Dick’s Rant

And if you hit the focus stacking piñata hard enough, all sort of cameras and systems fall out! I thought It was only me and the Olympus users who were in on the secret of automatic focus stacking. Hah. It looks as though lots of people using a modern mirrorless from one of the big Japanese makers - and some who are using DSLRs - can get lucky. My Fujifilm X-T2 and many subsequent models have the auto bracketing. Olympus cameras do - Panasonic cameras do ( though they use a slightly different idea that makes use of a 4k burst while running through the focus range ) and YouTube says newer Sony picture boxes will do it too. How about Nikon? Now that they are producing top-quality mirrorless cameras - the Z 5 , Z 6, and Z 7, surely they might be candidates? I called Michael Philips, our state Nikon Australia expert, and put the question to him. He confirmed the good news, and went off and did some experimenting of his own to find the answers to some of the questions....

Well, the new computer was full of the new program - Photoshop 2019 - and I didn't understand 1/50 of the commands and shortcuts - but the YouTube teacher had shown the two or three steps to engage the focus stacking machinery - and I followed from an iPad as he did it. I took a series of pictures of a model airplane from the machine gun tripod - changing the focus with the lens ring along the model as I went. I used manual focus and just watched the red focus indicator line move along the wing from closest to furthest, producing 15 separate exposures. Fortunately the Elinchrom lights I use are very consistent from one shot to the next if you give about 5 seconds for a re-charge between shots and then 5 minutes for a cool-down at the end. I'd shot RAW images and then passed them through Lightroom for correction and onto Photoshop for the stacking. PS tries to automatically align the 15 shots - dead easy if the subject and camera are static. Then it makes masks...

My colleagues at Camera Electronic called my attention to an LED ring light the other day that is fitted with a mount for your mobile phone and an adjustable slider to change the white balance of the diodes from blue to orange. Not completely, mind, but enough so that they influence the colour temperature of the ring light's white light. I think it is designed to make the selfie more attractive in odd lighting. This can only be good. I hope that there will be further development in this idea - and the next stage should be a light that analyses the ambient colour temperature and matches it with those adjustable LEDs. This would either involve a sensor that looked toward the subject and made the decision, or a light that could take instructions from the processor inside the phone ( or small camera ) as to what judgement it was making about the AWB setting. Then a quick electronic handshake and secret lodge nod between the various machines and the picture would be taken. This rather fetchingly-packaged light from Manfrotto would also be...

I like to go to the camera events at CE when there is something new in the offing and the local representatives have a worked up a slide show and sample to introduce it. There is nearly always something to eat and drink and equally, there is nearly always something new to learn. Wednesday night was no exception. Sheryl Maugher is now working for the Sony people and she brought along the full-frame Sony Alpha 7s III camera*. As well as the factory slide show she was able to list all the new features of the camera. The surprising thing was that, though it is certainly suitable for still photography, the Sony concept is much broader and envisages this camera being used for some high-end video work. The first clue to this was when she said it has 12.1 megapixels on the sensor. 12.1? In a day when other cameras are being pressed upon us with 45+ megapixels? And this on a full-frame 24 x 36 sensor? By the people who make sensors for everyone else?  With a new Bionz XR processor? What...

Watching the popular photography market in the late film era was rather like watching the bubbles in a bottle of fizzy drink - one that had been left on a warm window sill. What started out as lively effervescence slowed down, bubbles became fewer, and smaller, and eventually were no more - the lemonade was finally flat. The fact that the Russians try to sell flat lemonade from the Leningradskoye Optiko-Mekhanicheskoye Obyedinene for the next two decades is neither here nor there. Digital won when Kodak and Agfa packed their carpet bags and ran for the train. This saddened me for a long time until I finally accepted that I do much more and do it much more happily with my choice of digital equipment. Like a lot of older photographers I had grown up with the film cameras and learned to love them. In the end I decided I could still love them but with fond memory rather than creaking passion. Thus I can look at the examples we see on the CE shelves - or in Michael's camera museum in...

I'm great at making my mind up about things, as long as I can dislike them. Negativity is one of my positive traits - it lets me know where I don't want to go and what I don't want to do. I generally discover these two things after I've gone there and done them. Sometimes it's nice to make a change and find out the good stuff rather than the bad - and in the back end of the Stirling Street shop is a rack of producs that will let me do just that - the sample paper packs. I was drawn to this familiar area the other week by the two green packets you see here: They are made of unusual materials - hemp and cotton in one case and agave in the other. Both are listed on their respective packets as fast growing, sustainable, and renewable - an important thought for some photographers. You get three A4 sheets in each packet to to test with colour or monochrome printing. Quite apart from the economic and political aspects of this, they...

Let me start this column by recognising the basic nonsense of the title. Money is always an object - either as a number on a screen or a pile of bills and coins. It is also an objective for most of the people who come into the shop - including the staff and management. If you doubt this, bait a three-gang hook with a $ 100 bill, cast it in through the door, and wait until the line jiggles. When you reel it in you'll be surprised who you meet...

What is a real deal? a. An actual thing that is right there in front of you - as opposed to a promised product that has just popped up as a Kickstarter with the possible idea that it might be a concept. The difference between a wannabe and be. If it can be dropped on your foot, it's a real deal. b. A good deal - something that is well-priced. A bargain. A snip, an advantageous purchase, a sales item. If you feel the need to run out yelling at your husband to start the car ( see IKEA ad ) it's a real deal. c. A product that has proved itself to someone other than just the advertising department. It has been on the market as a demonstration item - or has been sold to another successful photographer  - and is now back on the table to commence work again. If it's been used and has worn out the first user - it's a real deal. The featured products today qualify on all these grounds. All three are Leica-related - two of them made by...