[dropcap]B[/dropcap]illed as the hottest industry event for photographers and image-makers, Photo District News or PDN as we know it once again hit the Big Apple with a bust out show PhotoPlus New York 2011. Running from Thursday October 27th through Saturday the 29th, 2011 this show welcomed photographers from around the globe. The show is more popular today then ever before. The local photo shop no longer exists and buying on the internet, is well, not easy. Photographers need to see and touch the equipment. We need to understand why we should fork over thousands of dollars on a new camera system. We need to learn how to use our equipment, YouTube videos and instruction books written in a foreign country simply confuses more then they help.
With a no return policy from most dealers, how does one purchase any new piece of equipment? Shows like this one becomes more important each year as we see the shrinking of the local dealer.
Each year we look forward to this show because we know we will see exciting new products from companies we have known and loved for years and sometimes, we meet new companies, with new and innovative must have products. This year was no exception and new companies with new products were there in force.
[box_light]WPPI NYC Show[/box_light]
This year the Wedding Photographers Association, had their WPPI NYC, a convention dedicated to wedding and portrait photographers join forces with PhotoPlus. The show was held in the Javits Center North, which was recently completed in 2010. Unfortunately, companies that chose to be at the WPPI Show instead of the PDN seemed disappointed in the amount of traffic they saw at this show.
To understand why traffic was not as great as on the main floor you have to understand certain facts about the shows. This was the first time WPPI ran this show on the East Coast. Unlike the PDN Show which was a consumer/trade show, WPPI was a trade show. This allowed exhibitors the freedom to quote confidential or wholesale pricing to attendees of the show, but on the other hand, those registered at the PDN Show, were also able to visit the WPPI Show, so it was a bit confusing.
I personally believe that the lack of meaningful traffic to the North Center, was the location itself. From all the shows I have covered this past year, any exhibitor showing in the Javits Center North failed to see even a small portion of the traffic seen in the main building. Show attendees have so much to see in the main convention center, that many fail to visit the exhibits in the North Center. We have seen this at most of the trade shows we cover. Frankly, I had to interview a company in the North building and it took me some time to walk all the way over there from the main show and then back again to the main building, I would guess it was equivalent to two-three city blocks each way.
I am sure show planners thought the idea might have been a good one in the planning stages, but from my conversations with exhibitors at the WPPI, I think they were not sure it worked as planned and seemed disappointed. Maybe next year they will come up with a better plan and include the WPPI in the main building and move some of the larger exhibitors that are must visit companies into the North Center.
All the renovations at the Javits Center are scheduled to be completed by 2013 which include major upgrades to the buildings systems, a new green roof and other needed improvements.
[box_light]Covering the Show[/box_light]
This year I decided to shoot more video then stills. The show videos that we have done for years is meant to give our readers an overview of what was happening at each show. I like to combine my stills with video clips to make it a lively presentation. This year I wanted to introduce the movers and shakers in our industry and give them some face time in our video. You will see some of the hot new products being introduced by company executives and this then will give you a better idea of why we chose them to appear in this review.
The old adage about a picture is worth a 1,000 words should now be changed to a video is worth a 100,000 words. For this reason we will be keeping our words to a minimum and offer you three videos to view. The first one is an overall show video that will give you glimpses into some of the outstanding products we saw at the show.
PDN PhotoPlus Show New York – Show Video
The second video is one we did for the Manfrotto Distribution team showcasing some of their latest and greatest products from each of their divisions.
Finally our third video showcases Doug Feldner, Product Manager for Manfrotto Distribution’s camera bags and an IPA member. This video includes some of the hot new Kata bags. Kata is a personal favorite of mine and I use three of their bags on a regular basis. Kata was also one of our sponsors on last years very successful Not Another Photo Contest contest. Doug promised to write an informative article or articles on his great bags. Watch our site for his in-depth articles and recommendations that will help you select the best bags for your needs.
[box_light]New Companies And Products[/box_light]
We were excited to see many new exhibitors at the show. This year we found a section set up for companies manufacturing photographic products direct from mainland China. Although we thought some of their products were interesting, it was unfortunate that the exhibitors that manned these booths struggled with the English language and were of little use when asked even the simplest questions.
Shenhao • www.shen-hao.com
One such exhibitor Shenhao manufactures beautiful folding and non-folding view cameras. These beautiful wooden bodied cameras with custom backs made to accept most DSLR cameras were truly beautiful to look at. Made from exotic woods like ancient Ebony and Japanese Aluminum alloy, they are worthy of any pro’s collection.
Imagine having all the options including ground glass focusing, tilts and shifts and view camera lenses (most of us have these) merging with the latest digital SLR’s. The cost of most of their cameras without a lens or digital camera ran upwards to around $1,300, which is a great price for those that have made their livings over the years using film view cameras.
Cinevate • http://cinevate.com
This company is a filmmakers first stop. All of their rigs, supports, sliders, dolly’s and other items all look as if they were carefully crafted and produced by hand one at a time. Their attention to detail and the workmanship was superb and I personally fell in love with their Cyclops DSLR Viewerfinder with the Simplis mount has an MSRP of $690. The best part of this viewfinder is its size and great optics. It is made so you don’t need to be on top of the viewfinder to see what you are shooting. You can stand on the side, high or low and see into the viewfinder and focusing, is easy. Will try to get my hands on one of these from Cinevate and do a review for all of our photographers and readers. Check out their full lineup, but be sure you have a fat wallet, quality doesn’t come cheap.
Polaroid is still alive and licenses their name and technology to C&A Marketing. In our video you will see their line of innovative flash units. These flashes contain some very bright LED’s for those shooting videos with their DSLR cameras along with a full auto TTL flash for most popular DSLR cameras. Of course they still have their instant cameras the Polaroid PIC-300R Instant Analog Camera that retails for under $80
The print size is a bit small, about the size of a business card, but can prove to be a lot of fun to use. They promise a larger version soon.
Massiera Industries – E.P.S. – Expandable Photo Studio • http://www.massieraindustries.com/
Can’t afford a studio or need to shoot on location and don’t have big bucks to rent studio space or put one up? Well Brian Hedenberg has the solution with his E.P.S. It is made of a water resistant light weight polyethelene film. It expands using a 24 inch high velocity drum fan (120V) and is extremely quiet. The entire unit can be transported easily to just about any location and in minutes becomes an instant studio. Visit their site to see their video, you won’t believe this great new product.
Million Way International
Tim Hsu was an interesting guy. Promoting and showing four products lines at the show. The first was Swivi (http://swiviusa.com) an external swivel LCD monitor which adds a nice 5.6″ swivel HDMI LCD monitor to your DSLR. It makes shooting and focusing a DSLR easier then every before and they had a hard time keeping up with retail orders at the show.
He also showed Carry Speed camera sling straps http://www.carryspeed.com. Unlike all the others, this one supports the camera body and the camera lens and doesn’t use the tripod socket as the others do. He told me it was inspired by the old Springfield Carbine sling used over 100 years ago.
FotoPro http://fotopro.com/ is a take off on the transformer type tripods, but different. See what it can do in our show video, we are sure you will want one of these too.
Finally, they showed us their Pico Dollies http://photographyandcinema.com which are very cool and easy to use. The Pico Flex Dolly offers smooth tracking camera shots that look like those you see in Hollywood productions. Low cost, easy to use and some great accessories makes this tiny tot a great tool that fits in your camera bag.
[box_light]Now The Big Boys[/box_light]
Sony has been having identity problems for a number of years. Once the hottest company out their for their superb electronic and video equipment, some feel has lost its way. This is a company that has always has sensational video cameras and now they have finally come up with a great line-up of DSLR’s, Videos and some promising 3D products. If you are a filmmaker, you will love their latest camcorder with interchangeable lenses, it is their NEX-VG20H with lens is at an MSRP of $2199. Of course those with a bigger budget can go to the HDR-FX1000 HD MiniDV Handycam® camcorder for even more controls and features.
At Sony, you can find a full array of cameras that will shoot 3D images that can be viewed in 3D in your digital displays without any glasses, very cool. Cameras that take great panoramic that are stitched in the camera, and their top of the line DSLR, the Alpha NEX a77 with 24.3 MP APS-C Sensor (yes you read this right) with a translucent mirror that boasts that they offer the World’s Fastest continuous shooting speed at 12 fps. Although I haven’t tested their cameras lately, I am still using an old Sony TRV900 video camera which in its day was the best consumer camera you could buy. I am looking forward to testing some of the Sony line-up so I can give you a better hands on report.
Tamron • www.tamron-usa.com
IPA has been a supporter of Tamron for years and I have written reviews of some of their lenses. In my opinion, Tamron is one of the best lenses and the best value one can buy today. If you don’t have the bucks to buy comparable Nikon, Canon or Sony lenses then Tamron is a good choice. Their line-up of lenses includes the great SP AF10-24mm F/3.5-4.5 Di ll lens (read my review) that I have used to film the show videos and pictures. Although I also own their 28-300mm lens, I will be trading that one in for their newer 18-270mm Di ii PZD lens, which will serve my needs better, watch for my review of the newer 18-270mm lens coming soon.
From their website: The acclaimed Tamron 18-270mm VC ultra zoom for APS-C format DSLRs has reached an astonishing new level of compactness, performance, and speed with the addition of PZD (Piezo Drive), an innovative ultrasonic autofocus motor based on an advanced piezoelectric design. The result is a lens that’s considerably lighter, and noticeably shorter and slimmer. For me, this is a great choice, stay tuned for my review of this great new lens.
Manfrotto Distribution USA • http://www.manfrotto.us
Why do I love these guys? They never disappoint. Each year I return to the show and hit the Manfrotto booths to see what’s new. This year there were new Kata Bags, including their new Minibee’s. Smaller and lighter then the Bumblebee line-up, but for most of us, just the right size.
Kata Bags for 2011
From their lighting department, we have two new items, the first is their DADO universal junction kit that makes it easy to connect anything to everything. Then a new Snake Arm that will be a great addition to their Magic Arm and Friction Arm line-up.
Then for the bulk of our readers, their 290 Series of quality support system that is not only affordable, but comes with just the perfect head to do the job. No need to pay more for the individual components when you can buy the complete tripod and head.
I have my eyes on their new 05 Zero Series of Magnesium tripod heads. I can’t wait to try one out. See our video and visit their site for more info on these beautiful and light weight new heads.
If you are a pro or amateur and want the ultimate in photowear then you need to check out their Lino line of jackets and vests. They come at a powerful price but deliver powerful features. They even have an all leather travel photo bag that doesn’t announce that you have thousands of dollars in photo equipment inside…but with a case this attractive, not sure what is inside really matters, it is so very nice in black Italian leather.
Finally, we don’t want to forget our filmmakers. Those that need pro support systems, not only to improve the quality of their work, but for those that need to look like they are pro’s. Check out their Genus Matt Box and support systems for DSLR’s and video cameras. We used their Micro Lite to film our video….nice!
Manfrotto Product Lines – Video – Tripods – Lighting Equipment – Apparel and Bags
Who said this company can’t come up with something new each year? This year we saw their new Nikon 1 and system that is sure to be a hit with the pro that want’s to travel light without giving up their interchangeable lenses and accessories and for everyone that wants unique features that we could only dream about in the past. This is the perfect camera for all of us that miss our old rangefinder cameras. If you want light weight, pro features and tons of accessories, you need to check this camera out. Starting at $649.95, this is not meant for the casual photographer, unless cost is not a deterrent.
How would you like to capture true HD 1080[ videos and snap photos while recording those videos. It would take me too many words to describe all the new and innovative features, so visit their site and watch out video that has one of the new commercials that will show you why this should be the show stopper this year.
I shoot with a Nikon D7000 and shot my videos using this camera with my Micro Lite and a ROAD Video Mic all mounted on a simple two shoe camera bracket.
Tiffen – http://tiffen.com/
See their Dfx Software…easier then using filters to add those gradual blends, colors and special effects. Of course you will still want their filters for your digital video work.
We didn’t have time to review some of the many lines of products distributed by Tiffen, but hope to do so the next time around.
Kubota Image Tools – http://kubotaimagetools.com
These guys have everything you need to enhance your images and give you the professional results your clients want. They offer image enhancing Photoshop Actions that are a great way to get the results you want and also teach you how they go to the final results. You see actions will show you all the layers involved in getting those results.Of course they offer some great DVD Tutorials for both Photoshop and Lightroom. Now that is not only what they do, they have just completed a new book Kevin Kubota’s Lighting Notebook and they run creative workshops. Visit their site and say hello to Clare and Kevin Kubota, a great team who I hope to get to know better.
Kubota runs the US operation of Asukabook http://asukabook.com/, watch our video and visit their site to find out more about these high quality custom books and products.
[box_light]Let Us Not Forget[/box_light]
There was so much to see at the show, but alas it would take more then this simple review to cover it all. The following links are to other companies we spoke to and ones you will see in our review. You should visit their websites to see what they offer and by all means, mention you heard about them on our website.
Ikan – Monitors, Teleprompter, Lights and Elements http://ikancorp.com
California Sunbounce – Light Modifiers and Reflectors http://sunbounce.com
SteadePod – Unique camera steadying device – http://steadepod.com/[divider]
I would personally like to thank the following people for their continued support and help in producing the videos and this article.
Scott Heath and Lou Desiderio from Synergy Communications These are the guys that handle the shows PR and who made my job so much easier.
Donna Narkiewicz at Manfrotto, who continues to act as our liasion with all the folks at Manfrotto and has become a good friend.
Kriss Brungrabber, Manfrotto’s Marketing Director, for the nice intro he did in our videos and of course, for his continued support and cooperation.
Finally a big thank you to all the nice folks I met at the show. Not only from the companies you see in this review, but all the others, who took the time to speak to me and in many cases, also committed to support IPA through our new sponsorship program. We thank you all and appreciate you willingness to help keep IPA strong.[divider]