You Can't Have It

on May 26, 2022
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...but we also love the mechanical and optical devices that let us do the magic. But the ball head? Well, this is an old friend from the days when I was behind the counter - though I never had call for it then. I did shoot on a tripod a lot and had a three-way head in operation and that worked very well - it was a Gitzo and that says it all. As time went on the Gitzo head migrated to the studio stand and took up the right arm of a balanced crossbar. The other side now contains a Manfrotto fluid head for video shooting in the studio. Together they shoot dancers, portraits, products, and whatever in front to a hanging backdrops. The Gitzo Studex, however, was left bare. And I attempted to use the studio stand to take tabletop shots for my scale model illustration. This worked fine with strobe lighting and one-shot techniques...but a session using the focus-bracketing feature of my Fujifilm X-T2 with the studio stand and continuous lighting showed up a problem. As steady as I might try to be with the tall stand, it still exhibited sway and vibration that knocked layers in the image out of register and spoiled the depth of field exposure technique. The answer came from YouTube, thought , and serendipity. YouTube reminded me of the absolutely rigid requirements for the technique and suggested I could use the electronic shutter on the Fujifilm camera to eliminate even the merest shutter jar. Thinking recalled the solidity of the Gitzo Studex, and the sight of the Cullmann TB8.2 ball head with a 50% off sticker galvanised me into action. The ball head left the shop at an advantageous price and was attached to the Gitzo in an hour. The head has a massive ball socket with adjustable friction drag during movement but absolutely no creep once the knob is tightened. This head could cope with an 8 x 10 field camera, let alone a mirror-less. The platform that seats under the camera has pressure pads that can be progressively screwed into the base to secure the body. Now, you can't have this one, because it is mine, but there is another one on the bargain shelf right now, and Saul says there are more upstairs. If you are doing commercial or scientific illustration I can think of no better bargain in the town.