Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Chinese Solution For Field Flash - Jinbei

The person who gets one of the smaller studio flash sets - like the excellent Elinchrom D -lite sets - eventually gets ambitious and wants to take the flash out into the field. Glorious idea - the Elinchrom D-Lite flashes make wonderful mains and fill. But there are a lot of fields that don't have a mains power socket handy.

It's no good throwing a couple of wires over the 55,000 volt transmission lines - Synergy frowns on this and the fire department hate sweeping up your are far better off getting a portable battery pack to run the Elinchroms.

The Jinbei EN 350 is just the job. Thats a rechargeable battery pack that slides in the top and you'll see the two output sockets are configured for normal Australian plugs. There's a charging line into the top, and a mains charger included in the kit. I noted also a USB feed out that would presumably power small devices for ever...

We've tested how much you can get out of the battery here in the shop and we are of the opinion that you could get it to fire about 200 shots from a two-head setup.

The whole thing is lightweight - don't let the heading picture fool you into thinking that it is the monolith from the Stanley Kubrick film. You can sling it over your shoulder and haul the Elinchroms on the other side. Or better yet - get an assistant and a stick and drive them before you like a pack mule.

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Fong Change

Long a fan of the Fong, I noticed recently that the Collapsible Lightsphere has had a change.

The previous model was all one moulding that you pressed carefully onto the throat of your speedlight. It stuck on with a set of moulded blades that gripped the head. A little tricky when you were in the heat of the moment but it fit everything.

The new version has four soft flanges that go round the head and a nylon strap that cinches it tight in place. As with everything these days, the final grip is a Velcro patch.

Does it work? You bet - easier to put on and perfectly secure with that strap. The basic action of softening and spreading light is just the same as before - but Gary has designed a new instruction leaflet that is easier to decipher.

If your camera runs clean at ISO 800 this is all you need to do good people pictures at weddings This and a stick to scatter the flower girls when they get annoying.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Leica's New C Compact Camera in action at Steve Huff

Steve Huff is a photographer who writes from the US about many different aspects of the art. He gets a chance to play with a number of dead serious top-quality cameras and lenses...and sometimes gets to play with the luxurious fun stuff as well.

Recently he got to go out with the Leica C camera and he's written a candid and kindly review of it on his Blog site. If you'd like to see what he said about it, please click on the link below, but don't forget if you love the review and wish to purchase one, buy from us please, we have them on special for $699 AUD inc GST in both colours.

Steve is a respected reviewer, who also shoots a lot personally, and we're happy to share his post.

He displays some of the images he made with the camera - they are happy pictures taken of family on a trip - the very sort of work that this Leica is suited to. He mentions that he tended to use the LCD rather than the EVF but that is his preference. The great thing about this design is that you get the choice.

Steve is not shy about comparing the camera to a similar design from Panasonic, but he is clear about the advantages and the cachet associated with the Leica name and logo. One thing that people who buy it can be assured of -The name of Leica is always associated with quality, and Camera Electronic backs up that quality with service.

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Iconic Portraits For You To View - Avedon At The Gallery

The Art Gallery of Western Australia will be presenting 80 iconic photographs done by Richard Avedon between 1949 and 2002. The exhibition will be open for several months and it is only the second venue wherein it has been offered within Australia.

Mr Avedon had the highest level of contact with celebrity in North America and Europe and used this to make some of the most transformational fashion images of the period.

These are black and white images but the people and the fashions depicted lose nothing with the absence of colour - indeed many gain a strength that is astounding. Every photographer will be rewarded in seeing this exhibition.

The exhibition will be opening on the 2nd of August at the Art Gallery of Western Australia - there are Adult tickets, concessional and group rates, special provision for children, and guided tours on some days. For more information, please go to the address:

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Good For Your Camera - Bad For Your Teeth

Well you don't get this at many camera shops...

Special this week* - buy a small camera or memory card case from the $ 5 bin and get a Freddo Frog for just $ 1 more. We have plain, mint, and strawberry Freddos.

You can keep your Freddo Frog in the case and take pictures with your digital compact or put the camera in the case and eat the Freddo Frog. Your choice. You can eat the digital camera if you like but it'll be hard on the teeth.

* Or until the staff eat them all...they are a promotion for a school.

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The Commemorative Issue

The mind is a funny thing. We tend to forget things until we remember them. Stomachs are also odd - you get all hungry and faint until you eat dinner and then you are not. These two principles have guided many camera manufacturers to release commemorative camera models - they remind you of something, you think about buying it, they get your money, and then they buy dinner.

The recent release of a special model of a camera to commemorate their awards for that camera model seemed to be a new departure. Nice camera, works superbly, interesting colour, tortured premise.

No more so, though, than the ones that have been issued to commemorate the lapse of a 99-year political treaty, the four-year Olympic show, or the name of a famously reclusive photographer. Or you can ask for your own name to be engraved somewhere. Users of Minx B cameras would be well advised to have a name like " Bob " or " Sam " to have this idea succeed...

At least the camera makers have not given in to the " Special Edition " fever of the automotive manufacturers of the 1980's...those lame swooping graphics plastered on the sides of humble passenger cars and vans to make them desirable. In some cases the stickers lasted longer than the cars. They were also the sort of designs that first-year graphics art students tend to do. ( Once they get better they tend to burn their first-year designs...) With the possible exception of Lomo, most commemorative camera paint or chrome jobs are at least explainable.

Flapoflex also are planning to issue their commemorative camera - it shows an engraving of an old fashioned brass merchant's scales. It celebrates the first time their books have balanced in 100 years. Accountants are studying this camera closely.

Students of history will note that we are about to have a set of big 100-year anniversaries occur over the next four years. Let us hope that the commemorative issues from Krupp, Vickers, Skoda, and such are intended merely for display, and not use. Or at least if they are making 420mm howitzers, we can get them in pastel colours.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Plastic Model Kit That Doesn't Result In A Spitfire

If you, like a number of our customers, like to build plastic model kits we have a couple of special things for you. Those jolly jokers in the old Soviet Union ( aka Russia ) have commissioned the Chinese to make a plastic model kit of something that is not a tank or a rocket.

The Lomography people have produced the Konstructor kit to make a 35mm film camera - and not just some old toy, either. This one turns out a film SLR with a 50mm f:10 lens. The shutter is capable of operating at 1/80 of a second so you can use it in most normal daylight conditions.

It is complex enough - moulded on two sprues with a myriad of  other parts in separate boxes. There's a screwdriver to help with assembly and they quote 1-2 hours to build it.
Fortunately the complex mirror box and shutter is a completed sub-assembly that you bolt in - that part would have been hard.

It's black, and square, but has a fair bit of tech-looking trim to reward you. It would make a fine present for a teenager, along with a supply of film.

In-store now at $ 99.

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Slingapore Sing

The legend of The Bagman figures in many cultures.

Whether he is bringing coal to warm the hearth or taking away naughty children to feed the demons, he needs a strong and sturdy sack to hold his load. The same applies to the busy photographer who might have to carry a number of lenses in addition to the basic body. Thus the vast industry of bag manufacture and supply.

Every photographer should have one. Most photographers have more than one - I have 7 and I have met someone with 13. We avoid each other's eyes when we pass in the street but we KNOW...

Well, if you would like to short circuit some of the shame and just get one to do all tasks - camera. lunch, stolen goods, etc. may we suggest the Lowepro Passport Sling II bag. Goes over the shoulder and has 7 definable and changeable storage areas that can mould themselves to the body shape while still not attracting the attention of the pickpockets.

They come in black or army green and can cope with a shower of rain outside or a damp jumper inside while protecting the expensive photo devices. We highly recommend them and sell quite a few.

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Hot Off the Griddle - Fujifilm's New Zoom Lens Is Here

Open the box! C'mon! C'mon! Open the Box!

Lemme at that new Fujifilm XF 18-135mm R LM OIS WR lens. Never mind the letters behind the name. I can see that it has an internal stabiliser by the switch on the side. I can see the f numbers at the front. I can see the metal mount for the Fuji X-mount.

Lemme at it.

I've got an X-E 2 at home that would suit this perfectly. I've got an X-T 1 that would be perfect for this. I can fit it on my X-Pro 1 and go out and do just everything.

Apparently the WR means it is water resisitant. Well, unless the roof on the studio gives way and it leaks inside this is superfluous for me, but I have met people for whom it would be essential. Like old surf photographers who have X-E1 cameras and want to carry lighter burdens on the beach...or at the hot rod shows...

This would be the killer lens for a wedding - you can adapt to the dim insides of a church with Fuji cameras because they support high ISO's so well. 1250 to 1600 no worries. SO you could either snipe at the bride from a side aisle or go right down the front with the action and still get a wide sweep or the ring exchange without juggling lenses ( or worse - juggling cameras ). The outside for the gardens and the lens would have great resolution for the groups and two-ups.

Also good in a studio or at a people shoot - a one-lens solution for dance shows or closer sports. This is short for birds but fine for beasts. And the Antarctic or Alaskan tourist customer will appreciate the weather sealing - mist and rain should be no problem if this lens is on an X -T 1.

Here's three shots = Long, medium, and close. Look at the detail that Fuji lens gives!

Okay, I'll admit that jpegs shot out the front of the shop and plastered on this blog are not the definitive laboratory test...but if you are a Fuji X system user and can bring your body into the shop...clutching your Fuji camera can test this remarkable optic for yourself. Be warned - you will want to spend money... 

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Monday, July 28, 2014

Save Your Ears, Save Your Reputation

Lots of people start out to make award-winning cutting-edge iconic masterwork video productions. They get a DSLR or a mirrorless camera from a bucket shop, an orphan tripod from Cashies, and the earphones from their sister's old Walkman. The script is written over pizza and a slab and the iconic video master 's mates all agree to be stars in the video. Generally the hoped-for audience does not eventuate, but the cameraman's sister eventually misses the earphones and then all hell breaks loose.

One feature of the video as made on the DSLR is the lousy sound. This is a blessing as it disguises the voices.

Should you, as an iconic video master, wish to avoid the wrath of the sister and the contempt of the crowd may we suggest that you buy your own set of professional headphones and an adequate professional microphone. Sennheiser have these and we have them in-store right now.

The MKE 600 is such a microphone. Super-cardioid pattern, 40Hz to 20kHz, max SPL 138 dB. Comes with stand mount and wind shield. Pro quality and clean sound.

You can hear that clean sound - or at least hear how bad your mates sound - on the Sennheiser HD 28o Professional with its high passive noise attenuation. you will be able to hear whether you are making too much noise operating the camera as well. Beware.

If it all sounds dismal, take heart. Learn to draw cartoon mice and dress them in white gloves. It worked for Walt and it can work for you.

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Friday, July 25, 2014

Brighten Up Your Friday

It's Friday. Whether you plan to give your evening over to religion, family infighting, alcohol, or stamp collecting ( Or all four...that was a memorable occasion...) you can brighten the day at least with the purchase of a new camera*.

These just hit the sales counter two minutes ago. Olympus special editions for Special People. There are an orange one and a green one here and we are itching to put them on display.

You will not believe the straps that come with them. Think 1979 Partridge family and/or Boogey Nights. Groovy, baby.

The other confections are just fake display cameras that Pentax makes to show you some of the colour combinations you can get for the Q cameras. You pay em, they'll ship 'em. Make your own excuses down at the Harley Davison Club when they ask you to take a group picture...

All the above aside, the two cameras - in their own weight divisions - punch pretty well. the Olympus can do magnificent pictures up to A3+ size and the Pentax can do and A4 superbly. I know - I've taken images with both types of camera and printed them out on the Epson R3000 and I know.

Now if Epson would just issue a special edition R3000...something in mink and rhinestones. Like a Hollywood fairytale. Some day my prints will come..

* Well, it will brighten our day.

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Dial M For Murder

The name Manuel Fokus came up the other day. Manuel is the Hungarian cook at my local Mexican restaurant. He is the originator of the famous "Enchilada of Regret".

It is not the only time we have heard the phrase - normally it refers to the practise of making up your own mind when using a digital camera about what bits are going to look sharp. While most of us are content to accept whatever the Auto-Focus mechanism wants to do - rather like turning broadcast TV on and sinking into the sofa - the real enthusiast/professional/geek will choose to spin the dial for themselves.

The advantages of this are instantaneous - 'cause that's what you get when you press the shutter button - the shot goes off without waiting for the camera to seek, find, and settle on a focus point and then enable all it's other electronics. If you are able to focus manually on the point where the action is about to happen, you can stop it right then.

I own three cameras with focus-by-wire technology that means the turn of the focussing ring or wheel transmits electronic signals to the motor that moves the lens. A little more fiddly than a direct helix inside the lens, but workable. As one of the cameras adapts itself to mechanical lenses as well, I can choose to go that route. In some cases - like the Leica  M users, all the operation of the lenses will be manual anyway.

If your camera supports this method of focussing, look further into its specifications and see if it has a feature called " focus peaking ". This is the ability to show a rime of bright highlight in white or a selected colour around objects at the plane of focus. It makes accurate manual focussing easy in dim light or in close-ups.

Do not think that I decry the AF of the modern camera. It saves your bacon most of the time when it comes to getting an accurate sharp image but remember that some dishes - like ice cream - are better without bacon.

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Vanguard vs The Cheese, Cracker, And Fruit Salad School Of Photography

We've all been there. At 30,000 feet somewhere above the Great Australian Bight attempting to achieve the Great Australian Bite. Or the Little Australian Bite.

With an airline tray poking us in the ribs, our knees tucked under our chin, and a variety of food-like substances in plastic wrappers in front of us. If we are lucky we have a small bottle of red wine, or two, to wash it down, but the degree of manual dexterity required to unpeel everything and then send it down our gullet is akin to juggling mildly-spiced chain saws.

What we really want is more leg room, less packaging, and either the cheese and crackers or the little dish of rice and chicken. Not both. The little wine bottles can stay but the fruit salad, yoghurt, shotgun-wad bun and frozen butter pat, and the bulging container of water can be jettisoned. With the empty shell casings out the waist-gunner's position. We need eating room if we are to do any good - not more eatables.

Same thing with camera accessories in camera bags. By all means keep a prawn fork and a 540 volt battery in yours if you are constantly photographing zombies, but if you are just out for a stroll and a latté for goodness sake lighten up. Leave out the copy of the Titanic's manifest. Do not take the charger and travel adapter for your camera plus three batteries if you are going to go back to the hotel anyway. Take one battery extra.

All this to introduce a new bag from Vanguard for the mirror-less crowd. The Vojo 13Gr is in stock in either army green or black and as you can see it hangs off the shoulder, clips onto a belt, or can be balanced on an airline tray...It holds a mirror-less body and two lenses. and some extra cards and a batery. You could cover an entire grand final or zombie invasion with this amount of gear. If you elected to leave out the long lens you would have space for a little airline bottle of red wine. $ 75.

In short, carry less, carry lighter, do better. If you want fruit salad or yoghurt or water stop at a café.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Fresh Outta The Box

As a retail shop assistant I am a connoisseur of boxes. I analyse the packaging of all the goods that are presented here in the shop. I applaud some and curse others. I struggle to open some of them with a fire axe and then struggle to close them again with a wool press. I am searching for the designers of some of them, and I know where the fire axe is...

All the above to introduce some of the smartest packaging on some of the best value products in the place - the Samyang lenses.

Look at that package - smart, printed well with a usable picture on the outside and the entire specs of the lens on the end-piece. And inside the lens cradled well, but not buried like King Tut in the pyramids. You can get it out and in without strong language.

The lenses themselves are designed well, produced well, and are startlingly economical. You'll always have to do your own focussing as these are all MF and apertures but the optics are really excellent. I see we have Canon-mount, Nikon-mount, Micro 4/3-mount, and a video mount varieties in today. There is even a tilt shift lens for architecture and studio work at  price that should clean the major manufacturer's clocks for them.

Delightful addition to the inventory, and a pleasure to sell.

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Hello Suckers

With a nod to Texas Guinan...

Yesterday was  a startling day. One of our clients came in with the idea of mounting a camera to a window - I suspect it might be for a video. When I was unable to understand exactly what he meant by a sucker he demonstrated it in mime...I shall bear that image in my memory for a long time*...a startling day...

In the event, we did have a selection of suckers. See the the large Manfrotto 241-series mounts. One is already fitted with a rigid shaft that you can grip onto and the other has a 3/8" stud to attach your ball-head to. You pump them for all you are worth and they stick like a limpet.

Ditto the smaller Cullmann variety, though here there is no pumping required - you just use a flick of the wrist to lock the lever. Not quite as much suction as the big suckers but enough to hold a small camera on.

Note that you can also get the Cullmann suckers  in large accessory packs that have a number of useful table-top supports. We use them here in the editorial studio to take the blog pictures. Highly recommended.

* Golf ball. Garden hose.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Eyes Wide Open In Tuart Hill

Did goe to the WA Camera Club meeting to judge pictures last night and was greatley entertained.

And did learne something of consequence, as well.

The club sends out their entries in the projected section of their competition a few days prior to the meeting to let the judge see them and to make notes. This I duly did, propped in front of the old email PC at home with a cuppa. I decided the winners and merits on appearance...with no reference to the titles of the images, as is my preference. ( I feel that photography competitions should be looking contests rather than reading contests. )

Then I took my running sheets to the meeting. The images were projected up on a large white wall with a pretty powerful lamp. And they showed up the inadequacy of my home screen. I made a hurried revision to a couple of placings there in the dark before I was asked to report my opinion - it had changed when I saw the images clearly.

Had I been looking at home on an EIZO screen I would not have been in that position. It would have shown even and well-lit versions of the files and I could have confidently gone with my initial judgement. Even doing them on my iMac in my old darkroom would have been better - there would have been less visual distraction from screen bounce.

The average PC is fine for emails, Facebook, and pictures of Grumpy Cat, but nothing doing for fine judgement or good editing.

Lesson learned. Opens EIZO page on computer and starts to read...

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Weep Weep Weep! Correction Needed! Elinchrom Day Change!

I have hurriedly revised our post from yesterday regarding the new Elinchrom flash units and the Kayell open day at Studio Terrace.

It is NOT going to be on the 21st of August - it IS going to be on the 12th of August.

12th of August.

Please accept the writer's apologies as he was hanging upside down over the keyboard at the time and reversed the numbers. This was mistake, not malice*.

Go to the Elinchrom site and ring 'em up and go to the show.

Go to:

*Malice is more subtle...

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Monday, July 21, 2014

Nikon NPS Plan A Roadshow

If you are a member of the Nikon NPS you are in for a treat at the end of August. They will be bringing a roadshow of cameras, lenses, and ideas to the Image Style Studios.

There's going to be two sessions on the 26th of August - one at 10:00 in the morning and one at 2:00 in the afternoon so you can have an exclusive hands-on opportunity with the products. There will be a range of new NPS updates and member benefits.

Best to book yourself a place by contacting the NPS people:

It will be worth it.

PS: Dont be discouraged if you use Canon professional equipment. You'll still be allowed to stand outside in the rain and press your noses against the window. The music, laughter, and popping champagne corks from inside will cheer you up.

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Congratulations To Julie

Customers have been seeing three big images taken by Julie Kerbal here at the shop for a month or so - Julie entered the Canon shine contest to show what matters to her. One of those images is a front window piece! The other two balance on precarious easels near the Canon stand.

Well, Canon liked the pictures - so much so that Julie has become the National Winner of the contest. She'll be going east for a while to make a video with the Canon people about the topic that most matters to here, and we're looking forward to see in it.

Good to see visual talent recognised and rewarded beyond the borders of the state.

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New Elinchrom Heads For Your Studio - Go And See The New Things They Do

Elinchrom is bringing new big studio flash heads into the market - the ELC series. And they are going to bring a seminar exposition to show you what they do - with some of the best fashion shots from Stef King.

Looks like the new units have multi-flashing capability - there is a strobe mode - and they can work flawlessly with the sort of preflashing that speed lights rely on. Plus there is the a range of synchronisation options all the way from first to second curtain.

You get very short flash durations to freeze action as well.
The seminar is limited to 60 seats, so get your name into the Kayell people for a place in the room. It will be held at :

Studio Terrace, 21 Wittenoom Street, East Perth

Date will be 12th of August and time is 6:30 PM sharp.

Go to:

Looks like Elinchrom are keeping up with all the new trends that people want with lighting.

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Round The Houses - The Panoramic Experiments

Did goe to take panoramic images yesterday and was greatley amused.

With the prospect of sun and a Sunday I decided to see what the current state of tourist pano might be. I am in the process of lightening up my outfit - courtesy of the Fujifilm series of X cameras - and I wanted to practise up for a trip later in the year.

I'm pretty well settled upon the new Cullmann 622T tripod for my field shots. It is small enough to fit in the roll-around bag and I suspect it will fly with ease. I am coming to grips with the ball head. Kudos the Cullmann for a good quick release mechanism this time.

Okay, I attached the Novoflex Panoramaplatte to the top of the ball head and put the Fujifilm X=E2 on top of that. Out in the little car to the edge of he Canning river. Note: the edge of rivers can be marshy, as the state of my shoes and trousers will attest.

Extend the tripod and center the bubble level on the Novoflex and track left and right to see if I can get what I want. The X-E2 has two settings for "internal" panorama - 120º and 180º that produce long skinny jpegs. Very good jpegs too - I frequently don't bother with RAW with the Fujifilms as their jpegs are so good. As long as I get my exposure right, I can just wipe them off and put them on the plate...

Well, anyway the motion panorama settings need a reasonably high shutter speed to work - you're better shooting at 1/125 - 1/500 as you get crisper images. If you get a hint of vertical banding, drop down a speed. It takes a little practise to swing the camera steadily when you are doing it freehand, but on a tripod it's a doddle.

Okay, next experiment was a group shot of the Grey Company warriors at training. Here I set the shot deliberately to get an even size for all the figures by grouping them in a semicircle around the tripod. The swing of the camera is the same - 120º.

And the last trials involved the river down by Trinity and the trotting ground. Taking care not to run over by cyclists ( always worth setting out the portable mine field when cyclists are about...) I shot the Burswood side using he motion panorama and then using the simple trick of two quick exposures side by side.

This was aided by an obliging  fish-trap that came paddling by - fortunately slow enough that I could capture him and then swivel past him to the casino shot. This is the same sort of thing that the Panomatic is suited to - a series of shots that stitch together in Photoshop or Photoshop Elements. You can do 3 or more but I find I am most pleased with the proportions of a two-shot. The screen at the back of the Fujifilm X-2 can be set with a grid overlay that lets you accurately overlap the images. The PS or PSE program then has the best material to work with and avoids artifacts.

The last picture is the trotting ground, and here I learned what to do when the subject height exceeds what the camera lens can see.

I removed the Novoflex turntable from the stack and attached the X-E2 to the QR plate of the ball head. Then I carefully centered the bubble on the TRIPOD's yoke by adjusting the legs. Now the base of the head would act as the vertical pivot point for the shot. I was free to gently tilt the camera up until the clouds that I wanted to feature could be seen.

The X-E2 and the X-100 series have a little green artificial level in their screen that means you can do this tilt but still have the camera swivelling in an even horizontal plane. There will be a little curving of the subject due to the laws of optics but it will be even.

The real advantage of the stitched pano vs the motion pano comes with the increased quality of the jpeg or even RAW that you can put into the files. And you can be creative with lower shutter speeds.

Get out there and spin around until you're dizzy!

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Friday, July 18, 2014

Half A Loaf Of Think Tank

I was inspired to that header by the look of this Think Tank sling bag. It is roughly the shape of a small continental loaf. Though it is intended for use with cameras, it would be perfectly suitable for a small continental loafer.

As you can see it will swallow a mirror-less system - that's an Olympus E-Pl5 and three lenses. You might want to change the layout inside to accommodate something larger - those dividers shift with velcro holders.

There is a paper and pens slot on the front, an ipad mini slot in the back, and a weatherproof over-cover in a pouch in the bottom. The strap is curved and comfortable.

For the walker or rider this would seem to be a perfect carrying case. If you're down-sizing and weight-reducing your gear, give it some serious thought.

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