Bags, Lighting, Tripods, Photo Gadgets And Accessories...And More
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
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.
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.
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
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.
Bags And Camera Carrying
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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