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.
Earlier this month I stopped by the Joby’s booth at the Wedding & Portrait Photographer’s International Expo. There I picked up one of their DSLR Wrist Straps.
While this is not a particularly sexy accessory, I’ve found it to be quite practical. Instead of a conventional shoulder strap which I have to slide off my shoulder in order to use the camera, the wrist strap lets me hold the camera conveniently and safely. It’s especially useful when I’m shooting from a single location and am not transporting the camera distances. The camera is there in my hand ready to shoot immediately.
The strap attaches to one of the camera strap lugs. The adjustable “loop” slides snugly across your wrist giving you a safe grip.
This inexpensive DSLR Wrist Strap is made of heavy-duty webbed material and costs about $15. For more information please visit Joby’s online website.
The Wedding & Portrait Photography International event can be thought of as a conference of 260+ instructional classes for where photographers can sharpen and learn new skills and a huge expo where they can meet with more than 300 exhibitors displaying, explaining and selling all kinds of photographic equipment, accessories and services.
For two days, I roamed the two exhibit floors at the MGM Resort visiting with several dozen exhibitors as they showed me new camera models, innovative equipment and useful accessories.
In the next few articles, I’ll review a few of the more interesting finds from the exhibit floor.
Rogue is a maker of a variety of flash accessories. I got a hold of their a new device they call the Safari. This small unit sits atop of your camera’s pop-up flash to extend its range.
The Safari package comes with a couple of shoe mounts to fit on different model cameras. The mount slides onto your camera’s hot shoe. The Safari then slides onto the mount.
Your pop-up flash then “opens” inside of the Safari as you can see below.
Below are unretouched photos without any flash compensation. Clearly the Safari does a good job of extending the range of the camera’s pop-up flash.
Rogue says that the Safari works best with lenses that have a focal length of 100mm or greater. My simple tests proved equally effective using both Canon and Nikon cameras. You may want to dial down the flash compensation if your subject is close to the flash.
In early March while still in the midst of Winter in the Midwest, I very much look forward to escaping for a few days to sun and warmth of Las Vegas to attend the Wedding & Portrait Photographers International Convention.
As its name suggests, the WPPI event is aimed at photographers who specialize in weddings and portraits.
This year the conference included more than 160 classes taught by a number of well-known instructors: Lindsay Adler, Zach Arias, Bob Davis, Jerry Ghionis, Michael Greenberg, Peter Hurley, Scott Kelby, Sandy Puc and Jennifer Rozenbaum to name a few of the 170 instructors in all. Classes ranged from practical shooting techniques, lighting, posing, using specialized equipment and accessories, building and maintaining a growing client base, marketing, advertising and pricing.
WPPI is internationally known and more than 12,000 photographers trekked to Las Vegas from 64 countries to learn from other successful pros. Interestingly, more than 50% of the attendees were new registrants this year. My observation is that more than half of the attendees were women – suggesting that women are rapidly growing the wedding and portrait photography business.
In addition to the convention, there’s a large expo where the attendees can view the equipment, accessories, supplies and services offered by more than 300 exhibitors.
As you walk around the exhibit hall you’ll see live demo shoots, discussions and displays.
Jerry Ghionis demonstrating lighting techniques
Bambi Cantrell discussing wedding photography
Tamara Lackey explaining the importance of time of day
Demonstrating camera techniques at the Sony booth
Miller and GraphiStudio showing a myriad of album covers and photo book services
If you’d like the join the WPPI or if you can benefit from attending next year’s conference and expo, please visit the site WPPI Online site.
Please stay tuned for several upcoming articles about equipment and accessories that I reviewed at this year’s expo.