Objects of Desire (or Vigorous Want, at Least) at PhotoPlus Expo 2016

The exhibits have been taken down at NYC’s Javits Center, and PhotoPlus Expo 2016 is now in the past. It’s always a pleasure to run into friends and dealers while touring the show floor, as we all oooh and ahhh at the shiny new gizmos on display, and start to make mental notes of which ones we’re going to start saving for. Here’s a recap of some of what’s new and what is changing in how we’ll shoot pictures and video this year…

nikon-booth-at-ppe-2016

A Death Spiral for DSLRs?

Well, probably more like a steep loss of altitude. As always, Nikon and Canon were out in force, and lots of fans were there to see and play with their new toys. But the real action was to be found at mirrorless vendors like Sony, and Fuji, and Lumix. I’ve never seen a presentation like Sony’s before. Their range of mirrorless cameras and the vast array of optics they showed drew crowds from the moment the doors opened.

Sony booth at PPE 2016

Sony lenses at PPE 2016

The capabilities of these cameras, both in still and 4K video, are astonishing. It’s why my full-frame DSLRs now spend much of their time on the shelf. It’s also why these cameras are being widely used in professional video production and why companies like Zeiss are making feature-worthy optics to fit them.

It’s no surprise that Fotodiox (about whom I’ve written before) is continually expanding their range of adapters to ensure that virtually any lens can be used with any of the new cameras, in most cases transferring their auto-focus technology at the same time. I love being able to use vintage Leica M-series optics on my Fuji X-E2, particularly for portraiture.

And I’ll never be smart enough to figure out how Lumix (and others) can offer a camera with a 24-480mm optical zoom and a host of other phenomenal features that weighs not much more than my 43-86 Zoom-Nikkor from the late ’60s (still languishing in a desk drawer).

Lensbaby Trio28 at PPE 2016

Accessories of Note

Even though I had very high regard for the unique products they brought to photographers, I’ve never owned a Lensbaby product. It’s probably because, through decades of photojournalism work, I avoided anything that modified the images I produced. But things change, and I was intrigued to learn about their Trio 28 for mirrorless cameras. It produces three versatile effects on a rotating mount over a 28mm lens (effectively 42mm on my Fuji). I played with it at the show, and I’m looking forward to seeing what I can do with it soon.

ThinkTank Red Whips at PPE 2016

I’ve been using Think Tank memory card wallets for years, but wasn’t aware of their full range of products. Here’s one that everyone needs: Red Whips adjustable elastic cable ties. Managing cords and cables at home or on location is a real pain, and a package of these would be the perfect stocking stuffer (along with a pack of our microGAFFER – a favorite on holiday shopping lists year after year!)

Op/Tech USA is a company with a vast range of accessories, some of which I’ve been using for a long time. At PhotoPlus Expo, I tried a new camera strap they call the “Envy” on my Fuji mirrorless. It’s got a slim profile and is padded with memory foam. Op/Tech makes hundreds of products, and I plan to put the Envy strap on all my camera bodies. You’ve gotta love that—just like us—they’re proud to stamp the “Made in the USA” banner on practically all their products, and even produced a behind-the-scenes look into their workshop.

Phoxi FriendsMy best-in-show award for accessories, however, would have to go to Phoxi Friends. Marie Murray, a Canadian children’s photographer, has come up with a range of delightful creatures (with built-in squeakers) that wrap around the barrel of any lens and instantly engage any subject, particularly small children. Any photographer who’s struggled to get and hold the attention of a kid or pet knows how tough that can be. At her modest booth on the fringes of the exhibit floor, I watched dozens of attendees walk away with their new Phoxi Friends.

“Your New York Minute” Photo Contest

Not to forget what all this stuff is for — helping great photographers capture great images — PPE’s first official photo contest was held at the show, with the City of New York as its subject. Some magnificent images were chosen, both in the Amateur and Professional categories. Take a look, and be inspired!

Clever Hack: How to Use VSCO Filters and Other Develop Presets in Lightroom Mobile

Using desktop Lightroom presets on Lr Mobile

Lightroom users: Did you ever wish you had access to the photo processing filters on your desktop… when you weren’t at your desktop? Lucky for you, Reddit user naturalized_cinnamon shared a process by which you can sync your favorite Develop Module presets to Lightroom Mobile. Whether you use VSCO Film or you’ve created a set of your own presets, you’ll always have them at hand!

Here’s how it works: first, create a “host image” for each preset. Apply the preset to the image, and then use the Creative Cloud Sync feature to have those settings transfer to your phone. Once you find yourself in the mood to apply, say, Fuji Provia 100F to one of your iPhone shots, just bring it into Lr Mobile, then copy and paste the develop settings from the host image to your target image, and tweak if necessary. Very cool!

See the full process as described by naturalized_cinnamon. Note that the host images can be as simple or complex as you like; in his example, you can see that different brands of film have been color-coded: orange for Kodak, purple and green for Fuji, etc. The colors and/or gradients used won’t affect how your photos are processed, but can help you find what you’re looking for a little more quickly.

RoscoLED Tape: The Easiest Way to Create Customized, High-Quality Accent Lighting

RoscoLED, lit

Quickly add LED accent light to any scene, in any color, at any intensity — without spending extra time soldering or doing math.

We’ve always been fans of the LitePad family of products, which continues to do very well for our friends at Rosco. Now, Rosco is introducing RoscoLED Tape, which allows lighting designers even more flexibility without requiring them to be electrical engineers. Simply put, RoscoLED is a strip of self-adhering LEDs that can be tuned to the exact color and brightness, cut to the exact length, and placed in the exact position you need — quickly and easily.

Your mind is probably already racing with ideas for where you could use RoscoLED Tape. What kinds of new looks could you create with this technology? We envision it being used in countless ways, not only for photographic and film scenarios, but also in architecture, landscaping, industrial design, and even fashion. Forget Mood Rings – why not Mood Suits?!

RoscoLED Tape VariWhite

Getting started with RoscoLED is easy; Rosco has already assembled kits tailored to whatever your needs happen to be. There is a basic kit for each variety of RoscoLED: Static White (Daylight or Tungsten), VariWhite (tunable from 3000K–6000K), and VariColor (full color RGB+W). These kits contain all the parts you need to get up and running quickly: a few reels of RoscoLED Tape, connector cables, and the appropriate control box.

All three types of RoscoLED Tape are just under half an inch wide; minimum length varies depending on type. All of them support flicker-free DMX dimming, repeated indoor/outdoor use, and an provide an excellent color rendering index (CRI > 90). Power options include plug-and-play connection to standard AC, 12V DC vehicle accessory port, or AA batteries. And it’s all compatible with your existing LitePad gear, by the way. There’s even a sweet little wireless remote control.

RoscoLED Tape VariColor

RoscoLED Tape Reel VariWhite

For cinematographers and lighting technicians who need even more flexibility, look to the appropriately-named Pro Gaffer Kit (available in Daylight or Tungsten). It starts with a durable Sentinel 912 carrying case measuring 14″ x 12″ x 5.4″. Within the case you’ll find multiple sizes of RoscoLED Tape – 3″, 6″, 12″, and 24″ – two strips of each length. Included power options are very generous: 100-240V AC power adapter, AA battery pack, car power adapter, single channel dimmer, RF PWM wireless remote, and cables to connect it all. From this foundation, you’ll be ready to get right to work — or to grow your set using whichever RoscoLED Tape segments and accessories you need… all available a-la-carte from your local Rosco dealer. For inspiration, take a look at how RoscoLED was integrated into the RNHL Analyst Area:

RNHL Analyst Area Set

Filed August 10th, 2016. Related:

Live News Stand-Ups in the Age of Internet Memes

Used to be if you were doing a live shot during a local or network news broadcast, all you had to worry about was the ‘Hi Mom’ sign being lifted up behind you during your stand-up. But as NBC’s Katy Tur found out on May 27th in San Diego, it’s gotten a bit more risky.

Fuck Trump sign

Tur has been the principal reporter covering the Trump campaign for Nightly News, and when it’s a single-camera shoot, there’s no way to cut away from an offensive graphic in the crowd. The best you can hope for is to move your correspondent out of the line of fire and pan back to her in a graphically safer setting. Having directed a lot of live TV news, I can easily visualize the scene in the control room during the nine seconds this was on air on the East Coast. Guaranteed there was a cleaner version for all the other time zones.

Super Fight II: Muhammad Ali & Joe Frazier’s Rematch at Madison Square Garden

Ali-Frazier ticket stub

Sports photography was never my strong suit back in the day; I did far better with crime, politics, and the arts.

A few weeks ago, as part of a quiet afternoon at home, I was sorting through a box of memorabilia. Had I not come across this ticket stub for the Ali-Frazier rematch at Madison Square Garden, I don’t think I’d have remembered this assignment.

I grew up in a one-channel town during the early days of television, and if you weren’t of driving age, the Gillette Friday Night Fights was the most excitement you could hope for. So all those years later, the call to be ringside at the Garden myself was a very big deal.

Ali-Frazier rematch, Madison Square Garden, 1974

It was the one and only time I ever saw Ali (or Frazier) in action, but given the enormous and well-deserved attention given to his passing a few days ago, I wanted to share an image of what was called Super Fight II. Ali won in a unanimous decision.

Lastly, and not to be missed, this 2014 post at The Guardian collects some of the greatest images of Muhammad Ali.

LitePad Vector: A Rugged, Do-Anything, Go-Anywhere LED Light Panel from Rosco

LitePad Vector

We’ve been beating the LitePad drum for many years, as Rosco’s take on the LED light panel has always seemed to hit a sweet spot between performance, versatility, and value. Now comes an upgraded design: LitePad Vector. We’re delighted to see the wizards at Rosco taking everything that was great about LitePad and amping it up — while still keeping the price within reach. As longtime distributors for Rosco products, we expect to ship quite a few of these to dealers all across the US.

First among the innovations is the fact that LitePad Vector is – somehow – smaller than previous LitePads, yet shines four times brighter than before. Now packed into a sturdy black anodized aluminum frame, each 8″x8″ LitePad Vector slips into tighter spaces while providing up to 1700 lux at 1 meter. Passive cooling means there won’t be any annoying whirring fans to deal with – total silence! The built-in diffuser, a cornerstone feature on every LitePad, ensures that the light output is soft and even – like a softbox, only thinner. (And less likely to sail off on a windy day!)

Speaking of which, if the wind does pick up and knock down your LitePad Vector, you may be surprised by how resilient it is. This new generation of LitePad is amazingly tough. Watch this video and see for yourself:

Impressed yet? (That said, we beg you: please don’t try this at home… or on location!)

To keep things simple, LitePad Vector comes in two varieties: CCT or Daylight. CCT units offer tunable white balance from 3000K–6000K, while Daylight units are locked at 6000K (and cost a little less.) Color rendering is terrific: up to 93 CRI, so everything you point these at pops (to the maximum extent allowed by law.)

Because they’re so compact and only weigh 4.5 pounds each, pre-configured kits are offered for the runners-and-gunners: a two-head backpack kit that includes mounting gear and rain covers, and a three-head location lighting kit that includes a road case, light stands, mounting hardware, egg crates, and three of Rosco’s OPTI-FLECS LED filter kits. If you hadn’t heard, OPTI-FLECS filters are perfectly sized and tuned to allow easy tweaking of color temperature on Rosco’s LED light heads. All these accessories are available a-la carte as well, of course, if you have more specific needs.

One of the biggest advantages of LED lighting is the massive reduction in power consumption, so aside from being more Earth-friendly, this efficiency opens up a new world of power options and run times. Rosco has always provided lots of choices in this regard: LitePad Vector can not only be powered by AC worldwide (100–240V), but can also run on Anton/Bauer or V-Mount batteries, or many of the previous-generation adapters such as the AA battery pack or vehicle power port. Whichever you choose, maximum power consumption is a mere 65W, so you spend less time breaking to replace batteries when out and about. Last but not least, color and brightness can be adjusted by DMX remote over RJ45 cable.

LitePad Vector is now available – reach out to your local photo and lighting retailer, and have them call us if they don’t have it in stock yet! It’s sure to become your Swiss Army knife of lighting solutions.