Oct 142014

NEW YORK, NY – October 14, 2014 – Attention PhotoPlus Expo attendees, the trip of a lifetime is just a few stamps away when you participate in the “Passport to the Expo” promotion during this year’s show.  Sponsored by Foto Promos (Booth #1072), Passport to the Expo is a fun and exciting way to see all the new products and technologies on display at the show while having a chance to win a two-week, all-expense-paid photo safari in Australia.

While you’re waiting for PhotoPlus Expo and the Passport program to begin, head over to the official PhotoPlus Facebook page to enter the annual bi-weekly sweepstakes for a chance to win prize packages ranging in value from $250 to more than $800 through October 24, 2014, including PhotoPlus VIP Expo passes for the show.  Prize packages for this year’s sweepstakes include products and services from exhibitors including Datacolor, Hahnemuhle, Think Tank Photo, Shutterstock, LaCie, Peter Hurley, Rogue, and more.  Registration to participate in the Facebook sweepstakes is free!

Fans of PhotoPlus Expo’s Facebook page are not obligated to participate, but will still have access to exclusive information about PhotoPlus events through announcements made only on the Facebook page. Information about the Conference’s 80+ seminars, from October 29 – November 1, will also be posted to the Facebook page, making it an important resource for attendees and fans alike.

PhotoPlus Expo “Passport to the Show” Program

Attendees will receive their Passport when they pick up their expo badge at the registration desk inside the Javits Center.  The passport includes the names of participating exhibitors. To qualify for the trip, attendees must visit all participating exhibitors and have their passport stamped by each.  When the whirlwind tour is complete and all stamps have been captured, attendees can drop their passports off at the Foto Promos booth on the PhotoPlus Expo show floor. Alternatively, people may enter for a chance to win the photo safari online at fotopromos.com. One winner will be announced at PhotoPlus Expo on Saturday, November 1st, but does not need to be present at the time of the drawing to win. 

“Our new Passport to the Expo program is a fun and exciting way for attendees to see all the great products on display at PhotoPlus Expo, while having an opportunity to win a two-week paid photo safari to Australia,” explains Lauren Wendle, vice president/publisher of PDN and the Photo+ group.  “Until the Expo begins, PhotoPlus Facebook fans will have dozens of opportunities to win prize packages worth as much as $800 in exhibitor products and services. We hope everyone participates in the Passport promotion, or as they say in Australia, “give it a burl.”

The two-week photo safari is provided by Udesign Photography Tours and includes paid airfare, meals, and accommodations. The itinerary for the photo safari includes:

·         5 Days – Kakadu

·         3 Days – Uluru (Ayres Rock)

·         6 Days – Sydney (Blue Mountains, Harbour Bridge Climb, Opera House, and Bondi Beach)


The promotion was created by Foto Promos, a company that partners with key photographic manufacturers and businesses to offer once in a lifetime photo tours and discounts on photography equipment.  Their partnership with PhotoPlus Expo is also sponsored by Bay Photo, CamRanger, Flixel, LED Light Cube, MZed, Perfectly Clear, StickyAlbums.com, and X-Rite.

For more information or for frequent updates, visit the PhotoPlus Expo website or become a fan on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

Website:          http://www.photoplusexpo.com

Facebook:           http://www.facebook.com/photoplusexpo

Twitter:                http://www.twitter.com/photoplusexpo

About PDN PhotoPlus International Conference + Expo

Designed for professionals in the photographic and imaging industries, PhotoPlus Expo showcases the latest advances in photography, digital imaging and filmmaking. Held annually at the Javits Convention Center, attendees have the opportunity to explore an inspiring array of photography and imaging products and services – everything from image capture and color management to retouching and storage – all from the industry’s leading manufacturers.  The show also offers Seminars and intimate Master Classes taught by world-renowned experts that focus on cutting-edge innovations and techniques.

Oct 272012

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.

Storage Vendors
In previous Expos the only storage vendors to show up were Drobo and LaCie (who were there) but at this show storage companies Synology and QNAP were there showing their network attached wares along with direct attached storage (DAS) vendor CruDataPort. 
The Synology unit pictured above has dual Gigabit ethernet ports and can handle up to eight SATA drives in a classic RAID configuration or Synology’s Hybrid RAID (similar to Drobo). The system is designed for business class use so it has a ton of features that pro photographers can really use. Multi-unit backup, offsite backups, cloud backups and Dropbox like services are just some of the features offered. 
QNAP, like Synology, makes business-class NAS devices with a ton of features useful for pro photographers. These are networked attached devices and the eSATA and USB ports on the back are for attaching external single drives or for daisy-chaining units together.
CruDataPort makes some of the studiest data enclosures on the planet. This is military-grade stuff. I had reviewed one of the products a few years ago. This particular model supports RAID right in tthe device itself. No special card needed. Just jack it into the USB 3.0 or eSATA ports. For the record, I forgot to photograph the new model of the above pictured unit which has eSATA and USB 3.0 ports.
Carl Zeiss

Carl Zeiss had their new X-mount and E-mount prototypes on display on their intended camera bodies. These lenses are autofocus and on the X-mount lens there is an aperture ring. I, for one, cannot wait  for these lenses to arrive in May.

The iPro System is a lens system for the iPhone 4/4S. It is a case and lens combination that adds a super-wide and telephoto adapter to the iPhone 4/4S. There is an optional fisheye lens as well. A new case is being designed for the iPhone 5.
The item on the bottom is a polarizing filter for the iPhone (all models). A small metal ring is attached to the body of the iPhone with adhesive tape and the lens is attached via magnets. This will also take care of any flaring that has been reported on the iPhone 5.

Digital Transitions had several high-end medium format digital systems on display. Pictured above is the new Cambo WRC-400 compact technical camera. This is my dream camera. Never going to happen to me unless a miracle occurs to the tune of $20,000.00 (including the IQ140 digital back).

Creative lensmaker Lensbaby was there with new Composer Pro body, Sweet 35 and Edge 80 optics. The Sweet 35 and Edge 80 differ from their other optics as the actually have internal apertures instead of the washer system used by the rest of their line. Alpha mounts are now available so that means that Sony users can feel the Lensbaby love as well. I will posting a review of the Sweet 35 and Edge 80 on the A99 in the near future as well.
That wraps up the show reports. Please visit this site for updated reviews and information. If you enjoyed reading these reports or have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment and don’t forget to share this with your friends.
Thank you and take care.
Oct 272012

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.

Next, I trotted over to the Mitsubishi booth to have a little chat about dye sublimation printers. According to Wikipedia dye sublimation is a

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.


Oct 262012

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.

To be perfectly honest, the Canon and Nikon booths garnered the lion’s share of the visitors. The Sony booth saw a fairly steady stream of visitors. Not surprising considering the number of new products they introduced recently.
Nikon 1 Models V2 & J2

As you can see from the photos, the cameras were under glass. All of the V2’s & J2’s were prototypes and none were availble shots or even handholding. Diasppointing, really.
More frustrating though was the interminalble crowds clogging the Canon booth. If I had to call it, it would be Canon, Nikon, and then Sony.
Undaunted, I proceeded to my first interview of the day:
I had the pleasure of speaking with Mr. David Tobie, Global Product Technology Manager for Datacolor. This man loves color. The product he was so passionate about is the Spyder Capture Pro.
The Spyder Capture Pro is an end-to-end color management solution consisting of the following products:
Spyder Lenscal – Camera lens focus calibration tool. David explained that with Spyder Lenscal you can adjust a zoom lens very specifically. For example, a 70-200 lens can be adjusted to front-focus at the short end  for portrait work and back-focus at the long end for landscape work.
Spyder Checkr – is the ultimate color patch tool. Combined with software, the SypderCheckr will profile your camera’s sensor giving you a preset that can be applied to all photos from that body. This assists in correcting the dynamic range of a photo.
SpyderCube – this is a white balance adjustment tool for color correcting your shots. According to David, most shots only really need adjustment of their dynamic range rather than their color balance.
Spyder4Elite –  this is Datacolor’s best known product, their monitor calibration tool.
These four components, when taken together, allow you to control and calibrate the one piece of the image capture workkflow that was never previously calibrated: the camera.
I will be providing a complete review of the product once my review sample arrives.
Cullman Titan Tripods
On my way to another interview, I passed the Cullman booth where they were showcasing the Titan line of tripods. The Titan tripods are kind off unique that the lower leg sections are thicker than the upper pieces. The leg segments are not round but rather a gentle curved trapizoidal shape. When put together, the three legs form a cylinder, making it easier to store.
Tiffen is an umbrella company for a large number of brands. I will need to go through their press releases when I get home to properly report on all that I saw.

Camera accessory maker Fotodiox introduced two new productsL the WonderPana Filter System for super wide-angle lenses and the WonderBurst wireless photo/flash trigger. The WonderPana comes in two models: the WonderPana 145, which sports 145mm circular filters; and the WonderPana 66 (pictured above) which adds on to the WonderPana 145 and allows it to mount square filters. These square filters can be used alongside the 145mm circular ones.
The WonderBurst also comes in two flavors: the plain WonderBurst for NEX cameras without a standard hotshoe and the WonderBurst HS8000 for cameras with a standard hotshoe. The latter has been tested on Canon and Nikon cameras and it is highly llikely that it will work with the Sony NEX-6 and SLT-A99V. I will test the HS8000 on those cameras once all of that kit arrives.
Sony had all three of its big Photokina announcements present and available to touch/fondle/drool over. Pictured above is the SLT-A99V aka the Alpha A99. Currently the “king of the hill” in Sony’s SLT offerings, the A99 is made for professionals. I will be providing a full review of this product in the near future.
The Alpha NEX-6 is the newest member of the NEX family, sits squarely between the NEX-5R and the NEX-7. However, is sports some features that the NEX-7 does not have like built-inn WiFi and camera apps.It does have a built-in electronic viewfinder like the one in the NEX-7 and A99. The sensor is 16 megapixels instead of 24 megapixels and has much better high-ISO characteristics. Again, a full review is pending once my copy arrives.
The Sony Cybershot RX1 is a bit of an odd duck. A point and shoot camera with a full frame sensor (the only P&S camera with a sensor that big) a super-high quality fixed Carl Zeiss lens (35mm). I think that this is a  marketing experiment on Sony’s part to gauge the market’s receptiveness to a full-frame interchangeable lens camera. I say bring it on.
Fujifilm X-E1
Fujifilm shook the photographic world up with their X-series of digital cameras. Last year they introduced the X-Pro1 a surprisingly high-end model. This year they brought us the X-E1, a camera with all of the best parts of the X-Pro1 minus the really expensive bits. I hope to have a review sample sometime in the future as well.
That’s it for Day 1. Stay tuned for Day 2.
Nov 152011

Here’s something that caught my eye over at the Arca Swiss booth at PhotoPlus: The Ultimate NEX Rig

IMG 20111028 0771
This contraption mates the NEX camera to an Arca Swiss F-Camera System giving you the ultimate in tilt/swing/shift controls. Add the NEX’s focus peaking to the mix and you have a badass landscape/panoramic setup. Pity the setup costs 10x the price of the NEX ;P

Oct 292011

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.


Continue reading »

Nov 022010
Another PDN PhotoPlus show has come and gone and, once again, I slogged my way through the amassed crowd of photographers, photo buyers and journalists to bring you highlights from the show.


This year’s report will be separated into two sections: Cameras & Lenses/Accessories. But first, as always, an Animoto video of the show highlights.


Continue reading »

Oct 252010


I will be heading up to the Big Apple this week to cover the PDN PhotoPlus Expo. I will be posting updates during the three days of the show, with a final report shortly after I return home.

Expected is the formal announcement by Pentax USA on the availability of the intriguing 645D medium format camera. Leaf Imaging is supposed to be showing off their new 80 Mpx back. And I have been invited by Leica to a one-to-one interview with Cristian Erhardt, VP of Marketing for Leica USA and a studio session with the Leica S2.

Please stay tuned for updates during the week.

Nov 172009

Once again, New York City and the Javits Center played host to the PDN PhotoPlus Expo. This year’s show had a very good turnout in spite of the fact that major players like Adobe, Panasonic, & Pentax were not in attendance.

I attended (and I spotted some of my fellow bloggers there as well) and came across several interesting tidbits I’d like to share with you after the jump.


Continue reading »

Oct 312008

RedRock Micro:

RockRidge Video Conversion KitThe folks at RedRock Micro have a neat idea on their hands: create a frame that turns a HD video capable DSLR into a full fledged cinema camera. Kits are priced between $1,995 – $2,445 and are available on their website. Here you have ingenuity at its finest. An utterly brilliant idea: completely modular design that allows for flexible configurations to meet the customer’s needs. Works with both the Canon 5D Mk II and the Nikon D90.

RPG Keys:

RPG Keys in two sizes

Here is a niche product that has potential: an accelerator control pad for Lightroom 2. Basically this keyboard has all of the sortcuts and controls in Lightroom 2 mapped onto individual keys, thus greatly reducing the hand contortions one has to commit in order to activate a control. This is especially important in busy studio environments that have to cull and process thousands of photos from any particular shoot.

The RPGKeys come in two sizes: the original full-sized version and the new, wireless MiniRPG. Both are show in the photo to the left. Both products are extremely well made and able to withstand thousands of keystrokes. They can be purchased at the manufacturer’s website.


Bigma - APO 200-500mm F2.8/400-1000mm EX DG

Sigma was present showing off their latest and greatest including their recently announced Sigma DP2 compact camera. Similar to the DP1 in sensor size and technology, the DP2 sports faster, slightly longer fixed lens than the DP1 (24.4mm f/2.8 vs. 16.6mm f/4). Also present was every lens in the Sigma arsenal including the monstrous APO 200-500mm F2.8/400-1000mm EX DG which has an MSRP of $34,000 USD! This lens is so big that not only does it sport its own mounting system, it even has its own motors and power supply. And you thought Leica lenses were expensive…


Tamron 10-24 lens

Tamron showed their newly released
AF18-270mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC (Vibration Compensation) LD Aspherical (IF) Macro and their previously unreleased SP AF10-24mm F/3.5-4.5 Di-II LD Aspherical [IF] – two excellent alternative lenses for Canon, Nikon, Sony and Pentax. I was able to take a test shot with both lenses and both seem to have been good samples. The 10-24 was a prototype though and reported itself as a 5mm lens to my D300. Nothing major though. Please note that as these are Di-II lenses, they are designed for DX sized sensors (so they are not going to work properly with full frame sensors – Canon 5D Mk I & II, Canon 1Ds Mk II & III, Nikon D3, D3x, & D700).

Think Tank:

ThinkTank Shapeshifter (unreleased)

Camera bag maker extraordinaire, Think Tank Photo had its entire line of photographic transport units (my term) on display. Prominent was their Airport Roller line – a set of three rollaboard bags that meet international travel standards. Also shown was an unreleased backpack called The Shapeshifter, an intriguing convertible bag that can carry camera equipment or be converted to regular luggage duties.

Well, that about does it for this year’s PhotoPlus Expo. I will be publishing further in depth articles covering some the equipment shown here as well as many others. My complete PhotoPlus gallery can be found here.

Oct 272008

After the initial sweep of Day One, Days Two & Three afforded me the opportunity to calmly peruse the smaller booths to see what gems I could uncover. Here are some of the highlights:

Animoto: Animoto is a web product that converts your images into a professional video slideshow complete with music. Free accounts are available but are restricted to making 30 second clips. Professional and Business accounts are available for a fee and allow the creation of longer clips and downloadable DVD quality video.

I was able to create the clip below with images that I uploaded to my Flickr account. Many other online galleries are supported or you can upload images directly to Animoto. Animoto offers a large library of music to use as soundtracks or you can upload your own. The software on their site then analyzes the video and the music and creates a professional looking slideshow in minutes. The video can then be emailed, embedded, downloaded, posted to YouTube, mailed to your iPhone or (for a fee) upgraded to hi-res for DVD playback. Very slick. I plan on using this a lot. Click on the “Get Animoto” link to the right and get a $5 discount on an All Access Pass (normally $30/yr).

Arca Swiss R3 technical cameraArca Swiss: Makers of view cameras used by legendary photographers like Ansel Adams, Arca Swiss was on hand demonstrating their R-series technical cameras. Arca Swiss also makes ballheads and mounting clamp systems for view cameras. High quality stuff.

Interestingly enough, the R3 (pictured above) is really just a high precision metal plate with a gearing system that allows the photographer to tilt/shift the camera’s lens to correct for distortion. The R3 can mount any medium format film or digital back and is a scale focused rangefinder.

Bibble Labs boothBibble: Eric and his team from Bibble Labs were on hand demonstrating the as yet unreleased Bibble 5. Bibble started out as a very fast RAW file converter, but with version 5 adds more speed (up to 40x faster than version 4 – and version 4 was the fastest converter on the market already), digital asset management, and a host of adjustment tools. Based on my own workflows, I will rarely have to leave B5 to produce finished images. Even more amazing is the level of multi-threading. Eric demonstrated B5 running on a 16-core machine, submitting a batch of 116 images for conversion and completing the job in a shade over 19 seconds. Unbelievable.

BRNO White Balance LenscapBRNO: Jim over at BRNO LLC always hated to have to carry around a gray card, white balancing gadget or have to hunt down something or someone wearing white at his photo shoots. One day he forgot his white balance card at a wedding where the bride wore red. It was while he was in the midst of preparation for seppuku when he hit upon the idea of combining a white balancing device with a lens cap. Thus the baLens (pronounced "bah-lenz") was born. Seriously, this is one ingenious idea. Just keep the lens cap on, point your camera at the light source, snap a pic and DING! you have a proper custom white balance shot. Unlike similar products, the baLens replaces your existing lens cap a thus does not become an extra widget to have to drag around. The white bit in the center is replaceable and there are warm and neutral versions included with each baLens. Jim expects the baLens to become available around early December. HP Marketing will be distributing in the States, Amplis Foto in Canada, and Etsumi Co. Ltd. in Japan. The product will be retailed by the usual suspects: B&H, Adorama, Calumet, Samy’s and other specialty stores.

Canon ImageProGraf i9100Canon Printing Systems: Canon had their ImagePROGRAF printers on hand and they were truly a site to behold. Ranging from the diminutive iPF5100 (17" wide) to the monstrous iPF9100 (60" wide), Canon ImagePROGRAF printers operate using a 12-ink system (Cyan, Photo Cyan, Magenta, Photo Magenta, Yellow, Black, Matte Black, Red, Green. Blue, Gray, Photo Gray) including regular and Matte black inks with auto-switching between the two. Like other printers in this class, Canon’s Lucia inks are rated at over 200 years of lightfastness. Prices start around $1995 USD for the iPF5100. The iPF5100’s ink tanks are 130ml each which is good because the whole set costs around $840 USD.

Needless to say these are large format printers so don’t expect to be printing 4×6 snapshots on them. The iPF5100 is actually capable of printing 17" wide by 59 feet! That’s one hell of a panorama.

Dymo DiscPainterDymo: King of the label printer, Dymo was present to show off it’s DiscPainter. This is a dedicated USB inkjet printer for printable CD’s and DVD’s. The DiscPainter uses RadialPrint Technology, imaging the disc label on the spinning disc from the hub out. Remember SpinArt? This is the same thing except it’s computer controlled. It’s very fast, imaging a whole disc in a couple of minutes.

The unit uses a single tricolor ink cartridge so when you run out of one color you have to replace the whole thing. The DiscPainter is PC/Mac compatible and can print on matte, glossy and silver printable discs.

Mamiya DL28 test shotGary Fong: Mr. Fong is a specialist in diffusion. He makes various inexpensive gadgets for you to strap on to your flashes is order to soften their effect and cut out harsh shadows and "red eye". "Red eye" is caused when a high speed electronic flash is fired close to the focal axis of the lens and directly in the face of the subject who is standing in dim light. The dim light causes the subject’s pupils to dilate and the flash’s extremely short duration (as little as 1/20,000th of a second) and high intensity light is then reflect off the retinas. This is the source of the "red eye" effect in humans ("green eye" effect in animals). By diffusing the light and softening it, Gary Fong’s devices help eliminate this. They also remove the harsh shadows and color draining effects of direct flash.

The device shown in the photo is The Puffer. This retails for under $20 and works with any built-in pop up flash unit. While it does greatly reduce the effective distance of this flash, it transforms the nearly useless built-in flash into a light source eminently suitable for parties and intimate occasions where a larger flash gun would be awkward to manipulate. You can purchase these and other flash diffusers from Gary Fong’s website and from dealers like Ritz and Wolf Camera.

Hasselblad H3D-II with T/S adapterHasselblad: Founded in 1948 by Victor Hasselblad, the camera that bears his name is one of the most prestigious names in photography. A long time champion of medium format cameras, Hasselblad has kept pace with the digital revolution and is currently on its 4th generation digital medium format camera.

Unlike other players in this market, Hasselblad has opted for a systemic approach to digital medium format with its H-System. The H3D-II cameras are only capable of accepting Hasselblad made lenses, viewfinders, adaptors, accessories, teleconverters, and digital backs. While this practically eliminates third-party lenses and components, it does allow Hasselblad to tightly control the integration of all of the parts that make up this system. Think of them as the Apple of medium format.

One new component added to the mix is the HTS 1.5 Tilt/Shift Adaptor. Tilt/Shift lenses are not a new idea. Practically every major camera manufacturer has two or three models in their harem of lenses. The problem lies in the focal plane shutter mechanism used by those cameras. The tilt/shift mechanism must, by design, physically separate the front half of the lens from rear half. This decoupling of the halves of the lens prevents the use of autofocus motors. Hasselblad, by electing to use a central shutter mechanism (where the shutter is housed in the lens along with the electronically controlled aperture and autofocus motors), Hasselblad’s HTS 1.5 adaptor allows the use of up to 5 different lenses as tilt/shift lenses and the transmission of control signals to the lens’ aperture and shutter via pass-through contacts and still retain autofocus capabilities. Look for a future review of this camera system.

Hoodman Right Angle Viewer kitHoodman: Hoodman manufactures accessories for digital cameras including right-angle viewfinder adapters (shown), memory cards, and viewing loupes. This last product is an interesting departure from their original product: a popup shade for digital SLR LCD screens. Hoodman has discarded this design in favor of the hooded loupe they now make. I personally use a Delkin PopUp Shade on the rear LCD of my D300 and I am quite pleased with it. In defense of the hooded loupe approach, Hoodman’s version can magnify the image up to 3x without zooming on the cameras’ display. Many photographers prefer the hooded loupe approach, I myself don’t need more things hanging off of my neck.

M-Rock RollaboardsM-Rock Camera Bags: Newcomer on the camera bag scene is M-Rock. Stylishly designed and affordable, M-Rock bags securely carry your gear and look good doing it too. Bags range for tiny belt pouches for your point-and-shoot camera all the way up to ergonomic rolling backpacks capable of carrying up to two pro DSLR bodies and a stash of lenses + gear.

That’s the end of Part One. Part Two will be up shortly.

Oct 242008

Nikon booth

The PhotoPlus Expo opened today in New York City. Hot on the heels of Photokina 2008, PDN’s PhotoPlus Expo brings new cameras, lenses and other goodies introduced in Germany a couple of weeks ago. Greeting visitors at the entrance was Nikon’s rather large booth.

Featuring a complete collection of Nikon’s camerasHalf of a Nikon D3 and lenses, visitors were allowed to mount and test any one they wanted even on their own cameras.

Nikon P6000The Coolpix section featured every model currently available including the P6000 top end point and shoot model. This model features RAW capture and built-in GPS for easy geo-tagging of images.

Also present was a display sampling a cross-section Coolpix bling blingof bling-bling add ons available for the Coolpix lines. This is a prime example of the ubiquity of point and shoot cameras as they have achieved a critical mass that is able to support this kind of secondary market.

Asking around the Nikon booth for any news on the rumored MX platform get me a lot of shifty looks and expressions of discomfort (PR people love to talk incessantly about their products. Restricting them from doing so causes them to go against their basic nature.), leading me to believe there is more than rumor working here.

Mamiya DL28 (Front)Moving over to the Mamiya booth, I got a chance to play with their recently announced DL28 camera system. This system is actually a Mamiya AFD III medium format camera body, a Mamiya 80mm prime lens, and a Leaf Aptus II-6 28 megapixel digital back. The really innovative part of this system is it’s price: $14,999 USD which is a new low for this class of photographic equipment. One of the Mamiya reps told me that at this price point, Mamiya is giving you the camera for free and the digital back at a 33% discount.

Another slick feature of the Leaf back used in the Mamiya DL28 iPhone interfaceDL28 system is the ability to display images wirelessly on an Apple iPhone. The camera has to be tethered to a computer running Leaf Capture software in order to transmit the images wirelessly.

One of the technologies being considered by Mamiya is the use of Wireless USB in the future to allow wireless tethered operation. This, of course, will require the widespread adoption of Wireless USB in order to work, so that’s still a couple of years off.

Epson 3800 printerThe Epson booth had all of their pro printers on display ranging from the highly affordable R1900 to the immense R11880. The R3800 is the only member of the family that has not been upgraded to the Extreme HDR inkset (the one with Vivid Magenta), but I have been told that you can’t really notice the difference. The R3800 is still the only printer in the Pro line that auto-switches between matte and photo blacks.

The R4880 was on display right next to the R3800 and Epson 4880 printerthe size difference is staggering. If you buy one of these beasts, make sure you buy the stand or get yourself a really large, sturdy table. As mentioned before the R4880 has to be manually switched between matte and photo black inks.

Olympus Micro 4/3 prototypeOver at the Olympus booth, the Micro Four Thirds prototype was on display under glass in all it’s retro glory. I’m guessing we’ll see more announcements at PMA 2009

Also on display are all of Olympus’ current offering Olympus E-420including the miniscule E-420. When mated with the 25mm pancake lens, the whole SLR can fit in a pocket.

Leica S2 is the center of attentionLeica had the S2 System on display. For a prototype, it was extremely well made. It is also big. Considering that this is a medium format-ish system this is to be expected. The lenses are spectacular looking to say the least. Since I was not allowed to take any test images yet, they remain a mystery. One big question It's not small...about this system that has not been answered is price. Leica has not stated the price and will not until it is closer to launch (probably in or around PMA 2009).

Adobe draws the crowdsAdobe was drawing in large crowds with the release of Creative Suite 4 (CS4). CS4 is a significant move on Adobe’s part as it migrates them to 64-bit (at least on Windows Vista). The first professional group to take advantage of the 64-bit platform was digital content creation – 3D artists, modellers and animators. The second group is digital photographers. With systems like the Mamiya DL28 (which produces 50 MB RAW files), and the Hasselblad H3DII-31 (sporting 40MB RAW files), both of which are starter systems and list for less than $18,000, digital photographers will need access to large amounts of RAM and the enhanced processing power of 64-bit systems.

Well, that about wraps it up for Day One. Stay tuned for coverage of Day Two.

Oct 122008

Thanks to the Leica New York Metro Area Meetup group, I was able to get invited to aglobal_5634176.jpeg session with Leica at the PhotoPlus Expo in New York City. Leica will have the M8.2 and S2 available to try out. I will be taking extra memory cards to take some test images. Whether or not I will be able to post them online is another matter entirely.

The M8.2 is an update to the M8 Classic incorporating several features requested by die-hard M users. Quieter shutter, recocking delay, sapphire glass on the LCD, black paint finish, AutoISO, and a host of others. The M8.2 is available for pre-order from various authorized Leica dealers for $6,295 USD.

The S2 is an all-new system with a larger than 35mm sensor (it actually sits between a 35mm frame and a 645 frame at 37.5 megapixels) and boasts a set of new lenses expected to outperform anything else on the market. The S2 is expected to ship Spring 2009 and pricing has not yet been set.