Friday, September 26, 2014

The Photo Hat - Or How To Keep Your Head At A Photo Shoot

Well, I knew it was a mistake. Wearing the Akubra to the photo shoot - particularly as the shoot was indoors. Of course it wouldn't have been any better outside - the brim of the Akubra shoved into on the flash on the top of the camera. Even rotating the camera into portrait mode was no better.  Ever tried to do a decent job of event shooting while holding  your hat between your knees?

Next event. This time a baseball cap. No better - bill forward and it poked the flash, bill backward and I looked like the oldest rapper in the senior citizens disco. I have no objection to being an idiot but I hate to alert others to the fact.

Third try - my faithful English tweed gentleman's cap. Still too far forward for camera use. This time when I reversed it I looked like Barney Oldfield at Indianapolis. Not a bad thing if you are at the wheel of a 1909 Marmion Special but a bit ludicrous in a hall in Bayswater.

What can you wear to cover the bonce while covering the party? My Russian sailor's cap with the imperial eagle and the tally ribbons was perfect for a steampunk party but would limit me elsewhere. Likewise a german soldier's mutze or a yarmulke - functional but would call unwarranted attention. I do have a Czech civilian's cap that has a short soft brim, but if I were to wear it I would feel obligated to add a badly-fitting suit and do the shooting with a Meopta Flexaret camera.

What we need is an accepted standard headgear made for photographers to work with. Something between a Greek fisherman's cap and one of those Japanese army hats with the  the havelock down the back. Or a garrison cap with a camera company logo on the top...

Note: the staff member who suggested the pink fluoro disco wig WILL be punished.

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Boost Your Flash Power With Rogue

Way back in the dim days of 35mm film I clapped some Fuji film rated at 800 ASA into my Voigtlander caemra and put on the fastest lens I cold find - and headed for the Quarry Amphitheatre in Floreat. There was a bellydance show in the evening and I needed to stop the action. I also called on a Metz 45 CT-1 with a Televorsatz to light it.

The Metz flashes were the best of the hammerhead style at the time - might still be, for that matter. They had a massive guide number and in manual mode pumped out a real blast of light. When you attached the Televorsatz it acted as a light concentrator and the ASA rating boosted up to 1600.

This might not sound exciting in these days of the Nikon D4s or the big Canon cameras but remember at the time most hovels in Western Australia were still being lit by pine torches and small oil lamps. At least I know mine was...

Okay - reel forward to now - lots of people have DSLR cameras that have inbuilt flashes positioned just above the penta-prism. They pop up on command and provide a decent level of light for close-up or fast people shots. But they are nowhere near powerful enough for distance work. Leaving aside the obvious solution - buy a dedicated TTL flash for the camera and have done with it - we come to the modern version of the old Metz Televorsatz.

The Rogue Pop-up Flash Booster attaches to the hot shoe on top of your DSLR, and if there is a pop-up flash inside there it pops up inside the booster. The light it emits fires out through a fresnel lens on the front of the booster and this concentrates it into a stronger, smaller beam. The packaging promised up to 8X more light but that sounds like creative confusion - reckon on a doubling of ISO.

The joy of this is that the TTL system in the camera that monitors what is coming back to the lens from the subject is unaffected by the accessory - it just benefits from more light returning. Thus you use up less power each time you shoot.

The packaging says it is optimised for lenses over 100mm focal length. Should be delightful for stage shooting or sniping out individuals at big party events.

In-store now at $ 39,95.

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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Good Buy To My Salary....

A Facebook post by a friend recently about her son going to work in a toy store prompted me to use the phrase " Goodbye salary..." I know the feeling - I work in an optical toy shop myself and a number of weeks have seen me spending more than I made.

This was not a sad thing - I got new toys to play with and had as much fun as possible. That's the reason you have money and toys.

Now I realise that I can benefit from watching other people playing with the stock - Because I can see what works for them and plan whether it would work for me. Of course I can and do give accurate professional advice as far as I can but there is still the unknowable factor of the client's own reaction to the gear. Some can, and do - some can't , and don't. Some can, and don't, and that's the point that interests me - I need to find out why and see if it is specific or general.

When I learn from their trials, I benefit - I can do what works and avoid what doesn't. It is far better than depending upon anonymous forum comments on the internet. If someone actually has tried with real gear, they know - and they can show results.

If my recommendations sometimes run in ruts, it is because the ruts run somewhere - either right or wrong. If you fancy telling me what to do, rather than the other way around, go ahead - just be prepared with examples to back it up.

Uncle Dick

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New Canon Comes To Visit - And Will Return

Yesterday we had three delightful visitors - two ladies from Canon Australia and the new Canon EOS 7D Mark II camera.

We directed a number of customers over to the bright red Canon corner and the ladies took the device through its paces. One chap was terrifically impressed with the new ability of the camera to nail accurate focus - the dual nature of the AF on each pixel really does show. Another went out into the street and stopped cars with the high-speed drive.

I was impressed with the feel of the grip - that is small beans to some people but you'd be surprised how it makes a difference if you are going to use  a camera for an extended period of time. Get it right and you get better shots near the end of the engagement - you are not as tired. Mind you, after some shoots I look forward to getting tired and emotional...

One chap deliberately tried ( gasp, shock, horror ) non-Canon lenses on the body and found they worked all the systems. How he sorted that one out with the Canon rep I have no idea but it all seemed amicable.

The ladies and the camera are coming back this Friday - that's tomorrow between 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM. Do come and try the camera and their patience. You will be rewarded.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Kudos To Qudos - The Nicest Little Light In The Shop

Okay, I normally poke fun at the miniature video camera scene - the action-cam that is attached to skiers, motor cars, and mountain bikes. The little invitation to the emergency department at RPH...

Other people love 'em - they seem to be the necessary accessory for the adventurous life. They have sold steadily since their introduction a few years back. And lots of manufacturers make add-on bits that mont them or retrieve them from ever more hazardous positions. Now we have a REALLY good action cam light made by Qudos that may well have other photographic applications.

The light runs from an internal 3.7 v 1000mAh battery - it has a waterproof cover at the back where the adjustments and the charging socket are - you refuel it from a USB port.

In the packet are an action -cam mount that lets you attach it to your GoPro. And thence to any of the other GoPro mounts. There is one sealed metal on/off button on top.There is a hot-shoe adapter.

Three LED lights in the working face and there is provision for adjustable output - low and high. You can narrow or spread the way the beam comes out. The blessed thing will pump out from 70 to 400 lumens and apparently you can run from 35 min to 4 hours.

Okay, I take it all back. This really works. It is bright enough to act as a fill for the Fujifilm X-10 and it seems to pump out an additional stop of light. WooHoo. it is small, light, rugged, and effective.

A serious contender in what might be a strobists lighting pack.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Nikon D750 Machine Gun Trials - A Success

Just had our first enthusiast try out the Nikon D750 here in-store. He loaded a card, set all the menu choices, and then stepped out onto the sidewalk to shoot at the passing motor cars. It was like listening to a Maxim.

The jpegs in the back screen were revealing - no missed focus at all. This is one sweet fast camera.

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Yay! It's Here! Nikon D750 In-Store Right Now

Big news for the morning is:

The new Nikon D750 - the newest FX camera from Nikon - has just arrived in the shop.

Looks good, feels good, solid build, compact dimensions with a steady grip. Tilting screen. Highly specified and highly desirable.

If you have a lonely Nikon FX lens that is pining for some body...we're open until 5:30 every afternoon this week.

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How Does That Grab Ya, Baby...

Sorry about that. I was researching 1960s LP album cover art last night and got stuck on a Nancy Sinatra loop...

Lots of cameras have an accessory available for them that really does grab - the battery grip. It screws into the bottom of the camera case and passes electricity to the body and instructions on how to use it.

Some models have shutter buttons, function buttons, and front and back thumb and finger wheels to do the same aperture/shutter speed adjustments that you get on the right hand side of the camera body. But as the grip fits under the body, these controls lie at 90º to the regular ones.

So - whaddaya do with it, and why? You grab it and use it as the primary hold on the camera when it is in portrait orientation. You keep a second battery in it to extend your shooting time. You use it to straighten your wrist in this portrait orientation - no more numbing or pain as the camera pulls down on your nerves.

Do you look more professional when you use it? Perhaps, but remember one of the other ways to look professional is to dress well ( if you are a woman ) or badly ( if you are a man ). Also you look professional if you can actually take good pictures - but then you knew that.

Some grips don't have batteries in them - they just help with the ergonomics of the camera. You can test this out for yourself in the shop. Try holding the camera and a big lens sideways without the grip for 10 minutes straight. Then try the same test with the grip. If the ergonomics are improved you will not be tempted to say " Errrg " at the end of the time.

You must excuse me - I am wearing boots and they are apparently made for walking...

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Monday, September 22, 2014

KUPO - The Things You Can Do WIth A Turning Lathe...Plus a Manfrotto Steampunk Accessory

The small change of a studio budget is generally spent on  instant coffee and cheap biscuits - a deadly mistake as it ends up being the photographer who has to eat and drink the stuff. A wet week day, no bookings, a cup of Pablo and a dried out Nice biscuit...not a cheering prospect.

Better to invest in accessories. If the budget will not stretch to a new set of Profoto studio lights with full range of light shapers think of getting some of he little KUPO light sand adapters and attachments.

This one converts a 3/8" male thread to a 1/4" male thread so you can put a speed light shoe on the top of many standard light stands.

This one screws onto a tripod - either the 3/8" of the bare legs or the 1/4" of the ball head  -and lets you mount a studio mono block on it. 

Some stands have a large 1/2" hole in the top - and some Manfrotto adapters have the same thing - this drops in there to let you mount the studio mono block.

Here it is with the plastic covers fitted - not absolutely necessary, but nice.

Here we move into heftier support - the 1/2" shaft will support big flashes and the 1/2" threaded end will capture bigger lights or monitors.

Bigger is better, as a certain class of advertisement would lead us to believe...

1/2" socket and strong screw clamp eventually becomes 1/2" threaded.

And lastly, a Grordbort armoured trocanter for letting excess gas out of dragons and the heavier sort of mammals. Steel tipped for easier penetration. A Manfrotto part - imaginative company, Manfrotto...

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Friday, September 19, 2014

Bigger Cash Back With Bigger Epson

Recently we have seen a number of good-value cash back offers from the Epson company associated with their A3+ and A2 Stylus inkjet printers.

The R 3000 and R 3880 have attractive inducements in operation right now - $ 250 dollars back in hand with either printer and if you choose to get a full set of 157-series inks for the R3000 you can claim another $ 250. These cash backs make either deal very attractive*.

Today the Epson company has announced additional chances for people who wish to print using their larger roll-fed printers.

The Epson Stylus Pro 4900 will return $ 500 as a cashback from now until the end September.

For people purchasing the larger roll printers - he Epson Stylus Pro 9900 and Epson Stylus Pro 7900 - they have from now until the 12th of December 2014 to join in the benefits:

1. Purchase of an Epson Stylus Pro 7900 will qualify for a $ 1000 cashback from Epson.

2. Purchase of an Epson Stylus Pro 9900 will qualify for a $ 2000 cashback from Epson.

* The results from the printers are also uniformly attractive. Bright, fast colours and extreme detail. Careful paper handling. Self monitoring and cleaning features. Easy set-up and small footprint. Confident professional printing.

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Thursday, September 18, 2014

DP Review Pokes At The New Leica Cameras...

Deprived - as yet - of pictures of Saul, Howard, and Domenic at the Photokina, we have had to turn to DP Review to see what they make of the new Leica cameras. They have a couple of hands-on features on today's listing that are well worth the look.

Of course we have seen the Leica official site and press releases - that was yesterday - but what we miss from the official pictures is a sense of size. DP Review has real people's hands holding the gear and we can get an idea of what it really looks like. And they say things directly...

For insance: the new Leica M Series 60 camera is heavy. No wonder - it is made of stainless steel, like a MiG 25. Must have been some swearing in German in the factory when they made the steel bodies - it is a difficult material to work with. Probably also explains why they're only making 600 of them. Apart from the collectible rarity investment value...the dies and tools probably wore out after beating 600 steel bodies into shape. There are more reasons than you would think. BTW - apparently while you cannot see what you took there is a battery check button on the top plate so you are not totally in the dark out in the field. Unless it is a dark field...

The M-A has gotten a sterling review, as well it should. Surprisingly, it has also come out as the cheapest entry-level M model. As I said in yesterday's blog, this is a glorious way to go back to 35mm film, should you so desire. Clap a 50mm Summicron into the hole in the front and go out and see the world. If I were at all confident of living long enough to get value from this body I would do just this...but the Leica M will long outlive me. Look at how good the original M3 cameras are doing right now.

Final note for DP is a posting on the same day that looks at the X series Leica cameras - the new lens fitting and new cosmetic appearance. In this class of LCD camera these are certainly the most attractive and stylish that we have seen, and we look forward to seeing them in actuality when they get here.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Low Light High ISO Hasselblad

Looks like Hasselblad have released a new camera designed to get a higher ISO going for the medium format world. Called the Hasselblad H5D-50C.

It uses a new CMOS sensor with a range of ISO from 100 to 6400. And a whopping 14 stop dynamic range! Which beats every camera I have ever owned all hollow.

The shutter can go from 12 minutes to 1/800 of a second and if you are in a hurry to stack more images in it can zip through at 1.5 FPS. Thats a lot of data writing onto a big sensor so this thing hustles.

It matches H series lenses and all the other viewing accessories. and works with all the normal Hasselblad software.

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Hear-Say Evidence From Panasonic Now Becomes Hear-See...

Okay. I normally don't use this blog to promote telephones - with the exception of the Bell Model 1 featuring the bakelite earpiece and the brass dial that I use to contact my bookmaker. But now one of our favourite small camera makers has a new one out at Photokina - so here goes.

It is the Panasonic CM-1. On one side it is a smart mobile phone - like the ones that people tap all the day on the other side of our sales counter. On the reverse it is a good looking compact camera. A far better camera than the current phones sport.

It has a 20 Mp 1" CMOS sensor, 28mm equivalent f:2.8 lens, 100-25600 ISO range, 4K video, RAW recording, a 4.7" LCD screen, Micro SD card storage, and can call for pizza 24 hours a day.

Okay, you may not want to cover a society wedding using it exclusively...though eventually someone will and we will all read about it...but it looks as though real cameras can pair up with real phones. If you can stand the confusion of dealing with mobile phone connection plans this might be a good thing to carry wherever you go.

Not sure if it will improve the selfies but the impromptu landscape shot should be much better.

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APOcalypse Now....with Leica

I love the smell of Leica in the morning. Do you know what it smells like? It smells like optical victory...

Here's the précis of announcements as of yesterday from the folks at Wetzlar. You can go to their own website and get to see the new stuff with their promotional blurbs. Think what you wish about some of the offerings, they do seem to have got interesting concepts. These all seem to be new - and will be available now or in the near future:

1. Leica M-Edition 60...imagine a Leica M digital camera with a new jazzy covering and a lot less engraving on the top. Now imagine the back of it with the old round ISO reminder dial that we saw on the M3. No screen. No navigation wheel. Records only RAW DNG. Only 600 to be made. Very likely the same price as my Suzuki motor car. Whoa, Nellie...

2. Leica M digital camera with no red dot but a lot of tougher features.

3. Leica M-A...ALL mechanical Leica 35mm film camera - evocation of the classic Leica M series. No meter. If you can guess exposure, sell your other gear to buy this one. It is superb.

4. Leica X...a lot like the body shape of the X-vario but with a fixed focal length lens similar the X1 and X2. Darned elegant.

5. Leica even more fancy finished X2.

6. Leica D-Lux 6...our beloved and well-respected D-lux with a little change to the front ring. Is that a 4/3 sized sensor in there?

7. Leica V-Lux...the safari cam par excellence now has 4K video and a 25mm-400mm equivalent lens and wil shoot at 12 fps.

8. Cases...Schedoni, Aneas, and Artist and Artisan now have elegant solutions to carry Leica cameras and Leica are prepared to mention them with their premium products. How now, Herr Benser?

9. APO-Vario-Elmar-T 55mm-135mm f:3.5-4.5...T-system longer zoom in 2015.

10. Super-Vario-Elmar-T 11mm-23mm f:3.5-4.5...T-system wider zoom in 2015.

11. Noctilux-M 50mm f:0.95...Massive available-light lens now in silver finish.

12. Summilux-M 35mm f:1.4 ASPH...available light mild wide in silver finish.

13. Summarit-M 35mm f:2.4 ASPH... small light mild wide.

14. Summarit-M 50mm f:2.4...small light normal.

15. Summarit-M 75mm f:2.4...small light portrait.

16. Summarit-M 90mm f:2.4...small light short tele.

There are probably a lot more salient features about each of these new products that we will learn about as time goes on. You can be assured that Leica lenses work.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

New Canons For the Optical Artillery

It's New Time for Canon photographers and there are quite few press releases smoking hot on the internet today. Plus we have seen and handled one of the new products just this morning. ( It won't be here this afternoon as the rep has whisked it off to another dealer...but we saw it! )

I. Cameras

The new Canon EOS 70D mkII is here - we handled it and saw the detailed presentation regarding it. Don't be fooled - the designation might suggest that it is an update bit with all the new's a new camera.

Okay. Start out with performance. 10 FPS for over 1000 jpegs! Or 33 RAW shots in a burst! 65-point all cross-type AF points and two processing computers inside! Full HD video at 60 p!

Darn, the ! button fell off the laptop. Pardon me while I glue it back on...

The part that iced my doughnut for this camera was the fact that they've put the radio command wireless control into it - you can fire off the superb Canon 600EX RT flash  wirelessly the same way that you can on the 5D MkIII.

There is GPS built -in. There is a widely adjustable interval timer. There is the HDR capability of the 5D MkIII. It is a knock-your-socks-off  APS-C sensor camera that should be perfect for sports action at a fair distance.

There will also be a new Canon Powershot travel or bridge camera - the SX 60 HS. This leads on from the wildly successful SX 50 HS but adds more zoom range and a wonderful new feature - it can compensate for the maddening moments when your subject runs out of frame and you can't find them again.

Okay, it won't locate Ambrose Bierce at this stage of the game... but if you lose the plot while shooting at the long telephoto end you can press a little button on the side of the lens barrel and it will zoom out but still let you see the AF point - pick up the subject and release the button and you're back in business.

If you're doing video, you can change things manually during filming - and if you're dong stills there are even more creative filters in-built.

And finally - a new small Powershot G7X camera - Pocket size with a tilting LCD screen. 1.0" 20.2 megapixel sensor. Digic 6 processor. And ultra-easy settings to deal with star photography, in-built ND filter work, HDR, full WiFi connectivity, and full 60pHD video recording.

Perfect travel pocket camera.

II. Lenses

The new 24-105 f:4 lens with the STM mechanism should become a firm favourite with full-frame users and video shooters. It is smooth and quiet.

Wide-angle? Here's an announcement of a 24mm f:2.8 STM pancake lens. Canon are saying it is a street lens but I say it is a landscape lens for those people who only want to take two lenses up the side of a mountain while breathing.

Should you wish to photograph tigers while feeding or family weddings from a safe distance, Canon have announced a new EF 400mm f:4 DO IS II USM lens. This is 400mm of focal length in a shorter frame - that's the DO lens element at work - and the rigidity and durability of the L series lenses with three IS modes. Best of all for the wedding food fight - the lens is listed as dust and drip proof...

You can't say that Canon are resting on their laurels...or any other portion of the corporate anatomy. They think ahead and bring out good stuff.

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Olympus Press Release Time

Looks like the Olympus company has some new equipment on release. Here's a precis of the information that has just come into our shop.

  I. Cameras:

They are releasing a new flagship camera model - the OM-D E-M1. This has a number of new professionally-oriented features as well as some new cosmetic touches.

Big news for studio people is that it can be directly tethered to a computer - that means remote viewing and control as well as direct image transfer.

There will be a new digital perspective control to help straighten up the keystoning inherent in may architectural and landscape shots. You'll get a shift with every lens you own.

The bells and whistles brigade will welcome the multiple exposure capabilities of the E-m10 in this model and several new Art filter settings. You get to see what you get before you shoot it too, as the filter effects come through the screens. the screens have also been sped up for faster high-speed action capture.

If it is looks you are after, there will be a new silver-bodied option. And there will be an option for current E-M1 users to upgrade to a V.2 firmware - not a bad idea for most people.

II. Lenses

New M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150 f:2.8 PRO zoom lens. This is the natural companion to their :2.8 12-40 PRO lens and features the same weather-resistant construction and superior glass. I note that the press release mentions an extremely fast focussing speedand a 9-blade aperture - the bokeh should be smooth. There will be a separately-available 1.4X teleconverter dedicated to doing the best with the image - that wold boost what it does up to an equivalent of 400mm in the old filmspeak. Long lens.

Note that like many long pro lenses that this has a sturdy foot to attach it to a tripod.

Final note: The press release and our computer listing have no price yet for this. We'll trumpet it as we get it. Be assured that this will be a must-have for the Micro 4/3 enthusiasts.

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Good Laud - We List the Canon AIPP Annual Awards

The annual event that Canon and the AIPP conduct to examine and display the work of Australian photographers has just been concluded. There are a number of divisions in which they consider photography can be divided and there are awards for the leading Australian practitioners - and one for an international person. It's a big ist, but the people who make it are the best for this year - take it as a good hint to look up their work and see why they have received the plaudits of their peers.

If you're in the market to hire anyone for photography...well this is also a pretty good shopping list of people - but remember that you're looking at the Paris end of Collins Street...

So, to the list. Please note that the Canon company's name is linked to the AIPP in each case.

1. Canon/AIPP Australian Photographer of the year - James Simmons
2. Canon/AIPP Creative Photographer of the year - Kirsten Graham
3. Canon/AIPP Wedding Photographer of the year - James Simmons
4. Canon/AIPP Family Photographer of the year - Kelly Brown
5. Canon/AIPP Portrait Photographer of the year - Peter Rossi
6. Canon/AIPP Illustrative Photographer of the year - Keren Dobia
7. Canon/AIPP Birth Photographer of the year - Victoria Berekmeri
8. Canon/AIPP Documentary Photographer of the year - Anthony McKee
9. Canon/AIPP Science, Environment, Nature Photographer of the year - Joshua Holko
10. Canon/AIPP Landscape Photographer of the year - Ricardo Da Cunha
11. Canon/AIPP Travel Photographer of the year - Nick Rains
12. Canon/AIPP Sports Photographer of the year - Matt Palmer
13. Canon/AIPP Commercial Photographer of the year - Aran Anderson
14. Canon/AIPP Fashion Photographer of the year - Peter Coulson
15. Canon/AIPP Advertising Photographer of the year - Matthew Everingham
16. Canon/AIPP International Photographer of the year - Luke Edmonson
17. Canon/AIPP Photography Book of the year - Peter Eastway
18. Canon/AIPP Album Photographer of the year - Nadine Saacks
19. Canon/AIPP Australian Tertiary Institute of the year - Photography Studies College
20. Canon/AIPP Emerging photographer of he year - Adam Williams
21. Canon/AIPP Student Photographer of the year - Jacqui Hogan
22. Canon/AIPP Highest Scoring Print - Kelly Gerdes

Thats a powerful lot of awardin'...

I noted the category of Birth Photographer and wish to accord Victoria an especial degree of respect. Never mind all the other camera businesses - she is the one in this list that is concerned with the essential part of life - and it is a tough time for everyone in the place. If she can cope with new babies, new mothers, new fathers, and old theatre sisters and get the top spot for Australia she is the star at the top of the tree as far as I am concerned. Yay!

And congratulations and an increase of business to all the other winners.

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Monday, September 15, 2014

Grumpy Cat Goes To The Display - With His Fujifilm

My Sunday amusement with the Fujifilm X-E2 and 55-200 zoom lens was a visit to the plastic model exhibition in Cannington.

The camera worked well, the EF-42 flash worked well, and the lens worked well...but I had forgotten that depth of field is shallow at close distances and long focal lengths. Some of the model aircraft had fuselages in focus and wingtips out - my fault for not thinking first. 135mm is 135mm no matter who cuts it off the loaf, and DOF is limited. Next year I do it with the 35mm f:1.4 at f:16. Fujifilm have a diffraction compensation program in their latest firmware that sharpens up the results.

The main thing that I took away from the exhibition was the realisation that the individual modellers were brilliant and their creations were charming, but the method of display forced on them by the venue and large number of entrants somewhat spoiled the show.

You see, all scales and subjects were thrown together - on tables covered in jumbles of cloth - with nothing but garish overhead lighting and no backdrops. It was like jewels scattered on a messy floor - still jewels but not shining.

Do we do this with our images? Do we throw too many of them out on our websites or at our exhibitions and jumble them all together. Do they tell a story visually or just babble? Are we just showing slides of our trip to Fiji when the audience wants to leave? Should we show less but show better? Hmmmm.

* Heading image: Wall art in Fremantle. Gotta love Fremantle...

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Show Time - with Nikon, Canon, Fuji, And Everybody Else

Do not ask for Saul, Howard, or Domenic this week. They are traversing the halls of Photokina in Köln with dazzled expressions and big orange drinks in their hands. Popcorn and cotton candy may be involved - they are wandering around the biggest photographic county fair in the world.

We expect reports from them as they go. We will pass as much of the substance of these as we can, but you must be aware that they will be bringing back more detailed trade brochures and product information. Some of the details will be buried in this mass of literature. If it is readable, we will use it to fill in the blanks for you.

I am personally hoping for big announcements from Nissin and Fujifilm, and Gavin will be watching the posts from Olympus. Ditto for all the other favourite manufacturers that the other staff take and interest in. There should be some interesting bits from smaller accessory suppliers - this is always where our desire to buy things comes most to the fore. Rest assured - with S, H and D in there looking around, the shop will not lack for new and interesting things in the coming months.

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Friday, September 12, 2014

New Nikon Announcement

Time to get the piggy bank down off the top of the refrigerator and search for the hammer. Nikon have announced a new camera, a new lens, and a new flash.

The D750 is a new full-frame FX camera that features 24.3 megapixel sensor, Expeed 4 processor, and a great many bells and whistles. You can expect:

6.5 fps burst rate for continuous shooting

100-12800 ISO expandable to 50-51200 ISO

full 1080 HD video

full sized deep hand grip

twin SD card slots

Wifi capability with WiFi mobile app

We will have more details shortly on this and may be able to predict when they will be seen.

If you need a wide angle lens for the FX system cameras you can rejoice that the 20mm has been re-invented with nano coatings and a new maximum aperture of f:1.8. This is a very usable aperture at this focal length as there is still a great depth of field. It alos lets the lens focus to a surprisingly close distance.

last too of the Nikon trumpet is the new SB 500 flash. It is one of the new generation of speed lights that feature an LED illumination light on the front - you can see what you are doing in the dark for still photos and even use it for illumination during video work. As it is iTTL and has easy controls at the back it will feature for a lot of the newer cameras and newer users.

As usual, when Nikon Australia - the real deal when it comes to Nikon - tell us, we'll tell you.

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Canon CPS News - Spots Be Gone!

" Spots wha hae wi' Canon fled..."

Sorry - the devolution vote and all. I'll be right in a minute...Och Aye, the noo...

Good news for Canon CPS members. Camera Electronic has long been an authorised drop-off point for professional photographers sending their Canon equipment in for the excellent and expert Canon Australia services. Now we get to go one step more:

We are now able to provide the benefit of free sensor cleaning for current CPS members under Canon's authorisation. This will be for 5d and 1D-series bodies and will be governed by current Canon terms and conditions.

Please contact our repairs and rental department to get more details. Now you no longer will need to Hoover your own sensors.

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Tiny Little Stadium Lighting With Cullmann And Ledgo

Those of you who follow the Subbuteo football league will have seen that their fixtures for the coming season include a number of night matches. Providing adequate lighting for the stadium during these games has always been problematical - the use of desk lamps means trailing electrical cords across the floor and sometimes these fall over and injure the players. Plus they are hot - summer matches can be hot and sweaty affairs at the best of times.

Cullmann, the innovative German tripod and camera support people and Ledgo, the Chinese LED light firm have an answer for this. The Cullmann Flexx Support System and the Cullmann Copter miniature tripod with the CB4 head and shoe mount provide easily-portable towers that will direct the Ledgo LG-B56 bank of lights down upon the playing field. Two of these arrays should be enough to illuminate the standard pitch and the spectators will be rewarded with an authentic look to the game. If four towers are used it should be as good as the MCG or Wembley Stadium.

On an odder note, some people may wish to adapt these lights and tabletop tripods for photographic purposes. Macro workers will find that it illuminates tiny objects perfectly.
The lights are quite bright enough to conduct interrogations. Videographers will benefit from the portability and the adjustable output.

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Pack Shots For Packing Cameras - With Black Rapid

I am generally ashamed of myself for presenting pack shots on this blog instead of the goods out in the open. But when I see that the pack is sealed and the goods inside are big and floppy and troublesome to photograph...I conquer my shame.

Today there are three newish thingish things from Black Rapid - the leaders in camera slinging technology. Those who are inclined to dispute that claim are invited to come down here with a Nikon D4s and a 200-400 Nikkor lens. They can attach said optical artillery to a neck strap and then to a Black Rapid rig and see which feels good. We have the chiropractor on speed-dial when they find out...

The new slings are:

Kick: A wide shoulder pad and a canted dodge-the-bumps configuration allow female photographers who are toting heavy gear to do it in clavicular and thoracic comfort. Stylish, too.

Yeti: You can sling two big cameras off this one but it does so off a very wide left-shoullder pad. A working sling rig for the heavy duties.

Tether: Two anodised carabiner clips, two camera-ready short straps, and a useful accessory bag help the Black Rapid user secure their camera to straps they already own but also allow other people who use mirror-less systems to cobble up a very lightweight travelling rig. Ask us how. We don't know yet, but that should not stop us...

All the big Black Rapid straps will support 25 Kg at the working end. If your camera weighs more than that we salute you.


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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Steaming Through The Photos With The Gary Fong Lightsphere

The secrets of successful event photography are:

1. Go to interesting events.
2. Find interesting people.
3. Use a Gary Fong Lightsphere on your flash.
4. Pick the highest usable ISO that you are comfortable with.
5. Be close to the door when the fight starts.

N0. 5 usually only applies to weddings.

The other points are amply illustrated by last Saturday's visit to the Grand Steam Punk Affair Ball at the WA Museum. A night affair, and in a venue that had attractive and interesting lighting.  I set an ISO of 1200 on my Fujifulm X-100 camera and connected the Fujifilm EF42 flash with a TTL cable. I balanced it on my new Cullmann 622T tripod and started accosting strangers.

Note - everyone at a Steampunk ball is a stranger but some are stranger than others. As I was dressed as a Russian sailor* I fit right in...

The portrait of the gentleman in the startling hat - Gavin - is an illustration of the value of the Fong. It sits high over the lens axis on the camera and the shape of the diffuser means that there is an expanding ball of light with each exposure. It lights a face well without making a flat mask of it. Perfectly usable for weddings and outdoor portraits as well - it would be my first recommendation for all speed light work when people are involved.

But look closely at what the flash does with the background - in the first image Gavin is isolated in blackness - in the second he has the warm colours of the ball around him. The difference was setting the flash on the Fujifilm X-100 to "slow synchro". It let the shutter stay open a little longer to record the ambient light.

Note: balls and weddings and parties are close-range affairs. The initial use of the Fujifilm X-100 with the 23mm lens was fine but it got squeezy later on - so I screwed the WCL-100 wide angle converter onto the camera and there was space for all. Great event camera, the X-100 - no mis-focused or badly exposed files all evening.


* Ironclad Ship "Novgorod" ...Black Sea Fleet.

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Monday, September 8, 2014

Well, The Roof Is Still On...

Not a bad thing at all, considering the wind last night. I noticed that one homeowner along Leach Highway who forgot to trim his palm trees last week need not worry this week...and all the natives downwind of his property can now thatch their huts.

Apart from this windstorm - and I blame the government - the other news this morning is good. I advised you to read the paper to see our offer of Olympus E-Pl5 camera kits for a blazing $ 399. We got 'em, you need 'em, and now is the time to get 'em. Before the next windstorm comes through.

While you are here pick up a tripod bargain - we're selling a number of the Cullmann models on a three legs for the price of two basis.  In other words we have dropped the prices on quite a few of the Magnesit models and bargain binned the Magic tripods and Nanomax models. The stocks are running out so run in.

More news from the party circuit - as you'll see tomorrow, the Fuji X 100 series of cameras are surprising machines. Couple them with a suitable flash and....but that is tomorrow.

Note: if last night was Bin Night, today may be Find The Bin Morning.

* Windier than I thought...boy, are BHP going to be mad...

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Friday, September 5, 2014

New Reliable Becomes Newer Reliable

Who amongst us has not rejoiced at finding a pocket full of loose change in a pair of trousers that is just about to go into the wash? Or better - a crumpled up $ 10 note? Free money! A present from heaven!

Well we can get this sort of thing from the camera and accessory manufacturers as well. Sometimes it is free money - as in cash backs - and sometimes it is free improvements to our existing systems.

The younger readers will know what I am talking about - the firmware upgrade. The older ones like me are just discovering it. Youngsters can go away and the rest of us can draw our chairs closer to the stove...

I am a Fuji user, and Fujifilm are diligent in researching their products for ways of making them better - each successive camera or lens has improvements. Sometimes the improvements of the new gear can be effected in the cameras or lenses we already possess by means of these firmware upgrades. The process is simple, and the Fujifilm company set it out on their website in easy steps. There is even a very helpful independent writer called Rico Pfirstinger who shows it step-by-step on a little video.

You download the appropriate file from Fujifilm, put it on the desktop of your computer, and then put it into a small clean SD card. You load a fully charged battery into the camera, pop the card in, and turn the camera on. Follow the prompts on the LCD screen of the camera precisely and in 90 seconds the job is done.

Just that simple. My camera now has a better viewfinder and focussing system. I did the same to my 18mm lens and it now makes better model car pictures. And it was all free.

Best of all, I have been able to do upgrades for my Fujifilm X-10 and X-100 as well. They got different capabilities ( Sort of like different super-poweers for comic book heroes...) but it was all glorious. I can thoroughly recommend the whole process.

Note: The users of other cameras, and printers, and computer systems, and programs can also do this. Sometimes the makers of the equipment will nag you to do it - Apple pokes me every so often to update bits of my computers* - and sometimes you just have to remember to look for yourself. It is worthwhile doing a bit of research on the net to see if your favourite camera or lens might just get even better...

* I can now make toasted cheese sandwiches with my iPad.

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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

C Me Jimmy...

The interesting object in the alley-way is an indispensable accessory for the modern photographer. Whether you are shooting products in the studio, political riots in the street, or ships at sea, you need this. Wedding photographers will want two*.

It is a Kupo "C" stand. Made of aluminium castings, steel tubes, and the sweat of honest North Asian labour. It weighs a lot, and therein lies the charm. It is heavy-duty gear for when you need to suspend something over a set or a subject.

The legs swivel out from the center column and snap-lock into position. You can position it close to a wall and still have stability out at the end of the arm. If you put the boom over the long leg you have enough stability to swing even a large flash head and softbox out there.

Of course it always pays to use a counterweight at the short end of the boom, and to secure the legs with sand bags as well, Steve Sint makes a point of the safety aspects needed in the studio in his book on still life photography and Steve Sint knows!

Please note that the center column shafts do not have air brakes inside the structure. If you release the clamp carelessly the only thing that arrests the drop of the boom is your fingers or careful.

But look at all the clamp attachment points there on the assembly - there are more than enough possibilities there for the inventive photographer to swing lights any way they want to.

* Romance. Nothin' says lovin' like a pair of intertwined studio stands.

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