Friday, September 30, 2016

Never One To Let Well Enough Alone...With the Promaster LED 120

Ah, that is the universal motto of the photo enthusiast. We read a little, think a little, google a little, and then go out and fiddle a lot. We invent things to do that need not be done, and ways to do them that make no sense, and then lash the ideas together with 1/4" bolts and gaffer tape.

Just as well we are playing with cameras. If we were amateur explosives enthusiasts there would be smoking holes in the ground all over Perth...

Inspired with the Icelight 2 light painting wand, I decided to see if some of the other LED light devices in the shop could also do the same things...albeit on a smaller scale. Because I am a man who does things on a small scale - the name of my studio - The Little Studio - is not just cute marketing. I really do little bitty stuff. Not as little bitty as the macro workers, but small enough.

Okay - we have had a number of small light panels in at various times. LEDGO, Promaster, Metz amongst others. They go for various prices and are different sizes and shapes. Different price points too, but as with most things, you gets what you pays for.

I grabbed a Promaster LED 120 panel with, you guessed it, 120 LED lights on the front. It runs from 4 standard AA batteries and has a simple on/off switch. There is a shoe mount with a standard 1/4" thread on the bottom and they throw in a small bracket to bolt it onto the bottom of a camera as well. The extra icing is provision of a plastic orange cover to compensate for tungsten lighting.

Cheap as, and even cheaper now since it is on a 50% off sticker. Ideal experimenters gear.

I tried it as illumination for a colourful studio car. The first idea involved a darkened studio and the whole panel lit up from several directions. The shutter on the camera was open on bulb while this was going on - 3 seconds at 200 ISO/f:11. The switch at the back was less convenient to use than the thumb switch of the Icelight 2 but then we're talking $50 vs $700. If I was going to use this technique extensively I would add a handle to the panel using the threaded socket in the base and put a thumb button on the handle.

Then the panel occluded by several strips of gaffer tape to narrow down the beam:

Promaster don't quote their bare light temperature as such - only referring to the plastic filter as yielding 3300ºK. Ian guessing about 4500 - 5500ºK. It is times like these that I wish I had a small cheap colour temperature meter. Indeed, since we encounter light sources out in the real world that don't actually seem to HAVE a colour temperature...or if they do it is fitful and feverish...that meter would get more use than you'd think. I note that Kenko make several colour temperature meters, but they are out of my price range.

Here's a less dramatic portrait shot of Chelsea Bunz - the Absinthe Fairy - done with only the Promaster LED 120 playing on the scene.

Postscript: I have been told that there is an app for colour temperature meters. I have an app installed that prevents me from purchasing apps. It is a part of the sOS - the Stein operating system - it is a product of the CheapJohn company, and it is free...

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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Newspaper Advertisement Vs The Web Advertisement

Every couple of weeks I am tasked with writing an advertisement for our local daily newspaper - it goes into a section entitled " Market Place".

The criteria for the products featured are price, providence, and practicality. It can be quite a complex choice:

 a. No good trying to sell a multi-thousand dollar item in a small column - the people who are going to enter into a large camera system or select a premium-quality lens are going to do it with a great deal of care and research. Trying to sell a Leica in a one column ad would be like trying to sell a Ferrari sports car in the back of a comic book.

The item selected needs to be affordable by a large number of people. People who read newspapers...and to put it bluntly, these days that means older people. Like me.

b. We have to be able to provide the goods we advertise - particularly if they are in that very affordable range that might just spark off a rush. We HOPE for a rush! As the copywriter I need to check whether we are likely to be able to satisfy the customers without making them wait for orders.

Western Australians do realise that we are living on the edge of the world... just before it all turns into misty waterfalls and dragons. So we do need to wait a little longer for goods to arrive. But we don't want to wait too long.

c. Practical items sell well in this lower price bracket. It sounds paradoxical, but the people who are likely to spend $50 to $100 on something want it to be able to do something useful... not just look good or be trendy. There are enough other shops selling collectable and impulse goods to soak up the throw-away money, but Camera Electronic has to be able to put something on the counter that DOES something.

By and large we have succeeded with the newspaper sales. The Steadepod has gone like a bomb for years. Cullmann tripods, heads, and accessories do exactly what people need. Hoodman gear works reliably and they have a lifetime warranty for stuff anyway - so does Promaster, for that matter. When we offer these brands people buy, and presumably get value out of the goods. I know I do.

But what about the internet advertisements?

Well our online shop is always a sort of an advertisement in itself - any catalogue is. People pore over the pages as much to dream about what they want as to compare pricing. Sometimes I think the internet site has a mind of its own, just as I am sometimes in despair at the social media machinery that seems to mutate weekly, but eventually nearly everything gets settled out.

Direct marketing offers are the province of the higher management of the firm - I don't think 'em up because I am not a party to the financial decisions of the place. Readers of this column may well be on the mailing list for them and if so I urge you to have a close read when they pop up in your feed. There are times when there are some very good bargains indeed - particularly if wholesale firms are adding cash-back offers to the deal.

You're also well-advised to get in on the special deals that accompany camera and lens launches - the beer and cheese roll nights that introduce new gear to the Perth scene. Frequently the prices are usefully lowered for one night. And you get the beer and cheese roll.

Advertisement is the soul of commerce - here at Camera Electronic we like to make sure that it is a reasonably clean soul at that. Please keep reading.

Footnote: The predictive text and autocorrect have been turned off here at the copy desk. If you find any typographical errors they are original and authentic, and should be prized as such.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Best Of Everything

We have just come down off the Photokina 2016 high and are sitting with our heads in our hands. The  lucky ones who went to see the show have hangovers, sore feet, and credit card statements to deal with. The rest of us have our hopes, fears, desires, and aversions to consider - all fuelled by the internet reports of new equipment. We'll need to keep our wits about us in the coming months.

It is not the fact that there will be new equipment coming that will stress us - new equipment is always entering the market, just as old equipment leaves it - it will be how we feel we must react to it.

Feel? React? What the heck is this? A camera column or a new-age forum? Well, follow along and you'll see what I mean. I'll be honest with you and you should be too...

Photokina 2016 will raise your level of desire. It was meant to do that. No matter what the organisers ever say, all trade shows are there to cause people to want to trade. This is natural and healthy.

Stimulating that desire is done by showing new equipment, processes, or services. If the advertisers who work for the manufacturers are lucky, they catch you just on the cusp of change - when you are about to switch cameras, lenses, flashes, or programs. Then they show you the new gear and away you go. Sale.

If you are not at that launch point they have it a bit harder - they must convince you that the goods that they want to sell are better than the goods you own. In the case of digital equipment, they do this by additional performance or new features. Again, if they can get you up the slope of desire to the tipping

The toughest thing that the Signal Corps* ever has to do is rouse the person who is happy with the equipment they already own to some feeling of discontent. Dissing something is a tricky business if you are the same firm that sold the original camera and lens to the photographer...and are now faced with selling a replacement well before the old one wears out. Because - and make no mistake about this - the equipment lasts far longer than they wish your contentment to last.


Well, I told you I was going to tell the truth. Now be truthful to yourself. You really do want the best -everybody does. But the best is ever-changing. It can shift within a particular manufacturer's lineup and it can jump between different makers. It rarely, if ever, settles upon one item from one maker.

It never is the same best for every photographer. One little change in your needs, likes, colour sense, clients, or business model whisks the concept away to another perch. Likewise your training, skill, intelligence, and personality all change the best. And then there is the fiscal elephant in the corner that we never discuss...

So you really should do a bit of self-analysis in the coming weeks as the Photokina reports flesh out. Do not be too hasty to judge, and in particular refrain from pronouncing sentence upon anything until you actually see it. If it is not best for you, don't assume that it is not best for others...and vice versa.

Wait until you have the item to hand to make a decision - by all means review other people's opinions on the net, but remember that the net is the same channel that brings you alien bat children in caves and the break-up of Hollywood marriages...

Make up your own mind.

* Signal Corps = Advertising Department

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Monday, September 26, 2016

Get A Grip Week - Day Five - The Good, The Bad, And The Unusual

Here's three grips - one which we sell, one which we don't sell, and one which no-one even makes...yet.

Grip One - The Nikon MB-D16 is the dedicated grip for the Nikon D750. In case that makes you scratch your heads, there is also an MB-D17 for the Nikon D500 and an MB-D12 for the Nikon D800, D810, D810A and D800E. Nikon have made a lot of these add-on packs for their high-end enthusiast and pro camera. They're all about the same idea - just get the right number.

The grip is big, but not too heavy. it has controls for vertical shooting, space for a second EN-EL15 rechargeable batterie, and can also take an accessory tray to use up standard AA cells. For the nervous types one of these trays is good insurance against forgeting to charge your batteries overnight. Instead, you can forget to buy AA batteries - your camera still won't run but for a different reason...

I can attest to the convenience and utility of Nikon grips if you are doing a lot of wedding or portrait work. The easier position for your right hand means that you can shoot longer and with better control than arching your wrist over for hours. Definitely a must-buy if you're working.

Grip Two  - the internet iShoot casting. This fits onto a Fujifilm X-100 body - and you can get similar castings for other brands. It's an eBay purchase made just on speculation.

There's no leatherette covering to the grip handle and it is not as secure a grab for me as the dedicated Fujifilm. I find my fingers still curl over the top of it rather than securely enfolding it, but at least it is a sort of a grip.

Where it succeeds is the incorporation of Arca-Swiss rails on the bottom and the left side. The bottom one is self explanatory, but the side one is very useful for studio stand mounting on a three-way head - you needn't tilt the head 90º to go for a magazine orientation. It means that if you need both horizontal and vertical versions you can just slide the camera out of the A-S block and slide it in on the other rail. Saves a great deal of time and imaginative language. If the camera was dedicated to the studio I would unbolt the grip portion and chuck it away.


I also make use of that side rail to mount an old Metz flash on an A-S quick release plate for a big old flash/handle setup. If you use an external battery pack and a Metz hammerhead you can get extremely quick recycling time. 

The downside of the casting is the weight - it is more than the others - and the slippery nature of the finish.

Grip Three - The Left-Handed Olympus Flabbergaster.

I wonder if Japan has the same percentage of left-handed people as the rest of the world...apparently about 10-12%. If it does, do they find using cameras designed for right-handed people a pain? 

Of course they can adapt...they have to when they are shooting matchlock muskets at each other or they would get flash burns all the time. And some are ambidextrous anyway. But wouldn't it be nice to make a digital camera just for the lefties and soak up ALL of their business? The population of Japan is 127, 000, 000 people so 10% is 1, 270, 000 and if you sold a camera and an accessory to half of them you could buy an awful lot of saki and octopus balls...

Righto. Most cameras are right handed - except for ancient Alpas and Exaktas - and most cannot be mechanically or electronically adapted to operate left-handed. But the ones that have a firing control in the base of the camera - one that takes a switch command from an accessory grip - like the Olympus OM-D E-M5 series...

Well, you just design a lefthanded grip that screws into the bottom of the camera, ring up the advertising department, and start making room in the basement for the sacks of money. It is a no-brainer when you are just providing an electric signal with a switch.

C'mon Olympus. Make us proud.

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Friday, September 23, 2016

Get A Grip Week - Day Four - The Box Of Boxes - Leica

A note for Leica collectors: The colour of the cardboard box in the heading image has been artificially boosted toward the yellow end of the spectrum. There is no need to rush out and add another set of grey cardboard boxes to your current is not a new variant.

Well, inside the grey outer casing is a silver inner box:

And inside the silver inner box is a guarantee card, and instruction book, and a new address card - Leica have built a new factory:

And buried at the bottom of the box is a bottom of a Leica camera - a baseplate that has been designed with a grip attached - and a number of unique features:

Let's get the target sorted out first - this grip is intended for the Leica Typ 240 - The Leica M/MP.
It replaces the baseplate that normally covers the bottom of the camera - the big black wheel in the centre screws into the base of the camera body instead.

The grip has things not seen on lesser machines; a USB socket allows pictures to be transferred off to external storage devices and can allow camera control from a computer - there is a DC-in socket to draw power via an adapter - a synch socket allows external flash firing, and an SCA connection allows TTL interface with a suitable flash. It's a lockable socket too.

Good? Well, if the finish of the paint is any indication, perfect. Leica M's are a heavy camera and their metal-bodied lenses are also weighty. I should like the feeling of security that this grip would give with the high-speed lenses. But I'd still keep the neck strap on...despite the fashionable finger loop accessory that they also sell.

See the Leica M Handgrip Multifunction (Typ 240) on our online store here

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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Get A Grip Week - Day Three - Fujifilm Boxes On

Retro is as retro does - and if that isn't as fatuous a statement as you are likely to read in a camera on. It gets worse.

Fujifilm struck a real chord with the digital camera-buying public a few years ago when they brought out a retro camera. It's not rude to say that - the Fujifilm X-100 series of cameras have been deliberately styled to look and feel like cameras from the film era. Those of us who used film cameras can relate pretty nearly instantly to them as far as ergonomics go.

We get to touch a shutter speed dial, an aperture ring, and a focusing ring. We get a mechanical shutter button - They're even retro enough to take a mechanical cable release. We get an optical viewfinder, an electronic viewfinder, and an LCD live screen.

But we also get a pretty small and somewhat slippery camera body. I won't say that it is likely to squirt out of your fingers like a buttered squid, but you need to have your digits in the right place to operate it. If they are big sausage fingers you can be fighting for space. Enter the X-100 series grip:

It's a chunky monkey all right, with enough hand grip to allow to to pretty well let go of the camera with the left hand for good. The camera has got a fixed lens that is very compact. Even with an additional lens hood or filter holder, it is never going to overpower your right wrist like a long zoom would. If you are the sort of shooter who favours a wrist strap instead of a neck strap, this is the ideal way to secure the camera.

Note that it is cut out for card/battery replacement without being disturbed, and the bottom of the grip incorporates an Arca-Swiss rail fitting.

Now suppose you have decided to get the newest of the Fujifilm cameras - the X-T2. Can you be accommodated? You can:

Here the emphasis is on practicality rather than just accessorising for the sake of spending money in a camera shop (not that we discourage this...). The 18-135, 55-200, and 50-140 lenses are all substantial devices - they contain a great deal of heavy glass. They can twist a camera out of your right hand very easily, and it is awkward. This grip strengthens your chances. I also noted that the 1/4" screw was captive on a C-clip, though the battery door is accessible and the X-T2 has the card door on the side of the body anyway.

Please note that there are grips for the X-T1 and the X-E1 and 2 series as well.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Get A Grip Week - Day Two - Olympus Discovers the Grip

I realise that there will be camera historians reading this column who will take umbrage at the title - they'll be able to find lots of Leica and Contax and Exakta grip designs that have been sold long before the current Olymopus digital camera grips. Okay - I'll modify it for you:

Get A Grip Week- Day Two - The Grip Discovers Olympus

Olympus have always known where their chief marketing points are, and for a great deal of the time that they've been selling 35mm film and micro 4/3 digital cameras one of them has been the size of the apparatus. Olympus cameras are made compact - they contain all the good ingrediants, but they are small in the hand.

Good if you are a person with a small hand, as many of the people in the land where Olympus comes from may be. Targeted design. But the target shifted overseas decades ago, and much of the rest of the world has larger hands. This is not a problem - this is an opportunity - an opportunity to sell an accessory.

Grip One:

This fits an OM-D E-M5 camera. The shooting button is surrounded by an adjustment wheel to spread what you can do further away from the top plate of the camera. Literally, there is a bigger hand piece for the camera. But it also has provision for the attachement of a further grip, containing an extra connected battery and controls that in turn allow you to turn the camera on its side for portrait orientation.

That's why you see a connection of the electrical contacts through the bottom of the grip as well as the top. Clever marketing, because even if you are a landscape shooter you get to buy something for your money.

Grip Two: 


This one matches a micro 4/3 mirror-less camera that is on the more basic level. Basic, but equally small, and needing a grip boost if it is not to turn in the hand. 


The grip has an unusual feature on the lower level - a slide switch. Pull it and... 

And it comes apart. I can only surmise that you are meant to leave it attached for most of the time and then when you need to change batteries you trigger it off rather than screw it off.

Grip Three: 

This grip suits the new Olympus Pen F micro 4/3 camera - the one that looks like a rangefinder. It's been made with the recognition that more and more photographers are standardising their camera support systems to include the Arca-Swiss quick release fitting. The rail at the bottom of the grip is Arca-Swiss fitting, though they do allow you to second-guess your choices by also including a standard 1/4" tripod screw. 

Note the open frame to allow for battery changing. Also note the allen-key screw head - this grip is designed to stay on permanently. I am speculating about the hollowed out portion of the casting at the left of the camera...being the fiddler I am I would make a small cover for this that would hide a couple of spare SD cards.

We'll return to the Olympus company at the end of the week...

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Kit Without Being Kitsch - the Fujifilm 18-55 lens

Sometimes you look out over the vast heaving sea of camera lenses and all you can see to the horizon is...kit lenses. Whether they are attached to Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Sony, or Fujifilm digital cameras*, they are there in serried ranks - ready to head out to take the initial shots.

People sometimes think of them as stop-gap measures...lenses that you use until you can purchase something bigger and longer and faster and more lenses, if you will. Well, as a camera shop we would never discourage you from buying more lenses, but we can let you into a litle secret at the outset...kit lenses are very good.

It's percentages really - you can say that, for an average shooter, the camera set at factory defaults and on an automatic setting will deliver the picture they want about 85% of the time. It's the same for the kit lens - Average Joe or Average Jane will get what they need 85% of the time with the kit lens - particualrly if it is an 18-55mm focal range for an APS-C camera.

Of course as they advance in knowledge and skill, they become Excellent Joe and Excellent Jane and find they need wider, faster, longer, closer, etc in their lenses. And they can expect to pay more money and we can expect to take it. Isn't nature wonderful? But there is still a solid foundation of goodness in that kit lens.

The 18-55mm f:2.8-4 R LM OIS lens from Fujifilm can be clapped onto a new X-T2, X-Pro2, X-E2s, X-T10...or any of their older cousins...and for the most part stay clapped on there. It would be a very hard choice to beat for family pictures, casual portraits, landscape trips, holidays, car shots, pet shots, and product shots.

I could do a great wedding with one - I use flash for weddings - and the people who use the higher ISO settings on the newer cameras could do pretty much as well. The facility of not having to change lenses between shots would be priceless. For the techno-geeks out there who point out the inherently higher distortion percentages of any zoom lens vs any prime lens my answer would be: " When was the last time you saw a bride who was made up of right angles? ".

The OIS is the key to most of what this baby can do on the run. Lots of camera systems now have some form of stability aid - some are in the lenses and some in the bodies. This one goes with the Fujifilm idea of having it in the lens - whatever type, the effect is to allow you to use two shutter speeds slower than you could normally hold without paying a picture penalty. It won't take the place of a tripods for some work but it'll get you closer to that decision line than before.

As a trip lens it would be perfect if you were going to do urban and semi-rural pictures. I'd not hesitate to use it as the ONLY lens for a European or North American tour if I was not out in the bear-and-mountain-goat belt. Everything else would be well within the reward zone. Note: for wildlife you need longer lenses and for little life you need the Fujifilm 60mm macro lens. But you knew that already.

The one clincher for a kit lens is the price - they are often significantly less expensive than the exotic lenses in any manufacturer's range. Combine that with their utility and you've got a combo that you can't really beat! They're easy to pickup...( groan...)

*No, Virginia, you can't attach the same lens to all the cameras. At least not without a hammer and bad language...

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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Photokina OP

Just monitoring the net in my jammies...

Looks like we are going to have the pleasure of a Fujifilm medium format camera and a line of lenses dedicated to it. Think in terms of a larger version of an X-T2 and you'll get the shape.

A new OM-D EM1 MkII is in the offing as well, Very fast and packed with processor power.

Metz have made a compact TTL flash for a number of the systems - the M 400. Metal hot shoe foot - you beauty!

Three new Sigma lenses - an 85 1.4 Art, 12-24 Art, and 50mm f:4 Sport. WooHoo for the 500...

New Olympus Pen E-PL8 as a fashion and entry-level shooter. Brown leather variant with silver lens looks nice. Their new 25 f:1.2 Pro lens looks nice too, but on an entirely different plane of existence - the biggest little lens you've ever seen, and touted to be perfect. A prime the size of a medium zoom.

A new Sony a99 with 42 megapixel sensor.

A screen and a half of new Panasonic cameras.

And a "Concept Car" camera from Hasselblad. Looks vaguely like the old 500 film series but has a lot of new thinking on it. Fun to look at, fun to contemplate.

And there'll be more as the day goes on. Oh to be in Köln now that the camera fields are blooming...

Looking forward to the management's report when they return - hopefully with a carton of pamphlets from all the trade stands. You can do a great deal of reverse speculation with an advertising pamphlet from a trade fair - they often are prepared in advance and the advertising department doesn't talk to the engineering department so you can read up what might have been as well as what may come. The staff at the trade show are there in the middle with the public in their face and the facts as the actually are...

Heading image: They're nice jammies.

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Get A Grip Week - Day One - The Murky Past


This is the week when you get a firm grasp of getting a firm grip - when you go from the ridiculous to the sublime and then back again.

We promise ridiculous, and the heading image might suggest it, but if you were shooting a medium format TLR camera 20 years ago, you would have a different opinion. Because TLR cameras were made to be particularly hard to operate...and that was deliberate.

Think I'm joking? Pick up a Rolleiflex and hold it in your left hand. See how your finger falls on the shutter button? And your right hand holds the film winding handle? All good? Now focus the camera...

Yeah. Gotcha...

You might just get away with a Minolta Autocord or Flexaret with the focusing lever under the lens stage, but you're still going to be juggling things and I'll bet you'll eventually drop it in the mud...

Now try attaching it the camera to this ( no-name ) grip from the 70's. The big base takes the square base of the camera. The big hand grip lets you hold it firmly and the hand strap firther re-inforces the steadiness. There's a flash shoe - admittedly plain but then the flashes of those days used PC synch cords. Unfortunately the cable release that feeds out from the bottom of the grip is missing but that was the ideal way to trigger the camera - from a mechanical trigger under your finger. Focus, wind with one hand, shoot with the other. Then take your films to the chemist and wait a fortnight...

Oh, and look at how neatly the thing folds into itself for storage in the big leather camera case -the one with the paisley strap. 1970 was good.

Okay, joking aside, this grip is well thought-out. Like the Hasselblad grips of the same period - and the equally smart right-handed Bronica winding handles - it balances the camera function wisely between two hands and lets the shooter function far better than with a bare camera. And that is what the digital grips you'll see later in the week do for modern times.

Side note: The Rollei TLRs only made ergonomic sense when you did as Mr. Franke, the owner of the Franke and Heidecke company, did. He suspended the TLR from a neck strap off substantial lugs on the side of the camera, held it out in front of himself with his stomach, and then had both hands free to twiddle the focus and winding controls.

Next post: Olympus grips everything in sight!

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Monday, September 19, 2016

Photokina 2016

Here it comes, folks. The biennial German trade fair, Photo Kina, for all things photographic. Clatter down off the fire-step into the dugout and hunker down...expect gas...

If you are an fan of the forums and the rumour sites you will know exactly what the new gear coming out will be - and I'll bet you have debated it at length at your camera club... championing the brand name or system that you own over all others whilst covertly calculating how much you'd get as a trade in if you swapped to something else. The answer to that is simple; not enough. But that won't stop you...

If you have wangled a leave pass and a European plane ticket and a fold-up cot in the corridor of some German hotel, you can be off this coming week to the show with the gleeful anticipation of a dose of jet lag, beer lag, and sore feet at the end of it all.

The smug superiority that you used to be able to exhibit when you came back is a little dimmed these days as most of the big exhibitors hold press conferences that go world-wide in a flash. You won't be able to bring back secret world-shattering news as it will have preceded you by days - but you can bring back brochures, pamphlets, trade samples, souvenir pins, throwaways, and as many images as you can cram onto the cards in your cameras. Also gastro and scammed credit cards, so beware.

Cameras? You're going to take three - one for just happy snaps, one for serious work, and one for insurance in case the others fail. This will involve taking three chargers and leads and an enormously complex plastic plug that almost fits into continental light sockets. You will lose two of the chargers and one of the cords, but that damned converter plug will remain with you for the next 15 years...

One thing to consider: for years you have puzzled at the instruction manuals that are packed with the cameras and at the way they use English. You have wondered whether the people who write them can actually speak English at all. Well, you're about to find out. If you have some spare time and can find a person who speaks Greek, you might take them along to the trade stand of a Chinese manufacturer who is trying to sell at a German trade show and get them to ask a technical question in their native language. It's mean fun, but it's still fun.

Note: All of the above is powered by a strong sense of jealousy on the part of this hack writer. Perhaps in two years time...

Our directors are on the ground at Photo Kina this week so see all the news on the Camera Electronic Facebook page as it rolls in!

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Friday, September 16, 2016

One Day With Ken Duncan OAM...

And that one day is going to be Friday, the 7th of October. He's going to be at the Pan Pacific Hotel - 207 Adelaide Terrace, holding a one-day seminar to help Western Australians understand their digital cameras and - to paraphrase his own advertising - to make something very simple out of something that might have seemed hard work.

Ken's a landscape person - Oh, Boy, is he a landscape person - and the landscapes he has captured are the wide views of Australia. Limited edition prints, published books, calendars, cards, DVD's, and even jigsaw puzzles. He is an honourable jigsaw maker - he gives you ALL the pieces in the box...

Well, he's coming to Perth to present a seminar that will help nearly anyone who takes pictures. Really - anyone from pro to amateur to family snapper. The main poster for his seminar lists the topics and there is a good mix of what you need to know and what you need to do - and also the candid inclusion of what you DON'T need to worry about. Bless us, thus is just what the Camera Electronic sales staff and management want to see - a man who loves photography as much as we do.

Well, he's got some good backup - makers of the famed Lumix range of digital cameras and lenses, Panasonic are the event partner and we're going to be the exclusive retail partner. We stock Panasonic here at Camera Electronic and we know how good they are for taking landscapes - that's one at the top of the column taken on a Panasonic Lumix GX-7 with a 20mm lens. Some people have said it looks a little like Japan...

Well, more good news from Panasonic - one person at the seminar will win a Panasonic camera valued at $1099. And there will be more free give-aways - goodies, discount vouchers, tools and tutorials.

You won't starve or parch either - morning tea, lunch, and afternoon tea are included in the $249.75 seminar fee. Please don't ask me where the 75¢ comes into it because I have no idea...

But goodies aside, what you REALLY want to get is what you really will get - Ken's expert advice on what to buy, what to set, what to look for in a picture, and how to capture it. It doesn't need to be award-winning landscape panoramas like he does - it can be people, places, events, and objects just as easily...and easily is just how Ken wants you to do it. Come along and be charmed and instructed all at once.

The link to go to to book for this day is:

If you key in CAMELEC as you are checking out you can get a 10% discount off the ticket price.

Now, go and do two things - go book that ticket and then google up Ken Duncan OAM and press the "images" button on your browser...

WOW, Sir! Those are really some pictures! Wouldn't you like to find out how he made them look so good?

7th of October is the day to find out...

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Thursday, September 15, 2016

Freeing The Bird From The Nest

Awwww. that sounds so romantic, doesn't it. This should be a meme on Facebook with tiny bluebirds and hearts...instead of a camera shop blog trying to sell you stuff. Well consider the following.

The German, Japanese, or Chinese makers of digital cameras vie with each other for your money. They're not allowed to waylay you at the ATM and demand cash at gunpoint, so they do it by making better and better equipment - and convincing you that you need to buy it. That's also my job - trumpeting the goods.

 When the design departments of said firms think up cameras and lenses they know they need to work well and they need to do it right out of the box. The slightest hesitation or glitch will see the buyer move off to another brand. No names and no pack drill...but camera enthusiasts will remember some of the times when things did not go well in the last few years...

But they do want them to give good performance up front. So they design the cameras with factory default settings that will do it for you about 85% of the time with no further input. Charge the battery, insert a card and format it, and the little optical bird can pretty much sail out of the nest and fly straight away.

Of course there will be areas where pushing the buttons and ringing the changes will make things better for some people - and there are no end of sources of advice for this. The internet, books, camera club meetings, and photo seminars can all be mined for inspiration. Workshops and courses run by Shoot Photography Workshops are potent schools. You gradually learn what controls will do what for your own needs. And then you overdo it...

Don't be ashamed to admit it. We all overcook the egg sometimes. We start changing settings based upon the criteria of several different advisers and pretty soon our images are out beyond where the streetcars run. If we have done this gradually we may actually forget what the real image is and start to see reality as somehow lacking. We think that Heaven has been a bit skimpy with the colour or contrast or sharpening or focus or whatever and in our efforts to improve it we go completely off the boil.

Thank goodness for the design departments, because they understand us. They provide the Prodigal Photographer with a way to come back to reality - they have a "reset" button in the set-up menu. It generally throws out all our wireless and returns the camera to factory defaults...and to that 85% success platform. The bird is back in the nest.

If you have a camera in which every single control, from the lens release button on the front to the beer tap on the back, has been tweaked out of position I suggest you make this experiment:

a. Take a series of pictures - 20 or so of a wide variety of subjects in different lights.

b. Write down or take a screen shot of all the settings as they exist.

c. Find the "reset" button and press it. Go back to factory defaults.

d. Take those 20 pictures again, and then compare the results on your computer.

d. I won't say that all of the images will look better at factory setting, but I'll bet a few do...

Then be brutally honest with yourself - are the fancy tweaks and weird settings really improving your work? Is it time to give the design team their due and working with their recommendations?

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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Photographic Slipstream - Weblog Columns Of The Past

I have just been reviewing this weblog column for the past 6 years. I did it by means of the historical record over on the right-hand side of the page - and I've come to some conclusions about it:

a. I really did write a lot of columns, didn't I?

b. Some of them were pretty naff, weren't they?

c. A great deal of the product promotion is irrelevant now - goods overtaken by other goods and fallen into the disused portion of our camera bags.

d. The people promotion still holds up - mainly because the people we introduced as professional or enthusiast photographers really can do the business well.

e. Nothing lasts forever. Not only do cameras and lenses wear out and computer programs fall into disuse, but whole businesses can disappear. There's a couple of postings that feature other camera stores that have since shut.

f. I noticed the postings introducing the new look for the shop - the grey paint job. The paint job is holding up pretty darn well - evidently the painters did a good job and selected good paints. They would be a good firm to employ for domestic work too...

g. I made a joke about full-frame mirror-less cameras. The manufacturers made full frame mirror-less cameras. I made a joke about a medium-format digital mirror-less camera. Hasselblad made a medium-format mirror-less camera.

I am going to make a joke about a brass-mounted faux-wood 1840's-style digital camera on a wooden tripod and see what happens...

h. The management never really censored any of the posts, even the ones that had to be typed with rubber gloves and a clothespeg on the nose. I think they were brave men.

The business of telling people about photography is both easy and tough - easy in that there really does seem to be some new little topic each day that can be introduced - tough in that most people know more about the subject than I do. I really only get away with it by virtue of the fact that no-one  knows everything about everything and I can find little novel tit-bits to show. I am just running along with the pack and scooping up stuff as I go.

The other consideration is that when we find something out, or say it, or do it, it can be swept away in a very short time by the advances of science or commerce. New products, new processes, new prices...we fly along and the old goes out into the slipstream and is gone in an instant. This is a great comfort to a person who makes mistakes because these can go away just as fast.

Bit worrisome, though, in that list of past posts that the Blogger mechanism provides. A couple of the readers of this column will probably go through them to see if they have gotten a some cases they have.

Ooh, I hope the time I named names won't come back to haunt me...

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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

One Owner - Never Raced Or Rolled ...

I wouldn't be selling it except I'm going overseas...

Well, before you rush me with offers I have to confess that this pristine Rolls Royce does not belong to me. It is in the possession of a chap named Bill. He let me photograph it at Cannington but made me promise not to touch the paintwork in case I left any fingerprints on it.

I can respect that, as I have seen some terrible things done to vintage cars in Melbourne when the Australia Day crowds start fingering the Fords and smearing the Simcas. I would not have the nerve to exhibit a veteran or vintage car in the RACV show in the park because I have seen how invasive the spectators can be.

Well, back to my car shoot for Bill. I scoped out the car the day before the shoot and took some preliminary shots in monochrome - just the on-camera flash tube that pops up over the lens on the Fujifilm X-T10. I selected the 27mm F:2.8 lens as the most convenient one for this sort of work - I am going to look at the new 23mm f:2 WR when it arrives.

Good shots. Good record shots, but somewhat flat - even for monochrome. So on the shoot day I opted for the Fujifilm EF-42 lens with the new Mag Mode mushroom dome diffuser in front of it. The real secret of getting modelling, light and shadow, was the use of a TTL cord from camera to flash.

I was able to see the car in the tilting LCD screen at a convenient angle, and then use the flash in the other hand to rise up above the scene  and let light fall naturally. The roof of the building housing the car was a long way up and would not have been a good bounce reflector so I opted for the hand-held light.

A two handed shoot is not much fun if you have a long lens on the camera - the moment of force generated by the 18-135mm f:3.5-5.6 WR is such that you can hardly hold the camera body steady as you work. But anything that is physically smaller, from the 60mm macro on downward to the 27mm is a breeze. You can also make use of the camera strap braced agains the back of your neck for even more steadiness.

I would also particularly recommend that users of the Fujifilm X system look into the film simulation settings in the menu and seek out the PRO Neg Hi setting, if you have it. I can get it on three of my cameras and I must say it looks as though it is finally the way that I see colour. I still like Classic Chrome for the retro look, but PRO Neg Hi cuts it for nearly everything else.

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