April 2017

Do you have an abbey window handy? Do you have a top hat? Do you have a new Ilford Obscura pinhole camera kit? Well you too can be Henry Fox Talbot and be the envy of your friends at the camera club. Okay, it is not quite the same as using glass lenses in one of HFT's famous 'mousetrap ' cameras and your finished product is not going to be made on salted paper but the procedure is similar and if you choose historical subjects you can give yourself a feeling for the past that digital work just does not provide. Sure, computer manipulation and plug-ins will deliver the calotype look, but actually going out there and doing a very long exposure provides the experience as well. Just be prepared for foolish abuse if you opt to do it in Victorian clothing. Perth is not as sophisticated as it likes to think. Trust me on this...

I am going to risk it. I know the ice is thin, and the nerves even thinner, but here goes: another review of a Sony product. Or rather, a product that can be used with a Sony camera… I have reported on Peak Design equipment before, and from the original mention some years back until now, my opinion of the brand has improved. I think it is because their design department have had better ideas and their manufacturing division has been able to translate these into good products. The Original peak Design product we saw in Camera Electronic was a belt holder for cameras - a quick release clamp that enabled you to put a camera on your shoulder strap or belt and then secure it with a click of a button. The CE staff at the time all got samples to go away and try - I demurred  - the idea seemed uncomfortable. Whenever I tried it I envisaged disaster if I was not careful how I mounted the camera. Remember I’m the man who dropped a Leica M3 with a...

The history of science is dotted with people who have said - “ What If? “ - and in many cases have levelled entire city blocks finding out. Photographers too, have uttered those words, but generally have only managed to blow the doors off the darkroom. I have passed by the Leica 1F in the secondhand Leica cabinet for years - the one with the MIKRA 1/3 attachment on the front of it - with never more than a passing recognition that it is a camera that has been in service for years and has never actually been used all that much. This is a camera that has been adapted for use on the eyepiece of a standard clinical microscope. I am willing to bet it lurked in the back cupboard of some university departmental lab since the late 1950’s and was rarely taken out. To turn around an old slogan - it’s had fewer shots than you’ve had hot dinners… Well, the basic camera is a screw-mount body with no slow speeds, no finder, and a variable synchronising control. It could readily...

Idling away on the South Perth foreshore one evening, I was trying to think of a use for the Perth skyline. I mean, they've taken a lot of trouble putting lights on the buildings and all and it seems only courteous to take some sort of notice. Then I read further into the instruction booklet that came with the new Fujifilm EF X-500 electronic flash. The Fujifilm people make a reasonably good set of instructions and the flash itself is easy to master. The bit that intrigued me was the arrangement that could be made for multiple flashes. You have three decisions to make via the page buttons and the scroll wheel: a. Level of manual flash power. b. Number of flashes that you want to fire. c. Length of time over which you want to fire them. Each one of the flashes will record as a separate illumination in the final frame while the background will keep burning into the image. If you want to capture the movements of the subject cleanly, you need a black backdrop...

Which is a blatant lie. It's a Leica Boutique cabinet - it looks the same as the Leica Boutique cabinet in the Stirling Street store. Which looks the same as the Leica Boutique cabinets in Tokyo, Singapore, Sydney, and probably every other major city in the world. Black MDF cabinet, red interior, red dot on top. Leica are smart people - and I am not talking just about the cameras and lenses and binoculars...

A recent weekend spent playing with the new Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mk II showed me how useful it would be for macro work and studio product illustration. This column showed some of the ways that the focus bracketing and focus stacking features helped to tame the problem of depth of field. Kudos to Olympus. Also, my foray to Jandakot airport showed their long telephoto lens and their superb image stablising systems making short work of long-distance coverage in bumpy conditions. Instant desire to own one...