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Wrapping Up the Event

 



The cold and snowy winter days in Michigan have me longing for a warmer respite. So the call of the exciting Wedding and Portrait Photography International Conference and Expo is excuse enough for me to hop on a plane to visit the warm climes of Las Vegas.

The goal of the conference portion of WPPI is to hone the skills of professionals who specialize in weddings, portraits, video, school and sporting photography. Classes, seminars and photo walks are led by noted pros and educators who share their techniques with attendees to help grow their business.

The expo portion of WPPI takes place in a huge hall where manufacturers of photo equipment, accessories, materials, and services can present their products to attendees.

The venue for WPPI was the huge Las Vegas Convention Center. Event organizers told me that the show outgrew the space at MGM Center. The LVCC was easily able to accommodate the 13,000 attendees and 230 exhibitors.


Convention goers are attracted to WPPI by the many well-know photographers and instructors that conduct more than 200 different classes. You may recognize some of their names and work: Joe McNally, Sue Bryce, Joe Switzer, Lindsay Adler, Tamara Lackey, Me Ra Koh, Bambi Cantrell, Katrin Eismann, Bob Davis, Jerry Ghionis, Roberto Valenzuela and Julianne Kost to name a few.


At the expo, I made my way through the exhibit hall and stopped often to listen to many of the seminars and demonstrations sponsored by the major equipment manufacturers. Here’s a quick look at a wide variety of topics presented to attendees.


Lighting Techniques


A Nikon Demo


Self-Portraiture & Posing


presented by Brooke Shaden

Posing the Family


presented by Michele Celentano


Nikon Ambassador


Dixie Dixon

with an attentive audience



Photojournalist Joe Bussink

Talking Mirrorless Cameras at Fuji

My stay in Las Vegas was short but I did talk to dozens of equipment and accessory suppliers during my visit to WPPI. As soon as I get my act together, I’ll review some of items that caught my attention.


 

 
Written by: Arnie Lee

 

 

Saved Again

16th October 2015

Why I use filters instead of lens caps

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.

 

 
Written by: Arnie Lee

 

 


 

 

 

 

Am I Equipped Right?

30th September 2014

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.
 
 
Written by: Arnie Lee
 
 
 
 


Getting Personal

03rd December 2013

Camera Brands are like Religion

Not a week goes by without someone asking me what brand of camera they should buy, a Canon or a Nikon.

Most of the time they’re wanting to replace their good quality point-and shoot camera. They’re looking for more advanced equipment along the lines of a DSLR.

Having owned or used literally dozens of cameras, especially in the past five years, I have a definitive answer which I’ll share with you shortly. But what I find interesting is that so many photo enthusiasts also have very definite answers to this question.

Let me back up a bit and explain why I’m writing this.

A Facebook friend wrote that he was looking for a new DLSR. “Should I buy a Canon or a Nikon?”, he posted. I replied “or a Sony?”. The point I was trying to make was that there are more choices than only Canon and Nikon.

A few minutes later there were many more replies on his Facebook status: “Nikon”; “CanonCanonCanon”; “I shoot Nikon”; “I use a Nikon D90”; “Canon definitely”; “I have a Nikon 5000”; etc.

 

 
It’s not surprising that a camera brand is a very personal choice. It is as though each photographer is pleading with my friend to heed only his or her suggestion. Isn’t proselytizing their brand like forcing a person’s religion onto another?

Yet when I think about it I was doing the same. I was suggesting that a Sony NEX camera is similar to DSLR but without the weight and bulk. And since I am very fond of carrying lightweight equipment, I frequently use a Sony NEX camera.

Of course I could have chosen a different way to respond to his initial post by asking a few qualifying questions: will he be taking lots of sports or action; are movies part of his photography repertoire; how much money does he have to spend.

But frankly these qualifying questions don’t matter much.

Here’s my answer to his question: it doesn’t matter if you choose Canon or Nikon. Both have equally capable cameras in the various price ranges. And Sony also has equally capable cameras. One could argue that Pentax and Olympus also offer quality models too.

There’s too many slanted opinions for my friend to make his choice based on all of the Facebook replies. I hope my friend makes his choice based on how the equipment feels in his hands; getting the most features for the price; availability and affordability of additional lenses; past experience with previous purchases.

What do you think? Any comments?

 

 
Written by: Arnie Lee

 

 

 

 


 

 

Parade of New Cameras

01st October 2012

Photokina Part 1 – the new stuff

Every two years the photographic industry gathers at Photokina to introduce its new products.

The event takes place over a week period in early September at the huge Koelnmesse Exhibition Center in Cologne, Germany.



 

This year I again attended Photokina along with some 150,000 other visitors and walked the aisles of the messe’s ten huge halls to see the new photographic and imaging products from more than 1500 vendors.

What follows is a condensed report of those products that were of particular interest to me.
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It’s time for CES again

04th January 2012

What’s in store for 2012?

The Consumer Electronics Show kicks off again in less than a week.

 

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the CES, it’s a huge technology trade show at which the electronic and associated manufacturers showcase their new products. In recent years, CES has attracted more than 120,000 attendees to the Las Vegas Convention Center and surrounding venues.

 
There are literally miles of aisles lined with home theaters, thundering auto audio systems, pulsating illuminated LED signs, massive large-screen televisions, deafening stereo systems and wacky computer game displays. It’s a crowded, noisy affair.

Despite the negatives, CES has been a “must” show for me. In fact, I find it an exciting place to be. So much so that I’ve been to attending this annual event (for a while it was held twice a year) for more than 30 years to learn and write about the new products that are applicable to our businesses. For the first time, the Photographic Marketing Association trade show is being folded into this year’s CES. I suppose this tells us that photographic equipment is now considered part of the consumer electronics realm. Merging of these trade shows into one makes it even more convenient for me to learn about new photo equipment as well.

On the photography side, I expect these will be the trend this year:

  • There will be more offerings of high end interchangeable lens cameras (ILC). This relatively new breed are imirrorless and use real-time electronic viewfinders and are significantly smaller than DSLRs. The Nikon V1 and Sony NEX5 are current examples that have compelling and innovative features
  • It looks like we’ll see big improvements in the video capability of both DLSRs and ILCs. The norm will be 1080p HD video, full-time autofocus amd complete manual control of exposure. These devices are reinventing the way in which video is recorded.
  • Watch for even better images from cellphones. Some models already have large 8MP sensors with builtin flash. There is a striking difference in quality from last year’s models.
  • Slowing sales of compact cameras hasn’t deterred manufacturers from improving image quality. In particular, the trend is towards better low-light performance by using more responsive image sensors and wider aperture lenses. This will most likely continue but at a higher price.
  • Again with compacts the major brands are also competing aggressively on a feature basis. For example the Samsung SH100 has builtin wireless transfer and several company’s have cameras with builtin GPS. I expect that features such as these will become very popular.
  • Last fall in China, I met with several manufacturers who were pushing easy to use, all-weather still and video cameras. This may become a popular category as the younger generation continues the YouTube tradition of recording and producing movies of their varied outdoor activities.

On the technology side I will be looking at these items:

  • I just read that Microsoft will be showing their upcoming Microsoft Flight at the show This is of special interest to me as one of our other businesses sell software for their older Flight Simulator.
  • There are likely to be a slew of new and improved tablet from a variety of manufacturers. Since the launch of the iPad, these devices have made a dramatic shift in mobile computing behavior. With the recent addition of reading devices such as Amazon’s Fire and Barnes & Noble’s Nook Tablet, the market is heating up quickly.
  • Cellphones have made the most impact on consumer behavior in the last few years and I’ll be interested in seeing the new features that are upcoming.
  • For several years, robotic devices have been randomly appearing at CES. For the most part, this promising technology has been confined to a few areas such as floor cleaning devices and children’s toys. I’m hoping to see new and innovative consumer-level robots at the show.

I’ll report back to you about the show soon.

Yes, I’m looking forward to another CES. By the way, I’m also looking forward to a few days away from the cold and snowy weather here in Michigan.

 

 
Written by Arnie Lee


Looking for a new camera? Here’s a few.

Besides being avid an photographer, I’m also a techie. This makes it difficult for me to page past the ads for new camera gear.

In addition to the higher end cameras, I also collect, experiment, use and review compact cameras.

This holiday season is an opportune time to shop for a new or replacement camera.

Why, you ask?

Well, the prices for high quality compact cameras are extremely attractive. Competition among the major manufacturers is very high and that drives prices down. In one week, I saw the price of several medium-end point-and-shoot models drop 20% as the manufacturers scurried to garner additional holiday sales.

This isn’t meant to be a review but let me point out a few of the bargains that I saw.

Canon PowerShot SX230 HS – 14X optical zoom, 12mp, 1080 HD video, builtin GPS, $200 was $300
Nikon Coolpix S6200 – 7x optical zoom, 16mp, 720 HD video, $130 was $200
Nikon Coolpix S6200 – 10x optical zoom, 16mp, 720 HD video, $150 was $230
Nikon Coolpix S9100 – 18x optical zoom 12mp, 1080 HD video, $250 was $330
Samsung SH100 – 5X optical zoom, 14mp, 720 HD video, builtin wifi upload, $130 was $180
Sony CyberShot WX9 – 5X optional zoom, 16mp, 1080 HD video, $140 was $200

You’ll notice that I have listed three Nikon models. Over the past several months, Nikon has been very aggressive with both the number of models that they’ve made and the pricing of them.

I’ve used three of the cameras listed and have found that the image quality from all to be very good. I am also impressed with the ability to take pictures in low-light with the Nikon models.

I also enjoy the longer zoom range on many of the models which let me “reach” subjects are farther away than my feet can take me.

If you’re looking for a new or replacement camera that doesn’t break the bank, you have a large choice available. Best of luck with your shopping.

********************************************

Folllowup: After writing this article, I saw a “deal” that I didn’t want to turn down. I ordered a compact camera to be my pocket companion. I’m buying the Canon Powershot SX230HS for $189.

This is the third Canon SX200 series camera that I’ve owned. I’ve taken well over 11,000 photos and videos with my older SX210. Being small, it is easy to carry with me on my travels. Yes, I’ve made this camera work hard these past two years.

The new SX230 takes better photos in low light situations, retains the extended 14x telephoto zoom lens and includes built-in GPS that records the location of my photos. This will make it easy for me to remember where I snapped all of the new pictures.

With the end of the holidays, retailers are anxious to sell any excess inventory. This makes now a great time to be shopping for a new camera- there are many bargains to be found.

 

 
Written by Arnie Lee


Post tags: ,

Disassembling a Hard Drive

 

Caution – you are about to waste your time. Here is yet another way to divert your attention from the really important things that you should be doing instead of reading this article.

When photography depended on using film, it wasn’t important for the average picture taker to use a personal computer. Digital photography has changed this all and makes owning and using a personal computer almost a necessity.

Nowadays, many of us depend on a personal computer to help with our daily tasks and/or for our livelihood. I’d venture to say that many of you are on your third or forth or more generation personal computer – you’re no longer a novice computer user. As such, you’ve replaced a hard drive or two. And hopefully, you were prudent enough to have backed up your data!

Over the years, I have replaced many, many hard drives. For some reason, instead of depositing the dead drive in the trash, I toss it into a large carton and now have quite a large collection. Every once in a while, I pull a drive out and dissect it.

Why? Because I like to tinker and because I use a few of the internal component
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Extending your Arm

You see it all of the time – an excited picture-taker is pointing her camera at herself with an extended arm. She’s taking her own photo.

She could have used a QuikPod. I first saw a demo of the QuikPod at the Consumer Electronics Show in early January and recently ordered one through Amazon.

The people at QuikPod designed a neat device that helps these photographers take better self-portraits.

The QuikPod is small and is packaged in a lightweight net carrying case that fits in a coat pocket or purse.

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A quick look at the storage area for my photo equipment is a reminder of how many accessories that I’ve accumulated. My shelves are lined with camera bags, backpacks, filters, tripods, gorillapods, remote shutter releases, battery chargers, flash brackets, gps receivers, and many more.

Having used many dozens (perhaps hundreds) of accessories since the 1960s, I’ve had varying opinions about the usability of many of them. Some were worth their weight in gold while others weren’t worth the shelf space they were occupying and are no longer in my possession.

I’ve had a long history of making my own accessories. I’m signalling a short series of articles that I will be writing in coming weeks that show you how can easily make your own photo accessories to save you both frustration and money too.

Here’s a peek at the very inexpensive materials that I purchased to make the first accessory.

Stay tuned to see what we do with these items for the first project.

 
Written by Arnie Lee

 


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