Friday, October 31, 2014

The New Cullmann Concept Head - Video To Still To Video to Still To...

And I'll bet you're glad I stopped doing that. But you needn't stop - if your photography is a mixed art - video and stills combined in one job - you do not want to be having to change your tripod head each time you get a new idea.

This is where the new Cullmann Concept 628M tripod with the convertible head scores. Look in the side of that metal head. the "video" knob is a lock that can freeze the motion of the ball so that it only tilts - the panning action is in the base of the head. This means you use the long video handle to smoothly turn the camera or make it nod up and down.

If the scene changes and you need to do a still picture instantly - with the ball head setting your camera at a strange angle, you turn the "video" knob until it locks out and then the ball head operates as per normal.

The legs of the 628M go up far enough to let a six-footer film at eye level, and there is an extension that goes above that. Wilt Chamberlain take note.

That is an Arca-Swiss sized plate up there and you can get them as spares in various lengths.

Cullmann have a ten-year warranty on this fine product. We're delighted with them.

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You May Notice... Fujifilm

You may notice over the next few months that whenever we advertise the Fujifilm X-series cameras - the X-30, X100S or T, The X-PRO1, The X-E2, or the X-T1 - that we carefully refer to the company as Fujifilm. This is deliberate.

Fuji is a name that figures largely in Japanese advertising, which is not surprising as there seems to be a rather large mountain near Tokyo called Fujiyama. It is hard to miss...The use of Fuji as a name extends throughout any number of products - I remember in dentistry that there was a Fuji company that made superb filling and laboratory materials in stylish packaging. I suspect one of my crowns is attached with a Fuji ionomer cement. But they are a different company.

So - Fujifilm has been Fujifilm for a very long time and they have been selling Fujifilm film for as long as I have been in the trade. We have their films in the film fridge right now and they have proved to be stalwarts in colour transparency supply where other manufacturers have fallen by the wayside. I can readily endorse the use of their materials in studio and darkroom as well. They work well, and if you work, that is a very good thing.

So - They want to make sure - and we will be cooperating in this - that you know they are the photographic Fuji people - Fujifilm. Even if you are shooting digital now, they are the same old reliable backup. Yay.

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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Silkypix - A First Report

Some time ago I mentioned that I was going to try the Silkypix 6 Studio Developer program in connection with my Fujifilm camera collection. I duly studied the available internet information...thin but interesting...and sent off a credit card payment to the Ichikawa Soft Laboratory for the right to use it.

I can record with a glow of pride that I managed to download the thing, activate it, and start using it without having to call in the family computer experts. Now I am on my own trying to learn the new language.

It's not Japanese, but it's not English. It utilises English words but attaches them to things that you'd not expect. For instance there is a way to make a cache of uncompleted work for later additions called a "cloakroom". That at least makes some little sense and is funny enough to impress itself on the mind. But there are others that don't.

Note: people who are used to Photoshop programs that have tone curves will find the Silkypix curve diagram easy to use. I'm not and I don't but I shall persevere until I do.

It does do a subtle sort of a job with film simulation - I can get an approximate Velvia, Provia, and Astia and something that may be similar to some of the negative films. I can also get a tone rendition that is a "memory" colour. I think the Japanese developers are being as cynical as I am with this one - it is just a little brighter than you recall - maybe it is what you wished you remembered...

Nevertheless, there are some charms to this editing program - it does do chromatic aberration correction as well as a host of perspective controls very easily. The sharpening controls are particularly well-explained and subtle enough to be useful. It pumps out files in a multitude of types.

And it copes with everything I own or have owned; jpeg, tiff, or RAW. No more ponding back and forth between programs if I fancy a different body.

Pictures are from Melbourne this year - Fujifilm X100 RAF files.

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Armistice Day Photo Night WIth Peter Coulson

We've been asked to mention that there will be an interesting Photo Night Out with Peter Coulsen at the Hotel Northbridge on Tuesday 11th of November, 2014.

The hotel is at 210 Lake Street in North Perth with parking on streets surrounding it. As yet, the people at C.R. Kennedy have not told us the start time, but when they do we will send out more information.

This will be a good chance to see Peter use the new LED Light Cubes.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Stylish Is As Stylish Does - With The Pentax K-S1

We are accustomed to seeing DSLR cameras in conventional shapes these days - they have had a considerable time to develop from the rather space-age designs of the late 90's. Each manufacturer has their own aesthetic, but they are constrained by the actual function of the thing.

Pentax is no different - they need a lens out the front, a mirror box in the middle and a screen in the back. The inclusion of the occasional shutter, tripod mount, and flash socket is also good...Even the strap lugs are useful. And occasionally Pentax gets a chance to be a little more stylish than some.

Take the new K-S1 camera body. The grip shape is swooping Lincoln Continental  Museum Of Modern Art style and the cladding material breaks free from the false-leather of the past. And there are green LED's in the grip. Laugh not - this is a camera you can find in the high-contrast gloom of a studio space.

I am particularly taken with the bright screen display that lets me see at a glance what the thing is set on - and steer the AF point accurately. Even the mode dial at the back is illuminated - this is a camera that would be good to work with in a theatre.

Of course it is the standard Pentax AF mount - so you have a good range of lenses available.  It has a great two-year Australian manufacturer's warranty.

But it is the style that attracts.

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Langenzenn Attacks - The Cullmann Tripods Are Coming!

I am sometimes nonplussed but that is not necessarily just means I have not yet figured out what I am looking at. This applies particularly when it comes to video equipment. My motion-picture ambitions peaked with the Bolex C-3 and have not been revived since the demise of double-run standard 8 Kodachrome.

So looking at the Cullmann Alpha 9000 tripod and head takes a little time. It seems to have more tubes than a Belpaire boiler and a head that reminds me of an Ikara mount. Is all this necessary for a cam-corder?

Apparently, yes. The tubes and the quick release catches allow the legs to drop rapidly when you are setting the thing up on the run. Presumably if you are continuing to run they clap together with equal speed. They are lightweight tubes but as they are widely spaced they are stable. Stiffness vs weight.

The head sits in a semicircular bowl with a locking knob - if the whole thing is not on level ground you can at least set the head on the horizontal before you start to pan and tilt.

The head has a fluid drive - stiff without being sticky. It would be a royal pain to use if you were tracking SR - 71's on full reheat but it should be able to cope with most slower aircraft. You can increase or decrease the resistance to smooth the action. There is a geared sliding mechanism that lets the cam-corder go fore and aft - then lock in place.

I puzzled about this but then a client brought in a full-blown video rig and I realised that these things have a considerable weight spread over a long mechanism. If you swing it on the balance point  - all well and good. If you get it overbalanced you have a problem.

The whole affair - legs and head - is only $ 399. It is a considerable bargain for the budding videographer.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

No Need To Be Gloomy - Buy An EIZO

There I sit in my dark little room - drinking. Alone. With nothing but my memories to comfort me...

This would be a very sad post unless you realize that I am writing about sitting in my former chemical darkroom - long converted to a computer and printing room - with the lights down low, drinking espresso and editing photos on my iMac. And happy as Larry.

Well, perhaps not Larry - Moe maybe, or Shemp. Now, I love my iMac, because it is simple to use and I understand where the controls are located. I use it for blogging, surfing, FB'ing, and editing. But it has one small flaw - the screen in glossy and it reflects everything that it sees - including me peering into it*. hence the darkened room - I keep the lights low and diffuse so that I get a little more accuracy in what I see on the screen.

If I was honest with myself I would admit that it is time for a second screen - a dedicated monitor for the editing tasks. The EIZO are the best choice - they have a matte surface that does not reflect the surroundings. They have a warranted 5-year even illumination behind that surface - and their consistency in this is the best in the industry - and they have the correct circuitry to maintain the colour accuracy that you set.

It would mean being able to raise the general level of illumination in the room. Of course it would use up a bit more desk space, but the iMac keyboard is pretty small and the Wacom Intuous tablet can be shifted sideways.

And the espresso comes in tiny little cups anyway...

* A startling thing if you are not accustomed to it.

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Monday, October 27, 2014

Wrong Way Corrigan? With SanDisk, Hoodman, and Promaster

A client rang with a problem concerning her memory card. The camera she was using had suddenly given her the message " Card Locked For Writing ". The camera had been reliable before, so she suspected the SD card.

So did I. I asked her to take it out and to check the little sliding switch on the side. I did the same, with a SanDisk card in front of me. When she tried the switch on hers - a no-name card purchased overseas - it proved to be locked when the San Disk was open, and vice versa - the switch was in reverse.

Eventually she got going again, took a picture while we were on the phone, and we parted happy. But I am puzzled. I checked all the other cards here in the shop - Hoodman, Promaster, and SanDisk - they all lock in the same way. I should have expected it to be a standard of the industry.

But are there different switches on other cards? Answers from our readers, please - the Facebook connection is the easiest way to do that.

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Friday, October 24, 2014

Don't Lose Your Shirt - Buy Leica

It is always fun to have new clothing provided it is not issued by the Department of Corrections. For those of us on the outside, summer is coming in and we'll need tee-shirts to see us through the hot weather.

Here's a new design from Leica called " Bauhaus ". Whether you're shooting film, digital, or other technology, you'll want to show your loyalty to Leica. Wear this shirt with pride.

Note: head goes through the centre hole, arms go through the side holes. Logo design to the front.

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Tiny Little Movements For Great Big Success - Velbon Macro Slider

Old gunnery officers from the Ruritanian Navy will immediately recognise the piece of apparatus shown in the heading image:  a Skoda M 320 recovery mechanism for  the main battery of the SZENT LUDWITZCH. The ironclad may be gone but we saved her guns.

Or not, as the case may be. It might be a Velbon Macro Slider for close-up and product photography. The resemblance is uncanny.

As a macro slider it allows the careful worker to move a camera and lens fore and aft, and left and right with extreme precision. The shallow depth of field and the tiny field of vision encountered in the macro world demands the utmost care in positioning - otherwise things are just not in focus. If you try to move on a conventional tripod or studio stand the crudity of the adjustment defeats the whole thing.

You'll still need a tripod - and a good one too - and a good three-way or ball head to mount the slider. The Cullmann range has enough variety to suit most systems. I am afraid that ye canna change the laws 'o physics, Captain...and you cannot expect to sling an effective, steady macro rig on a tiny travel tripod. Choose a sensibly large size for this and accept the fact that when you need to do professional work you have to carry professional weight - even out in the field looking for wildflowers.

This also applies for studio workers who need to do product shots with great precision - publications can be extremely fussy about where the objects in the images are positioned and the difference for small subjects can be great. Use the Velbon macro slider to dodge sided to side as need be and the job becomes a breeze.

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Okay, Okay, Here It Is - The Canon G7X

The previous post about automatic programs might have included this new camera in the list - I just saw that it is in the shop this week and the canon company are very proud of it.

It is compact - it will drop into the top pocket of a Camera Electronic work shirt - and has  a 1" CMOS sensor. there's a gloriously precise function ring around the lens axis and good finger access for all the controls. thankfully there is also an external exposure compensation dial for when you are using the auto programs.

The LCD screen is an a wide-swinging hinge - it is single-axis, but will fold up over the body of the camera to allow you to accurately frame selfies. Don't make that scornful face - you know you will be doing this in restaurants and pubs when you are on holidays. You might as well make good ones.

The interesting thing about the hinge is that it is metal - indeed the body of the camera is metal and feels terrifically solid. This is a great thing to see in a new compact - a return to build quality.

Note that there is also a bit of subtle style here -look under the edges of the shutter button and the mode button - red anodised rings. I don't know whether they signify some extra control, but they look cool.

The mode dial has a quick access to an HDR mode and well as what they call Hybrid Auto. The prompt screen at the back says that it creates a " digest video" while doing still images. I am currently toying with this idea but have come to no real conclusion...could it be for selfies after the main course at the restaurant...?

Uncle Dick

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Nothing To See Here, So Look Carefully - With Fujifilm, Panasonic, and Olympus

Trying to compile a portfolio of the dullest photographs in Perth, I lifted my Fujifilm X-10 at the traffic lights and pushed the shutter button. There was no traffic accident to record, no wild bogan behaviour...everyone was just quietly going to work. The only crime visible in the frame was the price of petrol.

What is remarkable about the image is that it was literally the work of 3 seconds. The camera had been set to EXR - a Fujifilm automated setting that carries on from normal auto or program. As near as I can tell it analyses the scene in front of the sensor, compares it to a library of good pictures, and then decides what to do. I am pleased it released the shutter - normally it tells me to put the lens cap back on, go home, and take up stamp collecting...

Seriously, folks, this sort of program is pooh poohed by the pundits but is actually a brilliant idea by the manufacturer. I am sure that it is not just Fujifilm - Olympus and Panasonic have great automatic programs in their menus as well. With a camera that is going to be used by a tourist, or a busy Mum or Dad, or an internationally famous world-wide icon street shooter ( complete with three-day growth and a scarf around their neck...I've seen the advertisements... ) this sort of quick response and decent result is just the thing. Click and run.

Okay, set the thing up for success - give the camera permission to shoot up to 1600 ISO and admit that you need to shoot at 1/30 of a second to prevent blur ( Olympus users take note - your camera has tiny little stabilisers that let you shoot at lower speeds. ) and make sure you have a decent speed card in there - and then go for it. These cameras will produce the goods.

Note, I was stopped at the lights at the time. The camera was put down safely on the seat afterwards and then I carefully and courteously rear-ended the Mazda.

Uncle Dick

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Arca Swiss - This Is One Big Cheese!

And no holes in it, either!

The Arca Swiss company is famous for letting it all hang out - in this case in about 4 directions at the same time*. Studio photographers will immediately recognise the way this Arca Swiss C1 cube has been set up - the fore and aft Sheimpflug modulated tilt/shift toggle beam position. As used to render advertising images for sock manufacturers...

Precision is a hard thing to come by in some areas of photography - pet photography  and wedding shooters will know what we mean if they reflect on it while hosing out their studios. They are more or less shooting it on the wing and the best chance they have of success is to lead the target and trust to proximity fuses. Studio product and scientific shooting is another story.

If the object that you are picturing does not breathe it can generally be persuaded not to move. And then you can position yourself and your camera in such a way as to show all the salient features of it in the best light. Whether it is the aforementioned socks, or cans of corn, or Mercedes cars, the light is controllable and the angle of the lens is too. In some cases the movement of the camera needs to be very small to produce a great difference in the optical rendering.

Arca Swiss do make that precision possible, for all I make fun of them. The heading image is taken in the tradition of all large-format manufacturers - the extremes of each movement are shown, with the tacit understanding that you never actually do that. You move little bits very precisely - and sometimes you need to move a couple of them at the same time. That's where the micro-drive geared adjustments, the friction gripper, and the scales come in.

It's all metal in there, folks, and it costs a lot, and if you are a studio that deals in science or advertising art, this is a device well worth considering. They're hand made in Switzerland and well worth the wait.

* The Swiss are well-known comedy scamps...

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I Wanna Buy A Lens - But Which One?

" Agony, agony, agony. I want to take long shots wide up close further back with pin sharp soft bokeh and the lens has to fit in my pocket and cost $ 12. Whaddaya got? "

A desire for strong drink, friend...

But moving right along, there is a sensible, scientific, do-able answer to the dilemma that this client is facing - the question of finding out what they really want. And we can help them solve it in a weekend.

If the client has a Nikon, Canon, or Fujifilm camera they should repair to the Rental Department here at Camera Electronic and hire out a wide-ranging zoom lens for two days. If they do not have one of these camera bodies they should add it to the hire contract - it won't matter which brand they choose as they are all good makers but they should get an APS-C body to accompany the lens.

Right. Set the camera for a reasonably high ISO - all the cameras will stand 800 ISO and will probably go to 1600 easily. Set the thing to shoot sRGB and a medium fine jpeg. Put in a 16 GB card and get started.

Shoot what you want to shoot, where you want to shoot it. Whatever you conceive as your special interest should get first priority but add something else as well - something that you don't normally do. Shoot a lot. Use the lens at any focal length. Shoot in all conditions of light. When the weekend is finished, bring the camera good condition, I might add...and head for your computer with that 16 GB card.

Have a look at the programs in your computer that deal with jpegs and see if they will report the EXIF data that is there in the card. I know that Silkypix 6 does and Aperture 3 does, and I suspect that the Adobe products do too, if you know which button to push. Load that card.

Look at the pictures. Look at that ones that you like. Are they successful? If you like them, they are...Now look at the EXIF data. The ones you liked are taken with the focal length that applies to you - that's how YOU see the world. That's the focal length that works for your eyes.

It might be that you see in a range of views - maybe the whole 18-300 spectrum. Well and good - then that is the lens for you. If you are mostly seeing at 85mm or 35mm, that is the view that best expresses you - and you can get prime lenses that will do this with less distortion and more light transmission.

Is your arm sore and tired? That big lens was too big for you - choose a smaller range or lighter lens.

Is every blessed picture too dark? Consider getting a lens with a wider maximum aperture.

 If everything is too restricted, consider getting a wider angle and conversely, if everything is always too far away, consider a longer dedicated telephoto lens. Prepare yourself in that case for a financial and physical shock - long is dear and heavy.

In any case, you have conducted a scientific experiment on yourself and can make the best judgement for you - without reading the internet pundits or the advertising sites. You can, as the surgeon said...suture self.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

One Of These Lenses Is Not Like The Others

One of these lenses is not the same...with apologies to Big Bird...

Okay, see if you can figure it out. You'll need to be in a darkened theatre to discover the difference - come and buy all these three lenses from us and explore the mystery. I'll give you some clues.

1. It ain't the aperture. They are all about f:1.4 or f:1.5 so they work good in the dark.

2. It ain't the lens mount - these cameras can all be put to work on a Fujifilm X-E2 camera  - the Fuji mounts straight off and the Leica or Zeiss lenses can go on the the Fujifilm adapter.

3. It ain't the autofocus. The lenses can all be manually focussed with the Fujifilm X-E2 and the focus peaking and enlarged central image you get by pressing the control wheel make the things go into focus very precisely.

4. It ain't the lens performance. They ALL perform brilliantly. I can't see as good as they can.

5. It ain't the chrome on the Zeiss - you can get this same lens in black.

6. It ain't the focal length. They are all normal lenses as far as the APS-C sensor goes.

Okay? Give up?

It's the little raised blue plastic dot on the Zeiss and the little red plastic dot on the Leica. There is no raised dot on the Fujifilm - just a painted red stripe. It helps you orientate the lens for mounting...but not in a darkened theatre when you can't see it.
You fumble, turn to whatever light you can find, and finally pull out a pocket torch to see what you are doing.

Okay - time to rethink, Fujifilm. Put a raised dot or some other tactile aid for lens changing in the dark. When my lenses pass through their warranty period and can be legitimately attacked with a fire axe, I shall ask Ernest to attach some form of dot for me - so I am not fumbling in the dark.

I do that enough when it comes to politics and finances...

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Yo! Here's Your Glanz DSLR SHoulder Rig!

For those of you who wish to use your DSLR or mirrorless cameras as vital parts of a video system, we have a range of excellent support platforms.

Manfrotto make delightful tripods - light and sturdy and fast to deploy. Cullmann makes a heavy tripod with a very good value-for-money fluid head. Cambo make an extremely competent and complex shoulder mount rig.

And dear old Glanz make the RL shoulder rig - as seen in the three awkward views in this blog. Forgive the photography - the product is a good one despite the pictures!

Okay, this is marginally smaller than the competitors, a little less complex, and a lot less costly. It supports standard-sized DSLR and mirrorless cameras and reasonably long lenses. If you wish to mount a Carl Gustav tube and go hunting tanks you'll need a bigger rig, but that can be covered in a later blog.

This one has all the articulation that you need for basic support and apparently there are follow focus units that can be attached. The build is sturdy, the slide of the components is slick, and the knobs are blue. You cannot ask for more than blue knobs...

For under $ 200 this is a good addition to the videographer's kit.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Tiny Little Life Savers From Manfrotto

I helped a client yesterday to add equipment to his very large video rig by screwing on little brass stems, plates, and holders. It was a very good video camera and the accessories like recorders and screens and sandwich warmers* made it into the closest thing to a Star Wars Imperial Cruiser that I have seen. What price the old Standard 8 movie camera...?

Well, the racks here contain a lot of other good little bits from Manfrotto that might just be the very thing for you and your camera rig. Feel free to imagine.

1. We've all see the the little 1/4" to 3/8" adapters that screw into the bottom of ball heads - nice but you need a zac to screw them in or remove them. Here's a larger finger-grippable adapter that could cheerfully grace an older Leica screw-mount camera if it has a European socket or a small ball head. It has enough surface area to provide a good grip.

2. Need to put something with a 1/4" threaded socket onto a hot shoe mount. This is brass and aluminium and should swing even a large component.

3. Nothing smaller for male 1/4" to male 3/8". particularly good for cheese plates and little monitors.

Of course you can argue that a trip to Bunnings or Atkins Carlysle might turn up useful things as well, but you'll find yourself doing more modifying than using.

* Just joking. I tried to fit a sandwich into the slot of the Black Magic hard drive and it was a dismal failurre. I blame the tuna fish.

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Shaping Light With Profoto

Tonight there will be a wonderful exposition of light shaping with the Profoto studio and field flash system - lots of their distinctive accessories to illuminate studio models and products. The staff here had a chance to see this yesterday and it was rather eye-opening.

There are a lot of things that you miss when you just stack the shelves here - the peculiar and specific construction of the Profoto reflectors was one that escaped me. Oh, I knew that you could slide the reflectors fore and aft on the studio heads to narrow or widen the beam of light, but I had not realised that a great deal more was happening inside those reflectors because of the surfaces of the items.

Some of the surfaces were faceted and highly polished - and the light shot out with great intensity. Some were dulled with an aluminium coating and wrinkled rather like a paint finish - in these cases the light was very much softer and wider.

In all cases there was a close correlation between the surface and the final shadow intensity on the subject - and behind the subject.

And this was just with bowl-shaped reflectors - add on all the effects from umbrellas, softboxes and softlight reflectors, and you would be amazed at the variety of illumination you have at hand.

Now, you should ring through to the shop if you haven't done so already if you'd like to see the show tonight. It will be at the Terrace Studios in East Perth and I believe it commences about 6:00 PM - runs through to about 8:00.

You won't be bored.

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Monday, October 20, 2014

Hafla With Fujifilm - High ISO Wins The Day

I tried my first hafla with the new Fujifilm X-E2 camera system this last weekend, and learned many valuable things.

Haflas are dance shows organised by Middle Eastern and Bollywood groups to showcase their dancers. The music is loud, the costumes are wildly coloured, and the dancers are enthusiastic. Unfortunately in the past they have sometimes been constrained to perform in pretty dull venues - you can only make so much of a harem scene in a CWA hall...

This last weekend saw the stage of the Waldorf School in North Lake used...and that made all the difference. It is a professional-class stage with a good lighting setup and desk. Productions look good.

To avoid washing out the stage while the audience was watching, the organisers asked me to work without flash. I had done this before with mixed success - when  I used to put the ISO up past 800 on the old system the multicoloured electrical noise started to become bad. Well, I set my Fujifilm X-E2 gingerly to 1600 ISO and hoped for the best.

I was delighted to see that the colour was good and no noise was appearing - even given the fact that I had set a +1 sharpness on the jpegs. But the dancers were moving so fast that even with the 550-200 lens set to full aperture there was blur. So I risked setting it to 3200 ISO...

Better action stopping - still no noise. I could happily shoot from the aisles with the camera and lens on a Manfrotto monopod and not disturb anyone. Amazing how well 165 dB of drums and flutes hides the sound of a digital shutter...

Upon reading Rico Pfirstinger's book on the X -E1 I suspect I might have been able to boost that ISO to 6400 with even better results! I am looking forward to the Christmas hafla to find out.

Boost that ISO with Fujifilm X - with confidence.

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Fuji Lens Bonanza Cashback Woot Woot Woot!

Pardon the exuberance. Just found out that the Fujifilm company is putting out cashbacks for their X-series lenses. This interests me seriously, and I suspect that other Fujifilm X users will want to take advantage of it as well.

From here on in until the 24th of December, Fujifilm are offering a $ 200 cashback on any X-series lens purchase. That makes these fine optics seriously affordable - particularly the convenient little travel and pancake lenses.

Christmas is coming, holidays are coming, travel is coming. If you are lucky enough to go to Europe or fool enough to go to Alaska for a winter vacation, consider taking one of these lenses. Tourists wishing to photograph the polar bears at Churchill may wish to select a longer lens, but Hey  - who am I to dictate your artistic choices...?

Uncle Dick

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Friday, October 17, 2014

Bag An Ona

Here they are - the " Bowery" series from Ona. Cloth and leather with leather trim, a good thick strap and extremely good padding inside the compartments.

They are sized for the mirror-less system cameras and have as much style as the more common Billingham...but it is a rougher style.

Highly recommended.

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Own An Ona

No need to spill your camera on the ground - Ona is here with the strap you need.

If you have been frustrated with the selection of camera straps available until now - too hard, too plain, covered in brand names, too narrow, etc., etc. - then prepare yourselves for a treat. The Ona company have sent us three new ones from their premium range.

The Presidio style is made in either waxed cotton fabric with leather end attachments or in a much fancier all-leather version. Apparently the leather is tanned by Italians. A valuable point, that.

The Lima style is similar to the Presidio but seems to be in a khaki fabric and a lighter brown leather - presumably for use before 5:00 PM or in tropical climes.

The fittings are top-quality and the straps do sit very well round the neck or on the shoulder - and they definitely add value to your camera.

I shall be reporting on their bags in another post.

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Light Fantastic - with Olympus and Lee

Looks as though someone is determined to get out and about - and bring back good landscape pictures - without throwing out a cervical disc.

Okay - all this is to introduce three ideas - the Olympus E-P5 camera, the Olympus 9-18mm lens, and the Lee Sev5n filter system - and to suggest them as a viable alternative for keen landscape photographers.

Landscapes are rarely encountered in a studio, unless you are prepared to make your own. ( I do, but I am odd...) Most people go to where the landscapes are stored - up the sides of mountains or down by the seashore or out in the woods. Some of the best landscapes are kept way out yonder and the roads department doesn't even bother to make a decent path to them. People are forced to walk to them and carry their photo gear with them on their backs. Burke and Wills were probably looking for a good vantage point for a seascape, and didn't that work out well...

This partially explains why very few people these days use 10" x 20" glass plate negative cameras for landscape work. They are heavy and hard to carry. And glass is expensive. Most people settle for DSLR cameras that are hard and heavy to carry, with...expensive glass. Sometimes these digital cameras are lighter than the 10 x 20 bellows camera and sometimes they are not. This sort of burden leads to a lot of landscape work being done from a car park.

Well Olympus have a good answer to that - their series of micro 4/3 cameras with wonderful lenses like the 9-18mm and first-rate stabilisation systems. Light, small, precise, detailed, great colouration, easy to use.

Now that we have some of the Lee Sev5n filter holders and graduated filters in to assist with the light control in bright skies there is no reason that the landscapist cannot cope as well as with a larger system. If there is a lightweight tripod like a Cullmann 625T, all the better. No need to destroy the back or knees while trying to haul your own weight in lenses and camera bodies up the side of Bluff Knoll.

Note: Would the marketing teams who dream up the names of products please refrain from mixing letters and numbers mucks up the computer systems something chronic if the bar code is missing.

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Scanning The Easy Way with Epson V700

I sat last night scanning 4 x 5 negatives from my old studio film production period. It was a trip down Memory Lane - chiefly in the ruts. I realised how stilted some of my shots had become. I am glad  decided to dispose of time-expired props every 6 months - those stilts took up a lot of room. And you always seemed to see up everyone's nose...

Using the Epson reminded me how well it had been designed -  and how streamlined they had made the operation. You clap the negatives into a holder, drop it onto the scanner, close the lid. Press preview on the computer screen and see what the result is going to look like. You can pre-crop the pictures, or rotate them, or restore dodgy colour. Then you press "scan" and pick up your cup of coffee. the Epson throws the files into wherever you nominate and you are on to the next lot.

When I scan the old 35mm colour slides, I can slot 12 of them into the scanner plate at a time - no removing them from the mounts. Then just do as before.

The reason this posting has come up is an enquiry from someone who wanted to adapt a large DSLR and a large macro lens to rephotograph colour slides...with the attendant complication of excluding external light and holding the slide parallel to the sensor and getting an even illumination and a correct colour balance...

Do-able, but then so is ice skating in Namibia. That's where the Toronto Maple Leafs learned their hockey skills...*

I do urge people who want the best quality result for the least effort to think about the Epson V-series scanners. They also open the door to recording prints, albums, and written material in an efficient manner with equal facility.

* Ouch, eh...?

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Roll Over And Play Good....With Canon

It is that time of year again. We cast the clout and roll over the Canon.

Or to be clearer, the rental department releases a number of pieces of Canon equipment for sale through the sales department - items that have been held on their rental or demonstration roster for the last half-year.

These are cameras and lenses that are fully serviced and include the normal warranty. They are in top shape at a reduced price.

Note - rolling over lenses is easy as they are cylindrical - cameras need a quick flick of the wrist and a push with a stick. But I digress...

Here is a list as of this morning of what is going out. be quick - the plums get picked early.

Canon EOS 1DX DSLR Body
Canon EOS 5D Mk III DSLR Body
Canon EF 14mm f:2.8 L II USM Lens
Canon EF 24mm f:1.4 L II Lens
Canon EF 35mm f:1.4 L Lens
Canon EF 50mm f:1.2 L II Lens
Canon EF 85mm f:1.2 L II Lens
Canon EF 100mm f:2.8L IS USM Macro Lens
Canon EF 135mm f:2 L USM Lens
Canon EF 8-15mm f:4 L USM Lens
Canon EF 16-35mm f:4 IS USM Lens
Canon EF 16-35mm f:2.8L USM II Lens
Canon EF 17-40mm f:4 L USM Lens
Canon EF 24-70mm f:2.8 L II USM Lens
Canon EF 24-105mm f:4 L IS USM Lens
Canon EF 70-200mm f:2.8 L USM Lens
Canon EF 70-200 f:4 L IS USM Lens
Canon EF 70-300 f:4-5.6 L IS USM Lens
Canon EF 2x Extender
Canon EF 1.4 x Extender
Canon 600 EX-RT Speedlite
Canon EOS 6D DSLR Body

And for anyone who uses the N---n system...their rollovers are coming.

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