Note: This is a followup to an article written more than a year ago.
It happened just a few days ago. As I was getting out of my car, one of my cameras slipped from my grip and dropped onto the cement floor. I picked it up believing that it would require a trip to the repair shop.
On further examination I could see that the lens filter was shattered. I turned the camera’s power on and to my delight the viewfinder lit up brightly. Next I pressed the shutter half-way and was even happily surprised to see that the autofocusing was also working.
I felt lucky AGAIN for this isn’t the first time that a filter gave up its life to save an expensive piece of glass.
In my photography early days, I was a faithful user of lens caps. Whenever I wasn’t shooting, I would snap the lens cap onto the lens. I considered this a safe way to care for my equipment. Of course, most of us also enclosed the entire camera inside its companion leather case. Yes, we were very protective of our precious equipment. And yes again, I spent a lot of time looking for misplaced or buying replacement lens caps.
When I acquired my first SLR at age 14, I quickly fell out of the habit of using lens caps. I may have inherited this trait from my photography mentor for whom I worked while still a student. John explained that removing a lens cap required too much time when you are trying to capture the action.
Instead, I began to using a filter on the lens to protect the front glass element. The filter prevents dust and dirt from accumulating on the lens surface. And the filter is easier and safer to clean. To this day I use either a high quality UV or Skylight filter for most of my shooting.
Now that digital cameras have replaced film cameras I also notice that leather cases have all but gone out of style. I see very few them of them these days. But I do notice that many photographers still use lens caps to protect the glass in front.
I’m not here to make a political case for or against lens caps, only to suggest that filters offer more than dust protection for your lens. In addition, they can protect the front lens element from nasty scratches.
Here’s my latest proof. I was carrying this camera into the house when it slipped out of my hand and onto the floor. As you can see the filter is shattered.
Of course my heart missed a few beats as I watch the camera as it hits the floor. However, after removing the filter I can see that the front lens surface remains untouched.
In spite of the fall, the camera is working perfectly. Apparently the lens barrel took the brunt of the fall so I’ll have to repair the lens’ electronics.. But the glass is still pristine.
Again this isn’t the first time that I’ve had a mishap such as this. Actually, this is the third forth time that a filter has saved the front glass element of one of my lenses. This alone tells me that I should keep on buying filters for each of my lenses.
One of the stops at this month’s Wedding & Portrait Photographers International Expo was the Epson booth.
For several years I’ve used the Epson R2880 to print mid-size photographs. I wanted to see the new Epson P600 which is the successor to the R2880. The two are similar in many respects: 9 ink cartridges; 3 levels of black for b&w images; accommodates paper sizes to 13″ x 19″; 13″ roll paper handling for 13″ wide panoramas.
The P600 uses Epson’s latest UltraChrome HD ink. The ink is packaged in higher capacity cartridges. According to the Epson representative, the black inks have been improved for richer b&w prints.
In addition to the excellent quality of the P2880, the print speed was relatively fast – 2 minutes for an 8″x10″. I watched several iterations at the Epson booth and the P600 produced equally high quality prints at about the same speed.
The paper tray can accommodate 30 sheets of photo paper. For printing on fine art paper, there is a separate single sheet feeder.
Epson has a variety of excellent photo papers. Using roll paper, you can print panoramas 13″ high by 10 feet wide.
I’m a fan of many of Epson’s photo and fine art papers to creatively match your images. They include glossy, matte, metallic, textured, canvas, more. The P600 is on my short list of equipment to buy.
The suggested price is $799 and is available immediately. For more information about the P600, please visit Epson.
2015 Wedding and Portrait Photographers Conference
Each March I make it a habit of leaving the cold climes of Michigan to enjoy some warmth and sun. My destination is the WPPI Conference in sin city, Las Vegas.
From its name you can easily guess that the WPPI Conference is for photographers who are involved with weddings and portraits.
WPPI is mainly a learning experience for the 12,500+ participants. This year they attended more than 200 seminars, classes, demonstrations and photo walks taught by 150 expert speakers. Among many of the photographer-instructors were: Bambi Cantrell, Roberto Valenzuela, Julieanne Kost, Jerry Ghionis, Tamara Lackey, Clay Blackmore, Lindsay Adler, Bob Davis, Bruce Dorn, Gary Fong and Kevin Kubota. Subject matter included practical shooting techniques, posing, lighting, equipment, accessories on the technical end to marketing, advertising, pricing, client retention on the business end.
The WPPI show a staple in the photo industry – this was its 35th anniversary. It’s the premier show of its kind drawing photographers from 60 different countries.
Another side of WPPI is its huge 75,000 square foot Expo where some 275 vendors demonstrate and sell their newest equipment, accessories, supplies, software and services.
As you walk around the exhibit hall you’ll see live demo shoots, discussions and displays.
panel discussion at Nikon
entertainment at Plustek lighting
lining up to speak to Sony reps
To join the WPPI or learn more about the 2016 WPPI conference and expo, pleae visit WPPI Online site.
Please stay tuned for several upcoming articles about equipment and accessories that I reviewed at this year’s expo.
The Consumer Electronics Show – Accessories for Photographers
I’ve been attending the Consumer Electronics Show for more than 30 years. This huge expo is the premier showcase for new and innovative products that are slated for homes and businesses this year.
While walking the several miles of aisles at the Las Vegas Convention Center, a couple of areas especially caught my attention: 3D printers and drones. You can read my show reports here: 3D Printing Technology and Drones.
But as someone who also has a keen interest in photography, here are a few of the photo accessories that stood out at the show.
Hisy and Halo Remotes
Here’s are two tiny little accessories for those of you who are fans of “selfies”.
Basically the Hisy and Halo are bluetooth shutter release for you smartphone. The Hisy is for iOS devices and the Halo is for Android devices.
To the right is the “selfie” of Jackie and myself that we took with her Android smartphone.
They also have the Wing – a selfie stick.
The suggested price of the Hisy and Halo is $24.99. The suggested price of the Wing is $29.95.
If you’re rough on your camera equipment, you may want to look at Nanuk’s cases. PlastiCase makes some very durable protective cases.
Below is one of their smaller cases. It’s made of a impact resistant plastic, has sure-lock latches, soft-grip handle and is waterproof. This 903 model easily accommodates one of my mirrorless cameras with an 18-200mm lens attached. I’ve removed the foam padding to show the spacing.
The Model 903 has a very affordable suggested price of $25.
PlastiCase makes about two dozen different cases in various sizes. For more info, please visit PlastiCase.
EnerPlex is a manufacturer of a variety of solar chargers.
If you’re shooting out in the field for any length of time and run out of juice, these solar chargers may prove invaluable. They are compact, foldable and ruggedized.
On the right, you can see solar chargers built into backpacks. EnerPlex has two backpack models: Packr Executive $130 and Packr Commuter $100.
Kickr IV+ on left produces 6 watts nx Kickr II in center produces 33 watts
Commander-XII produces 19 watts for laptops and tablets
Thule is probably best known as the maker of the well-built and ergonomic car top carriers.
This Swedish company also has a stylish line of camera bags and backpacks.
I found their line of bags to be both attractive and practical.
Their new Legend GoPro Backpack was introduced at the show.
Designed and built for rugged outdoor use, you can mount two GoPro cameras directly to the backpack – one forward-facing the other backward-facing. The outermost compartment has die-cut foam insert for GoPro accessories. It’s lightweight and crushproof (EVA shell) and has several other padded compartments for safe transport of camera accessories, hydration reservoir and smartphone.
Thule tells me that the Legend GoPro Backpack will be available in May. Suggested price is $199.
For more than 30 years, I’ve started the New Year with a trip to the Consumer Electronics Show. CES is the premier showcase for new and innovative techie products that are in line to hit the store shelves.
This year I notice the proliferation of 3D printers and picture-taking drones at the show.
There’s plenty of controversy surrounding the use drones for commercial purposes, manufacturers from around the world are gearing up for battle as they try to outdo each other on features, price, and speed to market. This article presents several of the picture-taking drones that I saw at the show.
This is the Ghost+ quadcopter.
Its payload is a GoPro camera mounted on a controllable gimbal and has a GPS receiver, gyroscopic controller for smooth flight, retractable landing skids and can stay airborne for 18 minutes.
The WiFi module lets you stream the video remotely to a smartphone and/or tablet.
As a former participant in the flight simulation industry, I’m in awe of the drone “landscape”.
As I watch these new models flying at CES, I am amazed at how quickly the technology surrounding drones has progressed. In addition to highly competitive prices, these devices are much easier to fly – many with auto takeoff and auto landing capability – and features such as gimbals, streaming and navigation are truly impressive.
As I mentioned previously, I started this New Year flying from the cold and snowy Midwest to a warm and sunny Las Vegas to attend the CES 2015 industry event as I have been doing for thirty-something years.
I’ve participated at CES on both sides of the aisle. For many years we exhibited our computer software products. For the past several years, I’ve been attending as an industry member. Now I have the opportunity to find out what new gadgets are coming down the tech turnpike.
All things 3D have been progressing at an amazing clip for the past three or four years. An entire section of South Hall was devoted to the 3D technology.
Here’s a few of the neat items that I found at this year’s expo.
Artec Eva 3D Scanner
The 3D scanner is mounted next to a rotating disk on which the subject is standing. The lights fully illuminate the subject.
A couple of minutes later, the completed 3D scan of the subject is displayed on the monitor for everyone to admire. The result is a full body digitized model.
As I was asking the Artec representative questions about how the scanner works, he picks up the scanner and proceeds to give me a “face-on” demonstration. As I stand in place, he walks completely around me, all the time pointing the hand-held device at my head.
About 90 seconds later, my face pops up on the monitor.
This scanner is a high-end model with a high end price – $19,800 to be exact. For more information, please visit The Artec Group.
Innovative Printers from 3D Systems
3D Systems “invented” 3D printing in 1989. Their large booth had several remarkable and innovative products.
perhaps “on demand” shoes are in the near future
a full size handbag, 3D produced
Modeling a lengthy 3D garment
One of the 3D chefs
deserts “baked” with 3D printer
making music – guitar and drums made with 3D printer
To find out more about their many different 3D printing devices, please visit 3D Systems.
Several New and Lower Priced 3D Printers
MakerBot Replcator Mini – a smaller version of their well-known Replicator printer. This unit sell for $1375.
When October comes around, I usually journey back to the stomping grounds of my youth, New York City.
I’m always anxious to attend the PhotoPlus Expo at Jacob Javits Center.
This year it was held from October 30th through November 1st.
More than 21,000 professional and enthusiasts flocked to Javits to see this year’s expo.
on floor seminar from Sony
on floor seminar from Canon
PhotoPlus combines photo education classes and a large exposition. There are about 80 classes and seminars covering diverse topics such as techniques for posing, lighting, composition, movie making, sound reproduction, marketing and business practices.
on floor seminar from Nikon
on floor seminar from Wescott
The large exposition had 225 exhibitors including 60 making their first appearance at PhotoPlus.
I thoroughly enjoy walking the aisles and talking to the vendors and learning what’s new in photographic equipment and accessories.
This is one of my favorite shows for learning about new photographic equipment and accessories. I’m now preparing a series of articles that highlight some of the new products from the show. You’ll see them shortly.
Like many other dedicated photographers, I’ve somehow accumulated a sizable stash of photo equipment over the years. I’ve also gained a lot of experience knowing what equipment I’ll need for a particular type of shooting.
My last two assignments were a combination of travel and outdoor shoots. My aging back and wobbly knees beg me to travel as lightly as possible for two reasons: a) to minimize the size and weight of the load that I carry and b) to reduce the amount of time I need to get ready for any given shot.
Since I don’t like carrying camera bags or backpacks, I rarely carry extra lenses. On hikes, it’s a chore for me to search for the right lens and change it on the fly, especially if wildlife is the subject matter. It’s far faster for me to slide the desired camera/lens setup on its shoulder strap up to my eye and be ready to shoot in a few seconds.
After these two recent assignments, I’ve zeroed in on a reasonable set of cameras and lenses to use when traveling long and far. I based my choice on the range of the lenses that I typically use: a very wide angle, a medium range telephoto zoom and a long range telephoto zoom.
For several years, I’ve come to rely on Sony’s NEX series of mirrorless cameras. Not only are they compact and lightweight, but they have several features that I appreciate such as the electronic viewfinder which instantly previews your exposure adjustments and a mode that captures in-camera panoramas. One drawback of these mirrorless cameras is that there isn’t a long telephoto lens available. For this I have to stick with a full-frame Nikon DSLR.
Here’s the short list that I’ve found works well for me:
For very wideangle, I use a Sony NEX7 with a manual focus Rokinon 8mm fisheye.
For the medium telephoto, I use a Sony A6000 with a Sony 18-200mm lens.
For the long telelphoto, I use a Nikon D600 with a Nikon 80-400mm lens.
As you can see, the Nikon DLSR setup is monstrous next to other two cameras. But lugging this heavyweight around is the price I have to pay for the lens’ long reach.
The NEX7 is a very a very capable camera. I like its large 24mp APC-C sensor, excellent electronic viewfinder and brightly lit tilting LCD.
The 8mm Rokinon lens is about 1/4th as large as my expensive fisheye lens for Canon DLSRs. Using the Rokinon lens I have to manually focus and set the exposure so it’s less convenient than the Canon setup. But the savings in bulk is a major plus for me.
Below are a few photos using this setup. The extra wide angle lets me record everything in front of me. I especially like how the fisheye exaggeratingly bends the horizon.
The A6000, Sony’s successor to the NEX7 is also mirrorless. Feature wise it is very similar to the NEX7 except that it has a superior autofocusing mechanism. This enables high speed captures at frames rates up to 11fps.
When not traveling, the A6000/18-200mm setup is my everyday camera. With a large zoom range I have a wide angle to medium telephoto in a single lens.
When traveling, it becomes my primary camera with the other two cameras reserved for special points of view. Below are a few examples that illustrate the versatility of the 18-200mm lenss.
The Nikon D600 is a full-frame DLSR with a 24mp sensor. It weighs in at two pounds which is twice as much as the A6000.
The Nikon 80-400mm zoom lens weighs just under three pounds making this setup a combined five pounds. Although this is hefty to carry, the lens lock (prevents the zoom from unintentionally sliding) keeps it secure while carrying it with a shoulder strap.
This long telephoto comes off of my shoulder mostly for the long distance shots such as these below.
So there you have it, my equipment of choice for outdoor photography. Of course, not everyone has the same preferences or requirements in the field as myself so this set up may not work universally. But for me being properly equipped has proved to be an ideal way for me to work comfortably, quickly and efficiently.
There were more than a few exhibitors at the Wedding & Portrait Photographers International Expo showing their accessories. And camera straps were among the most frequent offering.
Two particular offerings caught my attention: one for their simplicity and the other for their uniqueness.
CustomSLR camera straps
The Air Strap has a wide shoulder pad that is both lightweight breathable. The strap is easy adjustable to different lengths for a variety of carrying situations. Price is about $20.
The Glide Strap is a neat shoulder strap that’s split towards the bottom. By pulling on the camera, the strap expands for quick, yet secure access. Price is about $33.
For more information about the Air Strap or the Glide Strap, please visit CustomSLR
Hold Fast camera straps
For those photographers seeking a more stylish look, Hold Fast Gear‘s booth was loaded with a large number of colorful and unique accessories.
Below and to the right Matt is demonstrating the Luxury Leather Multi-camera strap. It features wide high grade leather, large D-rings, camera attachment and sliding leather harness. Cost is about $200.
Hold Fast has a lot more stylish accessories.
For more information about the Hood Fast camera straps, please visit Hold Fast
You’ll have to decide for yourself whether you prefer the simple or the stylish.
As I was making my way through the 300+ exhibitor booths at this month’s Wedding & Portrait Photographers International Expo I was reminded how important video has become to this part of the photo industry.
For quality smooth videos, photographers rely on stabilizers to remove the shakes. At the lower end of the spectrum is the iPhone and GoPro. With proper stabilization, these cameras are capable of shooting very decent videos.
Tiffen has two accessories: one for iPhone and another for the GoPro Hero: the Curve and the Smoothee.
The “Smoothee” is for an iPhone
The “Curve” is a lightweight stabilizer for the GoPro Hero
The Steadicam Smoothee is a small single handle device with a quick-release mount for the iPhone. It sells for $150. For more information, please visit Steadicam Smoothee
The Steadicam Curve is specifically designed and balanced for the various models of the GoPro Hero. The price is $100 and is available in four colors. For more information, please visit Steadicam Curve
Both the Smoothee and the Curve are lightweight and allow the photographer to easily move alongside the subject while recording smooth videos.
For larger cameras, a solid tripod with a robust fluid head is most often used. But for hand-held applications, photographers will want to turn to a portable video rig.
One such rig is the Comodo Orbit.
The “Orbit” stabilizer from Comodo is designed for much larger cameras.
This is a lightweight, hand-held gimbal rig built for DLSRs
The twin grips make the rig easier to handle especially when shooting for extended periods of time. The grips also double as a floor stand. With its gimbal mount, the camera is free to pivot to its stabilized position. The Orbit sells for $1500. For more information please visit Comodo.