As I began my second day at the PhotoPlus show I asked myself what the hot product and news at the show was? Every PhotoPlus or Photokina always seemed to have a product that grabs the shows attention and all the news. After walking every aisle and visiting a lot of vendor’s booths I have to say the hot product news was on just a few fronts and to be honest most of it was somewhat old news. The Leica SL was definitely the most talked about camera. The Leica booth was jammed during the whole show as visitors wanted to hold and see the new SL mirrorless camera. I’ll have more to report on the Leica SL below.
It wasn’t a surprise that Sony got a lot of attention with the new II versions of their popular A7 series cameras. What I think was the most notable were the announcements by Epson and Canon of new high-end wide format printers. The printer side of our industry has been pretty quiet for the last few years, and now Epson and Canon are breathing new life into this segment. We have already reported on and reviewed the Epson P600 and P800. Epson has now moved this same technology to their wide format printer line up. As reported yesterday Canon was showing off the Pro 1000 printer. We expect to see the same ink and technology in wide-format printers that we’re sure will be coming soon from Canon. What’s interesting is that they use different color ink sets in their printers from what Epson does. Canon is missing green ink for example. We have been promised a printer to review in the near future and we’ll let you know what we find.
A show day for me is jammed. It’s filled with half-hour meetings with vendors to be briefed on their new products and in between meetings I walk the aisles and check out the products that I think are of interest to our readers. What I report on below is a small fraction of the vendors at the show.
My first stop was the Fuji booth. Fuji has been somewhat quiet lately. But I assure you that Fuji will be heard from again soon. The Fuji booth was very busy and I had the chance to chat with some of the Fuji management from the US and Japan. Their focus recently has been on releasing lenses and new firmware. The X-T1 is still by far their camera that gets the most attention. Fuji just announced a new lens at the show, the 35mm f/2. It has been released in silver and black. I think that’s kind of cool, as you can have lenses that go with the finish of your body. If you are a regular reader you know I have two Fuji X-T1 cameras, a full compliment of lenses, and the X100T and X-Pro 1. I love the feel and operation of these cameras.
While we are not ones to spread rumors there certainly is a lot of talk about new cameras coming in the next few months from Fuji. You can visit any number of rumor sites to read about what is being predicted. I am sure as with all good things that there will be a new generation of Fuji cameras in the future. Frankly, I can’t wait.
Another camera system I own and absolutely love is the Olympus system. The Olympus is a Micro Four Thirds system. Their present line-up has a 16mp sensor that appears in their OM-D line presently comprised of three cameras. We reviewed the OM-D EM-1 when it was first launched. Since that review there have been firmware updates, and a new firmware update will be coming in late November. This update promises some pretty cool and innovative feature like focus stacking and focus bracketing. We’ll be reporting on this when we have upgraded our cameras. I will be doing an article soon on the Olympus OM-D line. I own this system and have the 8mm lens, 7-14mm, 12-40mm and the 40-150mm plus the winder and the 1.4 Tele-Extender. Presently my wife has hijacked this system from me. Why? Because this whole kit fits easily into a shoulder bag and weighs less than 10 lbs. She just loves the camera and the work she produces with it is excellent. We are anxious to see where Olympus goes next with this system. There are a lot of capabilities built into the Olympus line. If you don’t do super-big prints then you should give this system a look.
Last October Samsung was the company that was being talked about at Photokina. The features, specs, and design got everyone watching. Especially because they showed up into the high-end camera marketplace out of nowhere. Recent rumors and articles have mentioned that Samsung was abandoning the line. That certainly was not obvious at this show and has been denied by Samsung. There was lots of interest and activity at the Samsung booth. Celebrating the Back To the Future movie theme the Samsung folks were offering to shoot photos of visitors with a DeLorean Back To The Future Car. I talked to a few folks using the Samsung and they were telling me how good the video capabilities of the camera are. Samsung seemed to be playing off of this in their presentations at the show too.
One booth that had a lot of traffic was usedphotopro.com. The team here was writing up orders non-stop proving that the used market is very alive. They have a strong business model buying and selling used photography gear.
Niche markets are out there. Digital Transitions makes a unique copy stand, and combined with Phase One cameras this system is used to archive artwork, books and many other items. The market they serve are schools, universities, museums and other institutions. Their booth was always buys and they were showing numerous medium format digital solutions.
I just love big technical cameras. Linhof is known for making some of the finest cameras in the world. I just had to hold these cameras. They are works of incredible engineering. These cameras are pure German engineering at its best.
I had the chance to sit down for a while with David Vaskevitch of Mylio. David is the founder and driving force behind Mylio. This is a cross-platform program for keeping all your imaging organized. Over the last year or so Mylio has evolved into a really interesting and useful program. We’ll be covering this in depth in the near future. In the meantime check it out.
With new printers coming at us fast and furious the big questions for photographers is – what paper should be used, not to mention which paper finish. The Hahnemühle booth showed some beautiful papers. Canson is another great paper source. Michael and I print with paper from both of these companies and the results are always excellent. The hardest choice is settling on a paper surface.
Let’s face it, you need to spend a lot of time to learn Photoshop and how to do things that produce results the way you want to see them. Topaz and MacPhun are two companies that offer apps that tie into Photoshop and do a lot of the hard work for you. Topaz has over a dozen different apps that can help you. The one they demoed the most was remask. I must say if you need to use masks this app is one to check out. MacPhun has combined all their apps into the CreativeKit and the capabilities of the apps are impressive. One app SnapHeal is like content aware on steroids. I have used both these company’s products for sometime and they continually update them. Worth checking out.
While we’ve talked about Sony a lot recently they did have an impressive display as part of their booth. They had this room that you could enter and it was so dark that you could practically see nothing. Inside was a still life set up with flowers. On the outside of the display is a live view from the Sony A7s II and it looks like the image was shot with studio light. Very impressive to see how good the ISO Sensitivity of the A7s II is.
If you work in a studio environment and tether your camera to a computer, and then to other devices, than one company that can help is Tether Tools. I have watched this company evolve over the years and they have some very slick products to keep things connected and organized.
We recently did a review of the NEW Eizo 318 4K monitor. This is a beautiful monitor and you have to see it in person to realize how nicely if renders images. There were a lot of photographers that wanted to see it too. Like all HiRes monitors the pull down menus and text in applications becomes very small when at full res, but the images are rendered so amazing well it’s definitely a compromise. The Eizo booth was pretty busy the whole show.
Many of us over the last few years have watched Sigma go from a low-end 3rd party lens maker to being recognized as one of the finest lens makers out there. With the introduction of its Art Series lenses Sigma has garnered a fine reputation as a lens maker. They showed me their new 20mm F1.4 DG HSM lens during a private meeting. This lens is beautiful and images samples look great. They have a wide range of lenses you should check out at their website. I do hope they start paying attention to the Sony E mount system.
Of course a visit to the Sigma booth wouldn’t be complete without catching up on the Foveon sensor based Quattro camera line. As you most likely read in a previous review we did of this camera it has the potential to deliver amazing image quality but the RAW processing software holds it back from being a mainstream camera. Presently we are testing the DP-0 camera. This is a wide-angle version of the system. I have been shooting primarily JPEGs and the image quality is really nice. We’ll have more to say about this camera in the future.
There were plenty of companies showing off storage solutions. G-Technology drew a lot of attention with their solution. Especially the NEW G-Speed Studio XL Thunderbolt Raid system. With capacities from 18-48TB this sounds like it will fit the needs of many shooters and especially of those doing video. We’ll take a closer look at this product when it is available.
While many photographers opt to do their own printing there are others that would rather send it out and let a traditional lab make their prints. One of the finest labs in the world is Whitewall and they had a beautiful booth showing off different finishes, mounting and framing options as well as inspiring photographs showing a variety of ways to present images. Michael did a mini-review of Whitewall a few months back.
Camera straps have evolved a lot over the last few years. The two big names in straps is Peak Design and Blackrapid. We cover Peakdesign yesterday. The straps I use most are the Blackrapid and my biggest complaint has always been that if I wanted to put my camera on a tripod I need to unscrew the D-Link and then mount the Arca Swiss plate that fits my tripod. Blackrapid at this show introduced their newest solution for this the Tripod Plate. I’m definitely picking some of these up at my local dealer and will give them a try. It’s an Arca Swiss plate mount and the strap attaches to the link that is also used to attach the plate to the camera. To use the camera on the tripod just unclip the strap.
My last appointment for the day was the one I was looking forward to the most, a meeting with Leica. The Leica booth was packed the whole show. Everyone wanted to see the NEW SL mirrorless camera. We had our meeting in the back room where I could hold and touch the SL camera. A lot is being said about the SL camera and much of it based on the specs and the price. Yes, the camera is bigger than other mirrorless cameras, and yes it is pricey, but it is Leica. I’ll say that even though it is heavy the SL feel great in my hands and the viewfinder is very bright and clear. Leica is often a misunderstood camera company as their products are on a higher price scale than others. However, Leica does know the market they sell into and they have done well by addressing the needs of this market. Time will tell if the SL properly addresses this market or not. I’ll reserve any opinion until we get a review unit and can run the camera through its paces. I’ll applaud Leica though as they have recognized the importance of the mirrorless market and now have entered it before Canon and Nikon. I think the next few years will be interesting as today’s mirrorless cameras eveolve, and especially if Canon and Nikon take steps to enter the market. We look forward to working with the SL and taking a look at the images and the operation of the camera.
I feel like an old man these days after coming to these shows as long as I have. It’s great to see a new generation of young faces enthusiastically trying out camera systems and trying to better themselves and their craft. It’s great to see old friends and catch up on what they are doing and what they are seeing with all the changes taking place around us. There is something special about a trade show. It’s a chance to see and touch products and ask tough questions. It’s also bad, as you usually come out of an event like this with a shopping list and a cost factor that will definitely set your budget back. This show used to be twice the size and bi-coastal. A lot of companies I would have liked to have seen weren’t there. There was no trace of Kodak, Really Right Stuff was missing as were some other tripod makers. For a vendor to do a show you are looking at a high cost, especially in NYC. The booth rental, design and construction of a booth, shipping, staffing, lodging etc. all adds up. These days audiences can be reached by social media, and good websites. In the end it is all about return on investment. Luckily there are still a lot of vendors that find that return and exhibit every year.
There are so many good products available today. Cameras and lenses of high quality are endless. Loyalty to brands seems to be a thing of the past as many photographers switch to new brands based on the kind of photography they do and how well the gear fits their needs. Image quality seems to be excellent from all camera manufacturers and it’s very hard to tell the difference in many cases except for the megapixel count. There is no easy answer on how many megapixels is right for you. Frankly, I love having the option of 40 plus megapixels with my mirrorless kits. But, I also love knowing when I find the scene or need I have the Phase One kit to use to take those images even further. As mentioned above I have a number of different camera systems. For what we do at Luminous-Landscape its a necessity. I shoot a lot and I use all the cameras we have. It all depends on what I’m shooting and I believe that same thought has to go into what system a photographer purchases.
In the end I am now focused on the print. In the years prior to digital it was all about the print. We have seemed to have forgotten about that a lot these days. Yes, it’s great we can share images through social media and with online galleries, but in the end it is the print that counts. Printing for me has always been the end-all. For anyone that wants to visit me in Indianapolis where I have my gallery and workspace, you’d see that quickly. Luminous-Landscape will be making a big commitment to focus on the many aspects of printing as we move forward. With new printers from Epson and Canon and many new papers available the options have never been better. My goal for the next few years is to review my images from the last ten years and make sure that I have committed my best work to print. I am investing in new (maybe used) print drawers and look real forward to making new prints that I can enjoy and hopefully share with others.
I may sound like a broken record, but there has never been a better time to take pictures. Photography is not only a means of expression but for me a therapy. I am at my best when I am taking photographs. I cherish the time I take to edit my images and no different from the day I saw the magic of a print come alive in a developer tray I get a thrill when a print comes out of a printer.
For PhotoPlus this year – Mission Accomplished. Lots of things to try. Lots of resources for the things I want to do. Michael and I look forward to sharing everything here on Luminous-Landscape.