April 2018

Let us have a little respect for the bottle of film developer you see in the heading image. It is older than Camera Electronic. It is older than any of you. It may possibly be older than Keith Richards. Not the actual bottle, mind. That's new plastic. The label is new. Even the maker is newish - ADOX rather than Agfa. But the stuff inside has a history going back to the 19th century. It's a re-issue of Rodinal - a  viscous straw-coloured fluid based on 4-aminophenol that was first patented in 1891. It's undergone a number of business sales to eventully end up in the ADOX stable but the basic stuff is the same. This is not a fine-grain developer. It'll make the silver grains big and sharp and you need to choose your film accordingly. Also choose your format - I used it with glee on 4 x 5 sheet films. The negatives are very sharp indeed. Apparently some photographers are said to treat them post-development in an effort to tone down this acutance. Seems odd in an age that values...

You need three ingredients to do correct processing of black and white film; tomatoes, onions, and capsicums. No, wait. That was the next page of the recipe book. That one is for Italian sauce. What you really need for film processing is developer, stop bath, and fixer. Mind you, if you've already started and poured the first mixture into the tank you may want to boil some spaghetti and take a break for a while. The standard developer used to be whatever was your standard. In the film era there were literally dozens of choices of chemical for the first step - Kodak, Agfa, Ilford, Adox, Gevaert, and co, and all the rest made powdered and liquid solutions for all sorts of films. You could deal with slow films, panchromatic films, orthochromatic films, fast films, films in the arctic, films in the tropics, portrait films, x-ray films, microfilms, etc. And there were books of formulae that each devotee just knew held the secret to success. Not a few darkrooms had a set of chemist's scales for weighing out the exotic components. Photographers sometimes suffered for...

I hesitated to use the term " Old School " in the header as it is overused these days - everything from hot rods to casserole recipes is referred to in these terms. The most frustrating thing about it is the fact that often the items  presented have very little to do with previous designs. It's like seeing " retro " used in the electronics section of the department store on modern internet music players. Some of us who went to the old schools...

As a dental student in the late 60's I had to buy loads of expensive gear that the University Of WA Dental School refused to provide. I initially thought that was mean of them, but came to realise that it was just their weary experience of dental students making off with things. My own instruments were marked with a registered number at the start of the year but could be found in everyone else's cabinets within two weeks...

We sold Manfrotto joystick heads - both the 322 lay-down and the 222 upright - for as long as I worked behind the counter and it looks as though there is still a call for them - fresh stock in the storeroom. I was always interested to see who bought them, and to ask why they chose the design. Some of the answers were surprising. Many wanted them for action shooting - thinking to follow some moving object and then freeze the head at the moment of release. I could never actually see this working - I always envisaged someone tracking a bird or animal with a pan and tilt head or a gimbal and then shooting on the move as they were able to lock on the track. But perhaps some subjects move, then freeze briefly and this is the interval when the joystick head locks. I was a little more convinced when I met someone who did not have the chance to use two hands to position the camera. The fact that the 322 joystick can be configured to a right,...

Once you find it, go get the piggy bank and the cookie jar. Bash them into fragments, collect the saved-up money inside, and head to Camera Electronic today. They've got a special deal on the Olympus OM-D E-M10 MkII and three lenses - you'll get them and a spare battery for just under $ 1200. It's the best money you'll spend all year. This, coming from a dedicated Fujifilm user, is high praise indeed. The camera and lens combo means that nearly any photoshoot you want to do is within your grasp straight away. The results from the Micro 4/3 sensor on the Olympus are superb - I've tested these cameras in the Little Studio and would rate them equally as good, if not better, for my close-up specialty. The inclusion of the 14-42mm zoom lens in the kit means that your travel shots are taken care of and the dedicated portraiteur can leave the 45mm prime on the camera forever. Sporty types may elect to do the same with th 10-150mm lens. Whatever, you have them all there ready to go today. Make...

A great deal of photographic equipment is novel - at least it is the first time you see it. And some items are frivolous - mere mechanical bagatelles. Not so today's featured device. The box said Manfrotto 405 New Geared Head. I'm glad it was on a low shelf because I would not have liked to lift it down - it was a heavy box. The camera head inside turns out to be the closest thing to a naval cannon mount that you can buy commercially...

I was a little taken aback when I saw the label for the Manfrotto 410* - it says " Junior Geared Head ". But it is actually quite large. I would say that this device would be capable of managing nearly all modern cameras. Certainly the specifications say it'll hold 5 Kg. But 5 Kg of what? What photographic equipment needs a geared tripod head - and when should you employ it? Well, the first thought that came to mind was the Little Studio studio stand - normally sporting a large Gitzo pan and tilt head, it was perfect for this one as well. the gearing is quite slow and means that you are not fighting to tap the camera assembly into a horizontal position - you can just wind it slowly into registry. Thank goodness the Fujifilm cameras all seem to have a green artificial horizon line that comes on as this happens. If you need to get close enough quickly the larger flanges seen on the control wheels are release mechanisms - twist them and the whole thing becomes loose -...

Ever since I started to do studio photography I gained new respect for the chaps who put up scaffolding and hoardings on building sites. You see their structures all the time but you don't stop to think of how complex they are until you start to try to bolt together a set of camera or light supports. More often than not in the Little Studio the parts used are made by Manfrotto. This blithely named product - the MS050M4-Q2 - is just such a component - but rather than holding lights or backdrop rolls, it's a camera support...