets come in various sizes - from basic to humongous with every camp known to man - and up to now I have never experimented with them. And normally I try everything that is lying around undisturbed. Ask some day about the container of hydrochloric acid and the pool chlorine...

Any rate, the Flexx Support Set is the one I raided to make the editorial studio. The desk drawer slides backward and provides and edge to attach the camera support. I elected to attach the X-10 camera to it and it is totally solid. Exposures of a second are no problem.

Fortunately the exposures can be shorter than that with an aperture of f:8 to f:16 - the camera runs at ISO 500 now and there is a Cullmann Copter tabletop tripod that acts as a light stand. On top of it is a small Promaster LED 30 light unit. If I can wangle one of the new LEDGO units we'll have even more power and shorter exposures.

None of this lighting is Steve Sint stuff - it will take a little more time to figure out  good main and fill for this tiny area - but the ability to shoot fast and illustrate as soon as an article is written in invaluable.

Anyone who shoots products or tabletop subjects would be well advised to come browse among the Cullmann accessory kits.

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Elegance As Part Of the Equation

I have been looking at the pile of cameras in the corner of the studio - from the newest digital ones on top down to the old daguerreotype ones mouldering into mulch at the bottom - and have decided that there is very little beauty in the business when it comes to equipment. For all we go on about the magnificent L..... or the classic design of the N.... or the C.... they are either utilitarian or overblown.

There are space-age constructions from the late 90's, Soviet optical tractors, and a few Disney characters with lenses in their stomachs, but few that could be described as elegant.

Contrast it with the Fuji X-M1 we have been stocking recently. This is a fully-equipped APSC-sensor digital camera with a 16mm-50mm zoom lens, articulated LCD screen, and all the associated bells and whistles incorporated inside it...but have a look at how nicely the Fujifilm designers have encased it.

Leather is always elegant. If it wasn't, cows wouldn't wear it all the time. Cows and French people are elegant and they wear leather a lot. The Fuji you see here has a wonderful body covering like tan leather. It combines perfectly with the silver finish on the rest of the body.

Now some professionals think that they can only use black cameras to create their art...but then some professionals think that they need to dress in dreadful old ratty clothing to express their individuality. I could show you albums of identical ragged professionals...

Wouldn't it be great if some of them got a shave and a new suit of clothes and a good looking camera? You can beat them to it - buy a Fuji X-M1 now.

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Four Packs Of Fun - Polaroid Is Back

Edwin Land would be proud of the place - we have Polaroid instant cameras and film back in stock.

Take a gander at the pack shots. You'll note that we can provide a new Polaroid 300 camera and film - both the cameras and the film are in colour. Now your selfies can be in print as well as on everybody's Facebook.

Also note that there is a new formula for the Impossible Project films. We have 600-series black and white and colour film for Polaroid cameras as well as SX-70 film. We have been assured that the Dutch manufacturers have got it right this time.

If your dear old 600-series Polaroid has been sitting sad and lonely, perhaps this is the time to take it out of the cupboard and load it up. You could be 90 seconds away from art...

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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

First Fruits Of The Furniture - The New Fuji Lens - With The Old Fuji Lens

Okay, that could have been clearer, but as long as you have read this far, you might as well continue...

The new editorial desk has been equipped with a seamless scoop to facilitate taking product shots. In the grand tradition of the Hazel Leaf Studio AKA DIY Palace, it is comprised of two sheets of A3+ matt paper and one big piece of mounting board. It wedges into the tabletop of the desk and a tripod holds the Fuji camera to take pictures of the Fuji lens.

The lighting is supplied by the Catch As Catch Can Company, but this will be improved upon. After all, we ARE a camera store...

The subject of the photograph is the latest and nicest of the Fuji X-Mount lenses. 56mm f:1.2. Sharp as on the focus plane and soft as behind it. The ideal companion for X-E2, X-Pro1 and X-T1 if you are gong to be a low-light street photographer or natural-light portrait artist.

Be prepared for a hefty lens - not as weighty as some of the DSLR lenses, but more than some of the other Fuji glass. It is a deliberate lens to use. Be prepared for a real snap as it comes into focus.

The picture of the 56mm is pin sharp itself because it is taken with he Fuji 60mm macro. Almost the same focal length but an entirely different philosophical approach to it - it is a lens that will produce extremely big extremely close images but only opens to f:4 - hence the tripod. But what a magnificent working optic for art copy or collection recording.

Numismatists and philatelists please take notice - A Fuji X-series camera and this lens will make the best images of your possessions that can be done - and you can do them yourself. You've been promising yourself that you will document the collection. Winter is coming - now is the time.

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Furniture Porn

In the grand tradition of the selfie, here is the new desk that we have just made for the sales area - and the three new sales and display cabinets behind it for the paper, darkroom, and inks.

IKEA may be a boiling hell with meatballs during the day but at least the flatpack furniture does go together well. I would advise people to look very carefully at the diagrams in the wordless instruction book. Every little drawing has hidden meanings that are obvious when the next stage doesn't fit. I would welcome colour printing with red arrows and exclamation marks.

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Monday, April 7, 2014

A Weekend Of Discovery

You can learn a lot when you are stupid. Of course you can learn a lot when you are smart, and it generally doesn't take as much skin off, but the knowledge gained from ignorance seems to sink in better. Thus my weekend...

Round one. Read the label. Whether you are mixing a cake or setting a camera or purchasing bookcases from the label. Saves you hauling three giant cardboard boxes back up the freeway in a Suzuki Swift to exchange them for one of the right size.

Round two. Hook up a mirrorless camera to the studio lighting system and try to use it in the same way that the DSLR system operates. In my case I have an adapter that lets me use the same lenses as my Nikon. Oh boy, I bet it is going to be better...! Oh boy, am I wrong.

The lenses and the sensors being equal...the images are the same size and proportion. And the depth of field is the same - thats a function of focus distance, focal length, and aperture.
No gain there.

When I am using a camera in studio mode - manual setting for both aperture and shutter speed - DSLR's  let me see through the viewfinder at full aperture and then check depth of field by pressing a preview button. Mirrorless cameras don't - they compel me to open and close the aperture by the click-stop ring and I am liable to push the whole assembly out of position as I do it. Do-able, but much more inconvenient.

Moral of the story? Use the regular heavy old DSLR for studio work in manual mode. Save the new you-beaut mirrorless for convenient field shooting.

Round three. The new you-beaut mirrorless camera can be mounted in a wooden box and triggered with a standard cable release. It is absolutely soundless when in the box, but will do perfect automatic focussing and exposure. It will also do a pretty good recording in sepia straight out of the camera. Steampunk Time!

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Friday, April 4, 2014

Nikon D4s In Stock Now


Saul and the Rental Boys* - Thomas and Jason - asked me to mention that the new Nikon D4s is in stock now and an example is also available for rental.

High-speed, high-rate photography. Fashion shoots. Low-light shoots. Heavy duty photography. All possible with he D4s - it is the flagship of the Nikon fleet.

Call in now and try the best.

* Not a pop group, but it could be. Depends on the singing.

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Watch This Space - Bookshop On The Move

We don't normally advertise other people's business here at the shop, but here is an exception for our photographic customers:

Boffins Bookstore is in the process of shifting its premises in Perth. It has occupied a position on Hay Street for decades and has established itself as the premier technical bookstore in the state. Actually it has outlasted most of its competitors, but done so by dint of good stock and good service.

I believe it is going to open again in William Street in the central block opposite Wesley Church with larger floor space and more departments. As I pass the site on the bus in the morning I eagerly look to see when it will open. Hurry, guys, hurry...

All this being said, I would encourage all of the Camera Electronic clients to look down the back of our place at the book shelf near the back door. We will be stocking it with lots of odd secondhand titles that pertain to photography. You can get a lot of ideas - some of them good ones - from books, and you can learn far more than the limited attention-space of the internet will present.

Note: I must confess a personal interest in Boffins. My daughter spent years working with them when she was a student and I have spent hours and dollars in there. My bookshelves at home groan with the produce of this shopping. No book has ever been unprofitable...

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A Conflict Of Disinterests - Camera Choice For The Perplexed

Working at a camera shop is wonderful. You can play with cameras all day.

Working at a camera shop is horrible. You have to play with cameras all day.

Neither of the sentiments above apply if you are a customer. Then being at a camera shop is exciting...but totally confusing. The modern world is presenting you with so many choices and alternatives that you are hard pressed to make a decision. You might want to press the button, but unfortunately Kodak is no longer there to do all the rest.

The keen enthusiast dives into the internet and reads every forum and rumour site there is.  If they are of an (ahem)..."older generation"...they look out CHOICE magazine from the local library and photocopy pages of advice. I can say this because I am of the same generation and go to the library regularly to look at the lingerie magazines. Readers of CHOICE would do well to remember that every public library has a fiction as well as non-fiction section...

Okay, armed with a looseleaf of papers and a mind full of internet camera equipment flame wars, the prospective customer comes in the shop. If they know what they want, see it on the shelf, open their wallet and whack out their credit card, the whole thing is easy. If they present 5 different opinions about 5 different cameras gleaned from other sources, it all starts to look like the battle of Verdun on a wet night.

One of the smartest things that the prospective camera buyer can do is draw up a list for their own handwriting...of what they are NOT interested in. If they don't do portraits in the studio they don't need a portrait lens. ie. they don't need an 85mm f:1.4. If they don't want to go out taking landscape shots of the beach they don't need a 10-20 f:3.5 lens. If they are not interested sports shots they don't need a pro-DSLR with 10 fps capability. And so on...This can eliminate a lot of worry.

After the person thinks out what they don't want, they can think what they do want. Family shots, wedding coverage, fungus in the forest at f:4...whatever. Just as long as they are honest with themselves about their core interests.

Finally, they can see if there are any really odd things that would be fun, but not be absolutely necessary. Automatic toast recognition. HDR food baby sunset mode. With star trails. No matter what the customer can think of, they cannot think wider than the Japanese designers, because the Japanese designers drink at lunchtime. The trick with this category of features is not to make them the central point of choice.

Or CHOICE, if it comes to that...

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Go App Yourself With Røde

Yesterday we had a training session with the chaps from Røde Microphones. The subject they covered was...microphones.

It was very detailed and informative. I had no idea that this Sydney firm was making the microphones here in Australia and had achieve3d such world-wide success with the broadcast and recording industry.

The real ear-opener yesterday was to watch  a particular Røde app on an iPad. They have a couple of these comparison programs that you can get free from the App store that basically allow you to hear the same speaker in different situations but through a whole range of recording microphones. I think they bedecked an actor with lavaliers, headsets, and handheld mikes and had her read out a script.

She was outside in front of a theatre and there was wind and passing traffic as she did her speaking. They recorded the result through the camera's basic in-built mike and at the same time on all the other ones. You can stream the things together and hear the difference between the various mikes quite clearly.

The most startling one was the basic camera compared to an inexpensive reporter's mike with a similar pattern of pickup. While the camera did pick up clear sound it was somewhat restricted and all the traffic noise came in with the voice. The reporter's mike canceled all the traffic and the actor's voice was far cleaner - the difference between a professional sound and a real mess.

If you pop over to the Røde site, and then off to the App store you can get yours for free and see what I mean.  It shows that just a little accessory can make all the difference.

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