Author: Uncle Dick

Or How I Learned to Love Our Helvetic Overlords. You rarely think of the Swiss as an imperial nation - stuck as they are behind Alpine passes guarded by glaciers and barriers of chocolate. If you give them a thought it is of Heidi and her goats and/or skiers swooshing down mountains. Yet Switzerland does have a dark ambition...

I wouldn't like this to get out to the fans of other camera makers but we need to talk. There are new cameras in the offing and we don't yet know what they are going to be like. We need to be prepared. I say " we " because I am one of " us " . I used to be one of " them " but " they " complained and I had to run for it. In any case I currently have 5 Fujifilm cameras sharing 7 lenses and can claim at least a passing acquaintance with the brand. And that means I know what they do when no-one is looking. They use up their batteries. It was sort of sad with the Fujifilm X-10  - those slim little batteries the size of halloween chocolate bars. You could do wonders with the camera but you needed 3 charged batteries every time you left the house. Then the X-100 and a slightly larger battery...

We often show the instant cameras that are popular with analog photographers - Impossible Project ones or Leica ones or Fujifilm ones - we've even had Lomo instant cameras. But we rarely feature the most important part of their makeup - the film packs. The question of film for Polaroid Cmaeras - either original or revamped - is a more complex one than that for the Fujifilm Instax systems. So let's look at what was on the rack at Stirling Street. Eight Squares in colour for $ 30 but beware that it fits the new cameras: And here's the monochrome version for the same price. Should you have a Polaroid Pop camera with the inkless thermal technology you shoot more pictures for less money. But going away from the Polaroid-centric supplies, here are the various choices for the Fujifilm Instax System. Not all cameras are represented here but be assured that the Leica film is, indeed, Instax. The joy of Instax for Fujifilm is that it sells by the trainload. It is one of the major earners for their photo division in Japan and I'll bet...

The tripod and head stand at Camera Electronic is currently playing host to some of the final components of the Cullman Titan and Concept systems. These are particularly suited to people doing videos who wish to add the stability of a pan/tilt head to their productions. The heads are excellent and their prices even more so. The big daddy is the TW 99 two-way head. Able to hold the largest of consumer or semi-pro cameras, it will smoothly pan and tilt on top of any large pair of legs. It will also provive pro panoramas on the top turntable. Attachment is for the Arca-Swiss system. Note that the price is halved from the original. It comes in a padded carry bag. If you're dealing with lighter cameras and smaller Cullmann legs, consider the convertible Concept One OH 4.5 V. It has a two-way locking mechanism that can convert the still ball head to a pan/tilt head for video work. It comes complete with Concept quick release plate and video handle. A very good choice if you are wrangling a long lens on a mirrorless...

You might be forgiven for thinking that wireless triggers are simple things. So they are, when all you wish to do is tell a circuit to close at a distance from the camera. You put a transmitter on the hot shoe of the camera, a receiver under the speedlight out in the distance, and fire away. As long as the things are plugged in correctly and the AA batteries are fresh, it works every time. When you start to go TTL, however, and start to introduce different models of different maker's flashes, the whole thing becomes as complex as a spider's web. Here's a collage of images from the different trigger systems here in the shop on just one day. Beware that not all triggers made are shown - you have miles to go in this forest before you can sleep...

That sounds like a waspish little criticism, but it's not. It's actually praise for the decision that the Nikon designers made when they decided upon a short telephoto for the new mirrorless Z system. Short tele has always been the choice for portraitists in the film era. Now that we are in the 24 x 36 digital era the same optical rules apply as before and this focal length can come back as a head and shoulders choice. At 80 cm - the closest focusing distance  - and the widest aperture of f:1.8 - you'll have a whopping depth of field of 54 mm! Everything else is going to be bokeh and/or mush. Very good mush, though, as this is the highest performing 85mm lens Nikon has made. Also one of the sleekest - it all happens inside and it all talks to the camera inside. You'll get a choice of AF or manual outside and the biggest focusing ring you've ever seen. And a very clean back end - Nikon lens designers must have had a week-long party when the management decided to...