Having attended the ever-growing
PMA trade show for 40 years, I'm used to seeing lots of interesting
new items of appeal to general photo enthusiasts. This year was no exception,
but new offerings seemed to be primarily in the rapidly expanding digital-oriented
category, which other editors were covering. My assignment was to ferret
out new accessories and gadgets useful for those of us die-hards still
content with loading film into our cameras.
All serious photographers need
several gadget bags and tripods, and there were literally hundreds on
display on the two huge floors jam-packed with all kinds of photographic
goodies at this year's show. There were several brand-new makes
or brands of bags and tripods shown for the first time. As always, we
try to limit our coverage to the really new and different products, and
there were many there for all to see. As anticipated, there were very
few darkroom-related products introduced.
Besides the relatively few
products mentioned here, there were many thousands of other items on
display. I walked every foot of all the aisles on both levels of the
trade show while locating these items and I hope many will be of interest
to you. You can obtain more detailed information about them by contacting
the manufacturers listed elsewhere. With all that in mind here are some
of the items that caught my eye.
Tripods And Supports
BKA showed a number of accessories. One of the more interesting was the
Zygo-7 Compact Photo Mount consisting of a C-clamp-like grip on one end
with a stainless steel screw and an extendable arm having a vertical rotating
post. It has a small swivel ball top for a camera. It weighs just 21 oz
and comes with two extension tubes. Pricing is not yet available.
BKA now distributes the small,
pocketable Ultra Pod line of short tabletop tripods suitable for holding
a small camera or slave flash. Brand-new is the Ultra Pod Mini made of
translucent plastic, which weighs only 1.5 oz yet will support anything
weighing up to 1 lb and folds to a compact 4" length. A touch-fastener
strap allows it to be attached to objects up to 2.75" diameter.
It lists for $16.
For all photographers doing
fast-action photography with the camera on a tripod, there is the new
Manfrotto Grip Action Ball Head for use with 35mm to medium format equipment
weighing up to 11 lbs. A pistol grip permits the user to simultaneously
unlock the head and readjust the camera. Once the grip is released, the
camera stays locked in place without the need to tighten knobs or levers.
It's easily removed with a quick release. An optional electronic
shutter release gives the user one-hand operation for adjustment and release.
The street price is about $99 and the product is distributed by Bogen
New from Novoflex is the ClassicBall 5, said to be the first ball head
with three vertical 90Þ openings for the neck, a new system for
precisely repeatable friction presets, and absolutely no change of ball
position during locking. The flat black titanium finish unit integrates
360Þ panning and two camera threads. This product is available from
OSN (One Source Network) offers
a very wide variety of tripods of all sizes and types. The OS 900 is a
deluxe heavy-duty model capable of handling SLRs as well as digital and
video cameras. Constructed of aluminum, it has a three-way fluid pan head,
quick release, geared center column, dual levels, locking leg braces,
and quick lever leg locks. It can extend up to 64.9" and has a MSRP
of $80. When you don't need much height, but want a very compact
tripod for carrying along, model OS 250 will handle small SLRs and digital
cameras. It collapses to just 12.3", extends up to 24.5",
and has an MSRP of $40.
New lightweight and durable carbon-fiber models are #FT6601 and 6603,
both of which use a simple twist to both unlock and relock the legs. The
MSRP starts at $399. The PT 10 is a pan head with a quick-release camera
mount that clamps onto a car window for steadying a camera while shooting
from inside a vehicle. The MSRP is $30. They also offer a number of tabletop
tripods and monopods plus a line of all-metal rotary trimmers ranging
from 12" up to 18", which have MSRPs starting from $60.
Photo Control demonstrated an interesting shoulder brace intended for
the active photographer carrying bulky camera or video equipment about
such as sports photographers, called the Go Pod. It has two curved supports
that rest on the user's shoulders then goes down to their waist
where a monopod-like support goes up vertically to a tilting head. There
are numerous adjustments possible and the MSRP is $465.
At the ToCAD booth we saw four new Velbon Ultra Series travel tripods,
all of which have a patented direct contact pipe system. This unique cross-section
of leg tubes enables the user to make a half-turn twist to quickly lock
and unlock all of the five leg sections at once without using traditional
separate flip locks. When collapsed, they are very compact and the center
column is removable for low-angle situations. They come with a removable
head, rubber feet, and carrying case. The MSRP starts at $160.
Two new Velbon carbon-fiber
professional monopods, Neo Pod 6 and 7 have large rubber twist leg locks,
a padded strap for carrying around your neck, accessory hook, and a neoprene
grip. The MSRP starts at $180. The new El Carmange series of professional
tripods are light yet sturdy since they are made of carbon fiber. The
MSRP starts at $450. The Hakuba Multipod is an ultra-compact tabletop
tripod with a padded vise-like clamp used to hold cell phone cameras,
pocket film, digital cameras, or digital pen-size cameras, which often
don't have a tripod socket. Just in case it also has a 1/4-20 screw.
Offered in three colors, it weighs only 4.8 oz, and the height can range
from 6-10" but folded it's only 7.5" long.
APV showed two diffusion tents. The Magic Studio is triangular in shape
with four translucent sides, one of which has an opening for the camera
lens. A detachable mask cutout can be placed on either side of the booth
to cast a window shadow on the glass or other reflective subject inside.
It folds up into a round shape for storage in a provided pouch. It's
available in two sizes with the price starting at $60. The Magic Silo
is a cylindrical diffusing tent that collapses down to a flat circle for
storage. There are two flaps on top for positioning a camera lens to shoot
straight down into the tent. The MSRP is $38.
Argraph displayed the Internet Photo Studio Pro, a complete photo kit
for lighting small items for the Internet, advertising, forensics, medical,
dental, collections, etc. The metal base is 16x24" with two magnetic-mount
adjustable height columns that each hold a 26w, 5000ÞK fluorescent
color-corrected lamp. There's another lamp inside the translucent
base. Two risers at the back support a crossbar for a background sweep.
It accepts products up to 20" high. The MSRP is $500.
BKA showed three new models
of E-Z Mini Soft Boxes said to open and close as easy as an umbrella.
The octagonal model is 19" in diameter; the square model measures
12x12"; and the rectangular model is 8x17". They fit selected
Lumedyne, Norman, Quantum, and Sunpak flash units and come with the adapter
Two small-product light diffusion boxes were displayed by Booth Photographic
Limited. A 16" square model has a choice of chroma-key blue, green,
gray, or white backgrounds said to be compatible with many digital photo
editing programs. The front has an opening for the camera lens and either
hot lights or electronic flash can be directed through the top or sides
to illuminate small items for accurate rendition without highlights or
excessive shadows. The MSRP is $60. The also have two sizes of cone-shaped
light tents that can be suspended over small reflective items. The camera
lens is inserted through a touch-fastener seam at the angle needed to
record the desired image. It's offered in 20" and 30"
Chimera Lighting showed their new Quick Release Speed Ring which permits
easily releasing lightbank pole tension with the flip of a lever that
fits many current electronic flash and continuous light sources. It not
only simplifies setup and teardown, but also allows quick folding of a
lightbank to move through doorways or on narrow sets and allows the lightbank
to be collapsed without disassembly. Sizes will include a full range of
Chimera Speed Rings beginning with the popular 6" series. No pricing
HP Marketing always has some interesting gadgets on display. The Kaiser
"Studio-out-of-a-box" is intended for film or digital photographers
needing a simplified method of shooting small products. Everything but
the lights and camera are stored inside a thin box which becomes an 12x18"
baseboard with a pullout drawer that can be removed and used to increase
the base length by 12" when needed. A trapeze stand with parallel
support/brace arms supports a pivoting and sliding camera platform. A
roll of background material and back sweep support also store inside the
box. The MSRP is $200.
OmegaSatter showed a number
of new gadgets including the Cloud Dome Infiniti Board, a flexible tabletop
backdrop that can be used flat or adjusted into an infinite number of
U-shapes. It rolls up for storage and uses cords with clamps to hold various
curves. Available in two sizes (18x28" and 23x31") in white
or black matte finish, the MSRP starts at $40. The FlashFrame FF300 flash
bracket allows you to keep the flash high and centered over the lens for
both horizontal and vertical compositions. In the vertical mode, the user's
hand on the foam grip, is positioned on top of the camera, a more natural
and popular method of shooting verticals. The MSRP is $85.
Among the many new items in the Tiffen booth was the Stroboframe Folding
Flip Flash Bracket, which helps eliminate redeye and softens harsh shadows.
The extra-wide base has multiple camera mounting slots to accommodate
about any 35mm or digital camera. The lens to flash height can be adjusted
between 6.75" and 9". A pivoting flash arm keeps the flash
centered over the lens while a neoprene foam grip makes it comfortable
to hold. It folds to 8.5x3x3.75" and has an MSRP of $95.
Bags And Camera Carrying
New in the Seahorse line of watertight equipment cases from Argraph is
the Hurricane SE1220F, an oversized case with 25.5x19.5x13" interior
dimensions, large 3" wide track heavy-duty wheels for stability,
telescoping pullout handle, front and side easy-grip handles, and molded-in
padlock holes. The MSRP is $376.
The D'Exec Series of Pelican soft-sided cases, from BKA, is suitable
for film or digital gear. They include a compact rolling camera case and
a similar model with a removable computer pack, a pro camera tote bag,
and a wheeled camera attaché. All five are offered in black or
NV green, and the interiors are configured
to carry many 35mm SLR, 645, or 6x6 SLR cameras plus lenses, flashes,
and accessories. All meet airline carryon requirements and the MSRP starts
Bogen Imaging displayed their broad new line of Kata's GDC collection
of 17 protective, modular-design, photo carrying solutions. These products
incorporate a unique thermo-shield technology to produce a rib-shaped
outer shell made of double-cord Super Nylon. Underneath, a closed-cell,
interior shield protects and insulates the contents from temperature and
moisture. A distinctive, bright yellow interior helps make the contents
Cases and bags are offered
in various sizes. Variations include a waist pack that attaches to a rucksack
to create a large backpack, while a torso pack and backpack can be combined
to yield high-volume storage capacity. All seem designed to deliver optimal
weight distribution for easier use while transporting equipment in the
field. A very practical rainshield easily slips over the camera and lens
and is secured with adjusters and pull cords. Two roomy sleeves provide
access to all camera and lens controls while a transparent top enables
monitoring the camera controls and viewfinder. A number of sizes are offered
to fit a variety of long telephoto lenses. Prices start at $60.
Cameras Up has three styles of a "Shooter's Belt" system
having a radical new quick-release design that holds camera, lens, and
accessories at the user's hip, making them all instantly available
whenever needed. It's fully adjustable to fit most any camera or
lens. It has an MSRP of $80-$140. They also offer an extensive line of
quick-dry, long and short sleeve shirts and vests with MSRPs of $40-$80.
At the Jobo booth we saw some
new items in the very attractive and always colorful Crumpler line of
bags. They now offer a line of backpacks varying in size to hold your
computer, camera stuff, or both along with room for whatever else you
want to carry. Made of ultra-tough and water-resistant Chicken Tex ripstop
nylon, they have super-strong shoulder straps with a chest strap to stabilize
the load. Also new is a group of small "John Thursday" film
and digital camera pouches made of neoprene. There are seven sizes and
five colors. They can be worn on a belt, on a neck strap, or attached
to another bag.
Kiesel Bags has a broad line of attractive, feature-laden bags, ranging
from small pouches for a film or digital camera along with a few accessories
(with an MSRP of $10-$20) up to large professional bags for safely toting
lots of different gear. Most bags are clad in either ballistic or ripstop
nylon for a rugged exterior. Messenger-style bags have an ample amount
of padded, removable dividers permitting customizing for your needs. A
front zippered compartment has multiple pockets for smaller accessories
and a front access panel makes it easy to get to gear buried deep inside
the main compartment. Two of the four models in this group have a removable
padded laptop computer sleeve. The MSRP for this group ranges from $70-$139.
Lowepro has a new ultra-lightweight,
carryon sized, Rolling Mini Trekker AW compact all-weather backpack. There
are sealed-bearing, in-line skate wheels and an extendable, single-handle
tube system for pulling with perfect balance. It easily converts to a
backpack with an ergonomic harness and padded waistbelt that tucks away
when using the rollers. The interior is fully customizable to carry an
SLR with an 80-200mm zoom lens, additional SLR body, 3-5 lenses plus accessories.
A built-in all-weather cover protects the entire pack from weather and
there is a hideaway tripod holder. The MSRP is $242.
Also new are two briefcase-like cases for transporting a notebook computer
along with accessories, PDAs, compact cameras, cell phones, and related
devices while on the road. The main compartment of the Tropolis 1100 and
1200 cases use a contour zipper which wraps around the bag for easy access
to the contents when the bag is either standing upright or lying flat.
The MSRPs are $60 and $70.
The broad line of 14 functional
M-Rock bags has added new modular pouches, which are said to be more bag-like
with zipper opening and closing and more pockets for accessories. They
now have handles and a second color on the front pockets, non-abrasive
plastic mesh pockets, and are more curved, similar to that on the larger
bags, which they can be attached to. The photo backpack has been improved
and renamed the Wasatch with access to the interior compartments now direct
from the outside, more roundness for better appearance and a lower price.
A new line of small Ape brand cases from OmegaSatter are designed for
today's small compact film and digital cameras. They all have a
conservative black exterior with a bright yellow interior, which makes
locating the accessories inside easier. There are more pockets and storage
compartments than typically found in small cases and they have extra padding
for protection. The MSRP ranges from $10-$30.
Tamrac has expanded the models of their convenient Velocity Series of
sling backpacks that easily slide from your back to the front for easy
access without removing it from your shoulder. The Velocity 6-Compact
Sling Pack is suitable for carrying a film or digital SLR with an attached
zoom lens up to 4" long plus another small lens, flash, and accessories.
The front pocket utilizes their exclusive Memory & Battery Management
System that uses red flags to identify unused memory cards from ones that
are used. A Speed Flap top, adjustable, foam-padded dividers, and an accessory
pocket on the top round out the features. The Velocity 4-Micro Sling Pack
has similar features, but is smaller so it holds just a compact camera
or camcorder and fewer accessories. The MSRPs are $45 and $35.
There are two new rolling cases
as well. The CyberPro Express was designed to carry two large SLR cameras,
multiple large lenses, accessories, and a large laptop. The CyberPack
Express adds the versatility of a Tuck-A-Way backpack harness to the capability
of carrying pro-sized SLRs, many accessories, and a notebook computer.
Ball-bearing, in-line skate wheels and industrial strength telescoping
handles make them easy to move about on smooth ground. The MSRPs are $325
and $350 respectively.
Other Accessories Of
Advantus Corporation introduced a new line of KeepSafe transparent photo
organizers that are an acid-free and archival-safe method of storing up
to 60 prints along with the negatives. Each four pack contains one clear,
magenta, blue, and purple organizer for color-coded organizing. The suggested
MSRP is just under $4. Several sizes of KeepSafe photo boxes and cases
intended for storing groups of the KeepSafe organizers are offered for
keeping 720, 960, and 2000 4x6 prints together. The MSRP ranges from $8-$20.
CokinUSA now offers a line of infrared (IR) filters made of CR39 organic
glass. Numbered 007, the IR filter is comparable to the Kodak Wratten
89B so it's well matched for popular monochrome and color IR films.
It will be available in standard Cokin square A, P, Z-PRO, X-PRO, and
S-series of round filters.
Daylab demonstrated a new self-contained copy system that accepts any
print up to 4x6 (or limited 3D objects) and makes a copy onto Polaroid
3x4" color or black and white film in just 60 seconds. The light
is built-in as is the adapter for holding the Polaroid pack film. You
can easily copy photos to obtain extra prints to share, or use it to produce
Polaroid peel-apart prints to use for creative image and emulsion transfers.
It has an MSRP of $200.
Key Item Sales was showing
a brand-new item called Memory Maker, a line of antique silver or gold
bracelets having six miniature frames for displaying family photos. Each
of the two sizes and three styles of stretch bracelets, that retail for
under $30, come with an EZ-Fit Photo Reduction System that can make any
picture fit perfectly into the miniature frame. Simply use any color copier
to reduce the pictures to fit. Of course, you can change the pictures
whenever you desire. In addition, they offer crystal pendants or pins
that also hold small photos.
Kinetronics showed the IAG (Ionizing Air Gun), which is a film duster
that eliminates static electricity on film and prints. It's intended
for production labs and picture framers. Although AC powered, it uses
low voltage, so there are no shocks that some other devices might generate.
The MSRP is $295. A new lens cleaning kit consisting of a cleaning cloth
and liquid comes in a small package that can be attached to the camera's
neck strap. The MSRP is $5. A packet of DSP (Digital Screen Protectors)
includes optical clear vinyl in six widths so they are suitable for use
with screens ranging in width from 1" to 2.5". They can be
used with digital cameras, camcorders, cell phones, camera phones, and
Lee Filters introduced a new Soft Focus glass filter, which adds a medium
amount of softness to any image without losing focus. It's useful
for reducing both sharpness and contrast. It's offered in a 4x4"
2mm thick version and there is no f/stop adjustment necessary. The MSRP
of the SFT2-G filter is $199.
The Neil Enterprises booth was jam-packed with novelty items that use
photos for personal appeal. New products include 6" tall bobble
heads in a variety of sports outfits and costumes that accept small headshot
prints of children. They have Carabiner photo keytags that hold one or
two 2x27/8" photos and are also available with flashlights. A floating
magnet cube holds six 23/8" square photos suspended from an arched
support arm. Imprinting is offered on most items. These products are typically
sold in large quantities but are reasonably priced.
Photographic Solutions showed
the prototype of a custom-made tiny die they will offer that contains
up to 11 alphanumeric characters. You can just tap an imprint on your
equipment to place pertinent ownership information inconspicuously on
your valuable gear for positive identification if it is ever stolen, and
hopefully recovered. Even if the serial number is removed, this tiny mark
should remain to identify your items.
Print File introduced a number of new archival storage items including
a series of black clamshell archival portfolio boxes ranging in size from
4x5" to 16x20" in different depths. The MSRP ranges from $17-$85.
Several configurations of wire-bound presentation albums are offered in
print sizes of 5x7", 8.5x11", and 11x14". Covers are
offered in six colors and two different textures. Presentation pockets,
which are sealed on three sides, are offered in sizes 4x5" up to
20x24" prints, are made of high-clarity 6 or 16 mil thick polypropylene,
and 25 packs range in price from $6-$50. They now offer a range of CD
storage systems ranging from one for four CDs up to a portfolio box capable
of holding 100-sleeved CDs.
Superior Specialties, the firm that offers a wide variety of backgrounds
and support devices, announced new solid and mottled colored patterns
in their backgrounds in a bag line. The 10x12 ft size runs $125 and the
10x24 ft size goes for $160. All are machine-washable, have a 6"
pocket on one end, and include a carry bag with the same coloring. Also
new are the nine colors of Twistflex lightweight, collapsible backgrounds,
which are two-sided with different colors on each side, and collapse into
a handy carry sack. They measure 6x7 ft and list for $150.
Treasure Knit produces a 40x60" washable throw coverlet or blanket
having a photo image woven into the black and white acrylic material for
$110. Informative text about the person or photo can be included. If you
want a picture having more detail (higher resolution) you can have it
woven from mercerized cotton. All you have to do is e-mail the image you
want used to their website, then your picture will be woven into the coverlet
of your choice. Since the image is woven into the blanket, it's
washable and never fades. This brand-new item was attracting considerable
attention at the show.
ULTRAline, Inc. offers an interesting new way to display photos of any
type in any environment: the Personalight. It's an acrylic plastic
in a shallow vertical housing having a standard 40w white lamp inside.
In the front is a slot for placing any letter-size transparency or photo
print up to 11x11". It can be placed on a horizontal surface anywhere
and the backlit illumination will draw attention to the print on display.
It sells for $30.
ZTS now offers the very small and far more portable Mini-MBT Pulse Load
Multi-Battery Tester that measures just 4x2.5x0.75". It can do a
load test on most popular sizes of today's photo and video batteries
such as AAA, AA, C, and D (Ni-MH, NiCd, and alkaline), 3v lithium (CR123,
CR2, and CRV3), and 9v. This new unit is so small you can easily carry
it along in the field to test your camera and/or flash batteries whenever
necessary. The MSRP is $30.