I trawl the bottom of the camera trade harbour every day looking for items that can be turned into weblog posts in this column. Amongst the discarded boots and old tuna tins, I find snippets of news from manufacturers and their wholesalers, American review sites, the rumour and geek sites, and our local competitor's advertisements. Some of it is distinctly suspicious, while other items are so blatantly bland as to suggest a trainee intern is clocking up time on the press-agent's computer.
The rumours you can all get for yourselves, and you can involve yourselves as deeply as you wish with the fan-boy fights on the various forums. They are a good way to keep up your level of rage in between camera club meetings. And they have the advantage over club meetings in that while you cannot actually strangle anyone when engaged in an internet argument, you do get a better class of coffee and biscuit at home.
The manufacturers can sometimes be cagy in their announcements but are often candid about what is really happening back at the factory. You can expect some delays in new cameras because of this latest Japanese earthquake - one factory has frankly admitted this today as some of their subcontractors are located in the affected areas. Our sympathy to them and people would do well to wait patiently rather than pester retail and wholesale outlets every week to see when something will arrive. Delayed items will get to Australia eventually, and in the meantime there is nothing to stop people from either continuing to use what they have or buy the items that are in the shops right now. The wise buyer does not delay lest the delay be extended by further bad fortune...
The American DP Review site is a good one and is pretty well organised to analyse new cameras and lenses. They'll do a preliminary report on something when it first hits the trade show circuit, then a hands-on, and finally an in-depth review. These latter exercises are detailed enough to let any sensible person make a clear decision about the equipment...but they cannot tell you whether you will like it, or succeed with it, any more than they can tell you what your breakfast oatmeal will taste like or whether you will stick the spoon in your eye.
Some trade snippets that come through are genuinely helpful - like a note a few days ago telling us that there is to be a new repair agent for Epson printers down in Rockingham - a boon for the Southrons.
Looking at adverts from other places can be annoying if they have offered something just pennies under our shop price and you know that the number is all that prospective clients will look at. It becomes interesting, however, when the offerings are either way, way above the normal CE price, or way, way below it. The first suggests that somebody wants to keep their hand in the game but don't have stock to sell - the second that they have just had a container-load of something delivered and are stacking the cartons in the toilet - they will sell low to gain some room. I ponder on this stuff but leave the major financial thoughts to the management.
Then there is the gossip about prominent Perth photographers...about the one who...ah, but you now that already...