Now will be the time to plan: a. Getting away with the kids. b. Getting away from the kids. Whichever appeals to you, you'll find that you will be pursued by modern life all the while - specifically modern life on the mobile phone. Whether your day will be devoted to calling your stockbroker, calling the au pair, or calling the emergency services, you'll find that the batteries on the wonderful new phone you bought will go flat very fast. You'll flatten them even faster if you are going to zombie around looking for Japanese electronic pocket monsters. And once you are beyond the mains electricity system those flat batteries put you in danger of having to look up and see trees and sky. Camera Electronic can protect you from this with the Sirix Digital Solar Power Bank. It contains a Lithium Polymer battery with 5000 mAh capacity that pumps out the correct voltage to mobile devices. It can draw power from other sources if you're impatient, but the big deal is that it has a solar panel on the front that can charge it up all day...

If you've been tempted to buy one of the Fujifilm X-100 series cameras over the last few years - the X-100, the X-100S, the T-100T, or the current X-100F, you may have thought that you were going to get the full digital experience. Well, I gotta tell you that they have left a few things out of the cameras. Here's what you'll be missing out on: a. Sticky rubber coverings that swell up and detach from the body casting. I was never able to destroy the covering of the original X-100 in five years of ownership and I don't think I could budge the current stuff  either. If you want to make it look scuffy and grungy you'll have to use a wood chisel. b. Stylish internet app bluetooth brainwave controls. Fujifilm decided to let it all hang out - you change the ISO, shutter speed, and aperture with old-fashioned turning dials with click stops. You press a shutter button that looks like a shutter button. It is under your finger, rather than hiding coyly. It's like they just don't want to...

I was delighted with the Tamron Tap-in Console when I opened the box in the studio. I don't own a DSLR or a Tamron SP lens, but  the look of this accessory is reward enough - it's like having an electronic hockey puck with a USB interface, eh? For the people who use the higher end Nikon or Canon DSLR bodies and want to pair them with compatible Tamron lenses, this "hockey puck" acts as an interface to do a number of things: Put in firmware updates that may be issued by Tamron. Put in correction factors for individual lenses in regard to auto focusing at three separate distances. You have to determine the best correction numbers by separate test but once achieved you can lock them in via Tamron website commands. Put in auto-focus limiting modifications if you want to change the range of this. Decide whether you'll need MF and optimise the focus ring operation. Optimise how the stabilisation system of the lens acts according to your own needs. These are valuable things to control - but you'll have to...

Or more precisely, the Friday presentation by Telstra and the Seniors Recreation Council Of Western Australia at the Loftus Centre. I was asked by Saul to take a trade stand from Camera Electronic to help out Martin and Dawn Yates and I am very glad I did - it was a lot of fun. The main tenor of the morning was Telstra explaining the new NBN and telephone services - Martin had a good segment on mobile phone use for photography - and it was aimed specifically at senior people. As I is one of them, I can appreciate the time taken and the style of presentation. I tried to do the same for the people who visited our table with photographic enquiries. We ran a free draw-for-a-camera box - and the resultant presentation of a Canon IXUS 185 should make the lady who won it very happy - it will be a good combination of automation and clear photos for her. You can do a very great deal with the modern compact camera that even the professional users of more complex...

Not that I am suspicious of every lighting accessory that I come across but it pays to be wary in the studio. A little time taken setting up means a lot less time sitting at the computer moving sliders. The Phottix Nuada panels were new in the store room so I bagged one and brought it home in the latest test batch. They are intended for portable video lighting but the temptation to turn one onto a model car was irresistable. Students of geometry on the tabletop will calculate that this panel is roughtly like having a giant softbox in a portrait studio.  It pumps out far more light than the standard IKEA planet lamps.                 The battery is the familiar Sony-style NP-F550 with a battery charger that plugs into a USB port. I only gave it about 10 minutes juice but had enough in it by then to go up to full power for the table shoot. The specs say that you could get 100 minutes on a full charge at 100% power, so that is pretty impressive. The panel has a...

Remember Victor Kiam? He was the chap we used to see on television advertisements in the 1970's selling shavers. His signature line was that he was Victor Kiam and he liked the Remington electric razor so much that he bought the company. As he was a successful entrepreneur in lots of fields, he may very well have been telling the truth. His confidence sold a lot of razors and I bought one of them. Had it ever actually shaved my face comfortably I would have probably kept it. However...

Nothing like a tortured pun to start the morning, eh? Well, read on - it gets worse. The Peak Design people have always had innovative ideas about slinging cameras. We saw them first in the era of the quick-draw holster camera rig - this was about five years ago - when the flavour of the month was finding some way to suspend a heavy camera from your belt or backpack strap instead of hanging it round your neck. Their offering was a two-part metal plate that sandwiched the belt and then accepted a dedicated plate attached to the camera. It actually worked, but like many such rigs, it was fiddly to set up and required a good degree of faith to hang expensive gear on while you clambered over rocks and bodies. And it didn't quite have the kewl factor of some of the other contenders. ( My favourite was the Mississippi Traffic Cop rig that one English firm put out. You got a Sam Browne Belt made with enough bulk to suspend a hawg laig pistol...

And who doesn't like large prospects? Well, if you've decided to be a bit more ambitious with your camera choice - and hoist medium-sized lenses - you'll want to advance  from yesterday - so today you get the Manfrotto Compact Advanced tripod. Bigger, longer legs - a heftier ball head - and the classic Manfrotto quick release mechanism for your camera. Still the same plastic leg clips and yoke, but bigger. One extra leg segment. A separate panning lock and action. And the Manfrotto quick mount plate - possibly the most common feature of many of their tripods. It has a positive locking mechanism to prevent inadvertent opening And enogh of a foot to cope with anything up to a medium DSLR. The tripod is still light enough to haul out on a hike or around a city centre. It is small enough to leave in the boot of your car in its bag all the time when you're motoring. If nothing else, you can enliven a long country trip by setting it up at a layby and pretending to be a Multinova. Just...