I mentioned my Aunt Minnie and her habit of seeing into every shop downtown - on every trading day. That was quite true, but her circumstances were different from those in the retail camera trade in Perth. Her downtown was in Missoula, Montana and her needs were a lot more modest than those that beset us now. Just as well - her means were probably restricted by the hard times the country suffered. Still, she did the rounds, and if there was something new commercially, she knew about it before 90% of her neighbours. I liken this to the photography enthusiast who attends to the net each day and reads reviews, columns, advertisements, and forums as fast as they appear. Whether or not Minnie's peregrinations did her good or gave her happiness, I do not know, but the desperation that attends some camera fanciers now makes me nervous of it. Minnie did have a job for a long time in a confectionary factory as, of all things, a chocolate dipper. A person skilled with hand and eye in the making of nut...

Recipe for a good night out as cooked up by Camera Electronic. Perfect for a winter night. Ingredients: Talented people. Good food. Excellent drinks. Cozy urban atmosphere. Interesting art. Short speeches. Last night saw the Camera Electronic directors and family, together with a goodly selection of Perth's fashion professionals, crowd into Rockefellers on Beaufort Street for just such an event. Rockefellers seems to be a combo of a deli and a bar and in both divisions, Michael, the proprietor, served his visitors very well. If you go there, try the reuben sandwiches and the dill pickles. Suberb. The occasion marked the opening of Clique - an exhibition of WA Fashion Through The Lens. It is all a part of the Telstra Perth Fashion Festival. The art featured was the fashion work of three Western Australian favourites; Christian Blanchard, Stefan Gosatti, and Simon Lekias. Their editorial and catwalk work is, as you can imagine, at the top of the professional tree. But one thing that photo-fans sometimes don't realise - we see most of what they do through printed magazines or phosphor screens, and thesemay sometimes make for visual compromises -...

People ask me what makes my mind up about a product to feature here in the column - seeing as I am tasked with banging out a piece a day all week. Of course there are the promotional briefs from major manufacturers and the announcements of product launch days. These are all necessary to satisfy the urge for novelty on the part of the clients and the urge for money on the part of the management. I understand both urges, and am sympathetic. I go to all the launches I can manage as there is bound to be something to see and hopefully something to eat and drink. That satisfies my urges. But as far as the goods that just sit on the shelf without any especial occasion attached to them, it is really a case of sudden inspiration. As it is a photo safari into the wild warehouse, I suppose you could say the choice is just a whim away...

The whole idea of taking pictures of toy cars - or silverware, jewellery, football fields, etc. - for illustration is to show all of the subject in focus. And to show some part of the surroundings in focus as well. Oh, it is fashionable to have one eye on a bride and groom in focus and everything else fuzzy - the same applies to kittens - and it is easy to get things fuzzy on kittens. But when you are selling something people want to see how good it is rather than how arty you are, and they want to see it all over. Thus the fight on the tabletop for every millimetre of sharpness. The optical facts of life say depth of field is greater with a shorter focal length and this applies to little lenses as well as big ones. The rules that smaller apertures produce more DOF and that moving closer reduces the DOF also stay. It is a balancing act. So far, I have found that, for my purposes, the act balances better with an APS-C sensor. Now...

There is nothing that excites a photographer more than a big, new, complex, camera. A close second is an equally imposing lens - and photographers can be seduced with ease if the gear has some new feature. I often used to think that the lens makers chortled evilly to themselves in their secret laboratories until I saw a not-so-secret Panasonic laboratory at Yamagata in Japan. No-one chortled - they were very serious and careful people. This report has no chortling either, and very little in the way of complexity or imposition. The equipment is not flash-bang pre-order Photokina stuff either - it is readily available goods that Camera Electronic has in stock. But the idea is to see if there is a better way to do a certain task - a task that may be similar to ones that you, the reader, want to do. The brief I gave myself was to see if the smaller sort of compact digital camera was up to the task of small-scale studio illustration. To see whether I had overlooked a resource for my specialised subjects. To...

If there was ever a product category that calls forth innovative design, it's the table-top tripod. It would be crass to name competitor's products in a post about a Manfrotto design, but if you go back over the years in this column you'll see at least five other charming little things - one of which has a design history stretching back over 50 years. And a price tag that looks like a government contract...