November 2020

And not those kind of toys. I mean the ones that you can shop for openly, bring home proudly, and play with out in the open air. When you are a kid, every toy shop is magic, and you want to pay with everything. When you're a teenager, you're too cool for toys, and you are careful not to seem interested. When you get older, and past that painful stage, you get to play again...

I presume we all know what a Zoom meeting is by now. Those of you who have not experienced one yet during the virus lockdown period please put your hands out on the table. My assistant will move through the room hitting them with a claw hammer. Most zoom meetings feel like this, but not as nice. You can see why I was a little hesitant to sign myself up for the Leica zoom meeting last night. It was advertised as a launch for the Leica Q2 Monochrom camera - promised for several weeks with proper registration and code numbers an everything. I signed up as a matter of reporter's interest and got in a cask of cheap wine in preparation for the ordeal. Leica Australia were good enough to send email reminders that it was coming up, so I had no excuse. The day dawned, the hour rolled up, and the code went in. Lo and behold, the screen opened up on a chap from Leica speaking about the camera while showing the new device next to its colour - capable sister;...

  Some years ago I was delighted when my friend Warren visited the shop and bought a small camera bag. As much for the social contact as the sale - it got pretty fraught on Friday when the point of sale computer program refused to cooperate and no help was offered. I was glad he had cash as I could not have faced another EFTPOS incident. As a passing comment he mentioned that he wished the manufacturers of little digital cameras would make some that resembled older film cameras - the bellows types or box cameras. Warren is a re-enactor and part of his role involves capturing images while in character. An "old camera " new camera would be perfect for what he does. Come to think of it, it would be perfect for what I do as well. I could eschew housing Fujifilm X-series cameras in wooden boxes and haul them out in the vintage world openly. It raised the question in my mind why the Japanese or Chinese firms have not jumped on this little bandwagon straight away. After all, we have seen no end of weird...

Fool that I was, I thought it would be easy. I had seen pictures of travelling photographers at American re-enactments of the Civil War who had marvellous wet-plate cameras and dark tents and customers lined up for miles waiting for an expensive ambrotype photo. I figured I could do that in Australia and make a mint*. 1995. End of the Old Tyme Studio craze in the theme parks - and pretty near the end of the theme parks - and just before the big rise of digital photography. I bought a 150mm Schneider lens, a ratty old Nagoka 4 x 5 camera and a box of film holders. Then a dark bag, and travelling case, enough wood to make a tripod, and an HP Combiplan developing tank. Then...

The advantage of an X-Pan/TX-1 film camera back in the day was the compact nature of the rig vs the large alternatives that Linhof, Fujifilm, and other specialist makers cobbled up for pano work. These behemoths were wonderful, taking very large negatives on roll or sheet film, but they were monsters to haul out to remote places. Every venture to take panoramas for commercial purposes was a complete campaign. The X-Pan/ TX-1, on the other hand was a hand camera using 35mm film - and no larger than a regular rangefinder. It had automatic film advance and sophisticated exposure measuring. It was very nearly as automated as a digital camera - albeit one that threw an image some 23mm x 65 mm on the transparency or negative. Well I propose to throw an image some 23.6 x 7.8 mm on the sensor and trust that modern pixellage will be good enough to cope with it. But I want the historical ease of use. Two choices present themselves for this - the X-Pro1 and the X-E2. I own each of these bodies and they,...

For years I read about the Hasselblad X-Pan camera and the Fujifilm TX-1 - in reality the same camera from the Fujifilm stable but wiht different body treatments - and did not crave one. I owned a Hasselblad and a studio and combined the 6 x 6 format with indoor shots. There was very little call on my part for any sort of panorama work. Indeed, I had decided that I could not see panoramas anyway - I have been wearing glasses for 64 years and they formed the tunnel of my vision. Yet I have a book of Kodak Colorama panos from Grand Central Station and they are some of the most charming advertising shots I've seen...

Specifically, Wha Cha Got Noo? My standard question when I visit the Camera Electronic Shop. Sometimes the staff will throw something to me - sometimes it'll be at me. It pays to be alert. This week I mooned around looking for novelty until the Sony representative - Sheryl Mauger - came in the door and I battened upon her with the question. She plucked out several items - one of which I've put on the heading Image. It's the Sony FE 12mm - 24mm full-frame lens. The reason she pulled ti from the cabinet for my pictures is that it is apparently flying off the shelves. No wonder - an f:2.8 wide-angle zoom for the 24 x 36 sensor size that goes that wide is actually a sensation. Remember that this is a rectilinear view of the world - not a barrel-distorted one or a fish-eye. Think architecture and landscape with the lines straight. This is apparently the widest 2.8 zoom made, and I can see it playing a major part for interior coverage at weddings or conferences that try to look good in reduced...