Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Onward And Upward With Fujifilm Firmware!

One of the nicest things about Fujifilm X-series cameras is that they are made by Fujifilm. It's convenient too, because it means there is already a "Fujfilm" name engraved into the front of the body...

The next nice thing about them is the fact that Fujifilm constantly monitor what people want and what their cameras can do...and frequently issue updates to the firmware that operates the machinery. These updates can sometimes be minor adjustments but sometimes more extensive ones that can reset the camera's brain to produce a startling improvement.

I know - I have subjected all four of my different Fujifilm cameras to firmware updates at some stage of the game and they are very zippy instruments indeed. I don't have a Fujifilm X-T1  yet, but those of you who do can now avail yourselves of a fresh update for this camera. Fujifilm has just issues the version 4.0 for the X-T1 and it markedly changes and improves the auto-focus experience with the camera.

Faster, surer, with quick improvements to the 35mm and 60mm Fujinon lenses. Zone tracking for autofocus. Eye focus selections for autofocus. More shutter speed options. Even a clarification for the silent mode shooting button so that it spells it out for people.
There's a good report on it on a page at DP Review, here.

If you have an X-T1 you can charge your battery fully, grab a clean memory card, and do the biz yourself. Here is the link for the download.

And the exciting bit for me? What goes for the X-T1 today may very well come for the X-E2 tomorrow...

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Please Accept Our Congratulations

Here at Camera Electronic we wish to offer sincere congratulations to the winners of this year's most prestigious Western Australian photography awards. Here is a brief listing of the winners and runner's up but if you would like to see the actual pictures on your computer there is a link here.

2015 AIPP Epson WA Professional Photographer of the Year...John Woodhouse

2015 AIPP WA Wedding Photographer of the Year...Nathan Maddigan

finalists: Erica Serena, Ross Wallace

2015 AIPP WA Landscape Photographer of the Year...Tony Hewitt

finalists: Scott McCook, Vittorio Natoli

2015 AIPP WA Illustrative Photographer of the Year...John Woodhouse

finalists: Leah Kennedy, Simone Addison

2015  AIPP WA Portrait Photographer of the Year...Nic Duncan

finalists: Steve Wise, Alan Di Bella

2015 AIPP WA Travel Photographer of the Year...Christian Fletcher

finalists: Rebecca Johansson, Jimmy Teo

2015 AIPP WA Family Photographer of the Year...Lisa Ivandich

finalists: Kristy Mannix, Tina Urie

2015 AIPP WA Commercial Photographer of the Year...Garry Sarre

2015 AIPP WA Documentary Photographer of the Year...Jimmy Teo

finalists: Johannes Reinhart, Daniel White

2015 AIPP WA Creative Photographer of the Year...Leah Kennedy

finalists: Simone Addison, Johannes Reinhart

2015 AIPP WA Album/Book of the Year...Nathan Maddigan

finalists: Erica Serena, Michelle Kiddie

2015 AIPP WA Emerging Photographer of the Year...Rob Petric

finalists: Gerrie Cooney, Missy Grant

2015 AIPP WA Highest Scoring Print...Leah Kennedy

2015 AIPP Epson Signature Worthy Award...Vittorio Natoli

2015 AIPP WA Student Photographer of the Year...Lisa Anfuso

finalists: Caitlin Walker, Liam Jones

2015 AIPP WA Print Handlers Award...Alan McDonald

2015 AIPP WA John Whitfield-King Award...Nic Duncan

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Monday, June 29, 2015

" Does It Come With Batteries?"

Today's post is occasioned by an enquiry that I had last Saturday from a customer. It pointed out that there may be some misconceptions regarding modern cameras and their sale - misconceptions that we may be able to clear up. Here goes.

1. Does it come with a battery?

If it is a modern digital camera, yes. All the manufacturers include a battery with it. Generally it is the rechargeable Li-ion type. If it is a camera that runs on 2 or 4 of the AA batteries they generally include a set of alkaline ones in the box.

If you are going to do anything with your camera past leaving it in a dresser drawer - ie actually go out and take pictures - you would be very wise to purchase a second rechargeable battery or a second set of AA's for it. They don't cost that much and if you are on a trip you can leave one battery to recharge while you go on with the other. Which leads is to the next question...

2. Does it come with a battery charger?

As they say on Radio Yerevan " Basically, yes..."

Most manufacturers do include an A/C charger block and connecting cords. You pull the battery out of the camera, pop it into the charger, and plug the charger into the wall.

Some clever clogs makers have decided to have the battery charge within the camera and include a cord from an A/C adapter to the side of the camera. NOT clever, clogs. It ties the camera to the A/C just when you might want to be out using it. Owners of these cameras need more batteries and sometimes need an additional off-camera charging block to free them for field use. It might be tempting to think that you are avoiding taking a charger on your trip, but that electricity has to get in there somehow...

Note: Many people lose the chargers from their cameras when they leave their hotels. Every hotel concierge has them in store. If you forget, ask to borrow one from the concierge.

3. Does it come with a case?

As they say on Radio Yerevan " Basically, no..."

The good old fitted never-ready case that we got free with the 35mm camera was made of leather by wizened old craftsmen. Whether it is the leather or the craftsmen that has disappeared, they are no more. The one exception to the rule in the last few years was the case with the LE edition of the Fujifilm X-100 camera. Wonderful and nostalgic, but mine sits in the box unused as I take the camera out and about.

You can get bags and in some cases, cases from independent manufacturers. We have a wall of them and there is a shape and size to suit all tastes and pockets. Knock yourself out.

4. Does it come with a strap?

Yes. The big cameras will have neck straps and the small ones will have wrist straps. If you get a crick in your neck from the maker's strap, you can always purchase a Black Rapid, Joby, Lowepro, or Op/Tec strap to spread the load.

When it comes to attaching the strap to the camera be prepared to expend language - or ask one of the staff members nicely and we will do it for you. We know language...

5. Do I need to buy batteries for my flash?

As they say on Radio Yerevan " basically, yes and no..."

Yes, if you want your new portable electronic speed light to flash. You will need to put 4 AA batteries into it. Fresh batteries. Two up, and two down.

We have the excellent Toshiba AA batteries for sale. Also the excellent Powerex rechargeable AA and chargers for sale.

No, if you are content to leave it in the box and not use it.

6. Do I need to buy a memory card?

See answer #5. None of the manufacturers put a memory card in the box as a matter of course, though they occasionally panic around the end of the Japanese financial year and have been known to throw a tiny one into a deal to boost sales. It is never big nor fast, and it is never enough.

Memory cards are not expensive in monetary terms and extremely cheap when set against the value of the time and effort taken to make images on them. DO NOT STINT YOURSELF by purchasing a no-brand card. You will regret it. Get a good one.

7. Does it come with a lens?

If the camera design does not have an interchangeable lens, yes. Yes it does. Turn it on and go for it.

If the design has an interchangeable mount, it comes with a lens if you buy a lens. Sometimes the lens and body are in one box as a kit, which is a good idea, and sometimes they are separate and you can choose what you like, which is a good idea. You'll know hat you need.

Please note that we have not got into the subject of wifi, Bluetooth, near-field connectivity, or Pilsner beer. These are delightful topics but beyond the scope of this simple posting.

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Friday, June 26, 2015

The Initial Diagnosis


Here's a puzzle for you to work on while riding the train to work - look at the list of organisations above and correctly identify the words represented by the letters.

Be careful - many of these fine organisations use similar names and ideas but arrange them in different ways.

We can give you a general hint - they have something to do with photography, competitiveness, and money.

And one includes a number of large hairy beasts who roam about and cause trouble by knocking down fences and rooting up vegetable gardens. Once a year they may be legally shot and eaten...and make superb gravy.

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I Have Been Asked To Announce...

An email message this morning from our management has asked me to let our readers know that we have recently received shipments of the following new items and are offering them for sale:

1. Fujifilm X-T10 cameras

As well as basic bodies...you may wish to consider that these can also be obtained as kits with either the 18-55 or 16-50 Fujinon lenses. Wise shoppers who purchase Fujifilm X-series cameras will wish to save petrol and parking fees on future visits by purchasing the entire lens range now while they are here. Our trained staff are readily available to help them carry the boxes to their car.

2. Olympus 7-14mm lenses

These are the big, fast, new ones with the superb finish. If you are into superb finishes this is a good idea.

3. Canon 5Ds camera bodies

 Please refer to earlier blog posts in respect of this new Canon product. It works and works well. It has the BB seal of approval.

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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Ya Never Kin Tell - The Tale Of The Fujifilm Pancake Lens

As soon as you say the word " pancake" people tend to narrow their thoughts - some of us envisage maple syrup and bacon, and some of us see flat-faced travel lenses. In either case sometimes people are dismissive - pancakes are only for breakfast at trucker's road stops and pancake lenses are only good for quick holiday snaps.

Nothing of the sort.

The Fujifilm company make a 27mm f:2.8 that is only 22mm from front to back. It will stop down to f:16 and focus as close as 34cm. Tiny little 39mm filter size. Weighs less than a macaroon.

You'd expect it to be just a soft travel lens but you would be dead wrong. I clapped one onto my X-E2 and tried it out in the studio on short-range subjects. Look at the result.

Then again, here it is outside looking at the distance.

And for a portrait.

This focal length is nearly perfect as the "normal" lens for an APS-C sensor. If your film days were spent profitably with a 50mm lens on your 35mm camera or an 80mm on your medium format filmer, this is going to be a familiar view of the world...with a difference. There will be a great deal more depth of field for your studio and landscape shots.

I suspect this will be a good performer in my Fujifilm X stable.

Here it is.

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The Olympus Cashback Train Is Ready To Roll - All Aboard!

Looks like THIS is the month to get that new Olympus OM-D body. Olympus wish to press money upon you for the transaction and it would be churlish to refuse...

Here's the deal:

Buy a new Olympus OM-D E-M1  or an Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mk II body by itself and you'll get $ 100 cash back from Olympus.

Buy one of these bodies plus an Olympus lens and you get $ 250 back from Olympus.

How easy is that. You'll need to do your purchase between today and the 31 August to qualify.

And you'll be putting yourself in a position to use one of the finest micro 4/3 camera systems in the world - for years of images. Serving suggestion: get more than one Olympus lens with your new camera. You'll love the pictures.

Here's the cameras.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Wild Times With Lowepro - Competition And Cash Back!

Looks like the rest of June and July are set to become a little wilder, thanks to Lowepro.

As you all know, Lowepro are one of the foremost camera bag accessory makers in the world. They make special and general bags to carry the world's photographic and computer equipment - as well as the world's sandwiches and bottles of lemonade. They go everywhere.

Now they are going on the Pacific Trail with Reese Witherspoon in a promotion that highlights her new motion picture - aptly named " Wild ". Trail along yourself and you could pick up some prizes. Buy some of the Lowepro equipment and you can get yourself some nice cashbacks.

First the contest:

From 20/06/2015 until 31/07/2015 the wholesalers of Lowepro are going to provide 5 prizes per week for interesting answers to a Lowepro question. There will be 30 prizes in all, each worth $ 39.95...and you can enter once a week if you like. You enter at midnight on Saturday each week.

The question is; How would you use your Lowepro to get wild? Ignore the grammatical bumps in that road - you can understand what they are asking. Write a response that intrigues them and you'll be in the running. They're going to be pretty prompt in telling you if you've won something....early in the week, says their entry form.

Next, the cashbacks - note these are unconnected with the writing contest...

From 19/06/2015 until 31/06/2015 - that's to the end of this month - Lowepro will allow cashbacks to purchasers of their products in two divisions:

1. If you buy products above the value of $ 179 AUD up to $ 269 AUD you'll become eligible for a cashback of $ 30.

2. If you buy products valued above $ 269 AUD you'll become eligible for a cashback of $ 60.

You can find out more about the terms and conditions by clicking here:


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In Their PRYME - The Regnard Brothers Feature In An Instant

Pryme magazine is a publication that concentrates its focus upon instant photography - the sort of thing that Polaroid, Fujifilm, and briefly...Kodak...were responsible for. One of their recent issues feature two of our favourite Mauritians - Ian And Erick Regnard.

The article revolves around work that Ian and Erick did in the Pacific with a a camera that Camera Electronic helped them to construct. It started out as a 4 x 5 Linhof and gained a waterproof housing and instant film back. It also gained a great deal of weight to help it sink...

The article is fascinating - I never realised how many magazine covers that Tungsten have been credited with. Here's the link to read it - you might even be inspired to subscribe to the magazine.

Read the article here

The images are gorgeous and unusual.

Note - no models, sting rays, or Regnards were harmed in the filming of the series...

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Dirty Lenses - Dirty Pictures

Way back when there was Elvis and dinosaurs we learned not to put our fingers on the front of the camera lenses. If they were our camera lenses we got fuzzy, low contrast pictures with smeared details. If they were someone else's camera lenses we got socked in the ear. Either way, the front surface of the lens was sacred territory.

Not to dust. Not to mud. Not to dog noses. The schmutz still accumulated even if we did not add to it.

We learned to fasten a UV filter to the front of the lens to move this contamination one surface further. A cheaper surface, so that if we scratched it, we could replace it ourselves. But it still got dirty.

We bought special lens cleaner from Kodak until we discovered how to make our own. This commendable independence on our part is probably what killed off the company...that and their digital camera designs. I feel kind of bad about this.

To avoid this again, I now buy my lens cleaner from Giotto. They make it in small spray bottles that are packaged with a brush, a polishing cloth, and some ear-cleaning sticks. I'm pretty sure it contains some detergent, some alcohol, and some distilled water and I'l bet I could make my own, but I don't want to torpedo Giotto or the wholesalers.

Out in the field where one encounters dog noses I carry the Lens CLeanse one-time pre-pack cleaners. They are powerful, but gentle and can cope with most grease or dirt contamination very well. You can get them in packets of 12 if you own a pack of beagles.

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Epson Surecolor SC-P600

We have yet to break the tape seal on one of the new Epson Surecolor SC-P600 inkjet printers here in the shop. Lack of space, not lack of enthusiasm...as soon as someone wants to see in the box we are all going to crowd round and poke our professional noses in.

I expect it will look somewhat similar to my Epson Stylus Photo R3000 -the printer it has replaced in the Epson range. There will be a few new things - bigger cartridges, I believe, and automatic switching between gloss and matte black inks.

I see it has got the wireless linkage and a lot of the funny photo sharing provisions to print from the newer smart phone or pad devices. This scares me, so I just use the aethernet wired socket in the back and that works fine

What also works fine, and I'm a complete fan of this after last Saturday afternoon, is the facility in it to print the labels of CD disks. There is a slick little plastic jig that holds one of the CD or DVD discs that is taken into the printer automatically. Epson have provided a program with the printer that sets up a label design window in your hard drive. You electronically whack it out on the virtual desktop and start cutting, sewing, and daubing. There are a number of suggested design templates or you can wing it on your own.

Put in a background, if you wish - I suggest a lighter image if you are going to have dark colours for the text on the disc. Lighter images use less ink, as well, so there is economy to consider should you be making a large run of discs.

The text commands for the disc are phenomenal, in that you can type them out straight and then curve them perfectly to the shape of the disc. And all with one grab of a dot - I think it must be industrial magic.

You'll spend some time making the disc label design to your own taste, but you'll be amazed how fast the printer can do the rest of the job. From clipping the disc into the plastic holder through the auto loading and then the printing from computer command it is 4 button clicks and takes about 90 seconds Then the machine spits out the printed disc and you can start again. I was terrified of the job but it all turned out so simple - and that is really the trick that Epson have for inkjet printer users:

Epson works, works well, and works very simply. Hooray.

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Monday, June 22, 2015

A Little Gem Arrives! We have The new Fujifilm Camera In Today

Had the first heft of the new Fujifilm X-T10 camera today - they have just come down onto the sales floor.

It is tiny! Compared to my X-Pro1 camera it is surprisingly small and neat. You'll see the camera in hand with an optional part attached - the MHG-XT10 metal grip and arca-swiss-size rail. Without this, it is even smaller. What a great introduction this would be to the X-series lenses.

It is full featured, as you'll no doubt find from the reviews and rumours. You get the new Classic Chrome film setting and an entirely new focussing system in the viewfinder that uses variable areas full of multiple measuring points. The new electronics drive all the existing lenses and have sped up the 35mm f:1.4 and the 60mm f:2.4 lenses significantly. They snap in instead of swim.

There's an inbuilt flash just above the lens axis that pops up to a useful height . Of course the hot shoe also talks TTL to appropriate Fujifilm flashes.

Ergonomically it is a good mixture of external dial and front/back control wheel. Like the X-T1, there is an articulated LCD screen.

But all this said, the thing that will win you is the compact size. It is literally not much bigger  - if you attach a 27mm lens - than the Fujifilm X-10 that took the blog shots.

Just silver-finish in now. I believe black will come later in the year. So come down and shoot some pictures with it.

Bring your wallet.

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You Can Come Along And Set Up A Studio...

I used to think that " singer-songwriter " were the most terrifying words in the language, but I have concluded that the invitation to set up a studio is. Beause you never can tell how much space you'll have or where it will be.

This reflection is brought to you by an experience on Saturday, doing a small studio event shoot for my social club. I've been doing these costumed dinner shoots for what seems like decades...and the places that we end up cover a wide spectrum of suitability.

Best ones used to be the halls with big stages and lots of electrical outlets and two big sets of stairs up the sides. Those were spaces where you could haul a backdrop stand kit and three big studio flashes and a big wooden posing chair and a a variety of backdrops and furniture throws. The sitters could swan up in big gowns and nothing got snagged.

Then we got to the smaller hall - one AC socket, narrower stage, one pair of stairs. Harder to get the people onto the set, but the small compass of it meant that only one studio strobe was possible - with a big beauty dish you could manage it. One memorable setup hooked Manfrotto clamps and arms off a Manfrotto light stand and slung a square-format film camera under the beauty dish...and it worked a treat. But squeezy.

Last Saturday saw perhaps the narrowest stage yet - a sub-branch hall for the RSL that was built in the 50's. Just enough stage for a speaker and a flag - and the flag was tacked to the wall. Not even wide enough to unfurl the regular backdrop on the backdrop stands.

That was solved by collapsing the support pole and putting the side stands en echelon. There was room to put one light stand on the stage for the portable speed light ( we have eschewed the studio lights in the field and are not ashamed of it...) and as long as you shepherded the sitters past the black legs of the stand in the semi-dark, you could get a reasonable portrait. A big umbrella did the trick - like a beauty dish but I could shelter under it as I took the stuff back to the car in the rain.

What it pointed out, however, was the need for some form of attachment that could stick a speed light to a brick wall - that would have permitted a two-light setup. Also, some little flashing LED lights for the legs of the tripod. They put a big flashing light on that builder's crane downtown to keep low-flying helicopters out of it, and portrait sitters can cause more damage than helicopters...*

I have not quite yet been reduced to on-camera flash and posing them in the toilets, but if the venues get more crowded it may come to that. Smile and flush, Kowalski.

Uncle Dick

* I must poke around the Cullmann stock. If anyone was crazy enough to have a brick-wall support it would be Cullmann.

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Friday, June 19, 2015

Night Exposure - The Social Scene At The Oxford

No great philosophy or art, folks, but here's some pictures of the Canon EOS 5Ds night presented by Brodie Butler - and us and Fitzgerald's Photo Laboratories, for that matter. We did the setup, Fitzgerald's did the drop-dead gorgeous prints on Chromajet metallic paper, Canon supplied the brand new camera body and a beaut digital projector and the Oxford hotel supplied beer and snacks. Everyone to their own specialty.

Brodie is a good speaker. The camera is a corker. The beer is cold. There's going to be a repeat of his presentation in August to a camera club, but I don't know about the beer...




The Usual Suspects.

Caught in the headlights...

The Debate.

The guy in blue with running shoes and a baseball cap is Brodie
 and the guy in blue with running shoes and a baseball cap isn't...

Yay Canon! Great Night!

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The Three B's - Canon's New 5Ds In The Real World

The three B's*. A glorious night.

Canon Australia sent some of their new Canon EOS 5Ds cameras out, and one of them landed in the hands of Brodie Butler. Last night Brodie gave a memorable lecture regarding this camera to a gathering of enthusiasts at the Oxford Hotel in Leederville.

Canon made a good choice in letting Brodie work with the new camera - Brodie can do, has done for a long time, did then, and was able to do right in front of the viewers. He can also explain what he did and why and THAT is a rare talent.

As Brodie explained, the new camera is massively increased performance packed into a familiar body shape - that of the Canon EOS 5D MkIII. If you know how that feels, you know how the 5Ds feels...but you won't be prepared for what it does until you see the results.

Over 50 megapixels available in one shot from the full-frame sensor. Available with very fast focussing. Large files, and clean. Wild amount of detail available when enlarging - the display prints that were made by Fitzgerald Photo Laboratory on Chromajet metallic paper were startling in their impact and the impact continued right down into the finest detail of the image.

Brodie was able to take photos there on the night with his trusty Elinchrom giant umbrella reflector and the same lady who had modelled for the original photo shoot. The shots made of eyelashes and detail on a fur jacket were detailed beyond belief - but there they were...

The really startling thing for the landscape, architectural, portrait, or fine art photographer is the thought that this camera can do what it does with all the existing Canon L-series lenses! People who might have been looking longingly at other medium format camera systems while shooting with their faithful Canon system can now shelve their envy - the Canon company has the answer to their dreams.

Their dreams are not going to be inexpensive dreams - this level of performance is not going to be fond in the bargain basement - but the purchase price of this 5Ds camera body or the companion 5Dsr body later on is is going to be a great deal less than the medium format option. And you have so many more lenses to choose from...

Altogether a very satisfying rainy night out - good speaker, great images, a remarkable product new to the market - a product that will be truly useful as well as technically brilliant.

* Brodie, Butler, and beer.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Aerial Show And Tell - A Success From Shoot

Yesterday evening our teaching facility - Shoot Photography - played host to Christopher Fulham and a bunch of drones.

I hasten to add that I am not describing the staff or clients who attended the lecture - Christopher makes use of the modern mechanical marvel - the UAV. The drone. He uses cameras rather than Hellfire missiles and so is much friendlier and more accessible in his speciality than some others in the world.

These are some of the devices - electrically-powered frameworks with widely-spread electric motors and horizontal props pushing the air down and the drone up. Differential signals passed through a radio link to the computer brain of the drone means that the power to each motor and propeller assembly can be varied.

 The combination of these thrusts means that the tilt of the platform is varied and it can be steered thither and yon as well as up and down - it is the principle of the jelly on the plate. While the platform is hooping over the sky the small cameras carried are picking up images and recording them. Those are biggish drones and one in particular can pack a regular mirror-less camera.

Job for the clumsy? No. Mr. Fulham knows what he is doing and has the skill and dexterity to do it. You would not be able to beat him in any video game involving a joystick...

Now for the next picture, here is a view taken of the audience - note the degree of concentration on the faces. There is not a teacher here in Perth who would not be envious of this degree of attention. Tribute to both the value of Mr. Fulham's presentation and the serious enquiring nature of Perth's photographers.

Will this form of photography continue to attract this level of interest? Well, it forms a commercial entity in its own right at this time with advertising and real estate workers and more and more segments of video coverage are being added to motion pictures via drone coverage. The legalities and liabilities will be examined and debated with time - cynicism says that the press will always print something sensational regarding them - and this will take on the "truth" of urban legend...but fortunately professional photographers like Mr. Fulham will do a great deal to settle things.

Last picture. Nikon the dog, and a handsome dog he is too. No idea who the guy is...

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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Camo Card And The Stealth Filter - Lens Coat

We had a training session on the Lens Coat range of goods today. I'm glad it was in the clinical surroundings of the laboratory - had it been held in the garden or bush, the products would have disappeared from view...

Lens Coat make a series of fitted covers for telephoto and zoom lenses - they can fit out lots of examples from the Nikon, Canon, Sigma, and Tamron range. We've had them on lenses in the rental department for some time and they form a pretty good way to reduce knocks on these long lenses. When they are in camouflage colours they help to disguise the outlines of the lenses when shooting in the bush.

It is sort of like putting Hello Kitty neoprene covers on mobile phones except if you are going to Africa with your 400mm telephoto lens you don't really want to say hello to some of the kitties they have over there - thus the blend-into-the-grass colours.

The real surprise was the extent to which Lens Coat have taken these camouflage fabrics for other products.

The first one is a wallet designed to hold CF memory cards. You can get a range from 6 to ten of the cards in them and there are models that fit SD cards as well. And several patterns of camouflage colour to blend into wherever in the world you will visit. The one for the Las Vegas Strip is pink.

The second product is a dirty white and grey camo for two filters - a little teardrop-shaped pouch that hangs on your belt and lets you tote a polariser and a lens cloth very conveniently. The colour combination is intended for Alberta in February or Toronto any time...

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Monday, June 15, 2015

Being Safe Amongst The Cattle - An Car Event Photographer's Guide

Having survived two days at the WA Hot Rod And Street Car Spectacular - that's two days of cars, enthusiasts, and startling food prices - I can offer some advice to others who go in harm's way.

1. Take your own food. Or an Armaguard truck full of money. Venue caterers have a license to be there and so does the mint in Canberra. A coincidence? I wonder...

2. Disregard the appearance of the teenage participants. They are mostly harmless, despite wearing tee shirts that promise death and destruction. If they are not your teenagers you can breathe a sigh of relief.

3. Do not poke the cars. They resent it.

4. If you want to shoot long exposures with a tripod, go very early in the morning or stay very late at night. The crowds during peak hours are pressing enough to make tripod use inconvenient, if not dangerous. A monopod or a Steadepod is a help in those cases.

5. Up your ISO to the best high compromise figure. Find this out by proper testing well before the show. You can drop it to 400 for the outside shots.

6. Patience. The crowds that move into your shot and obscure the outlines of the car you are trying to photograph seem to work in tag teams - one lot drifts up, clings around and then just drifts off when the next team is ready to replace them. It is not a personal insult - it is just the behaviour of cattle on a range.

Sometimes you can get only 5 seconds in between herds to get the shot - be ready with pre-focus and accurate exposure.

Sometimes you can get a good clear space around yourself by singing " On The Good Ship Lollypop" in a high sweet tenor and nodding your head from side to side. Dimples help.

7. The car show promotion girls are all pretty and happy at the start of the show. At the end of the show they are still pretty but their feet hurt. If you annoy them at that time they  relieve some of their discomfort by kicking you really hard. Be warned.

8. If you ask a car owner how they made the car, they will tell you. The. Entire. Story.

9. Each car that you photograph will also be photographed by an iPhone, an Android phone, an iPad, a compact, a bridge camera, a mirror-less, a DSLR, and an instant pack film camera. The pictures will all look the same as they will all be taken with the event lighting. If you want yours to be different, use a flash - use it sensibly.

10. Go low, go high, go close (Use a tele lens if you they barrier off the car.), go dramatic. Make the shot for a purpose - and then use it for that purpose.

11. Look at all the stalls and stands and make something of them as well.

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Friday, June 12, 2015

The Two-Tone Car Problem For Camera Designers

Two-tone cars were 1950's in North America and 1960's in mainland Australia. Any decade now they will become popular in Tasmania, and the Dulux store in Hobart is stocking up big on Brunswick Green and Oxford Cream.

The paint schemes in the 50's changed as years went by. Where pink/charcoal grey sold well one year, turquoise/white scored big the next. The trick to clearing all the older models was to have just enough of them before the new schemes were presented and the public ran over to buy them. Designers and marketing teams conducted massive research campaigns in an effort to predict just what would appeal to the masses - one bad colour combo in the fall and you had thousands of dollars slumped on the lot next spring - and then had cars that went out at bucket prices as a result.

Japanese camera manufacturers are in the same boat today - they need to accurately predict what will cause the buyers to foam at the wallet and they need to nail it a couple of years in advance. If the big makers sometimes seem to be running a footrace with each other design-wise, it is probably because they have invested millions on market research and ninja spies. Even then, they can get it " not -necessarily-to-their-advantage " ...to quote a famous son of heaven. Sometimes they get it wrong big time and frankly, Scarlett, the public doesn't give a damn.

Smart firms pay attention to their fans and their wannabe fans. Fujifilm apparently does, and monitors the rumour site that hovers round their brand name. Let us hope that the others do so as well, so that they can give the rest of the trade good gear to sell. We can all benefit from the cautionary tale of the three-toned schemes that Packard tried on their 50's vehicles.

Packard? Did they make cars? Wasn't that Petri? I know they made dishes...

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July 12 - Kodak Brownie Day - Get Ready For a Blast From The Past

July 12th is the birthdate of George Eastman - long ago in 1854. Waterville, New York, actually. George was interested in photography...

To celebrate this birthday I am inviting or readers to set their digital cameras as follows:

ISO as low as possible - 50-100 is fine.

Aperture at f:11 in manual mode.

Shutter speed at 1/25 of a second in manual mode.

jpeg. sRGB. Basic quality.

Monochrome setting, if possible. You can make it sepia if you wish.

Aspect ratio - 1:1 if possible.

Manual focus set at 10 feet.

Now go out and take 12 pictures. 12 only, ' film ' is expensive...

Do NOT review the pictures on the LCD screen - just go on from 1 to 2 to 3 and so on. Bring them back to your computer and display them out at 56mm x 56mm. No cheating - no photoshopping - no HDR - no plug-ins. Your first 12 pictures just as they come.

Show us the results. You have just used your own Kodak No.1 Brownie  (Digital Division) and if you have used it correctly you should have pictures of your family and the school fete and possibly Mundaring Weir. With luck they will be squinting into the sun. And very slightly blurred. Sun hats will be a bonus.

I'll try to feature the best on this blog.

Uncle Dick

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The Long View From Nikon -Coolpix P900

A question arose the other day as to what camera would be best to use for South African safaris or Alaskan bear expeditions. After the clamour died down - everyone has their own favourite best perfect opinion around here - I took the Nikon Coolpix P-900 out of the Nikon cabinet, dropped a card into it, and walked out front of the shop.

The skyline towers of Perth are a long way away from Stirling Street - longer even than the distance that you would choose for lion or grizzly bear shots.

The lens of the Coolpix P-900 has the equivalent of 2000mm in the old film estimation - a fabulous thing in the day and a focal length than none of us ever aspired to. Thus this camera is an extension of our capabilities far beyond what we could do.

The two shots are hand held. No tripod, no monopod. The camera was set in pure tourist mode - AUTO everything. Point, find the target, shoot.

Sharp enough? Close enough? You judge. Come stand out front of 230 and look at those towers.

Nikon are remarkable designers and they have come out with a truly remarkable camera- that is eminently affordable. Don't leave home... for Kruger or Denali... without it.

View Nikon P900 specs

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