Tripod Tag

Because it's mine. It  wasn't yesterday morning when I went into the Stirling Street shop to take illustration images for the weblog. I propped up my portable product set on an unused counter top and went round gathering whatever was new. I noted that the Sony shelves were being stocked with fresh lenses and bodies - and it is darned nice to see the new display cabinetry moving toward completion in the front of the shop. Dangerous, though. The sight of new equipment, well-displayed, penetrates deep into the soul of a lot of us. There are jokes about Gear Acquisition Syndrome and how much photographers like to buy things - and there is more than a grain of truth in the humour. You must know the truth - that same desire is often in the management and staff. We love all aspects of photography; images, art, knowledge, personalities...

My video adolescence is proceeding apace and I have come to the point of considering the rig. It is, at least, a mechanical thing, and understandable. Briefly, it is the framework about which I might construct a confection of accessories to make the video camera experience work. Not a mental framework, nor a virtual one - a real metal structure. There are many makers of these items, but one of the best is the Smallrig people. They cast and mill custom designs in China for many different camera and lens combinations.  Not just new cameras - they have been doing this for a good deal of time. Older cameras may well be accommodated in their system. I pulled one from the Camera Electronic video cabinet without noting which camera it serves. The basic structures are very similar, with the chief differences being the angles of the aluminium cage and the fitments on the bottom for the specific camera. The work is extremely precise and well-finished. There are signs of thought in the design - a legacy of a number of past designs. Basically it...

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...

Well it was a good time, had by me. I can readily recommend the Fremantle Maritime Museum to anyone with a camera and happy hours to spend. I can also recommend the two lenses that were tested out as very good ideas for this sort of shooting. Nearly all indoor events - and certainly most urban indoor museums - are close-coupled things, and you'll rarely find yourself reaching for the telephoto lens. The ability to get it all in without stepping backwards into the open drainage pit is invaluable. Particularly if you are driving home in your own car and have velour seats...

It might seem difficult to report anything new about the Joby Gorilla Pod these days - after all the original little Gorilla Pods have been in the shop long enough to register on the inventory of the British Museum.* Well, that is because they actually work. They are a silly little answer to a serious little question for the travelling photographer.  The fact that they have contributed to the Selfie Plague on Facebook and Instagram is neither here nor there. If we must have selfies, at least we deserve sharp ones. This, Gorilla Pods will do. The 3K kit was new on the storeroom shelves when I swanned through this week. The legs are no new thing - Gorilla Pod ABS plastic sockets that wrap around solid objects and rubberised feet at the end to act as a small tripod. You can exercise your ingenuity with this sort of thing when you need to support a camera or an off-camera flash. You'll never get the legs as straight as they come out of the packet ever again, but that is not a...

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...

We sold Manfrotto joystick heads - both the 322 lay-down and the 222 upright - for as long as I worked behind the counter and it looks as though there is still a call for them - fresh stock in the storeroom. I was always interested to see who bought them, and to ask why they chose the design. Some of the answers were surprising. Many wanted them for action shooting - thinking to follow some moving object and then freeze the head at the moment of release. I could never actually see this working - I always envisaged someone tracking a bird or animal with a pan and tilt head or a gimbal and then shooting on the move as they were able to lock on the track. But perhaps some subjects move, then freeze briefly and this is the interval when the joystick head locks. I was a little more convinced when I met someone who did not have the chance to use two hands to position the camera. The fact that the 322 joystick can be configured to a right,...