PhotoPlus finished up today with me wandering around seeing if I missed anything while scurrying from interview to interview the previous two days. There were a couple things that I did manage to notice.
October 26, 2012 - Day two of the 2012 PhotoPlus Expo started of with SpinLight360, a small company that produces a light modifier system for SpeedLight strobes. The system looks very versatile allowing for blocking as well as diffusion. The SpinLight360 system includes tungsten filters, but there are plans to expand the filter selection. Filters may be used with diffusion domes and blockers freely. The system is not vendor specific and can be used with pretty much any brand of SpeedLight. Contact http://www.spinlight360.com for more information.
printing process that uses heat to transfer dye onto medium materials such as a plastic card, paper, or fabric. The sublimation name is applied because the dye transitions between the solid and gas states without going through a liquid stage.
These printers are mostly used for event photography that requires fast, high-quality prints available on site. Historically, dye-sub printers were notorious for poor image quality and high consumables cost, but that has changed in recent years. Mistubishi has constantly improved the image quality of their printer line and lowered the cost of their consumables below the level of some professional print laboratories. Dye-sub printers also have the advantage of consuming ink and paper uniformly making budgeting of consumables easy and predictable.
Mitsubishi had two new models on display: the CP-D70DW (above, left) and the CP-D707DW (above, right). Both units are deisgned for high-speed printing of smaller print sizes (2×6, 4×6, 5×7, & 6×8) with the CP-D707DW capable of printing a 4×6 in 5.9 seconds (after data download). The printers are direct attached (no built-in network connection) but can be shared on a print server. I will be reviewing one very shortly.
Next on Hill Street Blues, I made my way to the Brenthaven booth to check out their new line of BX2 camera bags.Brenthaven has been around for 30 years making bags for mountaineers and have now expanded into the photography space.
Decked out in a sedate gray color that is a fresh departure from the black or brown ussually reserved for pro bags, the BX2 line (pictured above) includes an amazing new foam lining that disperses energy extremely efficiently. This was demonstrated at the booth by the dropping of a 1 inch steel ball bearing onto both standard foam liner and the BX2 material. The ball bearing bounced as expected on the regular foam lining (both were about 1/4″ thick), but landed with almost no rebound on the BX2 liner. I will pop a video of this test here tomorrow. The bags are very reasonably priced and I will be reviewing one of their backpacks very shortly as well.
Next, the Manfrotto family of companies gave me a tour of their rather extensive booth showing off the new product from theor various brands. Under their own brand, they showed me their new 290 series of affordable carbon fiber tripods. Then I was bustled over to Elinchrom and Lastolite where I saw some very interesting pieces of gear.
The Elinchrom D-Lite RXOne studio flash is the new low-end starter light system. While there are less expensive startes lighting systems, none that I know include all of the features of the Elinchrom lights. Even this basic model includes a SkyPort receiver built-in. Another nice touch is that the accessories for this light can be used on all of the higher end models. Truly, this is a system that can grow with you. I will be testing the RXOne Starter Kit in the near future as well.
Lastolite had two new products to show me: the Strobo Kit for SpeedLights and the EasyBox II series of light modifiers.
The Strobo Kit (pictured above) includes filters, grids, gobos, barn doors, collapsible snoots, multi-flash brackets plus a host of other features. The components adhere magnetically to the base unit which is held on the SpeedLight with a Velcro strap affair. Very flexible.
The EasyBox II pictured above is not some weird asymmetrical design. It can be easily converted from a strip light to a moretraditional shaped softbox. Just zip/unzip a couple of zippers and swap out some tension rods and you are good to go. Again, the EasyBox II can be used with any light in the Elinchrom family.
Over at the Sigma booth, I ogled at their 120-300 mm f/2.8 zoom. The new version of this lens will be the flagship of the S line. Currently available in the Canon, Nikon and Sigma mounts, I inquired as to the future availability of other mounts like the Sony Alpha A-mount or the Pentax K-mount. I was told that negotiations were under way with Sony, but there is nothing definite at this time.
Afterwards, I trundled over to Times Square to check out the new Microsoft Store that opened there.
The Store is located next to Forever 21 and was quite full even at that late hour of the day. Plenty of Surface Tablets were on hand and all were packing theofficial release of Windows 8 RT. I have personally been using Winddows 8 for the last nine months at my day job and while it can be quirky on the desktop, it is right at home in the touchscreen powered world of tablet computing. The Surface Tablets are solidly built and I would get the fullt keyboard cover over the Touch keyboard. The difference is $30 and totally worth it. Microsoft elect not to offer a 16GB model, instead opting for a base 32GB model at a starting price of $499. The MS App Store is still a little empty compared to the more mature App Stores from Apple and Google, but MS is heavily pushing for Modern UI application development. Expect the quantity of apps in the Store to rapidly increase. Interestingly enough, the Surface Tablet ships ships with Word and Excel 2013 built in. Looks very nice if they can get more apps out there for photographers.
That’s it for today. Stay tuned for the Day 3 report tomorrow.
October 25, 2012 – PhotoPlus Expo 2012 opened formally this morning to fairly sizable crowds. As usual, the main entrance was dominated by the Big Three (although Canon and Nikon would call it the Big Two Plus One). Needless to say, the Canon, Nikon and Sony booths were completely stormed by the early onrush.
Another Photokina has come and gone and I have still not been able to attend one. Sigh. Maybe 2014. In the meantime, I have been getting all sorts of press releases, reading show reports all over the place, and have pretty much devoted myself to filtering out all of the cruft that shows like this generate. Here’s my take on this year’s show.
Sony had three major announcements for Photokina:
Sony CyberShot DSC-RX1
The RX1 is fixed lens compact camera that sports a full-frame 35mm digital sensor. While full-frame sensors have been around for years, this is the first compact camera equipped with one. Did I mention that is a 24MP sensor (the same one in their flagship Alpha SLT-A99 – see below)? This is not some cheaply built point and shoot for soccer moms, but a high precision photographic instrument. Packing a Carl Zeiss 35mm f/2 lens, this little bad boy weighs in at a whopping $2,800 USD. Finally, a point-and-shoot for serious photographers!
Sony Alpha NEX-6
Still recovering from the NEX-5R announcement, Sony fires another shot across our bow with the NEX-6, a high-end NEX camera which greatly resembles their top-of-the-line NEX-7. However, there are several key differences:
- 16.1MP CMOS Sensor
- ISO 100-25600
- ISO Hotshoe with additional contacts
- Built-in WiFi
- Proprietary in-camera apps
Best of all is the price: $999 USD with the 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS Power Zoom lens. This is one to watch!
Sony Alpha SLT-A99
Sony finally unveiled the successor to their Alpha A900 DSLR. In keeping with the promise they made last year, the A99 uses SLT (Single Lens Translucent – aka pellicle mirror) technology with a full-frame 24MP sensor. However, unlike the 24MP sensor in its APS-C sized sibling, the A77, the A99’s sensor contains 109 phase detection AF points in addition to the 19 points in the dedicated AF sensor. This means that at no time does the camera not have phase detection sensors tracking your subject(s). Like the A77, the A99 is weather and dust sealed. The A99 has two card slots which is a must for all serious pro shooters.
- 24MP full-frame CMOS Sensor with on-chip phase detection AF
- Fixed-mirror design SLT
- 2.4M dot OLED electronic viewfinder
- 14-bit Raw output
- ISO 100-25,600
- Up to 6 frame-per-second continuous shooting with AF
- ISO-compatible flash hotshoe with ‘multi interface’ expansion connector
- Pull-out three-hinge tilt/swivel 1.23m dot RGBW LCD screen
- Top panel LCD
- Microphone and headphone sockets
- Built-in GPS
- AF Micro Adjust
Priced at $2,800 USD (body only)
This camera is a serious contender as a replacement for my aging D700. My only qualm is the sharpness of the lenses. I would certainly get the CZ 24-70 f/2.8 but the jury is still out on the Sony G 70-400 f/4-5.6 Telephoto Lens for ballet work.
Swedish camera maker Hasselblad made a pre-announcement about their flagship H camera series introducing the H5D which is an evolutionary (read: not earthshaking) upgrade to the H4D.
They also introduced a 24mm H lens which is ridiculously wide for a medium format system. Still, this lens will be a boon to landscape photographers.
NIKON and CANON
The top two camera makers were also on hand and low-end full frame cameras were on both of their playlists. Nikon announced the D600, a 24MPx FX camera in a body that is even smaller than the D800.
Not to be left behind, Canon announced the Canon EOS 6D, a full frame 20.2MPx DSLR.
Leica had many announcements, but the one that caught my eye is the Leica M.
This latest update to the M series of rangefinders brings significant changes to the 5th generation of digital M cameras. Gone is the CCD sensor of the previous 4 models replaced with a 24Mpx CMOS sensor surprisingly not made by Sony. Leica hired Belgian chipmaker CMOSIS to design and manufacture the MAX sensor for the new Leica M. This change adds a raft of functionality that was missing from previous digital M’s including Live View, Focus Peaking, video recording, better high-ISO performance, and much, much more. Leica also released a series of accessories to further enhance the M photographic experience including:
An M Handgrip that adds GPS, various access ports and a place to connect a second hot-shoe, without adding a lot of bulk to the camera.
An Electronic Viewfinder to allow you to focus and compose via Live View, focus peak and waist-level shoot thanks to its tilt mount.
And an R Lens Adapter which allows R-mount SLR lenses to be used with the Leica M. Focus is achieved using Live View either via the rear display of the OLED Visoflex EVF.
By doing this, Leica has transformed the M from a niche camera to a really amazing and flexible general purpose camera. Albeit, autofocus is not available but the hi-res EVF and focus peaking make the task of focusing fairly trivial except for the most demanding action photography. Leica and inexpensive are basically antonyms and the Leica M is no exception. Base price for the body alone is $6,950 (which is $1000 less than its predecessor the M9-P) and Leica lenses start around $1300 USD all the way up to $12K. Still doesn’t stop me from lusting after one.
Fujifilm announced two new cameras of interest: the X-F1 premium compact point and shoot camera
This little guy will retail for $499 and has a 12 Mpx EXR CMOS sensor and a fast 6.4-25.6mm lens (f/1.8-4.9). An interesting feature carried over from the other X-series fixed lens cameras is the lens mounted activation ring.
However nice the X-F1 is, the real star of the show was the Fujifilm X-E1 CISC camera. Younger sibling to the X-Pro1, the X-E1 packs the same 16 Mpx X-TRANS CMOS sensor in a smaller all metal body. Instead of the Hybrid Viewfinder of the X-Pro1, the X-E1 has a 2.36M dot EVF builtin. This is the same EVF found the in the Sony NEX-6 & SLT-A99.
The X-E1 is available in black or silver accents and there is a bundled kit zoom, the Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS, which has to be the fastest kit lens ever made. Autofocus speeds have been greatly improved with this model. On a side note, Fuji also released a firmware upgrade for the X-Pro1 (v2) which addresses many of that model’s performance issues. Early reports say it is like getting a whole new camera. This camera (X-E1) is generating a lot of buzz and I already have one on pre-order, so expect a full review as soon as it arrives.
Lenses, lenses, lenses!
There were a plethora of lens announcements at PK this year including:
CZ showed off a couple of new bits of glass, but announced some major news in the mirror less market. CZ lenses for Fuji X-mount & NEX E-mount were prominent.
CZ also announced a new line of lenses for super hi-res 35mm full frame DSLRs. Aimed at cameras like the D800/D800E, these lenses will be of the highest quality to maximize the effectiveness of the new sensors.
CV was there as well showing off their new 21mm f/1.8 Ultron lens in M-mount. A reasonably priced alternative to the Leica 21mm Summilux? I have to get one in for testing!
Today on the Zeiss Camera Lens Blog, Dr. Michael Pollmann, Consumer Lenses Product and Program Manager in the Carl Zeiss Camera Lenses Division, gave an interview regarding Zeiss’ entry into the mirror less system lens market. Fueled by the success of the Sony NEX-7 and Fuji X-Pro1, Zeiss is developing three primes: 2.8/12, 1.8/32 and 2.8/50 macro. There are no plans for μ4/3 mount lenses.
These lenses will be autofocus designs that can be focused manually. Additionally, the X-mount versions will have a manual aperture setting. Unlike the ZM, ZF.2, & ZE lines of lenses, these lenses will be made of lighter materials and super high quality glass. Think of the Zeiss 1.8/24 offered by Sony for the NEX and you will have an idea of the quality of construction. I personally hope they use a better design for the hood. Mine fell apart a few days after I got it.
Lenses are expected to ship spring/summer 2013 and will be around €1000.
Sony today announced the NEX-5R digital camera at IFA in Berlin. The latest member of the NEX family retains the 1.5x crop of its predecessors but adds phase detection cells to the main sensor, built-in WiFi, and downloadable camera apps to extend the functionality of the camera even after purchase.
CES - Las Vegas, Nevada – January 9, 2012 – Corel is pleased to announce the exciting expansion of its digital photography portfolio with the introduction of Corel® AfterShot™ Pro. The total photographic workflow solution for professional and enthusiast photographers will be displayed today at Pepcom®’s Digital Experience!® and tomorrow at ShowStoppers® at CES. Providing complete RAW workflow, flexible photo management, advanced, non-destructive editing and breakthrough performance, AfterShot Pro offers a powerful and affordable alternative to products like Adobe® Photoshop® Lightroom® and ACD Systems ACDSee™ Pro. Based on technology from Corel’s acquisition of Bibble Labs, Corel AfterShot Pro provides Windows®, Mac OS® and Linux® users with the tools they need to get the most out of their photos.
“Today’s photographers, whether they’re professional or enthusiast, are coming from shoots with hundreds, if not thousands of photos,” said Chad Kinzelberg, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Digital Media at Corel. “They want to be able to bring in their photos and get right to work finding their best shots and making them better. With AfterShot Pro we are delivering a powerful RAW workflow solution to help photographers power through their photo workflow and get back to doing what they love – taking great pictures.”
Flexible Workflow Gives Photographers Great Results – Fast
Here’s something that caught my eye over at the Arca Swiss booth at PhotoPlus: The Ultimate NEX Rig
The PhotoPlus Expo 2011 was held once again at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York City. With the absorption of PMA into the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), PPE has become the last major standalone photography exposition in the U.S. I once again took up my annual pilgrimage to the Big Apple to see what the camera makers had to offer.