Thursday, December 31, 2015

Park It With Peak - Pick It Up Later

Sounds like a valet service at a fancy restaurant, doesn't it? Well, you have to do the hard work with this one, but it will be worth it.

Carrying a heavy camera on a neck strap is fine, if you look like He-Man or The Incredible Hulk. They have the necks for DSLRs with battery packs and long zoom lenses. In fact carrying these all day is what turns the Hulk green...

For the rest of us, we try to spread the weight somewhere else - in my case I keep a small servant called Igor to haul the heavy stuff. If you are not so lucky you may choose to try a shoulder sling - and they work to some extent - but will experience the same sort of weight swing that the neck strap does - when you move one way the camera and lens may move another.

Peak Design came up with an answer - park the camera on a belt or on the strap of a backpack. You can keep your hands free for rock climbing, fighting off bears, or getting a really full plate and a beer at the buffet. It is not the only docking system on the market but it is one of the smallest and most convenient if your photo work also involves a tripod.

Okay - it works like this - you slide the dock onto the belt or strap and use the two black side wheels to lock the mechanism in place. It'll fit over a hefty leather belt and is made of strong metal -we're talking large DSLR and a big 70-200 lens here easily. The plate that screws onto the baseplate of your tripod has an Arca Swiss-sized foot on it and you can go clamp it into an Arca head instantly. When you need to dock the camera onto the belt you can point it sideways, down, or backwards just as you please. There's a quick release lock and a positive screw lock in case you are going to be hanging upside down from the cliff face.

Imagine life WITHOUT any neck or shoulder strap at all. Woooo...


Woooo again - looks like you can also configure that camera plate to fit on Manfrotto RC2 quick release holders - so we get a lot more players in the game.

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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Packing The Sheets - Or A Small Guide To Defeating The Courier Company

We send out lots of goods each week. We receive lots of goods each week. Some of these are cameras and lenses that need to be repaired and some of them have been repaired. The common factor that runs through all of this is making sure that the repairs and goods remain repaired and good. Here's some suggestions that may help.

The manufacturers of cameras and lenses have it pretty well taped down by now when it comes to packaging their gear for transport. They put a devil of a lot of work and precision into their products and they want those products to get to your hands in fine shape. By and large they succeed. Oh, we have still had large cardboard boxes arrive from wholesalers with rents in the outer surface and in an extremely small number of cases damage to the contents. Here again the packaging of the individual units nearly always saves the gear. Any disputes are settled smartly between the couriers, the wholesale houses, and our stock controller.

So -  that gets the camera to you in good shape. You take it out and use it and give it the normal wear and tear and then after a few years unfortunately have an accident that needs repair. You determine to send it to us. How do you do it?

Firstly you go back to the storage closet and get out the original camera box with all the funny cardboard and foam packaging. You saved it, right? Wise move, that, because a camera packed into that original sales box is as well protected as when you first got it. You can make it safe in the post or on a courier truck. Failing that you find a small sturdy box, lots of packing, and pack it tight.

Then you find a bigger box - one that will let you foam pad with plastic peanuts or strip foam or bubble wrap all around the camera box. The packaging materials are available at Officeworks or Clark Rubber. Write your name and address on a slip inside the camera box, seal it well with tape, and write your name and address - and the complaint you wish rectified - on another letter that you tape to the outside of the box.

Pad it well in all six sides when it goes into the outer cardboard container and make sure that the inner box is firmly wedged in the other one - don't give it a chance to bound about inside there like a wrecking ball.

Seal the outer box with stout packing tape and put your details - and ours - on the outside and head for the post office or courier office. PAY ENOUGH TO HAVE IT SENT QUICKLY AND SAFELY. DO NOT save a few dollars by having it back-loaded on a camel train from Broome. You will regret your parsimony.

When it arrives here we will cope with getting inside the boxes - we have the sort of air chisels and thermic lances that they use to get into capsized battleship hulls - and the techs can sort out whatever the problem is. We will pack it well for the return journey. Short of alien abduction, your camera should reach you in good condition.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Learn On Disc

I see there is a new rack of pre-recorded DVD's in the shop. The DVD's have some useful home training courses that may well assist newer digital users - as well as confirm the suspicions of more experienced shooters.

There's quite a bundle of them - I'm not sure if they are all going to be applicable to everyone but there should be something there for most tastes. You'll find them behind the counter near the Cokin filter wall. Check out these:

1. Learn How Yo Use Your Compact Camera - simple step by step videos.

2. Learn How To Use Your SLR Camera - settings and exposure explained.

3. Learn Photoshop Elements Quickly and Easily - my favourite program. You're soaking in it now.

4. The Ultimate Compact Camera Course - 2-disc set - concentrates on people, travel, and landscape.

5. Photoshop Techniques For SLR Photographers -3-disc set - things you really need to know about the king of editing programs.

6. The Ultimate Real Estate Photography Course - 3-disc set - things you really need to know about real estate photography. Meet the emotional needs of buyers. Hide the bathroom mould.

7. The Ultimate SLR Camera Course - 6-disc set - now you get studio, fine art, commercial, fashion, cruise ship and anti-tank photography.

We all pick up books from time to time and watch YouTube tutorials for new stuff but these discs give you the luxury of running the information on the screen at your own pace. Even if you know it all, someone you know may not and these disc sets may help them to advance in the hobby.

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Monday, December 28, 2015

The Biggest Astrofestra In The World

Gracie Fields would have been proud...

I note from the up-and-coming-counter at work that there is to be an Astrofest Astrophotography contest and exhibition in 2016. It's a Western Australian event that will take place at Curtin University ( WA Institute of Technology ) on the 12th of March 2016. Camera Electronic, Shoot Photography Workshops, WPM Group, and Pendoley Enviromental are sponsors.

There are a number of divisions and presentations possible - the little flyer that was on the counter mentions star trails, night-scapes,solar system objects, or deep space images. They say that astro-photos, time lapse videos, and related digital imaging such as 360º virtual reality is welcome. As they are opening the entry to any astronomer or photographer, amateur or professional, who is a resident or visitor to WA...with no age restriction, I guess you could say it is a pretty darned inclusive brief.

An omission, however. No mention of macro shots of stars. Odd, that.

Well, you have until the 5:00PM on the 29th of January, 2016 to get your entries in and the best way will be to pick up an entry form from our front counter and read the technical details that they want for the images. I note they prefer jpeg format between 2 to 5 Mb per file and they set a time limit for the time lapse video of 2 minutes.There are more specifications on the form so make sure you read them carefully. Note that there is a limit of 7 entries per person.

You can use an email to do it, post in DVDs or thumb drives, or use Dropbox to send big files. Of course there are conventions about naming the files and you'll need to make sure they know which files are yours.

Award Categories include:

1. Best Astrophoto Award
2. Best Timelapse Video Award
3. Best New Talent Award
4. People's Choice Award

So far I can 't discover what the prizes and awards are going to be but there is going to be an exhibition of the entries and some of the winners may be published and feature in other presentations. It's all in the entry form.

Their website for this entry is:

At least your subjects cannot complain that you are making them stay still for too long.

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Saturday, December 26, 2015

RemoVu Or Remove You? You Decide.

GoPro Hero 3+ and Hero 4 cameras live and work in many elements - air, water, and on earth certainly, and possibly even in fire for a very short period of time. In a lot of cases the cameras operate in ways that would get their owners very hurt if they were to do the same thing - like hitting things at high speed or being precipitated into very deep water for a long time. Thus is born a dichotomy between what the keen photographer would like to see and what they would like to suffer.

The makers of the Removu have an answer to this  - they have made an accessory that lets you see what the camera is doing and command its functions but isolate you from the developing disaster.

It works by using one of the GoPro components - the LCD Touch Bac Pac - and encloses it in a durable and wearable casing. Then it pumps a signal to and from the Bac Pac via WiFi, letting you monitor and control from the wrist mounting. You can be surfing, skiing, paragliding, or some other non-insurable activity in perfect safety* while your camera is not.

Beware that while your GoPro camera may be waterproof to a deeper depth, this item only advertises itself as being able to withstand one metre of water.

No bad thing if you are using the camera on a car, a bike, or a safe location and want to monitor the view as it works.

* Perfect safety? You're a GoPro user. You'd be dangerous at a smorgasbord... Just accept that this will reduce the injuries a little.

Note that this column was due to post on Christmas afternoon, but I was at a smorgasbord...

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Friday, December 25, 2015

Getting Drunk And Using A Gary Fong Lightsphere

Okay. You're reading this. That headline got you. I knew it would. Read on and see what the connection is.

Note: if you are going to be all awkward about the drunk bit, substitute barley water and improving tracts if you wish - the Gary Fong advice still applies.

The Gary Fong Lightsphere is a device that has undergone a number of development changes. Early versions were made in two grades; clear and cloudy - and you had to pick the exact model to fit your speed light. Our shop had to stock about eight of them to service all customers. It was a beeping night- mare to get the right diffuser to the right customer.

Things have changed. Gary saw the light ( ! ) and got his factory mates to make a universal diffuser that not only fit all comers but was made in flexible plastic to fold down upon itself. It could be used for a whole new range of speed lights.

The basic idea of the Lightsphere is to fire the blast of flash light vertically into a roughly spherical translucent ball and let it spill out and make optical friends from there. If the flash was connected to a camera via some sort of TTL coupling, the light that spilled out of the front of the accessory illuminated the subject while the stuff that went out in an annular pattern and up to the ceiling  was weakened but still contributed to the look of the image. You got a softened effect on the main subject and adequate illumination of their surroundings. All in one shot with one flash on or near the camera. A real boon to event photographers who did not have the luxury of complex light set-ups.

Weddings. Dances. Concerts. Environmental portraits that have to be done with minimal preparation. Not perfect but better than straight blast-flash. Absolutely better than no-flash and f:1.4 and hope that it looks like art...

It is the equivalent of being drunk and still competent. You might not be able to operate a nuclear power station or do brain surgery but you can still turn on the lights or put on a band-aid.

And sometimes that is exactly what the situation requires. Gary Fong. Making people look good the easy way.

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Thursday, December 24, 2015

Touring With The Canon PowerShot G5X

You and I might be entirely different tourists - you might think sleeping in a hoochie every night surrounded by wild animals and incipient disease is just peachy - I will look for the greatest comfort my money can buy. Me and four-star hotels is friends.

With our travel pictures we might be at different poles - you with a giant DSLR and enormous lenses taking 55 megabyte RAW images of steaming landscapes and me with a hand-sized tourist camera taking hot rod shots.

Well today's camera won't be for you - you need the Canon EOS 5Ds or EOS 5DsR and some "L" class glass. Good luck hauling them up the montain. I'm going to charge up the battery on the Canon PowerShot G5X and head for the show. 

What do I get for my money? I get a 1" CMOS sensor - and a swivelling rear screen and a proper electronic view finder. I get an f:1.8-2,8 lens with a 4.2X zoom range. It starts out at the 35mm equivalent point of view of a 24mm lens, so it is quite wide. As it finishes up at about the equivalent of  a 100mm view I know I can take tourist portraits with it.

I've got a 3" rear screen that swivels for waist-level viewing and a standardised Canon-fitting hot shoe. I've got ready control access for apertures and shutter speeds in manual mode and as many of the auto and program modes as I can deal with for other times. It'll shoot multiple shots in sequence at low or high speed, if that is any help. As the things I shoot don't move, for me it is no help.

There's a tiny built-in flash that is not occluded by the lens when it is in the taking position. The little tube is just perfect for macro and close-up. 

If I don't want to plug and unplug cards I can transfer files via WiFi.
And the best feature - the ergonomics of it are right. That and the styling and build quality. It fits my hand and eye and is hefty enough to assure me that it will not unwind like a ball of string with travel jolts It is metal. It is not so big as to attract the thief nor so small as to get lost in the luggage.

In short - along with similar offerings from other manufacturers, it is a perfect set of compromises for the traveller. I'll bring back record shots, blog images, and A4 album shots with ease.

Here's the camera in action:

"Ready for my close-up now, Mr. De Mille..."

Selfie Time

" Hold still, Junior, and stop making a face like a horse."[name]=Canon-PowerShot-G5-X-Digital-Camera---Black-%28Redemption-available-via-Manufacturer%29-G5X&catalog[product_guids][0]=1177359

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Down The Home Straight - Day 12 - And It's Filters And Cards

Okay. You've borne with us for the last 12 trading days as we've sung the syren song of photographic retailing. You've steeled yourself not to buy any more camera systems. You've steeled yourself not to buy any more lenses. You've even carbon fibre'd yourself not buy a new tripod...even though your old one has only two legs...

What can we say? If you are determined to be unhappy there is only so much we can legally do to cheer you up. But we'll have one final try.

Today. Camera Electronics. Filters and memory cards.

Buy one, get another of the same value  - or less value if that is your wish - for free. That's it.

You get to choose from San Disk, Hoodman, Hoya, Kenko, and B+W products. All top quality goods. All applicable over most brands of camera and lens.

And all useful in the extreme for digital shooters. Don't look on it as indulgence - look upon it as opportunity.

Heck, the writer of this blog is going down to the shop and snag a coupla memory cards. I've got a trip coming up and I don't want the hassle of downloading stuff onto a tablet - I'm just going to fill cards and be done with it. They are THAT cheap!

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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Some Ernest Advice From The Workshop

I have been let into a few secrets by our senior technician regarding sensor cleaning for digital cameras. Here is a précis of the conversation held in the workshop. I have not included the bit about not scrubbing over the sensor with a steel wool Brillo pad as I figure nearly everyone will know that already. But here's some other thoughts:

Where do flies go in winter? If you have done pondering that, try this - where does sensor dust come from?

Okay, if you have removed the lens of your DSLR or mirror-less camera in the middle of a paddock at ploughing time or in the discharge path of a council mulcher, you may be forgiven for thinking that is the source of your troubles. Possibly, possibly. If you have not had such misfortune consider the other sources of contamination.

1. Lenses with open clearances and a considerable 'pumping 'action that operates upon zooming or focusing, dirt gets near moving section of lens, dirt gets drawn in, dirt gets distributed.

2. Your clean home is...full of cooking oil vapour as well as other sticky components. Also full of cloth lint and carpet fibres as well as dirt brought in from outside on you clothing. Run yourfinger over the top of a picture frame anywhere in the house. Pass inspection? If you think so, lick that finger. No? Thought so.

3. You get ready to change a lens and take the rear lens cap off the new one. You put it in your pocket, then change the lens, then recap the removed lens. With the cap that is now full of pocket lint. Guess where this goes and where it ends up next time you change. And ALL your rear lens caps are probably just as bad...

4. Way hay, let's go to the drag races. Or Barbagallo. Or the speedway. What is that drifting cloud of blue smoke composed of? Tyres. Guess which part of your camera it ends up on.

5. Spots in the viewfinder of your DSLR.? If they are not seen on Live View - and most times they are not - they are not affecting your sensor view or images.

6. On-board sensor cleaning mechanism not working? See No.2 above - you have glued the gunk to your sensor with just ordinary living. Time for a professional wet-solution clean to get off what a tiny piezo-shake will not shift. Not a home-swab-it-with-something-from-the-internet clean which is closer to the Brillo pad that you might think.

7. When I used to rip bones out of people's head for a living, I was required to do it with clean hands. The hospitals were surprisingly insistent upon this, and went to the extent of demanding that I wash not just to the wrist, but all the way up to the elbow for several minutes with strong soaps. Even though I rarely plunged my arm into the patients up to the elbow. The principle was to get cleanliness in a wide radius around where it was needed.

So also with cameras. No good just cleaning the sensor if the rest of the device looks like an ash-pit. And certainly no point in doing it if the back of the lens is a source of continued contamination. Clients - wise clients - would do well to bring their lenses in for cleaning and pay the extra impost to have the entire camera cleaned - it will extend the period of usability no end if the contamination loading is reduced all around.

And a final thought - but not from Ernest this time. I had been plagued with white spots on my images taken of dancers on a dark stage - particularly when flash illumination was used. Wide angle shots were the worst. I blamed the sensor and the curtains and the dancers and cruel fate...until I looked at the bits of dust that had accumulated on the inside of the UV filter that was screwed onto the 18-200mm lens. No wonder I had white spots - an 18mm lens firing at f:11 can see quite a lot close up to itself and if the dust has bright illumination against dark ground... so I removed the filter for inside shots and the spots disappeared.
Heading Image: Either sensor dust or flak..

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Day 11. Olympus Mirror-less For Christmas Fun

We're hitting all the high notes this Christmas in our run up to the day. Each manufacturer has had a bite at the fruitcake - today it is the turn of Olympus.

It's Wednesday, the 23rd. If you beat it down to the shop today you can get in on:

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 camera with a 12-40..ED Pro lens for $ 1549 and the bonuses are an Olympus $ 200 EFTPOS card and a 45mm f:1.8 lens by redemption.

An Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mk II camera with the 12-40  ED pro lens for $ 1599 and the same bonuses - the $ 200 EFTPOS card and the 45mm lens.

The Zuiko 17mm f:1.8 lens reduced from $ 599 to $ 389

The Zuiko 75mm f:1.8 lens reduced from $ 999 to $ 699

The Zuiko 60mm Macro lens reduced from $ 699 to $ 399

The Zuiko 8mm f:1.8 fisheye lens reduced from $ 1399 to $ 999 and you get the bonus $ 200 EFTPOS card.

The Zuiko 7-14mm f:2.8 Pro lens reduced from $ 1699 to $ 1299 and you get the $ 200 EFTPOS card

The Zuiko 40-150mm f:2.8 Pro lens reduced from $ 1699 to $ 1299 and you get the $ 200 EFTPOS card

Here comes summer, he writes in a cynical way as it is currently 39º outside, and you'll want to use your new camera for the holidays. Make sure you get the best value out of it by buying it today.[decision_model_guids][]=a58a8268-4946-4121-8912-f53ba8efa0ea&catalog[search][spec_value_ids][207146][]=9997930&catalog[search][price][min]=&catalog[search][price][max]=[decision_model_guids][]=1c2d2aa8-6eda-4c6e-9b23-a49316b6450e&catalog[search][spec_value_ids][207370][]=10008001&catalog[search][price][min]=&catalog[search][price][max]=

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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Chelsea Is More Than Just A Suburb - Welcome The Ona Chelsea Bag

Bag time again, and the gentlemen may adjourn to the vestibule with their cigars. I wish to address the ladies.

Ladies, the Ona company has not stopped at one design for your camera bag. You saw their Capri model in tan cognac-coloured leather a little while ago in this column. This week it is the Chelsea model in a fine cross-grain leather.

The colour is similar but the design quite different - this bag features an arch design that keeps the internal volume open - even when the equipment is out of the bag. The lining inside is half and half - one side soft velour for camera protection and one side smooth polished cloth for regular handbag items you may choose to carry. The signature leather edging for the small pockets is still provided.

It would appear that this bag is not primarily designed to carry a computer or tablet though small ones could slot in. It is for cameras and fashion. The same handle provision exists and I note that this bag has a very attractive leather shoulder strap provided with top-quality metal fittings.

Not cheap, but then good leather luggage and personal bags never are cheap - not if you want them to look good for years to come. And the Ona will certainly do that.

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Day 10 - And The Fujifilm Fans Get Yet More Discounts

Fujifilm X-series cameras are some of the best choices for amateur and professional photographers and right now getting the goods has never been cheaper.

On Day 10 of the 12 Days For Christmas Camera Electronic will be reducing the prices of the camera bodies and of the lenses that go with them - and would also like to remind the customers that Fujifilm themselves have a large number of cash-back offers for that same gear.

This means you score a lower price here in the shop today and Fujifilm further reduce your costs when your cash-back payment hits your bank account. The lenses can be very economical indeed!
I know - I've taken advantage of the Fujifilm cash-back offers in the past and They are smartly and efficiently done.

Now the figures:

Basically, you can trim 20% off the price of the X30, X100T, X-E2, X-T10, and X-T1 bodies - then score cash-back from Fujifilm on top of this.

X-T1 body/black: You pay $ 1039 and Fujifilm has a cashback of $ 100 on top of this.
X-T1 body/black + 18-135mm lens: You pay $ 1758 and get a cashback of $ 300
X-T1 body/graphite silver: You pay $ 1199 with a $ 100 cashback
X-T1 body/graphite silver + 18-135mm lens: You pay $ 1998 and get a $ 300 cashback
X-T10 body black/silver: You pay $ 719 for a $ 100 cashback
X-T10 body black/silver + 18-135mm + 27mm: You pay $ 1439 for a $ 500 cashback
X-100T black: you pay $ 1159
X-E2 body/silver + 18-55mm lens: You pay $ 854 for a $ 200 cashback
X-30 silver/black: You pay $ 495

If you'd like to add some X-series Fujifilm lenses to your bag - and we ALL would - you get 10% discount in the shop and a heck of a lot of cash-back from Fujifilm. All of the following have a $ 200 cashback available from Fujifilm:

XF 14mm f:2.8                       You pay $ 791
XF 16mm f:1.4                       You pay $ 1149
XF 18mm f:2                          You pay $ 530
XF 23mm f:1.4                       You pay $ 925
XF 27mm f: 2.8 pancake        You pay $ 359
XF 35mm f:1.4                       You pay $ 537
XF 56mm f:1.2R                    You pay $ 989
XF 56mm f:1.2R APD           You pay $ 1580
XF 60mm f:2.4                       You pay $ 572
XF90mm f:2 R LM WR         You pay $ 1114
XF 10-24mm f:4 R OIS          You pay $ 989
XF 16-55mm f:2.8 RLM WR You pay $ 1304
XF 18-55mm f:2.8-4                You pay $ 629
XF 18-135mm f:4-5.6              You pay $ 899
XF 50-140mm f:2.8 R LM OIS WR  You pay $ 1682
XF 55-200mm f:3.5-4.8            You pay 665

Heading picture: Taken with Fujifilm X-E2 and 35mm f:1.4 XF lens. '62 Pontiac Catalina in British Columbia.

Click here for the immediate purchase! 

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Monday, December 21, 2015

A-Hoya There Matey - New Filters A'Comin'

We've just gotten a sliver of information from the people who import the Hoya brand of photographic filters that they will be bringing in a new line.

The press release says that Hoya are introducing three new tough filters under the title of " Fusion ". They'll be the three classics of digital photography - the UV filter, the clear glass protector, and the circular polarizer.

The big difference is in the number and nature of the coatings on the glass which are intended to repel dust, water, and fingerprints. It sounds rather exotic as there are to be 9 coating layers to toughen the surfaces.

They'll be in the popular sizes from 37mm to 82mm and look to be quite economical.

We have yet to see whether they will be able to cope with special contaminants - dog noses in animal studios and gummy bears in studios that do children's portraiture...

See the range here - the fusion may not be there yet, but wait for our online maintenance crew, they'll be off break soon :)

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360º of Excitement - or Surveillance - The V360

This product is new - so new that it sort of breaks some of the barriers on the normal camera shop - this is a camera that lets you enter "virtual reality"

I've always been at odds with that term - it seems that it can be open to interpretation and fiddiddling. Like the use of the word "deeming" when the tax department wants to exercise their imagination rather than yours. And every time they exercise it you pay them for the workout...

Well, semantics aside, this camera fits into the normal spectrum of recording devices somewhere between an action camera and an electronic stool pigeon. The capability it has of looking in a 360º arc and recording stereo sound is what does it. It can record what it has seen an heard on a micro SD card like any other action camera and then fire it off with WiFi. You can command it to do all these things with a mobile smart phone or tablet.

The startling part of this is the provision it has through various programs to record a 360º view of a space and then replay that information through your smart mobile phone - and the makers have produced a headset that clamps around you and that phone and presents you with an entire world in front of your eye - the virtual reality tour we wrote about before. That's the headset that Legless Lou is wearing in the studio shot - the mobile phone claps onto the end there and you focus the eyepiece lenses down onto it. The headset is not wide enough to admit eyeglasses, but you might be able to adjust the diopter focusing of the lenses down to the screen surface and do without spectacles.

The stylish little volcano is a desk mount for the round part of the camera - I envisage conference recording with people set around a table all being seen in the recording. Note that the product box also contains a basic mount that allows the camera to match up to he standard GoPro mount.

The basic structure is sort of a trick - the camera looks up into a polished convex hemisphere and this in turn looks down into an equally polished surcace. The camera gets all this and sorts it out for replay by magic.

To keep the horizon level and stop the oceans running off out of screen, there is a bubble level built into the top of the housing. Underside is the battery mount, card slot, and computer connection. All very well built.

Your cup of tea? Or cup of salt water? Well go to the website of the manufacturers and see what they have to say about it. Remember they are trying to sell it to you - and so are we...

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Day 9 - Nine for Nikon - Nikon For You

Finally, eh? All you Nikon shooters have been reading our 12 Days for Christmas and wondering if you was forgot...well, Virginia, there IS a Santa Claus and he is dipping into the Nikon bag today.

The chiefest thing to note is that there will be delightful discounts for this Monday on cameras, lenses, and speed lights. This is made much more delightful in the case of certain selected items by the fact that Nikon Australia are also giving substantial cash back payments when buyers register their purchases.

See what we mean - here is a list of the goodies with a note of the "was" and "is today" price attached. You'll see that there is 10% discount coming off a number of lenses...and 15% coming off camera bodies and a couple of camera/lens combos. When you get to the speed light section the discount becomes 20%. Here goes:

Nikon AF-S 105mm f:2.8 Micro VR IF-ED lens  was  $ 1169  today  $ 1052

Nikon AF-S 60mm f:2.8 ED Micro lens  was  $ 759  today  $ 683

Nikon AF-S 14-24mm f:2.8G ED N lens  was $ 2649  today $ 2384 + $ 300 cashback

Nikon AF-S 16-35mm f:4G VR ED lens  was $ 1599  today $ 1439

Nikon AF-S 24-70mm f:2.8E ED VR lens  was $ 3096  today $ 2786

Nikon AF-S 24-120mm f:4 ED VR lens  was $ 1599  today $ 1439

Nikon AF-S 28-300mm f:3.5-5.6G E VR lens  was $ 1439  today $ 1295

Nikon AF-S 70-200mm f:2.8G VR MkII lens  was $ 3089  today$ 2780 + $ 300 cashback

Nikon AF-S 70-200mm f:4G VR IF N ED lens  was $ 1849  today $ 1664 + $ 100 cashback

Nikon AF-S 70-300mm f:4.5-5.6 VR ED lens  was $ 799  today $ 719

Nikon AF-S 80-400mm f:4.5-5.6 ED VR lens  was $ 3590  today $ 3231

Nikon AF-S 200-500mm f:5.6E ED VR lens  was $ 1849  today $ 1664

Nikon AF-S 20mm f:1.8G ED lens  was $ 1040  today $ 936

Nikon AF-S 24mm f:1.4G ED lens  was $ 2695  today$ 2426

Nikon AF-S 24mm f:1.8G ED lens  was $ 1097  today $ 987

Nikon AF-S 28mm f:1.8 N lens  was $ 920  today $ 828

Nikon AF-S 35mm f:1.4G ED lens  was $ 2449  today $ 2204

Nikon AF-S 35mm f:1.8G ED lens  was $ 765  today $ 689

Nikon AF-S 50mm f:1.4G lens  was $ 589  today $ 530

Nikon AF-S 50mm f:1.8G lens  was $ 289  today $ 260

Nikon AF-S 85mm f:1.4G N lens  was $ 2295  today $ 2066

Nikon AF-S 300mm f:4E PF ED VR lens  was $ 2679  today $ 2411

Nikon D4S digital camera body  was $ 6999  today $ 5949

Nikon DF digital camera body  was $ 2844  today $ 2417

Nikon D810A digital camera body  was $ 4496  today $ 3822

Nikon D810 digital camera body  was $ 3465  today $ 2945

Nikon D810 + AF-S Nikkor 24-120mm f:4G IF ED VR  was $ 5064  today $ 4304 + $300 cashback

Nikon D750 digital camera  was $ 2275  today $ 1934

Nikon D750 + AF-S Nikkor 24-120mm f:4G IF ED VR  was $ 3874  today $ 3293 + $ 300 cashback

Nikon D610 digital camera body  was $ 1797  today $ 1527 + $300 cashback

Nikon SB 910 speed light  was $ 588  today $ 470

Click here for a last minute purchase

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Saturday, December 19, 2015

Doin' The Maths

Nothing in this column is a surprise to anyone reading it - not even to the writer - Oh, sure, the owners of the business have learned to turn on the computer with the latest posting by using a long stick and shielding their eyes while they do it...but they are a cautious lot anyway...

What I am about to suggest may be hot stuff or heresy or hooey - and you can decide which for yourself - but here goes anyway...

The landscape shooters of Western Australia may be doing themselves an injustice - by doing a product an injustice. In particular when they overlook the Cokin range of filters in favour of other systems they might miss out on affordable opportunities.

Okay, it's your money. And if you come in and buy something it becomes our money - feel free to throw dollars at us all day if you wish - no complaints from the cash register side of the counter...but...

The Cokin system of filters has been an established product for longer than most realise - we saw it in the 1970's and it has burgeoned since then. If we remember some pretty horrible uses of the idea in the 70's and 80's...well, everybody has to have a adolescence and wedding and portrait photographers are no exception. I can take the high moral ground here as I never actually made a wedding portrait with the bride and groom in a brandy glass. I contemplated it, but never had the courage to try it.

The modern kit from Cokin that supplies three regular or three neutral density filters as well as a basic filter frame is the bargain of the shop. The filters come in a hard plastic organiser case, the filter holder is sturdy and light, and as it can be adapted onto lenses anywhere from 52mm to 82mm, it can go on the front of most of your glass.

The filters are certainly varied - and good quality. There is a useful, if bewildering, variety of graduated neutral density filters in 4 different sizes - you can accommodate some pretty big lenses. There are blue and amber varieties. There are lots of plain colour filters, if you think that is a help.

And now we address the elephant in the corner of the camera bag...some people have been told... and retell the idea... that the Cokin neutral density filters have a colour bias - in some cases people refer to it as magenta and others find some other tint to complain about. Believe what you will, but consider that nearly every cameras nowadays have a colour correction program built into the WB section of the menu. If you have convinced yourself that you are seeing a magenta colour balance, go in there and dial up a slight green correction. If your camera does not have it in the WB or you don't want to fiddle, crank in a slight green correction in the RAW converter.

And there you go - the aesthetic results you want from a plastic filter system that may be every bit as good as another plastic filter system...but at a fraction of the price.

But don't let me stop you from spending money.

Uncle Dick

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Friday, December 18, 2015

More Fun Than A MiG

More fun and a lot easier to park.

Lomo have just sent us some of their new Lomography instant cameras. They run under the term LOMO'INSTANT - with one of those floating apostrophes that so maddens teachers of English. In this case the makers should be forgiven because the product is actually quite nice.

It is an instant film camera that takes the Fujifilm INSTAX cartridge and spits out paper prints that develop in 90 seconds outside the camera. You'll need Fujifilm INSTAX film for it as the kit has no film pack in there - you'll also need to get some AAA batteries if you plan on shooting directly on Christmas morning.

The black example you see in the pictue is the camera on its own - it has a wide-angle lens built in - the equivalent of a 27mm focal length. There seem to be two focusing ranges for it - 1 metre to infinity and a closeup position of 40 to 90 cm. This is selected by a lever on the right hand side of the lens standard.

The shutter has a tie-in with an light meter inside the camera but you can command it to do multiple exposures if needed. You can also do unlimited long exposures - we used to call it Bulb but that was a long time ago when there were bulbs. For all we know there might be bulbs right now in Krasnogorsk...

Anyway, it is an ambitious little 27mm - f:1.8. To aid that ambition there is an on-board electronic flash tube and I note that the makers have pressed into the body of the camera the following little note:

flash on - always good, day & night

The comma is impressed there as well...There is a separate on position for the flash that treats of night and long exposures.

For those who wish to push out the Volga boat a bit, there is a kit with three additional lenses; a 170º fisheye attachment, a portrait attachment that brings the focal length to 35mm equivalent, and a close-up lens that will let you down to 10-15 cm from the subject. They are simple lenses and it's not rocket science but they probably have other people to do that...

For extra fun there are coloured gel filters, shooting technique cards, and the instruction manual. It really would make a cheerful present under the Christmas tree and anyone who receives one will be sure to drive the rest of the family nuts at Christmas lunch - leaving the dedicated Camera Electronic photographic shopper in peace to enjoy the turkey and brandy pudding.

You gotta think ahead.

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Day 8 - When Canon Drops The Bundle - You Pick It Up!

Canon have a unique sort of marketing deal around this time of year - they do double cash-backs. When you purchase a product over a certain price you get a stated amount of cash back from them.  If you purchase another Canon product at the same time, you end up getting a double cash back. Our chaps at the sales conter will let you know the exact details but have a look at some of the special prices that Camera Electronic are doing for the 8th Day of Christmas Specials and look at what can be coming back to you:

Canon EOS 5D MkIII, 5Ds, and 5DsR bodies with an 11-24mm f:4L USM wide angle zoom lens - the Landscape Bundle

w/5DMkIII - RRP $ 8898  Special price $ 6499  After $ 500 Double Cashback $ 5999

w/s5Ds - RRP $ 10198  Special price $ 7999  After $ 500 Double Cashback $ 7499

w/5DsR - RRP $ 10598  Special price $ 8299  After $ 500 Double Csahback $ 7899

Canon EOS 5dMkIII, 5Ds, and 5DsR bodies plus a 50mm f:1.4 lens - The Nifty Fifty Bundle

w/5DMkIII - RRP $ 4778  Special price $ 3499  After $ 500 Double Cashback $ 2999

w/5Ds - RRP $ 6078  Special price $ 4999  After $ 500 Double Cashback $ 4499

w/5DsR - RRP $ 6478 Special price $ 5299  After $ 500 Double Cashback $ 4799

Canon EOS 6D body with a 100mm f:2.8L IS - The Macro Bundle

RRP $ 3768  Special price $ 2499  After $ 400 Double Cashback $ 2099

Canon EOS 7D body with a 100-400mm f:4.5-5.6 lens - The Sports and Wildlife Bundle

RRP $ 5778  Special price $ 4199  After $ 400 Double Cashback $ 3799

Canon 70D body with an 18-135mm IS STM lens and a 50mm f1.8 STM lens - The STM Bundle

RRP $ 2098  Special price $ 1599  After Double Cashback $ 1299

Same deal as yesterday - one day only.

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Thursday, December 17, 2015

Hitting Your Straps And Saving Your Neck With Peak Design

In another of my weblog columns* I vowed to go out to every camera shop in Australia to look for a better strap than the one I got with my camera. I have sawed my neck half off with a heavy zoom lens and need something soothing while the glue dries on the vertebrae.

This may be a candidate. The Peak Design people started out a few years ago with innovative camera holders that let you park you equipment on a belt instead of a strap - though you could sometimes combine the two ideas by latching the things onto backpack straps. They still make these sorts of camera docks but have also branched out into more conventional straps. Or are they all that conventional...?

The Slide is the one we're testing out today. It is advertised as being able to be configured as a sling, neck or shoulder strap.

Basic structure is nylon webbing. Slick and smooth-edged - good so far. It runs from 95cm to 132cm so if I gain weight dramatically I can still fit in it.

The atttachment points are teflon cord, which is easy to slip into camera lugs. In addition, there is a plate mount so that you can put one cord on a lug and one on the underside of the camera where the tripod screw goes in. Makes for two more options in slinging the camera, and as the plate has the edge measurements of Arca Swiss plates, you can clamp it on Arca heads straight away.

The strap has a quick-adjustment lever that lets you slide it up and down with ease - while wearing it if you wish.

And the bit I love - the strap has a unique quick-disconnect lug set at each end of it to let you click it all off if you are using the camera in a studio on a tripod. No more dangling strap interfering with ball head or three-way head controls or falling over the eye sensor and shutting the darned LCD screen off! This alone would improve the language in the Little Studio by about 150%...

I still will look at every strap in Australia but this is a good contender.


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Day 7 - Sony Gets A Turn At Your Wallet - And You Get A Dip Of Theirs

This year Sony has leapt ahead with new equipment and now is the time to benefit from this and the Christmas crush to get a substantial cash back return. Here is the layout of the offer for today only:

A. Sony a7MkII plus a 24-70 lens has an RRP of 3798. Today the price is $ 2777 and you get a $ 200 Visa redemption.

If you're feeling flush you could add a 16-35 lens or a 70-200 lens for $ 1599 and get an additional $ 400 Visa redemption as well.

B. Try a Sony RX 100 Mk IV compact zoom camera with an RRP of $ 1399 for only $ 1239....and then take an additional CE cash back of $ 100 to lay it low at $ 1139.

C. For the mirror-less fans - a Sony a6000, a 16-50mm, and a 50mm f:1.8 lens  - it runs an RRP of $ 1797 but today it can go out at $ 999 and then you can skim out another $ 150 Visa redemption. Wooo.

D. Sony a7MkII again - this time with a 28-70 lens at an RRP of $ 2698. It comes down to $ 2066 and then you get the $ 200 Visa redemption as well.

Note: Tis the season to be jolly and charitable and all but don't go mad. Buy the a7MkII for yourself and give the RX 100 MkIV as a fancy gift. Heck, at these prices you can afford to give two of 'em.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Good Vibrations From Lowepro

I love it! A chance to show off a toy car shot! Yay! Thanks, Lowepro.

Well you can also say thanks when you come in to buy a Lowepro bag - they are pushing out a promotion that has a Summer Vibes Pack for purchasers of selected Lowepro bags. The Vibes Pack contains.

A big 'ol fancy Lowepro drinks bottle.
A pair of Lowepro stereo headphones.
An inflatable Lowepro beach chair.
A cool Lowepro bottle opener

There's $ 135 of value in that pack for free. The bags that are listed as qualifying for the promotion - and it is until stocks of the Vibes packs run out - are these:

Lowepro Tahoe
Lowepro Slingshot Edge
Lowepro Photo Hatchback
Lowepro Flipside
LoweproPro Trekker
Lowepro Pro Runner
Lowepro Fastpack
Lowepro Photosport

If you want a bag for summer, why not get all the other good stuff as well while you can?

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Day 6 - Panasonic Steps To The Cash Back Plate

Well, the 12 days of Christmas are swinging along pretty well. On Wednesday the 16th of December the Panasonic micro 4/3 fans get their chance to touch the money.

There are a number of items on offer well under their normal price and in some cases they are also bolstered by $ 150 cash back offers from Panasonic themselves. This makes them very good purchases indeed. Look at these:

DMC-GX8 camera body for $ 949...

DMC G7 body plus 14-42mm f:3.5-5.6 II ASPH lens for $ 599

Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 15mm f:1.7 ASPH lens for $ 649, get $ 150 back = $ 499

Panasonic Leica D Summilux 25mm f:1.4 ASPH lens...again pay $ 649, get $ 150 back = $ 499

Panasonic Lumix G Leica Nocticron 42.5mm f:1.2 lens pay $ 1740, get back $ 150 = $ 1590

Panasonic Lumix G 7-14mm f:4 lens pay $ 1149, get back$ 150 = $ 999

Panasonic Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm f:2.8 lens pay $ 949, get back $ 150 = $ 799

Panasonic H Lumix G X Vario 35-100mm f:2.8 ASPH lens pay $ 1149, get back $999

The GX8 and G7 can very well be the all-purpose go-to cameras for every traveller or family shooter here in Perth, with the added incentive of some pretty zippy video work. Unbutton your purse, Mortein the moths, and get down to the shop for  a good buy before it is goodbye.

Image: Tokyo with a Panasonic GX7 camera

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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Bow Chicka Wow

This piece of sexy equipment from Camera Electronic needs an eighties soundtrack and purple satin sheets. Okay, we got the sheets, but you'll have to add the music in your heads.

It's a flash bracket. A very flash bracket. Perhaps the most high-tech OOT flash bracket that you will ever see in your life. It is a tribute to high-grade aluminium, the wonders of CAD CAM, and a childhood studying H.R. Giger machines. It is not steam punk but it may be Techno punk...If The Terminator took wedding photos he'd use this flash bracket.

There are two reasons for this design:

1. Event photographers need to balance their flash above the axis of the lens on both portrait and landscape orientation to allow the flash shadow to fall behind the subject.

2. They could.

The mechanisms that on other flash brackets might be simple hinges or 1/4" bolt holes are here developed into artistic delights. Look at the stainless steel keeper that secures the interchangeable camera plate to the main casting. They did not need to do that with such complexity or precision but they did. Likewise the indexing bolt that stops the motion of the vertical piece in the tow basic positions - it is reminiscent of the recoil mechanism of a 1.1" multiple antiaircraft gun on a pre-war USN treaty cruiser. You gonna get that from anyone else? No.

The main casting and the adjusting trigger are also suggestive of the aircraft cranes on the same cruisers - leading me to suspect that the designers may have pilfered the plans from the Bureau of Ships. - or the plans to the Brice-Partington submarine for that matter. I shall institute discrete enquiries within the Admiralty.

I am a little taken aback by the name engraved on the side of the casting - is this a blatant attempt to market it in Australia? Will it pop up in the Canadian market as The Beavershot? Or in the German shops as Der Adler? Are there enough wedding shooters in South Africa to sell it as The Giraffe?

Well, no matter - buy this now and you'll never buy another - because you'll never need another - it is built with more precision than your motor car. And you will never be confronted with some amateur at the wedding using a better one. Image is, after all, something that you can trade on.

Now isn't that a Happy Ending...

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