Do we all remember Dr. No in the James Bond novel? Wasn't a very nice person, was he? His name was chosen for sinister overtones and because everyone reacts negatively to negativity. No? It's the same in the photo game and on the shelves of the camera shop. N0-name is not going to do you any good. It hasn't done the amateurs any good and it won't improve matters for professionals, either. Consider the case of the no-name off-brand products that used to be sold in Aden in the 60's. Aden was the stopping point at the bottom of the Red Sea where emigrant liners to Australia from Britain would call in to give their passengers a chance to be fleeced. Decades of  'em streamed into the shops and bazaars to be sold electrical and photographic goods - and presumably brass ware, rugs, and native daggers. The brass ware, rugs, and daggers may have been local products but the electrical goods and the slide projectors were from the recesses of Hong Kong or Taiwan and were likely to have been sent out...

So good to see you here - out on this limb, so far above the ground. Nice to have company. Don't jiggle, people. It's not that strong a limb. I've asked you all here to discuss the business of names in the photo trade - or more specifically, brand names. You may all be a little surprised to learn that each one of you has a brand name. You might not have it printed on the outside of your package or plastered on the back of a bus, but it is there for people to see nevertheless. And this applies to you whether you are making pictures for money, love, or to crush your enemies and drive them before you. The outright professional workers who run a business and sell a product have long recognised this. The smart ones make sure that everyone in town recognises them. They pay out a great deal of money to appear on the backs of buses and in as many publications as they can. Aside from the law court reports, nearly any publication is good news. They...

The short-range macro lens is an oddity in the optical world. Odd in the sense that the makers of macro lenses nearly always try to get you to buy a longer focal length. Also odd in the ways that it gets used. And this is fine with me - I have gotten odder as I have aged and this sort of thing suits me down to the ground. Todays' example of a good idea is the Nikon AF-S DX Micro NIKKOR 40mm f:2.8 G lens. It is nearly as long as its name...

You thought Lifesavers came in little paper rolls? Well the Assorted Fruit and Pep-O-Mint ones might, but you can get other sorts of lifesavers too, and photography sometimes needs them. As we get further from the early start days of digital, we distance ourselves from any number of memory storage formats and devices. Here's a Sony Mavica that washed up on the shores of Camera Electronic's Murray Street store. Note the big slot for floppy disks. I can't even begin to imagine how many bytes it might have contained, but I'll bet it was several. There were other proprietary formats of the time that banged on for some time but fell into desuetude eventually when the major makers agreed to concentrate on a few designs. Of course every now and then a maverick breaks free from the herd...

We've been selling Wimberley heads for years in various forms. When I started working for the shop a decade ago there was a stack of Indian-made castings in the store-room that were intended for use as long-lens gimbals. The quality was on the high agricultural level - the castings were big and sturdy, and any reasonable use would see the things good for decades. But the things were bulky and insensitive to the locking mechanism That was then and this is now. In the interim we have seen genuine Wimberleys come through occasionally, and have also noted similar devices in the Really Right website as well. The prices were really right too, if you looked at them from the perspective of the accountant for the wholesaler. Now we have a good alternative right in-store - the Sirui carbon fibre head. The level of sophistication and finish is everything that any could be desired - look at the clever design that lets one portion of the casting act as a clamp on another one with the no need for gouging serrations. The finish on...

Shocked, I tell you. But there is good news  - Manfrotto has come up with a cure for shock. I was intrigued to see this big rectangular messenger bag in the storeroom. In the Manfrotto section as well, were you only expect to find light stands, tripods, and other hardware. And even more intrigued with two things - it had a sign on it promising anti-shock...

No, We're not talking about another footballer's romance or a North Korean threat - it's the Lastolite Ezybox Micro - possibly the lightest of the large diffusers for speed lights. Certainly one of the easiest to put on and off. Speed light diffusers have a long history - all the way from those rigid plastic panels that you clipped above the Metz 45-series hammerhead flashes in the 1970's through to the strobist craze five years ago. There were innumerable things that attached to your speed light with rubber bands and velcro straps. Nearly all of them worked and nearly all of them were a pain. The ones that went on easily, came off easily - usually when you moved your camera from horizontal to vertical. The ones that stuck tight needed a welder's degree to attach and an oxy torch to take off. And the matter of needing a diffuser in the middle of an event shoot meant that both of these possibilities could occur at the same time. The heavy ones strained the joints of the speedlights - you would have...

I once tried to tether my DSLR camera to my laptop computer in my studio. It was successful, after I studied the camera manual, the camera maker's website, the internet forums, Ken Rockwell, and the entrails of a brace of white doves. I may have gone a little over the top with the pentagram and the candles, but at least I could eventually see the pictures on the Macbook Pro at the same time as they were on the live view screen of the camera. The only problem I encountered then was figuring out why I wanted to look...