Friday, June 27, 2014

The Earth - Shattering Kerboom

Where is the boom? There should be an earth-shattering kerboom...

The Flapoflex Corporation sent out an announcement on the electric internet yesterday that the old Flapoflex K/D/X 30,000T Special Superbo has just been replaced by the K/D/X 30.000 U Special Superbo but when we got up this morning the sun rose on a landscape that was remarkably un-devastated.

Dogs still barked, morning joggers still grimaced by, and the council trucks still moved sedately down the street breaking the lids off the wheelie bins. The world did not seem to have changed.

Granted,  the K/D/X 30,000 U Special Superbo now records video in full 27.3-bit in the fits and starts mode and there is no more need to damp the firebox down on it before putting it away for the night. And wedding portrait strobist landscaper photo journalists will appreciate the new armour plated shield around the breech, but really there does not seem to have been quite the reaction we might expect.

Still, it is early in the day. By lunch we should get the first of the people ringing up to tell us they can get it cheaper from Uzbekistan and demanding that we supply it this afternoon as they are flying out at dinner time. It might not be the earth-shattering kerboom that advertisers hope for, but it will be a start,.

Uncle Dick

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The Slide Show - Traveller's Images From Germany

Here is a small selection of pictures from the recent visit to Germany made by our principals - Saul and Howard. They were the guests of Leica in Wetzlar for the opening of the optical firm's new industrial park. A good time was had by all, and there were far more pictures taken by their Leica cameras...but they asked me to select ten of the best. And a small message from Howard:

" Saul and I were fortunate enough to recently travel with Leica Australia to the new Leitz Park factory inauguration along with the Leica 100 years of photography celebrations.

Having both been to the previous factory in Solms, the amazing advancements in technology were clear to see. Leica has done a fantastic job in not only making a state of the art modern manufacturing and assembly facility , but managed to do so whilst still showing a rich heritage of product, equipment, imagery and ownership.

They are also gracious hosts and make themselves accessible to dealers, press, photographers and fans alike.

If you are travelling anywhere near Wetzlar (60km from Frankfurt) make sure to let us know and we will see if we can assist with arranging a factory visit. "

I've selected fourteen - 'cause they're actually pretty good photographers and they were there for a historic event. Ten isn't enough.

The head man from Leica with the head men from CE.

Cutting the ribbon to open the festivities.

The new display centre with the big red dot.

And a lot of people inside enjoying the display of history.

For a lot of collectors...there are a lot of Leica cameras and lenses to see.

And a lot of Leica photographs - do you recognise some of the most famous here?

Gosh - A Leica in in kit form. 38 weekly instalments at the newsagent...

The Usual Suspects.


The Spot.

See? We told you.

For bridge cameras...

Last seen rolling down on Indiana Jones...


The Last Strobist Standing

This sounds like the title of a Chuck Norris movie - he plays Ansel Adams in a blockbuster where he defeats the evil power of something. The idea of Ansel Adams stripped to the waist firing a machine gun is oddly appealing*.

Coming away from that, I discovered that we have an all-in-one kit for active hobbyists who have at least one speed light and the desire to modify the output. You get attachment accessories that let you put on a snoot, diffuser, grids, filters, or small softbox. The filter holder bears a slight resemblance to the ones made by C---n or L-- but is sized for 3 1/2 inch filters and good luck finding those.

The rest of the gear is pretty useful, and as it is all in one set you can get a good variety of looks going and experiment. If you've got a speed light setup that runs to several heads it is perfect for portable portraiture.

Pardon the terrible pack shots but it is too big to fit in the editorial light tent.

* They cancelled the planned movie about my life when Don Knotts died and they couldn't find anyone else to play me. I tried out for the part but they said I was too derivative.

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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Getta Good - Getta Gitzo

The Gitzo is the best. No arguments. It is also the most expensive. No arguments. It sells for mining money...or legal money, if you are employed by a mining firm. Normal mortals can't afford them...

Unless those normal mortals need the absolute precision of the heavy studio Systematic 3, 4 or 5, or the featherweight of the Traveller series. Then they find the money somehow. I know, I own a Studex  Series 5 in the studio and it can not be faulted. It can't actually be moved unless you eat spinach.

Now you too can approach the sacred mountain ( of tripods ) by taking advantage of the EOFY sale of the Gitzo GK1380VQR set.

It is the last one we have, or are ever likely to get. It is retro repro, styled from the 70's. It has a jet-set 70's leather travellers bag. It has a ball head and quick release and absolute precision. It is going out UNDER cost - to make room for new stock.

Bring in your $ 350 and grab it and run. It is your best chance ever for a classic, unless you can find a gold...or iron...mine.

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Print Your Own Money...With An Epson Cash Back

Whoa! Before the AFP and the Reserve bank tactical squad knock on your front door with a fire-axe, let me clarify that headline...

Epson have got a great cash-back offer for you right now - and we're in on the deal - that will let you take home a top-quality A3+inkjet printer and get a healthy chunk of money back in your hand. Better still - if you combine the purchase of a printer with a set of inks, the cash back doubles.

The printers we have in-store right now are the Epson Stylus Photo R3000. They do sheet paper, roll paper, CD's, and thicker media. They connect easily to any computer system. They are filled with Epson K3 ink and do a fabulous job. i should know - I have one at home that was paid for with my own money...and I spent a cheerful couple of hours last night printing out 5 x 7 images for inclusion in a photo book. Every image was spot-on and no paper was wasted.

Okay - here's the deal. This cash back is available from now until the end of September 2014. You purchase an R3000 from us and contact Epson on-line - they refund $ 250 to you. If you purchase an additional complete set of the K3 inks for the printer at the same time you are entitled to an additional $ 250 back. That's $ 500 back in your pocket.

Or if you want to do different mental arithmetic, you're getting a complete set of ink for just $ 105. However you cut it, you get value for money.

We've got a stack of the printers here right now. EOFY is coming. Break out the petty cash and come in here and benefit.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Wow! Junk In The Trunk Sale

Or Wow! Loot In The Boot, if you prefer.

In addition to the EOFY special list that went out today into the newspaper - and if you have ever wanted an Olympus camera and lens now is your time, Maitland -  we have decided to make use of one of the bargain bins here to clear out strobist accessories.

$ 15 a pop gets you great goods that will make your field flash work so much better. It's now old stock and the best value you'll ever find. Treat yourself.


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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Have Your Passport Ready...

The business of passport photography has been a little fraught in the last few years. The Department Of Getting You Out Of A Foreign Jail subscribed some time ago to a system  of biometric measurement designed to automatically assess your face and your passport photograph.*

It is a system that needs careful feeding - the photos that are taken need to show your head to a nicety and there were a multitude of rules as to how you needed to appear to make the thing work. The Polaroid cameras that shot multiple images could do it  but the operator needed to be careful and there were special lighting circumstances that you had to set up to get it to work. Failures were frequent, mostly due to operator error.

Reel forward ( And how many of the younger generation have ever reeled anything...?) to now with a dedicated system called ID Station. It has taken out most of the misery from the business. We got one for the shop and have been experimenting.

The basis is a small dye-sub printer, a wifi card, a Nikon camera, and a Nissan flash. We still need to stand the subject in front of a plain white backdrop and direct the Nissan flash onto it as a wash-out, but the front flash can be as simple as the on-camera flash of a D300, D90, D7100, or D600. You simply frame the victim with a standard 50mm lens - and you use the camera in Landscape orientation - and fire away.

The wifi sends the signal to the printer. The clever program there has all the data for dozens of countries' passport requirements and it displays the face for your selected country to fit the appropriate criteria. If the backdrop is a little off it can automatically correct it. Once it agrees that the thing will be accepted it prints out a sheet of four of them. You can also ask for a certificate that insists that the images are correct, in case you need to argue with the woman at the post office.

The results are 100% on the ones taken at the post office - we recently took a picture for the passport of one of our staff members and compared it to a similar effort his brother had obtained from the post office...and I know which one of them looks better. Presumably they will both get out of the country this week, but it will be interesting to see if they let them both back in...

We can do passport pics right now for $ 18.95.

* If your face matches the photo you pass. If not they beat you until it does.

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Write-Off Right Off With The Tax Department - What It Means For Photographers

It means your money staying with you.

If you run a small business with a turnover of less than $ 2,000,000...and this would include a lot of photographers in Perth* can footle with your tax this year legally. The ATO has changed the rules for writing-off assets when you make your tax return.

Now if you buy any items for your business that cost under $ 6500 they can be written off the cost entirely in the 2013-2014 tax claim. Items over that threshold go to a single rate of 15% for the first year and 30% for years after that.

If you purchase a motor vehicle for the business you can get an additional claim of $ 5000 for the year in which it is purchased. That means that if your wedding business needs a new Altair tank transporter to haul your cameras, lenses, and can benefit. I am not sure if it covers the recovery crane needed to unload the transporter.

Do check with the ATO on their website at:

* I did not laugh as I was typing this, because I was afraid that if I started I would never stop...

Uncle Dick

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Weeding About Weddings With Shoot

Looks as though you are in luck. The definitive instruction course for wedding photographers is on again here in Perth.  Read on.

Wedding work is one of the standards of the photo industry. People WILL get married, despite advice or experience...and they all want good images from the day. No, not good images...great images. And a lot f the readers of this blog can make great images.

But the trick is to make them quickly, consistently, with patience and humour, and then process them with the minimum of fuss. If you can do this, leading up to it with good business promotion and going away with a strong sales technique...well, you have your very own gold mine that will never shut down.

Bila Bakonyi can prepare you for this exciting career. He has a four-day intensive wedding course at Shoot Photography Workshops coming up that is the best hands-on and direct preparation for this job that you can ever get. He knows - and he's not afraid to share - the exact procedures for the wedding. He can boost your confidence and put money in your pocket.

Contact Jonathon at Shoot Photography Workshops today - this course is coming up very soon.

Telephone (08) 9228 8232

Get ready for the spring wedding season. The brides are calling...

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Monday, June 23, 2014

" Oh, Anything..."

Doesn't it make you furious? You go to the trouble of getting a bottle of every known liquor, and buy books on cocktails and bar keeping,  and cut lemon slices, and throw a big party and offer someone every combination of booze under the sun...and they say "Oh, anything...".

It is one reason I keep a jar of battery acid on the top shelf marked " Oh, Anything".*

In the camera game it is the same - we ask what type of photographs people want to take and where they will be shooting them, and what sort of results they want to achieve...and sometimes they just say " Oh, anything and everything, everywhere.".

Well we have a good answer here too - particularly if you shoot with a Nikon DSLR. The Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 16-85mm f:3.5-5.6G ED VR is as close to Oh Anything as you can get. It has a wide enough wide angle for landscapes and interiors and a long enough tele for portraits.  It has a stabiliser for sports or action and a 38 cm closest distance for products. It is a low distortion zoom.

Our answer gets even better when you consider that we have a batch of demo 16-85 lenses just arrived. I expect they are going to be about $ 585 or so, and at that price should do all the general purpose enthusiast could ask for.

* To be fair it is GOOD battery acid.

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Friday, June 20, 2014

Random Mathematics Of Printing Paper - With Promaster

I keep looking at the Promaster inkjet paper on the shelf and wondering why it hasn't sold. It is good quality paper and available in several types. I was looking at the Ultra Premium Pearl paper and mentally comparing it to Ilford Galerie Prestige Smooth Pearl in the same size pack.

The Ilford paper is $ 30 for 25 sheets...a final price of $1.20 a sheet.

The Promaster paper is $ 20 for 25 price of 80¢ per sheet.

That's a considerable difference...I could use the extra 40¢ in my pocket at beer time.

But here's the catch. the Promaster paper is sized for US Letter rather than A4. It is a little shorter and a little wider:

A4.........................210mm x 297mm

US Letter............216mm x 279mm

The problem is these days we're so used to thinking in the A series papers and documents  that we sometimes forget that there are other dimensions. I was horrified to discover all of them on the printing section of the Photoshop Elements program...US Legal, Tabloid, B3, DL...Oh Dear. Which to choose?  Where exactly would the Promaster paper fit into the average photographers armamentarium?

I went to the new file section and made an experiment. Thinking of the old-fashioned 8" x 10" mantle photo, I tried it on the Promaster paper - perfect fit. It made a sad mess of A4, with overhangs on both ends.

So there's the answer if you are home printing in the 8 x 10 or 4 x 5  aspect ratio. Try a pack of the Promaster US Letter size in either Ultra Premium Pearl or the more expensive art papers. You can even get canvas.

See - there's a garment on the rack to fit everyone.

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Enter The Bargain Zone For $ 5

Those of you who remember our shop a few years ago...indeed a few decades ago...remember that we often had large amounts of strange equipment jumbled about. it could be like a voyage of discovery to find a long-dead civilisation. Sort of an Indiana Jones movie but without the big rock that rolls down on you...

Things have changed here on the sales floor with the advent of new cabinetry and the more ordered display of cameras and lenses. This is welcomed by most of the customers and all of the staff.

To cater for the explorers, however, we have unearthed a seemingly endless supply of small camera bags and oddly assorted filters. There are four easy-access bins at the front of the sales area near the Fujifilm cabinet that we have designated as the Bargain Zone. These are filled with the rich harvest of new little pouches and you are welcome to take all you wish at $ 5 apiece.

Think outside the square and inside the case...memory keys...change and credit cards...small sandwiches...ammunition...accessories for strobists...well you could use these little guys for just about anything. I am thinking of making a utility belt for myself out of the more colourful ones. When guests come over I'll wear it round the house. That'll ensure they don't stay too long.

$ 5 never bought a better bargain...

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Three Stories Of O

We are perfectly safe. The danger of running out of Olympus E-PL5 cameras with 14-42 lenses has been averted. Supplies have arrived and the troops are shoring up the parapets with boxes of them.

Actually, they are filling up the shop. Already we have lost a staff member behind a wall of boxes and all we can hear is a muffled voice asking for coffee.

Members of the camera buying public - and their friends - are urged to come in and help us regain some control of the storeroom by buying a kit. There are also many many lenses as well, so if you have a spare pocket you can take a couple of those home too.

The E-PL5 is the small hand version of the OM-D mirror-less cameras with all the goodies packed tight. The image quality is superb and the convenience of use is unbeatable. We are also offering the 45mm f:1.8 lens and the 14-150 lens as well on special deals so the portraitist or traveller is directly catered for.

The E-PL5 kit with the 14-42 lens is going out at $ 499.

The 45mm f:1.8 lens is going out at $ 399.

The 14-150 mm lens is going out at $ 599.

Now here's the BIG PART. Olympus currently has a cash-back offer for these camera kits and lenses that goes until the end of this month - that's 12 days away. You go on-line and here is what you get:

1.  Olympus E-PL5 and 14-42 kit..........................$ 100

2. Olympus 45mm f:1.8 lens....................................$ 50

3. Olympus 14-150mm lens......................................$ 100

So the Camera Electronic prices have been cut to the bone already and then Olympus gives you money back. How good is that!

Note: If you are already a photographer and use an Olympus or any other fine camera system you probably are always getting asked by your friends for photographic advice. You are probably getting asked to do free weddings and print out their holiday snaps but that is a separate issue...For the moment think about telling your mates to come in and get one of the Olympus kits and some lenses - They'll get a good deal with gear that will be able to do the job and you'll look good when they succeed.

Boost your rating. You might even be able to skin out of doing their family portraits if they get good enough at it.

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Leica Trip - The Travellers Report

Monday night at Shoot Workshops was a fun time for the Leica Club WA. As you'll see from the images they had plenty to eat and drink - always a good idea of an evening - and a chance to get a first-hand report about the opening of the new Leica Manufacturing Centre in Germany.

This is a pretty important year for Leica - a 100th year anniversary of the first of the Leica cameras. Saul and Howard travelled to Wetzlar as guests of Leica to participate in the opening of the industrial park. They were able to meet the heads of the firm and a number of other representatives from other countries as well as see the new facilities. There was ribbon-cutting, and I believe Howard got a bit of it...and there were prestigious presentations of the newest of the Leica products. of course, we've had our own view of the Leica T system here in the shop, and undoubtedly more of this stock will be coming.

Saul and Howard presented images they had taken on the trip - one taken at the spot where Oskar Barnack took his first picture with the first Leica. I'd be willing to bet a lot of the attendees took that same view...

As well, they had an opportunity to speak with a number of world-famous photographers who have used Leica in the past. I believe the conversation with Henri Cartier-Bresson was cut short when the ouija board fell off the table, but up until that decisive moment things went well.

Leica as a brand has the good sense to promote itself well. The unveiling of a new camera or lens is always a special time. and I am sure the various internet rumour forums follow every twist and turn of the story...then twist tighter. It is hard to better the best, however, so the enthusiasts who go to the Leica Club WA do get a chance to experience the new gear as fast as can be practicable. We always look forward with bated breath to what will issue from Wetzlar.

Postnote: In one of the next plog boasts we will be showing some of the photos taken on that trip.

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Monday, June 16, 2014

The 15-Second Wonder From Fujifilm

If you are the owner of a Polaroid ID camera camera, or the Polaroid instant back that mounts to a Hasselblad, Mamiya, or Bronica camera, you can score a cost-price bargain right now.

We have an embarrassment of Fujifilm FP-3000B Professional film packs. These have 10 shots each of an 8.5 cm x 10.8 cm size inside them. The film is ISO 3000 black and white instant type.

In this case it really is almost instant - 15 seconds from pull through the rollers to peel-apart. Super good contrast and fine grain.

The fridge is full of fresh packs - and we need room.They are normally $ 35 a pack but we're sending them out now for $ 28 per pack. If you need instant ID photos for your job site this is the cheapest you're ever going to see for film. Also good for low-light work.

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This Morning's Mono-Post

I spent a happy Saturday at the WA Hot Rod and Street Machine Spectacular and came home with hundreds of photos. They are not great art, but they are great illustration - thanks to the Fuji X-100, the Fuji EF 42 flash, and a stick.

You'll hear all about the Fuji stuff later, so prepare to be jealous, but right now let me recommend the stick. In my case it was a Manfrotto stick, but we can also supply Cullmann sticks as well.

These are sophisticated sticks. They extend and retract, and can be configured to nod sideways as well. They have wrist straps. and rubber feet. You can screw your camera or flash onto the top, or, if it has a 3/8" thread, a Subway sandwich. The latter is a good idea at the Show Ground - the catering there is pretty expensive...

The stick - otherwise known as a monopod - means that you are connected firmly to the earth. Unless the earth is in New Zealand or Alaska this should ensure you of solid support. In the case of the rod show, it meant that the camera could be dialled down to 1:15 of a second to take advantage of an f:8 aperture yet still yield crisp results. The background lighting contributed greatly to the exposure while the fill flash could bring up the bright work.

Monopods are the staple of big-lens users on the footy field or in the bush, and they can make all the difference to holding a long telephoto steady, not to mention the relief it gives the user. But do not neglect to use it with a small camera - together with a stout neck strap it can make for precise work even in poor lighting conditions.

The Manfrotto one I used on Saturday was also equipped with a Manfrotto head that tilts in one axis only. This was positioned so as to allow the rig to pivot from landscape to portrait orientation easily but lock firmly. Firm it is - the axle is 1/4" and the castings are all metal. Best tilt head in the business.

Added bonus for the shooter. If you cannot pass a barrier or see above the crowd, you can put you camera on self-timer and use the monopod as a boom arm. It can be hit or miss as to where you are pointing at first, but you get the hang of it and can see down into engine bays or the interiors of the cars  even if there is a rope barrier.

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Friday, June 13, 2014

Quo Vadis

Working in a camera shop, I get to see all sorts of new cameras and to monitor trends in the photographic trade. I've seen more Kodak film formats come and go than I've had hot dinners, but then so has everyone...

One trend that was as welcome as it was inevitable was the move to smaller and lighter camera systems. Not that the average DSLR is that big, but the really large professional ones can be as large as a head of problem if you are making coleslaw, but difficult if you are going to want to fit it into the overhead locker of a small airliner - particularly if you have decided to fit a lens to it.

Even the littler ones -  the APS-C sized DSLRs - can bulk big on your side if you are carrying them in a shoulder bag. Thus was born the desire for the smaller device, and the rise of the micro-4/3 format. Olympus were the first with this...though not alone any more...and have always devoted themselves to  making the best use of small dimensions.

I was a little shocked, however, when I unboxed the latest of the Olympus. I have included a photograph of it alongside an Olympus E-P5 camera with a 17 mm lens. As you can see it is made for considerably smaller hands. I do not have the specification sheet with me to read out, but I suspect it will have a reduced megapixel count compared to the other cameras in the range.

At least it should solve the ever-growing problem of excess baggage charges. You'll be able to get this and an entire suite of lenses under the 5 Kg limit. However, you would be wise to remember to pack a pair of strong tweezers to help you change memory cards.

I'm still in two minds about being ambivalent. I like to idea of a smaller burden, but I wonder if it will really take off as a commercial success. I hope this is not just a case of a Friday 13th product...

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Half A Month To Save On Commercial Rental

Today is Friday the 13th and those of you not cowering under the covers in a 5º morning or hiding in the broom closet for fear of bad luck may wish to ring the Flexi Commercial people on 1300 340 447 and discuss money.

Specifically, discuss how you can get two months free lease on photographic equipment with them by jumping on a deal between now and the end of the month. We are approaching the end of the Australian financial year and Flexi Commercial are offering a deal  for working photographers that will allow extra value on their financial leases.

If you are going to spend between $2499 and $4999 and are prepared to run a lease for 36 months minimum - or indeed if you want to spend more money than that....they have a good extension of the lease to talk to you about.

Remember that the Flexirent idea allows you a great deal of leeway to use the latest equipment to make money with - while it is still hot on the market. Of course they want you to pay money to them, but then that is the nature of business - the transfer of goods, services, and money.

But you need to get up and get moving before the end of the month. Preferably before the end of the morning...

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White Rose

It has just been brought to our attention that Stu Robertson is conducting a crowd-funding campaign to allow him to travel world-wide and to take pictures of  10,000 people holding a white rose.

Already some famous people have participated in this project and there are a number of donors.

There is an internet connection that will let you see what he has written and show some of the results. Here is the link: Hands

I daresay there will be further reports of this and a showing of the results when the project is completed. There is to be a permanent gallery at 66 Industrial Place, Queenstown, New Zealand.

You may also be able to find links to this project by using the clue of :

Try Facebook, Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ as they seem to have promoted it in all of these areas.

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