Saturday, August 27, 2016

New Camera Coming From Big Camera Company!




Is there any more thrilling sound than the trumpets announcing a new camera? We all wake up and look about us, even if we are devotees of a different system.

In this case it is the latest evocation of a full-frame Canon DSLR - it'll be the next in order in the 5D line - the Canon EOS 5D Mk IV.

You may be forgiven for thinking that with the EOS 5D, 5D Mk II, 5D Mk III, 5DS and 5DS R, and now the EOS 5D MkIV that Canon have had more marks than the Spitfire...or Barry Cable...but consider what it means to the working photographer or enthusiast:

1. Any possible teething troubles in the basic body were worked out years ago.

2. Each new evocation has introduced new electronics and new capabilities.

3. The ergonomics were good to start with - they have gotten better. Canon cameras fit everyone's hand.

4. Everything else fits, too. L lenses, transmitters, flashes, accessories---and its you have a fitted case or bag that carried your Canon EOS 5d-series cameras before it'll carry the new one!

5. Everything has gotten better:

30.4 Megapixel CMOS sensor.
100-32,000 ISO boostable to 102.400 ISO.
4k video and flicker free viewing.
Digit 6+ processor.
7FPS and silent single and continuous shooting.
Full iOS and Android WiFi built in.
GPS built in.
Scene Intelligent Auto Mode available as well as standard PASM.
CF and SD-sized slots.
61focus points - dual pixel add system - 1,620,000-dot LCD screen that is touch sensitive.

I can thoroughly endorse the practice of adding another camera to your bag, and choosing one that is the latest of a long line of careful development. I have done so myself, and benefited. You see this in cars, watches, rifles, and many other household appliances - the manufacturer builds upon careful analysis of what has worked rather than blundering wildly out into oddball designs or untried theories - and the wise user can succeed with the gear immediately.

Consider as well the mind of the Canon shooter. If you have used a small-frame Canon camera in the past you are well on your way to knowing the operating pattern of the full-frame one. If you have used any of the EOS 5D series before you are there already - just pick it up, clap on an L series lens, and run!

Oh, pay for it before you do...the staff in the shop are built like antelopes and will catch you before you get half-way down the block...

We'll have a new camera unveiling night for the EOS 5D Mk IV at a bar in Perth at the start of September. That's a very cheery idea. It will be held at the Flour Factory, 16 Queen Street Perth, on Thursday, 1st of September. Starts at 6:00 for a 6:30 start, if that makes sense.

Hugh Brown will be speaking and that makes it a fun night just to begin with, but add a new Canon EOS camera and food and drink into the bargain and the whole thing really sparkles. I shall be there myself. All readers of this column who want to be included in the fun should register at www.cameraelectronic.com.au/events to let us know for catering.

Finally, did you know that there was a famous member of the church who wrote a textbook on artillery and also used Canon 5D cameras? It was commemorated on the maps of Spanish river systems. Go to Google Earth and look for:

Canon Canon cannon canon Cañón.

You're welcome...

Pre-Order the new Canon EOS 5D Mark IV here

Pre-Order the Canon EF 16-35mm f2.8L III USM (arriving mid-October)

Pre-Order the Canon EF 24-105mm f4 IS II USM (arriving mid-October)





Friday, August 26, 2016

The Numbers Game - Camera Insurance For The Amateur



Spotted this roll-up sign at our recent Photo Live Expo 2016 at the Novotel Langley and I am sorry that I did not get to speak further with the gentleman who manned their stand - as it was I was engaged at one of our own stalls all the day.

Still, the internet is a good resource, and the web address:

www.cameraenthusiastsinsurance.com.au turned up the entire website and most of the information that is necessary. I was pleased to see that it is organised in a business-like manner....for those of us who don't have a business-like mind...

Briefly, they ask you to nominate a monetary figure to cover your camera gear and then provide a quote based upon this figure. If you wish to go ahead with the policy I'll bet there are more forms to fill out - I mean you would have to specify the gear that will be covered. If your estimate of the value of it is wildly over-reaching they can probably help you bring it back to more realistic figures.

They'll cover you for loss, damage, and theft and also for gear that is in transit. There are provisions that will compensate you with new for old in the event of losses, and it appears they are prepared to let the policy work on a world-wide basis. Of course there will be details, specifications, exclusions and requirements that you need to know - you'll need to contact the firm to work these out - but in many cases this sort of insurance is a very good idea.

It has not always been available - I do remember SGIO in the 60's offering coverage for camera gear separately from other insurance packages, but in later years this sort of contract gave way to inclusion in domestic policies. The problem has been the exclusions and restrictions on equipment that is increasingly being taken to exotic places. Sometimes it is being stolen or dropped in very picturesque parts of the world...see the recent Olympics in Brazil...and photographers might fall between the cracks of professional or homeowners insurance coverage. This is where this enthusiasts insurance is invaluable.

Even if people are not enthusiastic...just sort of blasé about the whole picture thing...they still perk up mighty strong when it comes to equipment and financial loss. They are prepared to defend their stuff with money.

I tried a test quote on the website. I didn't specify any gear, but set an arbitrary figure of $4000 for a travel kit. (Leica enthusiasts will laugh. $4000 covers a lens hood and a spare battery. I am made of cheaper stuff...) The premium is $201 for a year. If you were to stack in two trips in that time - South America and the Middle East for instance  - that is a measly pittance compared to the possible (probable?) loss from theft or damage. It's a financial no brainer, like health insurance for the frail*. If you lose equipment you collect and win, and if you do not need to collect, you win. Win-win.

I shall be investing a portion of the pittance on insurance for the Fujifilm X-100 on my next overseas trip. Then I can go into the opium dens and fan-tan rooms with confidence.

* This one I KNOW. I shall pay private heath insurance from now until 3000 CE and still be ahead of the game.

Uncle Dick


Thursday, August 25, 2016

Blinded By The Excitement - The Canon SX 60 HS


Okay, there are days and days. And some days you are in a daze.

I have to confess that I have forgotten to take a picture of the subject of this column - the Canon SX 60 HS camera. It was in my hand for a day, and I shot pictures all over the place with it, and then forgot to set it down on the table and take a picture of it. My only excuse is I was so excited about what it does that I concentrated on that and let the external appearance go.

Okay, You're looking at this weblog column on a computer. Google over to the Camera Electronic site for the camera and see what it looks like and read the gush about it. Then come back and I'll tell you what I found out.

Right. The target buyer for this camera has always been stated to be the newbie African or Alaskan traveller. They would benefit from the long zoom contained in the camera and as it can be run in a pretty sophisticated way straight out of the box, they are likely to produce some good animal and scenery shots even if they don't know how or why. Good thinking, Canon, and please always include something of this nature in your lineup.

I figured the best studio review test would be to imagine I was one of the novice tourists -  I had just picked it up, hopped on the plane, and then hit the ground shooting in Johannesburg or Vancouver*. I charged the battery, threw in a San Disk card, and whizzed round the back of the studio looking for airplanes.


None, but the birds were on the wire and the TV aerial and they sat still long enough for me to find out how good this lens and sensor combination is on distant wildlife. It is very good indeed. Note that I shot JPEG at Intelligent Auto setting with no more knowledge of what I was doing than a clerk in a lumber yard.


Next to the studio table and a '41 Chevy hot rod. ISO, WB, and focus selected by the camera - I just pointed, zoomed, and shot. The results haven't been tweaked - it really does what you see as a straight JPEG. By any criterion, it is doing good studio work.


That's kinda horrifying. It calls into question all the other fussy things I do to get these tabletop scenes and suggests that the careful artistic genius and fabulous technical skill I exhibit could just as easily be done by a guy in gloves holding a snow shovel. As long as he was holding the Canon SX 60 HS he could beat me.

Just as well I forgot to take a picture of the thing - you might have come into the shop and bought one and gone out and made me look bad. There are dangers everywhere...

Vancouver - City of Mystery. Home of the British Columbia Museum Of Wood Pulp. Twinned with Odessa in the Ukraine...bet the Ukrainians are nervous about that...I spent a month in Vancouver one week...

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Frame Up Job



At the risk of sounding like a Me-Too blogger, I wish to draw attention to a course being run by the Shoot Workshops next door. It is a workshop on Picture Framing and will be run by Aaron McPolin on Sunday, the 4th of September - not that far into the future.

The workshop costs $139, but this is the sort of thing that just does not come along every day. In fact, I would be prepared to say that in Perth this does not come along ANY day. It is the chance of a lifetime for some of us.

We all make files. We all make images. Some of us make pictures. Few of us make pictures that hang on walls. And damned few of us make pictures that deserve to hang on the walls.

Part of this is the files, part of it is the images. After that a great deal of it is the aesthetic that either supports or condemns the image. Here is where Aaron may be able to offer the insight to help us improve our pictures.

The blurb for the workshop speaks of colour theory, printing for longevity, placement, glazing, and matting. Also lighting, placement, exhibition design, and pricing. Even if you are not trying for " Family Of Man " and would settle for the relatives spread out over the lounge room wall in reasonable order, this workshop is going to help.

I freely admit to not being an artist, and have had this firmly attested to by Perth Artists on Facebook, but I think that this sort of thing will help me to improve my taste and present my work better. I have an ambition to be rejected by a better class of gallery than Facebook, and this may help.

Studio 281
281 Guildford Road, Maylands
Sunday, 4th of September
10AM - 4PM

Contact Shannon at Shoot Photography Workshops to make a booking:

T. 08 9228 8232
E. shannon@shootworkshops.com.au
W. www.shootworkshops.com.au


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Sigma Difference



I have been trying to bring the normal Uncle Dick cynicism to bear on the products of the Sigma Corporation of Japan. You understand it is not just native meanness on my part - though there is a great deal of that - but a cocked eyebrow and sidewise squint often helps me to see further into a design than wide-eyed acceptance.

I think this would have been more successful with their lenses ten years ago. The earlier devices from Sigma were aimed at a different market, and you could tell by looking.  Oh, the optical performance of the glass was good, and the value for money was there, but the appearance and design of the barrels and the firmaments was a bit problematical.

The external finish in those days was a sort of a plastic crackle coating - I'm not sure if it was a paint or a texture pressed into the components. It did have a certain charm, but if you started to use the lenses extensively and were not careful how you packed them you could find it wearing smooth at noticeable points. Don't stop the lenses from working but did bother some people.

Of course, this did not affect the optical design departments and they came up with ever more useful combinations of focal length and resolution. I myself whacked out real cash for an 8-16mm DC lens for the Nikon mount and found it was the best thing since sliced bread for interior shots. It also paid its way with large group shots at weddings, but as with all extreme wide angles, you had to make careful disposition of the people on the edges of the group - otherwise they got pumpkin faces.


So, where are we now. Not cynical at all, actually. Sigma must have decided to make a clean sweep of their external designs when they brought out their new A, S, and C lenses. The one you see on the heading is he 50mm f:1.4 DG HSM A lens - in this case in the Nikon mounting. of course you can get, Sigma, Canon and Sony mounts as well, so don't change the dial. It is intended for pro DSLR use.

That's evident from the MTF figures - the DP Review testing of it is quite remarkable. The sharpness of the resolution wide open is the thing that will rivet many of the potential buyers - couples with a full-frame camera this would be the perfect portrait lens in low available light conditions.


You pay for it, however, in the weight of the lens, and you bear that weight because Sigma have used top level components in the barrel. The old crackle finish has been left behind and then new sleeker surfaces should stay pristine even when going in and out of a camera case frequently. The level of finish on the mount  is also remarkable - no poorly polished nickel plating back there. Quite frankly it is the kind of finish you would expect on the best lockwork of bespoke shotguns or Swiss watches.
It is the sort of attention to detail that allows the manufacture to back up a two-year warranty without fail.

You'll also notice the engraved "Made In Japan" on each Sigma lens. They do, and they use their own components too. Make what you will of the national pride in the cameras and lenses, it does mean that you are getting good value for your money.

See the Sigma range in store at 230 Stirling St, Perth or at http://www.cameraelectronic.com.au/sigma

Monday, August 22, 2016

A Year Later - The Cold Wash Up For The New Lens - And It's A Hot One


About a year ago I posted a column about the Fujifilm 27mm EX 2.8 mm lens I had just bought. I speculated that it would be a useful addition to the menagerie of glass I keep. I didn't know the half of it.

For the last 40 years we've been accustomed to thinking of standard prime lenses as wide-aperture affairs. Ever since the 50's we have clapped lenses onto our cameras with maximum apertures of f:2...f:1.8...f:1.4...f:1.2... If not a national obsession exactly, it has been the expected norm for a lot of natural-light shooting. People make careers of portraiture at maximum aperture - particularly if their clients are older, richer, wrinklier, or have hairy ears. You can hide a multitude of sins in back of a shallow depth of field...

Yet...every camera maker worth their multicoating has always had a standard length lens that has a smaller aperture - frequently combining this with some other useful feature like compact size or collapsibility. It has also usually cost less than the low-light lens. And frequently had better peripheral resolution. The only disadvantage for most of the film era was the fact that it had less bragging power than the f:1.4 version...

But it could be superb. I took years of tourist shots and weddings with the 50mm f:2.8 collapsible Elmar on the M2 Leica - and a lot of working shooters did too. It was the photographic equivalent of a .303 SMLE...and quieter.

Well, the 27mm Fujinon lens is in the same class. Small - look at the profile picture of the lens:


Simple. Only one ring turns - the manual focus ring. Lightweight. Fast. Precise. And of a focal length that can be turned to most tasks in street, social, or studio photography on the appropriate Fujifilm X series camera.

I use mine to take studio portraits:


I also haunt Camera Electronic beer-and-new-camera nights to gather reportage pictures:


It records all the little details of modelling projects:


And cars at shows:


It goes on holiday to the art galleries:


And sometimes it has adventures that it doesn't even tell me about:


I shall leave speculation on the last picture to the viewers - I know I am puzzled - but I would point out the interesting detail in the next-to-last one...the gentleman capturing the picture of the lady is using a mobile phone while a perfectly good Canon DSLR is hanging from his left shoulder.

Sigh...







Friday, August 19, 2016

The Package Shot For The Landscape Shooter


I used to be a little reticent about taking package shots - it always seems to be somewhat of a cop-out on the part of an illustrator to just show the outside of the box. Some products had a little printing on the outside but some were the classic " plain unmarked box "...It seemed unfair to make the prospective client buy it with just the promise that there was something in the cardboard.

So for years I tried my best to gently ease the shell open to get the nut out. Some of the Japanese packagers who were origami experts defeated me easily - it was either guess at the possible contents or take after it full-blown with a chain saw. This seemed to worry the management and the customers.

Imagine my relief when the packagers decided to put their own advertising on the outside of good quality printing board. Pictures, descriptions, and contents out there where you could see them. Wow.
Even if they then super-wrapped it with shrink plastic and buttoned it over with Kevlar tape and strap-iron it made no difference -you could still make a decent show of it.

So, herewith we present  the new stars of the modular filter system stage - the NiSi filters. They arrived at the studio all sealed up and By Golly they'll leave in the same condition. If you buy them you'll be the first person to see whether there really is a filter in there.

a. The little one is the NiSi Nano IR ND filter



100m x 100mm at a strength of ND 64 or 1.8 pdf you use the alternate system. Neutral density and neutral colour with a great deal of light stopping power for longer exposures.

b. Next size up is the NiSi Nano IR GND filter


150mm x 100 mm graduated to slide up and down the holders. The power on this one peaks at 8 or .9 in the other measurement. A sky modifier for the land and seascapes.

c. the big one is the Nano IR ND again in 64 or 1.8.


The big difference is that this is the one with 150mm x 150mm size to provide filtration for some of the very wide FX lenses. These would be Nikon, Canon, Tamron, and Sigma special lenses.

d. The white kit pack with the convenient description on the front is the V5 starter for the NiSi system - the 100mm filter holder assembly. Looks as though it contains the holder, several adapter rings, a round circa-pol filter, and substantial hard carrying case. You could stack one round and three square filters onto it if you could figure out what for.

The literature says that the holder is aluminium and the filters themselves glass, coated to prevent excess red in long exposures.

The film also apparently makes a series of round ND and protector filters. And of course there are are the dedicated holders for the 150mm series and all the adapter rings for various sizes.

Come down to the shop and stare at the packages, or go on-line to our Nisi online store

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Custom Menu for Custom Shooters Of Kustom Cars




Pardon the Kustom there in the header - it is an affectation of the hot rod publishing world to refer to modified motor cars in a weird way. Not that some of them do not deserve it...a fillet of lead and 14 coats of Candy Apple can hide a multitude of sins. At least the magazines don't use an inappropriate a'postrop'he or several ümlaüts...

No, we speak of the custom menus that some digital cameras have - collections of settings that may be different from those that ship from the factory. Settings that might suit the camera better to the needs of a particular individual. Special combinations for particular jobs.

All cameras that have adjustments can be changed - we did it in the days of film by buying different film, exposing it at odd settings, and then trying to see if we could bully the emulsion into an image later in the darkroom. Now we do it with WB, ISO, Colour Space, Sharpness, Foam, Azimuth, and Snarkiness settings. (Those last three are imaginary, but camera designers are imaginative people so don't get comfortable yet...)

Many cameras provide  what they refer to as custom "channels", "settings", "programs", or " sets" that let you have a bunch of ready-made changes you can access at the press or turn of a control. Thus, if you are doing one class of shot regularly that requires a special WB or dynamic range or exposure compensation, you can get it without navigating the menu again on site. My Nikon D300's were good for this.

Make no mistake - you WILL do some serious button pushing to set up the custom system in your camera but you can do it slowly in logical sequence at home. And you can have 2, 3, 4 or more of these optional layouts ready all the time. Go to a new job or a new shoot and twist one dial, once.

Wise manufacturers have arrangements in their menu systems to identify these custom sets by name - actual written titles that you button into your camera. Otherwise, if you are just confronted by seeing Custom 1,2,3, etc you quickly forget what exactly it is that you are coping with and the whole exercise is difficult.

If the camera maker has made provision for a "Q" button in the back of the camera it can show you a small précis list of the the most important settings and you'll get a quick visual confirmation of what's going to happen. Here again it is wonderful if the maker has made arrangements so that you can decide for yourself what will be shown on the Q window.

Specifically, I know Leica will do this. So will Fujifilm. So will Olympus. It means you can suit yourself rather than others - I know I went into my Fujifilm X-T10 and X-E2 and threw out the noise reduction setting and dialled in flash compensation as it is far more important to me. I don't need to change much for my purposes but I do make use of 2 additional recipes in addition to the basic set-up, and the convenience it gives is amazing.

Historical note: I remember that Konica-Minolta had a system of small computer cards that you plugged into some of their last film cameras to program them in the same way. It was a gimmick before its time and deserving of all the criticism levelled at it at. But it was a signpost to the future.

For Basic Camera Training hit up Shoot Workshops' Learn to Shoot course

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The Shadow Of Things To Come


Sounds like a takeoff on an Alexander Korda pre-war movie, doesn't it? And if you've no idea what I am talking about you can google Things To Come. It is worth watching on Netflix.


This weblog column is brought to you by the second button from he left on the are Nikon SB5000 - a
button I never saw before on a Nikon speed light. It's the one that looks like a a little human figure with a shadow tapering off behind it. It's one of the final reasons to use this speed light in place of a studio strobe light.

Don't get me wrong - a studio strobe light is a wonderful thing. I know, I own five of them and they mostly do what I mostly want most of the time. They have the distinct advantage of taking big light modifiers and pumping out lots of light. Speed lights, on the other hand, largely don't, and have the further disadvantage in not letting us see what they are going to do before they do it. Studio strobes all have modelling lamps screwed into the reflector area and you can play with the light up and down as if it were a hosepipe. You may not get what you see exactly but you can get mighty close.

The disadvantage of the studio strobe is that it needs the 240vAC power line all the time.




Well, now you can have a powerful GN of 34...similar to the SB 700...various TTL and slave or commander modes, advanced wireless shooting AND a modelling light.

It is not intended to stay on forever - you trigger it with that second button and it sends out a pulsed strolling light from the tube. You can see the effect of the light on your subject in a sort of a blue-white light. It is not subtle - it's a blast - but it is particularly good for visualising where the shadow you create will go.


Sometimes, as in the case of ROBOR, the shadow is as important as the subject.

Yes, it will use up battery power. Yes, it will get a squawk of protest from the delicate and camera shy. But it may save you from making a monster out of a Mother-in-law...

See the Nikon SB-5000 Speedlight on the Camera Electronic website here

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Hey! It's For You! Ex-Demo Olympus...



Someone asked me once whether it was tough to sell old cameras. " Not a bit! " I replied...because I knew really old cameras sold themselves. Once a camera had gone on long enough gain historic status...or merely cult status...it was just a matter of exposing it to the public eye and the items would move off the sales counter. This was the basis of many of the successes on the amateur camera market day - if the goods were good, there were any number of buyers out there who would recognise the fact. They might be cheap-johns about it, but the interest was still there.

It IS tougher to present equipment that has been overtaken by more modern evocations from the same firm. The advertising departments of the various companies uniformly trumpet the newness and the improvement of successive models and even when cameras or lenses can do their job superbly, it is in the interest of the manufacturer to overshadow the old with the new.

Cynic that I am, take some amusement at the phrase "Game Changer". The game is always the same  - they just change shape of the ball and the price of the tickets at the gate...

Okay - where does this leave the prospective camera customer? If the PCC would like to spend less money but take home a vast opportunity for picture taking, they could do far worse than look at the demo and previous-model camera kits on offer at any one time. An item in point is the Olympus OM-D E-M5 lists available now from Camera Electronic at a markedly-reduced price.


The camera body has been overtaken by the Olympus OM-D E-M5 MkII. The lens in the kit has been changed for a more sophisticated powered version - but the basic function is there and it is extremely precise. Hence the use of the camera for the heading image. 1:18 scale Canadian phone booth, if you're wondering - it's a rather narrow niche in the market...

The E-M5 is perfect for close-up photography, even with just a basic kit lens like the 14-42 example that was used here. It would be a camera of choice above a lot of larger devices if one was into macro or wildflower shots. Tilt screen and touch control make a a lot of sense in the field with subjects that are close to the earth.



The options on any digital camera are legion - too many for many of us to deal with. Olympus have them all, but lasso them into usable groups and menus so that you can make decisions in the field that change your JPEGs. Of course you can always RAW file it and deal with life later, but in the case of a large number of files, you can sometimes paint yourself into a corner with this approach. The ideal for prolific workers is to get it right in the camera at the time of shooting, and have more time for real life later.

I am particularly minded with a former employee of this shop who moved to the Olympus system and this camera some time ago. His advertising shots of Swiss watches are the most delightful re-assurance of quality that you have ever seen. No larger format is needed.


So....give us a ring and come in for your Olympus OM-D E-M5.  I don't know if it is a classic, but it is definitely classy.

See all Ex-Demo equipment on the Camera Electronic website here