January 2019

What do you do when you run out of arm? When you cannot hold a camera high enough - or low enough - or far enough outside a railway carriage - to get the shot you need? Why you hire an assistant who is built like a giraffe or a toad - and is disposable enough that when the railway train goes through an unexpected tunnel you need not worry. Or you get yourself a Zhiyun Crane 2 - the gimbal arm that adds extra function to itself. The gimbal as a means of stabilising a video or still shot was covered in one of the previous posts. It's principle is simple - it is slippery enough in several planes and can be programmed to keep you camera pointed where you specify even if you do not have your eye on the viewfinder or your hands on the body. It can smooth out the jerks and swoops that you make as you film a scene. It is the small version of the big apparatus that Hollywood uses to stabilise cinema cameras (...

We were always expected to maintain a stiff upper lip in school - even when the various pedants set above us had descended to throwing chalkboard erasers and hitting us with sticks. It was meant to show character. I was fortunate in that I had none - and therefore the scornful commands had no effect. As far as stiff upper anything in photography, the closest we come to it is a large tripod anchored in concrete. Useful, but limited when you want to take it down to the beach or out to a race track. The Chinese firm Zhiyun have a couple of alternative suggestions - one of which is seen in today's column: the Crane Plus. If you are going to use your camera for video work you are probably going to have to take it elsewhere and move with it as you shoot. The possibility of shaky images and jumpy screen shots increases  as you get more imaginative and faster moving. Here's the answer for the DSLR or mirror-less user - the Crane Plus. You charge the batteries, load them in...

And who wouldn't trade a bride if they could, eh? I stopped being romantic about weddings a long time ago, but I suspect that there are many who still are - not least the people getting married. Thus the business of wedding photography employs quite a few people. Some of them work for studios - some of them work for themselves - but they should all work for the married couple If possible, with them, not against them...

Okay, that's hooey. Plastic dies regularly - just when you need it most. It explodes into shards and falls to the ground. Witness plastic cutlery and dinner plates. But plastic design never does - and we've been seeing plastic design in the matter of photo tripods for decades. Here's an example.   Sirix are a Chinese firm who make tripods that look remarkably like the ones we saw 20 years ago on the general photo market. Their legs and tripod screws are metal, but nearly everything else about them is black plastic. To be fair, it seems good quality material made up in familiar form. Professionals wanting an industrial-grade tripod for studio use can stop reading right now and go earn a living. The rest of us may actually benefit from the Sirix Digital Tripod more than you'd think. To start with...

Here's a little product that was lurking on the sales floor this morning in CE - the Kii Pix  instant printer. It is the sort of device that is somewhat practical ad totally fun. And it will sit and fit with a lot more people than you'd imagine. The mobile phone - or smart phone, if you come from a part of the world where phones are more intelligent than their owners  - contains a lot more of the imagery of the world than the average camera. It certainly contains more of the personal history - once the call records are subpoenaed...

Knobs, as opposed to buttons. Some retirements have calibrated dials and vacuum tubes that need to warm up before they work - that is why retirees rarely start to really move before 9:00 in the morning. ( Except for the ones who have a front porch overlooking the freeway and they like to sit out with a cup of tea, watch the traffic jams, and laugh...

I reported on the Fujifilm X-100F some time ago - comparing and contrasting the black version of this camera with the black X-100 that I owned at that time. They were separated by a number of generations of development but closely tied in form and function - go look in the archives of this column if you'd like to read the original articles. The last report on this one was on the 22nd of June and was pretty comprehensive in explaining the retro nature of the model. I'm afraid I got canned on our Facebook page for this post by a reader who thought I hadn't pointed out the right features. I daresay he is leaping for the keyboard right now, but what the heck - the camera is a bit of a gem. This week I was curious to see what might be made of the images taken at closer distances...

And this time it's not the maple syrup - it's the vexed question of what lens to get whan you have no idea - no idea what you you will be taking pictures of, what your camera can do, where you'll be going, or why you want the pictures. If this sounds a bit vague...