Tripod Tag

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 pack shot 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...

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 got 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...

Every so often I find a cache of goods in our storeroom that do not sit on the racks downstairs - there is only so much space inside a concrete building and you have to leave room for the staff to sidle sideways. But the fact that the items are not on general show doesn't mean that they should not be seen - someone may benefit greatly from them. The winner with today's find is the studio worker who will be using a really heavy camera and lens setup that needs to be both rock solid and reasonably compact. The Cullmann Titan TB 8.2 is all that and incorporates a unique feature to secure the camera. We've all gone to some trouble to make sure our cameras are secure on the tripods we choose - many people attaching quick-release plates or brackets to the bottom of digital cameras. These work fine, if the tripod head has a correspondingly sturdy shoe and grip to hold the thing. But many large format and oddly-shaped cameras don't sit well on quick release plates. They still...

I well remember a tripod that was offered for sale with a ball head on the top and a very stylish set of control knobs on the side - locking for the tilt and also for the panning. The style adopted was minimalist and the maker thought that if they put a plain rubber cylinder there it would be  a world-winner. Possibly, in a world where there was no air, water, or grease to foul the fingers. Here on Earth the thing was a monumental nuisance when people tried to tighten it only to find their fingers sliding around and nothing really happening. Anyone who still owns one of these designs has either developed a grip like a gorilla or carries a pipe spanner in their back pocket. Thank goodness the designers at Manfrotto looked at real life and real requirements. They've issued new ball heads for their BeFree and larger tripods that incorporate very positive cast knobs. They are somewhat reminiscent of the knobs on a bathroom tap, but set sideways. This is no bad thing - remember that bathroom fittings...