Monday, August 31, 2015

Deeper And Deeper With Olympus - The Waterproof Case

Olympus Tough cameras are.

The TG 820 in its basic form can dive safely to 5 metres - take wonderful still or video images - and then come up safely.

Should you wish to go deeper, however, even this little toughie needs some help. The Hollywood Robot case you see here is the Olympus answer to it. It's the Olympus PT 052 underwater housing.

Mounting the TG 820 couldn't be simpler - undo the lock on the side of the PT 052, rotate the lever, and the back swings open. Carefully push in the TG 820 and it will slide into a padded cradle - no screw mounting needed. When you swing the door closed and lock it there will be appropriate fingers and rods to translate your button pushing on the outside onto the buttons on the inside.

The marvellous part on the back is the large screen and the rubber shade around it - you get a clear view of what the lens sees as you swim around. It will be dark at 45 metres so the camera flash will be needed to illuminate the fishes and corals...and there is a very useful flash diffuser panel on the housing to spread this.

Ok - if you're a diver you know how to dive, and if you're reading this, presumably how to re-surface. Consider diving into your bank account for this camera and housing.

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The Afterthought - Promaster Lens Cloth

It is the little things that define us. Not our shape, or our power - not even our smell. it is the eyebrows, or the shirtbuttons...or the fingerprints on the lens.

Likewise the small accessories that make our photo photo experience good or bad. And sometimes we come upon these just as an afterthought.

Like this little ghost out of its sell - it is actually a Promaster microfibre lens cloth packed in a soft plastic container modelled on a camera lens. It depends on a little lightweight carabiner - you clip it onto your belt or shirt pocket...or ear if you are extremely modern.

Silly? Yes. Cheap? Yes. But oh, what a boon when your camera bag is locked up into the overhead locker and your finger has just planted itself on the front of your lens filter.
( You DO have a filter on that lens, don't you? Otherwise your greasy digit has just negated all the nano-micro-super multi coatings...)

Pop open the little plastic container, whirl out the Promaster lens cloth, and retrieve the situation.

We keep these here by the tills as catchpennies but  they are actually tiny little image savers.

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Friday, August 28, 2015

Rainy Weekend

Either you are or you aren't. You'll know for certain and the people around you will have a pretty fair suspicion, but either way you'll need to come in and see us here at the shop to spend money.

Well, that's what we are here for, isn't it.

In this case you are either going to be a person who stands outside in the rain with a camera or a person who stands inside out of the rain with a camera.

For the former, we recommend that you get yourself a packet of Op/Tec Rainsleeves for your camera and lens before you go out. You can get drenched as much as you like but have a little pity on the expensive electronics. For $ 9.95 you get two sleeves and you can cope with the wet.

For the latter, we recommend a Datacolor SpyderCheckr 24 card and a set of LEDGO LED lights. Armed with the card you can balance out whatever light exists inside the home with the soft light of the LEDGO panels and do wonderful portraits and tabletop shots inside in the dry. Boil the tea kettle, break out the chocolate biscuits, and stand at the window laughing as the outdoor photographer trudges down the street.

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So Which One Do You Recommend?

Well, with a shop full of things, that's a good question. Which one for what would be a better question and as soon as we start that line of enquiry the thing becomes clearer.

Let us postulate a client with an APS-C sensor camera who wants one lens. Only one lens. Has the body, wants to take pictures, hopes to take good ones.

Lots of the manufacturers of the digital bodies supply short-zoom lenses to start people out - and most times it works well. People get a chance to see the world from a moderate wide angle to a mild telephoto, and can shoot in moderate light levels. The results contain the distortions that zoom lenses are prone to but as these are far less that ever they were, and probably far less that the new user is used to...all is well.

But here is our client with his APS-C body and I want him to have as good a view of the world as possible. In this case I would screw my courage to the sticking point and reach for the.........Sigma Art series lenses. Specifically the 30mm f:1.4 DC - for a number of reasons:

1. Prime lens. Minimal barrel or pincushion distortion. Minimal chromatic aberration.

2. 30mm translates  to the same angle of view of a 45mm lens on a full-frame camera. Very close to the classic 'standard ' length lens.

3. f;1.4 means low-light capability and soft focus in the background when desired.

4. Built like an artillery shell - very good barrel construction. Long-lasting lens.

5. Two-year warranty with a reliable firm.

6. Made in Japan by a dedicated factory.

Equipped with this, a couple of filters, and a memory card, the client can go out and take pictures that will be sharp, well exposed, and colourful. Encouraged by this, they can come back and buy more Sigma lenses with different capabilities......but they need to start out well.

They also probably need to put down their iPhone and stop looking at other people's opinions on web sites - and go out to take their own pictures.

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Home Built Or Shop Bought?

I've just been asked whether it is better to buy things from the shop or make them yourself.  At the risk of giving the management asthma attacks, I have to say yes and no.

Yes, it is better to buy your lenses and camera bodies from the shop rather than make your own out of wood. Artistry and skill only go so far when the material is white pine and the end result is a DSLR. We have seen a rather wonderful little wooden camera made by Leica but it is a toy rather than an working instrument.

Likewise, knitting your own memory cards is fun but the failure rate is high - better to buy San Disk or Hoodman at the outset and save the needles for socks and gloves.

The question gets a little closer when you consider accessories for a studio. A commercial light tent is still a good buy if you need to have a portable environment for product photography. You could make one yourself but you'd end up with a big monster that would not pack away when you need to change jobs. Ask me how I know, and where I store the damn thing.

Likewise, if you are going to sling expensive strobe lights in the studio, sling them on proper light stands and boom arms. Home-made wooden devices can work but with a great deal more bulk and a great deal less security. At the very least, use Manfrotto or Kupo spigots and hardware.

You can suit yourself if you want to use cardboard sheets for flags and reflectors in the studio - the material will eventually break down but it might be cheap enough to start with. Be kind to yourself if you intend to use a reflector at the beach or out on a job - get a commercial folding one ( Be really kind to yourself and get either a Profoto or a Lastolite.)

Lights? Go look at the bargain types available at Bunnings and imagine what it will be like working with two 1500watt  workshop lights on yellow stands in your spare room in the middle of February...Suit yourself but don't expect to shoot ice cream or seafood shoots in any degree of comfort.

Is there anything you can make yourself? Yes - there are no end of specialist flags and shade boxes that you can make with matt board and gaffer tape that can be perfect for you. Get a Stanley knife and a steel straight edge and slice away. If some of your accessories have red, sticky fingerprints after this...well, you'll know better another time.

PS: you can indeed light your studio with Leyden jars or a kite and a key in a thunderstorm...or with no-name strobe kits bought off eBay. If you choose the low-powered versions they can just barely kill you...

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New Captur For New Capture - Hahnel Forges On

Ooh, while I think about it - "FORGED" magazine has just been delivered to my home. I subscribed to it as soon as it started publication. Excellent WA car magazine. Buy it at the news stand and see if you don't agree...

Back to cameras.

Here is the new Hahnel equipment for remote control of cameras and flashes. We've been selling their equipment for years and it has proved to be a good economical way of doing off-camera flash and remote camera control - especially for people who own cameras that are not catered for by the native manufacturer.

Their Giga-T and other products have been used in many set - ups.

Now they have released the CAPTUR range of accessories - it is a redesign of the originals to provide sturdier bodies and larger battery supplies. They have sensibly opted for AA batteries for both transmitters and receivers. There is also a range of expansion  gear that allows you to add the following:

1. Motion and wildlife capture.
2. Time lapse capture.
3. High speed photography.
4. Five built-in sensors.
5. Infra-red sensor.

Many people do more with their cameras now for science and novelty and this would seem to be a good cheap way to trigger things.

Note that while you see a Canon outfit in one picture, you can also get sets for Nikon, Olympus, Panasonic, and Sony. By natural extension,there will be a number of Pentax and Fujifilm cameras that can make use of the gear.

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Back In Black - The New Fujifilm X-T10 Body Arrives

The first supplies of the black-bodied Fujifilm X-T10 cameras have arrived here in the shop this morning.

Precisely the same as the silver-bodied ones, but in black. the top and bottom panels pass the lip test - you can tell they are metal by the temperature when held against the lip. Magnesium castings, as it happens.

Magnificent little instrument. Perfectly complemented by the current series of X lenses...but what until you see what is coming in November...

Actually - don't wait. Grab one of these now while the grabbing is good.

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New Camera In Rental Department - Sony

That's a coincidence! We just had a training talk by the Sony representative yesterday on the new Sony A7R Mk II camera - the full-frame mirror-less system camera - and today Thomas informs me that the camera is now available for hire from our Rental Department.

The extra new features of the camera that revolve around the 5-axis stabilization and the very high spec auto-focus system will be two of the factors that excite new camera users - particularly if they are also contemplating using it for video work.

I am never a full bottle on these but my chance to handle it yesterday assured me that the AF system is quite amazing - particularly the facility it has to track a subject back and forth across the frame and keep it in focus. That, and the brightness of the viewfinder  - and the overall open-ness of the view - struck me immediately. I wear spectacles and the business of peering into some viewfinders can be a time consuming process. The Sony lets it all be seen at one glance.

And again - the ergonomics of the body suggest that for a medium-sized hand there should be no trouble curving the fingers around to operate the controls - those who laugh at this line are invited to come try a few other cameras where this is not necessarily the case. Awkward once is awkward once but multiply it by 5000 shots and see what your fingers look like...

Note: This camera has the new Sony back-lit sensor. It is no secret that Sony also make sensors for other high-end camera manufacturers but their newest and best is here now on their own body. Why wait?

Okay - ring Thomas in Rentals to give the Sony A7r MkII a whirl.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Pan And Tilt That Doesn't - Manfrotto Video Monopod

Manfrotto does some pretty marvellous thinking when it comes to the design of their products. As our regular readers will know they have been making heavy-duty camera and lighting stands, accessories, and all sorts of studio stuff for decades. They are always thinking out something else that can be done with cast aluminium or magnesium. Their really big pro stuff has a lot of steel in it - when it falls on you you stay underneath it...

Okay, the subject today is one of their products that does a wonderful job but fools the unwary ( customer and staff...) by the shape of it.

The pan and tilt video head you see is sitting on the top of a video monopod. It looks for all the world like the similar Manfrotto heads that top video tripods - and has been sold as such. But the blessed thing does not swivel. Not a good feature for video work. It nods up and down, but what do you do when your subject makes a break for it left or right?

Relax. The design of the monopod has a ball in a socket on the small three-footed base. It is not intended to support the rig when you let loose of it - there is too much weight up on top to balance well. But it allows you and the camera to swivel smoothly up to 360ยบ to follow your subject. You're holding firmly onto the gear and round you go.

Stop when you get dizzy.

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Two Sides Of Two Papers - New Ilford A4 In Stock

Sometimes the humblest of products can be exciting.

Witness the two new boxes of paper from Ilford - we received supplies of double-sided matte paper this last week:

1. Ilford Galerie Prestige Fine Art Smooth.

A4 size and 220 gsm. Smooth bright white on both sides. boxes of 25 with the gold label. Appropriate profile in the Ilford website.

2. Ilford Galerie Prestige Fine Art Textured.

Again A4 size and 220gsm. This one has textured bright white on both sides. and again there is an appropriate profile for it.

Ilford media is the standard of he industry for many applications - this matte paper and Epson, Canon, or HP inks and printers wold make very good art book and presentation material.

Of course there is always the extra concentration one needs when making anything double-sided - you need to be careful with borders and spacing and remember to get your orientation right before you push the 'print' button. I have made a number of errors in all these things over the time and it does teach you eventually - at a price.

In any case, these are not punishingly expensive papers - you can experiment and delight yourself.

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Did You Get A Lens Hood With It?

You did? Good. Is it on the lens? Good.

You did but it is still in the box? Well, have you noticed how some of your pictures are somewhat washed out? And there are light streaks every now and then? And blobs of light appear? Guess where this is going...

Oh, don't get me wrong. 1970's hippie films would be nothing without their light flares and psychedelic spots. Indeed what would the 70's have been without spotty flairs...?

But losing your image to plain old leaked light when you needn't is foolish. Never mind those who look at you funny if your lens hood is half the length of the lens itself - it is there for a purpose. Hide the front element of your good lens down the end of a dark little tunnel and it will stay fresh...

Note to those people who purchase lenses from certain manufacturers - some don't provide a hood in the box. They sell a hood in another box. Don't ask me why. Did they include one in every box like the first lot do, then everyone would have one and we would all be saturated and colourful.

In any case, get a hood.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Samsung Firmware Update For NX1

The Korean firm, Samsung has an enviable reputation with their new mirror-less system cameras - but there is nothing to stop them from improving further with their flagship model - the NX1. A firmware update have just been announced - with the Update V1.4 you can expect:

1. Improved jpeg and RAW maximum burst rate
2. Digital Image Stabiliser support in movie mode.
3. Synchronised zoom and auto-focus function for six of the Samsung NX lenses.
4. Six new functions.
5. A minor bug fix.

The maximum burst rate has been enhanced to approximately 90 for the jpeg and 25 when you are shooting RAW. Previously these peaked at 70 and 20 respectively.

With the Digital Image Stabilizer it can also combine with an Optical Image Stablizer in the video mode - referred to as OIS DUO. The DIS supports DCI-4K, UHD, FHD, and HD mode but does not support 120fps and VGA mode.

Focus is retained on the main subject during sooming in and out. This works with 16-50mm S, 50-150mm S, 16-50mm PZ, 18-55mm III, 12-24mm, 50-200mm III lenses.

Newly added is a flash exposure compensation value display, a map focus peaking feature in the custom buttons, AEL support in Manual mode with an Auto ISO,
and a dual battery power display.

The firmware update can be performed by either plugging your camera into a PC via a USB port and using the iLauncher app, or via WiFi through the "Device Information" section of your camera's settings.

Minor upgrades are also available for the NX 3300, the NX 500, and some lenses.

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Walking Winners With Fujifilm - An Afternoon In the Sun

Recently Warwick and Justin from Fujifilm Australia came to see us here at Shoot Photography Workshops and held a splendid photo walk - you'll see an album of the pictures that the participants made on out Facebook page.

Well it was a good day in the sun and there are three winners of the competition for the walk. Here's their images repeated:

Second runner-up has won a $ 50 gift voucher from Camera Electronic - Nola Sumner with her image entitled " Bowls".

First runner-up will get a $ 100 gift voucher from Camera Electronic. This goes to Ray Ross for " Tucker Time".

Grand Prize is rather splendid - a red-bodied Fujifilm X-A1 with a silver XC 16-50mm f:3.5-5.6 OIS Fujinon lens. A world of art in a small package.

This has been won with an image entitled " 2" by...Dianne Kelsey.

We wish to congratulate the winners and thank all the participants who came along and walked. Warwick and Justin are always good and and the Fujifilm company ALWAYS has amazing new products. Next time they walk - run along with us - you'll love it.

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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Belt Up With Think Tank - Cheaply!

The Bargain Bin Gnomes have been busy today clearing a pathway through the bags and belts section of the shop. The Bargain Bin section near the counter now contains a number of the Think Tank bags and accessories. I noted the Speed Belts in various sizes at 30% off marked price.

Speed Belts are the padded waist belts that are sewn with strong nylon webbing loops in a horizontal pattern. These lops allow you to suspend no-end of little pouches, holders, and other  little accessories. They are in black with quick-release snap buckles.

Lets face it - if you're prepared to wear a batarang and a loop of strong wire as well as some sleeping gas capsules there is nowhere you cannot go with a utility belt like this. They may not let you in and they may not let you out, but I'll guarantee the small boys of the town will be fighting for your autograph.

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Some Artistic Events Coming Up

Number One.

There is an exhibition currently on show at the Linton & Kay Galleries - 299 Railway Road, Subiaco and there is to be an especial artist talk connected with it.

On Saturday, 22nd August at 2:30 PM, Tony Hewitt will be speaking to his works.

This is proudly sponsored by Fitzgerald Photo Laboratory - Renowned fine art photographer Mr. Tony Hewitt concentrates on images that are both literal and abstract interpretations of the relatively thin boundary separating land from deep water, and the way that man interacts within these regions of both natural and constructed landscapes. 

A 'Grand Master of Photography' of the prestigious Australian Institute of Professional Photography, he was named Professional Photographer of the Year for 2013. Mr. Hewitt has exhibited extensively both within Australia and abroad.

Here is a link to their site.

Number Two.

The 2105 Perth Heritage Days photographic competition has prestigious sponsors and valuable prizes.

The sponsors include Leica Australia, Fitzgerald Photo laboratory, Camera Electronic, and Heritage Perth.

The prizes will be a Leica camera and a $450 printing voucher from Fitzgerald's. There will be a Judges Prize and a People's Choice prize.

Submissions are invited for he inaugural Perth Heritage Days 2015 photographic competition.Photographers will be encouraged to explore the amazing heritage places which can be fond in the city and to show their vision of Pret' Heritage.

The competition is open to all non-professional photographers who are residents of Western Australia.

Closing date will be the 30th of September 2015.

Here is a link to the website.

Number Three.

There will be a small group "boutique" tour of Cambodia under the title " Captivating Cambodia".

It will be conducted between October 30 and November 5, 2015.

The ancient temples of Agkor and the rich culture of the Kmer civilization awaits. Master photographer Nick Melidonis with guest: renowned American photographer John McDermott who resides in Siem Reap will take you on a personal journey to discover the culture and wonders of this exciting and vibrant destination.

8 Participants only.

Full details are available at:

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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Fitted Case - Camera Luggage As A Status Symbol

Look back into the literature of the 1920's, 30's and 50's and you will see a remarkable thing - the fitted case for system cameras. Leather boxes put together with all the cunning of medieval artisans and meant to contain the finest photographic gear.

We still see them here when old collections arrive for valuation. The leather is generally extremely good quality and is frequently a rich tan colour. The stitch work is prominent but if you examine it closely you will see that it follows the best pattern; angled awl slits and double tensioned waxed thread.

Linings are frequently flock over internal divisions in thin wood. These may suffer over the years with mildew or dirt but can be recovered to some extent. Indeed, even if original stitching has deteriorated it can frequently be re-stitched. Leather work shops carry craft books with instructions for this, as well as diamond awls and saddler's needles. If you set out to reconstruct a fine camera case of the period expect to end up with tired fingers and several punctures in the fingers...

Most of the cases have specific spaces for equipment. And frequently this means that the camera bodies were meant to be slotted in with no straps attached ( Why?) and with body caps on. You can still do this with digital cameras but remember every time you take off a lens you risk sensor dirt.

Are they bound to be practical? Probably not. Were they ever so? Again, probably not - assembling your Leica or Contax every time you opened the case and then disassembling it would have been a major time waster. But perhaps the people who had these cases - the elite of Europe and America - had a great deal of time to waste. And the case, however heavy, could have been carried by lackeys - along with the steamer trunks and fitted leather suitcases that were carried in he Packard.

Pip pip.

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The Humble Slave - Promaster

With all of today's TTL, Wireless, Air, and Radio control of the flashes, we often overlook simpler things - items that have been developed from older technology.

Suppose you wanted to use several old flash guns for a portrait setup and they were of different makes - perhaps they have no TTL connectors on the bottom at all. Maybe they don't even have hot shoe connections - just a PC synch cord coming out of one side of he flash.

Also suppose you have very little money in your pocket. How are you to synchronise the extra flashes to your camera? With one of these:

This is a simple little electronic cell flash synch. It completes the basic flash circuit when the sensitive cell on the front of it detects a pulse of light. It has a 1/4" threaded socket on the bottom, a hot shoe on the top, and a PC connector on the side - you can cater for all the old flashes you want to.

Fire a basic master flash from your camera - it can be the in-built one or something that you sling on the top. You needn't even let the light from this hit your subject - you can shield it with a piece of alfoil or cardboard. As long as the light of that basic flash reaches the electric cell on the humble slave, it will fire off whatever is connected to it.

Cost? $ 18.95.

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Peak Design - Innovative Ways To Sling Cameras

Manufacturers are always coming up with new and unusual ways to sling, attach, and deploy our camera equipment. Here in the shop we have at least 4 different independent firms who produce straps and clips, as well as those provided by the camera makers themselves.

Is there a point to it all?

Well, after buying one of darn near everything over the years...a hazard of working in a camera shop...I can report that it does have several points - though the makers may not like what I am going to write.

The camera manufacturers all do provide some form of strap for their cameras - designed for either your neck or your wrist. They are nearly always of good construction and can be relied upon to keep the camera up off the ground. The cameras themselves have different suspension points depending upon their design*, but in their turn these are nearly always well anchored. Very few cameras have ever dropped off their own suspension lugs.

Maker's straps can be leather or woven fabric. If they are thick or have sharp edges they can dig into the neck. They also have the operational disadvantage that they are always on - standard camera straps have no disconnect to allow the camera to sit on a tripod undisturbed - you are always fighting your way through the strap to get to the controls, and if your camera has one of the circuits that allows it to turn off the LCD when you eye approaches the viewfinder...well the strap is always cutting off your picture.

Enter the Peak Design "leash". It is smooth webbing, with unique disconnects that cannot allow the camera to undo and fall. The strap is easily disconnected when the camera is on a tripod, and there is provision to accept a further accessory to allow the camera to be suspended from the tripod screw on the bottom.

Other unique configurations are a belt leash - you use it in conjunction with a camera dock on your waist belt - and a wrist strap.

Note: My experiences with a wrist strap are still under analysis - it lets you keep the camera under control but means that your tea-drinking hand is rather shackled.

* Let us now praise the Leica M5 which had the best lug position of any camera ever. Most of the rest of it was disturbing but the lugs were wonderful.

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Monday, August 17, 2015

Sensor Cleaning Kits And The .44 Smith And Wesson

Why the .44 Smith and Wesson? Because they were sold in great numbers to the Imperial Russian Army and became great favourites for Russian officers laying roulette...

Rather like getting sensor clean kit from eBay and reading the little instruction sheet and then having a good old go at it. You might succeed...I bought a toy car from eBay and it was a dandy. Didn't scratch the sensor on my camera or anything...

We do sensor cleaning here. Or rather Ernest and Daniel do them. Carefully. Sometimes there is a good deal of language involved, depending on how slushy the sensor is. They nearly always succeed.

Note that this success continues until the photographer changes lenses in a paddock at seeding time. The the job needs to be done again - and the language becomes more involved.

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Well, I Was Wrong. And It Cost Me Money.

But that was a long time ago.

I was using a well-known name of SLR camera with well-known film. And a simple set of lenses - f:1.8, f:2.8, f:4. My slides were taken out in the open air and at medium f stops and about 1/250 of a second. And they were sharp and well-coloured.

As photography enthusiasts go, I went, and like many others was not satisfied with success. I lusted after the LX version of the camera and when I got it decided that the 55mm f:1.8 lens was not going to be as good as the 50mm f:1.2. So I traded it in and got a couple of boxes of colour negative film, and went out to take pictures in the twilight.

Not surprisingly, when I got back the results there was more grain in the image, the focus was not as sharp, and the postcard prints had none of the sparkle of the transparencies. I just knew it was the fault of the camera and the mens and sold it all off in a snit to buy the next hare-brained idea - a medium format press camera.

Older readers will detect where I went wrong - f:1.2 is not as sharp as f:8. Low light levels and shadows mean muddy shadows. Negative film has more grain than transparency film. Minilab prints can sometimes be minimal quality. But I convinced myself it was the fault of the camera.

Now I work in the trade and have taken more photos and looked at them. I realise my mistake. I spent out big and spent out wrong because I did not talk to someone in...the photo trade.

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Friday, August 14, 2015

Swiss Optical Puzzle - Tessina

 Until this example of the Tessina 35mm camera came into the shop in a collector's kit, I could never figure out what all the dials were on it - there were illustrations in the photo magazines in the 1960's but the thing always looked as if it had more holes and glass than there was a need for.

It took some handling and puzzling to do it, But I suspect I could operate it now. Of course one has to have the special Tessina cassettes loaded to do it - you take the film from a regular 35mm cassette or from a bulk film loader. And it is a small format camera - half frame really.

But the precision involved - really watch making work. Of course this camera is really a collector's item now, but you do have to admire the concept and the workmanship. The Swiss really do think outside the square sometimes.

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New Bag For New Adventures - Promaster

Spring is coming and when it does you'll want to head out for new adventures. Some of these will need new photographic equipment - and a place to put it. Here's a good suggestion from Promaster.

It's called the Adventure 25. Made of rugged khaki canvas with metallic zipper, buckles, and pop fasteners. The shoulder strap is webbing and there's a leather-covered handle. On the bottom are two rubber crash pads to hit the ground with.

Inside there are three compartments ready-made that look to be able to hold the standard small DSLR and a couple of lenses or indeed any of the mirror-less systems. There's an external battery and card pouch and a documents slit in the back.

The lace-up sides are expandable to take water bottles, mobile phones, or Sten clips - it all depends on how adventurous you expect to be. You can also carry rolls of gold coins and Clindamycin if need be.

I suspect this bag is made in the same factory that supplies Wei Feng - the design features remind me of my own Wei Feng and that's no bad thing as it is one of the best camera haulers I've ever owned.

PS: There are other Promaster /Wei Feng bags here as well.

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Fillum Up With Fillum

I'm not just writing this blog post to use that pun, but you do have to admit it is quite attractive...

So - let yourselves be attracted to the back of the shop - the fillum fridge - and note that we have quite a variety in a present. I see 35mm and 120 black and white and colour  - both negative and transparency. Good stuff too. Kodak, Ilford, Agfa, Fujifilm.

All you need is a fillum camera and we know you have any number of these out there in your cupboards. And fillum cameras are pretty long -lived as cameras go. All the way from the Agfa Isolets and Clacks to the Contarexes and Leica M's and all the way from the Ensigns to the Hasselblad 500's....they all were sturdily made and a lot of them work just as well now as ever they did. You can bet on the Leica M's.

Sick of worrying about charging lithium-ion batteries? Sick of worrying about backup from a card while on the go? Good enough photographer to get the picture in three shots instead of three hundred? Well, get out the fillum camera and off you go.

Processing can be done by you - and we have B/W gear to help with this - or by Fitzgerald Photo labs or other fine photofinishers. You can scan negs and transparencies and then computer at them until you fall unconscious. The world is your lobster, as Arfur Daley would say, and with fillum you can store the resultant neg, slide, or print with far greater certainty that it will survive the next thunderstorm or hard drive crash. And it's damn hard to steal your images if they are hard-copy to start with.

The fillum fridge keeps the stuff cold and fresh, and now is the time to take it out into the landscape - while it is cold and fresh. Or into the studio where there is a coffee pot and biscuits.

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Thursday, August 13, 2015

Lustre, Semigloss, and Smooth Pearl - The Paper Cuts

Okay, I can tell the difference between these if I look hard...but if the various manufacturers come out with new surfaces like Semi-Lustre, Semi-Semi-gloss, and To A Certain Extent  Smoothish Sort Of Pearl I am going to just take the box nearest the front and whack that into the printer. If I am feeling fussy I'll put it in the right way up and if not I'll just stand at the door and throw the box at the machine...

You can still get sample books for paper surfaces and colours from various makers and sometimes they are a help - however paper development can leapfrog past their own publicity and sometimes the books fall out of date. And sometimes the images in the books seduce us into believing that our own pictures will look as good, but then leave us standing.

This isn't a new phenomenon- the old darkroom paper books from Ilford, Agfa, Kodak, Ansco, Seagull, Gevaert, etc. were mostly black and white but could exhibit such a variety of effect for surface and colour as to fill any professional need. Some papers were bizarre - witness the silk pattern surfaces and some of the heavily swirled ones. There were artistic reasons for it, as there are for heavily textured inkjet papers, but these were few and far between. Mind you, we all tried them and as fate would have it, some of the best portraits of people we love are seen on these odd papers - if we have lost the negatives we are left with just the oddities.

Commercial considerations often dictate the surface for giant inkjet prints - in some cases canvas is the material of choice. Artists sometimes favour matte surfaces to suggest watercolour paper. Technical prints may benefit from a high gloss.

The default paper, though, probably is some sort of a slightly broken clear white. Ilford, Hahnemuhle, Harman, and Permajet all make something of this nature, and if you wish to print A2, A3+, A3, A4, 5 x 7, and 6 x 4 there are ready supplies in bulk.

Indeed - sometimes there are great bargains - once a year Ilford used to give from 5 to 10 free sheets of their standard papers in special packs at the regular price. Right now we have Harman A4 in 100 sheet boxes for under $ 50. If you've a printer and are a Printer, come visit.

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Hidden Asset - The Intuous Ink Well

Wacom Intuous Pro graphics tablets are wonderful. They let you edit pictures and do artwork on the computer screen with a facility that far exceeds that of the mouse and a precision that baffles the trackpad. They are electronic drawing pads and if you have any dexterity at all - or can develop it - they make it your

The kit that comes wit the Intuous Pro tablet has a stylus or pen that really is pen shaped - fits the hand well and has the heft of a real instrument - it also has a pen-rest that is shaped like a little fake ink well. Fun to use, and a real comfort at the end of an unsuccessful editing session; you can slam the pen down into it and stalk off...

But it also has a secret. Unscrew the base of the ink well and these stylus tips appear. There are a number of plain plastic ones that you can use for everyday poking but several - the grey ones that you see in the accompanying image - are made with a different texture. Some actually feel like a felt tip pen! There is also one that has a rubber tip for use on iDevices like screens and pads where you poke away instead of using your finger.

The central well of the stand has a metal ring that functions as a set of tweezers to pluck out and replace the different styli.

It's a clever sort of accessory for a clever sort of product.

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New Hoodman In The Hood - Readers Have Arrived

You'll remember that we have been selling the excellent Hoodman Steel USB 3.0 UDMA card readers for years. They are fitted to take CF and SD-sized cards and have a secure wired link onto the computer. Fast and tough.

A new model has just come into the shop - the same idea but a slightly different shape - higher and blockier. There is a new socket on the back for the included cable and the thing is very professional.

If you are in the habit of exploding your card readers...come get a new Hoodman and try your luck.

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Update Your Experiences With The New GoPro Hero 4 Firmware

We've just gotten news from the distributors of the GoPro products that there are firmware updates for the popular Hero 4 model. Apparently the new instructions will effect these changes:

1. Built -in video trimming will enable you to save short highlight clips from your videos right on the camera. You can send them to others with the GoPro App. This feature works with the Hero4 Black when you have the LCD Touch BacPac.

2. Chinese language UI - this will be over the front and rear LCD screens and HDMI output.

3. ISO 800 and 3200 - There is a feature called Protune video that captures darker video in low light with reduced noise and graininess at 800 ISO. 3200ISO will give a brighter image but more noise.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Hot Lights Cha Cha Cha

Did goe to the Westside Camera Club laste night and was greatley entertained. We did a talk and a practical session on taking portraits.

You can't teach portraiture in a half hour but you can show one light setup and if the lights are the constant variety and have dimmers you can show the effects on the sitter's faces pretty well.

The enthusiastic club members did very well, as did their models. They listened carefully,
looked closely, and tried out the business with their varied cameras - but as I said to them at the start, the best teaching cameras were sitting either side of their noses. And so it is with most people. Try this:

1. Look inna book. Or on the net , if you are allergic to paper. Look at pictures that artists have drawn of the human face. Then look at photographs that have been taken in studios of sitters from the Victorian era to modern times. Look at the light.

2. Get a pair of lights and stands and a patient model. Make the face look good with one light on one side, and then see if it is going to be improved by letting a little soft light onto it from the other side. Figure out how to soften that light ( Hint:umbrellas or Lastolite diffusers...) and then just look. And when you can make the face look good to your eyes, it can look good to the camera's eye.

One caution - selfies won't help most people. We do not see ourselves as others see us and neither do we see our own portraits with a clear eye. In my case it is a blessing...

Uncle Dick

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Multiply Your Focal length By The Square Root Of The Aperture Times 43...

The business of the multiplication factors that people have to apply to lenses to figure out what their focal length means has always been a problem for customers and staff alike. Not that we are primitive people - well, I am, but that is beside the point...People can do and do do the mathematics involved...but it really seems to be doodoo.

The whole comes back to trying to get the idea of the angle of view that each lens encompasses into the visual mind. It has not been helped by the use of the terms 'standard' 'wideangle', and 'tele'. Standard for one person's vision may be entirely different from a technical definition of the diagonal of the sensor size and sometimes you really don't want to go down the road of explanations...

Had the manufacturers adopted a simpler scientific system of designating what you see it might have been easier - as it is many of the lens charts and promotional material they send out do contain the information but it is always secondary to the focal length and the multiplication factor. The scientific number would be the angle of view - it can be expressed in degrees.

Thus if you have a 24mm x 36mm sensor on your Flapoflex camera and you put a lens with a 50mm focal length onto it you see a certain number of degrees as the diagonal angle of view. If you put that same lens onto the 18mm x 24mm sensor version of the Flapoflex the diagonal angle of view becomes smaller. The pocket Flapoflex even smaller. No mathematics - just numbers.

Won't happen commercially - but if you care to look at some lens tables you can work it out for yourselves and then use it for all your own lenses. Might help you to navigate easier.

Uncle Dick

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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Good News For Jeremy - The Door

Well, here's a bit of good news for one of the people who attended the PhotoLive 2015 day at the Novotel Langley. The door prize is theirs.

It will be delivered later this week as soon as they can get it onto a low-loader with a HIAB. Those doors at the Langley are heavy! It's going to be cold and breezy in the lobby until summer  but at least the prize-winner will have a fine new portal for his house. Hope it's a big house...

All joking aside - Jeremy McGready won the prize - a night's stay at the Novotel for 2 people and has been notified by email. It's just the stay - if he actually does show up at home with one of their front doors we're all gonna be in trouble...

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Black Or Silver? Where's The Wear?

A recent short video by the Fujifilm company that we saw at the Fujifilm Photowalk Day showed the process of manufacturing their new X-T10 camera. Along with the pictures of the Japanese workers assembling the bodies wearing gloveless rubber fingers - quite a sight - we saw them applying the various coats of paint on the upper body shell of the camera - and THAT was quite a sight.

Quite a process, too, and it also gave food for thought. In some respects it has caused me to question my previous opinions about camera finish.

I remember the days of Leica chrome silver M2 and M3 bodies. Real matt chrome on brass stampings - work long enough with it and you wore through to the underside and saw brass. You were the proud or horrified, depending upon your job. Ditto with the black painted bodies of the period - and the brassing was even more evident.*

Then came the plastic upper casing - Pentax went from chromed brass in their consumer-quality cameras to some form of painted plastic. Good paint, mind - it looked like chrome - but it wore to black or grey. The black cameras from the same firm just looked like black plastic, but when they scuffed you couldn't tell it.

Well, now the Fujifilm X-T1 and X-T10 have come on the scene. The upper and lower casings are metal - and meticulously machined metal at that, Quite a lot of computer and hand work is done before the basic casting becomes the casing. And then begins the saga of the electroplating and spraying. Acid baths, undercoats, multiple paint spray layers and top layers - the end result being either a graphite or silver finish. And the intriguing thought that as we wear these by constant handling , and push on through the layers of finish, we are going to eventually arrive - not at yellow brass - but at silver magnesium. It may be hard to tell with the X-T10 when you actually have gone down to the base. Finally - a finish that will wear as good as it works.

This might mean that finally there is a best choice for finish - and it won't be black. You can fight it out round the back of the camera club all you like about what looks more " professional " in camera colour. Hardly anyone who actually earns money with their cameras gives a damn. They might draw the line at cameras that have mouse ears or Coca-Cola logos but aside from that all they want is to know that the wretched thing works.

*Ask us about the Correspondent's Leica - the Lenny Kravitz one...

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