Friday, May 30, 2014

Re Reading My Last Post - And Re-assuring My Readers

I received a phone call from one of our valued suppliers who has just been reading my report on the new Sigma 50mm f:1.4 lens. It gave me a little to pause - had I neglected to read the advertising material sufficiently, or slighted another man's product?

So I re-read my post...and went back to the DP Review report of the new lens. I don't think that DP did miss their comparison when they set this new lens up against the other three major manufacturer's products. They seem to have picked close-run devices.

I was afraid that I had contributed to mis-understanding, but thankfully, DP Review seem to have been pretty fair-handed. They did point out that the new Sigma hasn't got a rubber gasket seal at the rear of the lens, and that it has a slightly different bokeh from that of the nearest rivals - both of which might be taken as laudable sales points for the other lenses.

And to be fair, my caller did point out that the products of his firm have won three prestigious awards from the Japanese reviewers and enthusiasts recently. ( I did blog this last week...) Good devices.

Well - - -how to resolve this and reassure people that we are not being biased? I know. As I am the proud owner of one of the rival lenses - a Nikon 50mm AF-S f:1.4 G - and use it all the time ( last night in a studio shoot ) I will have a perfect opportunity to test it myself if we get one of the new Sigma lenses in stock.

Then I can make up my own mind. I won't give up my Nikon 50mm AF-S f:1.4 G for anything - nor my equally fine Nikon 35mm lens nor the Nikon 20mm nor the Nikon zoom lens that does most of my dance photos. I know the value of them from experience. But I will test out the new one gleefully.


SIgma Drop The Big One From Japan

It has just been called to our attention by the manager of the importing agents that the new Sigma 50mm f:14 Art lens has received a favourable review in DP Review.

Indeed. Favourable hardly covers it...

I have just perused the article currently on the DPR the bosses' time too... and I can see what they mean. The standard resolution graph that they do at each aperture is based upon the LPM measurements and presents as a spectrum - the red end is bad resolution and blue is good. The 50mm f:1.4 Sigma now sits in solid blue even into the widest aperture.

Chromatic aberration has been listed as so low as to be negligible and the distortion graph is flat - and stated as nothing. This is the nicest set of negatives I have ever seen on this site!

It is big - they show that it is about twice the length of an equivalent Canon lens...and I daresay that would also apply to the Nikon competition as well. And it is considerably heavier. And more expensive. All of which might be expected, given the extremely high level of performance.

If you have a full-frame or APS-C camera this may well be the best lens that you can use. Of course, the same importers would also like you to consider the Zeiss Otus 55 f.1.4...DPR seem to say it might have even a little more resolution at a higher price.

Tell you what - buy both of them. Then you can make your own tests and decide. It is the only sensible scientific thing to do. Isaac Newton would approve.


The Humbrella - The Mary Poppins Of Light Shapers

Having occasion to shoot 18 dancers dressed in Middle eastern outfits on Tuesday at their dance studio, I opted to take along three speedlights, a background stand, and bags of  muslin drapes. I found out several things:

1. The studio had far better a backdrop than I could have set up. I should have sussed it out beforehand and I could have saved carrying the kit.

2. Several speedlights set to different powers and under control of the CLS system on a Nikon are capable of dramatic light ratios. 18 dancers are too many faces to try this on. Down came two of the lights and one SB 700 shot into an umbrella...and the even light got all 18.

3. The TTL system works perfectly  all the time except when it doesn't. Then the M system works all the time.

Moving on to Wednesday night and the 15 Japanese Geisha dancers in their studio...I discovered that their place has no adequate backdrop. Fortunately I had not unpacked the car from the night before.

1. A standard backdrop stand set doesn't stretch to 15 people, even if they are Japanese and you can stack them like cordwood. If you gaffer tape the legs of the backdrop stand to the studio floor  you can stretch the muslin drape sideways...makes 6 metres...and if you use welding clamps to attach it to the uprights it will work. The center section needs propping up with a pole and there will be wrinkles but these can be overcome by...

2. Lighting soft. Again the umbrella with two SB700's firing into it for extra power. Spectacular makeup jobs and colourful costumes lend themselves to pure illustrative light and this is what worked.

Note that the common factor in these two nights is the humble umbrella. In my case it was a small Elinchrom packed as an afterthought, but in future I am going to deliberately take the big Redwing  I own. Bigger really is better.

Bigger is also available here in the shop. Promaster, Profoto, Elinchrom, all make bigger brollies. There are cheap and cheerful Promaster light stands and umbrella adapters that fit together perfectly and take up little room in the field pack. I think that they will be the better answer for a lot of out-of-studio experiences in the future.

Also please remember to pack gaffer tape and welding clamps.

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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Photokina Is Coming - Start the Rumour Mills

Photokina is coming in September. Köln will be preparing now, making sure that the fire lanes are free of interference and the barricades that filter the tourists into the selling zones are properly braced. Water cisterns will be filled and the field hospital attendants will be laying out dressings.

It is not too early to rev up the rumour mills and engage the clutches. We want to make sure that the level of despair is high enough amongst the camera enthusiasts to ensure a lively trade. Some may peak early and have to be confined to a low diet and a canvas waistcoat but that happens whenever the European summer comes on any way.

Rumour 1.  Sony Will Make A Medium Format Camera based On A Minolta Autocord TLR. This is a beauty if only for the mental picture of someone peering down into a waist-level finder. Actually, that would be cool - at least with a plain old folding WL finder you got a bit of shading from side light.

Rumour 2.  Lomo will send hit squads of special troops to seize the nearest camera manufacturer on the grounds that several of the employees can speak Russian. No-one will do a darn thing about it.

Rumour 3. Krupp will issue a 100-year commemorative shell for their 420mm howitzer. It will be available in chrome or black and will have " Siege of Liege and Namur" engraved on the nose. Buyers are cautioned not to drop it on the fuse as this voids the warranty and about three city blocks...

Rumour 4. The French photographers will mount an exhibition of the decisive moment as soon as they decide when it is.

Rumour 5.  Unsatisfied still with cameras that have micro-projectors, two LCD screens, pet smile detection, and built-in schoolgirl photo-bombers, the Japanese Photographic industry will introduce a new class of camera that contains internal memory of every scene in the world. When you point it at your subject it compares what you are about to do with what a trained professional has already done and if your framing and composition is identical it allows you to press the button. If not, a spike shoots up out of the hand grip and pokes you. Photographers get better quickly.

Rumour 6.  All production of new lenses will cease until you buy all the old ones. This means you, slacker. Get out your money.

Rumour 7. Nikon will take over all Canon factories. Canon will take over all Pentax factories. Pentax will take over all Sony factories. Sony will take over all Nikon factories. Then the music will stop and we'll all have cake. Lots and lots of cake.

 I hope this will enable you to get into the mood of the summer. Those of you who plan to travel to Sarajevo looking for Austrian royalty will already be on beam. These 100-year anniversaries can really go with a bang.

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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

June 4 Is CW Day - Make Ready For Click West

June 4th - Hoyts Carousel La Premiere Cinema

The Big Event for WAPF members when Canon and Click West combine to show the best f he WA club competition photographer's work on the extremely big screen.

It is a pretty spectacular gala night - they d food and drink and show the entries into the various classes of competition - including Mono Architecture, Portrait, Macro, Landscape. Then they talk, and that's pretty spectacular too. Then they present the prizes...

Oh My Dear. The prizes are big. I know - we at Camera Electronic provide a large chink of them. So does Canon, Kimberley Expeditions, Fitzgerald's Photographic lab, and what looks to be a half dozen famous professionals.

I'm busy stuffing CE showbags for this. Cutting up the slices of blood sausage, sewing the tea cozies, packing the advertising pamphlets...all busy.

If you are thinking of entering your picture of the holiday in Fiji you are too late this year - entries closed in May - but you can still go along and have a very good time seeing the competition. It gets pretty good when the judges declare a tie in any category and they lock the two exhibitors into a cage with clubs and let them decide who wins by the oldest methods. It is a club event after all...

Any road, go along to the Canon Click West site or any site for a WAPF club and you will be directed to Click West deatail. June 4, Hoyts Carousel. I need to go back to packing the show bags because they have just delivered the gerbils and I need to find grass for them.

Uncle Dick

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Return of the Happy Wanderers

They love to go a'wandering
Along the German track
And as they go they love to sing
Their cameras on their back.

Leica M, Leica M, Leica M
Come and buy one Ahahahaha
Leica M, Leica M
We've got a special deal!

Now there's an earworm for all of you for the rest of the day.

Our principals have returned from the 100-year anniversary celebrations at Wetzlar, Germany where they participated in the opening of a dedicated manufacturing facility - an optical park, as it were.

They got to see the big manufacturing floors and the design facilities and the secret rocket works and everything and weren't allowed to take pictures...naturally. Apparently it was amazing and they got to see new equipment now that you will be seeing later. I am guessing that there was a lot of beer and sekts involved but that is just the way my mind works...

They also visited another very well known German equipment manufacturer and learned that some very well-engineered new equipment will be reaching us as well later in the year. Even if you are not a Leica person, you will benefit from this gear. Even I am tempted...

Uncle Dick

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Monday, May 26, 2014

Oh Dear Lord, Don't Let Ernest See The Video

D.P. Review website right now.

Nikon video advertising their new fluorine coating in the front surface of their lenses.

Water, ink, paint, mud, magic markers, old engine oil - all dripped onto a glass surface. One half of the surface coated with the fluorine, one half not.

Watch and see what happens.

Just don't try to do it at home. And don't show the video to Ernest.

Note: They did not show wasabi or teriyaki sauce in the advertisement. Is this significant?

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After The Ball Is Over - With Fujifilm

Did goe to the Great Charity Steampunk Ball at the Government House ballroom on laste Saturday and was greatley entertained.

Also greatly relieved as the image will show. it was the first time that the Moriarty Portrait Camera was put to use in earnest. Some 280 images were recorded with it of ball-goers and general views. About 30 of those images have been suppressed by Government Order but I am confident that the others will give satisfaction.

Readers of this blog may know of the Moriarty. It is a camera that has a Fujifilm lens fitted - currently the 18mm f:2 version - and records images upon an electronic sensor that is 18mm x 24mm in size. Under normal circumstances in the field it might utilise a setting of 400 ISO, though when it is in use in the ball with the associated Nikon SB 700 flashes it is turned to 800 ISO.

The Forbidden Images were taken at 3200 ISO and are free of most defects - really very pleasing images. But you won't see them. Government Order.

The Moriarty connects directly to one of the SB 700 flashes which is set to Manual control. The other SB 700 is hand-held with a restrictor on the front to direct the output. It slaves off the connected flash. Unfortunately it also slaves optically off other flashes but if you are at a venue that has few other flash users, you can manage it well. Just put your thumb over the sensor window at the side and it goes blind.

As you can see, the Moriarty is fully capable of producing Autochrome colour plates as well as daguerreotypes. Of course it must be used in conjunction with and Adobe software program and an Alien Skin plug-in to reveal this but you knew that already.

One necessity for any studio work, apart from the studio and a really big Aspidistra in a pot, is a good tripod. As the recipe in Nadar's photographic cookbook says, " Let it be a  good size and of the best quality. Do not neglect the adjustable head as it will save you many hours of retouching time if the subjects are straight to begin with.". I use an ancient Tiltall but can also recommend the sturdier Cullmann devices as well.

Please note that all the images were taken in sRGB colour space and jpeg. 

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Friday, May 23, 2014

Welcome To 1954

It is good to see that the long-standing traditions of manufacture are being upheld by the makers of the Leica camera. We have just received a quick message from one of our principals who is visiting Germany for the opening of a manufacturing facility in Wetzlar.

Apparently the company is releasing the M-A. a classic 35mm film camera with the body of the MP but no light meter inside it. The rewinding facility is the knurled-knob type. There is a preview lever under the viewfinder but no self-timer lever on the other front plate.

Thus the camera comes closest to being an evocation, albeit without selfies, of the M3 of 1954.

You can be sure that it will sell like hot cakes/bowls of rice to the various enthusiasts, users, and collectors. They will buy it fresh and either stroke it lovingly, beat it around like an old shovel, or lock it away in a safe - according to their separate natures.

Fortunately for their heirs, it should still be working very well when they cease to do so. Then it can be re-sold or continue to take photographs. Leicas are like that.

Note: We are currently running a bet down here as to how soon a gold plated edition of this will appear in Moscow or Kiev and whether it will have a Wehrmacht or Marineamt eagle on it. I can hear the engraving machines in the basement from here...

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Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Swiss Pagoda

The object in the heading image is not a refugee from a Transformers movie. Nor is it  the main mast from a Japanese battleship. It is a European tripod head that is constructed in the grand tradition of trying too hard to go too far.

Those of you who remember the advertisements for large format cameras made in Europe will recognise the principle. Make a piece of mechanics hinge upon itself in 14 different ways and then bend them all on for the publicity shot. Never mind that you only ever move the thing in very small increments in the studio or out in the field - it is a game of advertising excess to compete with other machine shops.

Notwithstanding the above, this is a superb tripod head. It tilts, pans, swivels, and then twirls around for panoramic pictures. It clamps onto Arca mounts...not surprising because it is made by Arca Swiss. It is terrifyingly adjustable for friction and position. First-time users will be lost in a minute and even old hands will spend time over-correcting themselves.

It is possibly the most precise head generally available and would suit everything from a mirrorless to a monorail. Indeed, with a fully-configured monorail large format camera the photographer would not even need to use film or make any exposures - their entire studio time could be devoted to adjusting the movements until their subject died, rusted, or blew away.

More practical landscape workers could eliminate the wretched ball head and substitute this for far more control - it would make sunsets mellower and rocky shores more rocky...

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Welcome To 1953

Well, it seems like that sometimes. I look into my clothes closet at home and the smell of nostalgia and mothballs wafts out. The holes still appear in my clothes - the insects have taken to wearing tiny gas masks...

Users of mirrorless cameras who are heading overseas and wish to trick the airlines into letting them sit inside the fuselage but not pay extra for it often ask for impossibly small and light tripods. Here is one from Cullmann, based upon time-proven technology: the pull-0ut leg.

This has pop-stops to keep it extended - you can't ask it to support a big DSLR, but it will to the little cameras a treat.

You can do a bit of videoing with the pan and tilt head as well. It comes in a travel bag and costs very little*.

* $ 119

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Nikon Camera And Lens Garner Awards

Nikon Australia has just sent word that their Nikon Df camera and NIKKOR AF-S 58mm f:1.4 G lens have received awards from the Camera GP organisation in Japan.

The Nikon Df camera received the Best Camera Of 2014 Award and the Reader's Award.

The NIKKOR AF-S 50,mm f:1.4 G lens received the Best Lens Of 2014 Award.

 Well-done to the designers and builders - the Japanese market is a very demanding one and the standards of their technical judging are stringent. Prospective buyers can do very well for themselves by examining the combo here at our shop.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Going On Safari? Come Up And See Me Sometime...

The Safari Season is upon us. People are gearing up to look at the wild animals in Africa, Alaska, and Europe*. As we speak tourists are packing backpacks the size of refrigerators with DSLRs, lenses, flashes, laptops, and waterproof apple corers. Because you never can tell when you will need to can apples in Constantinople in a rain storm.

Wise tourists who have done this before and have the chiropractor's bills to show for it may elect to take a smaller rig this time. Consider if your ambitions and plans might well be suited with a camera that has a 30X zoom lens, 4 second to 1/2000 second shutter, manual aperture and shutter wheel, and GPS built-in. And a Leica lens. And a proper viewfinder on the LHS of the body. And full HD video with stereo sound.

And fits in your top pocket as you go through the door of the airplane. And for which you have not paid excess baggage.

Panasonic TZ-60.

You may not know which wine to drink with your biltong or cheese fries, and you may not know a bear from a banjo, but you can capture the fun and the scenery without making a guy or a mule of yourself. You will be less likely to attract the attention of the local pickpockets, or at least they will concentrate on your passport and wallet, if you are not carrying a camera shop on your neck. The grizzlies and hyenas will be less likely to demand a fee for posing if you do not shoot with a DSLR.

You'll still have to deal with the Europeans, but at least you will have your hands free while you do it.

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Monday, May 19, 2014

Nikon Firmware Updates Today

A number of Nikon users may wish to go over to the Nikon site to get firmware updates for their cameras - there is a large list published today for users of the Nikon 1 system:

Coolpix S 3000
Coolpix S 5200

You'll find the fastest links by typing in the code: id/8***

The ***is a series of three numbers. These updates will show with the following numbers:


Good luck.The updating of firmware needs a full battery in your camera and a steady eye to get the codes right.

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Friday, May 16, 2014

Wide Ideas From Voigtlander and Leica

If you are into landscape photography or architecture with the Leica, Fujifilm X-Pro1, Olympus micro 4/3, Panasonic Micro 4/3. or similar cameras that can take the Leica M-mount lenses, here are two very good ideas.

The first is the Voigtlander 21mm Ultron f:1.8lens. It has an integral metal lens hood as part of the mount but also has a filter thread on the front. heavy, solid construction and 1/2 stop detents between the full stop markings on the aperture ring. Apertures down to f:22. We have one for sale new at $ 1195.

The second lens is the multi-focal type from Leica. The 16-18-21 Tri-Elmar is intended to be used without an additional view-finder - eminently suitable for the Leica M or the new Leica T with the appropriate adapter. It is a little more - $ 6365 - But you can console yourself with the thought that the RRP is $ 7000.

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Drop In Some Time

Normally I welcome birds. Whether they are the feathered variety or the ones that wear short skirts, they serve to brighten the day. Chirp, cheep and chat.

They also do other things. In this case all over one of the new television monitors put up by one of the major photographic equipment makers who has helped us make a new display area at the front of the shop.

I have heard it is good luck when a bird poops on you - a strange cultural concept but no worse than those involved in the Eurovision Song Contest. At least you can wipe off the bird, but the memory of some of those songs and acts on the ESC are going to be just indelible.

I shall be interested to see whether the brand that the bird selected now undergoes an increase in sales over the next month...

Note - this was likely to have been a Willy Wagtail - the miniature bully of the bird world.

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Who Can You Talk To About Photography? Ten Good Ideas...

We all need to talk to someone. In my house they do it when I am in the john - no end of conversations seem to be vital to the other members of the family whilst one is sitting down. The only way I can think of breaking of this habit is to open the door but this involves some loss of dignity...

For photographers, talking to someone is essential. Around your birthday you talk to the family about how you really, really need the new 12-2500mm zoom lens that has just been announced at Photokina and how much better it will make their lives. Sometimes this works.

Of course there are different divisions of photography and it occurred to me that each one has a different form of conversation:

1. Family photographers talk to the family. Initially in soft sweet words and eventually in parade ground tones.

2. Good portrait photographers talk to their subjects. Bad portrait photographers talk to their assistants.

3. Landscape photographers talk to themselves.

4. Food photographers talk to themselves but in different voices. Sometimes the voices talk back.

5. Sports photographers talk to the St. John's Ambulance  attendants.

6. Fashion photographers talk to the models. Slowly, and with little words.

7. Leica photographers talk to the Almighty. Once, in the morning, to give orders for the day.

8. Camera collectors talk to their cameras.

9. Darkroom workers never talk.

10. Photography Art collectors talk to their brokers.

If you wish to add any to this list please pop it onto our comments section or onto the Facebook page attached to this blog.

Uncle Dick

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Last Chance And We're Not Lion About It - Tomorrow's The Day

If you want to experience the best of African images and find out how they are made - and plan how YOU might go and do the same - tomorrow at the State Library of WA  is your chance.

Iconic Images International - with Denis Glennon in charge - has arranged for Shem Compion to give a seminar about his books, his company( C4 Images and Safaris ), and
his experiences in the photo business in Africa.

That's tomorrow at 9:00 to 4:30, but you'll have to Google Denis on his website: Iconic Images International. Or you can ring him on:

08 9284 7373 or  0418 923 103

If you want to go to Africa with photo equipment, see Shem and then see us. He knows the stuff you need and we sell the stuff you need.

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Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Swedish Fortress Stands Secure - HB Defend Their Honour

Looks like the internet has struck again.

Inaccurately, of course, and anonymously, and with the worst possible motives*. But the victim has fought back.

Someone somewhere posted rumours that the finances of Hasselblad were in trouble.

Hasselblad themselves - with the authority of Ian Rawcliffe, the CEO of the company - have instantly quashed this. They are in damn good shape, they have an excellent product in their new medium-format camera, and they have new products coming in the pipeline.

Visitors to their stand at the forthcoming Photokina will be rewarded with glorious images and glorious devices to play with. Professional users of this brand will always be rewarded with the best working system there is.

Note: The Backstabbers Guild Of Australia never indulges in rumours about cameras. We recognise that the internet market is saturated with this form of nonsensical speculation already and we prefer to confine ourselves to more exclusive treachery.

* Commercial advantage. Rivalry. Moolah.

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Monday, May 12, 2014

Another Three Arrows In Your Mirror-less Quiver

The advent of the Olympus and Panasonic mirror-less cameras - the micro 4/3 system - has seen some amazing lens performance from the two manufacturers. Each have unique focal length and aperture combinations as well as shared equipment. There are special features abounding , yet there is one thing in common between them - a common mount and operation.

Now there is a third alternative - another exclusively Japanese manufacturer has taken options on the mount design and operations - Sigma is in the game.

And in a good way. Sigma is making three micro 4/3 lenses in prime form that are proving to be superb in terms of resolution and colour performance. The new " Art " design for the barrels is very smooth and sleek and they all have the feel of quality in the focussing.

We've tested them here on our cameras and our Olympus expert, Gavin, has had a chance to go head-to-head with equivalent Olympus lenses. Even he is impressed.

I am hoping that they also take up options for Fuji X mount and fill in with these focal lengths. I use a Sigma currently on an APS-C DSLR and am more than happy with the performance.

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A Wonderful Chance To Pursue A Dream - With Iconic Images

Iconic Images International and Denis Glennon have had a chance to see a great deal of the world and have recognised that you want to as well, To this end, they have arranged for a world-renouned author and photographer to present a seminar here in Perth later this month.

Their speaker, Shem Compion has many awards and books to his name - he is a photographer, hide designer, and author. Now he speaks and conducts workshops that help others to learn the mechanics and rhythms of his art. He has one of the most successful firms in Africa that deal with the subject; C4 Images and Safaris - he has also provided work for the BBC series "Planet Earth".

His workshop will be held at the State Library of WA on Saturday, 17th of May. It goes from 9:00 to 4:30.

Details of this as well as tickets to book a place can be obtained by going to the Iconic Images International website - it pops up first-off on Google.

Or you can ring Denis on 08 9284 7373 or 0418 923 103.

The website has some magnificent images to whet your appetite - Mr Compion has the information you need to know to make your own.

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Forget Forgetting - Carry A Spare In The Boot - With Promaster

No end of people need a tripod for the occasional landscape or group shot, but never want to carry their big studio model with them. They sometimes try to get a tiny travel tripod to attach to their camera bag but are horrified when they see the weight and size equation that this creates.

Overseas travel needs this equation to be solved with very small figures - but that means that the price goes up. That is inescapable - and if you add a further requirement of large lenses or camera bodies you need to go even further up the price scale. Eventually it becomes cheaper to just import the landscape rather than buy the tripod that you need to go photograph it...

If you are only going to be in the city, state, or country and plan to drive your car to the shoot, think about having a really cheap and light tripod in the boot of the car. It will be best suited to mirror-less cameras and it will not have carbon fibre or super complicated head but it will be there when you need it. If your wife drops a bag of superphosphate on it you'll only be out 50 bucks.

We've got good, cheap Promaster Vectra Delux tripods in store right now  for $ 50. Flip-lock legs, central rising column, three-way video head and even a little quick-release plate. You can afford it and you might just need it.

Something for the weekend, Sir?

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When You Know What You Want...

You can get it.

This was borne home to me two days ago when the chief of a dance troupe brought her ladies to the studio for publicity shots. She could tell me where the images would go, what size they needed to be, and the projected colouration of the graphic designs. She told the dancers how to dress, and what poses she wanted. She watched them and aided their posing - between her and I we got the best out of them - even the novices. They were very theatrical.

The post-prod was a dream. The chief now has a selection of poses, groups, displays, dances, and costumes. The ladies are going to look magnificent. It all ran through Aperture with only 3.75% having to go over to Photoshop for serious correction.

As a result, the work time was dramatically reduced and the cost to the customer substantially less than it has been for other troupes.

Now, if you can do this in your own photography...I mean figure out before you sally forth exactly what you want to can be equally successful. Okay, you don't have to approach it like a Prussian Guards regiment and never deviate in spite of the cannon balls, but do know what you want as you go for it.

This also has an echo here in the shop. Wander, please. Look, speculate, ponder. Ask an intelligent question if need be - the staff's little faces will light up. No need to tell us what the latest rumour site has reported because we read that stuff too*. In any case, do think  - for yourself - about what YOU want to do. Then you are more likely to be able to do it.

* I read it in theatrical accents - makes it funnier...

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Friday, May 9, 2014

Rubber Balloons

Those of you who remember the Benny Hill sketch on television that ended up with the punch line " Rubber balloons " may now blush in shame....

The question of rubber arose the other week when the new Nikon D4s was shown here at the shop. The Nikon representative took all of the staff into her confidence about the new features of the camera. The more arcane aspects of predictive double back bounce around tracking focus were a mystery to me - other than realising that the camera makes pictures in focus in spite of the user  - but I did fasten upon one new aspect; Nikon have changed the rubber composition for the grips on this new camera.

Not before time. I use the Nikon D300 and D300s and love them for the images they take and the ease of use that they exhibit...but I hate the grips.

Oh, they are comfortably-shaped and soft and squishy, but that is because they apparently contain a large proportion of silicon in the rubber. They are fastened to the body panels of the camera with double sided sticky tape and while the tape takes to the body it eventually peels off the grips. They flap open under your hand. I've had the D300 ones reset by Ernest but my sweaty fingers will undo them again the the future.

Joy of Joys, Nikon changed the formulation of the  rubber for their new flagship camera. A little less squishy and a lot more likely to stick onto the camera for the foreseeable future. Good boys.

Note: the big Canon cameras don't do this, but their grips are a little harder and thinner. Leica has opted for a bare metal body on their new T, though you can cover it with a clip-on plastic surface case. Fuji, Panasonic, and Olympus seem to be able to stay together pretty well.

Now whether they various manufacturers have opted for well-shaped grips or not is another matter - and the subject of another blog...

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Houston -The Dot Has Landed - And Taken Off Again

Well the Leica T is pretty much here - we had a product launch last night with Daniel from Leica showing the camera, lenses, and accessories.

If you want to see it can't. He took it away again. HOWEVER...he and Saul promised that the whole shooting match will be back here in the shop on the 28th of May, in stock, supplies for sale - you bring money, you get camera.

The whole shooting match includes a range of accessories - two lenses are to be made with the T mount right now and more are coming. There is an adapter to let you use Leica M mount lenses on the camera. There are four fitted plastic cases and a leather model. There will be system cases. There is an electronic viewfinder with GPS in it. There will be a new flash. There is the best camera neck strap in the universe available for it and some pretty snazzy coloured wrist straps. The batteries are to be colour-coded for the camera colour - because they feature a metal plate at the end that forms part of the external surface of the camera.

The device itself is elegantly designed and uniquely manufactured. Only two buttons  -shutter and video start/stop. The rest of the commands go through the very large touch screen.

You are not overwhelmed when you turn the screen on - you pick the criteria that you wish to deal with and cache them in your own interface screen. If you are a steady customer you just need a few controls. If you are the type who jitters around a lot you can have a lot of things to fiddle with. Your choice.

As with many modern devices, it Wi's and Fi's and you can control it from your electronic ear warmer, pocket warmer, or lap warmer. If you wish to put it on the end of a pole and wave it over the wall you can fire it from the ground. Do not laugh - someone will.

The strap that we alluded to earlier is the best in the place because it plugs into the camera body with a minimum of fuss - you get to keep your fingernails - and it is a tough, smooth neoprene rubber. Entirely in keeping with the style of the camera.

The " Leica Enthusiast " who worries whether the company has done a good thing can rest assured. They have. It's an elegant but not as expensive option to the big 'ol M camera. It will develop its own line of lenses and followers. The geeks on forums who cannot afford to buy it will bat the idea of it about like they always do, but the people who can afford to buy it will have a wonderful instrument that takes wonderful pictures.

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Thursday, May 8, 2014

Red Dot Special

Well, we seen it.

Turns out to be a new Leica camera. Carved out of a solid block of aluminium and polished by hand.

Lens on front, screen on back, no buttons apart from the shutter one - all screen touching for operation. New lens mount - adapters will be made for older Leica lenses.

Most stylish camera on the block today.

Will be on sale after the 28th of May.

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I rarely indulge in video clips on the computer. There is too much to do in my own computer room on my own files - not to mention writing two more blogs at home - to spend time watching people bicycling into trees or crashing cars in Russia.

Last night, however, I chased up a video segment that had popped up on the work computer. I'd dialled up Ken Rockwell to look up a specification on an old lens - he reviews them on a regular basis. The Google search engine turned up another blogger who makes long video segments - one promised to tell us how Ken Rockwell was dangerous for photography...

Wrong, annoying, crass...these were adjectives I could understand. But dangerous? That seemed sort of inflammatory. So I did the right thing - I did not indulge here on the firm's time - I waited until I was at home to look this one up.

The blogger has a dead set against Rockwell, but he excuses it by saying that he has talked with the chap himself. Then he proceeds to malign him liberally for advice he has given on a small camera. The advice might have been simplistic, but the audience that Ken was writing for in respect of the little entry-level camera are simple people with simple needs.

The performance of the blogger, with his wingman and "producer" watching was interesting - theatrical and overblown. Perhaps it was aimed at a particular audience as well. I found it as annoying as anything that Rockwell writes but without any of the charm.

Investigate it at your leisure - or your pleasure, if it proves to be so. I think I am going to let them both disappear over the mental horizon firing on each other and not bother going to search for survivors...

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Launch Day

Today is a momentous day for the Western World. Or at least the portion of the Western World that hovers around 230 Stirling Street...and for that matter those members of the Eastern World who do the same...

Today is Launch Day for a new Leica product. I'm not allowed to show it here on the blog, but that is okay because I have not seen it myself. I can say it is smaller than the Graf Zeppelin and more expensive than a Kinder Surprise egg. It may, or may not take digital pictures and it may, or may not be carved out of a solid block of metal. Actually that also applies to the Kinder Surprise too...

After work we are going to have ...more we roll out the new item and celebrate it. There will, presumably, be drinks and snacks. If not, there will, assuredly, be murder.

Watch for us in the papers.

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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Nik, Nik, Nikkor...

Here's the chance to get that New Nikkor lens for your Nikon camera Now and have cash in your hand. Or your bank account, as it works out.

Nikon Australia are handing out cash-backs for lenses bought this month. Here's the list of lenses that qualify and what you get back.

AF-S 35mm f:1.8G                                     $ 25
AF-S 18-200mm ED VRII                     $ 50
AF-S 50mm f:1.8G                                    $ 25
AF-S 24-120mm f:4G IF ED VR         $ 150
AF-S 70-200mm f:4G ED VR              $ 100
AF-S 58mm f:1.4G                                    $ 75
AF-S 85mm f:1.4G                                    $ 75
AF-S 14-24 f:2.8G ED                             $ 225
AF-S 24-70 f:2.8G ED                            $ 225
AF-S 28-300 f:3.5-5.6 IF ED VR           $ 75
AF-S 70-200 f:2.8G ED VR II             $ 225

These are payments made from Nikon Australia to you - quite independent of the authorised Nikon dealer - like we are are. Make a note of that...authorised. Not back yard or granny's basement market stalls...It pays to deal with the real deal.


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Of Course You Can't...But Here Is Your Chance Anyway.

Never let it be said. At least not by you. And if someone else says it, go deaf.

There are any number of things that you can't do, but if you can maintain a healthy level of ignorance you can generally accomplish whatever it is that you start. Once you admit doubt and accept advice you are sunk.

It is the Wiley Coyote principle - you can run as far over the cliff as you like but once you look down that is where you go.

A case in point is one of the staff members who wanted a bowl of home-made chicken soup. Not having ever made it before he gathered the haziest description of the process, and a chicken and ran full-tilt at the problem. He appears to have succeeded, if the big bowl of chicken noodle soup and kneidlach that he put in the fridge is any indication. We shall be testing his skill at lunch time. If the shop is closed tomorrow, you may draw your own conclusions. I am willing to try it, but I ain't lookin' down...

Similarly, the owners of digital cameras can exercise the same courage and resolution by skim-reading their camera manuals, closing one eye and reading Ken Rockwell, and pressing all the buttons in the menu. I am doing that right now with one of  the Fujifilm cameras that I have - unfortunately the computer system I have is too old to support the RAW file for this camera, though it does support the files for the other two Fujifilm cameras in the stable. I am in jpeg only, though you must remember that Fujifilm jpegs are wonderful files.

My computer system is also of a type that does not show all the gazillions of colour variations that the professional EIZO monitors do, so I am going to restrict the colour space of the camera to the gamut that the screen can use - and that my screen readers can see - and see if it makes a difference to the actual end result. Some will decry it, and advise against it...but then they said that about shelling Verdun and that worked out pretty well in the end.

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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Adventurous Printing With Epson And GoPro

Well, you can't fault the logic of it. Buy an Epson inkjet printer and get a miniature adventure camera. The best of both worlds.

Go out and video yourself skateboarding over a cliff with a jet pack, wings, and a motorcycle attached - underwater - as you do...and when you are sitting at home safe and dry and your cast with the traction weights pulling your hip straight again, you can get the lady from Silver Chain to make some great A3+ prints of you.

Okay, that's more cynicism than Epson intended when they bundled the R3000 printer with a GoPro Silver edition action camera in a special offer, and you will probably do no worse that take pictures of the kids falling off the trampoline onto the concrete.

The printer is great - I have one and it hasn't failed in anything I ask it to do - gloss, lustre, or matte - the prints are what I expect to see and the thing is quite economical with ink. We use one to make shop advertising posters and it is as good as the commercially printed material the manufacturers send us. Plus we get to do it on the spot. Thoroughly recommended.

The GoPro cameras are the doyen of this sort of machine. Whether you are recording carnage on Russian roads or swimming carnivals back home, it produces sharp, spectacular footage of whatever passes in front of the wide-angle lens. There are any number of accessories to latch these to people, vehicles, and objects and you can work Wifi and remote operation in case you don't want to be attached to it when it hits the rock face...

Nurse! Time for my sponge bath!

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Monday, May 5, 2014

Circle The Wagons - Here Come The Native ISO's

The question about natives is...are they friendly natives?

The answer to this question sometimes depends on which side of he conversation you are on. ie. Don't ask General Sheridan and expect a comfortable answer...

In the case of the native ISO of digital cameras, this seems to be fixed around the 160-200 mark. I suspect that it is a characteristic of the actual component and is a function of the composition of the silicon layer and whatever the current state of division thereof. I have discovered that these sensors are manufactured by a very few companies - and in many cases well-known camera companies are using sensors that are manufactured by business rivals.

And they are all perfectly okay with this as each manufacturer takes the sensor and then does different things with the signal - one optimises it for one thing and one for another.

I was apprised of this by reading a book this weekend - " Mastering the Fujifilm X-E1 and X-Pro1 " by Rico Pfirstinger. It is a Rockynook book obtainable at Boffins Bookstore in William Street.

In the chapter that deals with ISO settings it makes the point that the native ISO of the two cameras it deals with is 200, and the camera always takes its picture at this 200 - even if you set it to ISO 1600 or higher. What it is doing to present you with a picture at that higher ISO is underexposing the image and then dealing with that underexposure through software. And apparently doing it very well.

This strikes me as true of all of them, and explains the improved characteristics of each new model of camera from any one manufacturer - they are not adding a new sensor in many cases - just re-writing the mathematics of the signal processing. Then I realised I was not reading carefully enough...

Fujifilm has a different sensor from others - it really does have a different pattern of receptor sites from most of the others, and can benefit users greatly in the way of resolution and clarity. The X-trans sensor may very well be quite different indeed. But I take it that it still looks at the world at 200 ISO and then just shuffles the electrons to get up to a clean 6400.

Who'da thunk it?

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Friday, May 2, 2014

Share Seamlessly Amongst All Your Devices With Drobo

I love advertising. I can't pass a billboard offering worm powders for budgies without experiencing a thrill - and the desire to spend money on worm powder. I don't have a budgie but wouldn't it be great to be prepared for one - just in case...

The same can be said about camera advertisements. I still keep a stack of pictures of 35mm systems from the 1970's under my pillow, and pull them out and stare at them. I cannot focus on the bellows close-up system for too long - I have to peek at it and glance away. The image is too powerful and I have been known to faint and fall to the floor. I'm sure a lot of the clients of our shop feel the same way.

Given this susceptibility, can you imagine how the advertisement for " Share Your Images Seamlessly To All Your Devices " affected me. I looked around wildly - the television, the computer, the mobile phone...the toaster, the vacuum cleaner, the croquet set...the world whirled. Digits everywhere.

I am terrified. What if I cannot escape the march of the images? What if every time I look into the mirror I see something different in the background. I am just now getting used to the old balding guy in there ( and he's getting more HDR as the years go on ). If he starts being backed up with a paddock full of ghost gums or a harbour full of French fishing boats all hell will break loose.

Will the images from my Drobo sneak out of the hard disk and seep over into the neighbour's house? Who knows - I can't watch over them all the time. They might be going out and having a better time that I am. they might come home late and covered with chromatic aberration.

I have long become resigned to having every blessed thing I do monitored by management, the CIA, the NSA, Mossad, The KGB, and Coles-Myer. Which reminds me, I must look out my KGB card as they are doing a 2 for 1 sale this weekend in brainwashing. I've seen the state of my brain and it could certainly do with a rinse. But I do hope that the pictures can be left alone.

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Reading The Book

" I don't know anything about cameras but I want one to take good pictures and I'm going away tomorrow and which is the best one? I get discount."

Good thing , that. Not the discount bit, mind... the going away part. You'll have a good 3-6 hours on a Boeing with your knees in your chin and you can balance the camera instruction manual on them. If you can't become an award-winning iconic master in that time well where is the world coming to.

You're in good company - a long line of Australians have headed to Singapore, Bali, and Bolivia with a new 35mm camera in a leather case and a little Japlish instruction book in the bag. The ones who took a boat were better off as they had more time to read and were not likely to have their ( mostly blank )  colour slides back from the processor until they returned home. It was disappointment deferred.

It was a bit better in the 1960's as there was a longer time-frame for a number of things. Items came from the eastern states at a slower pace and people in the west accepted that they might not get what they wanted inside a fortnight. There was no instant view of an item bouncing on a screen to promise them instant delivery. The wise ones used the time interval to study up on what to do with the new camera that was coming. The less-wise just opened the instruction book ( " Thank You for the buying to this fine instrument...") and winged it.

I must complement the writers from Japan. They now make an instruction book that instructs - it may be plodding and patronising, but it actually explains what happens when you press the button. The more cynical members of the trade sometimes feel that there are too many features offered ( full-time birthday face recognition predictive AF exposure compensation for pets being one, particularly when the Schnauzer is in HDR...) but people want to push buttons anyway so you might as well give them buttons to push. It keeps their fingers away from the front of the lens.

As for right now, please remember to put your instruction book into airplane mode before you buckle up.

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Thursday, May 1, 2014

Buya Body, Buddy...

The Nikon cash back deals start today.

First cabs off the rank are the Nikon D 610 full-frame digital camera body and the Nikon D 800 full-frame digital camera body.

On the first one you can receive $ 50 cash straight back from Nikon via their My Nikon Life website. On the second you can receive $ 200 back in your bank account via the same means.

These payments are quite independent of the prices you might pay to the authorised Nikon dealers - like us. The ones that sell Nikon equipment that is backed by the two0-year Nikon Australia warranty...

The Nikon website is:

Summer vacation time is coming to the northern hemisphere and if you are headed off for NA or EU now is the time to take advantage of the cashback. Combine it with the TRS refund at the airport and the idea becomes very $$$ attractive $$$.

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Eight Bars Of Entertainment And Thirty Two Bars Of Music

Those of you who have ever attended a belly dance show know what I mean - particularly if it is traditional, nostalgic, and culturally sensitive. The saving grace for a photographer of these events is the fact that if you missed it the first time, you have three more goes to capture it...

The same might be said for many aspects of photography - I mean about the repetition. I see a number of club contests that set out categories for images. The contestants are pretty good in what they do - they follow the categories and fulfil the set subject criteria - and there is a very high level of technical skill.

There is also a warm nostalgia about some of the images. Not only is the image of the rusted 1937 Ford truck* in the wheat belt paddock evocative of 1937 and the wheatbelt, it is reminiscent of every club competition since 1938, both in and out of the wheat belt.

Some of the subjects are actually the same. Mrs. Ah Wen Chung has served as the wrinkled smoking Chinese woman for club photography since 1957. It has been steady employment for her, and apart from a racking cough, has benefitted her and her family.

We are hoping for a little change in the landscape section in 2016 as the Albany Shire Council has decided to cement up The Gap. If they sell off Wave Rock to the Chinese government we may have to fall back on sunsets and Bluff Knoll. Mind you, hauling a rusted 1937 Ford truck up the top of Bluff Knoll will be a royal pain.

Still, look on the bright side - in November of this year the Albany Shire Tourist Trappers Association will be combining with the Royal Australian Navy, The Not Imperial Any More Japanese Navy, and as many of the local RSL members as can be coaxed out of the bar to commemorate the passing of the ANZAC fleet in 1914. Albany will be Where It's At. What an opportunity for he photographer to capture the scene. Flags flying. Bands playing. Coffee stalls perking. Politicians speaking. Don't worry about missing the speeches - you'll have three more goes...

* The original 1937 Ford has been replaced with a fibreglass replica. Good from the front.

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