Friday, May 29, 2015

The Blue Blot - Or Why You Shouldn't...

Those of us from North America who remember ARIZONA HIGHWAYS* were always amazed at the wonderful colours in the images. Deep blues in the skies, strong reds and yellows in the landscape. We all wanted that in our pictures - even if we were taking pictures in British Columbia in the murk season. What was the trick?

The trick turned out to be simple:

1. Use Fujifilm Velvia 50 film.
2. Get the printer to pour more ink into the press.
3. Move to Arizona.

I opted to move to Western Australia and the murk season stayed in Canada, so I was ahead already. Then with the advent of digital I could pour more saturation into the computer easily. And finally I discovered the circular polarising filter - this allowed me to make the skies blue and the seas green.

But when I got a very wide angle lens and tried to do the same trick with it that I was able to do on a standard focal-length lens - I ran into another of those optical facts of life. A circular polariser on a very wide angle lens only de-polarises part of the image.

The lens sees wider than the effect of the filter - it is the simple fact that the polarisation of the light in the sky is imperceptible when looking directly at or away from the sun - but is at maximum when you are looking 90º from the sun. You get a big blue blot in the middle of a blank sky.

What to do - take the filter off. Or position the blue blot where it makes a dramatic statement and cover up the other blank bits with buildings or trees. Cactus, if you are in Arizona...

Note - this is also a good hint to look at the graduated neutral density systems that Cokin and Lee make. They can make skies darker evenly, if dark skies are your thing. If you would like to have permanently dark skies move to British Columbia. They've got a murk season there that rivals anything in the world.

* Travel promo magazine.

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Humble Advice From The Filter Drawer - The Step Ring Tango

The most overlooked accessory in the shop is the humble step ring.

Now if you're a filter user - and there are some who are, you know - the step ring is your friend. You might have a stable of lenses for your camera that have all sorts of different filter diameters - from 39mm up to 95 mm.

If the manufacturers of the lenses wanted to play the game fair they will have used the classical sizes - 48mm, 49mm, 52mm, 55mm, etc. If they were drinking sake at lunchtime they made them with 40mm or 56mm or somesuch nonsense size. There is a special curse for lens designers that specify non-standard filter sizes...

With the regular ones, you can select a filter that is the size of your largest diameter lens - say a 72mm diameter big zoom - and then get adapters to let you use this lens on the smaller lenses in the bag. If you only use UV filters it probably makes more sense to get a dedicated one for each lens and to keep it on all the time. But if you are a polariser user, you might spend your money wisely on a really top-grade Circ Pol and spread it over a number of lenses. The adapters are generally under $ 15 so it makes sense.

If you are dedicated to spoiling the resolution of your camera lens by clapping optical adapters on the front of the standard lens * the step-up and step-down rings let you do this as well. Video camera enthusiasts seem to want to do this a lot and perhaps it works for them - still camera shooters generally do better getting a fresh lens rather than trying to modify an old one.

Experimenters who pursue other optical effects - putting cameras on microscopes or telescopes - or who construct strange light boxes with matt board and gaffer tape** can also use the step ring as a ready attachment to the front of the lens.

* Exception to this rule - the converters that Fujifilm make for their X-100 series of cameras. Both tele and wide converters screw on to the front of the camera lens and do their job without degrading the camera lens performance one tiny little bit. Hooray.

** Guilty.

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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Real Virtue For Virtual Reality - Cullmann Pano Parts

There are a number of manufacturers of panoramic accessories for modern digital cameras - Manfrotto, Novoflex, and Cullmann come quickly to mind. I'm sure there must be more, but as we have found these three to satisfy most of the requirements of the customers, these are the ones we have featured in the shop.

They all have their merits and charms - and in some cases mild drawbacks. Some designs suggest that the designers never actually carry their products themselves to do a job - at least not over a long distance. If they did they would reduce the weight, bulk, and complexity. There's probably a compelling argument for each additional feature that someone puts on the basic apparatus but unless you need that feature you are going to pay to haul it around...

Cullmann have adopted a different philosophy - their panoramic gear has been stripped down to basic form to follow basic function ( Say, that would make a good industrial movement. Must ring Weimar...). You can start with basics to just spin a camera round in one plane and then add standardised parts to bring different movements or camera positions into play.

Look at the basic L-set here - it's comprised of the Concept One OX369 panorama base. it screws onto a Cullmann Concept ball head - or to the ball head of another manufacturer - and clamps to an Arca-Swiss rail. Then it spins around on itself, much like a minor political party. Very well-built - very precise.

The A/S rails can be the sort of thing that is cast onto the bottom of a hand grip - Fujifilm does this for some of their X-Series cameras - or you can mate one of the Cullmann ones to your camera. These are available in various lengths. The L pair you see on the OX369 is the OX399 set.

Starts to look like you can mount the camera vertically as well as horizontally, doesn't it. Yes, you can, and you can do it straight or with another of the OX369 for a 360º virtual reality setup. Note the two unique Cullmann features; the clamping cross-bar to prevent camera twist and the clip-on socket at the end to take a Cullmann CX678 two-way spirit level.

This is good stuff on a technical level and also to a price point. The turntable is $199.95 (Available here) and the L bracket complete is $198 (Available here). Ten year warranty on both bits and in-store right now.

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To Strobe Or Not To Strobe - That Is The Question

Whether 'tis nobler to suffer the slings and arrows of trying to photograph a black cat in a coal-hole by purchasing a lens that looks like it should be on the front of a spy satellite or to take arms and buy a flash kit and actually see what it is that the camera is pointed at...

Hamlet, omlette, or roulette aside, I vote for the flash. I am just not sure which I prefer - mains powered kit or portable speed lights. I've tried both and they both have their advantages and disadvantages.

To clear one thing up at the start - if you are starting out afresh without the comfort of 40 years of gear acquisition filling your closet...or hanging round your neck like a plastic and aluminium millstone...the cost is going to be remarkably the same. An entry-level strobist kit is very close to the price of an entry-level studio kit. The chief difference between the two is the power supply and whether you'll want modelling lights.

The strobist kit comprises two lightweight light stands, two umbrellas and appropriate holders, and a carry bag. You'll need to add two speed lights and a wireless radio command kit to this, plus two sets of one-use lithium AA batteries.

The entry-level Elinchrom set contains two stands, two strobe heads, two soft boxes, and an in-built radio command set. You'll want to add a long extension cord and powerboard from Bunnings

In both cases we're talking about $ 1000 new stock.

The strobist kit is neat to transport - one case - but you'll still need to bunk the flashes in your camera bag. The Elinchrom comes in two cases that hold everything - plus you need to carry your camera case.

Advantages of the strobist? No need for an AC mains outlet nearby - no power cord on the floor. Disadvantages? No modelling light - limited light modifiers. Many batteries to remember. Markedly slower to recharge between shots.

Advantages of the Elinchrom? More light, faster recharge, unlimited number of shots. Neater integration of package - more light modifiers available. Modelling lights. Disadvantages? Gotta have an AC mains power point available. Two power cords on the floor.

For me - with all the stuff I need sitting on the shelves in the studio or at home - it revolves around the AC mains outlet and the distance I'll have to haul the gear from the car to the shooting venue. Short distance and power available means the studio strobes go out for a job - no powerpoint or a long walk to the venue means the speed lights.

Heading photo - Princess Fee at the Pseudoskirt rehearsal. The skirt of power! And the socks of polishing the floor!

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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Big, Fast And Heavy - Mitacon For E-Mount

If thou hast a Sony E-mount camera and wouldst see in the dark, hie thee hence and look at the Mitacon f:0.95 lens that has just arrived.

It be called the 50mm f:0.95 Speedmaster and presenteth itself in what may well be the most imaginative case we have yet seen. Even the Japanese - normally the masters of packaging - have not done something as artistic as this. Definitely not a cardboard box that you toss in the bin...

The lens itself is well-built. It is of the HLS design and features an aperture ring without click stops - I think this is deliberate so as to allow easier use during video work. The focusing mechanism is slow, but steady.

The price is moderate, considering the remarkably large maximum aperture of 0.95. Combined with the sort of extended ISO capability of some of he Sony cameras, this should make low-light shooting even more practical.

In-store right now. (Available here) Videographers please take note.

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Oh Lord Take Me Now - Manfrotto

 Well, you live long enough, you see everything. Domenic found a brand new Manfrotto extending light stand put away in the storeroom and brought it down to the sales floor. No mean feat, either - the thing weighs 21 Kg.

It is a 087NW cine stand. Built to take really heavy weights up really high. It will loft 30 Kg to 3.7 metres via a two-part column.

That is seriously heavy construction there. Look at the castings and the bolts. Look at the cast footplate on the side to allow the operator to get to the lights or cameras that are way up high.

Look at the cast-on ring to allow guy wires to be attached for stability in a wind.

Look at the crank mechanism - sorta like a gun mount. Serious stuff for serious studios.

Someone out there in Western Australia needs this stand.

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Ain't It Always The Way...Backdrops Drop Back - Try Manfrotto

As a famous iconic world beating award-winning* photo legend who works mainly in his studio ( because it has a reverse-cycle air conditioner, coffee pot, and biscuit tin...) I am familiar with backdrops. Familiar enough to use abusive language.

Paper or cloth, there are issues. The paper gets dirty, rips, runs out...the cloth sheets get dirty, attract glitter, feathers, lint, and wrinkles. A solid wall with wallpaper works very well for one or two shoots and then starts to intrude into every visual idea like a nightmare.
Eventually you long for the wide open spaces or macro work.

Mind you, there are times when the Superior paper roll backdrop or the Promaster muslin drape are perfect - fresh out of the bag or box they can provide a clean space behind the subject that subtly supports the point of focus. You need to move your lights so that this happens deliberately - ignore this and the back bit can overpower the front bit very quickly.

Worthwhile making sure that your chosen suspension system is also up to scratch in a structural sense - I dropped a 2.75 metre paper roll on a sitter once when the backdrop support system tilted over and it was only by dint of fast talking and an offer to bury the body at sea that I got out of trouble. You can be certain that I have secured the rolls ever since in a Manfrotto triple hook rack with the Expan holders. You can support the paper rolls on the portable stands as well, but make sure that the tripod legs of the stands are out there doing their job effectively.

If you're going out in the field the paper is replaced with muslin drape. If it is literally out in a field beware of the uneven surface under it and of the previous users of the field - particularly if they were cows. Some stains never wash out. If it is in a carpeted interior, pin or tape the drape down at the edges - people can trip over anything.

And sometimes you are lucky - I hauled out two cloth drops and sands for last night's costume shoot - and found that the venue had enormous freshly painted off-white  interior walls. Leave the backdrops and stands in the car? Don't mind if I do!

* I won a Posture Pin in Grade 2.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Clicking In A Westerly Direction

I can remember a night out at the movies used to include coloured slides flashed on the screen to advertise local businesses  - it also had watery orange cordial and ice cream bombs that cost less than the price of a moderate-sized family home. Those days have gone...

What excites me now is the prospect of next week - the 3rd of June at the La Premiere Cinema at Carousel. That'll be the venue yet again for the WAPF's presentation of the Canon Click West competition.

They've been busy, the judges - considering the entries from camera club members all over the state. They have been looking in 4 various categories and sorting through portfolios that photographers have submitted to them. The rules for submission meant that there were entires into different forms of photography but as they were put to the contest in digital form it will all have gone swimmingly.

I note that this year they have also added a prize for first-time entrants.

Prizes? Well, there is a prize pool for this contest of some $ 22,000. that's big money in equipment, services, trips, and other things. Well worth the time of those club photographers who submitted their work. They have probably been sitting on tenterhooks this month - the cut-off date for submissions was the start of May.

They'll be showing the entries on the big screen at La Premiere next Wednesday - if you are interested in seeing what will be, go to the Click West website of the WAPF and follow their directions for booking.

In the meantime, we here at Camera Electronic will be packing  showbags for the night.
There will be goodies in there from a number of sponsors and something interesting for every show-goer. Unfortunately the Customs Department seized the fireworks and flick-knives I was originally going to give out, but I'll will find something else.

Uncle Dick

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Monday, May 25, 2015

Crowdfunding In Photography

Have just watched a YouTube video on the management's time...and am proud of it! Even used shop electricity to do it...and all to good purpose.

The little film was about crowdfunding for a plastic enlarger. Apparently someone wishes to make a little enlarger that accommodates a mobile phone and then projects an image from this to classic B/W enlarging paper. To enable people who only have images on their iPhone or other phone to pull them off for prints.

It's a novelty, Folks. If it gives you a thrill and reminds you of the dear old fume-laden days groping in the dark, well good on them. The video asks for money up front so that they can buy the construction of the actual devices, with the promise that if they get enough they will be able to do the job and you'll get one of the first batch.

Interesting concept. We've see it in the photographic world before - the Russians apparently got enough western cash to make batches of re-designed Petzval lenses for modern DSLR cameras. Sometimes the call for moolah works and sometimes it goes unheeded - I remember one scheme that wanted to develop a tiny wireless flash trigger for mirror-less cameras that seems to have come to naught.

Good ideas whose time have come? Perhaps. Trendy new business models? Perhaps.

E-shellgame? Perhaps.

Note: if you've got a lot of images on a mobile phone you can get a Fujifilm Instax Printer and do the job yourself right now. In colour. In the light. We've got he printers and film right now. No shells. No game.

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The Subtle Difference Between Lenses...gravy or mustard?

I used to think that there were major differences between lenses of different makers and that I could get widely-different results by choosing the correct one. And that this would then colour which camera system that I should choose for a particular purpose.

Oh, the hours I agonised over whether to choose Miranda over Exakta or if the Petri was up to the quality of the Topcon...Unfortunately there was no internet at the time so I had to get my misinformation from magazines - fortunately I had limited funds and could not afford too many of these and my level of confusion was moderately low. Nowadays I can bounce from one forum to another - from one manufacturer's website to that of their rival - and pick up enough opinion and angst to boil the water in a large pot.

Note: Time and economics have relieved me of my worries - all four of those manufacturers are cactus. I am also delighted to report that modern optical offerings do not have enough variation between makers to foster such cares.

Oh, there ARE differences. Get out your optical bench and your steam-powered MTF generator and go for your life. You'll find that you can get different numbers for sure. The numbers won't make your pictures look better, but.

You'll be able to differentiate products in each maker's catalog by price ( always a good thing...) and weight. More money and more weight means higher or lower numbers in the laboratory. Again your pictures may be annoyingly similar but at least you have different numbers.

I would also caution those people who are contemplating the purchase of lenses that are very, very expensive against doing the sort of mathematics that sets these prices against that of a Sunday roast dinner and a pint of beer. The results are unsettling - in one case I calculated that an optic was the equivalent of five and a half years of Sunday dinners ...including the pint and, on suitable occasions, Yorkshire Pudding. Strong as my desire might be to take wonderful pictures, my respect for Yorkshire Pudding with gravy is stronger.

Moral? There is none, except the purchasers of modern lenses of the modest sort can comfort themselves that they are getting a very good product and, as far as their characters will permit, can go out and be happy with them.

Uncle Dick

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I've Already Got A Camera, But...The Ten Big Questions

1. But I'm going to visit France and I don't want to carry something the size of a trench mortar through the fancy boutiques and restaurants. Can you sell me a compact camera?

2. But I'm going to visit Alaska to photograph the grizzly bears and I need a camera the size of a trench mortar to bring them into focus without getting so close that they maul me. Can you sell me a DSLR with a 400mm lens?

3. I'm going to visit Ukraina. Can you sell me a trench mortar?

4. I want to take pictures of spiders. Can you sell me a macro lens, a macro slider, a tripod, and a can of Mortein.

5. I want to take street pictures in the rain and look cool and hip like the pictures in the advertisements. Can you sell me a mirror-less camera that's weather-proof.  I can organise my own red Nikes and two-day stubble.

6. I have no idea how it works. Can I take a course that will tell me what to do?

7. I need a memory card. Do you sell memory cards?

8. I need to do a wedding shoot tomorrow. Can you set my camera for me and sticky-tape the controls down? I'll pay for the sticky tape...

9. I put the memory card in upside down and now nothing works and it won't even open up. Is there a technician on duty?

10. No-one makes film any more. I read that on the internet, so it must be true. Can you sell me some film for it?

The answer, as if you couldn't guess, to all these questions is " yes ". We regularly encounter random requests and do our best to fulfil them. In the case of the trench mortars, they are made by Nerf and are suitable for use inside the home.

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Friday, May 22, 2015

Light The Blue Touch Paper And Retire

In the dear old days of film photography we used this fine product to do many things:

Cleaning dust from the inside of mirror boxes and rangefinder housings.
Cleaning dust from negatives on the holder in the enlarger.
Preliminary dust blasting for the outside of bodies and lenses.
Making soap bubbles in product shots.
Annoying other darkroom workers.

Now we are in the digital age and the uses become a little more vague. We can only think of a few.

External  dusting of cameras.
Dusting off the glass plates of flat-bed scanners.
Annoying other computer room workers.

Our technician recoils in horror at the idea of anyone blasting one of these air/propellant bombs at the surface of a digital sensor - and rightly so. The amount of gudgey damage and contamination you could do would be tremendous. Urrrg. Aaack.

So we would be delighted if our readers of the blog or the Facebook page would write in and tell us what we can do with our Dust-Off.

Go on. You know you want to.

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The Legacy Lens - Pat It At Your Peril

I have come to the conclusion that Legacy Lenses are the optical equivalent of the small vicious dog that my aunt used to have. Slightly scruffy, oddly shaped, unpredictable, and liable to leak or bite at any time*.

Legacy Lens is a great phrase - it makes you think that you have encountered something wonderful and precious. And all for free. This illusion rapidly vanishes as you try to adapt it to your modern digital camera - you discover that you'll need to spend more again to get an adapter  - and in some cases we're talking more than the price of the lens itself - and the result can be sad. If you have purchased the Legacy rather than found it in a box under a bed, that is so much further you have gone from free and wonderful.

Point the finger of hypocrisy at me if you like - I have a Tokina 35mm Macro that was intended to sit in front of a Nikon camera but now links via a Kipon adapter on a Fujifilm X-E2. And does very well - it was the shortest 1:1 macro lens I could find at the time for an APS-C camera and delivered/delivers exactly the point of view and focusing distance I need for tabletop shots. The adapter is well enough built to keep it in good alignment and I am always working at manual aperture and manual focusing anyway. I'd chuck the lash-up in a second if Fujifilm would put out a 34mm Macro in their native X mount, but until they do I am going to take toy car pictures with the Tokina.

Did I wish to retain auto-focus or auto-exposure I would be nursing a dog bite. Legacy lenses were made for the days when you were expected to make your own focusing errors - not entrust them to the AF program on the computer. You throw away all modernity when using them.

Are they better than new lenses? No. Stop squawking, it's true. In every case where modern manufacturers have replaced their 1957 Whateveromatic lens with the 2015 AF ASPH Whateveromatic lens they have multicoated it and recalculated the optical formula to present the ray paths at a better angle to the receptors in the sensor.

Let's face it - when you agonise for months about the latest and greatest camera body of whatever make, and then throw yourself around the town trying to cheapen it with every dealer, and then sit sweating in front of every internet forum to see if strangers agree that you made a wise choice...wouldn't it be nice to know that you have the optical design that was actually intended for that body? Whether it is made in Bangkok, Saigon, Yamagata, or Wetzlar ( or made in Yamagata and shipped to Wetzlar... ) it is a fair bet that the optical designers ate their rice noodles or bratwurst with their camera body colleagues in the staff canteen and that there is likely to be a close agreement on what the glass does to the silicon.

Closer than anything you, your aunt, or that damn dog can think up.

Uncle Dick

* Poodle. Suzette. Like a dyspeptic rat, but meaner.

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Wide And Shallow - A New Leica Lens Is Announced

Leica Camera Australia Pty have just sent us news of a new Leica lens.

It is the Leica Summilux-M 28mm f:1.4 ASPH. Their press release says that it is the first Leica M lens to combine the f:1.4 aperture and 28mm focal length.

Their PDF goes on further to point out that this wide aperture will mean that the shallow depth of filed and softened background images that are generally seen in longer focal lengths will now be available for a wider view.

Indeed - the ten elements in this lens - including one group that floats behind he the diaphragm - should deliver a horizontal angle of view of 65º on the full frame Leica M and 51º on the M8 and M9. This is more than enough for architecture, interiors, or the safari landscape. 700mm close focusing distance - f:1.4-f:16.

It is to be supplied with an all-metal lens hood. We would also recommend that users invest in a Leica E49 filter to protect the front element.

The lens is, of course, made in Germany. We'll likely see them in June though the press release does not set an exact time or date.

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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Total Recall - A Message From The Australian Agents

Flapoflex Australia would like to notify purchasers of their latest mirror-less camera that the war has not necessarily gone to the advantage of Flapoflex. Users are kindly requested to return the cameras to Flapoflex for minor adjustments.

Flapoflex customers may be a little confused at the term " mirror-less " as the company only makes DSLR cameras. Therein lies a clue to this announcement. Please bring the mirror in at the same time as the camera and they will glue it back on...

At the same time other small matters will be attended to. The white spots that have started to appear on the sensor will be synchronised with the black spots that have started to appear on the LCD screen. The lens mount will be tightened and the tendency of the digital processor chip to gurgle in the night will be lessened.

The mysterious white orbs that appear when the camera is put into Alien Abduction Mode are not a fault. They are a feature that sells well in Roswell, New Mexico.

Users are also requested not to wipe the coating of  bunker oil from the sensor before sending the camera in. The shipping line that delivers the cameras from Asia wants it back.

Flapoflex would like to reassure customers who have purchased their fine products in the past that quality control is paramount in their factory. They have kept it down to a minimum level for years and will endeavour to reduce it further in the future. This commitment will extend throughout the organisation - even as we write this the designers of the latest camera are being hunted through the swamps with dogs.

Flapoflex Australia would also like to point out that they have no connection with Flapoflex Azerbaijan or Flapoflex Equatorial Guinea and cameras purchased from these firms will need to be taken to Baku and Malabo respectively. On the third Wednesday of the month. Australian stock will be done here.

Please keep calm and carry on.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Which Colour Space Should You Use?

Here's a question to fill those long lonely nights at the camera club as you sit around the flames of the  blazing digital projector and reminisce about cocking a shutter.

Which digital colour space do you need? The old days ( Elvis, dinosaurs, 50¢ hot dogs...) were easy because you got the colour space the manufacturer handed you and were darned grateful for it. If you loaded Kodachrome you got Hollywood colour and paid a premium - if you shot Afga you got European art colour and watched it turn magenta - and if you purchased Ferrania you wondered where the strange smell was coming from.

Now we are generally given the choice of Adobe RGB or sRGB in our camera menu. The first for printing, the second for computer display, is the general tenor of the advice. Follow it if you like, but we earnestly suggest you investigate other alternatives:

1. FinalYEARstudentRGB

This is a colour space that is so dark and grungy that it feels like reading Kafka on a wet night in Pittsburg. The white portion of the spectrum never gets above the luminance level of a boarding house sheet at the end of the month.

2. CAMeraclubRGB

On the other end of the scale is this colour space that constantly bangs the saturation meter needle off the stops like a machine gun. You wondered why the digital projector started smoking? This is the reason. It comes pre-loaded with a sharpening algorithm that actually hurts the eyes to see.

3. Ilford CIBA RGB

This was first announced in the 1956 British Workingman's Socialist Camera Society Annual and will be ready for final release in about 4 months. From Pentonville.

4. FlapoRGB

Distinctive to the Flapoflex range of cameras, this colour space will not work with anything else. If you offend the clerk who sells it to you, it will not work at all. Mind your tongue.

5. soBRG

The sort of colour space that does everything backwards just to spite you. Slide the controls at your peril.

6. WellnessRGB

As a complete contrast, this is a kind and gentle colour space that lends itself to pastels, soft flowers and fluffy kittens. Actually it has no contrast at all - everything looks as if it was shot through waxed paper. A soothing choice if you can stay awake.

7. The New Colour Space

This is the setting that appears on your camera menu a month after you have set up all the criteria and just started to get used to it. It appears overnight with no indication of what it does - the David Carradine of computer programs. If you select it, it will disappear from the menu again.

There, that was easy. Now we can get on to calibrating your memory card for the northern or southern hemisphere. Complete instructions in the next blog post.

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I Want A New Lens - Which One Do I Think I Want?

Well, that's quite a question - but you can bet every photographer who ever snapped a shutter has asked it of themselves. Sometimes it was a good question and sometimes it wasn't...

We all had a first camera - in many cases the lens on it could not be changed. Our choice of which lens to use was that one or nothing. So we learned to use that one -when we wanted a wider view we stepped back - when we wanted to see a close up we stepped forward. In many cases we kept the sun to our backs and the squinting eyes of or subjects in front of us. At night we used a flash, or held the shutter open for a long time. There was Elvis, dinosaurs, and 50¢ hot dogs - it was a good time...

Then we ran into the limitations of the gear - the closeup went blurry when we moved under 3 feet. The landscape picture was nowhere near as wide as our own vision. Sports pictures had tiny little figures in the middle of a vast playing space - we could see them better with the naked eye.

We bought supplementary lenses to clip onto the lens - we could go a little closer with one, or get a little wider view or a little more enlarged view with another...and had all the perils of Pythagoras trying to figure out how to aim the cameras effectively once the new lenses were on. There was a lot of trial and error and language.

Now we have interchangeable lenses - we can start our career with a moderate zoom lens that sees a multitude of angle of view. It can focus far closer than the older film lens. It can see under vastly poorer light conditions. And we needn't make two trips to he chemist and a week's time to discover whether we got the shot. We can see it in a second - repeat the trial if necessary. But we still want a new lens...

Two recommendations: if you want the landscape buy a prime lens for your camera that is the widest one they make. If you want sports results get a medium telephoto lens for your camera. Take off your first lens, put on the new one, and go shoot for a solid month.

You'll see the world anew - you can go back to the old lens afterwards and see the world anew again.

Do this as many times as you feel the need - you'll gradually add to your own visual acumen and the armamentarium of glass. We'll be happy too - we're a camera shop!

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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Important Event Coming To Perth - Book Now

If you are a photographer...not an impossible assumption if you are reading this on your'll have a vital interest in The Event.

It's the Nikon AIPP conference for professional...and would-be people that meets annually in a different Australian city. This year it is here in Perth at the Crown. The block of time that you'll need to devote to it is from the 29th of June to the 1 July 2015.

Bookings are essential to get to see and do everything. AIPP members will know this already as they have had lots of publicity from their own organisation, but we urge everyone else to go to the AIPP Website for this event - sorry...Event - and see what 's going to happen.

This writer went to one in 2012 and was vastly impressed by the knowledge of the speakers, the quality of their work, the professional equipment and marketing ideas on offer, and the cupcakes with afternoon tea. Also with the urbane and sophisticated demeanour of the photographers as they met each other and discussed their businesses.

I daresay there was a bit of industrial spying and bragging going on as well, but then we get that round the local bowling club on prawn night as well, and no harm done. No-one was stabbed while I was watching.

Please dial on over to the AIPP site and see if you can't plan a great time for yourself and your business.

Uncle Dick

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A Technical Leader - The Samsung NX-1 Camera

We often encounter the Samsung name in our daily lives - smart mobile phones and tablets, televisions and audio gear, household appliances...there are no end of products from this fine South Korean firm that enter our lives. Samsung would now like to make sure that people know more about their cameras - and specifically the Samsung NX-1.

I guess we could say that the NX-1 is the big beautiful flagship camera of the Samsung range - except it isn't big and overpowering - but it is beautiful.

It is one of the new breed of cameras - the mirror less system camera. It has all the function of the larger DSLR cameras but with a smaller profile and quieter operation. It is at the cutting edge of operations too - this camera has a number of features for shooters that you just don't get in other systems.

For example - the lenses for the NX-1 have an " Fn" button on the left side. This is a "function" button that allows the shooter to select one of four criteria to alter; ISO, aperture, shutter speed, or white balance. No taking the camera from your eye - just poke the button and turn the front lens ring to make our changes. Fast.

Second - an effective combination of external access dials and buttons with such refinements as the touch screen. the ergonomics of grip and finger contact are near-perfect with such professional refinements as lock-on buttons for the rotary mode dial. No small thing when you want to prevent control shift in the midst of action.

Thirdly - really convenient and seamless integration with laptops, tablets, and smart phones. Well, you'd expect this from Samsung, given their pre-eminent position in the smart-phone business. If your ambition is to be well-connected with the least fuss this is the camera to choose.

Fourthly - the OLED viewfinder is on - instantly - and reacts instantly to give you a real-time experience. There is also a tilting screen for studio and landscape work.

Fifthly - 4K video recording - best view there is these days and sets your videos up for professional showing in the future.

Range of lenses? Very wide, and gaining more new focal lengths each year. And here is the real kicker - like all the devices that Samsung produce - they are produced by Samsung themselves - no external compromises . A seamless integration of optics and electronics.

Click here to see the full specifications

The Sony Cine Solution - A Lens To Dream Of

Sony enthusiasts who use their mirror-less camera systems are often cine enthusiasts as well - they recognise the video capabilities of these full-frame systems to produce high quality footage.

The lenses that Sony release to do this are many and varied - but one of the recent additions is quite phenomenal in capability and form.

The FE 4 /PZ 28-135 G OSS runs from f:4 to f:22, features a powered and a manual zoom, optical shot steadying mechanism, and a close focal distance that can be a short as 1.31 feet.

There is a direct unlocking of the automatic focusing if desired - you slide the front focusing ring backwards and there is instant response.

There are no stop detents on the aperture ring.

Each ring; focus, zoom, and aperture are fitted with geared teeth that must connect to dedicated focus pulling mechanisms - indeed there is a thrreaded socket on the zoom ring that suggests the addition of a small lever to smooth out manual zooming.

The optical performance is reported to be superb and the finish of the lens is no-less professional. I can most accurately describe the finish on the barrel by comparing it to the parkerising on a military firearm. I think it is sintered metal, but the effect is low-key sheen.

The mounting foot is substantial as is the weight of the entire structure - it is meant to work on an adequate tripod.

Looks as though the Sony company is serious.

In store now, ask for a price, or a time to check it out!

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Monday, May 18, 2015

Singing In The Rain - With The New Fujifilm Lens

Today's big announcement of the Fujifilm X-T10 camera is wonderful. And closely following on is the release of the Fujinon XF90mm f:2 R LM WR lens.

Mouthful, isn't it - all those letters. They're easy to sort out, though:

Fujinon - top quality all the way.

XF - this is a lens that will fit the Fujifilm X-mount - the X-Pro1, X-E1 and X-E2 - the X-T1 and now the new X-T10 all share this mount. It is a remarkably unfussy coupling - no wierd levers and fingers of metal that need to be wound round each other - Fujifilm benefitted by looking at other mounts while designing theirs and avoided the troubles.

90mm - this translates in old film-speak to 137mm - it was a classic medium telephoto focal length that separated you from shy subjects and rendered the perspective pleasing. No big noses on the portraits.

f:2 - WooHoo. Fast! This is a lens that you can use in low light like churches, sports halls, and theatres. The combination of this wide aperture and the 90mm focal length means a restricted depth of field in portraiture and a pleasingly softened foreground and background.

Note that it'll also go as close as 60 cm so you can use that focal length to shoot close-ups of flowers and insects.

LM - Linear motor. Faster focusing - higher torque in the internals and a quicker and more precise response.

WR - here's the rain thing. Not that we advocate getting caught out in it like yesterday...but the WR means that the lens is water resistant. If you're doing sports in winter, it's a thing.

Fujifilm's range of lenses just keeps getting wider...and longer...and better. We'll be sure to let you see a picture of it as soon as we get one in the store - as well as some photos taken with it.

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New News Now In - A Fresh Fujifilm Camera Just Announced

Those of you who follow the Fujifilm bandwagon will be delighted to hear the news - a new camera is announced today!

The shape of the new Fujifilm X-T10 may remind you of the Fujifilm X-T1. No surprise that - it has been developed as a complement to that fine camera. The viewfinder window is in the middle and many of the camera controls on the X-T-10 will be i similar places to the X-T1. But what will be new?

To start with, a new AF system - in addition to the normal 49 single points for focussing there are Zone and Wide.Tracking modes that use 77 focus points. This means that there can be groups of focusing elements on the sensor that can track and predict the movement of a subject and cope well with it - whether it is moving from side to side or to and fro.

You can boost ISO setting to a very high level - 51200 - and still ge strong blacks and low noise.

You can get a very fast view of the world that you are shooting through the viewfinder - the time lag of just .005 seconds means you get a clearly defined picture of the subject and can choose your exposure moment precisely. When you go into vertical mode, the information in the finder slides down to the correct orientation at the bottom of the frame - a great help.

Note: the Sensor is the renowned Fujifilm X-Trans CMOS II sensor and the EXR II processor mean you get the excellent colour rendition that Fujifilm has become renowned for. The new Classic Chrome is in there, as well as as the other Fujifilm simulations and monochrome filtrations. For the adventurous, there are pop effects, partial colours, and a host of other special effects available in-camera.

Fujifilm enthusiasts will also welcome the inclusion of the Lens Modulation Optimiser technology in this camera - it corrects for any residual things such as diffraction - allows you to use the smaller apertures but to still retain sharpness. Very, very nice for the close-up workers.

Note as well that the new Fujifilm App can be downloaded fro your tablet or smart phone for remote control of the camera - I know this works as it is also available for the Fujifilm X-E2 and i have used it with studio down shots. Apparently you can pair it with and Instax SHARE printer for an instant in-hand photo...still to try this myself.

Also still to try will be the video mode - the Fujifilm X-T10 shoots HD movies at 24, 25.30.50 and 60 fps. Apparently many of the sophisticated functions like the focusing, film simulation modes, and scene recognition modes also work with video - those of our readers who understand theses sorts of things can get more information from the Fujifilm site.

I am eagerly awaiting the advent of this new body as I wish to compare it to the X-T1. Sometimes people get the impression that camera manufacturers make Camera A and Camera A Lite...but it really isn't like that. Every new model IS a new model and there will be new features and capabilities.

Styling changes, of course - anyone who remembers the cars of the 1950's remembers that yearly massaging of the sheet metal that caught sales. But below the tail fins and spinner hubcaps there were technical changes galore. same with cameras. I own 4 different Fujifilm cameras and they all have special things that they do. Sometimes setting out on a job is like sitting down to a table set for a formal dinner. Which knife and fork to pick up for which course?*

* Hint: work from the outside in. Do not eat soup with a fork.

Back onto cameras - we'll let you know with an earth-shattering kerboom when the new camera body comes into the store.

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Friday, May 15, 2015

Roll Over Rentals Rock Up Recently

Rah Rah Rah,

The Canon section of the Pre-Owned cabinet filled up over lunchtime with ex-rental Canon lenses and bodies.

This happens periodically as the Rental Department rolls over rental stock to make way for fresh supplies. The equipment is excellent - it has been carefully maintained and checked each time it goes out and comes in - and in some cases there has been very little traffic as rental.

In general it carries full warranty so you get a chance at some very good glass and mechanisms at a bargain price.

If Canon is your brand and you would like to advance to top of the range gear right now this is your opportunity. The ex-rental stock never seems to stay on the shelf long - make your move quickly.Here's a link to our catalog...

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Arca Swiss Cube Tripod Head

Bag And Drag With Promaster - At A Bargain Price

Good news for all you enthusiasts who will be taking your portable studio flashes, light stands, tripods, softboxes, smoke machines, and electrical cords out to a show. Or a commercial shoot. Or a wedding. Or, heaven forfend, a family party...

Now you need not carry all your goods into the venue in four old Coles cardboard cartons. Or on your back in a hessian bag. Now you can look good and travel well - Promaster studio bags and boxes are on sale.

We've got a little mountain of them in the front bargain corner of the shop floor and we've decided to run them out at 50% off their marked prices. Some are wheeled, some are not. they all will make a difference if you have to haul a disparate lot of gear into a venue.

Not: The larger amount of gear you need to carry, the greater chance the building you will visit will have 43 floors and the shoot will be on the 42nd floor - and the elevator will be out...

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A Bit Of Elegance - New Angles On A New Fujifilm

Pardon the rather arty angles seen in the illustrations - I was reading a book on Rodchenko last night and his images have stuck in my head. At least you are spared marching text and slogans...

Well, almost. " Fujifilm - The Camera For The Masses! "...No? Okay -" Fujifilm X-A2  -The Camera For The Rather Elegant Masses! "....Better?

Joking aside, the new Fujifilm X-A2 is in store right now and it is a great addition to the X-Series cabinet. It comes in at the economical end of the X-series system cameras - it forgoes the optical or electronic viewfinder of some of the other cameras but provides one of the new two -part LCD screens that folds in several directions. There is a fine XC-16-55 lens in silver finish and best of all - a ll the bells and whistles on the operational panel.

Special programs
Helper icons
Advanced setting
Custom setting
Flux capacitor*

You can enjoy yourself immensely with these as you lay down the Fujifilm colours. You'll like them so much that you'll come back and purchase more Fujifilm X lenses. I know. I did.

* Where's the boom? There should be an enormous kerboom...

Uncle Dick

To see the catalog entry...

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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Wide and Fast - Fujifilm 16 f:1.4

There are more ways in this world to go fast and wide than buying a Maserati...Fujifilm have just introduced one; the Fujifilm 16mm f:1.4 prime lens.

It follows precisely the style elements of Fujifilm X lenses - metal construction, smooth focusing ring, precise click stops for the aperture, and fast focusing.

It has the addition facility - shared with the 14mm and 23mm lenses  -of snapping the focus ring out of automatic focus into a mechanical manual focus. Wonderful for studio shooting, particularly if you have activated the focus peaking on your X-series camera and can watch the plane of focus "walk"over your subjects.

The real forté of this lens is the wide aperture - f:1.4 - which means it is perfect for interiors. The real estate photographer using the Fujfilm X system could make this lens their primary optic - it will render straight lines straight and give the breadth of vision that sells houses - even pokey little ones...

I can also see it capturing the magnificence of a cathedral interior during a wedding - or trailing out to all the seaside landscape points that fascinate Western Australians.

In store-now.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

New and Nikon And Silver

You work in the toy store, you get to play with the new toys...and it is wonderful. Particularly when the Nikon representative brings you a new Nikon 1 camera - the J5 model.

This is one sweet little device. Nikon have packed the 4K video capability into it as well as a double-jointed LCD screen that folds up to 180º for selfies. Full WiFi capability as well, so if you have an Android device you are in business.

The cameras are solid - the body build and the feeling of the lenses is reassuringly heavy. They have cleverly incorporated one feature from the compact camera market into this mirror-less system camera: the automatic mechanical lens cover that slides in and out when the lens extends. It means the thing is protected whenever you bag or pocket it and there is nothing to lose.

Mirror-less cameras are generally smaller by nature than DSLR cameras and this range from Nikon is generally smaller than others - which means you can pack the body and a number of Nikon 1 lenses into a hip pack for travel. If you are keen - really keen - Nikon sell an adapter onto which you can fasten all their other lenses.

Not all at once, mind - one at a time. But it means if you are a Nikon shooter right now you have some marvellous long lenses for the mirror-less system.

It has a small flash-on-a-pantograph that is perfect for close-up work ( And check out the 18.5mm lens as well ) but also connects to its own special larger Nikon 1 flash. There are additional accessories like a hand grip, LED light bar, GPS unit and electronic viewfinder.

Nikon enthusiasts are now able to travel light but bring back terrific images - with the Nikon lens edge.

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