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.
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.
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.
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.
The 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.
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.
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 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).
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.
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: 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: 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: 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 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: 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.
Gary 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: 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: 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 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.
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.
Also present was a display sampling a cross-section of 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.
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 DL28 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.
The 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 the 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.
Leica 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 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 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.
Thanks to the Leica New York Metro Area Meetup group, I was able to get invited to a 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.