Monday, December 26, 2016
Saturday, December 24, 2016
Sad News - The Passing Of A Friend
I met Ron Frank in the Angove Street shop back in the 1970's. He seemed to be a fountain of both salesmanship and innovative thought. I was interested in photography and the fact that one could have a straight-out discussion with someone who was extremely knowledgable drew me back there again and again. I met his sons and his wife on these shop visits but did not know that I would see them many times in future years.
Well, he advanced, the firm advanced, and he set up the shop again in Fitzgerald Street. And I became an even bigger customer. I wanted to expand my photographic ventures into medium and large format and Ron knew exactly what would be needed to do this. Thank goodness he set me on the right pathway - I purchased gear from him, upon his recommendation, that proved to be durable and appropriate. Whatever success I had in those film days was due in a large part to his advice. He even got me going with colour processing.
Business is a two-way street. I was a dentist in those days and Ron did me the honour to put himself in my hands on a professional basis. He was a good patient and I was glad to see him come in the door. As he was a technical man himself, it was possible to explain what the treatment procedures were in comprehensive terms and we agreed on things. I think he liked to be kept abreast of the thing in an honest fashion.
Over the years in the surgery we had more discussions about large-format photography than we did about the dentistry and I must say I welcomed that very much as a relief from pressure. One day he said jokingly that if I ever wanted to quit filling teeth I should ring him up for a job... little suspecting that I was listening...
Well that day arrived...and I did write to him for a job. Bless him, he realised that I was, for once, serious, and recommended to Saul and Howard that they take me on for a trial period. That trial period extended to about seven and a half years and I will find out any day now whether I was successful...
Okay - apart from that joke, Ron supported me and encouraged me in my employment all the way through. He was kind enough to read this weblog column and not snort about it. He was the Governing Director but not above being a good salesman in the shop when he visited and frequently thought of ideas that I overlooked - to the benefit of the shop and the customer. That's a good professional.
I have thought kindly of him and admired him for years and will continue to do so in memory. I hope that his wife and boys, daughters-in-law, and grandchildren will be comforted to see that so many of us do.
Uncle Dick Stein
Friday, December 23, 2016
What Do You Mean " I Shouldn't Buy Another Lens...? "
A previous post reported a conversation with the new photographer centred around advice about buying a new Nikon AF-S DX 35mm f:1.8 G lens. That was good advice, and I stand by it firmly, and am now prepared to contradict myself. I've been watching politicians after elections and I can see how it is done.
The new photographer is using a Nikon D3300 which is a dandy camera - with a Nikkor AF-S DX 18-55 f:3.5-5.6 GII lens which is a dandy match. Her main focus will be family shots. I suspect she may get more benefit in this pursuit from another Nikon product - the SB 700 flash.
The SB 700 stands outside the electricity supply of the D3300, drawing power from 4 AA batteries. I always recommend Toshiba, Panasonic, or Duracell batteries for this sort of application...and I have settled into using disposable lithium-ion AA cells for all my speedlight work. She'll have plenty of power, quick recycling times, and extra shots in the camera battery for the camera itself.
Okay, what should she do with the SB700 to start with? Fuel it up, slide it onto the hot shoe, lock it there, and turn the flash to TTL mode. Then go out and pursue the kids. The camera will operate as fast as its own AF system will permit and the flash will fire enough light to stop any actions it sees.
The thing is consistent. Make no mistake about the comfort that this can provide. People do not want to be sitting in front of a computer whacking the sliders to try to chase fugitive white balance. You tell a Nikon camera to shoot flash and it will agree with this SB700 for every single shot.
She may never get past the need for the TTL and move onto the GN settings, or the manual flash. She may never need a slave or master flash setup. But I think she will find the addition of such a sophisticated portable light to be a wonderful thing.
Thursday, December 22, 2016
" Which Lens Should I Get Next? "
My own first photographic experiences were based upon this as it was the only option available then - zooms were horrid and dodgey at the time - and I learned my craft/trade/art/hobby/horrible mistakes using that one lens. As it happened, that lens was one of the sharpest ones ever made for the camera it fronted, and I never realized how good I had it until I moved on...story of our lives, isn't it?
Well, the story for the new photographer who asked is going to revolve around this lens. She's got a perfectly good Nikon DSLR with the kit lens...also perfectly good...and this will be the equally perfect key to portraits for her family.
I used it with the Nikon APS-C cameras in the studio for dance pictures and found it to be fast and razor-sharp at full-length shots. Closer in, the depth of field of a 35mm focal length was kind to the head and shoulders portraits while still keeping that sharp focus. The fact that it was physically light was a bonus - I was starting to flag at a certain point dragging an 18-200 lens everywhere.
As terrible as this may sound in a column designed to get you to come in and spend money for photographic equipment, that year of discipline would make for greater success in the future. Umm...let's save the retail situation by saying that you could spend some money on a new tripod and bag...
Wednesday, December 21, 2016
Mooching Along Through The Shop...
It is not overstated, nor over-full. Well, not as yet. It's still early days at the new shop and there will be more materièl added as time goes on. Our regular customers at the Stirling Street shop may crack a wry smile at this. Camera Electronic does have a habit of adding extra stuff from time to time...Ahem...
Okay, the cabinet has a " Pre-Owned " sign on the top. Those are pre-owned cameras and lense on the shelves. That's the bare bones of it. Here's the back story...
Camera Electronic has always maintained a Secondhand dealer's license. It has always had the legal ability to trade goods in or buy them outright and then to resell them. It also has the ability to thoroughly check the goods that come into the pre-owned section and to warrant their proper operation. This is due to the astute judgment of our technicians.
Our chief man, Ernest, uses nearly all of his senses when it comes to assessing equipment offered for trade.
a. He feels the camera. Is the surface rough, is a covering loose, do the controls feel gritty? Is there too much play in a lens mount? Does something not turn? All these signs mean that he will recommend that it not be traded in.
b. He listens to the camera. Do the gears grate, does the motor whine too much, is there a crackle in the operation of the buttons or the levers? Again, this is a no...
c. He smells the camera. Mould and fungus have a peculiar odour. One he does not want us have to deal with. It can be dealt with, but not easily nor cheaply. Again no.
d. He looks at the camera. If it looks fine, that is fine. If it looks bad, that is not. Are there tell-tale signs of previous repair? Hmmm...
e. At this stage of the game I can state that I have never seen him lick a camera or lens to test the flavour. It is not impossible, but I have no idea that test result this would yield. About the only thing I can think of is the idea that a Zorki or Fed would probably taste like fish oil...Let's leave that one alone...
All the above is to indicate that the items that make it to the Pre-owned cabinet s at Stirling Street or Murray Street do so on merit. They have passed a set of very tough tests and are worthy of consideration. The fact that they are often at a considerable reduction in price compared to the new boxed item is of real benefit - you can have double the amount of equipment and double the amount of capability for the same price.
Do I practice what I preach? I do - I have bought secondhand lenses and camera bodies from Camera Electronic for decades and I have not been disappointed once. All the way from the wooden 4x5 Nagaoka that Ron sold me in 1995 to the latest 35mm f:1.4 Fujinon lens that sits on my Fujifilm X-Pro1 right now, the goods have been good and I have had fabulous value for money.
Go-on - mooch past that cabinet every time you are in there - and look in every time you do. The stock changes all the time and you never can tell when the ideal bit that you never dreamed you could afford will be sitting there waiting for you. One thing you can be sure of - it has the Ernest seal of approval.
Does that 35mm f:1.4 Fujinon do the business? It sure does when La Belle Jane is the model...
Tuesday, December 20, 2016
German Glass Trumpets
Our readers and customers may have all the lenses they will ever need...and all the lenses they can afford...and all the lenses that will fit into the linen press at home...but they still look into that cabinet...
This cabinet is at our new Murray Street store. Clean blue and white minimalist style, and the Zeiss lenses you see here are perfectly in tune with that concept.
I judge them from the rear covers to be Canon-mount. They are, of course, available in Nikon-mount as well. Sticklers for complete detail will also point out there are other Zeiss lenses for Leica M, Sony A, Sony E, and Fujifilm X with different designs, but let's concentrate on the ones we see in the cabinet.
These are DSLR lenses that Zeiss list in their advertising as the world's best. Their competitors may point to other products and claim the same. Fans of various brands can get into optical pub brawls on this basis - it livens up many a camera club meeting. The one undeniable is the fact that the lenses will be better at what they do than the people using them...there is not likely to be any restriction upon art or achievement made by this equipment.
Manual focus? Yes. If you have never done it, these are a good lens to practice on. Your camera system probably has some form of optical assistant feature inside it to help you get the best out of the focus. The old days of the microprism or the split-image rangefinder are largely gone, but some cameras feature electronic versions of this that can help. I have always favoured a finely-divided plain screen myself, but then I distract easily looking into a viewfinder.
The inclusion of a real focus scale and a real depth of field scale on the barrel of the lens is a blessing. These are crude, accurate, and available for presetting a lens just before the big shot. I wish all lenses had them, but they have been left off any new AF jobs.
Weight? Yes. That's metal in those mounts and glass in those barrels. A lotta glass. 12 elements in the 55mm f:1.4 and 16 in the 28mm f:1.4. You are not going to be carrying these lenses as a casual afterthought wrapped up in an old footy sock just in case. They are far too big and far too good to be incidentals. When you attach them to your camera and do a shoot you are deliberately selecting one of the most precise optical instruments available to the general public.
Note that the trumpet shape of the lens barrels seen here is continued further with the flowing shapes of the lens hoods. They are quite elegant...and designed to be so.
Have I ever shot images with any of these lenses? No. My camera systems use the native lenses of the maker and I am happy with them. But had I a different body...a DSLR... I would seriously consider at least one of these optics. I remember the glorious results with the Zeiss glass in my old medium-format film days - it can only be better now.
Monday, December 19, 2016
Walking The Olympus Way With Camera Electronic
Friday's Olympus Photo Walk from our new Murray Street Store was actually delightful, coinciding as it did with pleasant summer weather and the Friday night hawkers markets in the centre of Perth. If you can stand fire, smoke, and the smell of things frying you have a chance for some great pictures. As well, the falling light in Perth at this time of year can be surprisingly gentle and artistic - particularly if it is reflecting off signs and Christmas revelers.
It was not always thus. The city at the end of Friday in the 1960's was alternately grim and garish, though you were pretty safe wandering the streets at nearly any time of the night. I should not care to linger late in the area these days...but then I get nervous when they let the Bingo mob out of the local parish hall - full of tea, biscuits, and passion. You get hit with a Zimmer frame and it is all over...
Well, back to the centre of the city. Two examples of the new Olympus OM-D E-M1 MkII were to be had, but one of them was firmly in the grasp of Camera Electronic's Sam Perejuan. And I was able to observe one very smart design feature that Olympus have changed from the OM-D E-M1 original. Look at the picture of Sam's hand holding the camera.
Now as to topics for a walk - apart from the doughnut stalls and fist fights - people can find some artistic treasures:
I just enjoyed speculating about the late-night goings-on...I believe they call for players some time after 9:00. Tennish, anyone...?*
* Yes, that was intentional. The weblog pun filter is not turned on.
Friday, December 16, 2016
Red Bags In The Sunset
It is also a feature of an extremely well-made camera bag from ONA that is designed to catch the eye and wallet of the Leica enthusiast. Of course it could be used for many other camera systems, but the distinctive red dot that is featured on one of the bags buckle straps does rather label it as Leica oriented.
Come in and fill it up with new Leica lenses at our Stirling Street store. We've got fresh stock now.
Thursday, December 15, 2016
The Extremely Polite Scrum
Well, the last time I saw a crowd that thick around a product was at the Rottnest bakery when the fresh bread came out of the oven. The phrase " fight your way in " came to mind. I'll give our customers credit - they are a patient lot and they stood politely to hear Burke's exposition and to let other people have a go with the new camera and lenses*.
But there were a few twitching eyebrows. Olympus fans are a keen lot under the surface.
I managed to persuade one of them to be a hand model for the new device, and noted as well a 12-100mm lens that looks to be the superzoom of choice. But I cannot say what the camera felt like in the hand - there were too many more enthusiasts ready to leap!
Note that Olympus have had an additive light setting in their processor that is particularly suited to dusk and night-time shots. I hope to try it out.
* They might have been there just to see Burke. He may be a cult star. I left before the autograph books came out.
Register here for the Olympus E-M1 Mark II photowalk on tomorrow, 16th December from 5:30pm. All details on the event page
Plus, ask about our exclusive offer for a complimentary Olympus shoot course if you pre-order the E-M1 Mark II at the event!
Wednesday, December 14, 2016
An Instant Night Out - At the Leica Club
The entertainment included good things to eat and drink, of course, and a chance to see some of the newest Leica cameras and lenses...and the chance to try out a novelty; the Leica SOFORT.
The interesting thing that Connor McGill, the Leica Area Manager, pointed out is that the flash can be altered separate from the exposure of the shutter. This was tried by Don with a no-flash shot of the drinks tub to see what the dynamic range of the result can be. See No.4 in the composite shot. Pretty good.
Of course the SOFORT is intended as a fun camera - you will get a lot of that out of it in shooting give-away shots at events. And you will make more useful contacts and more friends doing so than just banging away with a standard digital camera and then taking the results home. People like having you take their picture when they can take that picture away themselves.
To this end, Leica have put a small mirror on the front of the SOFORT to help you compose the result. It is just large enough to encompass two maniacs, as the No.1 picture in the composite will prove. Maybe a Godzilla or and Eiffel Tower in the middle...I'll leave the aesthetics up to you. The point is you can get a selfie in 5 minutes that is as good as any digital one. and you need not do it on a stick.
One thing, though, note that N0.1 and N0.2 on the composite are both upright pictures. But one was taken facing back - one facing out. The pictures both look good, but they are orientated 180º to each other on the paper. You'll need to remember this if you are intending to put the result into a special Leica album for display.
Thanks to CE and Connor for a good entertaining night and to Don and Mark for being good-humoured models.
See more about the Leica SOFORT here
A reminder that CE's 12 days of Christmas sale is happening right now! Day 5 is 25% off Fstop, Ona, Lowepro, Pelican and Think Tank bags. See the full list here.
Tuesday, December 13, 2016
The Bridge Is Now A Snap
This may be the closest yet to a combination of a true camera with the ubiquitous phone or tablet - and it opens the way for competent yet lightweight travel reportage. if you are addicted to selfieing your way around th world you can pester your Facebook friends with high-quality Nikon shots instead of a low-resolution phone image.
This Nikon camera has one of the tourist-bridge lenses that goes to an extreme of 60X zoom range optically and then steps off to another 4X electronically. This is the lion/bear/NK border guard sort of shooting that you just cannot get with a phone. The fact that the camera also has a VR mechanism makes the whole thing plausible. The range of focus - from 1cm in macro out to infinity in the zoom range means you can pursue most tourist shots.
Now for that lens performace...Jandakot on a bright morning. The shutter will go to 1/4000 second, but I doubt you'd need that for most of the light aircraft. Some of them just sat there with their rotors turning...And the magpies are the most blasé birds I have ever seen.
Actually, the chief problem using a lens this powerful on a small camera is actually tracking the targets. You need a duck-shooter's eye to lead them enough...
Monday, December 12, 2016
The Ghost In The Cabinet - The New Leica TL
Of course once one of the dedicated black leica lenses is attached to it, everything comes into focus (Yes, I got away with that one...) but there is no denying the exquisite design lines of the New Leica TL.
This is one of those cameras that sends images to mobile phones, tablets, or computers and can be controlled from that phone. Of course the social media sites can be accessed to show your dinner to everyone you know.
You also have such assistance as an inbuilt 32 Gb memory to act as a back-up for the memory card and the ability to charge the battery in-camera from a USB port.
You see the world on the screen - there is no integral viewfinder. However , you can choose to slot an accessory electronic viewfinder onto the camera's hot shoe and see exactly what the lens sees. If you'd rather use that shoe for a more powerful flash than the one that is built into the camera, Leica have a range of sizes and powers to suit. You can add an adaptor to use all of your Leica M and R lenses as well. Nothing is wasted so you are really economising...
As a matter of fact, you may want to be really frugal and get several of these cameras for the holiday period. They are in stock right now at Camera Electronic - either at the Stirling Street or Murray Street store. I should get one of each colour, if I were you.
Friday, December 9, 2016
The Blue Bag Of Happiness
Well, that aside, this Photo Hatch II Aw from Lowepro is a pretty good choice for the sorts of people who wear backpacks - and I don't mean to sound funny saying that. Let me explain:
Backpacks can come in all sizes and shapes but some of the most common ones are Too Big, Too Small, Too Floppy, and Too Stiff. The people who choose them are either confronted with inappropriate carrying capacity, awkward fit, or downright pain as hard edges dig into them. The idea for which the pack has been bought frequently goes out the window as wrestling with it overtakes all other considerations. In some cases the bag acts as a buffet for the thieves of the area and in others even the owner of the thing cannot get inside to get the camera out.
Also note one more thing on that patch photo; the stitching. Even, spaced, a good margin, and hemmed edges. This is the good stuff, folks.