Friday, February 27, 2015

Software Sale - Things In Boxes

Software is a hard subject to cover in small blog - particularly when it is constantly changing.

 By the time you finish reading this page someone in Silicon Valley or Mumbai will have written two generations on in whatever image-editing program you use and someone in Khazaksan will be frantically pirating it. If you pop out to the newsagent tomorrow you can get a free copy in a plastic baggy stapled to the front cover of  " Knitters And Crocheters Weekly ".

Nevertheless, if you are immune from the dizzying pace, we do have a number of boxed editions of useful Adobe and DxO material that may be what your system needs to succeed. We'll be doing half price on boxes of :

LR3 upgrade to LR4
Photoshop Elements 13
Premiere Elements 13
DxO Viewpoint 2
DxO Filmpack 4
DxO Optics Pro 9 Elite and Standard

Make sure your computer system is new enough to make use of these and then go for it. I use the Photoshop Elements program and find it excellent for screen work and printing.

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Epson 3000 Printer - Business Card Special

I have just changed the name of my little studio - the old registration was due for renewal and the government wanted money to let me enjoy myself. I decided to do so without their let or hindrance.

Pity about the pile of older business cards. No good now - I chucked them in the bin.

But what options for new ones? Fortunately in the Pages program that live in my iMac computer there is a selection of self-print business cards. One is termed a "Modern Photographer" ...with a small graphic design of a 4" x 5" sheet of film! You can take the icons off the shelf, but you can't take them out of the mind...

Okay -  added all the information about name, address, phone number, and blog site. I assigned photos of ten of my Hot Rod Honeys into the little 4 x 5 sheet film graphic.

Then I cast about for the thickest and stiffest printing paper in the computer room. Like anyone in the trade, I have a pile of cast-off equipment and supplies that serve to do most of the hard work of my hobby. In this case I dug out a half-used box of rough old Hahnemuhle paper - something that was intended to be used for fine art and high ideals. I have long realised that these two concepts have nothing to do with me, so the paper languished.

Well, it is nice paper. And it is thick. I've had thinner sandwiches on British Rail. It is far too thick to pass through the ordinary paper path on my Epson 3000.

Bless Epson, they are used to dealing with people as simple as I - You press the menu button on the printer and it gives a step-by-step breakdown on how to load thicker material utilising the front feed slot and a shallow curved holder at back. It's always worthwhile physically bending the paper flat before you load it - just prevents head strike or ink smear.

Anyhoo - you have to instruct the printer what paper it is, and if you don't have the Hahnemuhle profile loaded you can make do with the Epson Matte or Archival Matte and it prints pretty well. Once you do, it fires out a pretty good A4 with ten of he business cards on it - and the best part is that at the margins of the paper it prints cutting marks  -join them up with a pencil and scissors the cards apart.

Cheap? Well, the paper was just sitting there...Nasty? Not a bit. Thick, a British Rail sandwich.

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Grown Up Tinker Toy - Jobo's Latest Camera Support

Here is a deceptively simple accessory that you never knew you needed  - and may well look upon as a blessing.

It is a Joby L-bracket. Metal - with a tough non-skid rubber covering on the camera plate and the upright handle. It is asbolutely non-slip. Grasp onto this handle and your camera isn't going anywhere you don't want it to.

There is a 1/4" threaded socket on the top of the handle and Jobo suggest that various forms of bracket can be screwed in there. I found that a simple piece of 1/4" steel threaded rod would couple a TTL cord and shoe to this and once you set the angle of the block, the rubber covering made sure it did not rotate.

The camera plate has an accurate Arca-Swiss channel in the bottom and numerous attachment points for standard 1/4" threads. There is also a wonderful strap attachment point at the RHS that means you can sling a camera in the same manner that the old Leica M5 was - it hangs vertically down at your right side. and when you put it up to your eye, your nose does not fight with the strap!

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Brunton Bear the Brunt - Power In The Field

The devotees of action photography with the ever-popular GoPro Hero 3+ camera sometimes find that the best action occurs after the camera battery runs out of electricity - certainly the best language is heard...

To obviate this, Brunton have made a clip-on rechargeable lithium cell pack that they say will give 4 x longer operation with this model of GoProHero 3+ back and clip this one on. They emphasise that it is water-resistant only - do not submerge it.

It also seems to have a 3-way cable included that lets you access the power for a number of iDevices.

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A Little Rough Around The Edges But...

Never mind building models of the Taj Mahal or Neuschwannstein. If you're reading this column you really want to build one of these!

Brought back from Japan by our managers and assembled with great precision and his tongue stuck out of the corner of his mouth by Domenic, this little Nanoblock camera has the familiar shape of a...including the ASA reminder dial on the back of the body.

Please feel free to fill in all the pixelation, f:stop, interchangeable lens jokes you care to invent here:

We can only hope that these appear in the toy stores here in Perth - and can we hope as well for TLR's and DSLR's to further grace our display shelves?

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Coffee Rod

Life at 230 Stirling Street has highlights. One of them occurred yesterday when we had a visit from a coffee-filled hot rod truck. That is a wonderful combination of words, particularly considering the management here bought us all a free brew.

Bootlegger Coffee Company in under the charge of Craig Maurer who refers to himself as the head bootician. We are inclined to agree. He is either a hero or a madman to be out on a hot day under the full sun in an airless carpark boiling coffee.

The truck is a classic 50's Ford pickup - brought in from North America, as the LHD steering position would indicate. The coffee fit-out in the back makes it an entirely different kettle of caffeine from what it might have been in 1955.

It also has all the classic attributes we love  - wild paint job, pinstriping, chrome hubcaps and beauty rings. Plus a custom plate.

Note, as well, the accessories in the front bench seat. I don't know if this would get him the best of show at the Hot Rod Spectacular, but it is bound to appeal to the crowd.

He'll be brewing and boiling at Lilac Hill Park in Guildford this Saturday from 3:00 to 10:00 along with the retro markets, rockabillies, and hot rods at the HOT SUMMER NIGHT event.

I'll be standing in line - it really was good coffee.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Stacka Pods - We Make The Great Pyramid Of Cullmann

In the interests of having enough room on our second floor to turn around, we have corralled a lot of the Cullmann Magnesit tripods and made a pyramid of them on the sales floor.

They are new, but older stock. They will be sold at a considerable discount to our customers and there will even be a bonus discount if you pick a tripod from the top of the pile and do not compel us to restack it every five minutes.

As these are new stock they will all carry the Cullmann 10-year warranty.

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A Very Small Fish Indeed - With Olympus

This post will appeal to those photographers who have done with the boring old representation of reality. Because the fish-eye lens is one of the easiest ways to depart from this.

Now, if you are a fish, you can dispute this. When we couple a short focal length lens to a digital camera and allow it to see widely with noticeable curvature on the margins of the image - it appears perfectly natural to a herring. Halibut find no inconsistency. Tuna are bored, but then tuna never really respond to the visual arts. They are more into music - particularly keyboard music. We have all heard of a piano tuna...

Moving right along...if you are a micro 4/3 user this is your opportunity to do something fishy. The Olympus people make a wonderful little 9mm f:8 fisheye lens that clips intot he front of any of their micro 4/3 mirrorless cameras - and indeed into those of the Panasonic people as well - and acts as both a body cap and a fast fish eye.

You get to do a little bit of focussing, but really that is gilding the goldfish - this lens has such a depth of field that you can more-or-less just leave it at the middle click stop and never bother to change. It is super light.

Results? Well the header is just out front of the shop in Stirling Street in yesterday's heat. Pretty good for a case of poke the camera out the door and press the button then pull the arm back inside.

And if you have a program on your computer that deals with camera distortions - this Macbook Pro is using Photoshop Elements 10 - you can make the new Pagoda Format pictures. Also known as the Framer's Nightmare.

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Show And Tell - What I Did On Your Holidays

I came along with you on your holidays. It was quite an experience. Being packed into a small bag together with a passport, spare credit card, and a half-chewed roll of mints. Then pushed through an X-ray machine. Then jammed into the overhead locker under a 1.5 litre bottle of gin.

The holiday itself was nice - out in the hot sun all day, covered in suntan oil, sand, bits of seashell, and what appeared to be some sort of chili gravy. The dip in the sea was refreshing, as was the dip in the wash basin afterward, and the toilet as well. ( Perhaps don't let your toddler play with me next time...)

The drop down the rock cave was a bit of a shock. I expect it was the suntan oil that was on your fingers or the neck oil that you bought at the beach bar...whatever, at least no harm was done. I bear my scars with dignity - hope your knee recovers. Pity about losing your wallet, but at least no-one will be able to access your cards now - that cave is 1000 metres deep.

Funny how holidays are so intense while we are doing them but how quickly we forget. At least you do. I don't. I am going to tell my friend Mac as soon as we get home and show all the images that you took. Including THAT one. Talk about raw...but it was a holiday and far away and what the heck. The rest will make a nice album for the coffee table and Facebook.

As for me, I look forward to the next adventure. I don't suppose you would consider a trip to Antarctica? I'm up for it. I can work down below zero. And it will make a nice change from selfies in bikini bottoms...

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

AP Kits Back In Stock

The dear old AP Darkroom kit is back in stock.

Everything the budding photographer needs for 35mm or 120 film development - and with a bit of imagination the 4 x 5 newbie can also develop sheet film.

The kit includes an AP tank with reels, graduated cylinder, thermometer, stirring rod, developing trays, tongs, and film-drying clips.

$ 130 is all it costs - you'll need to get a Paterson or Glanz dark bag for film loading if you're going to use the tank and if you want to do tray developing you'll need to go to Bunnings and get a room full of dark. You can get rooms full of dark from IKEA too, but you have to assemble them with little Allen keys and your fingers get tired half-way through.

Note we also have lots of Ilford chemistry now to develop black and white film and paper.

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Tiny Studio - Little Lensing With Cullmann, Pentax, And The newsagent

Most of us in the trade have seen the Pentax Q7 camera - but sometimes we have failed to see it in it's true light. It is a tiny little studio camera - for tiny little studios.

Like most cameras, it has a number of white balance points - so you can adapt it to any sort of constant light source. Unlike many really tiny cameras, it has a standard hot shoe connector on top - so you can trigger studio strobes through a PC cord or a radio trigger.

It has controls that can be accessed easily from the outside - and a logical arrangement of them. It takes the standard SD cards. It has a an adequate battery.

And it is bright yellow. An important feature - this is a camera that cheers you up. You can ignore some of the funny features like the dial on the front that give you four colour looks. Unless you love one of them.

As the sensor is small, the interchangeable lenses of the system can have a short focal length for their angular coverage. Result? Great depth of field. Print to A4 and you'll be delighted with the results. Remember this camera has RAW so you might even opt to go bigger.

Now combining this clever little camera with a Cullman Copter tripod - or any of the Cullmann tabletop kits - means you have the core of a great tiny studio. Add a set of three lights from ( Gasp!) IKEA  - the ones on gooseneck stands - and go to your local newsagent for several big sheets of drawing board. Get white, black and grey.

Find yourself a table, some books to prop the backboard sheet up with, and light up! You have a great start to a tabletop business. Those terrific little Pentax binoculars are taken with the Q7 Pentax.

The reason this post concentrates on the small is because of a conversation with another photographer on the weekend who admired my full-size studio but bemoaned the fact that his housing agents wouldn't let him have the same sort of structure in his flat. Well, if your studio folds up into a suitcase you can snap your fingers at the agents - art can succeed in spite of space.

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Long Enough, Good Enough, Cheap Enough

The safari trail used to be an imperceptibly small track the bush - trodden by explorers in pith helmets and natives with big bundles on their heads. The explorers used to carry Holland and Holland Double rifles in tank-stopping calibers.

These days the trail is generally a paved road trodden by Toyotas. The natives are carrying iPads and the explorers are carrying tank-stopping calibers.

Some of these long lenses destined for Canon and Nikon DSLR cameras also carry heart-stopping prices. Come in and ask about some of the big long fast L series or G series...but give us a little time to charge up the paddles on the defibrillator. If you can stand the price and still keep standing, you have our unbounded admiration - and you can go on safari knowing that your images will be fully up to best-of-industry quality.

Should you wish to go to Africa and still have enough money when you come home to eat regularly, you might like to consider the long zooms from Tamron and Sigma. You can now go from 150mm to 600mm in each of these brands for each of the big camera manufacturer's bodies.

They are solidly built. The Sigma is significantly heavier than the Tamron, but let's face it - these are cannons of emplacement a the best of times. Tripods, bipods, monopods, beanbags, or other stabilisers are needed. You might be able to hold one at arm's length and shoot rock steady portraits from the back of a Toyota chasing zebras if you are Chuck Norris but everyone else is going to have to settle for doing it the careful way.

The lenses do have have image-stabilising mechanisms built into them - good for several shutter speed step improvements. But you should still practise your shooting holds before you go.

Two year warranties. Lenshoods included. You should buy a big UV filter for each one of them before you go and take a 12-pack of the Hoodman Lens Cleanse cleaners as well.

Note for people doing Safari in The Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Alaska:

You need not worry about lions. The opportunities for giraffe images will be limited. You will have to take your own meerkats, and expect to pay duty on them at H.M. Canadian Customs.

On a technical note: These vacations are not called safaris in the northern hemisphere. they are called getting hopelessly lost.

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Monday, February 23, 2015

Branding And SEO In The Nieuw Werrldde Orddrurre

" Hello? Hello? Is this the executive director of Google? This is Crispian van Astralle - Pleine of Nieuw Werrldde Phautaugrafickts Studieaux. I wish to complain about your search engine.

Neither of my clients can find me on their computer. I have told them my name several times on my mobile phone and you still do not display me at the top of the list of professional photographic legends. We have been established for jus months and this sort of thing is holding back what might be a multi-billion dollar business. It's just not good enough.

Unless this changes before lunch I am going to take it to the highest authorities. We do all we can to  make it easy for you people and we expect you to do the rest. "

And that, folks is that. We all want to be us. We all want to be unique. Identically unique in some cases - like teenagers...

We want to have our business seen as unique - fair enough in a difficult market - but we need to remember that to be seen, we need to be found. Laboured spellings based upon trendy phonics are fine for band posters in summer concerts. The cleverness is no more wasted than the readers...but it is different if you are trying to sell a studio.

Lots of names are already taken. You won't be allowed to register yourself as Kodak or Leica or The Royal Australian Regiment. Calling yourself the Caltex Studio because there are all those signs on the petrol stations around town already will not succeed - Caltex has more lawyers on speed dial that you have had hot dinners.

Try to think up your new business name in the morning, when you have had coffee. Leaving it until after Happy Hour risks the sort of flights of fancy that end up never being heard of again - names that are so impossibly clever that no-one succeeds in finding them. Make no mistake - people are impatient. Three pages into Google and they couldn't give a damn - they'll hire another photographer.

If in doubt - use your own name with the appellation " Photographer" added. Even if you aren't now you might be one day. But it is no fair using someone else's photo on your card...

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On Safari With Leica

Look on our Facebook page for the latest note about a Safari Leica. it seems to be one of the M cameras with a silver 35mm lens and a tan leather strap. There are a number of accessories for it as well that suggest rugged travel in African wilds.

The camera body is dark green - about the general colour of a Soviet tank. There are silver control knobs and buttons, but no familiar red emblem on the front - presumably to prevent startling the rhinoceri when the photographer pops up a metre in front of them with that 35mm lens.

It would appear that it will be in vicinity of $ 13,000 to purchase.

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The Professional Image - Or How To Command Respect With A Lastolite Reflector

Professional image is a topic that you'll read about in lots of publications. Advice is given on how to appear professional when advertising in the media, when presenting yourself to a potential client, when commanding a shoot, and when presenting the finished results. They stop dead tells you how to be professional after that when the client steals the images, refuses to pay the bill, and goes defiantly bankrupt.

Well, you are on your own there...any advice I could offer would be suspect. By that I mean that if you followed my advice both you and I would eventually be suspects....

No - this blog is about looking professional enough at a shoot to get cooperation and respect. Oddly enough you needn't be getting paid for the photography to appear in this light - you just need to look as if you know what you are doing and are doing it to a purpose.

A car show is a perfect example. You might be just the same as every other wandering dub looking at the machinery but if you carry a DSLR with a big enough lens you look as if you are a pro. Never mind you don't need it, and could do quite as good a job with a mirror-less camera like a Fujifilm or an Olympus - it is not the fact of the thing but the perception of the public we are dealing with here.

Likewise if you have a big flash on the camera. A good idea for technical reasons, but again it makes you look like you know what to expect when you press the button.

Oddly enough, the giveaway used to be a big camera bag but as everyone who aspires to back pain carries one these days, people do not credit it anymore.

The biggest help to this image thing- and the effect is to move the crowds back so that you can get a clear shot of the equipment - is to have an assistant carry a reflector and use it to light up the dark side of the car. Even if it does not actually help the lighting, it shoo's off the wanderers for at least 10 seconds and allows the clear shot. The Lastolite Triflip reflectors are a good choice - big, oddly shaped, and with a convenient handle to control the position. You could use it yourself as a diffuser or reflector propped against your knee but the assistant idea is more effective.

Only disadvantage of an assistant is you have to buy them a hot dog and a big orange drink to keep them on site. No good laughing and saying you left your wallet at home - they swat at you with the Lastolite.

Final note - the professional look is a variable thing - your attire and behaviour at a wedding should be different from that at a burlesque show. Mix them up and trouble ensues.

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Profoto B1 - Industrial Safety Hero Product

You all know the Profoto B1 500 Air - the monohead that has the lithium-ion rechargeable battery pack clicked to the side of it - the one that fires incredibly short bursts of light. The one that takes all the Profoto light shapers and sits on the top of a standard light stand.

Well I want one. No. I want four of them.

I shoot in a darkened studio so that I can see the effect of the light positioning on the models. It does not have to be stygian in there but it is dim - as is my eyesight these days. Currently I have a set of lights that run off the mains power, with proper three-core AC cords and plugs. Because of the power socket position in the studio there are two feed points an two distributor blocks to split this electricity.

That makes six power power cords in total. Yesterday I managed to unplug, tangle, and trip over all six at some point in the afternoon. One occasion nearly brought down a main light stand on top of me- fortunately the model's assistant caught it. Thank goodness. Nothing would say "professional" like sitting on the floor in a pile of broken equipment...

The Profoto's on the other hand are cord free. There is no synch cord to deal with either, so your chance of clotheslining yourself is nil. Of course you have to go charge the batteries later but the darn things will fire over 200 shots full power anyway and my studio uses lights at their lowest settings so I cannot imagine running out of power.

I also want a camera that i can find in the dark after I have set it down somewhere - oddly enough this will probably be easy to do - a small LED and a tiny battery attached to and accessory bar will signal it. If I get two LED packs I can attach one to a coffee cup and life would be perfect.

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Friday, February 20, 2015

Back Pack Or Side Pack - Come And Look At The Vanguard Bags

Photographers who go outside the studio are faced with the problem of how to carry it with them. The light stands, the flash heads, the backdrop stand, the 3 x 6 metre muslin sheet, the camera. the tripod, and the coffee machine, and the stack of old magazines...

So far the best plan for this has been to buy a Citroen H van and hire minions to load it and unload it for you. Minions are a good investment.

If your tastes are for a little less to pack - say you are going out for landscapes or political riots - we recommend a carrying bag. If it's your shoulders and back rather than those of the minions, get a good one - one that spreads the load enough to make it comfortable.

Vanguard make a wide range and two of their bags - the Vojo 22 and the 2GO 39 are particularly suited to the mirror-less systems. The former is messenger-style, dependent upon one shoulder while the latter is a single strap backpack. They are available in green or black and feature any number of ingenious compartments inside to swallow the accessories. ( Which you will find in three years...)

The reason I selected these today was as a result of having lifted the very fashionable bag of another manufacturer and reflected on how much unsprung weight it was - a task in itself to haul on your shoulder even without any camera or lenses inside. The Vanguard bags are lighter than this but have a tough enough internal structure and padding to protect the gear.

I can't say which carry configuration is better for you - you'll know how your skeletal structure copes with stress at different points. Of course if you are looking at an equation that places an enormous amount of gear into a bag and makes you trail it for hours, you might well consider the roller cases - or hiring minions.

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Hold High The Stainless Banner - With The Mega mast

It must not suffer loss.*

Well, if you have been hankering for a drone to take elevated pictures of architecture, crowd scenes, landscapes, real estate, secret military installations, or the nurse's quarters...and the price and skill level need to get into drone flying has deterred is the answer.

Over 8 metres of mast with an extended tripod base, locking sections, and a strong tilting head at the top. Folds down light and small enough to be transported in a car, and holds a DSLR - if you're game. that tilting head is reminiscent of a Manfrotto 234 RC2 monopod head.

Okay, I can see someone using a mirror less camera on this, with a down link to an iPad or mobile phone for sighting and firing it. While this would relieve some of the weight from the top at 8+ metres, the action cameras like the GoPros would be even lighter.

All the same, were it me, I would:

1. Always operate with the leg extensions locked out, and sandbags on all three legs.

2. Attach two guy ropes onto the top of the column before I sent it up - and have a couple of smart people on the ends of the ropes. Position them at 60º apart on the up-wind sector of the mast and make sure they pay out the ropes carefully. It would mean the assembly could be controlled even in the event of a sudden wind gust.

3. Check my insurance policy carefully. Anything that can drop on expensive property or cheap people is a worry.

* And a plate of collard greens and biscuits and gravy for the reader who identifies the source of the lyrics...

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Ya Not Wrong, Narelle...

Do you suppose that whenever someone browses onto the Arnott's, Unibic, or General Foods websites they get cookies? Something to chew over...

Likewise when we go to the rumours ( or rumors) sites that deal with the different camera makers or onto the innumerable forums that deal with angry photographers abusing each other over internet rumours...are we marked for all time in the great register of the JCII? And will we remove our JCII stickers or leave them on*.

You can tell it's Friday again and the blog writer is casting about for a topic. He's avoiding thinking about the pile of computer work that is sitting on the Drobo at home - material from the latest hot rod car shows that needs to be attended to.

Fortunately he took advantage of the Fujifilm Rumors site to read up a number of pieces of advice from Rico Pfirstinger - he's the Fujifilm X-pert for their X-series cameras. The things he writes are short, but he illustrates the concepts with examples from his Fujifilm cameras and if you follow the series they can be quite enlightening.

Intrigued with his style of writing, i went o Boffins Book Stor in Willaims stret last year and purchased one of his books on getting the best out of the X=Pro1 and X-E1 camera. Then I got an older issue from Amazon that he had written on the X-100 camera. And not to miss out on the electronic revolution, I managed to purchase and download one of his E-books of hits and tips for the X-E2. ( Note that I did this all by myself without needing guidance from the family computer experts. It was successful and only started one small fire...)

This plethora of advice obviously contains some duplication - as the X-series cameras share many features and some ideas have developed onwards from the early models. Also each of the X cameras has had some form of firmware upgrade and I have applied these as they became available - a practise that I firmly endorse. But each book has had specific advice for the model featured, and I have benefitted downstream from it.

Specifically, Pfirstinger has convinced me to record many of the events that I cover with a small 2:3 jpeg as well as the raw RAF. file. This is necessary when using the X-E2 and the X-pro1 as their RAF. configuration does not open in my Aperture or Photoshop Elements programs directly. For these I use the jpegs as sighting rifles for the Silkypix Studio Developer 6 program. The X-100 RAF. files do open in ACR Raw and Aperture but that is just a bonus.

Readers who use different software on their different hardware may point out that all this seeming confusion could be resolved with a newer computer and new programs - I shall be glad to do this as soon as they send me the money required. I promise to be suitable grateful. Until then the Silkypix DS6 route is actually quite a lot of fun...if a little slower.

One big advantage for the little jpeg/RAF. settings - occasionally the lighting, atmospherics, paint jobs, and people are just perfect in the small jpeg. This is particularly noticeable with Fujifilm X cameras with the way the X-Trans sensor renders colour. If this is the case, I can use the jpegs directly for my purposes and save them to the Drobo - and remove the much larger RAF. files. Of course, if I got it wrong or changed my mind as to the rendition I wished to make, the RAF. is the great saver.

So - there's Friday. Pfirstinger is a good writer and you can follow his train of thought readily. Recommended.

* Older photographers will know exactly what the JCII sticker is...

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Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Real Deal At A Bargain Price

You can get a lot of me-too products these days. Once a really popular item takes off from one manufacturer, it's only a matter of time before imitators surface. Sometimes they are other major firms, sometimes they are people of whom you have never heard.

This circumstance arose when the GoPro brand came out and presented the world with a chance to record their adventures without having to fiddle with the gear. I suspect they also record a lot more dangerous and disasterous things...indeed YouFoolTube has hours of Russian drivers confirming my suspicions...

Well, it turns out that one of the reasons that people sometimes buy off-brand copies of merchandise is the idea that they think that they can get it at a cheaper price than the real gear. No more need to try this if you have a hankering for a GoPro - they have issued the GoPro for Everyman and you can do the thing right the first time.

The Hero is the lowest-price complete kit for Go pro. it features 5MP resolution, 1080 at 30 and 25 FPS...or 720 at 60-50 FPS. The view is wide-angle and you can also do time-lapse with it.

If course it fits all GoPro mounts and accessories and it waterproof to 40 metres.

And at $ 179 walk away, you can't afford to T-bone a Maserati without it...

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Hand Of Cards - Two More Possibilities For The Digital Shooter

We have a lot of options presented to us in photography - cameras, lenses, lights and flashes. The range of accessories is mind-boggling, and once your mind has been boggled sufficiently you are generally only fit for light duties or election to the local council...

What we tend to forget is that there are options also in the memory cards we use. Of course we sell SanDisk cards here - they have always been good and reliable in the major cameras. We have been selling Hoodman cards, and Promaster, and in each case the ratio between card success or shutdown has been wonderfully high.

I have also been testing two brands of card and can report 100% success so far - I've got Lexar and Panasonic cards in my Fujifilm cameras right now. They are fast enough for any still work I do, and would probably be fine for small videos.

The prices are sensational - cheap as chips when you think of the comparable film stowage. and as they are proof against all the x-rays and magnetic fields that I might encounter on an air trip, I can feel confident that whatever images i put on them will come safely home.

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Eee - It's All Brass, Innit? Film Prices And Sandisk Cards

"Ow mooch for one of those membory cards? $ 54.70? Eeeee that's dear . Eeeee Bah Goom..."

Okay, E. Here's the facts of life in 2015:

1. Fujifilm Velvia 100 transparency film - 135/36 fresh pro film......$ 32 a roll

2. Pro-lab processing and scanning  - 36 exposures........................$ 25 a roll

3. End result - 36 shots on your computer screen for $ 57.00.

Now for the SanDisk Ultra card:

Disregard the idea of re-using the card, if you wish. Regard it as the end storage device.

1. SanDisk Ultra card 32 GB.............................................................$ 54.70

2. Capacity of card; 2400 jpegs

3. End result - 2400 shots on your computer screen for $ 54.70.

That's equivalent to paying 66.66 times as much for each picture if you do it with the older technology.

"Eee - Bah Goom..."

* "Boot you can't get the nice crispy bacon like you did before t'war"....well fry it longer...

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Stirling Street - An Experience In Art

In my time as an employee here I have seen a number of interesting sights in Stirling Street - generally early in the morning.:

1. Two policemen dumpster-diving our rubbish bins on a Friday morning. It was after the council truck had called and before I had wheeled the bins in, so they were doomed to disappointment.

2. A woman kicking a Telstra phone booth to death at 10:00 in the morning. As you do...

3. The chair depicted in the header. It may have been a chair of quality and dignity once but it has fallen upon hard times. Whether it got here by its own devices or was conveyed by others is not clear, but it has not moved all day and I am gravely concerned about its future.

4. A full double bed surmounted by a garden swing...sitting in the footpath a few doors up. Eventually it disappeared...

5. A Toyota sedan T-Boning a Volvo sedan. Probably not news to traffic patrolmen or users of roads in Subiaco but as both vehicles were parked and unoccupied here in Stirling Street at the time, it raised some questions in the mind.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Real World Batteries - Toshiba And Fujifilm

I screwed up my courage last week and asked Ernest about batteries for flash guns. Then I took his advice...and bought a set of the Toshiba AA cells for a weekend shoot. $ 4.80.

The advice proved good. I used the 4 cells in a Fujifilm EF 42 flash with my Fujifilm X-Pro1 and an 18mm lens. I set the ISO to 320 and wandered around Big Al's Poker Run car show for 4 hours. The camera was set to do forced flash - it fired every time - frequently on +1 or +1.5 flash boost due to the nature of the harsh light contrast.

Over 280 shots on the day. I should have expected 120-140 from the set of batteries. But there is the 280 on the card and in my hard drive.

Whether this is due to the sterling nature of Japanese electricity or the Fujifilm flash is remarkably economical, I don't know - but this sort of performance means that I'll be using the combination in the future. I can't remember getting anywhere near this level of performance with alkaline Duracell or Eveready in the past.

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Beat Me Daddy - Eight To The Bar - With Nikon AW 110

Those of you who are into retro swing music will know that line. Those of us who knew the song when it was not retro can smile and nod.

The reason it is introduced today is to remind people with a spare $ 149 that we know a good reason for you to come in and give it to us - the Nikon AW110 underwater camera.

We've got a swag of demo units from Nikon and this tough little customer can go out at a knock-out price. Those people who might pass it by because they do not do underwater photography might consider its:

1. It is dust proof as well as water proof. If you are determined to take pictures in a paddock  outside of Dalwallinu at seeding time this is the camera for you. Also it is steam proof, fog proof, and stink proof, so your chances of taking artistic images in odd environments increase.

2. You can wipe the exterior down with strong antiseptics. Can't do that with a D750 or 750D.

3. It is shock-resistant. ie. it can survive bouncing around in the glove box of your ute together with your binoculars and unpaid rego. Dalwallinu take note...

4. It is orange.

5. It is flat and about the same size as a hip flask. Dal...

6. It does take pretty good looking pictures and videos. It has a GPS function to tag your pictures. It has a 5 x zoom lens.

8. If you are not able to poke tiny buttons with big fingers, you can change settings on it by shaking the thing up and down - and then confirm the thing by shaking the thing sideways. Honest. It actually works.

9. It has WiFi so you don't have to prise it apart to extract the images - you can leave it sealed up if you are sitting in a hoochy in the rain.

Might be the perfect thing to give to children, teenagers, and strange relatives.

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Cereal Numbers - Or How To Make Porridge Of An Invoice

Readers who deal every day in serial-numbered products will know the nightmare - the goods are there, the customer is there, the money is there, but the serial number is wrong.

The fact that the product is pea-pod identical to every other example of the same thing does not make a difference. No substituting anything for anything. It might possibly cause the computer to explode - it will certainly draw an old-fashioned response from the accountancy staff.

We try to obviate this when we tag things or enter them into the computer system but sometimes the thing just creeps in. But there are other instances where the numbers of doom take their toll....

Some manufacturers do not put serial numbers on items when you might expect them - some number things that would seem too trivial or small to support them. In addition, some who do number tuck it into such an obscure place or apply it with such an illegible script as to defy any discovery. We pore over the surfaces and crannies of the damned things trying to find anything.

Some manufacturers play the game fairly - they make clear numbers in a contrasting colour on the lens or camera and then repeat this on a numbered card in the box, and again on a large panel visible on the outside of the box. These people we bless. Others omit nearly all of these steps and compel the sales assistant to unpack the whole parcel before they yield up their secret.

If they are particularly bloody-minded they put a metallic seal over the box of the camera to indicate freshness, virtue, and a mild flavour in the contents...but give no external serial number by which the goods inside can be verified...meaning the stock manager has to break the hermetic seal o' quality to do his job correctly - and the potential customer makes a wry face seeing the seal open. It's all theatre, but so is Grand Guignol.

At least serial numbers generally do allow for a bit of order when one is trying to see whether a particular item has been bought within Australia and might qualify for warranty support by a major manufacturer. They do keep count as they take them in from their overseas suppliers.

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Monday, February 16, 2015

Two Legs Bad - Three Legs Good


The cause of Photographic Steadiness and Proletarian Imagery will be advanced this week with the Camera Electronic sale of tripods. These are little devices that are easy to operate at a reasonable price - you do not need to pay $ 5.5 million dollars for them and they do not need an army of red-coated French technicians to make them work...

Call in with $ 50 and leave it here and you can walk out with an Inca, Velbon, or Haldex tripod that can support your mirror-less camera, handy cam, or small DSLR perfectly.

It will be light enough to take hiking without the use of language.

There will be a quick-release plate on the top.

There will be a rising center column.

You will be happy.

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Friday, February 13, 2015

The Iconic Image - Camera Electronic On Your PC!

As we get older we discover an amazing phenomenon - young people do not know as much as we do.

Young people who wish to take exception to this may protest as much as they like - the replies section on Facebook is open all the time. They can type on their laptops, tablets, or mobile phones with the assurance that it will be read. Full sentences in English are preferred though if you must txt we hav ppl her who cn trnslat.

But how many of you know " Howdy Customers"...and who said it.

Never mind - the real point of this $ 11 is the fact that Camera Electronic has scored an advertising coup in the world of the PC. Many of our readers use PC's as opposed to Mac computers and have become familiar with the icon symbols that the PC uses to indicate various functions - things like "print", "open", "format", and..."save".

Especially "save". Look closely at "save".

Young people who have never used the older computers really don't know what that is. We do. It is really a tiny little representation in symbol form of the front appearance of the Camera Electronic store. There's the front windows, the door, and the workshop windows above it. Note that the symbol was drawn before we got the workshop air conditioners, but that was a long time ago...

Go on. Look at the top of the Windows page. Now stand outside in Stirling Street and look up at the front of our shop.

There you go. Advertising coup of two centuries...every time you save your work - you save our workplace.

You'll NEVER guess who works in the "print" icon building...

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Shooting For Dollars - With Shoot

I type this column for money.

If there are new products, no telephone interruptions, and coffee, the daily piece costs the company about $ 11. Hopefully it inspires readers to come in and purchase items and services that yield a profit of more than $ 11 - thus continuing business.

It is not as profitable to me as washing the dishes - that yields me $ 15 per day before taxes - but at least I do not have to scrape dried spaghetti off the laptop.

The point of all this is to remind the newer readers who are just contemplating turning their interest in photography into a business venture that time is indeed money and they need to persuade the world to press pennies into their hands each conscious hour of their day.

Time spent surfing the net might be fun, as might be time spent networking in coffee shops or looking into the shops, or catching up on the latest episode of whatever...but it does not satisfy Synergy, the council, Water Corporation, Telstra, Alinta, HBF, or the check-out girl at Coles in any meaningful way. And for those who are addicted to zombie and vampire literature but have run out of something to read we can recommend the ATO bulletins...but don't read 'em in a deserted house late at night.

Time spent gathering real saleable knowledge, on the other hand, is a good investment. It can be turned to account. It can EARN money rather than waste it. That s why we run Shoot Photography Workshops next door. So people can learn - and some can go on to earn from that.

You can too - there are a couple of courses in the offing right now - Basic Photoshop and Natural Landscapes, I believe...or it might be the other way round. In any case go to their website:

There is a new manager and you'll be able to find out what new courses are planned.

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Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Constant Shopper - Camera Electronic As A Haven

Every day of her adult life my aunt Minnie went downtown and visited all the shops. Admittedly downtown could not have been all that big as it was Missoula, Montana in the thirties... but it must have taken a fair part of the day. I wonder how her shoes held out.

I do not know whether she was looking for desperate bargains, or bare sustenance, or escape from the demons. There shouldn't have been that many demons in Missoula, though you never can tell - you wouldn't think there could be many in a lot of country towns in Australia but every year some ghastly newspaper story surfaces.

In any case she must have had a very good idea of the rise and fall of prices - of commercial trends - of the success or otherwise of national and local advertising. She would probably have been a good source of feedback for the Chamber of Commerce, if feedback was a word then. At least she would have been good for gossip.

I am reminded of Minnie when I see some of our customers visit us during their lunch hours. They undoubtedly have had a chance to read things on the internet ( I suspect there may be some customers reading this in the internet right now...) and see all the shiny new stuff as the manufacturers announce it. They might have trolled through the instant net shopfronts from Kurgistan that can offer the products even before the manufacturers release them...they may even have read Ken Rockwell. Somebody must - he's still there.*

But I guess they like to drift through with a sandwich and a big orange drink and heft the goods - and maybe discover a treasure from the fabled CE box 'o bargains. More power to them - anyone who relieves us of a box 'o bargains item has my admiration. I would willingly trade some of the stuff in there for the big orange drink.

* Oh, I don't mind 'Ol Ken - he is good for a laugh or a howl of pain now and then. And for the student of abandoned gas stations he is a constant fund of  extremely saturated visual reference.

Uncle Dick

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Now Extended For Your Pleasure - The Fujifilm Rings

If you are a FSLR or a DSLR user you know all about this and can move on to the TAB results and the comic section. If you are a Fujifilm X-camera user, here is some good news.

The Fujifilm MCEX-11 and MCEX-16 automatic extension tubes are in stock. As the names will suggest, these are 11 mm and 16 mm spacer tubes that go between the Fuji X -series camera bodies that have the removable lens mount and the lens itself.

The tubes are free of any glass, but have the appropriate electrical connections to pass commands through themselves from the body to the lens - giving you focus and exposure control as per usual.

They are usable on some wide-angle angle lenses - but not all...and the results are not all that useful with the wider focal lengths. Their real forté starts at the 35mm mark and continues forward out to the longer telephoto zooms.

The action of spacing out the lens means that the whole thing focuses a lot closer than normal - really close, if you will, to true macro work. Of course the depth of field is restricted, as it always is at close distances, but there is no optical interference from glass elements. With a number of the X-series cameras you can set the focus and exposure to manual and then see the effect of stopping down the aperture when you half-press the shutter release button. Really useful.

The MCEX-16 gets you closer than the MCEX-11, but you can predict what the effect will be by consulting the chart that Fujifilm do on their website.

Here is an example of the use of the MCEX-11 with the 35mm f:1.4 Fujifilm lens:

And here is one with the MCEX-11 on the 55-200mm lens. This is not a close-focussing lens at the best of times but this does make an improvement.

The perspective is changed, of course, but that is to be expected. In some respects this extension tube would be perfect for 50mm and longer focal lengths.

Model is a 1:43 1947 Chrysler. The background building is 1:87 scale but if you play with the tubes and focal lengths you can adjust the size.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Ever Smaller Big Camera And Ever Bigger Small Camera Polka

We certainly do not lack for variety here in the photographic trade - and never more so than in the changing designs of cameras. Since my first paid employment pouring lavender oil over Nièpce's pewter plate I have seen no end of changes in the apparatus.

Some people think that this stopped with the development of the APS-C DSLR. Hah Hah to that - the last few years have brought an explosion of 24mm x 36mm sensors in digital cameras and the whole waltz of new bodies and new lenses carries right on.

Two big manufacturers are dancing this one - and they know who they are. They are set now to go with ever more complex sensor screens so the music is speeding up. And as soon as this dance is old, a new one will begin with some other feature or capability in the main melody.

Meanwhile five other manufacturers have decided to dance a different measure with a slightly different tune, but on the same dance floor. They weave in and out of the big two with smaller but faster steps and it must be said that the buying public follows them equally as well.

I am willing to bet it will be only a short period of time before they have bigger sensors and dance with the big folk - and the big folk put on smaller shoes and dance with the smaller steps as well.

The trick for photographers in all this is not to get trampled. The best advice that we in the shop can give is that they study the dance floor for a bit before they decide which melody to follow - and then follow that carefully without trying to change step in mid-dance. ALL of the cameras take pictures and ALL of them take good pictures.

Just figure out what would be most convenient for yourself before you pay your shilling and step on the floor.

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Knighthoods For All! - Photographers To Be Honoured!

The news is good. the Government of Ruritania has just announced that knighthoods will be awarded in their annual New Year's Honours list to photographers. Their Royal Heinyesses have placed the seal of approval*on the legislation that was moved in the Volksrat.

While we in the press will have to wait another 10 months to learn who will be beknighted, this gives an opportunity for ambitious young things...and crafty old curry favour  with the palace. Whether it would be better to use the milder forms with yoghurt and mint or go for the tandoori spice is not known - time will tell.

Ruritania has many scenic views that invite landscape photography, so those workers who hike up mountains or over glaciers will have a natural advantage. If they carry cameras with them so much the better. For the gritty urban street photographer sorts, Strakenz, the capital has a wide variety of gritty urban streets. Some of the grit has been there since the last Roman invasion.

Of course, people are always a popular subject for photography throughout the world and Ruritania is no exception. The girls of the countryside pose willingly in their native dress and once one learns to set up the tripod up-wind of them many charming portraits can be taken. Of course the sturdy peasantry are also fine subjects and many of them have teeth, so smiles are possible.

One note of caution - governmental defence regulations prohibit photography, drawing, or playing peek-a-boo within 500 stroms  of any military subject in the kingdom. This is not too much of a problem as the Strakenz regiment lives at home with his mother and only parades on the last Tuesday of Lent.

The announcement of the Ruritanian photographic knighthoods follows on from the awarding of similar honours to every other crowned head in Europe that is still on its crowned shoulders - plus a special one-off award to the Queensland Minister for Roads. It will give the lie to the assertion that artists cannot be praised in their lifetimes - if Ruritania cannot do it, who can?

* it's a very good seal and can balance a ball on its nose and play a tune on horns.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Quick Release Plate - A Guide For the Perplexed

Every single week that I have worked here we have had someone come in looking for a quick-release plate to match their tripod - they have lost the original one or have added more lenses and bodies to their bag and need to connect to the tripod.

Nearly every single week someone has had a sobering experience - the quick release plate that fits their tripod is long gone and their tripod is irredeemably bare on top...

The manufacturers of tripods all seem to have gone their own way when it comes to quick release plates and the associated clamps on the top of the tripod. I have drawn up a list of at least a dozen well-known ones and there must be even more of the budget and house-brand ones that have come and gone in the last two decades. None of them fit anything else.

Some are well-built and 'universal' enough ( read knocked-off...) to be something that we can supply. Manfrotto, Arca-Swiss, and Cullmann come to mind. You need one, we got 'em.

Some were chips that passed in the night, and even our legendary cardboard box o' junk is running low on suitable replacements. In some cases you can modify a standard block with saw and file, but sometimes nothing will ever fit. Bunnings sells wood blocks, chisels, and 1/4" flathead screws if you are feeling adventurous....

Far better to just admit that the dear old Jessops or Sears tripod is cactus and get a small INCA or Velbon for $ 50...or get a decent Cullmann or Manfrotto and start afresh. Even if you decide to get a lesser-known brand you are likely to get a block now that is of Arca-Swiss size, and you can go away with a handful of extra blocks in anticipation of losing a few.

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