Tripod Tag

You can keep your turkey and mistletoe. You can keep your carollers and eggnog. I only recognise it as Christmas when the Steadepods come out on the shelf. The Steadepod camera support has been a staple item for Camera Electronics as long as I have been working with the firm. It may be far older than this - for all we know there may be pictures of Keith Richards using one to photograph dinosaurs. It is a sales item that returns every year like swallows or Canada geese - and unlike those birds, Steadepods are safe to look up at as they fly over. The idea may have occurred to the inventor from some military harness, or perhaps from a retractable tape measure. However it came about, it is a very clever solution to the problem of steady shooting or filming for the travelling photographer. And you needn't travel very far - this is the sort of camera accessory that can be used in the tightest of places. I said it was a support, but that's not strictly true - you don't set...

Old advertising principle: you don't show a product you can't sell. Getting the crowd het up is the basis of a lot of advertising. Loosening wallets is a complex activity - there is an entire industry trying to analyse how to do it - but it's no good getting them ready to spend if there is nothing to spend on. When they are finally ready for the snake oil, have the bottles handy. This is a problem with some of the semi-advertising I do in this column. I see an item in CE, feature it a week later, and then find that it has sold out in the interim - leaving any readers who have gone into the shop on my say-so rather put out. I apologise for this, though I'm not sure why. Likewise, I have been dying to tell people to buy some things , but until the shop stocks them, I need to keep mum. At least the featured product today was there when I photographed it, and is a darned good idea. Similar products like it from other makers are also darned...

I am in the habit of pestering the sales staff at the Murray Street and Stirling Street shops for news about goods and good news about older stock. Each staff member has their own field of expertise, and I pick 'em in rotation. One day I asked Ricky in Stirling Street for something interesting. He went to the Sony cabinet - Ricky is the man to talk to about this brand as he uses some of their equipment and knows a lot of their expertise. He plucked out a tiny little tripod and tiny little camera...

And what better tradition than to cut out pictures of the presents you want and leave them casually around the house for the family to see. Or beside their cereal bowls at breakfast. Or nailed to the door. Try to be subtle. I am going to print out several copies of the pictures you see in this column - I have a Gitzo tripod, you see, and at present it has a lesser maker's adjustable head on top of it. Of course that's working fine but in the face of something as magnificent as this device, I am helpless. The advantages of three-way heads are many fold; they can be quite a bit tougher for a smaller profile than their ball-head alternative. They can also be more precise in movement, as you shift one plane of movement at a time. You can frequently come back to the same position reliably. I was dead pleased with what I saw, desiring it mightily...

Every week or so the WEST AUSTRALIAN newspaper runs a section called Market Place that takes a Camera Electronic ad. We vary it throughout the year and it does pretty well. The brief that's given to the writer is to pick a product that fits into a price bracket - it's never too dear - and set it out for the average punter in the paper. This is fun to do. I've completed the latest one for a Joby product, and it'll be fine, but I was a little torn in my work when I realised that we had several good candidates for the page. As it turned out the Manfrotto PIXI Smart lost out on only one point - the packaging. It's a sealed packet, and I hesitated to rip it apart for the illustration shot. The packshot through heavy plastic was done on the floor of the main sales area and showed too many reflections - that yellow hot spot is the edge of the Nikon cabinet. If it had been in the Little Studio I could have lit it...

Okay, it's time to be honest with ourselves. There are things that we desire, but can neither justify nor afford. And I'm not just talking about the kick line in the Zeigfield Follies - I mean the stuff that raises the real lust; photographic equipment. There. I've said it. The cat is out of the bag and yowling to be let out the front door. In five minutes it'll be yowling to be let in. Anyone want a cat? They're cheaper than camera accessories. The heading image is the thing I want, but cannot afford. The desire is purely visceral - there is no actual need for the device. Yet...

I love the Joby people for thinking up the brand name " Gorilla Pod " all those years ago. Also the guys at Maine Wood Products who named their polyurethane adhesive " Gorilla Glue ". In both cases the products work very well and they are a gift to a column writer; there are just so many puns that you can make with the word and idea of " gorilla ". So lets get started and stop monkeying around...

Well, the Three Legged Thing people are back again with another little accessory. It is one of their brightly-coloured ones so you can use it with a cheerful mien. The 360 Cl assembly is a panoramic clamp and turntable that allows you to use any standard tripod and three-way or ball tripod head to take accurate panoramic images. It joins the same sort of apparatus made by a number of other firms. but does so in real style. Underside it has the standard screw sockets for attachment to the heads - or to bare tripod legs , if you wish. Above the pivoting turntable is an Arca-Swiss compatible clamp and one of Three legged Thing's orange-anodised camera plates. Nestled into the runner of the head is a universal bubble level. You needn't use a Three Legged Thing tripod for the support - but they are stylish as all get-out so if you are buying one, give it some thought. Is it absolutely necessary to use a 360º rotating turntable to take panoramas? No - with the ability of the Photoshop program to stitch...