In an attempt to connect everything electronic, this year’s CES/PMA show in Las Vegas was awash in “smart” TVs, tablets, and various and sundry devices that can link to your device—be it phone, tablet, or camera—and allow you to access “image content” anywhere, anytime. There was also a rash of rough cameras, a 3D lens for still and video, new ways to customize your camera, and a major boost in USB storage and memory card speed. Following are some photo tech highlights.
Here’s another in our series of reports from photokina 2012. As you will have noticed we do not attempt to create a laundry list of new products and companies from the show, but prefer to report on what struck our eye and thought might be of special interest to Shutterbug readers. In this report Roger Hicks tells us about numerous instances of life in the film arena he found at the show, with special cameras, film, paper, and even processors part of the mix.—Editor
While a host of new digital cameras at photokina were covered in the January, 2013, issue of Shutterbug, this report focuses on some new out-of-the-mainstream cameras; new Zeiss and Schneider lenses designed to take advantage of ultrahigh-resolution sensors; and a couple of inkjet innovations that even I regarded as interesting. I say “even I” because I regard inkjet printing as being about as interesting as watching paint dry, which, after all, is what it is. Scanners will be covered under a future accessories report.
It’s a truism that the best tripod is the one you carry with you, because it’s the only one you can use. But equally, it has to be the right tripod: the one that holds the equipment you use at the height you want and that locks it firmly, without “creep.” It also needs to be quick and easy to use, and durable. With that in mind here are some of the many tripods at photokina that caught my eye.
It’s as if camera companies had been holding back in the last few months and finally the dam burst, resulting in a flood of new cameras debuted at photokina 2012. While there was a fair share of Micro Four Thirds mirrorless, interchangeable lens compacts, and medium format digital cameras, the major headlines were grabbed by a full slate of full-frame cameras—even “compacts.” In addition, it seems as if smartphones have chased the camera makers into offering more and more Wi-Fi-capable cameras, along with downloadable apps that can expand a camera’s capabilities. In all, it made for a host of new camera announcements—enthusiast, pro, and high-end alike—although there were few bargains to be found. As I go through the camera intros I’ll include the list price (when available) without comment, but in general you might be somewhat shocked by some of the prices these new cameras command.
The Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art at the University of Florida will present an exhibition that reflects a transformative moment in photographic history during the tumultuous interwar years. On view from October 9, 2012 through January 6, 2013, The Modern Impulse: Photography from Europe and America Between the Wars will explore how the newly portable 35mm camera was celebrated as an instrument of poetry, analysis, and social change. Covering the years between 1918 and 1945, the exhibition will highlight over 40 artists who expanded the new medium and changed the way we perceive the world. Celebrating technology while embracing spontaneity and improvisation, these artists captured the spirit, vitality, and invention of a new age.
It wasn’t too long ago when the use of a CMOS chip in a digicam was a sign of a cheapie camera. Well, the tide has changed, with CMOS today reflecting the highest level of capture in our newest digital point-and-shoots. Yes, there continue to be CCD holdouts even in innovative designs, but the writing is on the wall, spelling an eventual fade-out of the Charge-Coupled Device. And today, the Backside Illuminated (BSI, or simply “backlit”) CMOS sensor is slowly but surely moving into center stage—at least among small-sensor point-and-shoots, for improved light reception at the sensor, hence clearer, tonally fuller, and more detailed images. We’re also seeing quite a few long-zoom models and more GPS-enabled cameras, with a digital compass to boot, mostly in travel/outdoors-oriented designs. The “rugged” category continues to grow, as well as features such as sweep panorama mode (just swing around with your finger continually on the button) and touchscreen displays. But perhaps the new feature that stands out most is Wi-Fi capability. One camera is even Android-powered. The latter may not be smartphones, but they certainly appear to be the smart way to go for the wireless generation. With those trends in mind here’s our roundup of the digicam class of 2012. (Please note that this report contains both cameras on the market as of spring 2012 and those announced to be available when this article goes to press. Check with the various manufacturers for current availability.—Editor)
Among the latest trends in lighting are the increasingly popular LED lights. While these lights were initially aimed at video, they serve a purpose in still photography as well, notably as accent or fill lights. In studio lighting, we have new monolight kits; and in speedlights, we have a new TTL ringflash along with a wireless TTL remote. We’ll also look at some interesting lighting accessories as well.
Camera bags and carriers come in every shape and style, from highly functional rollers to bags that make a fashion statement whenever you step out the door with your gear. Among the new products appearing this year are those that will fit every photographer for every photo excursion. There are backpacks for day hikers to trekkers, and rollers for making the transition from plane to city streets. Camera carrier makers are always improving product to keep up with the changing needs of photographers and their gear.
The trend in tripods is toward more compact and lighter-weight tripods, with an increasing number of entries in carbon fiber. Is carbon fiber the ultimate lightweight tripod? The jury is still out, although everyone seems to want one. And along with tripods, various ball heads grabbed our attention. We even found a portable copy stand.
In our recent photokina reports (January, 2011, issue) we covered products and trends at the show. Here’s a brief follow-up on some film and paper processing items and information on friends old and new, present and gone.
In our photokina reports we mentioned Kodak’s new film, of course, and Harman’s Direct Positive paper, and...
Let’s be honest. One thing no one would have expected at photokina was a unique new black-and-white silver halide process. But that’s what we got. Well, not exactly brand new. It’s a revival of a technology that hasn’t been seen in decades, quite possibly not in the lifetime of many of our readers: direct reversal paper.
In all probability, most photographers could gain more from investing in lighting equipment than from investing in new cameras. Not professionals, perhaps, though studio lighting continues to come on in leaps and bounds, but countless amateurs could greatly improve both the range and quality of their work.
One of the great things about photokina is that you find a lot of “straws in the wind”: not necessarily major introductions from major manufacturers, but intriguing indicators of which way the wind is blowing.