Dick’s Rant

I feel I should be writing for the cast of " West Side Story ". Switchblades were always a forbidden topic when I was a kid and I'd bet they're not all that legal nowadays, either. However, you can satisfy your desire to own one with an accessory pack for the Go Pro camera - you won't use it for gang fights, but it'll be a real help when you're diving underwater with the action camera. Over the years the GoPros have built up an enviable reputation for underwater work - all the way from the first models that were displayed on a video stand here in the shop. There was more excitement buying the camera than most of the Hollywood block-busters of the period. It's still that way, but divers know that physics and optics can play against them even when they get the best chances. Put succinctly, life might be in full-colour up here in the dry, but it's a blue-green world down there and it gets bluer the deeper you go. The sunlight that filters down becomes blue-green and unless...

Every time I go wandering through Camera Electronic I find something more that I want. This is pleasant but dangerous - it can disturb the even flow of my bank account and cause me to look upon my present equipment with a jaded eye. I'm reasonably safe in the camera section right now as I seem to have the camera bodies and lenses that will do the things I want to do. I have my desires, of course, and review the announcements from my chosen manufacturer with close attention. Who knows when a pleasant surprise will appear on the horizon...

I've gone through a number of photo eras here and in North America and can look back to compare and contrast them. So, very likely, have you. If you've not experienced them so far, here's hoping you'll get a chance to in the future. The great thing is if you could keep your eyes and ears open to what is being shown and said - you'll find this changes as new tech appears. And it also changes as new advertising agencies get hold of the trade. Way, way back ( dinosaurs, Elvis ) it was the era of the film SLR . They started small and got bigger, rising in price and bloating in size as new features like TTL metering were added. They got bulkier and blockier - I recommend you to some of the Topcon bodies if you fancy yourself something of a weight lifter. Then the size war turned to another front and the compact SLR came in - see the Pentax MX as prime example of small thinking - the Olympus OM series as well. Then the automatic...

I am not a user of the action cameras. I don't disapprove of them - far from it - but I 'm not that active. People want to see themselves bicycling down Niagara Falls, not sitting in the workshop painting a model airplane. My pictures stay still, and so do I. But you may be different, and that is where the GoPro and other action cameras of the past decade have scored such success. They are mostly easy to use and mostly successful. There have been constant improvements in performance and the price has not soared past the point where most people can afford them. And they have been blessedly easy to use in most cases - all the way through to the bit where you show the vision on the family television screen and people wince in fear or embarrassment. And they have been remarkably sensible in keeping the mounting and operation design criteria constant through the development time - while making enough optional accessories to equip an army of enthusiasts. Sometimes it is almost like looking at an old Leica...

Our featured image is somewhat of a scoop for the Camera Electronic Weblog column Rumours Section. It is a hastily-snatched image of the new control panel on the Flapoflex Digital Overreacher camera. Taken on the testing track at a secret location outside of Northam, it shows the user-friendly nature of the streamlined interface that Flapoflex will be introducing in their new range of cameras. A lot of us have complained about the number of times we have had to push buttons to steer through a menu. On some of the smaller compact cameras nearly all the commands were done with the menu button and you daren't decide to change from one major setting to the next if there is any action going on - the fistfight in the ballerina's dressing room will be long over before you get all the darned buttons pushed. Plus sometimes the buttons are so small and so haphazardly-placed as to defeat us. Not so with the Flapoflex Overreacher. Every knob, slider, pushbutton, and socket on this camera is there right in front of you and they are...

After guessing your way through the focus bracketing, shifting, or stacking settings on your camera and setting yourself up to take 25 shots of the flower in the garden you might set the thing going and be surprised at the results: a. The program refuses to stack all the pictures. Some of them are too far out of whack to stack. The subject moved in the interval of the shots and the Adobe goblin inside Photoshop refuses to work. Answer? Protect that flower from the wind with a big sheet of cardboard around it. Use light blue or neutral green. Reduce the interval of the shots to 0 and use the electronic rather than mechanical shutter. Use a tripod. b. The camera buzzes along merrily but stoped at 14 shots when you set it for 25. Don't feel bad. The processor that has been recording the shots has looked at the sharpness in each one and stopped taking them when it has judged that you've got enough. This could be when you reach infinity or when you just run past the edge of the flower...

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...