Dick’s Rant

Now I get to have my fun - I’ve got a Tamron macro lens and I’m not afraid to use it! I’ve also got a new model car and a fresh pot of coffee. The people who seek macro lenses for their Nikon and Canon bodies are well served by their respective  manufacturers. There is no denying that in each case there is a range of macro lenses and one standout lens that the shooter can purchase to go to for superb results. The standout macro lenses have focal lengths that hover around the 90-105mm mark - and for a good reason. You can get good distortion correction there and a useful stand-off distance from the subject - even when you are cranking the lens to a true 1:1 ratio. The performances and weights of these premium lenses are reflected in the prices, which are also weighty. There has always been another alternative - the Tamron 90mm macro lens. It has in the past had a much lighter mount but an extremely good optical performance. Many people who didn't want to pay the major...

You may have noted a few irregularities in the presentation of this column in the last week or so. We apologise for any confusion. The changeover to the Wordpress system has gone largely as planned, though there have been a few inadvertent postings and one missed day due to security changes. The keyboard here at the editorial desk has also absorbed what looks to be the remains of a scone with jam on it - strawberry jam - and as a result the "e" key sometimes sticks. I note that occasionally the word "the" is rendered as " thee". While we are friendly, we have not become Friends. There will be no "thou". On an upbeat note, the graphic design department of the Weblog has acquired a new secondhand Pepin Press book of 1950's floral designs. Whenever there is no particular camera or lens to illustrate you can have a nice pattern - the featured image may well be Mamie Eisenhower's bathroom curtains....

A little while ago I reported on a stylish messenger bag from Peak Design that featured industrial-strength closures combined with an unusual fabric colour. It was stylish to the max but imminently practical - a good example of industrial design finally intertwining with fashion. Well, if you need to carry more camera gear and want to carry it on a different portion of your body, have a look at the Peak Design Everyday 20L backpack. It looks as though you finally have something that need not be seen halfway up a mountain to look right - this one you can take round town. As an aside, I wonder who would need a backpack in town? Editorial shooters with lots of gear and a fair way to hike in the urban canyons? Wedding shooters who do not want to look out of place but still need to pack spare cameras, lenses, and tranquillizer darts? Food shooters who need to do their work in restaurant kitchens and might at any moment be chased by a chef with a knife? I tremble. Well anyway, the fabric and...

Anyone who has eaten at a Perth pub has noticed that there are generally three things on the menu: a dish that is so expensive that it makes the rest of the stuff look affordable…a dish that is so cheap that you know it is going to taste bad…and everything else in between. If you are wise enough not to order fish surprise on Monday or vegan-free gluten salad at any other time you should be able to get along pretty well. If the price of a pint is the same price as filling your car’s fuel tank, drink petrol. Same goes with cameras and lenses. You can glance over the wildly foolish shelves to start with and marvel at the temerity of the manufacturer. Then you can look at the goods that are so down-market as to be subterranean. Then you can shift to the sensibly-priced section and actually get down to business. We all do this and the business gets down...

Flower enthusiasts and botanists - and fungus people - are all experts in their fields. No, really they are. They know what looks good and right and how to grow it or find it. As a result their photos can be wonderful art - provided they can do the technical steps necessary to capture what they can see onto the digital memory. I approach the thing from the other end - I know how to make the picture look good but have no way of getting the garden to support me in the endeavour.  I have succeeded in killing artificial plants… All this said, here are a few test shots taken in our front-yard flower cemetery and back-yard weed factory. The items were selected with an eye to test out the Olympus OM-D E-M10 hand-held as if the user was a complete fool in the garden. As if… Note that the camera and lens are perfectly balanced for hand-held macro shots. You support the lens with the left hand and poke the shutter button with the right thumb. Your third and fourth arms...

In space no-one can hear you scream. The same applies to your own photographic studio if you pad the walls thickly enough. It’s not the screaming that the neighbours mind - it’s the language. I try not to make the Little Studio into an F*** stop… But occasionally the cries can be those of delight - particularly if the planned shoot goes well. This week’s investigation of the reconditioned Olympus OM-D E-M10 was one of those times. The two models chosen: the 90’s-style chopped ’39 Chevrolet and the Toyota Toyo-ace tray-top. The former is a 1:18 scale model with the peculiar characteristic of throwing light everywhere and the latter is a 1:64 Tomy model from Japan. The idea was to see how the 12-50mm f:3.5-6.3 EZ lens would cope with the depth of field problem and also to see if the vaunted Olympus image stabilisation system actually works.   [caption id="attachment_33448" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA[/caption] Forgive me, Burke, for the word “ actually “. It makes it sound like I doubt the claims that Olympus make. But I am from Missouri when it comes...

Watching clients persuading themselves to spend large amounts of money was always a fun thing. Even if you were not the sales assistant directly concerned with the sale - standing there with visions of commission dancing in your eyes - you were cheered and encouraged by the enthusiasm of the buyer. I’m happy to say that many people who had the money…spent that money…and I hope they have had a wonderful time with the camera equipment they bought. Funnily enough I also experienced a thrill of achievement when I saw a person doing the opposite - persuading themselves to be frugal and to only buy what they needed. I admired people who knew what they wanted and who knew why they wanted it. It was the best indication that they were going to be successful with their photography. Technical matters can be mastered - artistic ideas can be learned - but inner knowledge is something that is more valuable than either. So…This is the start of a sales pitch. Put up your catcher’s mitt for the next couple of posts and watch...

Having been taken to task by a reader when he felt I had compared apples to oranges in a week’s posting on Sony cameras, I am going to be careful with this one - I wish to state that I am comparing watermelons to water pumps. It is a perfectly legitimate technique as long as you have somewhere to spit the seeds. Another person also complained that I seem to feature a lot of toy cars in my weblog columns. This is perfectly accurate - I do. They are ready models ( ! ) for studio work and I strive to improve my illustration techniques with them. I’m happy to say there is an international internet group of like-minded enthusiasts who appreciate them. In fact, if you want to know how to take toy car pictures, I am the go-to guy. It’s a very small niche and pays nothing at all, apart from the weblog columns, but it is a genuine part of me. It’s what I do. Other photographers that I know are the go-to’s for other work; If you want to...