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Posts tagged ‘food’:

NAB Show 2016: LEDs Everywhere, But What of Their Quality?

With the 2016 edition of the NAB Show now receding in the rear-view mirror, here are my observations on the path our industry is taking.

As always, we flew to Las Vegas to support our colleagues at Dedolight as they demonstrated the innovative lights they’ve worked to bring to market this year.

Dedolight NAB 2016 Booth

This was definitely the year of LED lighting overload. There must have been at least 20 times as many companies showing broad source fixtures as last year, most of them no-name Chinese manufacturers just jumping on the LED bandwagon with no understanding of, or regard to, the quality of their products’ output. In fact, they do have appeal for the “fix it in post” crowd of shooters.

NAB 2016 LED mania 1

NAB 2016 LED mania

It’s a mindset that’s frustrating to those of us who care deeply about lighting for television and motion pictures, and who devote so much of our efforts to perfecting lighting as an art form. Teams from Dedolight, Arri, Mole-Richardson, and Rosco work very hard to develop the lights that advance the state of the art. It’s slow, difficult work, but it translates into money well spent when you see the results.

Dedolight News 2016

Dedolight catalog 2016

So it was rewarding to see the Dedolight booth filled with visitors day after day, everyone eager to discover all that’s new and to have a chance to talk with Dedo Weigert himself (when he’s not being interviewed).

Dedo Weigert interview NAB 2016

Once again, the use of DSLRs in production continues to rise, now being challenged by micro four thirds cameras. I’d even say most of the video production taking place at the show was based on the latter format. And here’s where another of my favorite companies comes into play — Fotodiox continues to expand its range of lens adapters so that just about any lens can be mounted to almost any camera body.

Fotodiox lens adapter rings

Beyond being beautifully conceived and finished, these reasonably-priced products mean that favorite optics can have a whole new life. I have an ancient Leica 90mm f/4 Elmar which the legendary Marty Forscher custom-adapted to my Nikons 30 years ago. Used wide-open, it is a remarkable portrait lens, and now is equally superb (although with an effective focal length of 120mm) on my Fuji X-E2.

Zeiss lenses at NAB 2016

And it’s just as amazing to see the range of lenses that Zeiss is producing with DSLR platforms in mind. True, the prices are sky-high, but again, it’s unfair to complain too much; in a production environment where Nikon and Canon cameras are being used for everything from commercials to feature films, the economics, speed and output quality for most shoots is a match for massive, far more costly production cameras.

Red drone at NAB 2016

As for drones, which only a few years ago were out of reach for most individuals, they too keep getting better and cheaper. Watching coverage of the violent floods and storms happening across the U.S., they have unquestionably changed news-gathering. Can’t quite bring myself to buy one, but the thought of being able to have a drone in hover mode over the tennis court and watch a sobering post-match replay is tempting.

Nanuk cases at NAB 2016

Nanuk Nano cases at NAB 2016

Finally, a shout-out for Nanuk equipment cases from Canada, particularly their Nano series. I first saw this company’s products at the PhotoPlus show in New York last year and was really happy to see them at NAB.

The latching system is innovative and very secure. The Nano cases, in a range of colors and sizes, can’t be beat for storing accessories and location must-haves. I own and have used Pelican products for many years and think they are fine, but in my opinion, the Nanuk cases reach another level.

Can’t leave without some dining recommendations, for whenever you may be in Las Vegas —

I have no interest whatsoever in big name restaurants on The Strip, regardless of who the chef behind them is, but after a long day of work here are two that you might not find on your own:

Chef Marc’s Trattoria on West Sahara is as good a Tuscan-style Italian restaurant as I’ve ever eaten at… period. Feast your eyes on some of the dishes on their website, and then find a way to get yourself in front of the real thing.

For ramen and other traditional Japanese noodle dishes, Monta has been a favorite of mine for several years. Again, visit their website, make the drive to Spring Mountain Road, and enjoy some of the best ramen you’ll find outside Japan.

Lastly, just in case you’re driving to Los Angeles from Vegas (just under 300 miles), here’s a handy tip, based on the laws of supply and demand: fuel up before you leave. Gas was about $2.25 in Las Vegas, but 100 miles west, in the desert… well, let’s just say mountain lions weren’t the only predators out there.

Gas in the desert

NAB 2011: Great Noodles in Vegas and New LED Lights from Dedolight

I’m back from this year’s NAB show in Las Vegas, where it seems the year (if not the decade) of the DSLR continues. Once again, the video production part of the show was filled with cameras (Canon), accessories (Red Rock Micro and Zacuto), and a whole host of established companies anxious to show their track-mounted dollies, jibs, lenses, portable lighting, monitors, tripods and heads, etc. all supporting the EOS 5D and its kin.

We’ll get to equipment in a bit… but first, a word on other diversions. I flew out a couple of days early to meet my son, Tim (a lawyer in San Francisco) for a weekend devoted to food and amusements that are not part of what most people go to Vegas for. Tim is a big fan of Yelp.com when it comes to finding great restaurants, and his research did not disappoint. Since he arrived a few hours before me, Tim had already found (and had lunch at) a Japanese noodle restaurant, Monta, that is an absolute knockout. It has fewer than 30 seats, a short menu revolving around ramen that is the equal of any place in New York or L.A., and prices that are extremely reasonable. It’s located, as so many great places are in Las Vegas, in one of dozens of drab little strip malls that it would be just as easy to drive past.  Another reason to have a portable GPS with you.

Ramen at Monta Las Vegas

Back to NAB, there are more and more companies each year who are showing and selling LED lighting for studio and location use. But this year, I was very happy to see Dedolight’s new entry into the field, which Dedo himself has named Felloni.

Initially, production will be of the 1×1 size (12″x12″) in a very wide range of output levels and color temperatures, as well as multiple beam angles. There are daylight, tungsten, and bicolor units (variable from daylight to tungsten) — all dimmable, with the ability to be powered by battery as well as line voltage. Great specs on output and power consumption, and some very clever built-in docking of popular battery modules.

Dedolight Felloni

We’ll have all the key information on the site shortly, along with PDFs you can download. And if you’re wondering about price, it will be very pleasant surprise. Of course, Dedolight’s current tungsten and HMI lighting range also continues to expand. All the new products are about making sure that film, video, and still shooters have all the lighting tools they need whatever the assignment.

Finally, there is an infrared version of LEDZilla, the very successful on-board LED light introduced a couple of years ago. This one is called iREDZILLA. Primary applications will be for infrared (night) photography and surveillance. Specs indicate it can be used at a range of up to 130′ (based on tests with Sony’s Nightshot camcorder). Considering the popularity of recent online feeds of nesting eagles and other nature videos, I predict strong demand from nature and scientific shooters.

Dedolight iREDZILLA

Check back next week for more impressions from this year’s NAB show!

Food Photography at Dawn, Using LitePad

When your assignment calls for a subject to be photographed at dawn or sunset — possibly in a remote location — LitePad is an excellent way to fill your lighting needs without using a ton of gear (or bringing along assistants to carry it all!) LitePad can be powered by AC power, or run for hours on AA batteries or your car’s cigarette lighter. It’s dimmable, generates no heat, and can be gelled to any color temperature you need.

In this video, Allen explains how to photograph food (or any other small subject your assignment requires) at first light with a minimal amount of gear and fuss; a situation made possible by our friends at Rosco Labs. Interested? Reach out to us if you’d like to try one!