As a long time follower of all thing photographic, I’m attracted to places where I can see, touch and fawn over new and innovative photographic equipment, accessories and services.
The upcoming PhotoPlus Expo 2016 Conference and Exposition is magnetically drawing me to New York City where more than 250 exhibitors will gather to show off their latest products and services. It’s the largest photography and imaging show in North America and has the distinction of more than 30 years of continuous operation.
Additionally, dozens of noted professionals and instructors will conduct 100+ of in depth seminars and classes demonstrating posing, lighting, wedding, portrait, marketing and photofinishing techniques.
Over the many years that I’ve been attending PhotoPlus seminars and demos I come away a little smarter as a photographer. Unfortunately (for my wallet), I also leave itching for new camera equipment and accessories.
The conference includes daily photo walks where attendees will explore the sites and streets of New York City accompanied by well-known professionals.
One standout is the Drone+ Seminar led by photographer George Steinmetz as he shows his aerial films. Also joining him are representatives form the FAA that will explain regulations concerning commercial drone photography.
PhotoPlus takes place October 19-22 at the Jacob Javits Convention Center. With the completion of the #7 subway last year, getting to Javits is an easy ride from other areas of the city.
If you share my enthusiasm for photography, visit PhotoPlus Expo 2016 for more details. Maybe I’ll see you there.
The Wedding & Portrait Photography International Conference and Expo
Can you guess who the target audience is for this convention?
For those professionals who want to enhance their skills – posing, lighting, equipment, marketing – the WPPI is a week-long “university” taught by experts. This year’s WPPI took place March 3rd through March 10th at the MGM Conference Center in Las Vegas. WPPI organized more than 250 classes and seminars for 13,000 anxious attendees. These classes were taught by 175 instructors including notables such as Joe McNally, Tamara Lackey, Lindsay Adler, Roberto Valenzuela, Bambi Cantrell, Hanson Fong, Kevin Kabota, Jerry Ghionis and Gary Fong to name a few.
In addition to the conference, the expo highlighted 270 exhibitors showed the newest cameras, lenses, equipment, lighting, accessories, supplies, marketing material and services. All of the major camera manufacturers will set up booths to demonstrate their latest equipment.
Following is a look at those items that caught my attention at the this year’s WPPI a couple of weeks ago.
Presentations and Seminars
There were many opportunities for everyone to learn new posing and lighting techniques right on the expo floor. All of the camera makers and many vendors were holding demonstrations conducted by well-known photographer/educators.
This small unit is a camera that works in conjunction with an iPhone. With a large 20mp 1″ sensor and f/1.8 lens you attach it to your iPhone to control settings. It also works “off-phone” if you want a small, lightweight camera. Though small, it can capture RAW images too. I found it very straight-forward to use and the images were quite good considering the convention hall lighting.
Suggested price is $499. For more information please visit DXO
MagMod makes a set of accessories to improve the quality of light from your flash unit. These include a snoot to narrow the light to a beam, a sphere to diffuse and soften the light and a bounce that reflects the light output and avoid harsh shadows, gel which add various colors to the light and grid to focus the light.
What is unique about these accessories is that become part of your flash unit using a magnet for instant attachment. Price for the complete set is $235.
I received two demos at this booth. One was for their Derringer above left for carrying from 1 to 3 cameras. You wear the strap on both shoulders with wide padded straps that relieve pressure points and back. The straps are adjustable for easy access to any of the cameras. Price is $485.
For carrying two cameras, the Clydesdale above right can help you more easily carry your equipment. The strap attaches solidly to the camera’s tripod socket. RL makes several styles differing in weight, padding, air holes for easier breathing, color. Prices start at $205 to $425 for the deluxe version.
Sony is the undisputed leader of mirrorless cameras. They have been rapidly adding lenses to support their highly acclaimed full-frame models: A7R II and A7S II cameras.
Three of Sony’s new lenses made it to WPPI for demoing. These are the 85mm f/1.4 GM, 70-200mm f/2.8 OSS and 24-70mm f/2.8 GM. Prices are $1800, $2900 and $2200 respectively. For the 70-200mm lens, Sony is also releasing 1.4X and 2.0X teleconverters. Sony claims a higher resolution of the G series lenses compared to others and superior auto focus performance.
Spider makes a holster with a unique locking-clamping device for conveniently carrying your camera at your waist. The holster is adjustable and is worn like a belt to either side. The clamping device is solid and easily slides into the holster for hands-free carriage. Price for the Spider Pro holster is $135.
The company also has a variety of heavy duty hand straps that come in a variety of colors. All are made of durable material, attach to the camera with a tripod plate and include a removable wrist strap. Price for the black model is $65 and $75 for other colors.
The Wedding & Portrait Photography International Conference and Expo
As I sit at my computer in crusty Michigan with the clouds building for another forecasted snow storm, I’m looking forward to escaping for a few days.
My destination is the WPPI Conference & Expo which begins March 3rd and runs through March 10th. For professional photographers and hobbyists alike, it’s a chance to learn from experts.
Additionally, you’ll travel to the warm climes of Las Vegas at the MGM Conference Center for extracurricular activities that are sure to add up to a practical education and fun packed week.
WPPI is comprised of hundreds of classes and seminars taught by noted photographers such as Joe McNally, Tamara Lackey, Lindsay Adler, Roberto Valenzuela, Bambi Cantrell, Hanson Fong, Kevin Kabota, Jerry Ghionis and Gary Fong to name a few.
Alongside the conference is the expo portion in which 80,000 square feet of space occupied by 300 exhibitors who will showcase the newest cameras, lenses, equipment, lighting, accessories, supplies, marketing material and services. All of the major camera manufacturers will set up booths to demonstrate their latest wares.
The Consumer Electronics Show has been the face of the electronics industry for almost 50 years. Except for one year, I’ve attended the show continuously since 1980 first as an exhibitor for many years, next as an industry member and lately as part of the press.
CES is held each year in early January in Las Vegas. This makes traveling to CES a respite from the cold and snowy winter weather of my home base in Michigan. I walked many miles through the aisles and took in the breath of new gadgets that may make their way to our homes and businesses in the next months.
Along with 170,000 attendees, I was privy to see some 3,800 exhibitors that occupied 2.5 million square feet of floor space showing their products.
Here are a couple that caught my attention.
DXO One – iOS Camera
One of my first stops was at the DXO Labs booth where their rep Elodie Petiot demonstrated a small, standalone camera that melds seamlessly with the iPhone and iPad.
The DXO One has a high resolution 20MP sensor with a fast f/1.8 32mm equivalent lens and attaches directly to the iOS device through a Lighting connector thereby eliminating the need for a wifi connection. An iOS app provides control over all of the cameras’s features – focus, exposure, shutter speed, aperture setting, ISO setting, more. Captured images are immediately transferred to the iPhone for editing or sharing online.
The suggested price for the DXO One is $475. For more information please visit DXO.
Sony Alpha 7R II Mirrorless
I’ve been using Sony APS-C mirrorless cameras for the past four years, but Sony’s new full-frame a7r II has been on my radar scope since it became available late last year. With a whopping 42-megapixel sensor it should fits into my fondness for landscape photography. Its BSI (back sided illuminated) sensor enables Sony to pack more light gathering power onboard, thereby boosting sensitivity to 102,400. Autofocus speed is said to be 40% faster than the earlier a7R model. Other improvements include five-axis image stabilization and shutter dampening for less camera vibration.
What’s holding me back from purchasing this camera? I’d also have to shell out a big investment for a set of full-frame lenses.
The suggested price of the a7R II is $3200. For more information, please visit Sony.
Stay tuned for a look at a couple of 3D printers that caught my eye at CES 2016.
The PhotoPlus Expo is the largest photography show in the US. This year more than 21,000 photo professionals and enthusiasts flocked to New York City’s Jacob Javits Center to attend the various events. These included more than 100+ classes conducted by 140 speakers covering posing, lighting, equipment, software, services, business techniques and strategy. In addition there were 15 photo walks across the New York City landscape in which participants were mentored by noted professionals.
I took an interest in the more than 250 exhibitors covering more than 100,000 square feet of space and demonstrating their goods and services.
Following are some of the exhibits that I stopped by during my visit to PhotoPlus Expo.
There were an abundance of live seminars and demonstrations on the expo floor. These covered a large gamut of photo topics: better use of equipment, lighting techniques, wedding and portrait sets, directing and posing subjects, post-processing and software usage.
Many well-known photographers and educators were on hand for the seminars and floor demos: Hanson Fong, Joe McNally, Lindsay Adler, Tamara Lackey, Terry White, Julianne Kost, Scott Kelby to name a few. With more than 100 classes, there is learning for every photographic category.
For those interested in trying new cameras and accessories, all of the major manufacturers had exhibits and representatives to demonstrate their wares and answer questions. Even hard-to-find accessories such as these long lenses were available for hands-on trial for the many interested photographers.
Many attendees use the services available at PhotoPlus to clean and/or service their equipment Here is a Canon rep cleaning a DLSR while the owner waits. The major manufacturers Canon, Nikon, Sony and Panasonic all had technicians on hand to provide service to those with extended service contracts. They also provided complimentary cleaning.
Barber Shop Leather Accessories
I was attracted to goods at the Barber Shop booth. They had a very attractive collection of leather camera straps and cameras bags. Barber Shop is an Italian company and these goods were exquisitely stylish and solidly made. For more information visit Barber Shop.
LowePro Camera Bags
Based on my many years of satisfaction with their products, I stopped at the LowePro booth. On display were several dozen of backpack style camera bags in sizes varying from small for a single camera to extra large for two cameras with six or more lenses.
I took to their Urban Reporter which looks more like a messenger bag rather than a conventional camera bag. It has room for a laptop, a large camera and ample padded storage for several lenses and accessories.
I also saw their new DroneGuard. This is a case designed to carry a drone (e.g. DJI Phantom) and accessories. This makes transporting the drone convenient and safe.
You can learn about their product line by visiting LowePro.
Urban Reporter 350
Tornado Hexcopter Drone
Drones are available in many different sizes and sport a wide variety of features. It’s almost essential that these flying devices have excellent digital equipment, stabilization and easy control if the desired end result is quality photography and video.
At the Yuneec booth, the Canadian company’s product director Mark Padilla gave me a demonstration of their Tornado H920. This professional drone has a lightweight carbon fiber body controlled by a sophisticated remote that includes “pilot view”, video downlink and instrumentation.
The camera provides full 1080 HD. Since the drone’s landing pods are retractable, the camera has an unobstructed view. Additionally, it is mounted on a controllable 3-axis gimbal for steady shots.
Below you can see Mark giving me a demo of the Tornado H920:
Cotton Carrier Harnesses
As an outdoor photographer, I typically carry two or more cameras on assignment and headed to Cotton Carrier to look at their products.
Their “vest” holds one or two handsfree depending on the options selected. Each camera is held to the vest using a locking connector and leash. They also have a Speed Belt for holding a camera at waist level.
Over the years I’ve owned several professional quality printers. The most recent was limited to 13″ wide prints.
I’m now interested in a printer for making larger prints and stopped to talk to the Epson representative who demonstrated their new SureColor P800. This device can make 17″ wide prints on a very wide variety of papers, has several paper handling features including roll feeder, uses large capacity ink cartridges with enhanced black and white printing. The samples produced during the demo were superb. The SureColor P800 is now on my wish list.
You can find out more about the P800 by visiting Epson.
Kodak PixPro SP360 Action Camera
Kodak’s Rep Amanda Drain gave me a demo of their innovative PixPro SP360 Action Camera. As its name suggests, it captures 360 degrees as 1080p HD video.
The camera itself is a cube with a dome on top. It’s weather resistant and ruggedly designed to withstand drops and knocks. It has Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity and can be controlled with either IOS (Apple) or Android devices.
To see samples of the 360 HD video and for more information please visit Kodak PixPro.
If you’re ready to experience the PhotoPlus Conference next year, mark your calendar for October 19-22 at Jacob Javits Center in New York City.
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.